But I'm a believer that there is always hope. There is always joy in the midst of brokenness. And this story is proof.
Today, an Illinois mom introduces you to her family -- and it's a beautiful one.
Here's Marsha in her own words (warning: some of you may need a tissue for this one)...
My husband lost his wife in 2004 due to complications after open heart surgery.
He was 46.
I lost my husband in 2005 to cardiac arrest.
I was 43.
By the grace of God we found each other, and through grief and healing, we married in 2008.
Kent has four children (yours) and I have two (mine), and when we married we never envisioned we would have an “ours,” but God had a different plan.
That happens sometimes.
It was on an ordinary Sunday morning that found us sitting together in our Sunday School class listening as another couple was advocating for the adoption of a sibling group of five children.
She passionately championed their cause and warned us that if not adopted, the kids would go into the foster system and be split up (possibly not even in the same state).
We listened and shook our heads in approval because supporting adoption was our “thing,” but actually adopting children was for other families.
As the story of the “Fabulous Five” unfolded, there seemed to be an urgent concern for the oldest boy, Brandon.
One family in our church had committed to adopting the youngest girl, and the middle three were going to live with the couple sharing this story, but this 15-year-old boy had no forever-family possibilities.
We prayed together--and then walked out of class, and something changed.
For the next week -- I couldn’t get this 15-year old out of my head or my heart.
Everything I did, each task I performed, every word I wrote; every prayer I prayed seemed to end up back to him.
Fairly confident that my husband would think I was outside of my mind, I finally approached him with the fact that I felt God might be speaking to me about adopting this young man.
I couldn’t have been more surprised at his response:
He said, “Let’s do it!”
Let’s do it???
We met Brandon with no expectations.
He was obviously street-smart, but with the biggest heart and gentlest spirit of anyone I had ever met.
It was quickly apparent to us that he would be our son.
From that moment on, in our hearts and minds, he has been just that.
Brandon came to live with us until his adoption could be finalized.
Daily, we began to love him more and more.
He called me “Mom” fairly early, but “Dad” did not come quite so easily.
We prayed that some day he would realize what it meant to have a father -- one who loved and really cared for him.
About a year after he came to live with us he uttered the word “Dad” for the first time and tears welled up in my eyes.
We enrolled Brandon in the school district where I teach, and he began his 8th grade year as a full time student -- something he had not really been for the former two years.
He joined the football team, a sport he had never even watched on television. And from there, he never looked back.
Adopting a teenager is not for the faint of heart, but as I look at Brandon’s life -- at his endless possibilities -- it has been worth the journey.
We did not have the privilege of raising Brandon from infancy, nor he the benefit of growing up in our household.
There have been many late nights of talking ... there has been much give and take ... there has been blending and forcing ... there has been flexibility and constraint, but most of all there has been grace ... lots of grace ... on both sides of our relationship.
We could not be more proud of our son.
People often tell us how blessed he is to be in our home, and I will argue every time that WE are the ones truly blessed.
When you open your heart and allow love to permeate your life, blessings abound.
guest post for National Adoption Month? This Family's Journey is featuring your stories all month long! Contact me for more details.