It was a morning I will never forget. There she was. Rosy cheeks. Curly black hair. And her almost black eyes? They wouldn’t let go.
A flood of emotions washed over me as I cried.
I’d seen my daughter for the first time.
Only the story didn’t go as I’d hoped.
It had been just over a year since we’d begun the paperwork for our adoption. Three months prior the Bulgarian approval was given and we waited for a match. International adoption is a complicated process involving lots of waiting so we prepared as best we could. We had yet to realize trusting and surrendering plays an enormous part in waiting well.
That rosy-cheeked little girl in my email inbox wasn’t the one the Ministry of Justice specifically matched to us. Instead, she was a child listed as having special needs allowing agencies to send her photos and medical records to families registered within their program.
I was nervous as I read her medical report because my husband and I believed we weren’t equipped to parent a child with severe special needs. Yet, I was convicted beyond the shadow of a doubt this little girl was the one God meant for us. She was a Schumaker.
But what if her report was filled with scary diagnoses?
What if my husband didn’t see it as I did?
I hesitantly opened the medical file. As I read through it, relief washed over me! Speech delay? We can handle that. Flat feet? What? Really? Since when is flat feet a special need? Developmental delay? Check. That’s expected from all children living in an institution and not receiving ideal care.
That night after our boys were tucked in bed sound asleep I told my husband to sit down. I asked him to look at a picture and to promise not to say a word until he fully listened to what I had to say.
But I didn’t need to say a thing. My stoic strong man couldn’t hide the emotions washing over him.
He’d seen his daughter for the first time, too.
A month later, our petition was set for presentation before the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. Excitement filled our house that morning. It was the day it would be official! We would start the formal process of adopting our daughter.
With the kids off to school and my husband at work, I awaited the celebratory call. Our case worker was just as excited for us and couldn’t wait to make the happy call.
My cellphone rang and with anticipation, I answered. But the words I heard were not the words any of us expected. The answer was “no”. Our little girl had been given to another family.
Friends, I can’t put words to what God does in adoption. When He calls you, turning away from it is impossible. His call is relentless.
And He opens your heart to love deeply long before meeting your child.
Just as you love the child growing within your womb, God fills your heart with that same love for a child who may happen to live halfway around the world.
So in that moment, grief consumed every fiber of my soul.
When I told my husband, I heard the grief in his voice, too.
And when I picked up my two sweet from boys from school and watched the joy slip from their eyes, the grief settled in.
They couldn’t understand. We had all prayed so much. The conviction that THIS little girl was a Schumaker lived in each of us. This wasn’t supposed to happen. How could we have been so wrong?
The days and the months that followed were brutal. Something in me wouldn’t let go. That little girl was meant to be ours! I was sure of it! Why would God so strongly convict me of that and it not be true. I was angry. Angry at God for the roller coaster and for the confusion. Angry for what had already been over a year of paperwork and waiting.
My spirit refused to settle.
Week after week of phone calls to our case manager.
“Are you sure she was adopted by the other family? Can you prove it?”
“Please look into this. What if they changed their mind?”
“I still believe this little girl is meant to be ours. Please check again.”
Until one day I stopped wrestling with God and chose to surrender. She was never mine. She was His. And if He saw fit to firmly plant her in my heart so that I would pray for her all the days of my life, so be it.
And I would accept that gift with gratitude.
That night I gave my little girl back to her Father.
Yahweh’s hand was on me, and he brought me out in Yahweh’s Spirit, and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass by them all around: and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and behold, they were very dry. He said to me, Son of man, can these bones live?
I answered, Lord Yahweh, you know.
Ezekiel 37:1-3 WEB
One week later and six months after we had lost her, God gave life to what we believed dead. Through a random comment on a Yahoo Adoption Chat Group, to a new friend in Ohio, and then to a stranger in Hawaii, I found out what my heart knew all along.
That little girl was a Schumaker.
On a desk in a faraway office lay a file with a picture of a rosy-cheeked little girl who had beautiful ringlet curls and the darkest of eyes. No one else knew it yet, but that little girl had a family halfway across the world madly in love with her who had been waiting a long time to bring her home.
Of course, those months of her living in an orphanage continue to grieve my heart, yet I know God had work to do. He knew the journey we would have with our little one and He knew we needed to know how to wait well.
And we needed to know that trusting Him enough to surrender it all is the key to waiting through all the journeys of life.
Trusting Him enough to surrender - the key to waiting through all life's journeys. @Lori_Schumaker Click To Tweet
Lori is an encourager at heart. She has spent her life learning of the hope and victory available when we embrace our identity in Christ. Today, when she isn’t busy being a wife and Mom to her three children, she teaches, ministers, coaches, speaks, and writes to share that hope with others. Wherever you find yourself today – walking through the difficult, needing to get unstuck to follow your purpose, or simply experiencing a season of beautiful chaos, Lori’s blog found at www.lorischumaker.com is a place where you can get a virtual hug from someone who truly understands. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest