got’cha day (soLs)

{Ever since February, I’ve been planning to write about this topic. It’s been swirling around my mind, but it takes time to capture the words, make them behave, and fill up the page. So this post is a few days later than I expected, but I’m learning to put my timeline away and wait for the words to sort out and leave their marks on the page.}

Got’cha Day is celebrated on March 14 in our house. It’s the day we “got” Hannah and Stephanie. March 14, four years ago, was the day our daughters came home. They were 4 and 6.

I learned how sometimes families are built quickly. In July of the previous year, Andy and I felt compelled to get our foster license. It seemed like a strange thing to do, but we felt it was a path we were supposed to walk. We sat through training, filled out paperwork, and learned the public system for caring for children without responsible parents had many issues. As our training ended, we weren’t sure why we journeyed down this path. Scenarios spun through my mind: Perhaps it’s so I have more compassion, more understanding for children who have to live within this system. Perhaps it’s so we’ll be content with having one child. Perhaps it’s so we can provide respite care for foster families who need vacations. Perhaps it’s so we can provide a home for a 17 or 18 year old who needs a temporary placement. Perhaps it’s so we can be on a waiting list for a safe haven baby.

At the same time Andy and I were praying for orphans around the world. We wanted to be part of giving hope and love to children who were missing parents.

By the time Sam turned 2, in January 2008, we were content being parents to one child. We prayed that the extra space in our home would be used and that we would be open to the possibilities.

At the beginning of March we received a call we never expected. It was a call to adopt two girls, ages four and six. Two? Girls? One has already started kindergarten? We couldn’t even form coherent thoughts. We could only stutter questions. No, this was not what we planned.

The thing is, all the reasons we would say, “No,” started with “I don’t want…” It didn’t feel right to say, “No.” (That’s not the same thing as saying it felt right to say, “Yes.”) So we decided to walk through the door. We were confident the door would close before actually adopting children. We’d been down that path. We finally accepted that Sam would be our only child.

“This is crazy,” was the most common phrase Andy and I uttered over the next 10 days.

The doors kept opening. It never felt right to say, “No.” People questioned our decision-making abilities. People uttered, “They’re crazy.” People wanted us to stop and think.

There’s not much to think about when all of the reasons to say, “No,” start with I.

Rich Mullins’ song, “Hold Me Jesus” played on the radio every time I was in the car over the next ten days. The first lines begin: Sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all/The mountains seem so big and my faith seems so small/Hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf.

I made more than 60 phone calls to the Department of Child Services in the next ten days. (Returning phone calls was not their strength, and so you have to call and leave messages, then call back until you’ve reached “the right person.”) We met with DCS in person more than 5 times. We met Hannah and Stephanie twice. We attended both of their schools. We met with teachers, administrators, and counselors.

Hebrews 11, the chapter outlining the heroes of faith, stirred in my mind. I read it multiple times a day in those ten days. I realized these heroes of faith were all crazy. Noah built a boat and had never seen rain. Sarah expected to get pregnant and she was an old woman. People walked through the Red Sea as it parted and towered over them, threatening to crash back down. They were crazy. Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” wrapped around my heart.

The Department of Child Services wanted to stretch the transition of the girls into our home into a 4 -6 week ordeal. We refused. We were fighting on behalf of orphans we never even met. We knew they were going to be ours before we even met them. We knew they would have things to overcome that were beyond the fault of theirs or ours, and we were fighting for them, just as parents all over the world do for the best interest of their own children.

Those orphans we were praying for were suddenly not so far away. We realized the response expected to our prayers about orphans was to move two home with us — into their real home. James 2:17 stung my ears, “Faith, by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”

On March 14, ten days after that first phone call asking us to adopt two older children, our daughters were home.

Got’cha, Hannah and Stephanie. We’re never going to let go. Never. We see now, what we couldn’t then — how right this is. We see how you were made for us. We see how very good God builds families.

I like to think that just maybe, God is smiling at our realization and is thinking, Got’cha Ruth and Andy. I’m never letting go.

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35 Comments »

  1. Wow Ruth! I really enjoyed hearing more of the background of when you adopted your daughters. That really was a leap of faith, making such a big decision in 10 days. I loved experiencing the process through your eyes and it gives me a lot to think about in regards to decisions. I especially liked the parts about analyzing the why behind “no” answers.

    I love how different posts revealing different layers of the same topic come together to form an even more powerful bigger story.

  2. Wow. I know getting those words down are much more for you and your family, but thank you for sharing with us. What an unexpected twist in your lives. How great He is!

