When my phone rings, no matter the time or how busy (or not) that I am, I rarely answer. I let it turn to voicemail, filtering the message to determine if it’s something I want to deal with, save for later or—let’s be honest—blatantly ignore. So why, on an early August morning when I heard God calling me toward adoption, did I decide to tune in, on what would otherwise be the first ring?
It was the first week of August 2018 and I went out for a walk with our dog, tuned into a random podcast and heard the hosts speaking on adoption. Adoption had always sounded like a nice idea but was not yet on our radar. Nevertheless, I came home from that walk and told my husband all about it, ending with something like, “We have to do this.” I think he was probably a little shocked, that my usually detail-minded and indecisive self would be so spontaneous and certain. Months later we’d learn that our son was born on nearly the exact morning I felt that nudge. Even later, we’d be amazed to find that our son legally became our child on the anniversary of the night my husband and I started dating. To put it clearly, we have no question as to the divine intervention that orchestrated the growth of our family.
In the months that followed our decision to adopt, my faith would be stretched and grow in ways that only happen during the most challenging moments of our lives. As we navigated paperwork and began to hear words like “special needs” and “attachment disorder,” I started to wonder why I thought I was capable of entering motherhood in a non-traditional way. I’ve never rocked a sick baby or made the 2 AM trek down the hall to soothe a screaming toddler, and now I was pronouncing myself fit to raise a child birthed by another woman. No one in my family has ever adopted, it felt arrogant to think I could do so.
Entering into motherhood this way has been both trial by fire and the greatest gift. I have learned many lessons that would have otherwise taken years or maybe decades to uncover.
Becoming a mom by adoption has served as a reminder that our children are not ours. They are not ours to claim, not ours to judge and certainly not ours to hold onto in control. They are simply a gift from God, one he has entrusted to us to raise, but they are not ours, they are His. Rather than the expectations of a birth mom who anticipates that her child will share her personality, talents, and interests, adoption has forced me to just observe and to learn who this little person was born to be.
I’ve also learned that motherhood, by any means, is a blessed experience. Not blessed in the overused sense of the word (ahem, #blessed), but in that our children provide us the opportunity to grow in saintly ways. I am certainly not a saint, despite what many well-wishers have posted on my Facebook page since announcing our adoption, but like any mom, bringing a child into our home has stretched my patience, brought me to my knees in faithfulness, increased my joy and amplified the love in my heart. In many ways, motherhood has planted the seeds to every fruit of the Spirit, bringing me closer to God and His call to sainthood.
Taking this approach to parenthood has provided internal rewards as well; rather than continuing to thrust forth the expectations I had of my old self, I find that I am in a period of my own self-discovery. I have always been an analytical mind, a star student in biology and chemistry class, but since becoming a mom I have found so much joy in creating. Removing the assumptions of how I believed my life was “supposed” to go, I have started a new journey as a small business owner, selling baby goods, partnering with factories that employee female artisans and giving back to the adoption community.
This new venture was again, one of those life changes that may have seemed impulsive to an outsider yet came after deep introspection to where God was calling me to be. Ten, five, even two years ago I would never have allowed myself to take such a risk. Not only is this new business a financial risk, but the possibility of failure would have been too much for my pride to even consider. In writing this post, I’ve realized that somewhere along the way, I learned to trust God and follow where I feel Him leading me.
This realization fills me with excitement for the future. Nothing has ever made me cling to the Lord so fully as our adoption process, and through this growth, I now feel ready to tackle many of the other strongholds in my life. For years before our adoption, I struggled with anorexia and anxiety. I’d been to treatment programs, therapists, and even hold a Master’s Degree in nutrition—each time getting a little bit healthier, but never fully healed. While I would never change the way my life has been written, I now feel God telling me it is time to fully shed my past self and evolve into the woman He has called me to be. He has given me the gift of my son as a glimpse into my future, one where I am whole and fulfilled. One where I am free.
Perhaps the greatest lesson in the journey has been learning to pick up the phone, to answer the call when it rings, because you never know what amazing adventure awaits on the line.
Christine Hebert is a wife, new adoptive mom and new business owner. Her company, Paidion Gifts, works with factories that employ female artisans with fair wages and who source only the most sustainable materials. 10% of all profits are donated back to the adoption community. She holds a B.S. in Dietetics from the University of Delaware and a M.S. in Applied Nutrition from the Sage Colleges in Troy, NY. You can follow her on Instagram at @christinemhebert as well as Paidion at @paidiongifts and paidiongifts.com.