Child of my heart: Hannah’s story
I got the call about Hannah on a Wednesday morning. “We think we have a little girl for you,” said the social worker. “Her name is Hannah and she is 7 years old. But there is one condition – the family would like the foster family to consider adoption because they only want one move for this little girl.”
My heart skipped a beat. I had applied to be a foster parent after I got scared away from adoption by a Ministry of Children and Family Development seminar. I really wanted to be a mom, but I was single and quickly nearing 40. I worked full-time as an associate pastor in Victoria, so I wasn’t sure how a child would even fit into my life or finances.
When I got the call about Hannah, I knew right away this little girl was meant for me. At the time of the call, I had been reading the story of Hannah in the Bible – a barren woman who pleaded daily with God for a child. When the social worker said Hannah’s name and told me she needed an adoptive home, my heart said, “Yes!”
Orphans, motherhood, and true religion
Several months before, our church was featuring a month-long study series on the book of James. In order to prepare myself to preach on James 5, I read the entire book each day for a month. The words in chapter 1:27 caught my attention: “True religion is this: that we care for widows and orphans.” In the midst of that preaching series, I felt a tug to become a foster parent in order to care for “orphans” in Victoria. I had no idea what that would look like!
Shortly after we finished the James series, our church sponsored an interchurch arts conference. Painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, and poets all came together to share their work. One artist named Caren displayed paintings of her family done on driftwood.
When Caren came to pick up her artwork from the church, it was daylight savings weekend and we had just turned the clocks back. Although I was eagerly anticipating an extra hour sleep, I woke early and went to the church to pray. Upon my arrival in the parking lot, I ran into Caren. We hadn’t met at the conference, so we spent some time talking about the conference, her work, and my job as a pastor. When Caren got home, she told her husband about me, and felt they needed to pray about attending our church. She said she had a really strong draw toward me and the church.
A perfect fit
Weeks later, I hung up the phone after talking to the social worker. Having said “yes” to meeting Hannah and considering adopting her, I sat at my kitchen table in shock. They had a little girl for me! God was finally answering my pleas to be a mother.
It had been a while since I completed my foster parent training with social services, but no children seemed to fit the description I requested. The agency had called before about all sorts of kids, from teenagers to babies. But I knew that, with my job, I could handle only one or two foster children, preferably school-age girls. Hannah fit that description perfectly.
While I was thinking about how my life might turn upside down in the next few days, another social worker called. This one represented Hannah. She was surprised at how perfectly I fit Hannah’s family’s criteria: a Christian family with no other kids, where Hannah could stay in the same school as her cousins. (She was temporarily living with an aunt, uncle, and two cousins about a five-minute drive from where I lived.) Immediately, the social worker called Hannah’s aunt and uncle to tell them she had found a family for their niece.
Then, the social worker called me back. “The family wants to know what church you pastor. The aunt thinks she may have met you in a church parking lot a few weeks ago. Did your church recently sponsor an arts conference?”
On that daylight savings weekend, Caren realized she was early for church, so she decided to sit in our parking lot and pray for Hannah. The family had just made their decision to release Hannah for adoption, but it wasn’t sitting well with Caren. She had been like a mom to Hannah for the past 10 months, and letting go was hard.
God answered Caren’s prayer that day, and brought me, a single, 38-year-old pastor, into Caren and Hannah’s life. Little did Caren know when she cried out to God, asking where Hannah would go, that she wouldn’t go any farther than the church parking lot! Little did Caren know that the woman who opened the church door for her that Sunday morning would become family 21 months later. It was Thanksgiving, and we all stood on the platform to dedicate Hannah to the Lord, celebrating her adoption with family and friends.
Hannah’s story is a miracle. It began with two women praying for a little girl – one who wanted the best for her niece, and one who wanted to obey God and care for orphans.
When Caren opened the door to her home two days after receiving the social worker’s phone call, she and I looked at each other with recognition and tears in our eyes. God had placed us together.
Later, when I met Hannah face-to-face, the social worker explained how Hannah would be coming to live with me. Hannah looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “So, you are going to be my new mommy?” My heart melted, and I loved my new daughter right from the start.
Kathleen Busch is associate pastor at Saanich (B.C.) Community Church, currently on parental leave.