But I've got to tell the story. Their story. Our story. Cupcake's story. God's story.
On the outskirts of Baltimore, in northern Maryland, we had a "family reunion" of a different sort. We finally met Jim and Laurie in person. Jim and Laurie are our family, not based on common ancestry, but based on a common history.
Our daughter was once their daughter.
You see, this family was once Cupcake's family, not by birth, but by love. One year before we fell in love with her picture, they fell in love with her picture. A year before we began praying for her by name, they were already praying for her by name. For nine months they were in process to adopt Cupcake. Then the unthinkable happened...
If you've never adopted before, you must understand that the minute you have a name and a picture, you carry that child in your heart, much like a pregnant mother. Some cynics might say that the child is only "potentially yours", that she's not truly "yours" until the papers are finalized. But that is not the way a mother or father's love works. From the moment you know a child is waiting for you, a reckless, wild, consuming love sweeps over you like an ocean wave. Make no mistake, the waiting child is your baby.
The story is heart-breaking, miraculous and very long. In a nutshell, for 9 months, Jim and Laurie loved Cupcake as a daughter. They received update pictures once a month. They visited Guatemala and fell in love with the spunky little one with the big brown eyes and curly hair. While visiting, they had an incredible worship experience that confirmed to them that God had His hands on this precious one. About 2 months after their visit they received some update pictures that were troubling. Cupcake appeared to be in grave danger. They immediately arranged to fly to Guatemala to assess the situation and make sure Cupcake received the tender care she deserved. Before they could fly down, their agency called to tell them that Cupcake was gone. She had disappeared overnight, and they had no idea where she was. They had lost her referral. The adoption was over.
(I'm so glad this is not the end of the story.)
I cannot imagine the pain and heartbreak Jim and Laurie went through. This much I know...It was real grief. The loss of a child. Broken dreams. The grief was compounded by the unknown. What had become of Cupcake? Whose hands had she fallen into? Was she dead or alive?
Even through the grief, the family continued to pray daily for Cupcake, especially their two youngest sons.
Months passed and more heartache.
Eventually they received a referral for a beautiful Guatemalan baby girl. This adoption was no cake walk either. Delay after delay happened. One day, Laurie was invited to the Long-Road-Home group by a friend. (This is the same group where I met Tammy and her son.) This was an online group for people who were involved in long, difficult adoptions from Guatemala. Now the thing with the Long-Road-Home is: it is by invitation only. Someone in the group had to know you and vouch for you before you were granted access. Let's just say that security was tight. When Laurie joined, there were 44 people IN THE WORLD who had access to this group. And I was one of them.
They found Cupcake! They found us! :-D
At first we were shocked, because we had no idea that Cupcake had been placed for adoption before. Also, we were worried that they might try to "get her back". We feared that they might have unhealed wounds and any relationship might be unhealthy. They put our fears to rest very early. Yes, they had grieved and feared for her life, but they had given their pain and fear to the One who loves them best. And He carried them and brought them to a place of peace.
They sent us pictures of Cupcake from a year before we knew her. They prayed for us. They blessed us. They encouraged us. I've got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes just thinking about what a blessing they have been. They prayed for our daughter before adoption was even on our radar. They wrapped their loving arms around our baby when she had no one else. They were Jesus to my child. They were Jesus to us.
To top it all off, they invited us to stay with them, though we had never met in real life. It was very brave of them to invite all six of us - at the end of our vacation, no less. And did I mention, they have 6 kids of their own - 2 are grown and married, and one is the precious little Guatemalan beauty they finally adopted. Now that's a houseful!
We had a wonderful time.
Our families blended together like cousins. It seemed we had always known them. Old friends. Easy. Comfortable. Similar. We knew that we would have much in common, simply because we serve the same God. But we had no idea how well we would match up. We instantly felt welcome and at home. The kids happily ran off to play. We enjoyed sweet fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.
We have so much in common, it's crazy.
In fact, the next morning, my girls woke up and put on the clothes we had picked for them. Their daughter put on the clothes they had picked for her. And this is the result:
Great minds think alike. ;-)
We spent a too-short day at Gettysburg, seeing the battlefield and enjoying our time with them.
All too soon, it was time to say good-bye. :-(
We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to connect with this precious family in real life. Because of who they are, our visit was so much more than we could have ever hoped for. It was a blessing all the way around.
We love you guys.
Blessings to you,