The first thing I want you to understand is that we realize we’re no different from anyone else. We’ve all found ourselves in situations beyond our power, beyond being able to do anything but trust God. There are people I know who have greater faith than I’ll ever have. There are people who have walked through storms which I would never be able to travel. I won’t pretend that I’m a great giant of faith. I’m not. I won’t deceive you into thinking that my hope never ran out through the journey that brought us to Sara Madalin. It did. I won’t lie and say I deserve in any way all that God has done for us. I don’t. But God has been faithful to us. In the book of Revelation, chapter 12, verse 11, we’re told that our testimony is a great power used in overcoming the devil. It is one of our greatest weapons against him. At times I’ve allowed Satan to beat me up emotionally and spiritually over the past several years. My testimony is my way of being obedient to share what God has done. I’ll be honest, it’s difficult for me to share some of the things God has laid on my heart.
For those of you who know me, you know I like to have a plan, or a schedule, for everything I do. If anything causes a change to my plan, I sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to those changes. Well, by the time I graduated high school I had a life “plan”. The plan was that I would finish college, be married by age 21, be established in a career by 25 and have my first child by 26, and my third and final child by 32. Well, I had a few revisions to my plan. I married at age 23. I finished college 2 years after I was married – at age 25. Sounds like there were some revisions to my plan my, huh?
I want to talk to you about the revision God made to my plan in relation to children. After our 2nd wedding anniversary in 1998, Reagan and I started trying to have a child. We were both a little scared but we were excited at the possibility of having children. A year passed, and no pregnancy. Everybody was telling me to relax and stop thinking about it. They said I was just too stressed and anxious. Well, that stressed me out and made me think about it more because I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about it.
After about 4 or 5 years passed, we decided we probably needed to look into things with a fertility specialist. So we got a number of a doctor and during the summer of 2003 I finally called the office and scheduled an appointment. That doctor’s visit was the first of many. We saw a number of specialists from September 2003 until July 2004. At each appointment we’d go with hope that this was going to be our answer. This doctor would be able to help us have a baby. But each time we’d leave with a little less hope. In 2004 it finally came down to two options – in vitro fertilization or adoption. To cover our bases, we scheduled a test for IVF, placed our name on an embryo adoption list, and contacted a domestic adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services.
About a month later we finally had our last IVF test. We were called back the next morning with the results and on a Friday in July 2004 I was told that my husband and I would never be able to conceive biological children. That was painful to hear. One way God speaks to both me and Reagan is through music. We often have Christian, inspirational music playing in our vehicles or home. The words of a song that the group Selah sings clearly says what Reagan and I tried to do after that day in July. The words of the song are, “When the valley is deep/When the mountain is steep/When the body is weary/When we stumble and fall/When the choices are hard/When we’re battered and scarred/When we’ve spent our resources/When we’ve given our all/In Jesus’ name we press on.”
After the call we sat there and cried for a long time. Then… Reagan got up and went to work. I got up and cleaned my house. We chose to press on. We still hurt. But life continued. We couldn’t understand why God would not allow us to have children. Why would He let us hurt like this? We would testify of Him and His greatness if He would just change things and give us children. Looking back, I see that at the time, I wanted a child for very selfish reasons, as if God owed it to me. God doesn’t owe me anything. Having a child is not something I deserve. And quite honestly, I don’t think that was the testimony that God wanted from us. I think God required something else from us. He wanted a testimony of faithfulness through the trial. Not of our faithfulness, but His. I’ve heard a friend say before that faith is not believing in God to do what you want, but believing in God even when wedon’t get what you want. Even through the questions, the hurt, the tears, we knew He was faithful. We knew He saw the whole picture. He has seen it from the beginning of time. We’ve learned that sometimes the wait isn’t about us at all. And even though our hearts were broken and we mourned for the children we would never have, we knew He had a plan so much greater than ours. Our tears didn’t stop just because that day ended. We cry to this day over the loss of that hope of having children. But we are committed to spending our life serving God. We knew we had to press on.
