We did not set out with adoption in our hearts, instead, God sought us. I know that each of us is chosen to parent the children that we birth into life, but to actually see the process of the choosing through adoption? It is, in a word, humbling.
It was through the prayer of our daughter and our joining in prayer with family that brought a tiny little human to our doorstep. This little one never knew the love of a mother. Not in the womb, not at birth, not when she left the hospital. At just three days old she was given to an alternate caregiver because her body tested positive for cocaine. She was passed from home to home, person to person, each one caring for her in the only ways they knew how.
At eight weeks old, she crossed the threshold into our home, and once she did, we knew there was no going back. She was ours. That day began a year of fighting for the life of a child that was chosen for us. It meant battling the enemy with every ounce of our being. It meant looking straight into the face of Satan, knowing that God had gone before, and putting all fear behind us.
Because a battle for a soul was about to be waged.
A battle that had already been won at the cross, but was to be waged here on earth. For God had chosen to reach down and pluck this tiny human from the depths and give her new life. To change the path she no doubt would have gone down. The same path travelled by generations before her; a path into drugs, prostitution and most likely prison. This battle was going to take us straight into the darkness of this fallen world.
With His choosing we were given a responsibility to love and protect this child. We were given a love that was nothing short of the love you have for a child born of your own blood. We felt it grow inside us, this flowing of His love straight through us. We told her every day how much God loved her, how much we loved her and the special gift she was to us. There were days I would look at her and wonder why God chose us. We were humbled and honored and so head-over-heals for this tiny human.
We began the process of becoming licensed foster parents and were soon named alternative caregivers; all the while, having once a week visitation with the birth mother. For a month and a half we would meet with her for an hour. There was rarely a visit that she didn’t bring with her an entourage of people. She would quickly pick up this tiny human and pass her around to her friends as if she were some trophy she had won. It was awful to watch as this little wisp of a baby, that we knew God had given to us was passed about, bragged on, while this woman said, “That’s my baby.”
Her baby. For nine months she carried her in her womb and for nine months she abused her. She abused her with alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine and many other illegal substances. Substances that would leave lifelong scars on this precious little soul.
It was a hard thing to watch.
It is a feeling that runs deep with anxiety and fear. Just knowing this woman had the right to claim this child simply because she birthed her. Do not misunderstand. I am not discounting birth mothers; giving up a child for adoption is an amazing thing. A sacrifice, to not end the life of an unwanted pregnancy, and carry that baby for nine months. To place that baby in the arms of another, maybe someone who was never able to birth their own. It is a beautiful thing. But this woman did not put forth an ounce of effort in the attempt to make her life and home acceptable. Acceptable to the point that the state would let her take her child back and give her a home. Our state is one of making every effort to reunite children with birth families, so she was given opportunity upon opportunity. She knew her plan. She knew the steps she needed to take. But she chose not to do them.
Imagine how we felt when God asked us to help the birth mother. To offer her a way out of her current life and away from the drugs and the violence and the poverty. A new life that if accepted could result in us having to give back the child. But also a life filled with Jesus and rehab and vocational study. A gift. She simply had to say yes. Yes. Yes, when every ounce of me was bleeding for no.
But this is gospel. The hope of glory. The command to love one another as ourselves. That what we do for ones such as these we do unto Jesus. And who am I to say who does and doesn’t hear? Who does and doesn’t get the second chance? I felt my insides dying. My head was swimming with thoughts of this tiny human slipping from our fingertips as I reached for the phone.
My husband and I drove together, picked up the birth mother and rode in silence. We were a just a mere twenty minutes away from her second chance. The freedom she could receive from her past and a new future. I thought of Abraham as he led Isaac up the mountain. The anxiety he must have felt as knew he was taking his son to the sacrifice. The grief that must have set in as he built the altar. How he must have choked back tears when Isaac asked where the lamb was for the burnt offering?
It had just been earlier that I had spoken to her of Jesus and how He loves us. How He died for us, how He changes lives and redeems the broken. I sat with her as she spoke with the director of the facility, he too telling her of Jesus and His love and this opportunity she had to turn from her old life. There it was; the offer laid out on the table. The silence was deafening. I watched as she shifted in her chair, fidgeting her fingers and waited for her words.
She said no.
Jesus was standing right there with arms spread wide and she said no. No to Jesus and no to her daughter. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was relieved, but at the same time I was struck by her rejection of her own child. My heart broke for this tiny human whose own mother had made a selfish choice and walked away from her.
I pray for her from time to time. I pray that the seed planted that day will someday bloom and she will come to know all the joy and all the best things found in Jesus.
We did not see her again after that day. Though there were many calls, we had no more requests for visitation. It would take a year for our adoption to be final. It was not always easy. In fact, this was one of the hardest and scariest things I have ever walked through. Looking back, I am reminded of many situations that were far beyond safe and far beyond my control. It is sometimes surreal. Sometimes frightening. But through it all there was always God.
Shelly Richardson is a stay at home mom, married to her best friend, who loves her like Jesus. Together they have four beautiful daughters. One biological, one adopted and two by way of marriage.
Shelly writes at Beyond Borders. A place where she writes out her story of living beyond her borders. A place to share of God’s love and grace, His mercy and sovereignty, and what that looks like in her own little world of chronic illness and autism. A place where courage and faith intersect and He moves her actions. Her hope in her writing is that you find something that inspires you. Encourages you. Makes you smile.