Thursday, 15 September 2016 17:03

God's Will for Our Family

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"Father of orphans, defender of widows, such is God in his holy dwelling.  God gives the lonely a home to live in..." - Psalm 68:5-6
I don't remember exactly when I heard a "voice" calling me to consider adoption, but I am pretty sure it was sometime after my last biological child turned at least 5.

I was having babies about every 2 years, and now 5 years had passed.  I already had 5 healthy children, as well as a miscarriage at 18 weeks between my 4th and 5th pregnancy.  We named him Anthony.  I enjoyed being pregnant and being a mother.  As years passed and my youngest was growing up, I was sad knowing that I most likely was not going to have any other children as I was nearing 50 years old.   It was my daughter, Caroline, who started bringing up the topic of having more children, and asking when it may happen.  I explained we were not preventing pregnancy and were always open to life, but God is the one who gives us children…but most likely the reason was because I was too old!  I also added that she had to pray hard about it.   I am sure she did pray and probably was very persistent in her prayer.  I knew this when she came to me and said, "Why don't you adopt a child then if you don't think you will have any more?!"  I remember dismissing the idea, saying that I was sure it was a very involved process and not so easy to do.  I honestly didn't know what was involved, nor did I even know of anyone who had adopted a child.   I really didn't think much more about it.  I do not think Caroline gave up praying though....

It was about a year later when I was in the car waiting to pick up someone and turned on the local Catholic radio station here in Jacksonville, Florida.  There was a man speaking about adoption and how he adopted all 10 of his children through the state and that it was not so difficult nor did it cost much money to do.  I listened attentively to the broadcast until I started driving again.  Just recently did I find out that the person talking was a well-known Catholic psychologist whom I met at a homeschool conference a few months ago!  I then wanted to learn more about this whole adoption idea, as it sounded like it might not be as difficult as I thought.  I called the organization that offered the 2 hour informational class and signed up to attend with my husband.  I know he thought I was out of my mind.  He was very patient with me and actually went along with the idea.  We attended the class and waited until it was over to go up and talk to the presenter and ask one major question: What was the age limit to adopt?   The reply was, "There is no age limit."  Needless to say, we were shocked!  

  We signed up for our 5 weeks of classes and completed them October 2010 along with doing all the activities, paperwork, etc. that was required.  As we were not completely sure if adoption was what we were called to do, we decided to go with the foster to adopt pathway.  We completed our home study December 8, 2010 on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception!  Our certification was complete on August 9th, 2011.  In the meantime, our daughter left to attend World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, on July 13th and sent an email on August 4th, informing us of her call to be a Servant Sister with the Home of the Mother.  In the afternoon on August 11th we received a call with our first 3 foster children, ages 1 1/2, 3 and 5 years old.  I was so excited to begin this new adventure!  At 10 pm the children arrived, each with their garbage bag of all their belongings.  I have no idea what happened from that moment on, other than to say I felt like a robot and was out of it mentally.  I had not had young children in the house for some time and felt like I was going to lose my mind.  I did not know what to do.  Neither my husband nor I could sleep as these 3 children did not sleep; I am sure they were scared to death.  The next morning, I called the social worker to tell them I could not do this.  I was so relieved when they left and I swore I would appreciate my family the way it was for the rest of my life.  I then received a call 2 days later for a 3 year old boy who needed a lot of care.  He needed a special bed, different kinds of therapy throughout the week, etc.  as he was developmentally delayed and could not walk so he had to be carried around.  We went to see him in the hospital, and again I felt the same anxiety come over me.  It was as if I was going through the motions and not really participating.  I ended up calling the social worker again and telling her I could not take care of this child.  The next call came regarding a severe abuse case involving a 6 year old and 2 year old sibling.  I thought I could do this, but again, on the way to meet her at the therapist office, I started getting a migraine headache along with the anxious feeling again.  I honestly wanted to drive the car off the bridge on the way home.  I felt like I was completely losing my mind.  Again, I had to refuse this case as well.  By this time, the social worker had enough of me.  She called days later to come over and have us sign a form stating we are removing our names from the foster care list.  I cannot explain the terrible pain of failure.  I thought this was my "calling", but at this point was not quite sure.

Time passed and the Easter retreat with the Home of the Mother was coming up in April 2012.  I honestly did not want to go on the retreat as many of the members of the Home knew we were going through the adoption/foster care process and I would have to explain my "failure" at the whole idea.  I knew I should go.  Maybe I would get insight on what was going on.  When we arrived, the first talk by Fr. Henry was on how we, as lay people, can be apostles in the world today.  He went on to give examples, the first being adoption. And he was looking my way! I could not believe it!  I wanted to crawl under the table!  After the talk, I had to talk with Father.  I needed guidance.  I was totally distraught and came to the retreat to find peace.  I was anything but peaceful!  Father advised me to keep praying and not shut out the idea completely as I still felt a "calling" to adopt but did not understand why I was getting the anxious feelings.  From that moment on, I completely surrendered like never before.  I was completely done.  I said to God, "Whatever you want, just go ahead!  I am done.  I have no idea what I am supposed to do. I thought I was doing what you wanted me to do."  I do remember coming away from the retreat feeling better than when I arrived.  That was a good thing.  

oriana babyWe returned home and back to our normal, busy, homeschooling household.  The next Thursday, April 12th, (still within the Octave of Easter at noon), a phone call came from the woman who did our adoption home study.  I have not heard from her since the home study was complete in December 2010.  She called to tell me that a 3 year old little girl just came into the system and needed a home quickly.  She was normal, healthy, no major issues or concerns.  By this point, I already surrendered and said, "Sure."  The only information I was given was her name and the day I was to appear in court before the judge if we were the family chosen (April 24, the day I miscarried baby Anthony in 1997) as there were other families in the running.  As soon as I got off the phone, I looked up her name on the internet and found part of her name meant "gold" and the other part meant "dawn".   I knew this was the child God wanted for us. I did not have a picture before I said "Yes".  This is the picture her aunt sent to the social worker who then sent to me after I said "Yes".  She was beautiful!  I could not have dreamed up a more beautiful little girl....

I started crying.  Michael, 13 at the time, asked me why I was crying.  I told him this was the child we were getting.  God took baby Anthony on the same date He was going to give us another child. From that moment forward there was no doubt in my mind that this was God's plan.  A week later we received a call that we were chosen as the new family.  It went completely smooth and without trouble from the moment I said "Yes".  There were and still are many little things that come up and reinforce to us that our new daughter was truly supposed to be with us and no doubt that this was God's plan from the beginning.  I just had to be patient and wait.  I could have saved myself a lot of heartache, but then again, I probably would not have known the difference between really knowing God's will and doing my will.  At least now I can say I have experienced the peace in doing God's will and the anxiety of doing my own will.

By Dawn Guarno