I want to tell you the rest of the story of Sarah's adoption from Jon's point of view. This is his testimony.
The Lord called me when I was 18 years old. I started to church and was really happy. Several months later, I came down with appendicitis. I ended up having to have two surgeries and stayed in the hospital for a good while. Not knowing if I was going to live or die, one night I found the room empty. I decided to pray.
I said, "Lord, if I'm going to die, I'm ready to go. I've got a better home waiting on me anyway. But, if it's your will to spare me, may I have these things. Would you send me a wife that would love me and I love her back? Lord, would you give us a good home to raise a family (I had a picture in my mind of the style I'd like). Lord, would you let my first born child be a son and second be a girl?"
I got better after several months and got my strength back. I was released with good reports from the doctors. Over time, I forgot about the prayer .
Right after I was saved, the Lord told me that I would marry a ministers daughter but I didn't know when or where. I also knew she would play the piano for the church. A couple of years later, after I fully recovered, I had decided to visit my brother at his church. I was standing at the pulpit and a girl walked in. The Lord told me that she would be my wife. I didn't know who she was but I knew I was going to marry her. Less than two years later, I married they piano - playing preacher's daughter.
About 4 years later, we were expecting our first child and had just bought a house. We were on our way to find out the gender of the baby. Holly asked me what I thought the baby would be. At first, I thought it had to be a girl because she was just too moody. She asked me again a few minutes later and I replied with the same thing. I wasn't two miles from the house when the Lord asked me if I remembered what I'd prayed that night in the hospital. I said that I did and he said to expect it. I told Holly it was going to be a boy. A few months later, we welcomed Dakota Paul into our lives.
When Dakota was born, Holly had some severe issues and I thought I was going to lose my wife and possibly my son. The Lord sent a brother to anoint her with oil and everything started getting better. Some time later, we were starting to talk about another child. In my mind, I was debating on whether to put Holly through that again or not. Little did I know, Holly had a fear about having another child biologically. We both felt like we got a sign that we should adopt.
We debated on whether to adopt internationally or domestically and I felt like we needed to adopt domestically. We started looking at agencies and found one in Birmingham that interested us. We met with the agency and a few months (and lot of work) later were on a waiting list.
By that time, I was trying to put this in the Lord's hands and trust that He would take care of it. The struggle for me was seeing the turmoil that the wait was putting on Holly. Secretly, I struggled as well, but didn't say anything so I could stay strong for her.
After a while of seeing my wife so distressed, I began praying. I'd pray when I was alone. One day, I was mowing the yard, making my rounds back and fourth in front of the house. The Lord spoke to me and told me to look at my house. I looked and just kept mowing. Again, a little stronger, I heard, "Look at your house." I looked again and said," Lord, I see it." I kept mowing. On the third time, I heard, "Stop and look at your house." At this point, I thought something was wrong with the house. I got off the mower and started looking at the house and questioning what God was trying to show me. He said, "Do you remember what you asked me laying in the hospital?" I said, "Yes, Lord, I do." He said, "Did you ask for a wife and didn't I give it? Did you ask for a house and didn't I give it? Did you ask for your firstborn to be a son? All these things have I not given you?" The only question I had was why because I didn't feel worthy. His words were, "My word is true. It says in my word, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and anything that ye shall have need of shall be added unto you.' Does my word stand true?" That was the Lord's way of getting my attention to say to seek Him first and he'd finish it.
This past spring, we put a garden behind our house. When everyone had left and I was alone, I said, "Lord, I'm trying to do the best I know. Am I not doing enough? If I'm not, please show me." I asked Him once again to help us with this. We were trying to be strong but it was saddening me to see Holly suffer. Just a few days later, we were parents again to our beautiful daughter, Sarah.
If our story has taught me anything, it's that faith can move anything. And it doesn't have to be a lot of faith. At times, we had no more than a mustard seed.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but we can finally announce to the world – we are now officially a family of four. I can now share the story of how we went from three to four.
If you’ve read my previous posts (or if you’ve been affected by adoption), you know that it’s an extremely emotional roller coaster ride. One minute, you’re hopeful. The next minute, you question whether it will ever happen. In late April, I became extremely disheartened. I asked for a sign and didn’t get it. In my mind, I was terrified that this was God telling me it wasn’t going to happen. My nerves were shot. I cried. I was downhearted. I was a wreck. Jon told me what to do. He said to write down my prayer on a piece of paper, throw it up in the air and let God have it. I tried to do this. It was so hard to let it go, but I began to try to prepare myself for the fact that it might not happen. In my mind, that was part of letting God have it – being ok with either outcome. When people would ask about the adoption, I would now say “if” it happens instead of “when.” It wasn’t that I wasn’t having faith – but rather trying to prepare for the fact that it might not be God’s will.
