In the spring of 1999, while pregnant with our sixth child, my husband came home and cheerfully stated, “If we have any more children, let’s adopt.” Although I verbally responded “okay”, I silently chuckled and thought, “That’s not happening. Six kids are enough and I’m definitely not raising a child who isn’t biologically mine. Only a special type of person adopts and I’m not one of them.” End of story. Or so I thought…Fast forward three months and as I’m in labor in the hospital, and due to two previous C-sections, the scar tissue in my uterus ruptured and the placenta broke off. I was rushed to an operating room for an emergency C-section and as no less than ten people worked, I heard one of them, in a calm yet urgent manner, repeat over and over, “get the baby out.” I had had an epidural so I was lying there awake and as the drama unfolded around me, the Scripture verse Romans 8:28 came into my mind, “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” This too was being repeated over and over and after the fourth time hearing it, I gently replied back to God in my mind, “okay, if You say so” and the voice in my head stopped. Within minutes, our precious daughter Leah, due to lack of oxygen, was born stillborn, resuscitated, and put on life support, having never opened her eyes.

We asked everyone we knew to pray for a miracle but on the morning of the third day of her life I walked into the NICU and knew that God was going to take her home. At the same time, the only way I can describe it is, I had an impression placed on my heart which caused me to look around the NICU at all the babies in the cribs, and I realized at that moment I could take any one of them home to raise as my own. God had prepared my heart over the last nine months of pregnancy to love and care for a baby and it no longer mattered to me if the baby was biologically mine or not. As I walked back to my hospital room I decided I would keep what happened to myself. I figured people would think I was crazy, cold hearted, or both. I mean gosh, my baby was still alive and here I was thinking about adopting. That afternoon my husband, Rich, and a dear friend, Anne Marie, who led me to Jesus three years earlier, came to visit in the hospital. They hadn’t been there more than 15 minutes when Anne Marie asked us, “Have you thought about adopting?” I was blown away and proceeded to tell them my experience in the NICU that morning. We talked a little more about the possibility that day, but it was quickly put on the back burner as we had more pressing matters, not the least of which was the decision as to when to take our baby off of life support.

After Leah’s Memorial Service, life got back to normal. Well, as normal as it could be with five children under the age of eight, four of which were boys. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go through a very dark period. In addition to grieving for the loss of Leah, I also got very sick. Although Rich (who was also grieving), family members and friends were a great support, I was sick, exhausted, depressed, and angry with God. But thankfully in His wonderful mercy, God was patient with me, healed me physically, and gently brought me out of my darkness and into His light.

During this whole time Rich and I were still considering adopting. Although we were prepared to raise another child we definitely didn’t have the large sum of money necessary to adopt one. As we prayed to determine if our desire to adopt was God’s will for us, and if so, how we were going to pay the adoption costs, one evening God confirmed our desires and alleviated our doubts by drawing our attention to the Scripture verse Mark 9:37. Speaking about a little child Jesus said, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” We both knew God was speaking to us and it was clear that this was His will for our family. Once we felt certain of that, we went full steam ahead with confidence He would provide the financial resources needed.

As we trusted and believed, the Lord guided us through the adoption process and showed us His immeasurable provision as He poured out many blessings upon us. Just ten months after Leah went to Heaven on September 1, 1999, Tessa arrived from Romania on June 30, 2000 at 9 months of age. Our beautiful baby Tessa has grown up to be a beautiful young woman who perfectly completed our family the day she arrived. Although losing Leah was extremely painful and I look forward to my reunion with her in Heaven, during those ten months God grew my faith exponentially for which I am eternally grateful. One of the many things I learned through this incredible experience was that I was special to Him. I was special not because I adopted a child, but because I had trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was His child.