There has been much on our minds and in our hearts these recent months. Mostly, we’ve been acclimating to this new reality that our family is expanding by not just one but two more children. Toddlers no less. And all in a very short amount of time from now.
Truth be told, I have had moments of fear. Of questioning. What are we doing? How are we going to manage? Lord, is this really your will? ‘Cause I am not feeling so qualified.
But it’s in these darker moments of fear and doubt (which usually happens at night – when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep) that I reassure myself by going back to how we discerned that this whole endeavor. I remind myself that this would not, could not have come about without a Divine Hand leading the way…and that same Hand will continue to guide and support us.
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It’s not like adopting two was a huge surprise. When we prepared our home study and dossier, we requested to be approved for the possibility of twins or a sibling set. Still, when we received the file of little Joseph, it was joyful yet sobering experience. Here was a little boy who was lingering on a waiting child list because he had more/multiple needs, who had an unknown number of families look at his file and pass on him. There are questions about his true condition and his future which won’t be adequately answered until he is seen by doctors here in the US. And even then, time will ultimately tell what the future will hold for our boy in terms of mobility, fine and gross motor skills and a host of other concerns.
The responsibility of deciding to welcome another child into your home is never one to be taken lightly. But this was not a + pregnancy test. Nor was it an ultrasound revealing an unexpected twin. In neither case would we have chosen anything other than life of course. But this was different. Here was a situation in which we were well within our moral right and could in good conscience return his file and not look back if it really was not a good fit for our family.
But how does one really know? In cases like this, how can we be sure?
Simply put, you pray and wait for God to make the next move. And in this case, He indeed moved our hearts and told us (whispered really), clearly and audibly…
How am I so sure of this? Put on the lenses of faith and don your armor of trust and read on…
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The prospect of bringing home two toddlers – both special needs – was crazy. Wasn’t it? We had one baby waiting for us, wasn’t it asking for trouble to rock the boat?
Problem was, I had fallen hopelessly in love with Joseph. Mike’s heart too was moved but he also saw the glaring and real possibility that we stood a very good risk of delaying Marianna’s homecoming (read: get her out of institutionalized care ASAP) what with the paperwork involved in getting a second, concurrent adoption processed.
(This is, by the way, just how our marriage operates: Mike is the head and I am the heart. I am the one who often plants an idea, he is the details man who works out the logistics.)
We clearly needed guidance. We had just a matter of days to decide one of the biggest decisions of our lives before we’d have to either accept or return his file. We pleaded with God to make His path known to us. The question was…would He expedite His grace to make His will known for us?
That same day we saw Joseph’s picture for the first time, I took the kids to daily Mass. Due to errands that needed to be run, we went to a parish on the other side of town. The thought of that sweet face was heavy on my mind and heart as I sat in the pew and listened to the Word and followed the prayers of the Liturgy.
Lord if this is meant to be, give us sign to pursue it.
I looked up at the Tabernacle and saw two angels adoring the Eucharistic Lord.
One in pink, one in blue.
Now I had been to this parish dozens times before but I had never taken notice of the angels. One girl and one boy? I took note of it (and snapped a picture) but decided that this alone was not confirmation enough.
Besides, we had learned that there was another family who was currently viewing his file (our agency only allows a file to be viewed by one family at a time.) Would this family accept his file or pass on him? Which way were they leaning?
Please God, your will be done.
Four days later on March 3 my phone buzzed with a new email: the previous family had indeed returned his file.
Here it was: his file with pictures and what limited medical info they had on him. Just a week before, we had opened Marianna’s file and within milliseconds the decision in the affirmative was made. But this…was harder. These were all special needs we had been open to…at least individually. But here was a child with multiple needs…all in one, beautiful, fearfully-made package. All being born by one little soul who would forever experience life a little bit differently than the rest of us.
Mike got home from work a few hours later. He cracked a grin. He too had seen the email. We agreed we needed some time to think and pray. But our hearts were mutually and progressively being tugged in the same direction.
Earlier, on my mother’s recommendation, I downloaded the mP3 of a talk by a well-known speaker and retreat master, Fr. Larry Richards, entitled Knowing God’s Will. I hit play and listened while I mindlessly scrubbed baseboards. It was balm to the soul and offered very good and real advice on how to make a decision between two morally neutral options.
The message was clear: go to Adoration. Bring your bible. Pray. Then shut up. Just be prepared to listen.
It was now Ash Wednesday and I walked into the Adoration chapel clutching my bible. I prayed as I flipped the pages.
Lord, let your Word speak to me.
My eyes fell on Esther 4:15:
“…fast and pray for 3 days…”
Ok, well today was Ash Wednesday and I was already fasting and praying…coincidence? One more time. Flip…flip…flip…Isaiah 62:4…
“No longer will they call you ‘forsaken’
nor name your land ‘desolate’.
But you will be called my delight
and your land shall be ‘espoused’.
for the Lord has taken delight in you,
and your land will be espoused.”
One more time I flipped the pages of God’s Word and my eyes fell on Isaiah 54, 1-3:
Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.
Here is was. A clear call to action. Not only did it give clear instructions about making room for more, it also contained a nod to the long struggle with infertility and exhortation to rejoice because of it and even the promise of hope ahead.
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I texted these scriptural passages to Mike and couldn’t wait to get home to talk. He too had happened upon similar references in his spiritual reading that utterly confirmed for us the direction we were to take. The very next day, we submitted our Letter of Intent for Joseph which started the wheels turning for getting both children home. The next several days were a whirlwind of getting documents pushed through notaries and trips around the state capital and US Dept of State and Chinese Consulates. In a matter of weeks we had cleared the next several milestones of the process.
And here we are now, a near-record 3 1/2 months later, just weeks away from departing for China. Rather than delaying the process of bringing Marianna home, Joseph by all accounts has assisted us in bringing he and his sister home a little more quickly than we had originally hoped.
I have a feeling this is only the beginning of how these two will help each other out in the years ahead.
Not gonna lie…we continue to have our moments of worry and fear and anxiety about all the what-if’s and unknowns ahead. But we know that these feelings are not from the Lord. It won’t be easy to bring two special needs children into our home but the Lord’s hand has so clearly been guiding us along – we have zero cause to doubt our decision. None. We haven’t gotten this far without help from above and know He will continue to be with us in the years ahead. So we actively choose to look ahead with joy and confidence to the exciting journey that lies just ahead.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)