We had a great Christmas party with our small group tonight. As christmas carols wafted from the iphone station, we stuffed ourselves silly. The kids decorated cupcakes and sang happy birthday to Jesus and then burned off the sugar by pelting each other with balloons. We also showed off pictures of Ella and caught them up on how our trip went.
And I realized in the midst of this that I have failed to share the most important part of our story here on our blog - how God led us to Ella. So here is our testimony.
When we were trying to conceive Colvin, it took over a year to get pregnant, and we decided through much prayer that if we could not get pregnant on our own, we would adopt. We got pregnant, but the seed for adoption was also planted. Georgia was a beautiful surprise blessing we didn't have to try for at all. So adoption kept getting pushed to the back burner. It was this thing that we liked to talk about doing in the nebulous future when our kids were older.
Until one day I followed a link from a Christian mom's blog who was adopting through Reece's Rainbow, an organization that advocates for orphans with special needs. I clicked on that link and began staring into the face of overwhelming need, so many children who were desperate to be loved and cherished. Scanning these little faces, I stopped at one, a toddler named Elvira. She was the spitting image of Ryan as a baby, and she looked like she had been crying. I quickly closed the window and pushed her image out of my head. Their pain was too much to keep looking at, especially when I knew we could not adopt a child right then. Our children were too young. We couldn't handle it.
A week or so later, I found my way back to Reece's Rainbow again to look at Elvira. Of all the sweet waiting faces I had looked at, hers was the one I couldn't stop thinking about. I read her profile for the first time. It said she was recently taken off the HIV list and was believed to have cerebral palsy but could crawl well. I read it over a few more times and thought, "God, is she supposed to be mine?" A sense of peace came over me, and I felt with certainty that she did not have cerebral palsy. I've never had a feeling of certainty about a stranger's medical condition before, so I thought, "That's weird." And then I thought how much glory it would bring God if it were true. Was God telling me this because she was supposed to be ours? The rational side of my brain also reasoned that even if she did have cerebral palsy, it was probably mild since she was crawling well. I have known several people with cerebral palsy in my life, and they were all able to live independent, full lives.
So I prayed about it and felt like God wanted me to bring her picture to Ryan. He was working in his office down the hall, completely unaware of what was going on in his wife's head and heart. I figured Ryan would tell me I was crazy, our kids were too young, and we couldn't handle it. Then I would know it wasn't meant to be, I was mistaken about hearing from God, and I could stop agonizing about it. But that's not what happened. Instead he looked at her picture, read about her, and said, "She's beautiful." Which is also the first thing he said when he saw Georgia after she was born. Then he said, "I'll pray about it."
And he did. And he heard, "Yes." He thought we should start the process and keep praying and listening.
Wow, I did not expect that. The next 10 days I was an emotional basketcase. I was a weeping, praying, on my knees, scouring my Bible for answers, pouring my heart out to the ladies at Bible study... mess. I was questioning whether I could deal with three kids, if she was the right child for us, what if she had more needs than we could handle, the effect it would have on Georgia with them being so close in age. You name it, I questioned it. Through all of that, God finally brought me to a place of peace and said, "Trust me. One step at a time."
After sending a few questions to her orphanage, we found out that what I heard that day while staring into the face of a stranger was true - Ella does not have cerebral palsy. Knowing that God gave me this special knowledge has helped me so much to know she was meant for us. Thank you, God, for giving me that. I am a person who likes to KNOW, and God gave me just what I needed - no more, no less.
I think sometimes people think that you have to be a saint to adopt, that there was no fear or indecision. Anyone who knows us knows we are nowhere in that ballpark. We try hard, but frequently fail. We are not perfect parents. We were so scared when we began this process. But our story is proof that God can hold your hand through anything.