Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Story of Baby Ruth

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who was pregnant and expecting a baby. She did not have money to look after the baby and she did not know what she was going to do when the baby was born.

Finally the day came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to a healthy little girl. She was so happy to see her little girl, but she was also very sad. She did not know how to look after this little child. She did not have the money to buy her cloths and food.

So she went to the clinic, where she knew there were people who loved little babies and would do everything they could to help. But she was scared. She did not know what would happen. She did not know if they would be able to take her baby and find a family for her baby to stay with. She thought they might be cross with her and shout at her.

She was so afraid. So she left the little girl outside the clinic. Knowing that someone would find her when she started to cry.

And someone did find her. One of the ladies who worked at the clinic found the little baby and immediately called a social worker to tell her that there was a baby that needed a place to stay. The social worker called a children’s home and told them to expect a little girl later that day. She brought the baby girl to the children’s home and they gave her a nice bath and put nice warm clothes on her. Now they would try to find her a family to take her in.

In the meantime, in a different part of the county there was a family that had only one daughter. Her name was Rachel and she was 5 years old. Rachel longed to have a baby brother or sister. She had been praying and asking God for over a year that He would give her Mom and Dad a baby.

Rachel’s Mom and Dad also wanted to have more children and had also been praying and asking God to give them more children ever since Rachel was born. They trusted that God would answer that prayer in His perfect time and trusted that God had a wonderful plan for their family.

Over the years people had asked Rachel’s parents if they had though about adopting another baby. And for a few years they did not feel that it was what the Lord had planned for them. They knew that God wanted His people to care for widows and orphans. So they would often collect toys and clothes to give to the children’s homes for the orphans.

But soon after Rachel turned 5, they started talking about it again. Slowly the Lord put a desire in their hearts to adopt a baby that needed a home.

It was lovely for them to have different friends in their church who were also excited about families adopting. One family knew of a children’s home in a different part of the country. The family who started the home had adopted a baby almost two years earlier. Another family in the church had names and numbers of people who knew about adoption, in their own area.

So Rachel’s parents contacted a social worker in their area. She came to meet them at their home. She asked them questions. And then she wrote a report for them to say that they were a good family. It was a letter to say that they should be allowed to adopt a baby.

Now all that Rachel and her parents could do was to wait and to pray for their little baby.

Then one day, while they were travelling together, they got a phone call about a little baby girl that had been found outside a clinic. She had been born that very day. Rachel’s mom started crying. She was so excited about the idea that it may be the little girl that God would allow them to adopt. They were even able to get a photo of her that very same day.

A few days later the baby went for blood tests. Rachel and her parents were praying that the results would come back soon and that the baby would be healthy. They prayed and waited for a few days and finally got the news that the baby was healthy. They were so happy.

It had been a hard week, and it reminded Rachel’s mom of the week before Rachel was born. It is difficult when you have to wait, not knowing when things will happen and also excited about seeing your baby.

Rachel’s family now had to wait for the next step. The baby’s social worker had to look at all the reports and decide which family the baby should go to. It was good to hear that the social worker was happy with their report and was going to recommend them to her supervisor. It was a long two weeks before they got any news. Two weeks of waiting and hoping. Two weeks of trying to be ready but also patiently waiting to know when they would be able to make the 4 hour trip to fetch their baby.

Then the news came. They had been approved to take the baby. But they only wanted them to fetch her on the court date in 3 ½ weeks time. That was such a long wait. They phoned the baby’s social worker and asked her if there was any way they could get her sooner. She was very helpful and said that the only other thing they could do was to place the baby in their foster care. But that also needed to be done through the court. The date for the court would be the following Tuesday. Rachel’s Dad could take the following Friday off, so they were able to fetch their little girl when she was four weeks old.

How excited they were when the travelled to Pretoria on Thursday evening after Dad finished work. They would spend the night with Nana and Grandpa and then travel through to Johannesburg in the morning. They were to meet at the social worker’s offices at 8:30 in the morning, Friday 18 August. The house mother of the children’s home, Aggie, would bring the baby girl to the offices at 8:30.

They were not sure what the traffic would be like as it is very busy between Pretoria and Johannesburg in the mornings, so they left really early and ended up getting to the offices 45 minutes early. Thankfully mom had a book with which she read aloud while they waited. It helped so much as it kept them from thinking about the time.

Then finally the social workers started arriving at the office. The family went inside and met the social worker and then sat in the lounge waiting for Aggie to arrive with the baby. Thankfully they had some toys there, so Rachel could play while they waited.

