An Integral Part

originally posted May 2018

Today’s beautiful story is shared by my amazing sister-in-law, Amy.  She lived in China with her sweet husband and their now five beautiful children(one more sweet boy was added after this article was originally published).  I hope that her journey of adoption will inspire you today to listen as Heavenly Father guides you along every step of your journey.

“Adopting has been something my husband, Sam, and I discussed even before we were married (although at that time it was tossed around in a rather abstract, very hypothetical “perhaps-some-distant-time- in-the- future” kind of way).  We were later blessed with three delightful & very energetic biological daughters, my oldest being 3 ½
when my third daughter was born.

Ten months later, while up to my neck in babies and toddlers, I felt inexplicably compelled to attend a volunteer orientation meeting at my city’s local orphanage.  I knew I simply did not have the flexibility to go to the orphanage weekly to hold and feed the babies as the volunteers generally did (I was holding and feeding my own babies at home!), but I felt the Spirit of God nearly kick me out my door the morning of the orientation.  My brain was telling me “you don’t have time for this! You have other pressing responsibilities.  At another stage in your life you can volunteer at the orphanage, etc,”; my brain told me all of these things and more as my body put on my coat and shoes, opened the front door, and hit the elevator button sending me downstairs and on my way to the orphanage.

That day I met Claire at the orphanage, a 2-week- old preemie with a complete double cleft lip and pallet. She desperately needed more attention than she could be afforded at the orphanage. She was in my thoughts constantly for the next two days, until I tentatively asked Sam how he would feel about fostering a baby from the orphanage, just for a few months to help her put on some weight to prepare for surgery. Sam didn’t miss a beat in his emphatic and immediate support of this idea! A few days later we brought the tiny bundle that was Claire to our home. We fostered Claire for the next 11 months.

In the process of caring for and bonding with Claire, we felt a desire to adopt become palpable in our hearts. More specifically, Sam was 100% on board to adopt Claire.  I was less sold on the idea, but as we prayed about adopting Claire, we felt the Spirit urge us to begin the adoption process.  We began to trudge through the arduous journey of paperwork, fees, home visits, formal training’s, and more and more paperwork.  I am certainly not one who would endure that much paperwork and red tape if it weren’t for the love I had for this little girl.  All the while we were told by Claire’s orphanage
that adopting her was impossible (China does not allow fostering-to- adopt), but still we felt to move forward with adopting.

Until a fateful day not long before Christmas, when our prayers received a different answer: we were told that Claire is not for us; and that we are not for her.  I was shocked, and heartbroken, and felt so betrayed.  Hadn’t we understood the Lord correctly when He told us to adopt her?!  How could He let me love this child as my own daughter, and then shut that door so abruptly?

Within a few days, Claire went to live with another foster family, and I was left with a terrible aching hole in my soul.  I cried constantly. Caring for 4 children 4 years old and under, one of which had high maintenance special needs, was exhausting, and yet I did not seem to feel how exhausting it had been until Claire left.

Then it seemed as though my whole body exhaled for the first time in almost a
year.  And the relief I felt in her absence filled me with guilt.  And I missed her.  I missed her in every way a mother misses her lost child.  And for a time, I refused to continue our adoption process.  It hurt too much, and I was angry with God.

But as all good parents are, my Father in Heaven was patient with my limited understanding, and He was gentle with my aching heart.  And He did send comfort. He did not take away my aching love for Claire, or how much I missed her (I carry those pains in my heart even now), but He helped me to heal, and to understand a little more.

And surprisingly, the Lord continued to urge us to adopt.  Claire was no longer the prize, but some other soul meant for our home was clearly out there.  The day we received the email with my son’s adoption file to consider was a day I will always remember.  The minute I opened his file, I knew he was the one.  We had three days to consider his
file and then decide to accept this match, or to continue waiting for another prospective match.  But I didn’t need 3 days; I knew in less than 3 minutes that this was my son.

For once the tides were turned, and Sam was the one who took more time to be sure.  For once I was not the one holding back!  And unbelievably, I felt nothing but joy and peace – something I had always lacked earlier on in our adoption process.

We brought my son, Isaac, home on October 12, 2015 when he was 8 months old; a day filled with so much joy it almost hurt.  Just like with my newborns, I spent the day in awe of this beautiful little boy; admiring his fingers and toes, the darling way he tried to crawl but could go in reverse, and always those amazing chocolate eyes!  His warm skin was so kissable, and I could barely fathom that he was really mine!  How did I get so lucky!?

Isaac is an indispensable part of our family!  He is a very busy 3 year old boy now, who has run us ragged with trying to keep up with him, but oh how we love our little menace! And what a glorious day two years ago when we were sealed as his family forever in the temple!

When this boy who in his beginning had no one, suddenly was bound to a father and mother, three eager sisters, four grandparents, 28 aunts and uncles and over 50 cousins! I imagined him being carefully placed exactly where he belonged in the great web of eternal family.

I know that I have far too many failings, and I worry sometimes (although perhaps not often enough!) about how much I have been given verses how much I give.  But when I look at my son, I feel a deep satisfaction knowing that I have done at least one good thing in this world. I have given a child a home and a loving family, and all the while I am all the richer because of him in my life!

I know that Isaac is mine, and was always meant to be mine.  I am not jealous that someone else gave him his beautiful dark eyes and hair that sticks up like bristles on a scrub brush; but I do sometimes grieve that I never got to hold him as a newborn, and that I missed many of his early mile-stones.

I am deeply sorry that I will never have all of the answers to the questions he will ask us.  Occasionally the unknowns that accompany adoption peck at the back of my mind, but the Lord has taught me that it is worth the unknowns.
We are adopting again this year, and I am eager to find the little soul who will call me mother, the son or daughter I will reach out and pull to my heart fiercely as only a mother can. I am in awe of the miracle of how the Lord has brought my family together – all of our children equally mine and wholly the Lord’s regardless of whose tummy bore them.

Adoption is a truly beautiful thing that I am humbled and honored to be a part of.”

Truly their journey to adoption is inspired.  I hope that the inspiration you seek in your life will be found, and your journey made more sweet because of it.

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