Adoption, Hope and Illness

 Written by: Ebie Hepworth Photos courtsey Ebie’s Instagram: @ebiehepworth

Written by: Ebie Hepworth
Photos courtsey Ebie’s Instagram: @ebiehepworth

The fantasy of a perfect adoption… it is a real thing. And I say fantasy because often, especially at the beginning of the journey, many of us live in this naive place where we genuinely believe our adoption will look different than the others. 

It will be record fast, the child/children will attach and bond supernaturally quick, the funds are going to come overnight, the government will not only work with us but we will establish new ethical standards within international adoptions. YUP, that is what our story will be, and it will be lovely. And we will broadcast to the whole world the miraculous results of stepping out and pursing the unknown world of adoption.

I will admit, that was definitely my hope and prayer at the beginning of our adoption adventure. Never in a thousand years did we expect to face the challenges that we did in our adoptions. But I suppose that’s what’s so sweet about hope? That it somehow gives you this heavenly courage to press forward despite the “what if’s”. It has this sneaky way of singing so loud that you can’t hear the insignificant sound of defeat or fear. In fact, throughout our adoption I picked up this phrase “Hope goggles”. When our timeline was going slower than expected, when we were waiting on government paperwork, when attachment was not going as hoped for, when sickness came and invaded, when government offices were closed down and lost paperwork for no apparent reason, hope goggles were really the only thing that kept us above the water. Because it is impossible to look through the lens of hope and see anything but space for God to come in and move. Hope has this way of qualifying you for a battle you feel in-equipped for. It’s the the secret weapon to a brave life. 

As we forged through the unfamiliar waters of adopting from Liberia, we became aware that our son, Asa, was very sick. His entire little life had been spent in and out of the hospital fighting malaria, pneumonia, measles, and other diseases. And so upon our return to the United States we began seeking answers, and eventually received the diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a terminal genetic disorder characterized by the degeneration of your muscles. 

Never in a million years did we expect the words Muscular Dystrophy to be words that would come into our story. Sure, he was in and out of the hospital the first 10 months of his life before we had him, but Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy? An incurable disease? COME ON. We wept, we held onto each other for dear life, then we went back to the only strategy that proved to be successful... And we put on our hope goggles. We saw all of the moments God had already rescued our son and how of all the children we could have been matched with, God had purposefully and perfectly saw us fit to become Asa’s mom and dad. 

Navigating motherhood, adoption, ministry, family, and illnesses all come with their own battles, all equally unpredictable in their own way. I remember at the very beginning of our adoption process filling out paperwork about whether or not we were open to special needs. The boxes checked “qualified” or “unqualified.” We marked “unqualified” because that’s how we felt. Yet somewhere in the depth of God’s heart He knew I needed Asa more than he needed me. He knew that in the weekly therapy sessions and the never ending drama with insurance companies maybe just maybe I would find myself flat on my face praying for a new deposit of grace that I never would have prayed for otherwise. Maybe just maybe having hope doesn’t always look like manufacturing some extreme optimism, but actually looks like going lower and lower with hands full of tears. Maybe just maybe “qualified” is actually defined as Hope filled. Maybe just maybe the greatest miracle of all will be that we never took off our hope goggles? 

To adopt is to risk and the greatest adventures of our lives are always on the other side of risk. In the middle of my frequent meltdowns, insecurities, and inability to stay cool calm and collected, God is audaciously somehow crafting this beautiful story of redemption and wholeness for our family. And through it all I am learning that Jesus is the ultimate storyteller.