A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in my journal recapping 2012, and I wanted to use this past weekend, a very special and celebratory one, to share what the Lord has been doing in my life. On Friday February 15, 2013, my family and I celebrated my sister’s 40th birthday. That’s a milestone in many people’s lives, but the crazy and amazing part of this story is that it was the first time we had all celebrated it together.
2012: I’ve referred to it as “The Year of Adoption” for me. I think I’ve probably experienced the greatest joy and greatest heartbreak of my life in 2012! I’ve also experienced more than ever the great peace in knowing that God is sovereign over all things!
On January 11th, we received pictures and a brief summary about Maria. We practically hit the ground running in our pursuit to adopt her. The Lord had brought to our attention so many times in the preceding weeks James 1:27 – “But true religion is this: to care for widows and orphans in their distress.”
Meanwhile, the Lord was working in my parents’ lives to allow my mom to meet Lisa again for the first time since she was born 39 year earlier. I later learned that the week after Daniel and I first saw Maria, my parents prayed for all their children (all 6, not 5). The very next day I called my parents to tell them Daniel and I were two days later with some big news. Upon telling them (about our plans to adopt Maria), they were very excited and supportive – I wasn’t sure how they would respond. Hindsight, I realized they were so excited and supportive because they were experiencing a different adoption story at the same time! The day that I called them was the same day my parents had gone to the required counseling to be reunited with Lisa.
When Mama placed Lisa for adoption, it was “closed,” meaning neither of them would have, nor be able to obtain, information about the other. In 1991-ish, South Carolina released documents to private organizations and changed the laws such that if each party (birth mother and child) “registered,” the organization would give them information to contact the other party. Mama registered back then but took her name off in 2002 – I was in high school, Kyle and Kelsea were getting older, and my parents didn’t feel the timing was right. We later found out that Lisa registered a couple of months after Mama took her name off the list… God knew it was time for them to be reunited yet.
Mama re-registered in the fall of 2011 when Kelsea went to college. In the last 20-some year, Compass of Carolina (the organization which held the paperwork and through whom the registration was done) has only made 2 “matches” – my family being one of them. Mama was hesitant for the first time ever when the match was made. When Lisa was born, Mama got to hold her and as she talked to her and said she loved her, Lisa smiled and a tear ran down her cheek. Mama said she knew that waw God reassuring her she would see Lisa again one day. Mama is not exactly the type of person to stand her ground, but Daddy said she never wavered on this. Throughout this process, I’ve seen my Mama’s faith and assurance in God more than ever – normally something she is more reserved about.
Mama and Lisa finally met in early March. After a few meetings, the rest of the family found out about her and/or reintroduced on June 1st at Granny and Popa’s anniversary lunch. Granny had told a friend only a few weeks earlier her assumption that she would not meet her granddaughter before dying. They say upon learning who Lisa was, Granny gave her a huge hug – very usual for her really embrace someone that way. Popa couldn’t stand up due to all the emotions but told Lisa he’s prayed for her every day of her life! It’s been amazing to see how God redeems relationships!! This was all something that was extremely hard 39 years earlier for a 16-year-old, her family, and church. I see a piece of how the Lord had prepared our family for this: Mama helping raise Daddy’s two sons, us never thinking of each other as half siblings, Bryan embracing Mama as his, Daddy always teasing that he had another child and us being okay with that.
When Maria was placed with the Russian foster family, it absolutely broke my heart but I was still pretty sure we would be able to meet her in the fall. It’s so crazy that I found out about her placement while on the Ladies’ Retreat May 5th – really only wanting to be with Daniel. That night, the lesson was on women in Moses’ s life – how Miriam had trusted God when she placed him in that basket! Wow! How the Lord has a hand in the planning of those lessons! How my mom had done the same thing (even though I didn’t know it at the time), and how I needed to do the same. The Lord provided such peace despite the heartache!! I know He is sovereign and is doing what is best for His glory. We prayed that the Lord would put her where she would know Christ, and I am trusting she will give her life to Him where she is now!
In early October, I went to an adoption conference where Lisa spoke. I obviously went to hear her speak but also for the adoption seminars. That was about the time we were realizing we might not get Maria. It was very tough and I wanted some guidance. Despite having already learned the facts, I was reminded of the staggering statistics of orphan girls becoming prostitutes and the Lord clearly laid on my heart to adopt a little girl – still not sure who, when, or where from but confident He will reveal in His time.
About three weeks later, after having read the entire blog we wrote about Maria and having looked more at Reece’s Rainbow than in previous months, I was pouring my heart out to Daniel but it was clear that he didn’t see it all from a maternal perspective. At that point, the Holy Spirit suddenly brought to mind that Lisa knew what it was like to “lose” a child she had never seen. I called her the next day and was soooo encouraged by her story, her prayers for us, her perspective (especially as a solid Christian), and especially since she’s my sister! She was able to share how the Lord had helped them decide to adopt another little girl after losing Mary Anne – they already had plane tickets to go get her in China when they found out about her death. Lisa shared how she knew she had played a role in Mary Anne’s life even if it was only prayer. She hoped that Mary Anne could feel her love even from around the world. She was confident in God’s plan… despite the heartache! I was blown away at how the Lord had provided this sister that I didn’t even know I had a few months earlier – that she knew exactly how I felt – how I didn’t know anyone else who had experienced what I was going through – that she could relate to having had a child in her heart as her own but never having actually held her! How God knew about this moment 40 years ago when my Mama was deciding to place Lisa for adoption! How Lisa had been raised with a very positive view of adoption! How she had adopted a child herself!
So many times I’ve also been reminded and been so thankful for how the Lord has adopted us into His family!! How I can be a daughter of the Most High!! How Christ left glory in Heaven to come rescue me!
I still don’t know what’s in store for Daniel and me, but I am excited to continue giving more of me to Him and His glory!