“Empty arm syndrome” is what I used to call it. Neal and I were the parents of a wonderful 6-year-old little boy, but we just knew our family wasn’t complete. Having our oldest had been difficult, and even after his birth we continued to struggle with infertility, and more miscarriages, but we just knew we weren’t “done,” and wanted to expand our family.
We come from a church where adoption is common. I can think of several good friends there who are also adoptive parents, including our head pastor and his wife. But despite all the exposure to adoption, it was still intimidating to us, but it was something Neal and I both had in our minds, and so we talked about it, it was as though there was a tug at both our hearts.
Maybe it was the long run of adoption nightmare “made for TV” movies that made us really nervous about pursuing the process. I had a background in pro-life ministry and had spent time helping put together books filled with “open adoption” applications. I had seen how couples/ families prepared single page presentations for birth moms in hopes of being chosen to be adoptive parents. I often wondered how they labored to choose the pictures and words they could fit on a single page in hope that a young woman in crisis would choose them to give their unborn child.
Adoption remained a topic of discussion between Neal and I but we struggled to find the courage to jump into the process with both feet. Finally, our prayer to God became, “if this idea is really from You, we need you to make it really clear, undeniably clear. We need you to throw it in our laps. ”
So it was in September of 2000 as I sat in a hot room waiting for Jacob’s piano lesson to end when my cell phone rang. I walked out into the hallway to take the call from my pastor’s wife. With the sound of scales being played in the background, I listened as she told me about a young girl who was in a crisis pregnancy. Not even 21 and a drug addict, she was pregnant with her third child. Her grandmother, who was doing most of the raising of the first two felt she was too old to take on the responsibility of a third. She was determined that this child should have a better life, and she was hoping she could convince her granddaughter to give the baby up for adoption. Pastor Carol told me how she had been praying about the situation and every time she did, Neal and I kept coming to her mind as adoptive parents. She wanted to know, had we ever considered the possibility of adoption?
When I finally got a hold of Neal later that day, we both sort of shrugged our shoulders. A drug baby was certainly not the ideal situation, but we had thrown it up to the Lord, we had asked Him to throw it in our laps if it was His will, and here without ever having made mention to anyone that we were even considering the possibility, we had gotten the call. We knew God’s will didn’t always fit the ideal, but we also know we did not want to say no to God’s will.
So we began to discuss the situation with our families, who quite frankly thought we were nuts at best, and probably foolish to boot. They didn’t think taking on a drug addicted child was a good plan at all. But our heart to obey God outweighed the need for our family’s approval, so we kept talking about it, and waited to hear from our pastor’s wife again with more news.
It was just a couple weeks later when I found myself again listening to our son’s piano lessons as my cell phone rang again. There on the other end of the line was Pastor Carol. She was calling to let me know that despite her grandmother’s best efforts to convince her otherwise, the young woman in the crisis pregnancy was determined not to give this child up for adoption. She just felt it would be too hard and too cruel. I have to say of all the arguments surrounding adoption this one is always the hardest for me to understand. To think it cruel to give up your rights to give your child a better life is an argument I cannot comprehend, but it is also the most difficult mindset to change. So as I listened to Carol, I wondered why our hopes had been risen at all when clearly this child coming into our family was not God’s plan.
As she finished telling me about the girl deciding to keep her baby, she ended her story suddenly with a “but” that I had not expected. “But,” she said, “as it happens I got another call today from my mom. There is a couple in her church whose granddaughter in Oklahoma is pregnant. She doesn’t want to keep the baby but she doesn’t believe in abortion. Would you consider talking to her about adopting your child?”
Unlike the first situation, this baby was not going to be addicted to drugs, the mother of this child was also determined to give her baby life, and she truly did seem to be more concerned about the best interest of the unborn child and not hung up on her own rights to raise him. We had asked God to drop the right situation in our laps, and we were still willing to obey, but when we returned to our families to share with them about this new situation, their hearts were far more open and receptive, and the resistance to us adding to our family in the way of adoption seemed to dissipate.
By late October we began to have contact with the birth mom through letters and emails, by November she and I talked almost daily on the phone, and it was early December 2000 when she and her mother came out to California to meet us face to face for the first time. Her situation was not ideal either, she told us at the time that the baby was the result of a date rape, and much of her extended family did not support her decision to give the baby up, but she was strong.
By the time we sat in a Chinese restaurant just a couple weeks before Christmas with her and her mom, we had already become fully invested in her and her unborn child. As she sat across from us we answered all her questions, told her stories about our life and family. As dinner ended she asked us finally, “Will you be the family for my unborn baby.” We didn’t even take a breath before we answered to tell her how honored we would be. I think that’s the moment we became parents again of our 2nd child.
We had no idea what would lay ahead in the next 3+ years. Our adoption story got very complicated after that night, but we had asked God to show us clearly His will, and we believed completely that he had. It was what we held to over the next 40 months between the night she asked us to take her son in, and the day we signed the papers that declared him completely ours. But we held to the Lord, and to the promises He made to us along the way, and we had at that moment embarked upon one of the most difficult and most amazing seasons in our lives.
This December, 10 years will have passed since that night in the Chinese restaurant, and I cannot begin to express the amazing things we have learned about the Father Heart of God in those years. To experience the miracle of adoption is at times beyond words. Words fall short to express the way God has revealed His heart to us, but also to have had the opportunity in some small way to experience having the very heart of God, is nothing short of a miracle. Becoming an adoptive parent is to get a glimpse of what it is to love another the way the Father first loved us, and to have that opportunity, and to know that truth is worth any challenge it brings along the way
Diana DePriest is wife for nearly 20 years to Neal, and mom to Jacob, 16, Ethan, 9, and Victoria, 8. Since giving her life to Christ in 1992, she has served in various ministries, including pro-life, post-abortion, women’s and youth ministries. With a passion for the Lord and her gift in writing she has been an avid blogger since 2008 when she felt the Lord called her to it as a new avenue of ministry. She writes regularly about her faith (http://dianalovestowrite.blogspot.com/) and her family (http://depriestdays.blogspot.com/)