    I love your opening, ” I'm learning to put my timeline away and wait for the words to sort out and leave their marks on the page.” Great reminder that we can't make it happen. Perhaps enough inspiration for me to revisit a couple of bits I have started, but the words just wouldn't come. Thank you.

  3. We celebrated Gotcha! Night for one of our children last month. Another Gotcha! Day is coming up in April. Obviously our shared experience draws me to stories of adoption and stories of faith. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story with us.

  4. That was an amazing testament to faith. Thank you for sharing that. I love the line: 'There's not much to think about when all of the reasons to say, “No,” start with I.' What a beautiful story!

  5. I am so happy to hear the story of your 'gotcha' day, of Hannah & Stephanie & of that whirlwind of days before they came home. We have friends, we have relatives, we have our own adopted children, and all of us are so blessed with our families as you described so beautifully, Ruth. Thank you for the sweet 'gotcha' story.

  6. This was such a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. It brought tears to my eyes. I will now always think of March 14 as “Gotcha Day”

  7. What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it with us, but more importantly, thank you for writing it for your family. Someday…if they don't yet…they will appreciate that. Some friends of my family adopted children and I have always liked that they call themselves the kids their “forever family.” I've never heard the phrase “Gotcha day” but I love it! That just says it all, doesn't it?

  8. What a neat story! I love how you described the faith you had to have throughout the whole process, and how you let that guide you through. I also love that you celebrate this day — I bet the girls feel so special!

  9. Your walk of faith is beautiful! I know your girls are such a blessing to you , and I can tell that you are a wonderful mom for them! Loved this slice!

  10. This is beautiful, Ruth. Now I know the whole story. “Gotcha” is a great word for all of you! Contratulations to all of you, too.

  11. Ruth,
    What a touching story. As you explained your journey through the foster system the repetition of the phrase “perhaps” helped to illustrate the possibilities to why you had been placed on this journey. It also gave the piece a rhythm that drew me into your story. This line caught my attention, “Heroes of faith are all crazy.” The examples you used prove this may very well be true. Because we have the benefit of hindsight we know they may not have been as crazy as first perceived. Happy got'cha day to you and your wonderful family.

    Cathy

  12. Blessed is the word I think of when I read this slice. What an incredible story and life you have created for your family.

  13. For thirty-five and thirty-six years now our family has had it's own version of “gotcha” day on February 14th & March 1st for my brothers who came from Korea. Your story reminded me of the same beautiful way we remember the day our lives enriched and blessed by them joining our family. Thank you for sharing that glimpse into your gotcha day!

  14. Ruth,
    By the time I was through this, I was covered in goosebumps and had tears running down my face. Your story sounds a lot like mine. Especially the line “There's not much to think about when all of the reasons to say, “No,” start with I.” Right there with you sister!

  15. Ruth what an amazing story and amazing journey. How lucky for your beautiful daughters to have found their home, their mommy and daddy and that you and your husband found them. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  16. Wow! You warmed my heart with your story, with your life, with your openness to loving children, with your saying what you don't want, but never saying no. Amazing. What an incredible journey. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Wow Ruth. The ending was just…. wow. I had goosebumps and got teary. I sometimes have difficultly connecting to writing with faith intertwined, but the way you incorporated faith into this peace was spiritual and gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your story with us and congratulations on the anniversary of gotcha day.

  18. Okay – WOW – seems to be the word. It popped into my head right away when I read your post. Did you know that W-O-W stands for “Wonderful Or What” as in “Is that …..WOW”

  19. Dana —
    Thank you for this. I'm always trying to find the delicate balance in making my faith weave into the story. This is how it is “off the page” and I strive to make it work this way “on the page” too.
    Ruth

  20. A little note about that line “All the reasons start with I…”

    I just said it to a couple a few weeks ago as I was encouraging them to give a teenager a place to stay for a couple of months. I said tat same line to them, referencing our decision to adopt the girls.

    A few weeks later they used my words in a testimony and it struck me about how very true it is. So often I know I'm supposed to do something, but I don't want to — for a bunch of “I” reasons.

    Ruth

  21. AND…
    I have to say THANK YOU for your comments. It's humbling to know my words and story can touch so many people. I also was sweating pushing “publish” on this one…so your response is overwhelming and much needed.

    I feel so blessed by your comments. Thanks for taking the time to leave a response. Your comments are treasured and push me to become a better writer.

    Thanks,
    Ruth

  22. Hello, my friend. I'm catching up on my reading and this post has me crying. Oh the story of those 10 days and the blessedness of the Lord guiding you. I love the scripture you have shared and the decision to remove the 'I' to an 'us'. Your last line captures my heart. Oh, thank the Lord that He has gotcha! I'm so glad that you are putting your faith out there, as His beauty shines through you.