When writer and blogger Arabah Joy called for Just Trust Stories to support the release of her book Trust Without Borders, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about being barren and yet trusting God for a child. At the beginning of October, Arabah published my story on her blog.
“A New Day” tells about the first morning after we met our daughter—the first morning after the last chapter in Destination Italy.
A New Day
Addis Ababa, November 26 2008, 5 a.m.
An amplified male voice awakens me. Lying on my back, eyes closed, I hear the call to prayer from the minaret of a local mosque. The melodious sounds wash over me while my sleepy mind retraces the journey that brought me to this Ethiopian hotel room.
More than four years ago, at the age of forty-three, I hoped for a child. One year later, the onset of early menopause crushed my hope. My womb would remain forever empty.
Meanwhile, my husband Jan and I had moved to Italy. Apparently, a child didn’t fit into God’s plan for our lives in this new country. But why had He planted the love for a child inside of me? I struggled to understand.
Then one day, God touched my heart through a sermon.
Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
—Isaiah 54:1 ESV
Although the pastor was referring to birthing spiritual children through preaching the Gospel, I felt God promising us a real child. I meditated about the women in the Bible who became pregnant in their old age—Sarah, Elisabeth—and decided to give my desperate desire to God, simply trusting that His will be done.
Several months later, something shifted inside me, and a new longing came to life: to mother any child, no matter whether by birth or otherwise. I had pondered adoption previously, but fearing it would be too difficult, I set it aside. Now it was as if Someone had pressed a seed firmly into the soil of my heart, and this seed germinated. Patiently, I let the sprout grow until I was sure it was viable before I shared it with Jan. He agreed that we should begin the adoption procedure. We knew that if it were God’s will, we would overcome any problem.
As we moved forward in the adoption process, we felt God guiding us at every step. To our great joy, we were approved for adoption despite our age; Jan was fifty-six and I, forty-five. A prophetic word led us to the right adoption agency—one that was willing to consider our preference for a girl and licensed to work in Ethiopia, a country to which we felt strongly drawn.
When they told us of seven-year-old Aisha, we accepted without a moment’s hesitation. After another six months, the adoption process was complete.
Yesterday, we arrived in Addis Ababa and went to the orphanage to meet our daughter. Two and a half years after God’s promise, we wrapped our arms around our girl—the most beautiful gift of God.
A movement next to me calls me back to the present. I open my eyes to gaze at Aisha. Last night, after we invited her into the “big bed,” she happily fell asleep right away. Although murmuring and stirring, she’s still sleeping.
Hoping to nod off again, I roll over on my side.
Suddenly, I feel a child’s arm around my neck. I turn my head and meet two wide-awake eyes above a beaming smile.
Not wanting to awake Jan, we sneak out of bed; I beckon her into the bathroom. I whisper and gesticulate, trying to transcend the language barrier that still separates us. “Too early.” I point at an imaginary watch. “Sleep.” I fold my hands against my cheek.
Aisha follows my gaze to the bed, then shakes her head. She takes my hand and leads me to the window where she pulls back the curtain and triumphantly points outside. Lifting up my weary eyes to the pale sky, I concede. It’s dawn.
I look at my daughter’s face, which sparkles with anticipation of this new day, her new life.
My exhaustion gives way to love, and I kneel down to hold her tight. Then she says it—the one word we both know and have longed for. “Mama.”
Overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, I realize it is indeed a brand new day.