Some time in December 2004 we got a letter from a counselor at Bethany inviting us to a meeting in January 2005 to begin adoption paperwork. We made plans to go to the meeting. It was the first of many meetings and packets and forms. And so we began a new wait. There were times we thought our wait was about to end. One time, a couple years ago, that was very painful for us. For me, especially. I wish I could say that I bounced back and was strong in my faith and I saw and believed that it was all part of God’s greater plan. I tried for a time to believe that. But after the adoption loss two years ago I reached my lowest point. I didn’t even realize for quite some time how deeply it did affect me. Slowly I gave up. On pretty much everything. I lost my hope…
Another year passed with Bethany. I kept seeing and hearing of adoption placements with them. We were their longest waiting couple and had been for at least two years. Why weren’t people choosing us? What was wrong? Did the birthmothers coming in think we were too old? Too physically unattractive? Did the fact that our profile mentioned our involvement in church and missions scare them? A million questions seemed to come to my mind.
Then finally, about a year ago, Peggy called. She wanted us to come in to their offices to discuss a possible placement. It was a little boy who was three months old. She had been working on the case for quite some time. She said she wanted it to really work out more smoothly, but that hadn’t happened yet. The child was in foster care and the man who had been named as his biological father wouldn’t sign off on the paperwork until a paternity test was done. But he never would have a paternity test. Bethany really wanted to get the child out of foster care and place him with an adoptive family. We discussed the situation with Peggy and decided it was a risk we weren’t willing to take. There was the possibility that we’d take the child home and in a few months, the father would show up at court and the baby could be taken from us. Reagan and I knew that I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to handle that. So, we told her we had to pass on this child.
About a month later it was time to renew our contract with Bethany. I told Reagan I didn’t want to renew. I told him that I’d had enough. For so long I could see a future with children. I no longer saw that. I no longer had that hope. I told him, and really began to believe, that maybe God’s plan was for us to have a vision for something else. Missions. Helping the children in our lives now – our nephews, the children at church. I told him it was just too hard to even plan anything for our future, because there was always the uncertainty of getting a call. A call that just never came.
In all honesty, I just didn’t have the hope of children in my heart anymore. For as long as I can remember, all I’ve wanted to be was someone’s mother. Not that I think I would be great at it. But I was created with this longing in my heart to nurture. But I began to think that maybe my longing was misguided. Maybe there was something else I was supposed to do, someone else, besides a child of my own, that I was supposed to nurture.
So, Reagan contacted Bethany, after several months, actually, and told them we weren’t going to renew. I’m not sure who he spoke with, Peggy or Karen, but they encouraged us to try one more year. He talked about it with me. And then we did something we’d stopped doing after the hurt of losing the child two years ago. We REALLY prayed about what to do. Not that we hadn’t prayed in two years. But we really began to cry out to God again about this area of our life. After a few weeks, Reagan called them back and said we would renew for one more year, but that if nothing happened this year, we were going to move on.
Some time in January Peggy came to our house for our home study to renew our contract. We had a time of sharing with her. I opened up to her a little more about how I felt. And she said something to me that could have only been from God. I’d heard it just a few months before from someone else during another situation that Reagan and I had been through. I was talking to her about the losses of the past couple years – not just the failed adoption, but other situations in our lives where we’ve experienced loss. I told her that I had a lot of grief that I was just beginning to deal with. I was mourning a lot of things and I just didn’t know if I was really in an emotional state to have a child even if one became available. She told me that she understood. And then she said, referring to the losses, “God never wastes a hurt.” She went on to tell me that she believed God wouldn’t have allowed the grief and difficulty to come into our lives that we’ve faced over the past couple years if He didn’t have a plan for us and for the child God had for us. I told her I just didn’t have any hope left. She said, “That’s ok. We have hope for you.”
Just a few weeks after that, Reagan and I were riding to our Monday night Spanish class. He very seriously said to me, “I need to talk to you about something. It might upset you, but I have to tell you.” I really had no idea what he was about to tell me. He went on to share with me that Susie had called him and that she had been in touch with a young girl who was pregnant and wanted to place her child with an adoptive family. My first question was, how far along was she? The second was, “Does she know the sex of the child?” When he told me she was having a little girl and that she was due in early summer, I began to cry. The child we lost two years ago was a girl born in May.
