A Story of Adoption
By JASMIN HOWELL
Nearly three years ago, in early December, the day came that we decided to move forward. A peace had come upon us with whispered assurances from the Lord … start now. After waiting for that peace for nearly seven years, it seemed like a dream; picking up the phone, contacting the agency, and saying, “Please mail me an adoption application.” After we sent the first application away it seemed that as quickly as peace had come, it left. Our first bill arrived in the mail and lay open for weeks on the counter — revealing an amount of thousands of dollars which we were simply unable to pay and move forward.
As we prayed about what to do next, we felt the peace of the Lord descend again and knew with confidence that now we were to wait. It seemed so strange. Like revving up an engine, only to put on the brakes. It didn’t make a lot of sense to us, yet we told the Lord, “Whatever You may have planned for us, we are going to wait on You. Whatever You want for us, Lord, our answer is YES.”
The peace He had given was for a purpose, but so was this pause — they weren’t in conflict with each other. In that moment, we knew we must trust that the reasons for the pause were not fully revealed to us yet.
As January rolled around, we decided to put the whole process on hold until God made the way more clear for us … until He took His finger off the pause button. We called the agency and asked them to put our application aside for the time being and close our file. They sent us a refund for our application fee and suddenly we were right back where we started … it felt so crazy.
A few months later, in early April, I was getting into my car after running a work errand when my phone rang. It was my mom, who knew that we had put the adoption application on hold. She asked, “Are you and Mike still open to adopting?” The question instantly made me catch my breath and reawakened a deep, yet-unanswered longing for a child. What was going on?
“Yes,” I said immediately, “Our answer to the Lord is still yes.”
She started slowly…”There is a girl…” and went on to describe a situation to me that was almost unbelievable. A family known by my parents had a teenage daughter who was already six months pregnant. She expressed her desire to find a Christian couple to “bless with the gift of a child” — her exact words. She was in a nearby city and the family was open to meeting us.
The very next night my husband and I were invited into her home. We sat with her and her parents and shared stories. I looked at her small frame, her growing belly … the anticipated baby boy who she was already planning to place in an adoptive family. She described her desires for his future parents and why she had chosen adoption. We also found that we had some very unique shared life experiences — just another fingerprint of God on this story He was writing.
We told her that we had been praying for a child for many years and had started the adoption process in early December, only to feel the Lord suddenly ask us to wait. We told her that we had closed our file with the adoption agency, but we didn’t know why. We didn’t say it out loud, but my husband and I were both thinking … Is this why, Lord? To lead us to our future son, already conceived and in need of a family?
She told us she wasn’t working with an agency and hoped to have a private adoption. My heart leapt! Even still, she said that a representative from an agency was sending her some profiles of local waiting families, just in case.
My heart dropped. We didn’t have a profile. We weren’t on a list. We didn’t even have an active application anymore. When we parted ways, she said she was going to look over some other profiles and let us know her next steps. We walked away with hope, but also hesitancy. What if she chose another family? I had to remind myself of our position many times over the next few weeks: Whatever the result, Lord, we trust in You.
As each week went on, my certainty faltered. She must have chosen another family by now. But I stayed my spirit on the Lord, and often found myself saying, “Whatever Your will…” keeping my heart’s desires focused on the goodness of the Lord and the comforting knowledge that He knew better than us what plans would bring fruit into our lives, this young woman’s life, and this precious child’s life.
Long weeks passed in silence.
One late afternoon in May — at 4:10 pm to be exact — my phone beeped indicating a text message. I had just been texting some information to my husband, so I was expecting a response from him. What I was absolutely not expecting was the text I saw next:
“Hi Jasmin, I thought now would be a good time to tell you that I would be honored if you and Mike would adopt my baby boy. I’ve decided not to look at other profiles. Ever since meeting you and Mike, I have felt that it was the right fit.”
The text caught me so off guard, and came in such an unexpected, almost casual way, that I found myself weeping before I had even processed the information I had just read. A text was the last way I ever expected to receive this kind of news! I just sat at my kitchen table, phone in hand, staring in disbelief, weeping. A few moments later my husband walked through the door. I looked up in surprise — and even through the tears — my face must have registered the deep joy that was bubbling up in my heart. He took one look at me and, with a big smile plastered across his face, simply said, “We’re adopting a baby, aren’t we?!”