On Friday, May 1st, we went to a gospel singing. I heard a song called “When I Lay My Isaac Down.” The song talked about how Abraham had prayed for Isaac and once Isaac arrived, he had to be willing to sacrifice him. In the end, it wasn’t Isaac that God wanted, but he wanted Abraham. He wanted to be put first and once Abraham did that, God provided for him. When I heard those words, I sat in that church and, again, cried like a baby. The tears were flowing and there was no stopping them. I realized in that moment that it wasn’t that God didn’t want to send us a baby. But I had to be willing to put Him first and be willing for His will.
Two weeks to the day later, we went to a singing at my mother-in-law’s church. We had gone to the fellowship hall during intermission to grab a bite to eat. For some reason, while we were there, I looked down at my phone and noticed we’d missed a call. The area code indicated the same area as our agency so I thought I’d better call it back. When I did, it was Susan from our agency. She had a “situation” to tell us about. Jon and I quickly found my parents for Dakota to stay with and we went outside near our car to talk to her on speaker.
She began telling us about this baby girl that had been born April 18th. She had been born a little early and was still in the NICU. They were expecting her to be released that weekend. She told us a little about the situation and asked if we were interested. Of course, we said, “YES!” It seemed so surreal to me. We had waited for three years for that call and it was finally happening. She said, “I guess we thought you’d say that because we’ve already got the paperwork ready.” We were to go home and wait to hear from them the next day.
Needless to say, we left the singing and headed home. We tried to do work in the house to make sure everything was ready to bring a baby home.
Now, if you’ve read previous posts, you’ve seen me refer to the name “EJ.” This was because we had “Emma” picked out for a girl and “Jacob” picked out for a boy. On that Friday night, I asked Jon what if we changed. I thought about Sarah in the Bible and how she’d had to wait so long to have a baby. I thought the name, “Sarah” was fitting for her. We’d talked about that name before and quickly decided that her name was going to be “Sarah Grace” instead of “Emma Grace.”
We got a call from our attorney, Rick, on Saturday saying they were expecting release on Sunday. He wanted us to wait at home until we heard back from him. Saturday afternoon, we decided to go out to eat with my parents. Jon’s birthday was on Sunday and we knew we’d be busy, so we decided to celebrate early. The whole time, everything still felt so surreal. Was our wait finally over? Or would this one fall through?
On Sunday morning, we got up and got ready. We’d realized the city she was in was a little further away than we initially thought so we decided, on faith, to start driving that way. The three of us loaded up in our car and started driving. Rick called when we were about 20 minutes from home and said the doctor hadn’t been in yet. We decided to drive on a piece and I could stop by the office and grab my laptop, since I’d likely be out of work for a while. We did that and then stopped at a Walmart not too far down the road. (Not much else is open that early on Sunday morning.)
Our plans had been to kill time there until we heard from Rick. When we got through at Walmart, Jon decided to just start driving that way. I questioned whether we should, but Jon said, "Oh ye of little faith." We ended up about 45 minutes to an hour from the hospital at a flea market. We’d just walked in the flea market when Rick called. He had talked to the doctor and they were releasing her. That moment, standing outside a flea market in Warrior, AL, I realized that this was really happening.
We met Rick & Susan at the hospital a little while later. They went back, made sure they were ready for us, and then five of us (Jon, Dakota, Rick, Susan & I) went back. We put on our NICU hospital gowns, which brought back memories since Dakota spent a week in the NICU, himself. The hospital set us up in a little “room” that reminded me of an ICU room – just a little curtained-in room. They brought out stickers and activity pages for Dakota. We nervously waited.
We heard a baby cry and they wheeled this beautiful little girl around into our room. I picked her up from the bed and handed her to her big brother. In that moment, we became a family of four. It still felt surreal, but it was oh so real. We held her for a while and had some bonding time. We signed papers and fed her before getting ready to leave. Rick and Susan had given her a beautiful outfit that said, “I was worth the wait.” Right before time to eat, I changed her and she peed on it. So, she got to wear her “Little Sister” sleeper home.
After feeding time, the hospital went over discharge papers with us and we put her into the car seat. We walked out of the hospital as she was rolled out on a little baby bed. We got in the car, pulled out and headed home.
Throughout the next week, reality set in on me. We were finally here. The wait was finally over. We were a family of four.
Dakota is absolutely in love with his baby sister. He is VERY protective of her. She absolutely adores him, as well. I am so thankful they have each other. I always thought I wanted them closer in age. That was even one of the things that added to the wait was knowing he was getting older. In the end, I think they are the perfect number of years apart.
The last four months have been wonderful. I am so happy to have my family complete. I had wondered how it would be with one biological and one adopted child, but it really isn’t any different, at least as far as how much you love them. It is hard sometimes keeping up with two, but I am absolutely in love with being a mom of two. I am no longer waiting for and wondering if my family will ever be complete.
Still praying but no longer hoping & waiting…