Well, we never made it to class that night. We drove to Wayne and Susie’s. She told us about the situation. She had spoken with the girl who was pregnant, Sayra, and Sayra wanted to meet us. I didn’t really want to go that far. I had gotten to the point where if we were going to adopt, I didn’t want any involvement, I didn’t want anything but a call AFTER all paperwork was done and a child was going home with me. Notice how many times I said “I.” God, as is His nature, had different plans. So, Susie talked to us that night and I finally told her, “I just don’t know if I can trust this girl.” And again I shared that I really didn’t have any hope left. And she quoted Jeremiah 29:11 to me, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for a hope and a future.” She said the same thing that Peggy did, that she would hope for me until I was strong enough again to hope.
So we met Sayra a few weeks after that. We also met her two children, her sister, her mother, and her brother. See, God’s plan wasn’t just for us to adopt a child. His plan was for us to build relationships. To minister to this birthmother and her family. You don’t have that with an adoption where you’re just handed a child. Not only did we have an opportunity to minster to this family, Susie has had an even greater ministry than we have.
As we began to wait for Sayra’s child to arrive, Susie kept telling me, “Now I’m praying for twins. I’m praying for another call and you’re going to adopt two babies at one time.” I have learned that when Susie prays, she means business. While we were waiting on baby Sara to be born, I received a call from our fertility doctor. We had not heard from their office in four years. They said they had two embryos if we were still interested in adopting them. Two embryos. That would be twins for those of you who are a little slow with the math. She wanted to know if we were still interested in embryo adoption and transfer. We talked about it. We prayed about it. We knew it would be crazy because now there was a possibility of going from no children to three children in less than a year. It was a crazy idea, but what if this was God finally answering all those prayers we’d prayed for so long. We came to the conclusion that if God was opening this door, after all our praying, then we would be disobedient not to walk through it. So, in early April I began a regimen of medicine and shots to prepare my body to receive these two babies. For weeks, we joked about how shocked everyone would be when we not only adopted Sayra’s child, but then also turned around and told everyone we’re pregnant with twins. On April 25 I had an in-office procedure where the embryos were placed in my uterus. It took all of about 10 minutes. I was put on bed rest for three days. I was taking 5 pills a day orally, as well as the shots Reagan gave me each morning. On May 5 I had a pregnancy test. The only one I’ve ever had. I wish I could tell you that it was positive. But it wasn’t. Again I questioned, why. Why would God present this opportunity after all this time only for it to fail? If He really was in control of everything, why another disappointment? Why not just notpresent this at all? See, I’m not the strong woman of faith that I would love you to believe I am. I am weak. I question. I have been angry. I’ve cried. I’ve hurt. But God has remained faithful even in my weakness.
Time passed. We went to see Sayra a second time. Then Susie and I went up a third time, May 16. We went to a doctor’s visit with Sayra. She was about 4 weeks from her due date. She reassured us that she was still planning to place her child with us through adoption. After that visit I came home and Reagan and I began final preparations for a child. We still held off on major purchases, like nursery furniture and such. But we began all the paperwork that our attorney required and so forth. And we still kept things quiet. We tried to remain reserved. We only told a few people about the adoption. Not only was our loss two years ago painful for us, we realize it was painful for many people who care about us. We wanted to spare as many people as we could that hurt a second time.
On May 20, I was out running errands and Reagan called me. He told me that I needed to turn around and go home, that Sayra’s water had broken. FOUR WEEKS EARLY! I immediately went home. So, that afternoon, Reagan, Susie and I traveled to north Mississippi. We got to the hospital and Sayra was not yet in active labor. After a short visit with her at the hospital, we all went back to our hotel for the night. Her doctor induced the next morning and at 9:00 a.m., God breathed life into our firstborn child. Susie was there. She helped Sayra through delivery. Reagan and I got to be there too. You see, we had prayed for a child, but God gave us so much more. He allowed us the privilege of seeing her birth, something that rarely happens in adoption cases. It wasn’t something we asked Sayra for. It was something she gave us. I haven’t had the opportunity to share much about Sayra, but she is probably one of the most selfless people I’ve met. Yes, she’s flawed. We all are. She’s made mistakes. But, to borrow the words of the apostle Paul, “I am the chief among sinners.” Sayra carried my little girl for 9 months. She went through labor and delivery. She held this child in her arms. Then she placed her in mine. She gave me the gift of a child. She allowed me to be a part of this child’s birth. Her family and friends were so loving and kind to us. God had a plan that we never could have conceived in our feeble, finite minds. He gave us things we never even imagined asking for.
