On my first day at college I met a guy named Troy VanLiere. He was funny and good natured and down-to-earth, but he had red hair and eyes that were gray or at other times green, depending on what he was wearing. Imagine my confusion when in our junior year Troy and I fell in love. I thought, "Lord, did you get my memo back when I was six? The dark-haired-blue-eyed memo? Is that ringing any bells at all?"
Four years into our marriage, I got pregnant and was sick every day. I'd walk our dog around the neighborhood and vomit in someone's yard. Neighbors would see me and say, "Grab the hose, Harry. Here comes that crazy woman who always vomits in our yard." One day I woke up and I wasn't sick--and I knew something was wrong. I went to the doctor and discovered that I had lost the baby.
Two years later we sat down with a noted physician, and without any small talk he said, "You have a 10 percent chance of having children." Troy and I went to lunch following that appointment, and I cried throughout the meal. Again I thought, "Didn't you get that memo, God? Didn't you get any of those memos over the years?" All my childhood dreams of having children were gone. I would discover that infertility is a very lonely road to travel. At the time there was a pregnant 16-year-old in our church. The next year, there were two 16-year-olds. At one time, there were four baby showers listed in the church bulletin; it was the greatest sadness in my life because I knew our names would never be listed there.
"You'll do fine."
"I'm going to pass out."
"You're not going to pass out. You'll be fine!"
The nurse brought us into a room and filled a needle with saline solution. She showed Troy which muscle to give the shot in and said, "Be sure the needle is right there in the middle and not off to the side because you'll hit her sciatic nerve, and it could paralyze her." Troy's face dropped. Now he had yet something else to worry about! He stuck the needle in my hip muscle, and I could feel the saline solution travel all the way down to my toes. I stood up and said, "Gee, I don't feel so." and was about to fall on the floor when the nurse caught me. "Lord," I thought, "this is not what I wanted. Come on! Something's got to give."
I was mad that others could easily get pregnant and we couldn't. I started reading the Bible with a vengeance. I thought, "Okay, God, I know You've got promises in here about a happy home and that whole thing about a full quiver. I'm going to find those verses and throw them back in your face."
All my life I had been aware of Psalm 37:4, which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." I was feeling as if God was a liar because the desires of my heart weren't turning out the way I expected.
I would pray, "Lord, fix my body. Fix Troy's body." But the more I dug into Scriptures, the more I realized that sometimes our dreams and plans have to die. Gradually I started praying, "Lord, fix my heart."
Months later I read in Psalms that God "settles the barren woman in her home as the happy mother of children." I turned the Bible upside down and inside out looking for the word "biological," but it wasn't there. It said that the barren woman would be a happy mother of children. Period. It was then that I knew that Troy and I were being lifted up as adoptive parents.
Sometime later, our phone rang. It was someone I had done writing for years earlier. He said, "Donna, are you still writing because I've got some huge projects coming up." I had more freelance writing work than I could keep up with that year. Checks were coming in that consistently paid off every single one of our adoption bills. I often tell people that if God wants a child in your home, believe that He will provide a way to get that child there!
We waited 22 months (longer than the gestation of an elephant), and in March of 2002 Troy and I traveled halfway around the world to the Guangxi Province in southern China to bring Grace Zhenli home. Zhenli means Priceless Gift in Chinese, so we think of her as our priceless gift of God's grace. We fell in love with her long before we ever saw her because we knew that God had a plan for Gracie's life and for our lives too.
When they handed Gracie to me in our hotel hallway, I snatched her up and said, "We've been waiting for you." We undressed her and discovered she was wearing a rag as a diaper held on by a bungee cord. We put a clean diaper on her and dressed her in a pair of little pink pajamas. When we held her close, it was as if God was saying, "This is the better way that I was talking about."
Today I cannot imagine our life without Gracie in it. She'll reach out her arms and say, "I hode you, Mama," or she'll take off her socks and say, "Welcome home, feet!" If we hadn't adopted her, I would have missed out on the greatest blessing of my life.
Proverbs says that, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy." We will be traveling to China again in 2004 to bring home another little girl. Troy and I constantly tell people that adoption has been the greatest joy in our lives, although it started out with our greatest pain. It isn't the dream I had hoped for as a child. It is so much better.