I was born in a loving Christian home with a stay-at-home mom. When I was 6 or 7 I prayed to accept Christ and although there have been ups and downs in my spiritual journey, I have considered myself a Christian ever since. As a family, we have always been active in church and I was baptized when I was 13. I went to Christian summer camp, was heavily involved in youth group and went to several retreats and conferences.
If you ask my close friends to list my favorite things, they’ll probably mention two things near the top of the list, books and babies.
I am the oldest of 4 kids. When I was 15 months old, my brother, Joshua, was born, I’m told that I loved him a lot and always tried to “help” my mom take care of him. This, I think, is where my love of babies started. From a very young age, I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. I owe this desire to wanting to be like my mom. My mom is the best. She has a deep love for Jesus and a joyous heart. She always has a smile on her face, she loves everyone, will talk to anyone and she’s one of those moms who just downright loves being a mom. When I was 6 my sister, Katelynn, was born and again, there was a baby in our house. I think I was more helpful this time and boy did I love having her around.
It was around this time that I first remember learning what the words “orphan” and “adoption” meant. I am not really sure what the circumstances were but I remember feeling deeply on the subject. Knowing that there were children in this world without families greatly saddened me. When I was around 12, I remember thinking for the first time that I would like to adopt some day. Probably, most 12 year olds don’t think about growing up and adopting children, but I certainly did. When I was in my early teens I remember writing a list that I called my “Semi-Insane Life Goals.” I still have a copy of it somewhere. One of the first items listed is, “Adopt a child (or children) from another country.”
When I was 12 I took a babysitting class through the local Red Cross and started babysitting for families in my neighborhood and at my church. My love for babies and children just continued to grow. At church I always helped in the nursery, helped my parents teach Sunday school and then taught it myself when I was old enough.
When I was 16, my youngest sister, ClaireAnna, was born and it was pretty much one of the greatest days of my life. I was in the room when she was born and it was beautiful and disgusting and wonderful and horrifying. (And something I think all 16 year old children should be forced to witness live – Best. Birth. Control. Ever.) I loved that baby so much. Taking care of her was some of the most fun I’d ever had.
During my senior year of high school, I went on a missions trip to Romania. For almost two weeks we worked at an orphanage and words can’t really explain the experience I had there. Leaving those kids there broke my heart and absolutely reinforced my deep love for orphans and my desire to adopt in the future. I also went on a short trip to Mexico where I worked with a church, teaching English to adults and teens during the day, and working at an evangelistic cafe in the evenings.
Both experiences cemented in my a desire to be involved with missions in the future in some form or another.
Soon after, I left for college in Lincoln, Nebraska. My dad and brother moved to Arkansas so my dad could start his new job and my mom and sisters stayed in Wisconsin to sell our house. I was away from home, away from my family, friends and church. I was in a city where I literally knew no one and for the first time, I felt completely and utterly lost. Instead of relying on God, finding a church and finding a community of believers that could help me through, I tried relying on me. It didn’t work. I missed my family, friends, home. I spent most of my free time alone and became depressed. I made a few friends but I was not living for God at all.
One of the greatest joys I experienced during that time came when I got a part time job at a daycare. I had babies and kids to love on again. It was while I worked at that daycare that I realized for the first time that my love for kids, especially babies, was something out of the ordinary. These were children with whom I had no connection whatsoever; I didn’t know their parents or their families, they didn’t go to my church. And yet I loved them so very much.
After two years in Nebraska, I knew I needed to leave and be with my family. I moved to Arkansas and transferred to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. I started going to my parent’s church and making real friends. I started helping in the nursery and teaching first grade Sunday school. I got a job at another daycare.
During my late teens and early twenties, I had started noticing some strange things going on in my body. The symptoms weren’t severe, weren’t constant and didn’t feel that serious. They were more annoying than anything and they didn’t really seem to be related, so for the most part, I ignored them. One evening I was watching TV with my mom, it was some real-life medical show called Mystery Diagnosis (or something like that). It was about this girl in her twenties that had all of this random stuff going on with her and at the end of the show her doctor finally figured out what she had. The whole time I was silent, watching in shock because every single symptom she complained about, I had. I turned to my mom, “I have that,” I said.
I soon made a doctor’s appointment and when I went, I basically told my doctor, I think I have this. After a few tests and a lot of questions, she confirmed that my TV diagnosis was correct. Towards the end of the appointment she looked at me and said casually, “Also, you’ll probably never have children.”
I was speechless. I was in shock; me – the person who has wanted nothing else than to be a mom, being told that I would probably never have children – it was a sick joke, right? I went out to my car and bawled.
I never went back to that doctor, and since then I’ve been told different things by different doctors, but when it comes right down to it, I won’t ever know for sure until I start trying.
Part of me is pretty sure though, that I really won’t be able to.
I don’t know.
But what I do know is that God has been preparing me for this news since early childhood. I know that my abnormal love for children was a gift. It took me a few years to understand this and to come to where I am today, but here’s what I think it all means: I think it means that I’m not in control of my life. I think it means that God has a plan.
Maybe I’ll have kids one day. Maybe I’ll marry a man who already has children. Maybe I won’t have kids at all. Maybe I’ll be an awesome aunt (once my siblings start having kids). Maybe I’ll just love my friend’s babies too much. Or maybe, I’ll be lucky enough to adopt one day. If that’s the case, I know that I will love that kid (or those kids) as if it were my own flesh and blood. A friend once said to me that he could never adopt because he could never really love an adopted child as much as one that was “his blood.” Seeing how I had felt all of my life about the subject, his stance utterly bewildered me.
Whatever way it works out, I know without a doubt that I’ll be ok because God has a plan.
Do I sometimes wish that I was already married with 2.5 kids and a dog? Sure, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard sometimes, seeing everyone I know getting married and having babies. I’m trying to be patient and to listen to God.
I recently read a book written by a pastor named Kyle Idleman called Not a Fan. It’s about how God wants us to be fully committed followers of Christ instead of just fans. One quote from the book that really hit home to me was this: “Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print—that’s a guarantee.”
Think about that for a second. If you’re anything like me, it’s difficult to hear. For most of my life I’ve called myself a Christian. I’ve gone to church, I’ve served, I told anyone who asked that yes, I was a Christian. But for the most part, I’ve never really been putting myself out there for God to use. I’ve been a passive, quite Christian who knew a lot about Christianity, but who wasn’t really living it like I should be.
Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about my missions trip to Romania. About how many orphanages there are throughout the world. About how many orphans there are. About how many children there are in this world that need love. That need the supernatural love that Christ has given me for children. Several times I’ve thought, “Man, do I wish I could just sell everything and move to an orphanage somewhere.” But that’s a terrifying thought. I’ve had the desire, but never the guts.
After I finished reading that book I thought about that again. I couldn’t help but thinking – is this what God’s been getting at all these years? Is this where he’s leading me? And I think it is. I have no idea where to start. I don’t have a plan. I don’t have any money. I don’t even have a passport – yet.
The point is – maybe I will get to be a mom someday or maybe I won’t. Or maybe, I’ll get to touch the lives of orphans in a way I never imagined for myself.
I have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what is going to happen, how it’s going to happen or when. But I’m open to it – whatever ‘it’ is.
And I do know this, with out a doubt – God is in control.
God has led me to these verses recently and they are constantly in my thoughts and prayers:
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Matthew 25:40 And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Matthew 4:18-20 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.