You've found yourself in a hard place. You are looking for a way out, a purpose, hope through this experience. You are not alone. Others are in hard places too. Others have been in your shoes and have come out the other side. Here are their stories of how they found The Rock in their hard place.
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I Once Called Him my Son
By Kristen Hershey
It was the
summer of 2015.We received a phone call
from a family member, sharing that they knew of a situation where a young lady
was pregnant and looking for a family to adopt her child.We were interested.
Just five years earlier, we had the privilege
of adopting our first child, our daughter, and we hoped to grow our family
again.We connected with the young lady,
who lived in another state, and in ways only the Lord could orchestrate, we
were able to meet up with her and the biological father.We were cautious.We had to put ourselves out there and take a
risk, but as we prayed, we felt the Lord leading and guiding us.
Our meeting with the young couple went well.So well that they wanted to move forward with
a private adoption.Their baby—our baby—was just weeks away from being born.As
we returned home and began to prepare, both physically and emotionally, we
sought the counsel of adoption professionals, family members, and even an
attorney to help guide us on this new journey.With our daughter’s adoption, she joined our family through the help of
a local adoption agency; choosing the private adoption route for our second
child meant educating ourselves and the biological family.
to move forward.
a few weeks of meeting this young, soon-to-be mom and getting to know her, we
received the call that she would very likely be going into labor soon.We packed our car, closed up our home, and
prepared to be away, living in another state for several weeks.Our family walked alongside us each step of
the way. Our parents sustained us. Our friends checked in with us daily.Our daughter brimmed with excitement as she
anticipated becoming the big sister she had often dreamed of being.We were scared.We were excited.And we were every single emotion in
a thousand miles through the night, unpacked and briefly settled into our guest
home, and again waited for one more phone call, telling us the baby was
coming.We got that call and raced to
the hospital a few days later.We sat
with the biological family.We spent
time getting to know them.We paced the
halls of the hospital and visited with the expectant mom who would sacrifice so
much to give us our hopes and dreams.It
night, our son was born. We met
him.We held him.We cried over him.We watched the nurses weigh and measure him.It was emotional for everyone.
cautiously continued to move forward.From time to time, there were small signs that we weren’t out of the
clear just yet.The biological father
and his family were second-guessing their adoption decision.Their uncertainty produced fear in us.We leaned hard on the Lord for his steady
guidance and unfailing love.We
prayed.The biological mother was
released from the hospital, and our son was placed into our arms and into our
care.He traveled with us to our guest
home.Our daughter met her brother; he
was squeezed and hugged and loved.He
was ours.We cared for him through the
nights.We cared for him through the
days.We bonded with him.
was not easy.Legally, it took
days…almost two weeks…until we were allowed to return to our home in
Pennsylvania.It took hours of phone
calls, Internet searches, and emails to bring us home.It took multiple phone calls to our attorney,
former adoption agency, and local officials to get the answers we needed to
return home.We were our own
advocates.It meant missing weeks of
work for my husband.It meant
transitioning from a family of three to a family of four and all that that
means with sleepless nights, finding baby formula that worked, doctor visits, and
settling into new routines.
through the long nights of the newborn phase.We found the formula that worked.We saw his first smile.We
dressed him up as a lion and his sister up as a cupcake for Halloween.We celebrated his big sister’s birthday.We were together as a family for Thanksgiving
and unwrapped gifts together for Christmas.We loved him.He was ours.
Then the day
after Christmas, we received the phone call that changed our world forever.
battle had begun between our son’s biological mom and dad.The biological father threatened to gain full
custody of the baby back.It cornered
the biological mom.She so desperately
wanted what was best for her son, making the difficult decision to place her
baby into the arms of another family.And again, she was faced with now needing to do what was best for him,
by taking him back into her care.Our
son would no longer be ours.
even begin to articulate the pain we felt. Seeing our daughter sob.Being
around people who just didn’t know what to say.Not being able to control our own sadness and helplessness.Feeling caught up in the legal system of
having very little rights, since our son’s adoption had not been finalized
legally, giving his biological family the right to take back their child.
parents to a baby and sustaining a family in deep pain, while counting down the
days, knowing there was this strange, life-changing end, with lots and lots of
“lasts,” was an experience we never went through before.
time at church with a son. The last time
bathing him, feeding him, changing his diaper, being spit-up on, dressing him,
playing peek-a-boo with him.And
watching so many people around us wanting to hold and kiss and say goodbye to
him…one. last. time.
One week after
receiving the phone call, our son’s biological family traveled a thousand miles
to our home to take back custody of him.Seeing their car pull up to our home, being surrounded by close family
and friends to support us and our pain, briefly and awkwardly visiting with his
family, and seeing them drive away (our son, their son) in their car—this will
forever be an image I hold in my memory.
