I could almost feel their judgemental thoughts… she wasn’t really our baby, so why was is this so hard for me. I could not stop thinking of Ellyanna.
I knew she would be in the NICU for a few months, so I was always wondering how she was doing. I had started a journal for this little girl, the week after we found out we were going to adopt her. I wrote all the details of each situation and everything about the birth mom. I thought someday she would want to know her story and how we came to adopt her, and I was afraid I would forget little details. After the adoption failed, I wanted to throw it away. But I couldn’t. Each time I tried, I would get it back out of the trash can, pray for the baby, and sometimes write my feelings. I became embarrassed about the journal and did not tell anyone that I was still writing to this little girl we only had for her first four days. Even from the first day that we got news of the possibility of adopting a little girl, we specifically wanted God to get the glory. During the few days we had her, my prayer was for God to get glory from her life. After we lost her, I gave her over to God and asked Him to still use her life for Him to get glory. I wanted whatever was best for this little girl. And if God could get more glory from her growing up with her biological family and having a hard life, than that was what I wanted as well. Sometimes I would look the birth mom up on Facebook and look for pictures of the baby, hardly ever finding any. By the time January rolled around, my sweet husband kindly suggested it was unhealthy for me to look them up online, so I stopped doing that. But I decided I would check on her in August (the 22nd) to see if there were any birthday pictures of her. Throughout the months to come, I would pray for this baby and her family, and a few times I would pick up the journal and write to her again. I guess this was how my heart coped with the grief. I put a reminder in my phone on the 22nd of each month to pray for her. I thought years down the road I might forget about her, and wanted to make sure I prayed for her at least once every month. I became so burdened for this girl and her family and started praying for their salvation. My heart was so heavy for several weeks, and I couldn’t stand the thought that this precious baby might grow up without knowing Jesus. I prayed and asked God to someday let our paths cross again with this little girl. But since we will be moving to NYC, I honestly didn’t have much faith that this would ever happen. I got rid of all the baby things, making the nursery now empty, except for a bassinet in the closet. Most of the time, I kept the door to that room closed and avoided going in there unless we had guests and needed to put up a blowup mattress.
In January, my husband and I started full-time deputation to church plant in NYC. Going to different churches every service was difficult at times. Everyone would ask the same question in different ways, wondering why we didn’t have any kids. Sometimes if I felt comfortable sharing, I would tell them why, but most of the time I would say we were waiting on the Lord to give us children. Being on deputation full-time, meant I quit my job. I never thought I wouldn’t be working and not have a child. Having extra time at home, or even just in the car made my longing for a child even stronger. I questioned God’s timing in all of this but wanted to learn whatever it was He was trying to teach me. Jon and I have talked often about adopting again but knew we would never have the money to go through an adoption agency. We began praying about foster care, but also knew this wouldn’t be something we could do during this chapter of our lives. I thought maybe God was having us wait till we get to NYC to have children in our home. With all the abortions in NYC, I knew God must be working in some way. I was trying to have faith and trust Him.
Going through the failed adoption was much harder than our miscarriages. It took me about seven months, till March, to be okay with what God was doing. I felt God easing my grief, even though the desire to be a mom was still there. I started being open about my struggles and saw God put me in paths of other women who were also longing for children. I began keeping a prayer list of the ladies I knew who were praying for a baby. God seemed to let me meet many ladies who I think I was able to encourage and comfort because of what I had gone through. I also began to see God answer my prayers as He has already given several of the ladies children! God grew my faith as I watched Him answer prayers for babies for others, yet doubt lingered in my mind wondering if He would ever give me a child. Surrendering my desire to be a mom over to the Lord became almost a daily action for me. I knew this desire was somewhat from the Lord and wanted to be willing to give it entirely back to Him.
My husband has several messages that he preaches on the road, but his go-to one is from Mark chapter 5. Hearing this message over and over was just what I needed. Jairus came beseeching Jesus to go with him and heal his sick daughter. As Jesus was going with him, He stopped and took time for another person who had a need. While Jesus was healing someone else, Jairus got the news that his daughter had died. Jesus spoke such comforting words to him, “Be not afraid, only believe.” Every time Jon preached from this passage, God was saying those words to my hurting heart. Be not afraid. Only believe. Jon helped me realize that sometimes God allows needs in our life for the very purpose of drawing us to Jesus. The woman who had the issue of blood came to Jesus because of her need, just like the ruler of the synagogue did. Needs and trials are meant to draw us to the Lord, not push us away. Even though Jairus was in a momentary pause, losing his daughter, he believed the words of Jesus. I realized God allowed this “need” of having a child into my life to draw me closer to Him. I’m so thankful that God let me draw closer to Him.
But as we celebrated our fourth anniversary, we still didn’t have God meet this need. I saw God meeting needs of others around me and wondered if He forgot about me. But God needed to get me to the point where I would finally say that even if God never gives us children, we would still faithfully serve Him. The first few times Jon and I told God this, I was saying it out of duty instead of desire. But I finally did get to the point where I knew in my heart that this was true. I knew that I would faithfully serve God regardless of this need being met or not. I told God that I would still love and follow Him even if He never gives me children. Then I began asking God to take away the desire I had to be a mom. But that desire didn’t go away. I just kept hearing the words, “Be not afraid, only believe.” As August rolled around, the ache got a little stronger as I remembered it was exactly one year ago that God brought that little girl into our life. I replayed in my mind the times I had with the birth mom and wondered how they were doing. I was anxiously looking forward to the 22nd, hoping to see what that sweet little girl must look like now.