Rachel’s parents sat there, thinking and talking about what it was going to be like to meet this little baby for the first time. They were so excited and nervous.

Then Aggie arrived. She carried this tiny little baby girl in her arms. She was wrapped in a beautiful white blanket and she had such lovely thick black hair. The social worker indicated for Aggie to give the baby girl to her new mom. Aggie told her that she wanted her milk, so she gave her mom the bottle and she got to hold her new little daughter in her arms and give her the bottle. Rachel also got to hold her and feed her too.

What overwhelming joy and happiness they felt at meeting their new daughter. She was so beautiful and they praised the Lord for His goodness to them through it all.

It was a sad time for Aggie as she had to say goodbye to this little baby who she already cared for so much. We all travelled to the baby home to say a proper goodbye. Sheryl, the lady who runs the baby home, also wanted to say goodbye and wanted to commit us to the Lord in prayer. They presented us with a gift box which had a special blanket in as well as the clothes that the baby wore when she was brought to the baby home.

Then they headed back to Pretoria to introduce their little Ruth to the family. It was lovely to see everyone so excited to hold her. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It was wonderful to see that she was already loved so much.

On Saturday they headed back to Polokwane so that they could go to church on Sunday morning and show the spiritual family their new little baby. It was so lovely to have so many people so happy to meet little Ruth. Even though the adoption was not through yet, their pastor still called them to the front and prayed for them as a family.

What a wonderful weekend that was. What joy and happiness that family experienced. It will be a special memory for them for the rest of their lives.

SMS’s on the day we collected our little Ruth.
18 Aug
7:34 Jacqui: Good Morning my Friend! You must be so excited! We pray your delivery (collection!) goes well and that this time is special! You’ll finally see her face to face and cuddle her in your arms! Wow! God bless my friend! Love Jax

Collected Ruth. I sent an sms to friends (and forgot to write it down).

10:27 Sharon Venter: We are so happy for you. Praise the Lord. We look forward to meeting the new addition to the family. Enjoy the time. See you guys Sunday. Lord Willing. Venters.
10:27 Debbie: I AM SO SO EXCITED. Praise God for answered prayer! Luv you all SO much!
10:28 Antoinette: Antoinette, Gerhard, Kaylin. May she be your joy in the years ahead and your comfort in old age. Love you 4.
11:08 Jacqui: Contratulations! Glad you’re finally united and one big happy family! Welcome little Ruth, we can’t wait to meet you! Hugs from J, D and L.
11:36 Irene: Contrats!

Postscript: A testimony to God’s faithfulness

These are some of the wonderful blessings we had over the next few months and I want to share them as a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness to us.

When we fetched Ruth we were told that she did not feed very well. She would drink and little and fall asleep while drinking and then wake a little while later and be hungry again. So she was just “snacking”. She was also not sleeping through the night. Well, this was not good news for me. I have always had the schedule “feed, wake, sleep” and had no idea how I was going to try and change this around. But God in His graciousness, worked it all out. When we met at the social workers office Ruth was hungry and so Rachel and I got to give her some of her bottle. She drank ok, but not a full feeding and then we headed to the baby home to say goodbyes there. Eventually she started getting hungry again (after having had a “snack” earlier) and so I suggested to Brendon that we try make the trip back to Pretoria before we fed her again. Babies will often fall asleep on a car trip and it would delay her feed for 45 minutes. Well, she took her dummy and was soon asleep for the trip from Johannesburg to Pretoria. When we got to Brendon’s parents home I quickly got the “supplement feeder” set up so that I could feed her. I had desired to try and breastfeed Ruth and so I fed her milk through a tube attached to my breast so that she would get the message to my body to make milk. Well, by this stage she was really hungry, she latched on perfectly first time and fed so well she finished the whole bottle. She had also had a nice long sleep, so she was awake and interacting with us for an hour. This was such a special time of getting to know her and see her smiles and enjoy our new family member. We then put her down for a nap and she slept for an hour and this 2 hour schedule stayed for many months. And what’s more – that night she slept through. So even if the most practical little details God was so very good to us. The short space between her feeds also helped to get my milk supply up and within the first month I was able to give her some feeds on my own without any formula. Eventually after a month I could feed her from the breast and then give her a bottle afterwards as a “top up”. We continued with this till she was 5 months old. By then she had gotten to prefer the room temperature formula over the warm breast milk as it was a hot December. I was so very thankful for the 4 months I got to give her milk. When Ruth came to us she had a bit of a blocked up nose. This cleared up within the first week of her being with us and she was not sick at all for those 4 months. The first month of no breast milk though, she got her first cold. Nothing serious, but it was an amazing testimony to me of how wonderfully God has made our bodies, not only that as an adoptive Mom I could give her milk, but the wonderful benefit even that small amount was to her. What a wonderful creation the human being is. A glimpse for us of the even more wonderful Creator.

