Our plans don’t always turn out like we expected, but the process gives us a front-seat view to the gracious sovereignty of God. Andrea Saul entered the adoption process with Lifeline with the intent to pursue an adoption through the Peru program. As circumstances evolved, Andrea saw God work in the tiniest of details through many challenges to bring her to her daughter in an entirely different country—Costa Rica. Hear her story below as she describes the way God guided her on her journey to her daughter, Angie:
A Persistent Desire
From as early as I can remember I’ve desired to be a mother. As a single Christian in my thirties, the idea of adopting if I remained single was one that surfaced repeatedly in thoughts, prayers, and conversations. I hesitated at first, believing (as I still do) that in the ideal world children are raised by a mom and dad in a gospel-centered home, surrounded by a faithful, biblical community. But I knew there was a real need, and I knew that I would not parent alone, as I am incredibly blessed by a strong support system and church community. As I mulled over these ideas, the calling toward special needs adoption persisted in my prayer and in daily consciousness. In my mid-thirties I began to explore work and lifestyle changes that might open this door, if it was meant to open. Fast forward a few more years and my formal adoption journey began in 2014. It would be three full years until I brought my daughter, Angie, home.
An Unexpected Path
For the first two years of my formal process I was pursuing the Peru program, drawn by familiarity with the culture, time spent living in South America, and a deep sense of calling to medical special needs adoption, which was an established part of the program. After some unexpected turn of events, prayer and conversation led me to change programs. I asked about a one-year-old girl from Costa Rica recently posted on the Lifeline Waiting Children page. It turned out that she was the “pilot” referral for medical special needs program for children unlikely to be adopted nationally. While I was open to some larger special medical needs, I had imagined this being a single larger thing—perhaps HIV, or a cardiac issue, or sickle cell, or a bigger orthopedic issue. Angie . . . had not one but more than ten diagnoses. Nonetheless, the more I learned and prayed, the stronger my desire to adopt her became. I became increasingly confident that her needs were large but manageable, and . . . encouraged by what was known, prayer, and sound advice from Lifeline, I moved forward and submitted a dossier and letter of intent.
Connection through Life
This past fall I received a formal “yes,” with U.S. immigration paperwork processing in mid November 2017. . . . My in-country experience exceeded each and every expectation I took with me. From the moment I met Angie, I haven’t had a shred of doubt about being her mother. Being able to communicate freely with the Costa Rican child welfare lawyers and social workers as well as my daughter’s direct caregivers and doctors was a privilege that was indescribable. Sharing faith with my lawyers and, as I learned later, her national social worker was a great encouragement. I witnessed a remarkable and genuine care and love for Angie from the caregivers and national authority staff, and was able to receive their support and knowledge freely. I was also able to share a bit of my life with them, providing them a glimpse of the love, care, and support that Angie would receive after leaving their care.
Angie’s adoption finalized on December 12th, 2017, but we were unable to get her new passport before Costa Rican immigration closed until January. We settled in to spend the holidays surrounded by new Costa Rican friends. Then came the call from our lawyer: mountains were moved, and doors that had seemed to be sealed shut opened. We returned to the States on Christmas Day 2017.
More Than a Diagnosis
Angie is truly the most amazing gift that I’ve ever received. Her medical needs are only one small part of who she is: a child of God, a resilient and strong girl, sensitive, empathetic, and social, and a bundle of energy and love. She recognizes her physical differences, carefully noticing how her body is different than her peers. However, she is not defined nor particularly limited by them. Despite being unable to walk and being physically tiny, she is fully two—she is curious about her environment, can commando crawl and climb, explores, is playful, and is determined to try things for herself. We were welcomed with a deep warmth, respectful space, and much love and acceptance by our friends and family. . . . There have been hard moments, of course, and I’m sure there will be many more challenges ahead. However, I am confident that Jesus has walked and will continue to walk beside both of us through the peaks and valleys. I am deeply grateful for the smooth transitions and yet cautiously realistic about what lies ahead. I have no illusion walking with Jesus means easy. Instead, I believe and have experienced meaning through a relationship with Him: beloved, claimed, and accompanied. As Jesus has ministered those qualities to me throughout my life, and surrounded by a faith community, I hope to reflect some small semblance of them to Angie as her mother.