About 18 years ago, a tiny little seed had been planted in my heart when I met and became very close to a family whose child had been adopted. As I approached my mid-thirties, and still single, I knew I always wanted to be a Mom and hoped that this time for me would be coming really soon. Little did I know how God would choose for me to take the leap of faith, known as adoption, as a single! It was Mother’s Day 2006, singing in the choir at church, a baby dedication was going on. There was a beautiful single lady there dedicating her adopted daughter to the Lord. At the moment that she was reading her child’s life verse, I distinctly remember hearing an audible voice that said “You can do this too!” In fact, it was so audible that I turned to the person next to me and asked “What did you say?” But, I knew all along whose voice it was. I took two years to pray through this revelation and to get finances in order, and choosing just the right agency for me. But the whole time I was thinking that this would be the craziest thing I have ever chosen to do. I mean, who CHOOSES to be a single Mom? They have to be crazy, right?! During this time, I came to the conclusion that adoption really is at the very core of God’s heart, and that YES, He does sometimes call us to do “crazy” things, just so that HE can show us HIS faithfulness.
I chose Lifeline for a number of reasons, but primarily because of their Christian commitment. I needed to know that those who were making decisions on my behalf were indeed praying for me. When starting the process, I was told it would take about 18 months, so I went in patiently waiting and going through the process, but after the 18 months and NO child, I became very weary and worrisome of my journey. There were some really dark days, especially as I began looking at files of the special needs children from Peru. I would read a file and cry and stay awake all night for weeks on end until I agreed with God that this wasn’t the child for me. After reading the first file, I was a bit frustrated with God, why would He ask me to read the file of a sweet, precious, beautiful child and that child not be the one for me. My answer from Him… “so that you might pray for this child for her entire life.” Wow! God reminded me that I may be the only person who ever prays for this child….wow! Unfortunately, the plight of millions of orphans around the world is often misunderstood or ignored by so many. So, as I continued through the darkness, I had to remind myself daily of God’s goodness, of how God ALWAYS works thing to the good of those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose (Romans 8:28). It was during this time that a faithful friend, who spent countless hours praying for me and encouraging me, gave me a bracelet with Matthew 17:20 on it (“...If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will be done for you”). Have you ever really seen a mustard seed? They are so, so small. Yet, God promised that if I could have even just enough faith to be the size of a mustard seed, NOTHING would be impossible. But, I had to hold onto this verse with a fierceness I have never had before and daily remind myself of HIS promise.
After a couple of months of not viewing files because they became so overwhelming for me, a name appeared on the Waiting Angels list for Peru. I didn’t want to read any more files, but I kept being drawn to this name and little girl, like a moth to a flame. Finally, after much prayer, because I couldn’t get her off of my mind, I requested to see her file. I received her file and after reading it for the first time, had this unexplainable peace. But, there were a LOT of “HUGE mountains” in her life! There were her special needs, the fact that she was part of a sibling group, and the list just went on and on and on. I even asked God if I was “crazy” thinking that this might be the child for me. I asked the Lord to reveal to me whether I should request this child or not. He just kept reminding me of Matthew 17:20. One day, after having her file for about a week, I went to a bookstore I hadn’t been to in a while. There, I saw a baby name book, and I thought, “I know what this name means in Spanish, let me look it up and find out its Christian meaning too. “ The meaning of her name is “Strong in Faith,” and the verse that went along with her name was Matthew 17:20! At the time, I could only take it as encouragement that God heard my prayers, later it became confirmation for me. I kept getting reports on her as they updated them and finally in December decided that I had to take hold of my mustard seed and trust the Lord for HIS answer. I prayed daily, that if she were not the child for me that God would close the door. I was continually reminded of the “mountains” and the little mustard seed God had given me. Finally, the matching day came, December 23rd, 2010. For the first time ever, I fell on my knees before God and said “Lord, not my will, but YOURS be done!” and I meant it. Then, no word for 24 hours... just another opportunity to hold onto that mustard seed a little tighter! Then on December 24th, Christmas Eve, my little mustard seed of faith (and literally no more than that!) made the Mountains MOVE!! What a glorious day it was! God was still in the miracle business. On this very day 2000 years before, he brought the HOPE of the world, and on this day in 2010, He moved mountains so that I and my Precious Peruvian, the child HE had chosen for me before time even began, could walk the journey of life together.
Incredibly, after 2 ½ years of journeying through the “labor” process, I was able to see my little girl for the first time (might I mention, that she is from Cusco Peru, which is right in the heart of the Andes Mountains - God made those mountains that He had moved, a very visual reminder for me, every day I was there). And God, from the beginning of time, had everything orchestrated for our meeting. Because of her special needs, they told me not to expect her to acknowledge me, not to ask for hugs or expect them either. In fact, instead of bringing her to me, they asked me if I would go in and just play with her and the other children. From the moment I entered the play room, she was eyeing me, looking at me, as if to say, ”Hey, don’t I know you?” Finally, after about a half hour, one of her care givers told her, ”Here’s Mamá!” At that moment she looked at me and said, “Mamá?” and I answered her with “Sí.” A smile came across her face and within a few minutes she was giving me kisses and hugs. She allowed me to feed her that very evening and didn’t want to go to bed and leave Mamá. Of course, not every journey happens this way, but I had prayed and held on to that mustard seed, that our attachment would be quick and solid. God showed up BIG time that day in an orphanage in Cusco, Peru, and moved even more mountains that day. There were 2 psychologists, the director of the orphanage, my social worker, and all the orphanage workers were standing in amazement at what God had just done. The psychologist and head of the Cusco SNA (adoption authority) both said, “We have NEVER seen anything like this before!” I was reminded of this other verse about the mustard seed I had been holding onto, “The Kingdom of God… is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground is the smallest of the seed on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade,” Mark 3:31-32. Not only had God moved mountains, but He planted the seed of my prayers for attachment and then produced a large, beautiful plant, that all might see HIS mighty work!
My time in Peru was an excellent experience. The people there are very generous and very eager to help you. So many Peruvians would look at me and ask if I was taking her to the US; and upon saying yes, they would say, she is such a lucky little girl. I thought, “No, I am the BLESSED one!” There are some things that I think helped my time in Peru. I am a Spanish teacher, and already being fluent in Spanish, I found that it was very helpful, not just from the “getting around town” aspect, but because by using Spanish (even if I did make mistakes). It communicated such a sign of respect for the people there and a respect for their culture. I also believe VERY strongly that it helped immensely with the bonding with my little one. While she only said 5 words when I got her, she still had only heard Spanish her whole life, having her “heart language” spoken to her was such a comfort for her. If I could give one piece of advice for those adopting from a Latin American country, it would be to learn some functional Spanish. You don’t have to be fluent by any means, but it means so much to the people you will be working with and to your child to be able to communicate with you. I would also encourage both parents to have some knowledge of the language because the child will be most drawn to the person that he/she feels understands him or her and can fulfill his/her needs. Peru is a beautiful country, as are the others in the Latin American program! Having traveled extensively throughout Latin America, the people are just amazing.
On this side of the airport, my Precious Peruvian is doing really well. We have had our difficult moments, but they have only been moments. Many of the special needs that were listed in her file have been negated by the doctors here in the US. Does she still have special needs, YES! And there are no guarantees about what her needs will be in the future, but God has been so good. There will be more difficult days ahead because being a part of God’s healing the broken-hearted is a difficult job. But He will continue to provide everything that we need, including the wisdom to know when we need it. In adoption, there are very few “Knowns” and lots of “Unknowns.” It is best to keep this in mind as you journey to your child, but you can also KNOW that God is faithful and still makes miracles happen!