Sometime at the beginning of this year, I began working on a pallet sign. I’m sure many of you know what those are. I used to make them and enjoyed painting sayings or scriptures on them. I decided to make one that said, “It is well with my soul” for myself. But I never finished it. It sat in the garage all spring and summer. It wasn’t until August 17th that I decided to finish the sign since I was home that whole day. As I finished up the lettering, I was thinking about where to put this in our house. I decided to put it in the empty nursery. I propped it up on the ground in the corner of the room and kept the door open, so I would see the sign when I would walk by there. I thought it was a fitting reminder that it truly is well with my soul that I am in the season of life God wants me to be in right now. There are so many things God has taught me throughout this past year, and I can honestly say that I am thankful for God growing my faith and trusting in Him in these ways He saw fit. If I could sum everything up in one word, it would be God’s sovereignty. Things in life happen outside of our control and at times, not what we want. But God is sovereign and has a plan.
On August 18th, we got some extremely unexpected news. Our missionary friends in India, who told us about the baby we tried adopting last year, gave us a call that Sunday afternoon. They told us that Ellyanna was with their family and was waiting for us. They told us the birth parents said taking her back was the biggest mistake they have ever made, and had signed their rights back over to us if we still wanted her. By this time I couldn’t stop crying. We drove an hour to pick her up, praising God and in awe of what He was doing. When we walked into the living room where she was at, my heart stopped. There I saw this little girl that I had been praying for all throughout the past year. As we spent the first hour there with her and our friends, I was numb and in shock. As we held and played with her, my heart was so full. I never dreamed God would give her back to us. At best, I hoped somehow someday years down the road that God would let our paths cross with hers again, but God did something exceedingly abundantly above what I ever thought possible! The birth parents had a (shorter than last time) period in which they could change their minds again. Our friends offered to keep Ellyanna during this waiting period if we wanted them to. Jon and I looked at each other and I knew we both agreed… any day spent with her would be worth it, even if we lost her again. We knew we wanted to enjoy whatever time we had with her. As we put her in a borrowed car seat and borrowed a pack-n-play, we drove to our home. I couldn’t stop crying and thanking the Lord for putting her back in our lives. Going through that waiting period again was one of the hardest things, but I kept hearing those same words that Jesus said in Mark 5, “Be not afraid, only believe.” Each day we didn’t hear anything, we were anxious but excited. With every passing day, both emotions continued to build! We had several friends bring clothes and toys for her. Jon rescheduled meetings so we could stay in GA during the waiting period. This gave us time to bond with her and for her to get used to us. It also kept us from driving to Texas (where our meetings were scheduled that week) and have to turn around if the birth parents changed their mind again. We enjoyed every moment with this precious girl. That first week was full of tears and prayers lifted up to God in awe of what He was doing. I had prayed almost daily for God to give us a baby, and in just one day, I had one! I have made it a goal to praise God for every day for giving her to us. She is such a sweet, happy baby! It was almost as if she remembered us from those four days in the NICU, and she knew she was safe and loved. The birth parents wanted to meet with us again and see little Elly. We waited until the day after their waiting period was over to meet with them. My heart was so anxious about that day, but I kept putting it in God’s hands.
As the 22nd came, I was so overwhelmed with what God has done. I had hoped to see a picture of her on her birthday, and instead God gave me HER! It was truly the sweetest day ever, remembering exactly one year ago we were with her in the hospital. I was so overwhelmed by God’s goodness. I was in awe that He would do this for me. I have never felt so loved or humbled before. I did nothing to deserve this kind of goodness. And yet, God in His sovereignty just gave this little girl back to us for the second time! I then remembered my prayer about God getting glory from her life. God worked in this situation in such a unique way where only He can get all the glory for this. He is already using Elly’s story to bring glory and honor to Him! We lift our hands in praise to our amazing God for doing something that only He can do. We did end up meeting with her biological parents and her full sister. They have had a rough life but wanted what was best for Elly. We hope to stay in contact with them and continue sharing the love of Jesus with them. We went from being childless to having a one-year-old in literally one day! We have given Ellyanna back to God, and know that God has lent her to us. We want to raise her for His honor and glory. We hope and pray God will use her story to help reach people in New York City.
Being a mom is everything I dreamed it would be, and more. Sure it has its hard times, but the joy far outweighs those. It does take a lot of work, and everything takes a lot longer now. But deputation has been so much more fun with Ellyanna! She is truly the best and has a sweet, funny personality. She has brought such joy into our home, and we are so thankful for what God has done! Honestly, some mornings when I wake up, I am still in shock that I have a baby. I am in awe of what God has done for me. I love getting to share her story with people, and tell them how great my God is! God truly is so good, and He gets all the glory for this amazing story!