“Seven years. . . seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”
It’s her golden birthday today. She turns seven on the seventh.
For seven years now my wife and I have praised God for closing her womb. For seven years now we have been rejoicing over the many years of barrenness that preceded March 7, 2001. For seven years we have been blessing God for our infertility. For seven years we have been relishing the fruit of our affliction. Our daughter is our Ephraim: “God has made us fruitful in the land of our affliction.”
On our children’s birthdays we think of precious barren couples and fervently hope that they will be strengthened by our story. A Mother’s Day never passes that this pastor does not publicly pray for the barren woman.
For seven years we have become more perplexed than ever why we should have been chosen to be so blessed. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest” (Psalm 65:4). We will never be able to comprehend why, of all the barren women in the world, God chose to make this verse Jennie’s testimony:
“He maketh the barren woman to keep house; and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 113:9).
A birthday is a praise day for Jennie and me. It’s a remembrance day.
This happy day is tinged only by the sad reality that many couples silently suffer barrenness and that thousands of babies needlessly die by the hand of the abortionist. Our joy is dampened only by the fact that so many people still think that adoption is only Plan B, failing to see that it may be God has designed it to be Plan A for their most unexpected happiness.
The following is a piece I wrote for a National Sanctify of Life Day and published on my blog some time ago. It’s the story of when we first held our daughter seven years ago today.
A Patience Worth Waiting For
As a happy father of an adopted child, one spared from the ravages of this murderous society, this day means something to me. I can’t help but looking at my little girl and thank God that another little girl, a mere teen, chose not to abort. Allow me to celebrate.
Every now and then, my daughter gets my attention in a very special way. I am reminded by her that God can do the impossible, and that she is rightly named Patience. Everything about her adoption was a miracle from God.
I’ll never forget boarding the plane in Brussels to come to the States. We were on one of the most exciting missions of our lives. We were going to the States to adopt a baby girl that we were already calling by name — Patience. Even then we were not one hundred percent sure that everything would work out exactly as hoped. We were still acting on faith. It was an adoption, after all, and adoptions have many unpredictabilities. However, it seemed like this was the real deal, our tickets were purchased, and we were on our way.
The plane was half empty when we boarded. Jennie and I each got an entire row for our flight to Chicago. I stretched out, determined to get some sleep on the trans-Atlantic flight, and started thinking about why I was on the plane. Then I cried. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. For so long my nerves had been steeled, committed to being the voice of reason to counter-balance my wife’s excitement. I was nervous for her. I knew that this expedition could end in disappointment just as others had before. But in one powerful moment, the thought struck me that I was witnessing a miracle. This miracle had been in the process for months, and now I realized that I was caught up in a Divine scheme for our happiness and God’s glory. I melted in tears, and relaxed. This was going to work.
Actually, Jennie believed this in her heart from the very beginning. In the previous year, my brother Tim and Ruth were to be married; and the timing of their wedding was a source of frustration to me. I had expressed to Jennie the inconvenience of it all on several occasions, but, being the best man, I knew I was supposed to be there. “There” was Raleigh, NC. The “timing” was September 23, 2000.
Raleigh is in the South. So, after a beautiful wedding, we spent time with family in South Carolina. It was during that week that cousin Amy called about a co-worker who had a pregnant daughter. They were looking for adoptive parents. Amy is sometimes dramatic, so I didn’t think much of it; but Jennie did. Carried along by events, I decided to investigate further. We contacted the distraught mother and made arrangements to visit her and her pregnant teen. None of us knew where it would lead, but Jennie and I had learned over the previous ten years that it was okay to follow every lead, as long as our hearts rested in the confidence of God’s providence.
Strange, I thought as we headed for our appointment, we are going to meet a frantic mother and her pregnant teen whom we have never met. Is this God’s work, or are we way off track?
The meeting went as well as could be expected. We were all very comfortable. Jennie and I came back to the house on 7 Hampshire aglow with the mere possibility of answered prayer. In fact, we were so excited we took Dad and Mom and Grandpa Morgan (he went to Glory last night) to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate. I told them that day we were having a party just to celebrate “the potential.” I was still cautious; but something must have been astir in my heart, because I paid for everybody’s meal! The “potential” seemed real to me.
Some years later, I reflected on that dinner outing and realized that night in the restaurant was actually a celebration of faith. We had learned joy in our trial. We had learned patience. By that time in our pilgrimage through barrenness, we knew that no matter the outcome, God had deigned to encourage our hearts by the mere reminder that all things are possible with Him. No matter the outcome, even this “chance” visit was a gift from a loving Father. So, as soon as we found out that the birth-mother had indeed decided upon us, and that the child in her womb was to be a girl, we settled on the name Patience. Patience is the quiet submission of our will and emotions to God and truths about God even in circumstances that our beyond our control. And the trying of our faith by barrenness had worked in our hearts patience.
The “potential,” as we called it, would become reality on March 7, 2001 when Patience Elayne Bixby was born. When we walked into the delivery room, the birth-mother’s father was holding a tiny, 43-minute old little girl. Jennie walked straight over to the teenager, hugged her, asked her how she was doing, then paused, not knowing exactly what to do next as all eyes focused on the baby’s “birth grandfather.” With a solemnity and tenderness that recognized the significance of the moment, the teen’s dad, a big man, slowly crossed the room and gently placed the infant in Jennie’s arms. Jennie drew the swaddled baby to her cheek and with tears streaking her radiant face, she whispered in tones loud enough for every person in the room to hear: “Hello, Patience. This is Mommy.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We were all happy.
When this new Daddy left Mommy and Patience at the hospital that night to get some sleep, he found that sleep evaded him. The joy was hurting him too much. Never in his life had he experienced the stab of joy as he did that night. Life had been preserved, and he had been given the stewardship of it. Truly, this was a Patience worth waiting for.
But there is something else. Several years prior to that night, a thirteen-year-old girl came home from school in tears. An essay question had been proposed: “What would you do if you became pregnant?” To a person, every young teen girl in her class wrote that they would get an abortion. She was the only one to choose an alternative. She would seek for adoptive parents, she wrote. The girl was in tears when she went home that day because she had been adopted after her birth-mother had tried to abort her. “My friends said they would have killed me,” she cried. A couple years later, when she made the frightening discovery of her own pregnancy, her mind was already made up: she would carry the baby to term and hope for good adoptive parents.
The timing was right. It was September 2000, and through some unusual connections she heard about a missionary couple named Bob and Jennie Bixby who seemed like the kind of people for whom she had hoped. The baby in her tummy would live to have loving parents.