“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”ISAIAH 9:2
Growing up I had always assumed that I would marry and have children like everyone else. My husband and I met in college and married shortly after. We spent a few years working and decided we were ready to become parents. After a year of trying unsuccessfully to conceive we were concerned that something was wrong. We investigated this possibility with our doctors but found no answers. For the next few years we explored a number of infertility treatments that proved to be fruitless. This season was a rollercoaster of Hope and disappointment as month in and month out we clung to our dreams, only to see them dissipate before our eyes. Our entire life had come to revolve around our inability to have the one thing we longed for most, a family. This was a dark season for us.
And then it happened: I got pregnant and everything changed. All the plans that we'd not dared to Hope for; all the times I'd pictured a daughter in my arms were finally going to come true. I could see our whole life in front of us and I felt the darkness we were living in begin to roll back. As we prepared to reveal the big news to our family I began to feel that something wasn't right in my body. Within a few hours we knew that we were losing our baby, and with it...every shred of Hope that we had left. We were devastated. It felt like our Creator had betrayed us, and that left us feeling more alone that I can describe.
After mourning this loss for a short time, we mustered all the resolve we could find and began our fertility treatments again. But this time our hearts were simply too broken to endure the rollercoaster process any longer. We discontinued the treatments and tried to come to terms with the idea that we would never have a child of our own. During this extended season a number of friends had suggested the idea of adopting a child. This was something that we believed in but the Hope of having our own biological child had always been our focus.
The decision to adopt happened very quickly and before long we had connected with an organization that matched orphans in China with adoptive parents. The little girl they found for us had already survived an incredible amount of hardship in her short life. Born with a severe heart defect, she was not expected to live past three months. At nine months she was still hanging on and an American organization in her region was able to secure a procedure to stabilize her frail heart. They sent us one grainy photo and a copy of her medical records to review and consider for adoption.
We prayed together to see if this was God's will but in our hearts we already knew that this precious little girl was our daughter.
We began the process of securing the adoption but found out shortly after that she was going to need a second, much more serious surgery to completely restore her heart. We cried when we heard this news, but not because it meant a hardship for us, or that this news somehow tainted our Hope. We cried because this child was our daughter and we would have done anything to keep this suffering from touching her.
We completed the adoption process and traveled to China to bring our daughter Willow home. It's difficult to describe how much our hearts were already bonded to hers. She was already our daughter and holding her in our arms was just the first time we were also able to experience that bond physically.
This last summer the time came for Willow's second heart surgery. The temptation to let the fear of losing her, and all that we had gone through, was strong. But we had come to understand that the frustrated desires we had felt for having our own child were not the same things as the Hope we have in God. We knew that He had chosen Willow and placed her in our family. Knowing that was all we needed to sustain us through the difficult procedure.
The Word says, "Hope does not disappoint." This is hard to understand when you are on a non-stop rollercoaster, having your hopes dashed month after month. Willow's surgery was a success and she is doing extremely well. We have begun the process of adopting our second child, Jonas, and our hearts are already overflowing with love and gratitude for him and the beautiful family that the Lord has crafted for us. As long as we held on to the thought that having a biological child was our Hope, we could never have imagined being as fulfilled and completed by His perfect plan as we are now.
This is what Hope is: To know God and to walk in the understanding that His ways are above ours, and that He is good. We always knew we would be parents, we just didn't know how that would happen. But God did...and trusting Him through this process is what our true Hope was.