Our adoption journey started when I spoke at a women’s event at my church in Tupelo, MS. Before I spoke, my dear friend Cindy shared her story of adopting her precious daughter, Sophie. My daughters, Katie and Ellie, went with me to the event.
We ourselves had been praying about adopting for about 7 years. Many times I wanted to contact an adoption agency to get the ball rolling, but every time, I felt the Lord saying, “Wait.”
By the time I turned 44, I thought that maybe I had heard Him wrong. Maybe adoption wasn’t for the Berry family. But I knew that helping orphans was for every Christian, so I tried to find manageable ways to do that. One of those ways that I had discovered a few years ago, was a website called Rainbow Kids. Rainbow Kids is an orphan listing that sends email updates on various orphans all over the world who are in need of a loving home and a forever family. Whenever I received an email, I would pray for the child and then delete the email. Easy ministry! And we all can do things like that. Prayer is one of the most powerful and most underused tools of ministry.
What I didn’t know at the time was that my oldest daughter, Katie, was in the back of the room, listening intently to Cindy’s speak … and listening to God speak. She later told me that it was the first time she had ever really heard God speak to her, and the word was: “Your family will also walk this path.”
She didn’t tell me of her revelation, but the next morning she started pestering me about calling an adoption agency. She said, “Mama, call today. At least get the process started. Then we will be ready if anything comes up.” And, as often happens, I got busy that morning and didn’t call. However, I did check my emails and saw on Rainbow Kids listing, a picture of a beautiful little Chinese baby girl.
Now I realize that this story truly started on April 28, 2010, but I just didn’t know it. I looked back in my journal to see if I had recorded anything about that day. Nothing. It was just an ordinary day in the life of the Berry family. I don’t even remember what we were doing that day. Nothing bad was going on, or I would have written about it. Nothing great, either, or I would have recorded it. It was an ordinary day. But our God loves to use the ordinary to create the extraordinary. What I didn’t know then was that on the other side of the world a baby girl was born on April 28, 2010. A beautiful Chinese baby girl. Her only flaw was a tumor on the back of her neck.
When I saw the picture of this beautiful baby, I showed Mont and jokingly said, “Well, honey, you ARE a head and neck surgeon.” He told me to just send an email to them and ask for more information about her and her condition. Within a couple of hours I had gotten a response back. They sent all of her records and said that if we were serious about this, we should have one form back to them by late afternoon because they were going to match her with parents THAT DAY. I was freaking out and scared to death! Mont, a pediatric surgeon, and a neurosurgeon all reviewed her files and all concluded that the cyst would require one surgery to remove and should have no repercussions on her development. After talking with our other five children, we sent the form back at 9pm, knowing that it was possible that the decision had already been made. However, by 11pm we received an email back that said that we were selected to be her parents! The Berry bunch just added another to our family! If you know anything about adoption, you know that this does not happen. What usually takes miles of paperwork and months or years of waiting, took us 12 hours and a couple of emails. Of course, we then had to go through all the normal miles of paperwork and the “hurry up and wait” process of adoption.
One of the things that amazed me is how in love I already was with this little girl! She had never even met me, and yet I would do anything for her, because she was my child. I didn’t care about her “flaw”. We would do whatever was necessary to remove it, but it had no bearing on how we loved her. Do you see the correlation here?
What a picture of the love of God the Father. Before we ever even met Him, He loved us with an everlasting, unconditional love. We, too, have flaws and sins and struggles. He will do the work in our lives to change that, but WE don’t have to change that for Him to love us. He loves us, and then helps us change, through the shed blood of Christ, our Savior.
That is the Good News that has rocked the world for over 2,000 years. That is the Good News that we are called to go and share with others. My prayer is that you would ask the Lord what that looks like for you.