It was September 21st, 2010, early evening. I was standing beside my youngest son at the kitchen counter as he happily mixed the cake for his birthday the following day. Looking back, I can literally see myself glance quickly over at the phone as it rang. My heart skipped a beat when I read the words on the caller id; Bethany Christian Services. I wasn’t expecting a call from our social worker, which meant that this could finally be it. The news that our social worker had to share may be the end to fifteen months of waiting to bring another child into our family through adoption.
It was hard to fully absorb the words being spoken on the other end of the line. I had the phone wedged between my shoulder and ear and was continuing to help my little guy mix his cake as I heard, “a beautiful baby girl, two and a half months old, Down Syndrome” and then, “ the birth mother would like to meet with you.” I hung up the phone and continued on as if it had been a wrong number. My heart was frozen in this strange numbness; I didn’t know what to feel so I was just trying to not really “feel” at all.
Only a few minutes after the phone call, my husband walked in with our oldest son and, as I walked up and down the hall, putting clothes away in the boy’s room, I recounted the conversation I just had with our social worker. I delivered the news to my husband as if I was relaying a message that was almost trivial or unimportant. I was certain if I was nonchalant about the whole thing, the fear and uncertainty that was hidden within this decision we now had to make would never actually materialize. I wanted to separate the excitement from the fear. As the reality of the decision that now lay before us sunk in however, it seemed the bulk of the excitement had seeped through the strainer and what was left were the questions, the uncertainty, the list of “what-ifs”, the fear of not being in control.
As I sat down with my husband to discuss whether or not we could welcome this child into our hearts and our family, the prayers we lifted up for wisdom, guidance and courage were joined by those of our social worker and the staff and prayer warriors that make Bethany Christian Services (Bethany) so unique and successful in achieving it’s mission of “bringing and keeping families together.” We truly were not alone, nor were the members of this child’s birth family that were in love with this beautiful baby girl but unable to care for her in the way they knew she would need. Bethany was the bridge between us and our social worker patiently guided our steps and united our families forever through the heart of a little girl in need.
Within ten days of receiving the phone call on the night of September 21st, we joyfully welcomed our daughter home. God worked His miracle for our family through Bethany, as He has done for countless other children and families throughout Bethany’s thirty years of service to the New England community. The need for children to be loved, respected and cherished is a need we hold close to our hearts. It is a need Bethany works to address each and every day, and that is why my husband and I now serve on the Board for Bethany New England.
We serve for all of the families that are anxiously awaiting the gift of a child to love. We know what it is like to wait; the questions that are always with you, the fear that creeps into your heart wondering if it will all work out, the roller coaster ride of emotions that leaves you tired, worn and running on empty. The staff at Bethany understand that they are the facilitators of miracles that are orchestrated by God. Every meeting with our social worker began and ended with prayer, reminding us that all of our questions and all of our fears were to be handed over to the one really in control.
We serve because we have seen firsthand the very real heartache that birth mothers face in creating an adoptive plan for their child, and we know Bethany cares about their healing. A few weeks after our daughter moved in with us, I went to a local coffee shop to meet with her birth mother. The baby girl she had given birth to, and loved dearly, was in the arms of another woman and it hurt. I sat next to our social worker as she lovingly and patiently consoled her through her tears and did all she could to walk beside her in her healing process. Adoption isn’t a business, it’s a ministry, and it’s one Bethany Christian Services takes seriously.
We serve because, as the parents of three children, we know the stress of parenting. We know how fortunate we are to be able to provide them with a warm home, three meals a day, transportation to activities. We have access to doctors, medicine and insurance. We live in a supportive community and have family we can depend on in times of need. We serve because we are aware of the staggering number of families within New England that struggle to provide the most basic of needs for their children. We understand that when crisis strikes a family already in dire circumstances, it can be tragic and families can be torn apart as a result. We serve because Bethany works to prevent families being torn apart through the Safe Families For Children program. (Safe Families)
We serve for all of the vulnerable and hopeful children still waiting to be adopted into their forever families. We serve because we know Bethany cares about each and every child as the precious individual they are. Every child deserves a home and every child deserves to be loved.
It’s hard not to look back on the two people we once were before the addition of our daughter to our family. I can still see us sitting on the couch staring into each other’s eyes as we searched desperately for the answer to question, “Can we do this?” The one question that still haunts me from time to time is simply, “What if we had said no?”
Two years ago, Bethany global launched a new initiative titled, The Bamboo Project, that has the specific goal of finding adoptive families for children in China with Down Syndrome. Not long ago, these beautiful children were not even free to adopt, deemed unworthy and unfit for the love of a family. Bethany worked to change that, and, within the last few years, over fourteen of these little miracles have been brought home to their forever family. (Bamboo Project)
Just recently, I had the incredible opportunity to meet one little girl who was brought home after spending the first few years of her life severely neglected by the caregivers at the orphanage in which she resided. At the time of her homecoming, the neglect was incredibly apparent. In fact, her adoptive parents were actually told by the caregivers at the orphanage that they didn’t ever care to pick her up. It was stated very matter-of-factly, as if this precious child didn’t deserve the same attention and love as the other children as a result of her being born with Down Syndrome. I can not appropriately express how my heart soared with joy in seeing this little girl in the arms of her adoptive father, smiling, snuggling and being loved unconditionally. In the short time she has been home with her adoptive family, she has thrived. This is why we serve.
October is Down Syndrome awareness month and November is National Adoption month. In the marriage of these two incredible, life-giving, life-affirming causes, we are inviting you to join with us as we work to support children and families through Bethany Christian Services. We ask you to open your hearts to the vulnerable children within our communities and answer their needs by making a donation.
In just a few weeks, we will all be gathering together with family to celebrate Thanksgiving. We will join with those closest to us, those with whom we have loved, laughed and created memories that many children only dream of. Please consider making a donation to Bethany Christian Services so other children can come home, can belong, can celebrate the love of a family.
By clicking on the link below, you can give directly to Bethany New England, as you will see that the designated location has already been chosen for the Candia, NH Bethany office. We will be able to track our progress and will report back our success with this newly established annual mini campaign. In honor of Mary-Rose and all the children still waiting to be brought home, we sincerely thank you for your support.