May 2, 2018

A Call to Love

Helping nature to make a family.

Ashley Clark

My husband, Robert, and I met in early 2003 and were married in November 2004. Like many young couples, while dating we spent many hours talking about our future, including our desire to have children. Before we were even married, we both knew we wanted two children—a boy and a girl—and we had names all picked out.

Eventually, though, we realized that we weren’t going to get pregnant on our own, so we considered seeing a fertility specialist. After some initial consultations and a lot of money, however, we abandoned the idea of having a biological child, and I went through a time of deep sadness. I had always wanted to be pregnant and have a child of my own, and I couldn’t understand why God was not making a way for my husband and me to be parents when we wanted a child so badly. We knew we could give a child a wonderful home and life.

After a great deal of thought and many prayers, Robert and I tentatively began discussing the subject of adoption. We knew that going through a private agency wouldn’t be financially possible, and the thought of a multiyear wait to only possibly get a baby was daunting. So we decided to look into foster care with the possibility of adoption. We visited a local Christian agency, and we signed up to begin taking classes, a home study, background checks—the works. It was an exciting time. We couldn’t wait to get our first placement. But we waited . . . and we waited . . .

Finally—a Child!

After about a year with no child placed with us we were becoming discouraged. Then one Friday morning it happened! I was at work when I got the call. It was our social worker, and she had a little boy just less than 1 year old who needed a home that day. My heart started going into overdrive. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I told her we’d be there that evening to pick him up.

His name was Justin. He had beautiful sandy-blond hair and blue eyes. While the reason he was coming to stay with us was sad, we fell immediately in love with him. We brought him home, and for the next nine months he toddled his way directly into our hearts. Several times that year we thought there would be a chance to adopt him, and we began to think that he was the reason we had never had a child of our own, that God was giving this little guy to us forever.

But it didn’t turn out that way. The courts ruled to send him back to his biological family. We were heartbroken.

God’s Better Plan

In time, however, God helped us to see that He had a better plan. During the next three years we fostered eight other children ranging in ages from 1 week to 5 years. Some we had for a very short time, and one we had for a year. Again we strugged when he, too, was returned to his family.

In early 2012 we were fostering a brother and sister. At the time we were experiencing a rough stage in our marriage, and our faith was low. Then my husband became very ill and had to be hospitalized for several months. Twice he almost died. Out of necessity our foster children were sent to another home so I could be with Robert.

During those months Robert and I spent a great deal of time talking, praying, and regaining that closeness we had before we let being parents completely consume us. When he finally came home from the hospital, our relationship was stronger than ever. While some of the sadness was still there, we had come to terms with the thought that our having a forever child just wasn’t meant to be. God obviously had other plans for our future. But we were wrong again.

A Challenging Decision

About a month later I received a Facebook message from a friend. She told me about a 10-week-old baby girl who needed a home right away. The baby had been born about a month early, was addicted to drugs because of the mom’s addiction, and had a condition called Dandy-Walker syndrome and hydrocephalus. My mind was racing! I knew about hydrocephalus because my husband also had it, but I knew nothing about Dandy-Walker.

From the brief research I did in those few minutes after she messaged me, what I read scared me. Through the Internet I read about cases of delayed development in speech and motor function, as well as learning disabilities. My friend told me that this baby had what they felt was a mild case of the syndrome and was so far doing fine developmentally. I asked her to send a picture of the child. Once she did, I was hooked.

I quickly went home and told my husband about my conversation with my friend and showed him the baby’s picture. We both felt God’s hand on our hearts telling us that we needed to take this baby. We didn’t know what to expect with her development, or whether she would have any future problems because of the drugs in her system at birth. But we felt at peace about it.

A New Addition to the Family

We talked with the family who had been caring for the baby, then made arrangements to see her the next day. We also spent a lot of time on the phone with the adoption attorney, picking out a name for the baby and arranging the financial side of things. I don’t think I slept a wink that night.

The next day my sister and I left work at lunchtime and went to meet the baby. I fell in love at first sight. She was 11 pounds of perfection. Holding her in that moment, I knew that I didn’t want to live another day without her—and I didn’t. My husband and I took her home that evening. It was December 19; she was our Christmas gift.

We spent the next 10 months falling in love with our little girl, whom we named Madison. Then in September 2013 our dreams came true when the judge signed the adoption paperwork making our little angel our forever child.

Madison is now a happy, healthy, 4-year-old princess who is smart and beautiful and loved by so many people.

God didn’t answer our prayers exactly the way we prayed them when we were first married, and the journey we’ve taken together the past 12 years hasn’t been without its tears. But it has also had its triumphs, and has certainly taught us that God does have a plan for our lives. While it may not be anything like the plans we make for ourselves, if we trust in Him He will give us exactly what we need in His time.

Ashley Clark is a contract billing administrator who lives in Alabama with her husband, Robert, and daughter, Madison.