By Goddy with Dave Franco, courtesy linkbooklegacies.com
Three years is a long time hold onto a dream that isn’t coming true—especially when the dream is to have a baby. You see, babies are everywhere; in your building, down your street, in the park, on the TV, on billboards, in the stores, in frames on coworker’s desks, in the comments of well-meaning relatives…There are babies, babies and more babies in every direction—constant reminders that what should happen naturally for your wife and you, simply isn’t.
It’s not as if we were hoping for something out of the ordinary. We were a healthy couple, normal in every way—living God’s prescribed arrangement for such a blessing. Why shouldn’t we conceive? Why everybody else and not us?
That is why I took particular interest when at a church in my neighborhood in London I saw the pastor showing his new daughter to the congregation. All the people came around to give the baby a squeeze and a kiss while the pastor beamed. That’s when I heard someone say that the baby was adopted. It took me aback. I never considered that someone would beam so brightly over a child that wasn’t biologically his. Of course it makes sense that the pastor would, but at the moment, it just surprised me.
I went home to my wife, Pamela, and told her all about it. And the more we talked, the more excited we became—adoption felt right. It took me back to when I was a little boy in Nigeria, when I was allowed to go to a school in another part of the country, how so many people adopted me along the way to help me get through.
“All we have to do is adopt a baby and we’ll have one—just like that?” Pamela asked spryly. It all seemed too delicious for words. The waiting and worry would soon be over. We could start a family right away. “I think it wouldn’t take me hardly any time to come to love an adopted baby,” she said with excitement. We hadn’t felt that light in a long time.
And so, we entered the British adoption process with the joyous anticipation of having a baby soon.
But we had no idea.
Pamela and I had to provide a bank vault’s-worth of documentation to prove our financial and emotional stability now and in the future. We had to have our home inspected and ultimately remodeled. We were required to write an exhaustive story of our lives. We were endlessly interviewed at the agency offices. We had to produce our relatives to be interviewed, even distant family. We had to stand before an adoption panel akin to a court jury. We were given a battery of physical exams with every component of our bodies scrutinized. We had to take a plethora of parenting courses. We even had to sign a contract stating that we agreed to be on contraception—no pregnancies during the process would be tolerated.
We had spent thousands of dollars on our home renovation and countless hours accommodating the adoption office’s requests and requirements, and three agonizing years later, we still didn’t have a baby to call our own. And now God was asking for a level of patience we weren’t sure we had to endure this bureaucratic crawl.
Lord, why the excruciating waiting?
Finally, the call came. The adoption office informed us that we would be certified soon. We were elated. Any moment now, we would begin the process of choosing children to be ours and bear our name. That is why what happened next seemed like a plot point from someone else’s story. Pamela’s company, where she had a remarkable job, was assigning her to an office in the U.S.
All we could do was hope for a good bit of timing where the relocation process would take so long that we could secure a child before the papers to move us to the U.S. would be finalized. But the finalization took longer than we anticipated and now the race was on to see which would happen first.
They ended up happening at the same time. Just as we were about to have our dream come true—the dream we had waited six years for—our relocation papers were completed. If we were to agree to go, we would not have the time to begin the viewing process of children. Yet, strangely, both of us felt an odd peace about getting on that plane.
So, in a move that seemed to defy logic, a move that others thought was crazy, we agreed to leave the UK for the states, and simply didn’t allow ourselves to look at the faces of the children that kept arriving in the mail—it was far too painful. “I believe God’s perfect child for us is in America,” I told Pamela. “Besides, to trust God with the unknown always leads to blessing.”
In a way, even we couldn’t believe what we were doing.
In the states, we entered the Foster to Adopt system and began the process all over again. We were initially relieved to find that the Americans were not nearly as fussy as the British; the process was far more straightforward. But every decision and review took forever; weeks, even months. It was unbearable.
Lord, why so long?
Finally, two years later, we got word that we were certified. We cautiously rejoiced. Could it really be that we would finally get our child?
Not long after, we received a phone call from the agency saying that a social worker had been reading our file and felt that three little sisters that she worked with would be perfect for us and us for them.
Did she say three?
“We have no plans to suddenly have a houseful of five,” Pamela told them. “We are not interested in multiple children.” In a move that must have been orchestrated by God, the social worker insisted we go into the offices to see the girls’ profiles before ruling it out. And so we did.
We walked in. We were handed the pictures. That was all it took. One look and we immediately felt our pulse quicken—as if the reason for the eight-year wait was now in our trembling hands. The girls were beautiful, like angels, and fun-loving, and by all accounts, they were children of high character. I couldn’t take my eyes off the middle one with the mischievous glare. I was smitten. Pamela was too.
The agency that handled the girls’ case was a nine-hour drive away in Northern California. We drove through the night to arrive at the agency office at noon the next day to show our commitment. The agency was impressed.
But unbeknownst to us, the Foster mother wouldn’t allow us to see the girls. Feeling terribly let down, we were asked to return in two weeks. It was a miserable nine-hour drive home and an excruciating fourteen days. So many things could go wrong to wipe away this opportunity. We held on tightly to God and His goodness and tenderhearted ways.
Two weeks later we again drove through the night to arrive at the agency office by 9:00 a.m. This time the girls were ready. We were so excited to meet them we could hardly contain ourselves.
When we were introduced to the girls, it was almost as if it was a reunion. All of us were so overjoyed to see each other. We spent two days together even staying in a hotel room for the night. It was a glorious success. The connection we fantasized about was in full bloom in each of their faces. The girls even began calling us mom and dad. As we watched the girls play, our faces hurt from smiling.
I called the agency, told them of our time together, how we felt and asked if we could just sign the papers and take the girls home. But the agency insisted they had more red tape to clear and finalizing to do. “We’ll have to meet with our directors, then there’s all the paper work to file, and there could even be visitations,” they insisted. “It could take weeks, maybe up to six.”
With so much excitement coursing through our veins, and after eight years of waiting, the idea of six more weeks felt like a jail sentence.
As we dropped off the girls at the agency, the tears flowed freely. It was an awful parting, as if parting with ourselves. The ride home was a quiet torture as we drove away from our girls. There were more sniffles than words.
Lord, please. Step in. Give us our girls and give us strength in the waiting.
Just hours after arriving home, we received a phone call from the agency. “The girls’ social worker said they have done nothing but talk about you since you left,” the woman from the agency said. “Since there seems to be such eagerness on both sides, we have reconsidered. You can come and take the girls. Can you be here tomorrow by noon?”
In the year since, we have learned that God’s plan is always worth the wait, evidenced by the way we feel as we watch our three daughters run through our house, or watch TV together, or get cozied up in their beds waiting for mom and dad to come in and say a prayer. They are us and we are them. When we worried and questioned, God’s seeming nonsensical plan was leading us to this extraordinary completion we feel today. These are our daughters. He is faithful even when we are not—maybe especially when we are not.
2 Timothy 2:13 …if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself (NIV).
Postscript: Goddy and Pamela learned that at on the day they agreed to move to the United States, their three girls were entered into the Foster system.