She came to us as a surprise.
A big surprise.
In mid-May of last year, we were still reeling from the passing of our beautiful Esther when our agency contacted us to broach an incredibly painful subject.
What exactly did we want to do with our dossier for Esther?
It took us days to even be able to consider *thinking* about it. How could we? All we wanted was Esther. Our hearts ached for her. Thinking of anything else seemed to minimize who Esther was to us. And the place she would always hold in our hearts.
But we prayed for – more than anything our hearts or heads might be telling us – God’s will. He had shown up as never before when we were working to bring Esther home. We had seen His hand moving so very clearly. And we both knew that He had not abandoned us. That Esther’s death was not a surprise to Him. And that, more than anyone, He loved Esther, too.
And so we determined to trust Him above all.
Wresting with the weight of such a big decision, I simply felt lost. In a fog. I determined that Chris should make the final decision and that I should simply wait. I knew that no matter what I was feeling – which truly changed from minute to minute, hour to hour – that I was not in a place to decide anything, much less the future of our family. I knew God was near, but I had no idea what He wanted. Or where He was leading.
Chris took his time. And then, when he had a peace about his decision, he told me, putting all our faith in God, that we were to leave that door open. That we would consider another referral if our agency could find a child that would match the parameters set forth by our homestudy for Esther… which meant it would have to be a girl, under three, with one of a handful of special needs.
We notified our agency. Then we waited some more.
I can’t say that this time of waiting wasn’t fraught with emotion. The whole spectrum of emotion, it seemed. We were awaiting news of our TA for Poppy and our whole family was so very excited. Yet we were still deeply mourning the death of our Esther and having to find a new normal without her in our future. I was torn between joy and grief. And feeling guilt over both.
So, adding the possibility of being matched with another child pretty much blew my mind. I think I sort of went into auto-pilot – just moving steadily in the direction that God had made so very clear: bring Poppy home. I can’t say I was hopeful that we’d be matched, but I can’t say that I wasn’t hopeful either. God just carried me through. I was so grateful that I didn’t have to wrestle with any additional anxieties burdening my already aching heart.
One day the phone rang. The new shared list had come out and our agency had locked in a file for us to consider. But they had reservations. This little one had some serious special needs, very serious. Did we want to review the file?
We agreed to have them send it to us. Since we had an absolute peace about Esther’s very complex heart defect, it had crossed our minds that God might use us to help another little one with a significant special need.
But from the first glance at her file, we both knew she was not our daughter. It wasn’t easy to admit, as it suddenly seemed to my heart that finding another child that so desperately needed our help would make some sense out of Esther’s passing. But my wanting it to be so didn’t make it so. And God made that clear. We asked our agency to release her file back to the shared list.
Several weeks later, we received another file. This little one had significant needs as well. Some needs we had honestly always considered to be out of our comfort zone. But there was a red thread to this child and so we prayed. And researched. And prayed some more. To be honest, I assumed that because of the very big red thread wrapped around this child that it must have meant that she was ours.
In the days that followed, though, God showed me again that my feelings were flawed. He just would not give me a peace about her being our daughter. Part of me was so badly wanting to see God bring something wonderful out of Esther’s passing. But we could not deny that He was telling us “no”. And so, although it pained us, we told our agency that we would not be able to pursue this little one who needed a mom and a dad so desperately.
God was at work, we knew it. But we were more confused than ever. And honestly, more exhausted than ever.
And we were set to travel for Poppy in less than a month.
Then I received an email from someone I didn’t know. She shared with me that there was a little one on a special needs list that was from Poppy’s orphanage. And that her special need was the same as Esther’s… the same, very serious heart defect. I wasn’t sure what to think. But I certainly was curious. I dug around the internet and managed to find her picture. And, amazingly, friend of a close friend had actually requested and received this child’s file – and lovingly forwarded it to me. Once Chris and I sat down and had a look at her file, we were both undoubtedly drawn to her… could it be? The same orphanage as Poppy? The same special need as Esther?
Our hearts were pricked.
So we pursued it. We contacted our agency and asked them to find out the status of her file. Could we possibly bring her home? We prayed. We began to feel like, maybe, we really did have another daughter waiting for us to bring her home.
A few days later, we got the news. This child had already been matched with a family. We were happy for this little one, but sad for us. It simply seemed that God was closing the door.
I was ready to get off the roller-coaster. I just wanted to be done. We asked our agency if we could just put our dossier for Esther on hold and wait until we were home and settled for Poppy before considering adding to our family again. And they, in turn, asked the CC@@. The reply we received was not one we wanted to hear, though. We were told that if we did not submit an LOI for another child by Poppy’s adoption date, that our dossier for Esther would expire. And that if we did submit an LOI, it would have to be for a child from the special focus list.
The next shared list was set to be released on June 29th… the last shared list that would come out before it would be time for travel. And we had spoken with our agency at length about the needs we were open to, and those that we were not. Chris and I knew that it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. But that nothing is impossible for God. And that if God was willing to trust us with another child, we would rejoice at His goodness.
June 29th came and went. As did June 30th. The phone did not ring. An email with a file for us to consider did not come. And we assumed that God had spoken.
But on July 1st, the phone did ring. And we did get an email with a file to consider. And we, simply, could not say no.
Because she was our daughter.
Younger than we thought. Different special need than we thought. But somehow, most definitely, ours.
And we learned, once more, that God is in control. And that we, most thankfully, arenot. And we rejoice in the abundant love that He has lavished on us.
Welcome, sweet Tallula Mae.
We cannot wait to bring you home.
No one’s ears have ever heard of a God like You.
No one’s eyes have ever seen a God who is greater than You.
No God but You acts for the good of those who trust in Him.