The next step for us was to get the paperwork done for the adoption. Now in South Africa this can be a problem. We had heard of parents having to wait 3 years to get papers finalized. We did not want to have to be in that situation. So we made regular contact with our social worker and got a date set quite quickly for the adoption with the magistrate. I don’t want to go into all the details of the problems we faced and the frustrating situations that were a very real part of that process, but we had been given the name of a lady who worked at the Registrar of Adoptions in Pretoria and she had said we could hand deliver the documents to her. So we asked the magistrate for the documents. He had not finished writing them all up (and “had” to go for lunch) but Brendon managed to pick them up the next day. Again, God was so wonderfully gracious and Brendon made copies of the documents. I was checking through them and noticed a mistake on the one form. By God’s grace the one of 3 copies that had the mistake was on the top of the pile and was the one Brendon copied. If it had not been on the top we would not have noticed. So we got the magistrate to correct the change and then Brendon had training in Pretoria (perfectly timed by God) so he could hand deliver the documents. The following week we planned a family weekend trip to Pretoria and collected the finalized adoption papers. They had been done within a week. If we had left them in the system what “should” take 3 months would have taken far more as there was a mistake on the forms. So God’s goodness to us here was so amazing.

When Brendon collected the adoption forms the lady said “have you got a contact at home affairs for the change of name? Because if you don’t it will get lost and never be done”. Well, by God’s grace we did have a contact. So we went over the road, filled out all the forms and asked for copies. They were hesitant to make copies but when we gave them name and number of the lady who said we should ask, they complied. We then faxed all the copies to our “contact” and within two days the change of name was done. WOW. Before Ruth was even 4 months old, the adoption was finalized and the change of name was done and she had her passport (which takes 6 weeks). God is so good.

When we had told people that we were planning on adopting I had many people say “now you will get pregnant”. I had actually started getting my hopes up, but had to be honest with myself and say “the chances are not that good”. And then just before Ruth’s first birthday I found out I was pregnant. What an amazing surprise. And then again we had so many people saying “it happens so often that after people adopt they fall pregnant” and most of the time their reasoning was something like “now you are really relaxed” or “you had stopped trying” or some such comment. But those comments would more than not upset me and I spoke to Brendon about it. Eventually this was what we would tell people. Brendon points out that it is probably because God calls people to care for orphans and because we had done that he chose to bless us. I also point out the amazing plan God had for Ruth’s life that he would close my womb for over 5 years just so that she would be a part of our family. If at that point we had had 3 or 4 children of our own, we would not have been looking at adopting. So what amazing love God has for those children who get adopted that often he closes wombs to make a very special place for them. There were times when not being able to have more children of our own was hard. But it was all worth it for us to get Ruth. She brings so much joy to our lives and we are so very thankful to God for her.

As I write this Ruth’s baby sister Hannah is already 1 and she will soon be 3. What a wonderful family I am blessed with. What wonderful sisters Rachel, Ruth and Hannah are to each other. It is so very special to see the love between all three of them. And even if I wrote pages and pages now, I would not be able to tell you about all the special moments that we see almost every day between them. It fills my heart with joy.

So may God get all the praise and glory for the wonderful work that He has done in all of our lives. He had built this family exactly the way He planned and we are so thankful and feel so very blessed. What a wonderful Father we serve.


Lishe said...

hi belinda
i don't know if you remember us, we are belgians who stayed in SA in 2004-2005 and we also adopted a little babyboy back then. We joined the grace fellowshipchurch, where you might have seen us.
I am so touched by your story about the adoption, since i recognize a lot! You've got a beautiful family!
God bless

Mary said...

Reading your post, even after knowing your story for so long, brings tears to my eyes. God is so faithful!
It is amazing to me that I was reading your posts on the homeschool eloop, and hadn't even met you, that when I held your little girl at the baby home that I knew that she was yours, the baby you were writing about. I asked them - is this baby going to Belinda? And I didn't even know at the time which baby home you were adopting from. Amazing!
Your notes of encouragement as we waited for a baby were such a blessing. Thank you for sharing Ruth's story. I have been encouraged to start writing Mya's story, as well.
And now to have met Des & Sharon and had the opportunity to minister with them and meet their precious family as well. It's amazing how God connects His family with those they need. It makes such a large world seem so small!
Hope to meet you in person one day here on earth!