I nodded and said something unintelligible through my tears. He just laughed with delight.
When I finally found my voice, I said, “She just sent me this text!” and read it out loud to him.
“What should I say?” I asked.
“Say yes of course!” He said with a laugh, repeating back to me the very answer we had given to the Lord over and over through the past months.
So without a further moment’s hesitation, I texted back, “We are so honored to be chosen, and we accept with JOY!”
A short, miraculous nine weeks later, we brought home our beautiful newborn son. And every time I look at him, as I watch him grow with the passing of time, I remember all the moments I cried out to the Lord with longing through those seemingly endless years of waiting; seven years of watching friend after friend, and both of my sisters, fill their homes and hearts with little children. But I know with deep certainty that not one moment of waiting was wasted. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting — that is, of hopefully doing without — will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.”1
Every single ounce of grief and groaning that poured from our hearts was so that God’s glory might be seen in a greater way than we could have imagined. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Cor. 4:17 ESV).
And now, when I see this little boy who was so lovingly and purposefully placed into our family by his earthly birth mother and his Heavenly Father, I think, “As for God, His way is perfect…” (2 Sam. 22:31).
We couldn’t love him more than we do — even if he had been our own flesh and blood. (At the time you read this article, our precious son Declan will be three! Three amazing, miraculous years with our little walking, talking miracle. He is a daily reminder to us of God’s great, matchless love.)
. . .
A few months after we brought our son home, I found myself thinking often about God’s timing. We had felt a clear invitation from the Lord to “start now,” and then He had pushed pause on our plans while He continued to work out His perfect will for a very unique adoption story. As I looked back and tried to grasp the purpose of what had felt to us like a “false start,” small details of the story began to have greater significance, and I remembered an early conversation we had with our son’s birth mother. She said it was early December when she discovered she was pregnant: The exact time that God had given us freedom to “start now” — the same time we gave Him our yes for whatever came next.
And as I marveled at this tiny, yet utterly important detail, I realized that the peace God had placed in our hearts was for the sake of this child, this birth mother, this time, this reason. And the pause He had put on our plans was also for the sake of this child, this birth mother, this time, this reason.
My husband and I can testify that — though we have personally been richly blessed by the gift of our son — we have seen with great joy how God has used this story to display His unmatched goodness and great love to so many witnesses who walked with us through all those years of waiting. Their joy also overflowed as they bore witness to such an amazing answer to prayer!
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for His glory” (2 Cor. 1:20 NLT).
What He starts He is faithful to complete. Always. And we walk in agreement with His ways. Though His ways may seem strange to us — sometimes even heart-wrenching — they are always for our good and for His glory.
An additional note from the author:
Seven long years of painful waiting proceed the story I’ve shared. In those years, I watched many couples start their families ahead of us. During that time my heart ached often, and a clear longing to become a mother grew stronger, especially as it seemed further out of reach with each passing year that we remained childless. In those waiting years, the idea of adoption was often in our thoughts, especially as we watched certain people who we deeply admired walk that journey ahead of us.
We were privileged to have a front seat to the four miraculous adoptions of the Ludy family, as our dear friend Annie was their nanny and had worked alongside them in ministry for years. After their first two adoptions, and as they contemplated if further adoptions might be in God’s plans for them, Eric and Leslie simply took a position of yes before the Lord — a willing and surrendered yes to the story He wanted to script for their family. So when they were presented with two needy babies in Haiti who were on the verge of death, we admired that their pre-determined yes to God had prepared them to walk in obedience and watch Him accomplish something amazing. And He certainly did! But that is their story to tell.
My husband and I were so inspired by Eric and Leslie’s faith, and by watching what God was doing in their lives and family because of it. We didn’t know the plans God had for us, but we wanted to remain obedient and open. We implemented this same position of obedience in our marriage. And even though we didn’t have children at that time, we decided to follow what we had seen modeled in the Ludys’ lives, and simply committed together, “Lord, our answer is yes.” And that meant we were saying yes, even if those plans did not include children.
But I am overjoyed to say that was not His plan…