Like all normal parents, my husband and I eagerly anticipated the births of each of our four children. We marveled at their perfectly formed bodies as they were placed in our arms for the first time. And as they grew, we delighted in each new accomplishment.
After our fourth child was born, we felt a desire to pursue adoption. We came close to adopting on two occasions, but as often is the case with adoption, both fell through. Shortly after the second failed adoption, my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was at this point that we recognized God’s sovereign hand in not allowing these adoptions to take place.
My husband made it though his cancer battle and as his reports came back clear year after year, so did our dream to adopt. One night we sat on our living room floor as a family, held hands and pleaded with God to let us adopt. A few months later as my husband was traveling home from his 5 year cancer checkup (a milestone for cancer patients), he took a call from a friend who worked for a ministry that placed special needs children with Christian families. Our friend had just returned from visiting orphanages in Guatemala and told us of an opportunity to adopt from an orphanage there. We were elated! We chose a beautiful little girl named Katerine whose cerebral palsy left her unable to walk and with limited use of her hands.
We spent the next 18 months completing our “paperwork pregnancy” and looking forward to the day we would bring Katerine home. Our children shared the anticipation and excitement and we were thankful God was answering our prayers. We saw our dream fulfilled on a snowy day in January 2009 when we brought Katerine home. We were greeted by our children and son-in-law at the airport. Katerine was now part of a family–our family!
As the weeks passed, however, we began to realize Katerine’s needs were much greater than we expected. We had been told by the orphanage that although Katerine suffered physically from her cerebral palsy, she was completely normal mentally. We were now realizing that this was not the case; Katerine was mentally handicapped as well. This painful and growing realization overwhelmed us as we came to terms with the fact that our lives would be forever changed. I daily found myself asking, “What were You thinking, God, allowing us to adopt a child with so many needs at my age?”
Nonetheless, we could not get away from the fact that God had ordained this. His perfect plan was for Katerine to be part of OUR family. As we look back over these past three years, we could never have anticipated how He would use this little girl to expose within us selfish attitudes and behaviors. It is clear to us now that God wanted to conform us to His image through this little girl He so dearly loved. This wasn’t a punishment or some trick God was playing; it was His perfect plan to sanctify us.
As we continue to work through our feelings we recognize more and more our need to surrender to God’s will. We still have days when keeping a good attitude can be a chore, but we are able to see Katerine as a delightful little girl God has lovingly placed in our lives. And Katerine and I actually have something in common: we’re both handicapped. Just as Katerine has many deficiencies, I, too, fall utterly short of His desire for me and I am a work in progress. Thankfully, God understands my deficiencies and is patient with me.
How about you? Have you ever felt like God tricked you or pulled a “bait and switch” on you? Just remember, His will is “good, pleasing and perfect” and nothing happens to you that does not first pass through His loving hands. Isaiah got it right when he wrote, “Yet, O LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand”, (Isaiah 64:8).
From one lump of clay to another,