China? Not yet...but sometimes He whispers...

We began our quest for a Chinese adoption over six years ago, but then a surprise pregnancy put those plans on hold. When it was time to renew our journey, the wait to adopt a healthy baby from China had grown from less than 12 months to almost five years. By then, God had done some miraculous things in our hearts, so, we decided to complete paperwork for both China and Ethiopia simultaneously. Our Ethiopian child has now been home for over two years. We are still in a very long queue in China. For some time we had been feeling a pull to possibly reconsider our adoption once again - and pursue a mild special needs child from China. Through a number of convincing circumstance, we felt that God was steering us in this direction. So early this year, 2012, we were about to begin renewing the portion of our paperwork that had expired as well as prayerfully considering what special needs we might consider. It was a daunting task, looking at the form contemplating which boxes to check...heart issues? blindness? cleft palate? We were hoping that God would make it abundantly clear which child was ours, because the list was overwhelming.  Our "plan" was that we would be traveling to bring home a child in late 2012 or early 2013. 

But in March of this year, just as we had fully committed to the process...our oldest child was diagnosed with cancer. On a grand scale, obviously, the devastation was immense. Of course it was. Her life was in jeopardy. It was terrifying and we could scarcely breathe. But once the initial shock wore off, I found that there was a seemingly endless list of smaller losses...not life or death...but sad nonetheless. One of these that hit me very hard was...what about our adoption? It made my heart ache to think that this little Asian face I have dreamt of for so long...that it just may not happen now. 

Years ago, after having two biological children, there was a point at which my husband and I both felt called to adoption...that it was "time." We prayerfully considered "where" and very peacefully settled on China...feeling that was where God wanted us to be. But that was six years ago...and although our family seems to continue to grow...there is not yet one of us who is Chinese. I have wrestled with this for some time. Actually even mourned it at points...because I felt so sure that this is where He wanted us. I could see her...sitting on my kitchen counter...dark silken hair in pigtails, almond eyes and endless chatter. Why God? Did we misinterpret things? Is this not your plan? We had a delay for a pregnancy. Another delay due to the long wait in China. Another delay because we have a child with cancer. Do we need to lay this dream to rest? Was this our will and not yours? Or is this simply Satan's attempt to keep a child born in communist China from growing up in a covenant Christian home? Did we hear you incorrectly? It was so difficult to understand when initially we had felt such peace that we were making the correct decision.

So this spring, we have gotten down to the business of fighting cancer. It is a heart-breaking, grueling, full-time, I wouldn't wish it on anyone job...and even in the midst of this, in the back of my mind I was thinking...what about the adoption, God?

Early into Bailey's cancer battle, we learned that there would be yet another layer to our grief. Not only did she have cancer, but we would have to dramatically alter her body to remove it. Her tumor had to come out, and since it was in her bone, there was no easy way to do that. They could save her leg...or the outside appearance of her leg at least, but she would have limited activity for the rest of her life...no high impact sports, no running, no jumping. The other options involved some form of amputation. We met with a number of people while researching our choices and one of those people was a physical therapist named Colleen. She had treated all types of osteosarcoma kids...ones who'd had limb-salvage, amputations...she had experience in every option...and so she was an excellent source of information because she could speak to the "after." What could they really do? What was rehab like? What were the limitations of each procedure? 

About a month into our cancer journey, we had our first appointment with Colleen...just Patrick and I. We were in her office for about an hour that day. During that time, it was only the three of us. We saw no other children and the place seemed deserted. She was wonderful and at the close of our meeting it was the first time Patrick and I were feeling both convinced and hopeful regarding the choice we were leaning toward...rotationplasty. I believe it was also the first time that we actually felt some peace about what was likely to happen...that Bailey would become an amputee and that she would spend the rest of her life wearing a prosthetic leg...and that it would be o.k. That she would do very well and not be restricted in any way. In fact, we would both probably admit that even if we didn't yet verbalize it, our decision was made that day.

So after our meeting with Colleen, we were saying our good-byes when we heard laughter. We opened the door and walked out of the office and into the hallway. There, directly in our path, was a little girl, about four years old...

adopted from China and learning to walk on her brand new prosthetic leg for the very first time. 

I gasped audibly and whipped around to look at Patrick. He rolled his eyes and said, "Oh no, " because he knew exactly what I was thinking...as he was thinking the same thing. I could feel my heart race. It had been such a difficult month. Our world was turned upside down and grief was everywhere. We couldn't escape it. There had been so many times in those recent weeks when God was not audible...not at all. I knew He was there, but I couldn't hear anything. He was silent. But throughout this entire process, there have been moments when He has sent little nuggets...glimpses...hints that He has not left us. There is very little probability that this recently adopted Chinese child who was missing a limb appeared randomly...the same day, same time, same place where we were when we determined that Bailey would live the rest of her life as an amputee. What are the chances? He placed her in our path. This little girl was an amazing reminder - on that day when we were faced with so much sad. Hope. 

I will always remember the feeling I had when I saw that princess with the beautiful dark hair, big smile and bright red, shiny metallic leg. Peace. Elation. Shame for not trusting. He whispers...He does. Like the time shortly after Bailey's diagnosis when we had gotten the wonderful news that her chest scan was clear. I walked outside to get the mail and there was a rainbow right in front of me...almost in the middle of our cul-de-sac. It took my breath away and sent chills down my skin. That beautiful Chinese face full of energy and laughter was a God-whisper. He was reminding me...I am still here my child. I love you. In my time. 

Do I think this means that we will adopt a little girl from China in need of a prosthetic leg? I really don't know. Maybe. All of us actually kind of like the idea...and what a neat thing that would be for sisters to share...such a special bond. But I've given up trying to figure out the plan. I have submitted my desire for China to God. We would love to adopt again and we hope and pray that there will be another Moody added to our clan. He is saying wait...for now...so that is what we will do. 

But I will never forget that when we were surrounded by sorrow, by fear, by agonizing choices and life-changing decisions...waiting to hear from a God who seemed silent...in that moment He sent a child that He knew would speak to our souls...a little face that would stop us in our tracks...to remind us that He is in control. It may not look exactly the way we thought it would, but He loves us. And He's got this. 

It was a whisper, but we heard it...loud and clear. 


Julie said...

Oh Tiffany. . . I just LOVE how God shows up in those moments. So personal. So there.

Just in case you are interested, I have a friend who has adopted two little boys from China, and both were missing one arm. Her husband happens to work at a prosthetic company. Anyway. . . just a tidbit for the "just in case".

I hope Bailey is doing well.

KatieV said...

Amazing story! Another amazing story I just had to share with you was on yahoo.com today. South Africa will have an athlete with a DOUBLE amputation running on their olympic team this year...OLYMPIC TEAM not PARA-Olympics! Just a testiment to the amazing technology that has gone into prosthetics and to the will-power of the human spirit. Wishing your amazing daughter a speedy recovery and the will-power to take back the athletic life she so desperately loves.

Kelley said...

Continuing to pray for your sweet family. You all are such a beautiful testimony of faith, hope and trust!

AW said...

Can't say that this thought hasn't crossed my mind for you...and been the subject of a few prayers! Couldn't help smiling the whole time I read this! I think of Bailey's strength and hope coupled with her amazing ability as a big sister and imagine a little Asian girl looking to her big sister to learn how to deal with life with a missing limb. Whatever happens, I can't wait to see how God uses Bailey for His glory!