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Mother in Waiting

Mother in Waiting
Laura Brown with her husband Stefan and son Harrison. Photo by Ben Ohmann.

When the struggle bus stops at my house, my first instinct is to hop on, shove the driver out of the way and take over. I whip around detours and take speed bumps on without slowing down one bit.

God might calmly tap me on the shoulder to explain He is a much better driver than I am, but I’m stubborn. Sometimes my stubbornness requires a brick wall to get me to stop, and God often gives us what we need.

He certainly did just that in the ever-so-memorable year of 2020. Our long, speed-bump-ridden, pothole-filled adoption journey suddenly ran into
a giant brick wall.

A long road into a brick wall

Expanding our family has never been a straightforward path. Our first son was born very premature and passed away at one week of age. Our second son was also born premature, but through the grace of God only spent one month in the NICU before going home. After his birth, we struggled through two subsequent miscarriages and then secondary infertility.

At that point we sought the advice of fertility specialists and decided to try in-vitro fertilization. We made it through half a round of IVF (which resulted in no viable embryos) before we finally took a step back and prayed about our next steps. After a week of praying and pondering, we felt called to the path of international adoption.

When our family started the process of international adoption, I did exactly what I described above. I made my way through the mountains of paperwork like Sandra Bullock plowing through traffic cones in the movie Speed.

One thing came up after another, and I still refused to let go of the wheel and surrender it to God. I white-knuckled that sucker and continued on headfirst, thinking I could make everything happen with the sheer force of my will.

Twenty-six months after we initially started the process and one week after we received our pre-approval from the foreign government to adopt our son, a pandemic hit the world. The whole world stopped like nothing anyone had ever seen before. We all hit a brick wall.

The Browns’ son, Whitaker, at the orphanage in his home country.

At first, like everyone else, we thought this shutdown might last a month or two, and then everything would pick back up where it left off. However, it quickly became apparent it was going to take a lot longer than that, but no one could say how much longer.

This time I felt God’s gentle but firm tap on my shoulder. He was telling me, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

This time, I got the memo. I was going to have to just sit tight and let God be God. There was no form I could complete, no hoop I could jump through to change this. God had control of the wheel.

Patience and control

It has been over two years since we were approved to adopt our son, Whitaker, and over four years since we started the adoption process. Four years ago, I am confident no one would have described me as a patient person. Strong willed and independent? Sure! Patient? Not so much.

At first, I thought maybe that was what God was trying to show me. I began reciting Romans 12:12 to myself every day: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” I would think, “It’s cool, God! I get it! Look at me being all patient over here.”

Patience was and is a valuable lesson I have learned, but I think I missed the bigger picture initially. I believe what God truly was and is continuing to teach me is I must let go of the wheel (maybe even move to the back of the bus, just to be safe). I need to let God drive my bus.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6 says. I need to trust God to manage my life the way he sees fit rather than relying on my own abilities. He knows the plan, and I need to accept things according to his will. He will remove the obstacles in my path in his time, not mine.

Lament and perspective

Throughout the waiting, God has continued to help me grow in so many areas. The sermon series on lamenting at Faith Bible Church helped me to see that I can express my discontentment to God. I learned the biblical way to express my frustrations over the delays with meeting our son, rather than bottling it all up because I didn’t want to complain.

God has also blessed me with a righteous perspective time and time again. On days when I have been feeling negative and hope is hard to find, God shows me how he is continuing to bless us.

When I was discouraged after a package we had sent our son was returned 6 months after we had mailed it—with “forbidden” being the only reason provided—I heard from a family whose child was experiencing significant health issues at the orphanage. They couldn’t even get timely feedback on what medical interventions were taking place, if any. God reminded me our son was and continues to be completely healthy.

I learned the biblical way to express my frustrations over the delays with meeting our son, rather than bottling it all up because I didn’t want to complain.

When I was frustrated because the orphanage overseeing our son was closed and could not receive mail, I read a Facebook post from a family that was adopting from Ukraine. Their children were in a war zone and they have no idea if they are safe.

God has blessed our son with a loving foster home he has been in since he was 11 months old. The blessings wrapped up in that alone are invaluable. He is learning emotional attachment to caregivers and is not experiencing any of the developmental delays affiliated with institutionalized living.

God continues to sustain us and our son. He reminds us he is a much better driver, and we should not worry about where we are going or how long it will take to get there.

Waiting graces

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” I try very hard to remember to lament through prayer and with gratitude give my worries to Him who is much better equipped to handle them.

Serving in the Children’s Ministry every week and attending services helps to sustain me while we continue to wait. Having a loving and supportive Growth Group keeps me going on tough days or when I am feeling negative about the situation. Knowing I can ask them any time to pray for my heart when I am weary or feeling frustrated helps immensely.

Having a loving, faithful God who can drive my struggle bus better than Sandra Bullock’s stunt double could even dream of makes all the difference in the world.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 
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