When my husband and I were engaged, we had a long-running disagreement about how many children we should have. My husband came from a large family of eight kids. I did not–I was the middle of three sisters. So, loving babies like I did (still do) I wanted an even dozen. Nathan was not so excited about having that many children…he thought maybe 2. I began to bargain with him–how about 8. No. How about 6. No. Will you settle for 4? I agreed that 4 could work, but I was not signing anything that would limit flexibility in child planning in the future. Maybe I could break him down over time. Surely after our first child he would recognize how awesome parenting was and would see things my way. (Have I mentioned how stubborn he can be?)
So we got married and began our life together, and in due time we were blessed with a daughter, Janielle Renée. We were thrilled. She was such a great baby–slept anywhere we took her, rarely cried. You know, she was just perfect. I had pretty high hopes that she would open the flood gates to many more just like her.
When she was nine months old, we moved to Ecuador. I hadn’t been feeling too well, but when you are planning to make that kind of a move, you don’t exactly pay close attention to every little thing. Imagine my surprise when we got to our little jungle home in Shell-Mera, Pastaza, Ecuador and I got very sick a mere week after arriving. Without sharing all the details, after many trips to the hospital and finally being directed back to the US, I stopped at the hospital in Quito on my way out of the country. The doctor told me he couldn’t allow me to leave–
“You will hemorrhage to death over Cuba,” he warned. He was dead serious.
So I stayed in the hospital and had emergency surgery. I was twenty-two years old. Following the surgery, I was told I had had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that caused a tremendous amount of internal damage. It was unlikely I would ever have another baby. In a matter of just a few weeks, I had left my country, moved into a jungle, lost a baby and also the ability to have any more babies. I was crushed. Heartbroken. I had come very close to dying, and getting my health back was going to take a lot of time. My emotional and spiritual health were about as broken as my body. Never in my life had I been so totally devastated.
I spent two weeks in the hospital. I looked out my window and could see the Andes mountains. I listened to the radio and was comforted. I didn’t have any friends in Ecuador yet, so it was pretty lonely. But there was something rather precious in that aloneness–I wasn’t alone. God was very gently touching my spirit and bringing me comfort. He understood what I felt. He knew my greatest needs at that time. He had been willing to give His one and only Son to come to earth to die so that I might become His own child. If almighty God was willing to make that sacrifice to allow me to become His child, then the things He might ask of me would not be too much to bear.
I was comforted through music…the song “In His Time” became almost like medicine for me. The promise that even this tremendous grief would one day be beautiful was a hope that was beyond a “maybe” — I had confidence that God would reveal His plan and purpose at some point. And that was the beginning of the healing process for me.
I had several follow-up surgeries to try to correct some of the damage done–I never got to experience the joy of pregnancy again. But I did have more children. The Lord blessed Nathan and me with a daughter, Stephanie Grace, and a son, Paul Nathan, through the gift of adoption. I remember listening to Janielle pray every single night before bed–for a brother (all babies were boys in her mind back then). When we brought Stephanie home, Janielle believed God had given us this baby just to answer her prayers. And in a sense, I think that is exactly what God did. Ultimately, the discussion about how many children we would have was won by Nathan–while waiting for Paul to be born I was informed very clearly that I better be sure about this adoption, because it would be the final one.
It took years–and I mean a lot of years–for me to no longer yearn for more children. About the time my first grandchild arrived, it seemed like the desire for more children finally was put to rest for me. I still would love to adopt more children, but our lives are very full helping care for our grandchildren. God is wise–He knows what, and when, and how…and sometimes He chooses to give us the answer to the why.
Ephesians 1 is a precious passage for me–for not only have I been able to experience the role as an adoptive mother, but it has put my own adoption as a child of God into a clearer perspective. Are you adopted yet? Have you come to know the joy of being God’s own child?
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.