The pain we
felt ached so deeply that it felt like we had experienced death.And in a way, we did.We experienced the death of many dreams—dreams of having a son, dreams of having a sibling for our daughter, dreams of
watching our son walk, run, start Kindergarten, play sports, get married.
beginning, we went into the private adoption, saying we wanted what was best
for our son.We had to lay aside our own
desires.We had to give it all to the
Lord.We had to remind ourselves of this
same truth—wanting what was best for him—even in the midst of our
pain.We had to lean hard on the Lord
and trust that giving our son back to his biological family was somehow the best
for him.We had to trust this was all
part of God’s plan, even though it seemed so, so wrong.We had to fight bitterness daily.
boy, who we once called our son, turned four this August.Today, I am deeply thankful to be able to
tell you that we are in a much different place—a much better place.We are at peace with the hardship our family
once faced.We don’t regret having to go
through that.We learned from it.We grew from it.We have moved on, with the help and grace of
difficult times that we so often see and experience the Lord in amazing
ways.The people around us became the
tangible “hands and feet of Jesus.”I
cannot even begin to recall the many ways people blessed us in our pain
and tragedy.People prayed.People made meals.People sat with me and cried and just
listened.People let me hold their
babies, so I could accept and grieve through my empty arms.People left groceries and notes and flowers
and gifts by our front door.People heard
our washing machine broke and delivered a new one. There were too many blessings to list.
I felt God
in ways I had never felt Him before.I
learned how to better love those around me.I learned grace towards people who have to make hard choices in life,
even when they directly hurt me.I
learned forgiveness.I learned to be a
better mom, working through hard emotions with our daughter.
how much I truly need Jesus.
our journey in life is yucky and hard.My hope and prayer for you is that you are able to experience God, like
I did, in the midst of your pain.
PC: Brian Smith
Kristen Hershey was born and raised in Lancaster, PA. She is a Preschool Teacher at Lancaster County Christian School and an active member at Faith E.C. Church. She loves going on adventures with her family and thrift shopping whenever she can. Adoptions holds a very special place in her heart.
This site is a collection of real stories by real people about The Rock in their hard places.
It is curated and edited by Kara Ranck, who is a wife and mother of two children living in Pennsylvania. Kara herself has traveled some hard places in life and knows there is hope and power when we tell our personal stories about The Rock, which brings us through. Thank you for joining us here!
By Tiffany Miller I wish I could say I remember the exact song that was playing, what I was wearing, or even the date. Sadly I don’t remember any of those details about the day I heard God speak. I couldn’t hear audible words in my ears, but there was no denying what God was saying to my heart on that Sunday while worship music played around me. “I have adopted you as my own, and you are to do likewise for your next child.” My husband and I were blessed early in our marriage with two beautiful sons. I loved my pregnancies and adored seeing them grow from tiny newborns into personality-filled toddlers. Our boys were ages 4 and 2 at the time, and we had been discussing “when” we’d like to have a third baby, but that was the extent of the conversation. So when I told my husband what God firmly pressed on my heart later that night, he was clearly surprised. None of our families or close friends had adopted before, and we were (wrongly!) under the impression that adopting a c
By Clint Watkins My wife’s words stifled me. “ I’m pregnant .” The weight of Jillian’s news brought me to the floor with a deep reverence for what was before me: I was now a dad. It filled me with both duty and delight as I began to dream about the future with our baby. But three months later, these dreams were destroyed. The day we found out we were having a boy was the same day we learned he had a fatal condition, anencephaly. If he survived delivery, he would not live long enough to come home with us. Our first child’s birth and death would occur in the same room. We had just started falling in love with our son and he was already being ripped away. I didn’t know it was possible to feel such agony. My son’s death sentence suffocated my soul and plunged me into a darkness I thought I would never come out from. My misery was multiplied by the fact that I had been rendered useless as a husband and father. I could do nothing to save my son’s life or protect my wife
By Wendy Van Wingerden Unsplash “I surrender all … I surrender all.” Do I? Do I really surrender ALL? I wondered this as I stood singing a favorite hymn in church one Sunday. It was easy for me to consider the things in life that I could do without. My home, my possessions, my status, my talents, BUT…Oh! not my children or my husband. Those things, I could not, would not surrender. I could not imagine surviving without them. Fear of losing them strangled my inmost being, it consumed my deepest thoughts. If I surrendered them, He might take. My relationship with the Lord was growing deeper, yet something held me back. Something kept me from knowing Him fully. With each word of each song I sang, he beckoned me to him. “Blessed be your name in the land that is plentiful, where the streams of abundance flow, blessed be your name.” God, you have bountifully provided for me, I know how to praise you in abundance. “Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering, though