Every Monday morning I receive an automated E-mail from our home study agency which lists the profiles of what they call “Waiting Children.” Essentially these are the cases in which the chances of adoption are quite slim without individualized attention, usually due to a disability, a large sibling group, or an older child. I’m sure you have received similar e-mails in your own adoption. Our agency primarily works with Korea, Bulgaria, and Uganda, so the children from these parts of the world are compiled in a single document which is sent out monthly to parents seeking adoption in hopes that a child or group of children will catch their attention. While it is difficult to read through and to see so many waiting faces, I find it encouraging due to the time I spent with a very special student this past school year whose face used to be on one of these E-mails.
Her name is Emmie.
I first met Emmie when she came to visit the school where I currently teach. Having only been in the states a couple of months, she recognized little to no English yet she walked boldly from classroom to classroom amongst her new 7th grade peers, always smiling and nodding politely. She had just been adopted by a local pastor and his wife and was adjusting well to her new home and family. I didn’t realize what a blessing she would be to me in the coming year.
When she officially enrolled several months later, our relationship was amusingly first built around the subject of food. She would come by my lunch table every day and offer me a cookie, a cracker, or something from her lunch box. At first I would thank her and politely decline to ensure she had enough to eat, but she insisted, and I could tell it hurt her feelings if I didn’t accept. Eventually, I started doing the same thing, offering her a snack, bringing certain things that I thought she might enjoy. Then one day I brought a small bag of meringue cookies, my favorite snack. The students at her table, aware of our game, looked strangely at the meringue, not sure what it was. At this point, her English was surprisingly advanced, although she still had trouble grasping a few words. But without hesitation, Emmie looked at the cookie, her eyes bright with excitement, and exclaimed, “Kisses!”
I laughed and shook my head and explained it was a meringue. She nodded, paused to try to find the right words, and mimicked whisking something in a bowl for a very long time.
“From eggs, right?” she asked. “In Bulgaria, we call them ‘kisses!’”
The other students were surprised when I affirmed this was exactly what the cookie was. She took the cookie, beaming from ear to ear. I was grateful she was able to share a piece of her culture with us, even if it was just a cookie. Her life had transformed drastically in the past year, and I marveled at her day after day, in wonder as to how she had transitioned so gracefully. Her English continued to improve at a remarkable speed, and she developed healthy friendships and relationships with many people at her church and at our school.
By extension, I developed a relationship with her parents, who are just as remarkable as Emmie. Their journey to Emmie was a long and complicated one, which miraculously culminated into a family which was so obviously God’s design from the beginning. While I cannot go into the specifics as it is not my story to tell, I remember one conversation I had with her parents in which we realized we were using the same adoption agency. I was so grateful to see proof of a successful adoption through my agency that I pushed the conversation further to see how they came to find Emmie. Emmie was considered a “waiting child” as she was twelve, I believe, at the time they were matched with her. The couple saw her picture, knew she was their daughter, and began the process of accepting her as their own.
While this story sounded inspirational at the time, the weight of the miracle did not set in until the following week when I received an E-mail with the list of Waiting Children from my agency. I clicked on the link just as Emmie walked into my classroom. I looked up to find her hiding something behind her back. She gave me a quick hug and then placed a Hersheys Kiss on my desk with a small sticky note that said, “You are an amazing teacher and I am praying for you and your baby every night! ❤ Emmie.”
She skipped out the door as quickly as she’d come in, and when my eyes returned to the screen, I saw the faces of a dozen Bulgarian children, each with a story and with so little chance of being chosen for a family. My eyes went back to the note Emmie left on my desk and I sobbed. What an amazing story of redemption, that the exact E-mail on the screen once held the profile of the child who daily blesses my life here in Wilmington, NC.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my journey with the Lord, it’s that our God is not a God of coincidences. He is a God of order, of careful planning, of purpose, and never of accidents. God chose Emmie to be the daughter of an amazing couple who have poured themselves into her in such a way that she is now a believer who loves her life here in America, and who is producing fruit at a rate much faster than her peers. And that would have been enough! But our God likes to show off sometimes, doesn’t he? He also chose to bring her, not just to Wilmington, but to my 7th grade classroom at the exact time that I was going through an adoption to find Desi, and provided love, insight, and inspiration for me daily through one of the harder years of my life. I didn’t belong in Emmie’s story, but God blessed me by her. And through my relationship with her, I have come to learn that my child, and every child, that is brought into a home is never placed by accident or coincidence. The timing is never happenstance. The journey is never improvised. I’m sure if we could all share our stories we could point to instance after instance of God’s all-seeing power, love, and insurmountable grace.
While the waiting may be hard, and the circumstances we find ourselves in to be less than ideal at times, we can rest assured, by Emmie and others like her, that God’s perspective holds so many pieces we don’t even yet see, and that God has huge and miraculous plans for our little ones if we are willing to only be patient a little longer.
Verses to Consider:
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! -PSALM 139:4-6
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? -ROMANS 11:33-34
Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. -ISAIAH 40:26
A Prayer for Your Day
Lord, your power, might, and insight are far greater than I could ever imagine. When I cry, “When?” or “How long?” I ask with only my heart and desire to love [child’s name], not with your eyes which see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Help me to remember that you are always answering the prayers I would be praying if I could see the full picture from your eyes. When I am impatient, sustain me like a spring whose waters never fail (Isaiah 58:11). Remind me that you have the best interests in mind for [child’s name]. Remind me that [he/she] is your child first, whom I have the blessing to parent in your timing (Luke 18:16). If it is your will, Lord, bring [child’s name] home soon, but if you see something I don’t, give me the power to endure the long road ahead and to enable me to wait patiently for your timing. Thank you for loving [child’s name] so much and for the many plans you have for [his/her] life (Jer. 29:11).
In Jesus’ name,