It was early in our adoption process, about nine months down the road. We had decided early on to let our agency match us with a child instead of us pursuing a particular child from the waiting list. Even though this was the plan, I still scrolled through the list of waiting children every time our agency sent out an email with these sweet faces. If you felt the Lord speak to your heart about one of these little ones, you could request to see the file and investigate further.
It was through this casual scrolling that she caught my eye: a precious two year old, tiny and frail, who had a heart condition.
I stopped scrolling, fixated on this petite little face. I couldn’t look away.
Is it you? Could you be the one?
We requested her file and were given a week to decide if we wanted to submit a Letter of Intent, the official document to the Chinese government saying we would like to be this child’s forever family. We sought counsel from a pediatrician who specializes in international adoption; we prayed and agonized and prayed some more.
Brian and I both knew: the answer was no. This child was not to be ours.
That email was so difficult to write. How could we say no to a little girl who desperately needed medical care and a mama to rock her to sleep and whisper words of love and life and forever? How could God tell us to say no?
One of the most painful risks of adoption is the loss of a child who was never fully yours. Birth mothers sometimes change their minds at the last minute. Referrals are not always approved. Countries may suddenly close their doors, making a child no longer adoptable. And then, like us, perhaps you are the one who for some reason has to say no to a particular child. This decision hurts deeply. Terribly.
When you lose a child through the adoption process, the grief is intensely real. You may have already named this child. You might have set up a beautiful room in your house. Your heart was deeply invested and now it’s shattered into tiny pieces that feel like they will never be put back together again.
But for the Sovereignty of God, where else would we go?
God has written a great narrative, and it doesn’t just include your story; it includes others’ stories as well. Do you trust Him as the author of the overarching tale, even when it deviates from your original plan? Do you trust that, while you can only see in part, He sees the whole and the whole is good? Do you trust Him with your pain, your disappointment, and your grief?
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” the Psalmist declares (Psalm 34:18). He is, and He does. I know firsthand.
There was another family who received a referral of a tiny little girl and prayed over her beautiful picture. They agonized and went back and forth, but somehow knew that she was not their daughter. God said no, so they did too. It was one of the hardest things they’d ever done, but they continued to pray for this little girl, that God would not delay in bringing her forever family to her. They prayed that she’d soon be home safe and sound.
Imagine their surprise when they saw a post from another family in their agency’s Facebook group, announcing China’s official approval of their application for that same little girl! They just had to make contact with this family they’d been praying for. A message was sent:
“I wanted to let you know we have been praying for your family and your daughter. We were given this file to review and chose to pass on it. It was a really difficult decision and we have been praying for her and her forever family. I am so happy for you and can’t believe that we are on the same Facebook group and with the same agency! Small world. I am so relieved to know she has a family….We will continue to pray until you can get that sweet girl home.”
The child’s name? Lian Yonghui, who became Lucy Mei. Our Lucy.
God’s no to this family was His yes to us, and His yes to Lucy, and to the little girl who eventually became this family’s daughter—the one He had chosen for them all along.
Dear friend, His plan is and always has been perfect and good, even though we don’t always have eyes to see. Even though we may never see, this side of heaven. I pray this brings you comfort, if even for a moment, when you’re drowning in the pain of the no’s.