Adopting a Child Was in God's Plan

Could this baby by the police station be the child that they were looking for?

Posted in , Jun 21, 2018

With parents in the back row, grandparents on either end, the Burklew kids take center stage.

Long before I was even close to becoming a mother myself, I loved the Prayer of Hannah service, an annual Mother’s Day tradition at my church. Families who desired a child stood up in front of the congregation and asked for prayer.

In the Bible, Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, prayed to God for a child. Hannah was infertile, but had faith her prayer would be answered. God gave Hannah Samuel.

After Matt and I married, we took the opportunity to stand at the Prayer of Hannah. Matt and I had been blessed with one biological daughter, Leah, and an adopted daughter, Abbie, when we decided to stand again.

Two years after welcoming Abbie into our family seemed like the perfect time for another adoption. I thought an older child would be best, one who fit in age between Leah, who was ten, and Abbie, two and a half. I knew exactly what I was praying for.

Matt squeezed my hand as we stood up that Mother’s Day in church. I pictured a little girl between five and ten years old. “Lord, we are so ready to add to our family,” I said. “Please bring the right child into our hearts.” Surrounded by my husband, my congregation and my pastor, I felt sure God had heard me. Now we just had to wait.

It wasn’t until July that we got a call from an adoption and foster care ministry at our church. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I picked up the phone.

“There is a baby boy available for adoption. Would you be interested?”

A baby? That wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I wasn’t mentally prepared for a baby. My infant-caring days were behind me, I’d thought.

“The child is going to be dropped off here at the church today,” the counselor said.

Today? This was all happening so fast. A new baby came with steps I hadn’t counted on—assembling a crib, buying formula, borrowing baby clothes. I had to talk to Matt.

“Maybe God will change our minds if we pray about it,” he said when I told him about the phone call. So I did. God, if this is your will, please move our hearts to bring a baby into our home.

God wouldn’t give us anything we couldn’t handle, would he? Leah and Abbie were growing into bright, beautiful children. They would love a baby in the house.

Yes, I thought. This is definitely right for us. I called back the adoption ministry and said we were ready.

“This is it,” I said when I hung up. “They’ll call us back when the baby arrives.” I turned on the news to calm myself down.

“This evening a newborn baby boy was dropped off anonymously at a fire station,” the anchorman said. “There was no note, and police report that the birth parents are currently unknown.”

“A fire station?” Matt seemed very surprised.

“Safe-haven laws permit the leaving of unharmed infants in police stations, hospitals and fire stations so the babies can become wards of the state,” I explained. “Well, at least the birth parents cared enough to do the right thing.”

“We will have more information regarding this incident when it becomes available,” the newscaster announced.

I had the strangest thought. Could this be our baby? No reason to think so. But I couldn’t remember the last time I’d heard such a report on the evening news. It seemed like a sign. I pictured the little boy waiting for me. The phone rang, scattering my thoughts. I rushed to answer it.

“Mrs. Burklew? We have some disappointing news. I am so sorry, but the baby won’t be coming after all.”

I looked straight at the television screen, speechless. Just like that—our adoption fell through. Matt saw my disappointment and hugged me. “We’ll find our baby,” he said. I went to bed. God, I’m so confused, I prayed. You moved my heart to desire a baby instead of an older child. I am ready for a baby. Why did you close the door? Why?

I tried to find ways to keep myself busy. I searched for summer activities for Leah and Abbie, but I kept feeling this gentle tug at my heart. How could I be so wrong in what God had planned for us? Maybe we weren’t meant to be parents again. I had to accept that too.

I was getting the girls ready for the pool one day when the phone rang. I could see by the caller ID that it was the adoption ministry at our church again. I almost didn’t want to pick up.

It was the attorney for the ministry. “There was a couple from Indiana who attended the Mother’s Day service this year,” he said. “They were extremely touched by the Prayer of Hannah portion of the service, and they have a two-month-old granddaughter who needs a home. They think you’re the right match. Would you be interested?”

Interested? Try shocked. I didn’t want to get my hopes up when he gave me the couple’s contact information. I had so many questions spinning in my head. Why would a couple from Indiana want their granddaughter to be raised in Florida? What were the chances of their coming to our church on just the right day?

“What if this all falls through again?” I said to Matt. I didn’t think I could take it.

“Let’s just wait and see,” he said.

We talked to the couple via FaceTime and learned that Carol and Rob were also adoptive parents. That’s why their son and the baby’s mother were considering adoption. Carol and Rob were determined to help little Ella get the best start in life. “We happened to be in Florida on Mother’s Day and heard the prayer. God sent us there on purpose.”

Two months later, I stepped off the plane in Indiana, where Carol, Rob and baby Ella were waiting. God had answered our Prayer of Hannah better than I could have imagined.

“This feels like a family reunion, even though we just met!” I told them. Carol and Rob had invited me to stay at their home while we waited for the adoption to be finalized.

Carol helped me learn Ella’s daily routine—feeding, bathing, rocking, putting her to bed, and being the first one there when she woke up.

When the waiting period was over, the four of us flew together to Florida to be with Matt, Leah and Abbie. Carol and Rob returned to Indiana later that week, leaving Ella with us—her new family. “She seems to know this is where she belongs,” Carol said when we said goodbye.

Maybe God had prepared her to love me just as he’d prepared me to love her. The diapers, the bottles, the baby clothes, the crying were nothing compared to the love I had for my daughter. Ella was the perfect addition to our family, and God chose us to watch her grow.

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