About a month ago, we went to Apple Hill for the day. We ate some apple donuts and then found a scenic spot by the pond where we could take some family pictures.
As we snapped away, something caught our attention. Across the pond, a stroller started rolling and fell in the water. Relieved to see that the baby wasn’t in the stroller, we continued on with our day. Nathan rode a pony
and then we got in line for some face painting.
As we stood in the line, Steve noticed that the owner of the runaway stroller was in the pond trying to find something. Steve said he would want someone to help him if he was knee deep in a pond looking for something. So he was going to help her. He knew God had him wear shorts that day for this reason. So off he went down the little hill to the pond and plunged in.
From where I stood in the face painting line, I could see a little crowd had gathered to see if they would find what they were searching for- the woman’s keys. As I looked on, it occurred to me that God knew exactly where the keys were, and He wanted me to go down there and pray for them to find the keys. And I knew that He wanted me to pray out loud, with the woman and Steve. I resisted the idea for a bit, but then down I went, not feeling very excited about it at all. I told Steve that we should pray. He said he already had. I figured if God wanted it to be out loud, Steve would have already done it. So I went back up the hill, thinking I was off the hook. But standing in the face painting line again, I knew God was continuing to tell me to pray and to do it out loud. Although not audible, I could hear Him tell me that they would not find the keys until I prayed. Out loud. Almost never has God’s voice been so clear to me. And I knew it was true- God would show them where the keys were after I prayed. But yet, I really didn’t want to do it. There were a bunch of people down there, and it was embarrassing. But seeing as I didn’t want Steve to be down there all day, back down I went. I went straight to the woman and asked her if I could pray with them to find the keys. She had been down there for over an hour, and it wasn’t a really warm day. She said I could do anything I wanted if it would help them find the keys. So I prayed. And then the woman put her hand in the water and pulled out the keys.
I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. God could have done anything He wanted in that situation, but He chose to teach both Steve and me the joy that comes when we are obedient.
The week before Thanksgiving, we realized that God had allowed us that experience to prepare us for something much much more difficult. That Tuesday morning, we finally got the call we had been waiting for all year. The phone rang and Emmy checked to see who it was. I figured it was nothing because she wasn’t screaming. Then she calmly said, “It’s 703”. 703 is the area code for our adoption agency. All of a sudden the excitement welled and we realized this was it. The agency makes a point of not calling unless it’s a match. I answered, and the girls all started screaming. My mom braced the counter to keep from falling over with excitement. It was so fun! I asked if I could call Steve and have him come home so we could hear the news together. So we hung up and called Steve, screaming all the while. When he got home, we heard the news- it was a 14 month old boy. We read his file and printed up his pictures and sent his information off to the various doctors who would review it. It seemed pretty clear cut and we had no thought that maybe he wasn’t the one we had been waiting for.
Over the next couple days, we got feedback from the doctors. The need of the little guy was more involved than we realized at first. We requested further pictures of him to get a better idea of the extent of his need. We knew God would give us the information and wisdom we would need to make the right decision for him and for our family. Hannah started searching online and found the top hospital in the world for this specific need. So I called and asked if a doctor there could look at his file. The nurse I talked with said she would see if a doctor could look at it, and she would email me with a response. The next day, Steve and I prayed that God would let us talk with a doctor about all of this. That morning the doctor himself (the top doctor in the world for this condition) emailed me. He explained everything so clearly and said we could talk on the phone if that would be helpful. I emailed him our number and within a few minutes, he called me. He was clear and knowledgeable and set all our concerns to rest. When I got off the phone 30 minutes later, we were so thankful that God had given us all the information we needed to know that this need would be just fine for us. Even if the extra pictures showed that it was the worst case scenario, it would be fine.
We knew we should be thrilled, but for some reason, we weren’t. Friday morning before Thanksgiving, Steve and I woke up early (we hadn’t been sleeping well that week), and we admitted to each other that we both felt miserable. We didn’t know why, but we had such a huge lack of peace. But why??? We loved the little guy and we wanted him. Oh, how we wanted him. We felt fine about his need. God had answered all our prayers for wisdom. Yet, we felt so very yucky. We got up and went for a run. As we ran, we talked and talked and we realized something. The only explanation for our lack of peace was God. He was showing us that this little guy was not our son. Throughout the months of waiting to be matched, I had often prayed that if our Elijah got matched with another family first that God would give that family wisdom and courage to return his file quickly so that we could be matched with him. Now it occurred to me that maybe God was answering my prayer, but for another family. We had someone else’s child, and we needed to give him back. God’s hand was so heavy upon us as we ran. We had to stop as we began to cry. We didn’t think we could give him back. It hurt so. We loved him. And it seemed so strange to make such a huge decision based on our feelings and no concrete reasons. But God was so clearly telling us to give him back and to do it right then, and after that He would give us Elijah. Steve reasoned that maybe it would be kind of like Abraham and Isaac, and we might somehow get him back after we gave him up. We didn’t know, we didn’t understand. But we knew God wanted us to obey. It was just like the way He had spoken to us at Apple Hill the month before. It was clear. So we went into the house and called the kids together. We prayed, and then we called and returned his file. We were all so sad, but as we ate breakfast, we felt peaceful for the first time that week.
Three hours passed, and then the phone rang. 703. There was another match for us. When the agency receives files for children, they are always there first thing in the morning. They get sent from China the night before, because that is China’s daytime. When we had called to return the file, there were not any new files. So we wondered how there could be a match now. Our coordinator told us that she had already matched the little guy with a family, and another family had then called that morning to return a file. This new little one was a boy who was 13 months. We were emotionally drained and exhausted, but we knew God was working. So we took the file and sent it off to the doctors for review. We tried not to get attached, as we just didn’t think we could handle it. On Saturday, we got some medical information about him. His measurements were small and he was behind. But a strong love for him was growing in our hearts.
On Sunday, we jumped in our huge van at 4:00am to head for Oregon for the week. Everyone was excited for the trip, so we decided to go even in the midst of the craziness. As we drove and had time to just pray and think, Steve and I were both thinking God had faithfully given us Elijah. This little guy was our son. We had obeyed and God had done just what He said He would do. And we were peaceful. Then another doctor called us back. He has children adopted from China and has done medical work in China, so we were eager for his take on our little guy’s size and development. We prayed that his words would confirm what we knew God was telling us. God answered that prayer as well, just as we knew He would. Little Elijah is small and he is behind most likely due to the fact that he lives in an orphanage in China. Being a treasured part of a loving family will make all the difference. And even if it doesn’t, he’s our boy, the one we’ve been waiting for. After the phone call with the doctor, we prayed as a family as we drove, and we made the decision that this little guy was our Elijah. And we are so excited!
Here he is… Elijah John Eby!!!