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The Power of Community

Within the midst of a struggle, it can sometimes be difficult to see God. Often, it isn’t until time has passed that we can look back and see God’s plan. Vicki and her husband, Toby, certainly felt that way during their adoption journey 17 years ago.

Vicki and Toby dated for four years and were married in 2000. Vicki was 39 when they got married so they knew they didn’t want to wait long before trying to start a family. Unfortunately, their excitement turned to sorrow as they lost two babies in miscarriages. It was about this time when there was an announcement in their church bulletin about an adoption meeting.

“I felt like I’ve always had a call to adoption. When I was in graduate school, I selected an adoption policy to study and research. After we attended this meeting, I felt like God was whispering in my ear and adoption was something we should pursue,” said Vicki.

Toby wanted to try one more time to have a baby. Vicki agreed but unfortunately, she suffered another miscarriage.

It was shortly after Vicki’s third miscarriage when a friend contacted Vicki because she knew of someone who was pregnant and choosing adoption. She wondered if she and Toby were considering adoption.

“We thought, Wow! This must be it! We felt God must be at work,” said Vicki.

There were a lot of legal issues to handle due to the baby being Native American. It was a complicated process but Vicki and Toby persisted. The baby was born and Vicki and Toby were excited to bring their baby home from the hospital. They had spent months preparing and had lots of cute newborn clothes, diapers, and all they needed. They cuddled and began to bond with their baby. Less than two days later, they got a call. The birth mother had changed her mind.

“We were devastated,” said Vicki. “I didn’t understand. I was crying and asking, ‘What’s your plan, God?’ It was so hard but we continued to pray. We continued to stay the course and tried to put it in God’s hand.”

It was around this time that their church offered a weekend retreat called, Christian Experience Weekend. Vicki and Toby were both interested in attending. They didn’t know many people from their church and they hoped it might be a way to start building some connections within their faith community.

They both had meaningful experiences at the retreat. After the weekend, Vicki started attending a faith sharing group and began forming friendships.

“I shared our struggles and the pain of our adoption experience. I felt the love of the group and all their prayers,” said Vicki. “Just thinking about all they did brings tears to my eyes.”

Not long after the retreat, Vicki got a call from their social worker while she was out of town at a work conference.

“She asked me how soon I could get back into town. A baby was just born and in foster care. The mother was choosing adoption. I got on an early flight back home,” said Vicki.

Unfortunately, they were heartbroken again. The mother decided to parent her baby.

Vicki and Toby were picked a third time only to have the same thing happen.

“After the third time we were selected and it fell through, I remember a calmness coming over me. I remember journaling a lot during this time, asking God to be our strength and to send us the baby we were to have. I never lost hope,” said Vicki. “I knew in my heart God had a plan for us, I just did not know what that plan was. I felt the prayers of so many of our friends and family. I just knew something grand was going to come to us.”

Vicki got another call from their social worker, they were picked again by a mother. When Vicki and Toby met with Mary they told her their story. Mary reassured them she was not going to change her mind.

“Mary wanted us to be a part of everything. We attended her doctor appointments with her and experienced the ultrasounds.”

One day Vicki got a call at work. It was time - the baby was going to be born. She and Toby got off work and started their drive to the hospital a couple hours away. They made it in time to be there for the birth of their son, Joey.

Mary insisted that Vicki and Toby stay in a room at the hospital rather than a hotel so they could be close to Joey.

“The first night we took Joey home from the hospital, I received an email from Mary. She told me that she knew she made the right decision and that I should just enjoy this time bonding with Joey. It was such a gift,” said Vicki.

Today Joey is 17 years old. “Without a doubt, God put us in the right place. He was meant for us,” said Vicki.

Looking back, Vicki can see how God was working on two gifts. The beautiful gift of their son, Joey, as well as the gift of their faith community. It was the prayers, love and support of their faith community that helped them along their journey.

"I seriously felt like we were being carried by prayer. Our faith deepened so much during this journey."

“We come from a large parish with many families but there are so many people who know Joey,” said Vicki. “People are always saying hi to Joey, even those who Toby and I don’t know. People who knew our adoption story and were praying for us. It still gives me goosebumps to know there were people praying for us that we did not even know. We are so grateful!”

Below are questions for your own personal reflection and prayer. If you'd like, free free to respond to a question in the comments so others can benefit from your faith journey.

Reflection Questions:

1. How have you felt the importance of a Christian community in your life?

2. If you would like to be more connected with a faith community, how can you get more involved? Are there retreats, small groups, service opportunities or committees that are available? Where do you feel God calling you?

3. What helps you to persevere and trust as you navigate the unknown, waiting to see God's plan unfold?

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