Saturday, March 21, 2009

planned parenthood

One verse keeps running through my head as I think about announcing our current pregnancy, “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21 (NLT).

While only half of American pregnancies are intentional, virtually all adoptions are the product of a long planning processes. We managed to unintentionally buck the trend and have done it all backwards: we planned the pregnancy and were surprised by the opportunity to adopt Matt into our family. Matt’s adoption could hardly be planned as no one but his mother even knew he existed until the day of his birth, and he did not become “unadoptable” via agency placement until his terminal diagnosis was made, 24 hours after his birth. While we had long talked of adopting at some point, we certainly had not foreseen imminent adoption in our future on the morning of January 13th.

In fact, up until we learned that Matt had been born, we had been pursuing our goal of a biological third child. Of course, all such plans were necessarily abandoned when we learned of Matt. The stakes for our children, for our hearts, for Matt, and for God's glory were so high, we had a hard time doing anything but praying and seeking counsel. In fact, we have never been more blindsided or desperate for wisdom than we found ourselves to be when Matt was born and his horrific illness became apparent. All of the sudden, wisdom truly became more precious than gold. On the one hand, we knew if we didn't take Matt home with us, he would be institutionalized and likely neglected. On the other hand, we had been clearly warned by a number of experienced counselors that if we brought Matt home, our children would suffer neglect of a different but perhaps more mindful sort. Torn between our already existent children, any thoughts of introducing further complications to our tortured tale were happily discarded.

In the end, our counselors agreed with us that bringing Matt into our home within a strict system of accountability was in line with the scriptural "purposes" God has laid on our hearts. At the time, we informed our social worker and others that there was a possibility that we had become pregnant prior to Matt's birth, and they all agreed that bringing Matt home was purposed despite the complexities that pregnancy would present.

Two weeks after we brought Matt home, we found out that I was pregnant. Not long after that, Matt was admitted to the hospital for a possible "miracle cure," which turned out to be something less than miraculous. In fact driving to the hospital the morning of Matt's hospitalization, I was wondering how we would fit four children into the backseat of our tiny Corolla. On the way home from the hospital--with Matt's terminal diagnosis apparently solidified and strong evidence that I was losing the pregnancy--the backseat looked far too big. Two children apparently lost in a matter of hours.

Today, both Matt and the pregnancy are progressing nicely. We haven't actually lost either of them yet. I honestly have no idea what that means except that they both have heart beats and are both growing as expected. We have no idea how all of this will end or even what tomorrow will look like. Questions such as, "Do we need a bigger car? If I buy a stroller, should I get one to accommodate twins? Will we need two infant car seats? Will we have two special needs children and for how long? Was it really a TORCH infection?" roll around in my head with no ready answers. We just don't know what tomorrow will bring. We do know, however, that God is sovereign over all things including Matt and the baby fluttering around inside.

God is sovereign over life and death, which is why "planned parenthood," just like planned anything else ultimately implies an element of human control which does not jive well with the truth of God's sovereignty as portrayed in scripture. It is error to take life when it has been given, and it is equal error to demand life when it is taken. God gives and He takes away, blessed be His name because He knows better than we do what we really need. He knows and directs what is best for us, which can sometimes be very difficult for us planners to accept.

In short, we are somewhere between 12 and 13 weeks gestation, having conceived this little one just two days before Matt's introduction to the world. Nothing has ever been more physically demanding than the last three months have been on our bodies. Why God would allow events to transpire as they have I cannot tell you. I can assure you that despite the ridiculousness of our situation, God has clearly brought us to this place through a number of wise counselors and constant and desperate pleas for wisdom, which according to James 1:5 he has promised to answer affirmatively. This situation was not planned, but it has been directed from the outset:

This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Isaiah 48:17 (NLT).

Praise God that He knows where we are going. I am confident that wherever we go, we will be humbled by God's sovereignty over all things, including parenthood, and encouraged by our ongoing need for the gospel of grace as we raise our now three and soon--if God wills it--four children.



  1. "Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

    I am praying for you and am amazed at Matts life. God definitely has a plan here for your family and your obedience to Him is inspiring and He is the One who gives you the strength to be His Hands and His Heart. His grace is sufficient and I will continue to pray for you and the baby you carry within.

    Love and Hugs, Laurie

  2. Congratulations on your sweet baby! Your family is incredible and the Lord is doing an incredible work in your home and in your hearts. Keep laying it all at His feet. He will indeed carry you through. I am praising Him for all four of your blessings today. :)

  3. there are no words that seem appropriate in response to that post.

    praise God for being who HE IS!!

  4. I am always comforted by the fact that God cannot be taken by surprise. He doesn't have to go to plan B. As a true stranger, knowing only what I read here, I see a refreshing and compelling picture of godly struggle and deliberate obedience. God is in control. Bless you all.


  6. Oh my goodness!!!! I pray for you and your family, R. I pray for matty matt and the unborn babe being kept warm and safe in your womb. That you are granted the patience and health and understanding to face this all!!!

  7. 1 word~WOW~
    your message today, has really hit home with my little dilemas. it's like you spoke to my heart today using all the right words.BAM~i am awaken and fully understand the very last verse. which i need to consistantly remind myself of far as your pregnancy, CONGRATS~i am so happy that all of this is coming into play~still praying for your family..

  8. I am humbled, blessed and encouraged by God and His work through the people writing this blog and the family living this life. Thank you for sharing! God is soooooooooooooooooo good!

  9. Wow! How thankful I am that you were obedient to the Lord's call in making precious Matt a part of your family and now this new precious life! God definitely has some exciting times planned for your family! I'm praying for both of your babies and for you "r" that God's grace will fill your days and nights and that you will remain healthy and strong during the pregnancy!

  10. Wow! How exciting! God knows and sees the whole picture. Will continue to be praying! The Cowens

  11. R i love you and will be praying for your whole family!