Sometimes you run across a story that demonstrates God’s love in a way that a theological explanation never could. Today, I’m featuring one of those stories from guest writer Evan Bell.
If God’s been nudging you to take a risk, to give more than you thought you had to give – read this article. You may just walk away with the courage to follow Him down a path that will change your life forever.
Please note that, due to DHS regulations, Seth’s photo has been altered.
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My wife, Rachel, and I met Seth in May 2010 through some family friends, who were also his foster parents. At that time, he was four-months old and unavailable for adoption – not that we were we looking to adopt anyway. We babysat him for a few hours that day, took a few photos (see first photo to right), and later on, he went back home to his foster parents.
A few months later, we met again. By chance, we went to the same restaurant where Seth’s foster parents were having dinner with my in-laws. We were happy to see Seth, and we held him while they ate (see second photo to right, below). While talking to his foster parents, we learned that he had suffered a life-threatening injury, and he was lucky to be alive.
After seeing Seth at the restaurant and hearing what he had been through, we began praying for him. We prayed for his health and that God would provide a home for him. But still, he was not available – and besides, adoption wasn’t even on the table. At least that’s what we thought.
Over the next few weeks, God began working in Rachel’s heart. He began to stir thoughts in her mind about Seth, and as she says, God began “suggesting that maybe this baby boy was supposed to be our son.” She kept these thoughts to herself, thinking they would go away. I wouldn’t learn of what God had been doing through my wife until weeks later.
“What if we adopted Seth?”
It took me a few seconds to process my wife’s question. Us? Adopt a little boy? Now? Rachel and I had talked about adoption before, but only in a how many kids do you want to have type of discussion.
“Are you serious?” I asked her, already knowing the answer.
I’m ashamed of my initial response. I had just begun my third year of law school, and the only concerns I had were all related to me. I’m 24 – am I really ready to be a father? How difficult would it be to finish school with a child? Would I have time to study?
But Rachel had different questions – questions she had been struggling with, alone, for weeks. How will my husband react to what I believe is God’s calling for us? Will he agree with me? What do I do with such strong feelings if his reaction is negative?
That afternoon, we skipped our usual Sunday nap, and with tears in her eyes, Rachel told me of her continuous thoughts about Seth. She told me of her sleepless nights and of her prayers, begging God to ease her mind and allow her to think of other things. But the thoughts never stopped. She could not keep her mind off that little boy. So we spent that whole afternoon begging God for clarity.
And clarify, He did.
That very night, before we had told anyone of our desire for Seth, we went to Rachel’s parents’ house to pick up our dog, Jack. As we were leaving, Rachel’s mom turned to us and said, “Hey, guess what? Seth became available for adoption this week.” Rachel and I looked at each other in quiet shock, quickly finished the conversation with her mother, and slipped out the door, fighting back tears.
In the car we cried, and laughed, and cried some more. It was as if God Himself spoke to us. Our Gideon-like prayers had been answered. And after such a strong confirmation, we decided to pursue what we believed was God’s calling.
Knowing very little about the adoption process, we moved forward. We learned that there would be many hours of training, CPR classes, support group meetings, and mountains of paperwork. And there was one, big problem – one that could postpone the adoption until it was too late.
According to Arkansas law, a couple has to have been married for two years to adopt a child. Rachel and I had only been married a year and four months. We would have to wait until May before DHS would even consider us as an adoptive family. By that time, Seth could be adopted by a different family.
One day, while talking with a social worker, we asked about the two-year marriage requirement. She stared back at us with a don’t worry about that look on her face, and then she actually told us not to worry about it. She said the law would be changing soon, and they would waive that requirement for us in the meantime. After that day, there was no doubt in our minds that Seth would be our son.
Although we were sure of God’s plan, the months afterward were difficult. We had finished our training and all of the paperwork, but adoptions take time. And our longing for Seth grew stronger each day.
But finally, six long months after that first discussion, we brought home our baby boy – a 14-month-old son who blows kisses and loves the guitar. And through the process, as He likes to do, God taught us more about His grace and love.
While writing and rewriting this article, I couldn’t help but cry as I reflected on God’s goodness in all of this – how He gave us our son, whose name we chose because it means “appointed.” When we think back on how everything unfolded, we know that, indeed, God appointed Seth to be a part of our family. And I feel so blessed, so overwhelmed that God would choose us to love Seth for the rest of our lives.
When we tell people our story, they often react by showing admiration for our choice to adopt. I understand their intentions, and I appreciate their words, but Rachel and I see it differently. The way we see it, God entrusted us with the care of one of His children, blessing our young family in a way we could never have imagined. And because of that gift, we refuse to take the credit of the Giver and, instead, we simply remain thankful for the son He gave us.
Sometimes God’s plan starts with a “what if” – and it may be a “what if” that could change everything. I’ll be forever grateful that my wife had the ears to hear God whisper in her ear, “Rachel, what if . . . I’m ready for you to be a mommy?”
She had the wisdom to take that “what if” back to God again and again in prayer. And those prayers repeatedly moved Seth into our path, moved my heart, and moved any mountains that stood in the way of us adopting him.
Maybe this article has made you stop and consider a “what if” seed that’s been lying dormant in the soil of your heart. If so, follow the example of my wife and water it with prayer. You never know – that seed may just grow up to be God’s biggest blessing yet.
A lovely story, thank you, Evan.
It's taken me a week to respond, but I love this story and am thankful you shared it, Josh. Besides all the obvious positive feelings one gets from reading it, there's the parallel to us, and how we get adopted into God's family, and once we do, we have Him to care for us, protect us, provide for us, and love us. Above all, to give us a name. His name.
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