“As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given.” –Daniel 9:23
There is my answer, wrapped in a pink and purple striped sleeper. That’s my little boy.
This was a rough week. Tuesday is my usual day off. I awoke in a mood. The day before, I’d learned that Ethiopia had changed it’s adoption procedures. Ethiopia will now be requiring two trips (one to appear in court, one to bring the baby home) and U.S. citizenship prior to bringing our baby home. According to all the adoption buzz, this should make the entire process much more lengthy than before. This was very disappointing news for a girl who’s already waited two years for motherhood. I was also struggling with my own demons, trying to figure out how to build relationships and advocate for some change in the sleepy town I live in without offending. It isn’t easy. I started out the day on some Bible study, and when I was working on our list of prayer requests, I decided to check the news. At Bible study on Monday night, one of the ladies mentioned there had been a house fire in the north part of town where three small kids had died. I pulled up the News-Leader website to learn more, and to my horror, I saw the names of my patients, 7, 6, and 4 years old, all dead in that fire. Their names had just been released that morning. I choked and cried, remembering that I’d seen them only two weeks before in clinic. I thought about their mother who cleans my office every evening, and a crummy, cloudy day became a terrible, awful day. There had been all kinds of speculation about the fire (maybe a meth lab blew up, or maybe they’d been drinking, etc.). All I could think was that this mother had been careful with her kids. She returned surveys about her daughter’s behavior to me written in fine-point ink, straight and careful handwriting and perfect circles around each survey number. She brought in asthma diaries for her son, each page filled in meticulously so that I could choose the best treatment for him. The last time I saw her, she was glowing because each of her kids was doing well. She thrived when they thrived. They were beautiful kids. I can’t begin to imagine her grief. I only got off my couch once that day, just to brush my teeth and shower. Matt came home around 5 pm, and I realized that I hadn’t eaten or drank anything all day. I’d spent the day mostly reading my Bible and praying. I thought about all the things happening around me . . . three dead babies, children dying all over the world from preventable disease, my grandma with a terminal heart condition, my aunt and uncle homeless and living with my parents, and my empty crib. I told God it wasn’t fair. I told him I was angry, and I expected more from this life. I told him I was tired of trying to make sense of ugly things, and I told him that I needed some good news. I heard him. I heard him remind me that he knew all of these things, and sometimes it is hard. I heard him say he grieved these things, too, but he is still God. I heard him remind me of his promises. I heard him ask, “Do you believe me?” I do believe him. It doesn’t mean that I understand any of this any better, but I do find peace in faith, in being sure of what I hope for. I only began to feel better when I stumbled somehow across one of our videos from Zambia, “Ta kwaba uwa ba nga Jesu, ta kwaba, ta kwaba ka be.” There’s no one like Jesus.
The very next day, after I’d convinced myself to get out of bed and go to work, I got a phone call from Crystal at our adoption agency. She said, “I think I have a referral for you, a baby boy.” She promised to send the referral within the hour. I checked my email between every patient that afternoon. Crystal called back a few hours later and said, “I’ve got the information, but I’m not going to refer him to you. He tested positive for toxoplasmosis.” She proceeded to explain that she’d never seen that on a referral form before, but she decided to share it with me because I’m a physician, so she thought I might be able to understand it. She gave me some additional information about the test, and I fished around in my head, trying to remember everything Dr. Mato had told me about toxoplasmosis in residency. I emailed her with the details, and she wrote back, confirming my thoughts that the test that had been run on the baby was absolutely worthless and not at all predictive of the baby’s health. I shared all this information with Crystal, and today, I received all the referral information on this little boy. He is called M. He is three months old, and he weighs about 10 lbs. We are overjoyed that this little one has been given to us, and astounded, yet again, to see our God’s faithfulness. He is so good.