Joy, Heartache, and the Plan of God: Our Adoption Journey

Joy, Heartache, and the Plan of God: Our Adoption Journey November 27, 2012

What happens when you have one plan and God has another?


Adoption has been a tremendous blessing to our family.  It’s also broken our hearts.

Our journey to adopt a second child began three years ago.  My husband Jimmy and I sought the Lord, and God prepared our hearts for a beautiful baby boy.  Even before we met him, we knew our son had desperate needs – open heart surgery was his most pressing physical need, but he truly needed a family that would love him – completely and unconditionally.  We soon realized that we needed him as well, and our hearts ached to be united with the son we so desperately wished to raise. We named our son Daniel, and prayed fervently for his safety and healing a million miles away.  Though we’d never met him, we’d already fallen in love with him. 

After several months of praying and waiting, in January 2010, we traveled to China to bring our son home. From the moment Daniel came into our lives, we treasured him.  Over the next four months, we shared many precious moments together, and Daniel lived the fun-filled life of a typical healthy two-year-old American toddler.

But we knew that his heart still needed surgery – surgery that we hoped and prayed would not just save him but give him the ability to live a long and healthy life.  In May 2010, my husband and I took Daniel for his surgery. Daniel’s body appeared strong, and his will seemed even stronger. We – along with the doctors – had every hope that our son would not only survive this surgery, but that he would thrive in the days and years to come. Sadly, there were complications that followed the surgery and Daniel did not survive. While we planned to bring our son home with us, God had another plan and brought Daniel to his ultimate, eternal home instead.

It’s impossible to convey the emotions we felt after his loss.  Although Daniel was only with our family for four short months, it seems as if he was with us forever. The profound imprint that he made on our lives is immeasurable, and it’s hard to believe how much we have changed as a family, especially spiritually, since Daniel came into our lives.  We are deeply grateful for the powerful ways his impact is still being felt, and we have learned many lessons along this journey about life, love, and the goodness of God.

The journey has been difficult for my husband and for me. But we are eternally grateful for those difficult times, because they came with the blessing of Daniel’s presence. Even in our darkest hour, we could still see the light. With every birthday, every holiday, every milestone missed, our hearts break all over again, as we wonder what kind of person he would be today.  But while the sorrow is real, so is the gratitude.  We are thankful for Daniel’s presence.

Our open-heart experience with Daniel has taught us that love has nothing to do with a calendar. Those 127 days with Daniel touched us as deeply as if he’d been with us for decades. It is amazing how this little person came into our lives and impacted us so profoundly. Our hearts are so much fuller, and—two years later—we still carry him with us every minute of the day. Daniel was a precious gift, and I feel so honored to be his mother.  We are eternally thankful that our son Daniel knew the love of a family on this earth. Daniel did not die an orphan—he did not die alone.

Would we do it again? Yes, we absolutely would. In fact, almost immediately after Daniel’s passing, Jimmy and I knew in our hearts that we needed to adopt another child—and we did. Because of Daniel, we now have another beautiful son, Charlie, who turned three this past September. We knew in our hearts that Daniel would want us to share our love with another child who needed a home.

Our son Daniel’s example demonstrates that we must treasure those God brings into our lives and cherish every single moment.  We do not know God’s sovereign plan, but we do know that we all have a purpose on the earth and we are called to live each day to the fullest.

We hope that our family’s story inspires you to hug your children a little tighter each day, take more time to smell the roses, and embrace each moment you have with those you love. It is important to remember that every life is precious… and while life is full of unknowns and even heartbreaks beyond what you think you can bear, it is also full of blessings – blessings that can be found even in the midst of deepest tragedy.

Lisa Murphy is the author of With an Open Heart, an inspirational book about her family’s faith-filled journey of love, loss, and courage.  She resides in South Florida with her husband, Jim, and their two children, Madi (7) and Charlie (3), both adopted from China.  Check out her website and find her on Facebook

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