Wednesday, June 18, 2008

God Hard At Work . . . Again

My nephew, Gus, turned five last week. We celebrated his birthday in very ordinary, American ways by having cake, singing, beating the snot out of a pirate pinata.

But there was nothing ordinary about the path that opened up for Gustavo to be the newest member of our family in 2003.

Take the time, if you will, to take a glimpse at the process and miracles that brought Gus home, in the words of my sister, Aimee.

Five years ago today a baby was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala at his birth mother's home with a midwife in attendance. I was not present for his birth. I did not hear his first cry or see his scrunched-up newborn face. I do not know how much he weighed at birth or how long he measured. There was no apgar score. There was simply the miracle of a new life being born.

While we do not have many details/facts surrounding Gustavo's birth family, we do know certain circumstances of his birth mother's pregnancy which let us know that the very moment he was born was truly a miracle. The moment Gustavo took his first breath he had beaten the odds. I wonder if my heart skipped a beat the moment he was born.

Miracle #1 - Gustavo was born, alive, and with a future promised by the Creator himself. The adoption process itself was in turmoil throughout Gustavo's adoption. While Mark and I were fully aware of the situation, we decided to move forward with our eyes wide open. In our hearts we knew God was calling for our family to grow. I will share just a few highlights of the many events from that tumultuous time in 2003.

We received our final dossier item, approval from US Immigration, toward the end of June and were matched with Gustavo when he was 10 days old. When I called the Immigration Office to inquire about our paperwork a human answered the phone (unheard of) and told me she had signed our approval that very morning. I immediately blurted out "can I come down and pick it up?" After being stunned that I had the nerve to make such a request she said she had already sent it to the mailroom and we would receive it in about 10 days through the mail. She then paused and said she could ask her assistant to see if she would track it down and would call back. Yeah right - like I would ever hear from them again.

About an hour later my phone rang and a lady stated she had tracked down our paperwork and I could indeed come downtown and retrieve it in person. The office was closed to the public that afternoon but she gave me instruction for ringing a buzzer at a side door (I kid you not) and they would give me our paperwork. Marco and I were downtown in about 30 minutes ringing that buzzer! A woman opened the door, just a crack, and peered out at me. I told her who I was and the reason for my appearance. She gave me that paperwork and commented "Wow - that was fast!" Lady, don't get between a mama and her mission.

Ten days after receiving Gustavo's referral agencies stopped matching children with families. Ten days. You know the same ten days it would have taken for our final piece of paperwork to arrive in the mail. Had we waited for the paperwork to arrive it is possible we would have missed out on being matched with a child and the adoption moving forward.

The process did shut down during Gustavo's adoption. Things came to a grinding halt. Our family spent 10 long weeks not knowing if we would ever meet the precious boy we hoped would be our son. The rumor mill was ugly, and it was difficult to not be shaken at what we were hearing. One of the most frightening rumors heard was that the Guatemalan authorities were going to take all children in process of being adopted, remove them from their loving, nurturing foster homes, and place them in orphanages. We knew if this came to fruition there would virtually be no possibility of finding Gustavo. Not only would he be lost to us but also spend his childhood in the institutional setting of an orphanage. I still get sick to my stomach when considering this possibility.

At one point during the ten weeks of not knowing if the adoption would continue, I removed Gustavo's picture from the front of the refrigerator. It was too painful to see his face peering at me everyday. I found it difficult to talk about him on a daily basis. However, during a much-needed girlfriend weekend away I concluded that my heart was not going to be anymore broken over this little boy if I talked about him, dreamed of our future together, and plastered his picture all over our home. God was at work on my spirit.

Of course I prayed without ceasing for Gustavo. However, I learned to pray for the Guatemalan authorities and those who were responsible for the shutdown of the adoption process. Once adoptions opened again in September I prayed for each person who was working on our file. I learned about faith. I learned how difficult it is to completely turn over a burden to God and trust that his answer is best.

Once adoptions resumed I was allowed to go to Guatemala and visit Gustavo and his foster mother. As he was placed in my arms for the first time (sitting poolside at a hotel in Antigua, Guatemala) I felt instantly at peace. While he was not yet legally our son, I did not need a legal document to cement our bond. I spent 5 glorious days getting to know this precious baby that had been so lovingly prayed for since the moment we knew of his existence. Leaving him behind in Guatemala was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I left Gustavo and Guatemala having seen a miracle with my own eyes and experiencing the fruit of prayer.

There were more twists and turns in the process but on December 1st we received THE telephone call. The adoption was approved. Our boy was coming home! I was in Target Christmas shopping when I answered the call. After hearing the news I literally stopped breathing and then started the UGLY cry. My hands were shaking as I called Mark to share our news. Our son would be home – at 6 months old and just days before Christmas.

Mentally we were prepared for a long drawn-out process and hoped to have him home for his first birthday. There was even high drama the last two weeks as the US Embassy made mistakes on our paperwork. However, on December 18, 2003 two very joyous parents and one sweet baby walked down the concourse at the airport to greet grandparents, 2 brothers, and a sister all anxious to meet Gustavo Adolfo Davis.

I believe in miracles and the power of prayer. For this is exactly what it took for a baby to be born despite circumstances unfavorable to his life, be relinquished by a birth mother who had the courage to give him what she felt she could not, to make it through an adoption process which was shut down and then resumed, to immigrate to a foreign country and join a family who would have moved mountains to bring him home. It didn’t take moving mountains – just trusting in God’s plan.

So you see it would be wrong of me to not share a bit of our story and truly acknowledge God’s powerful hand in our family. I’ll close with a favorite quote: “We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands.”

When you see Gustavo please whisper a prayer of thanksgiving and tell God how cool it is that he uses a brown-eyed adorable boy to remind his people that miracles are real and the power of prayer is awesome.

Gus with his birthday pinata.

This was actually their 2nd Guatemalan adoption ...

Big brother Marco on his first day of school.

and you would think their last, right? Nope! With their trust in God and faith in His callings, they brought Ana Lucia home in March, 2006.

The first time I ever held Ana.

The two of us last weekend.

God brings families together in all kinds of ways - birth, adoption, fostering, marriage, friendship . . . but no matter how He does it, the bond is no less strong - and the love no less binding.

So here's to family, and the many beautiful roads we are taken down to become one.


  1. Amen sister!

    Family is such an incredible gift.

    At times I get the question of which is easier, pregnancy/childbirth or adoption. Both are quite the journey with the most fabulous outcome!

    Marco and Gustavo thought it was strange that Marco's teacher didn't get on an airplane to bring her baby home...she just went to the hospital. What a concept! They think nothing of the fact that Zack and Katie were in my tummy and they were not. No big deal.

    Teenagers and toddlers - what a blast!

  2. That is a wonderful story and I am thankful to you and your sister for sharing it with us.

    Happy Birthday Gus!!

  3. TOTALLY crying right now! :-)