In Their Own Words: Journey to JudithApril 16th, 2021
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Journey to Judith
Literally days after my daughter’s death, my inbox began filling with files of orphaned children. My well-meaning friends, adoption advocates like myself, decided I needed another daughter. I was shocked, angry, and hurt that I was expected to adopt another child when my heart felt like it had just been hit by a grenade. Looking back, I know they did not mean to hurt me. They just saw a need and knew my family could meet that need. But it took me months to let go of the bitterness.
When I did finally decide that my life needed to resume, I knew I needed to sort through those files. I had no intention of finding “my child.” I am momma to 15 amazing kiddos, and my life and schedule is full. And my heart was still recovering from losing my daughter, Daley Faith. I planned to choose three or four children to advocate for. This has been my God-given passion for many years. As I opened each file, I was completely shocked. With over 150 million orphans in our world, the same little girl kept popping up in file after file. Over 75% of the files I received were of this sweet child, Ada/Ava/Abby from Colombia, South America (she had different names depending on which agency was advocating for her). God??? Is there something you are showing me???
When my Daley died, many people made donations in her name to In His Hands Orphans Outreach, a ministry that I love working with. We decided to use these donations to offer IHHOO grants to children with cerebral palsy, since that was Daley’s biggest challenge. I decided to offer a $3000 grant for little Ada/Ava/Abby. And I began to advocate for her. It felt good to get back to being a voice for the orphaned children, and I was determined to find this sweetheart a family!
Of course, there was a lot of interest. This little sweetheart was adorable! But her challenges were complex. She was a micro-preemie, had left-sided weakness, cerebral palsy (leaving her immobile), incontinence, and she had developmental delays. Too much for most people. This broke my heart. But I kept on advocating.
In early spring, 2020, IHHOO decided to sponsor an orphan hosting program, bringing orphaned children from Colombia to the US in hopes of finding their forever families. My husband and I were asked to host a sibling group, since we have a large home and a large van. During the interview process I was asked if I had any familiarity with Colombia adoption program. At this point, my only experience was brief, and it involved what I had read about Ada/Ava/Abby, who was currently residing in an orphanage in Colombia. To my complete surprise, my hosting coordinator knew Ada/Ava/Abby! In fact, the agency had been seeking a family for her for a VERY long time. She let me know that this little sweetheart’s name was actually “Judith”, and that she had spent her entire 9 years waiting in an orphanage, watching her peers come and go, as they were chosen for adoption. It didn’t take too much convincing before I decided that maybe WE should host Judith. What a better way to advocate for her than to have her in our home for people to meet!
And then COVID struck. And hosting was cancelled. And everything was cancelled. And international adoptions screeched to a halt as the world struggled with this virus. Miss Judith (and thousands of orphans like her) had no choice but to wait even longer to have an opportunity to find a family. At this point, hosting was tentatively rescheduled for May of 2021. But God started working on the hearts of my family and me. Each day I felt my heart begin to soften toward adopting another child. Toward Judith specifically. I began to accept Daley’s death and to appreciate the time God had given me with her. I began to imagine her in heaven, so full of joy and free from her physical disabilities and cheering for us to love on another child the same way we had loved on her. Daley and Jesus knew we had more love to give! We just needed to step back from the pain and into God’s plan for our family.
We began the process to adopt Judith in the summer of 2020. COVID continues to make the process slow and daunting. But each day we are closer to being the FAMILY that Judith has been waiting for! We are on the home stretch. God has blessed us with supportive friends and family, with financial assistance - like the generous grant we received from the Tim Tebow Foundation, and with a fantastic agency to walk with us through each step. We have our first SKYPE visit with Judith this week! We should be able to travel to Colombia and meet our daughter in June! We are so excited!
God’s plan is perfect. Sometimes it is blurred by pain and grief. Sometimes it’s blurred by doubt and fear. Or even blurred by COVID. But I challenge you to ask God to show you the plans he has for you, and for your family. And I challenge you to allow Him to equip you to fulfill those plans. Walking in the will of God is the most amazing place to be. I love this journey!
Judith, we are coming!