“My husband and I found ourselves in the middle of a major life declutter in the fall of 2016. He had just left his job of four years and took a pay cut to be home with our family more, and we moved from our larger house to a smaller one to pay off some debt. The plan was to allow our responsibilities to recede back a bit and just enjoy a simpler life. And then something remarkable happened. The Lord got our attention.
I can only describe that season of our life in a metaphor. It’s as if we were on the shore of a great ocean. We had both the desire to swim and the desire to stay on the shore but God was calling us to dive in, no conditions, no agenda. It was this odd mix of fear and wonder. Part of us felt like God was preparing us for something big but we also felt afraid because, honestly, we were unsure if we could handle it. In the midst of this, the idea of adoption was growing steadily on our hearts. It was through our restlessness and in our attempts at backing away from the ‘more on our plate’ we found God calling us on an adventure. Strangely, and surprisingly, this stoked a fire in us that we never knew was there.
I remember it was a beautiful day in early 2017 when my husband went outside with our two biological kids, who were two and four years old at the time. Something was working in him this day I didn’t fully understand. When he came back inside, he said, ‘Babe, while I was looking at the kids, I feel like the Lord put a question on my heart.’ The question? ‘What if one of your kids was across the world in a destitute condition? What would you do? Wouldn’t you call up every friend you had to try and get someone to her as quickly as possible? You’re my friend, Nick… I’m calling you.’
At first, we began to look for a small child who would be younger than our youngest daughter. We knew the process could be a long one, anywhere from 3 to 5 years. One night, the first monthly Special Home Finding list was emailed to us from our agency. This is a list of children who are ‘harder to get adopted.’ Some are older, some are sibling groups, and some have significant special needs. As my husband stared at the computer screen, he was silent. Adopting out of birth order wasn’t just against all the adoption books we had read; it didn’t make any sense at all. But few things that are beautiful do.
Without emotion, he passed the computer to me and simply said, ‘Look at this little 10-year-old girl,’ as if trying to hold something back so my response would be genuine. When my eyes focused on the screen, I saw a small child whose picture somehow made you think more about what she possessed rather than what she lacked. You see, this little girl was born without hands, feet, or a mouth opening but it wasn’t feeling sorry for her that made my heart come alive. It was her joy.
We read her short bio and without even knowing her name, closed the computer, and agreed to inquire about her. There wasn’t a thing more we could do that night but our hearts were ablaze. We knew it, even if our words couldn’t say it. The next day, we asked our agency about our mystery girl.
Within a few days after our initial inquiry, her file arrived. It held pages upon pages filled with pictures, details, and medical records. We cried all the way through it. The hand of God in her life was undeniable. Though the long list of medical issues she suffered from would normally scare the daylights out of us, it was met with a surprising peace. God was definitely calling us far out of our comfort zone and providing us with his sweet assurance. Melanie was born without hands, feet, or a mouth opening. Despite all this, she has never had a minute where she didn’t thrive. She has excellent handwriting, can ride a bike (and a horse), and can run, jump, and play as well as any other child. She is truly remarkable. Feeling confident Melanie was meant to be in our family, and despite her being an older child and having special needs, we took a leap of faith and applied to adopt her. It was a long and tedious process of waiting and our family being in hopeful suspension.