“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” Psalms 102:17
It’s been almost five years since I met her. Five years since her little hand slipped into mine, and her big brown eyes looked up tentatively. Five years since I picked up her tiny, three-year old body and breathed in her unfamiliar scent, her rough, dark hair brushing against my face.
We lost our first baby before we even met her. Brokenhearted, I pushed all thoughts of further biological babies out of my heart, and cried myself to sleep night after night. It was my husband who first began searching for our next baby. Perhaps it was the man in him. He wanted to fix things. It hurt him to feel me going rigid in an intense effort at self-control every time another friend announced their pregnancy.
So we started the adoption process. I didn’t want to. I stiff-armed him. My soul was scared. Broken. Raw. I didn’t want to love someone else. It hurt too much. But as we started the paperwork, as I obeyed my convictions (“I must show the world Christ through my family.”), and ignored my selfishness (“I don’t want to get hurt again.”), I gradually became hopeful. Even excited.
We elected to place no limits on our adoption process. We agreed to any ethnicity, any physical limitation, any age. We worked with an agency that specialized in infant adoptions, but they reiterated over and over that sometimes older siblings were part of the package.
We met her in October.
She had deep brown eyes, rich cocoa skin, and a slender little pixie face that liked to look worried rather than happy. Her mother was 20. Love was three. There was another one year old sister, and a wee baby on the way. Her poor mama, barely more than a baby herself, was overwhelmed. She was considering placing Love and the new baby for adoption.
My heart was still scared, and this situation was risky. Lots of mamas back out. There was a risk of her trying to extort money or manipulate the situation. We were walked through a myriad of possibilities with our social worker. But the instant I saw that little face, I didn’t care.
In the course of our meetings and talks with Love’s mama, it became clear that this young mother was indigent, confused, and hesitant to interact with agencies that could help her. Her trust had been battered into nonexistence. She was scared. But she was determined to make it. She was willing to place Love and the new baby with another family largely because she was not emotionally invested in their fathers. She was tired. Overwhelmed. And frustrated. My eyes were opened to the way an entire class of people live. She didn’t know where she would sleep, she didn’t know what she would eat, but she loved her babies and bought them every toy she possibly could as they walked through Walmart.
Love spent the weekend with us. She showed up dirty, scared, and carrying a solitary shirt in a plastic bag. We bought her underwear. Socks. Shoes. We played Candy Land, drank out of pink cups, and carved her first pumpkin.
Scott had turned our guest room into a little girl’s room with a treasure-chest bed. I had draped pink tulle, and we prayed and rocked her to sleep. She slept. I’m not sure we did. We held hands, stared at the ceiling, and prayed.
After three days, it was time for her to go home.
I’ll never forget the terror that flooded her face when I told her it was time to go home. Raw fear. Eyes wide. She pled with us to keep her. She begged me not to take her back to her mama. After three days, she was ready to leave her mother and live with virtual strangers.
My heart heaved. My eyes filled with tears. And I handed this wee soul back to her mother.
We drove away from a forlorn little girl in a McDonald’s parking lot. My heart was pounding, my head aching, and my emotions were leaking out of my eyes. We never saw Love again. We never heard from her or her mother. We tried to pursue without scaring, but nothing came of it.
Precious Love walked in and out of our lives that cold October 2012.
A friend once leaned in and asked, “How do you trust a God who took her away? How are you at peace with His decision to leave her in an unstable home?”
I answered quietly from a place of many tears and wrestling with this seemingly cruel sovereignty… “God knew what was best. In this I rest my heart. This little girl already had a mama. Perhaps what she needed was someone to walk into God’s throne room on her behalf. Perhaps what she needed was not an earthly haven, but rather a heavenly ambassador.”
So that’s what I do. Every time I see a carved pumpkin, or little black pigtails, or the game “Candy Land”, I remember my tiny almost-daughter. And I pray. I pray for her soul. I pray for her safety. I pray for her body. I pray for her mind. I pray for her school, her teachers, her health, and her awareness of God. I beat down heaven’s gates for the sake of this small one. She frequently visits my heart and my mind.
Especially in October.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” I Timothy 2:1-4
*Name changed for her privacy.