It was 2010. In the few months prior to the life-changing car ride my husband and I took passing fields upon fields to southern Missouri, I felt like I'd swum to the bottom of the ocean and was just coming up for air.
For many months, I'd become familiar with the darkness of loss. I'd wandered the earth as a wounded soul. A second case of colon cancer came unexpectedly and reawakened the survivor in me. It also changed the course of our adoption plans.
Adoption wasn't a hard sell for me; I'd had the call on my heart as a child and made peace with it being my route to parenthood after my first diagnosis. But I'd set my heart on international adoption from Ethiopia. With my second cancer, working with an international adoption agency and heading to Africa was not a possibility for at least 5 years. Nobody wanted to let the sick girl adopt a baby.
The ache of infertility swelled with each pregnancy announcement.
From the outside, I looked fine. But on the inside, I was anything but fine. I was sad. Confused. A little dazed. And unconsciously angry.
I held it in until I couldn't hold it any longer. I called a counselor who gently helped me start pulling back the layers. And I got some alone time.
For the first time since we'd begun dating when I was 16 years old, my husband and I spent 10 days apart as he left to lead worship for a youth camp. In those 10 days, I drank wine. I went on walks and hogged all of the pillows in the bed. And I started really praying again.
I began journaling about my pain and frustration. I opened up about my desire to be a mom and I asked God to make a way. I partially doubted He heard me, but I prayed anyway. I wanted to believe He cared. The darkness began to lighten a little.
Mike came home and a few weeks later during the car ride where we passed fields upon fields to southern Missouri, headed to meet our newly born niece, I approached the subject of parenthood with him. I shared I'd been praying for God to make me a mom and provide direction for us. In a quick, one-word reply, our lives changed forever.
"September." Mike said. "God told me we need to start the process in September."
Starting in September
As we drove, the sound of our tires rotating against the highway grew louder as silence made us soak in what was happening. We were two weeks into the month of September already.
There was no time for frustration from a lack of communication because obedience meant we needed to process quickly and act fast. We began the adoption process a few days later when we got home.
Throughout fall of 2010, we got adoption plans in place. We found an adoption agency that worked with cancer survivors and felt a peace about pursuing domestic adoption. A generous grant from The Samfund paid for our home study. Friends who'd adopted gave us advice. Family and friends offered generous financial gifts to help us. We prepared our hearts to be parents and assumed, based on agency estimates, we'd be parents within 5-9 months - May at the earliest.
By the first of January, all of our paperwork was submitted, our home study was approved and we were waiting to receive the news we'd gone "active" with the agency.
And then we received the text.
Great is thy Faithfulness
If you're familiar with our adoption story, you know the text we got that cold January night changed everything. Three weeks later, we brought home a 4-month-old baby girl (from our hometown!) and quickly became Mama and Daddy. Amidst the dramatically intense emotional roller coaster during the three weeks leading up to her adoption, we looked for signs we were on the right track. One of the biggest confirmations:
Our baby girl was born in September.
That September day in 2010 that welcomed her into the world was 7 years ago today. I'm thankful that 7 years ago, we obeyed the call to start the adoption process. As we've celebrated our daughter's birthday for the past few days, I'm in awe of how incredible of a gift she is to us. And I am struck by God's faithfulness.
In the nights I prayed, journaled and cried blaming God for my second cancer, yet asking him to make me a mom, God's been faithful.
In the hours that a birth mom wrapped up her baby girl and hoped for God to give her a good life, even if that meant letting someone else raise her - God's been faithful.
In the hope that my husband heard God correctly and we stepped out in faith to adopt, God's been faithful.
Despite my doubt that beauty could come from ashes, God's been faithful.
As our daughter has grown from a baby to a beautiful, radiant, joyful, kind and creative 7-year-old little girl, God's been faithful.
From September to September, God's been faithful.