There is so much I could tell you about that week. The emotions. The fears. The relief. But the only thing that really matters to me is that God was faithful. In His time, in His perfect plan, He answered all our prayers and more. Many of the questions I’ve had over the past several years, I’m seeing answers to some of those. The failed adoption two years ago, we understand more as time goes by why that wasn’t His perfect plan. The failed embryo transfer a few months ago, I understand now. There is no way I could be two months pregnant and care for a newborn the way that she needs to be cared for. There are questions I don’t know the answers to. I may never know the answers. But now they don’t really matter. All that matters is that God is faithful. God does hear the cries of our hearts. He does care for us. And He does have a plan for those who call Him Lord.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that everything is gravy from here on out. She’s a very good baby. Life has changed at our house, but for us it seems only for the better. But as Susie reminds me again and again, she’s only a few weeks old. I know there are going to be nights where it seems she’ll never stop crying. I know I’ll have throw up to clean up. I have teething to look forward to and chicken pox and disagreements and first loves and a broken heart to mend. But I am so thankful that God has given me and Reagan an opportunity to experience those things. Yes, I know we’re going to fail miserably. Yes, I know we are going to eat a lot of words we’ve spoken about other people’s kids and how “If that was my child…” God didn’t answer our prayers for a child because He knew we’d be great at it. But He answered our prayers.
In the Old Testament, when God answered the prayers of His people or when He did a mighty work, they would make a pile of stones, an altar of praise, in remembrance of what He’d done. In addition to our testimony, we’d like to share our pile of stones with you. Our altar, if you will, our offering of praise, is in the form of photos and video. It serves as our reminder of how God answered our prayers. How God answered your prayers. There are many of you who have prayed for us through these years of waiting. I told Reagan not long ago that you carried my cot. In the New Testament, there is a story of a man whose friends carried him on his cot to see Jesus. He was lame, weak, tired, maybe he had lost his faith, his hope. For whatever reason, he was unable to carry himself to the feet of Christ. But he had a group of friends. Those friends not only carried him to where Christ was, they created an opening in the roof where He was teaching and they lowered this man to the feet of the Messiah, the Healer. I’ve had people like that in my life these past few years. To you, I say, thank you for carrying my cot. I couldn’t have made it here without you.
In this video, you’re going to hear a song by Stephen Curtis Chapman. It’s about adoption and it goes so well with our story. But as you watch it, don’t just think about us and how it relates to us. Think about yourself. If you are a believer, you’ve been adopted too. Just as we waited for our child to come home, God waited for you. As you see our reaction to the answer to our prayers, think about your heavenly Father’s reaction when you were born into His family. My tears and excitement in this video are nothing compared to the celebration in heaven when you became a joint heir with Christ. And if you aren’t a part of this family, imagine how Jesus intercedes to the Father for you. Just as I pleaded with God for my child, Jesus prays for you. God’s word says that Christ is forever making intercession for you. Imagine the joy on the face of all of heaven when you were adopted into the family of God. There’s a line in the song that Reagan and I both love. It says, “In a moment, what has been, is lost in what will be.” The moment I held Sara Madalin in my arms, I forgot so many of the things of the past – the hurt, the tears, the questions. I began to think of our future with her. As soon as we accept Christ, that’s how it is for us. All the things of the past are forgotten by God and all He sees is our future.
Adoption is very dear to our heart and we are so thankful for what God has done in our lives through the gift of adoption. If you are interested in reading our adoption testimony, click HERE.
I'm Malinda. I enjoy spending time with those I love, and sharing on our blog the memories we make together. If you take time out of your day to read the things I post here, know that I am grateful that you do.
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