“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:27
For five years in a row, one or more foster children have lived with my husband and I at any given time. Christmas is such a festive time to celebrate Jesus and having children with us, to share the spiritual experience, makes it extra special.
Then one Christmas was different. No foster children came to stay with us. My lonely heart hurt with quiet feelings of sadness. Instead of the noise and laughter I experienced when we took in these needy souls, a heavy silence hung over my home. I felt depressed. We lacked the joy that a foster child brought to our home during the Christmas season.
My feelings of emptiness led me to revisit the pain of being unable to have children of our own. As my sadness grew, I couldn’t help but wonder why God forgot me? Why had He not heard my desperate prayers to have a child?
I dreamed of having a big family. After working through the process of infertility testing, however, I realized I would never bear my own child.
I knocked on the door of adoption and eagerly applied to an agency only to find out there are very few children available for adoption.
I also knocked on the door to become a foster parent and the door opened wide.
I loved parenting these children and meeting so many of their needs. I took the spiritual challenge to train them up God’s way to the best of my ability.
One major challenge of foster parenting was that these children would eventually leave my home. This was the case that lonely Christmas. The children who lived with us for two years went back to their birth families a few months before December. My broken heart seemed irreparable. The Christmas holiday was not the same without children!
I made an effort to minister to others that year. I bought gifts for two brothers who previously lived with us. My husband and I traveled the two hours to their home to surprise them and share a few moments of Christmas joy and presents with them. When we arrived at their home, we found their apartment empty. This disappointment added to my sorrow and pain.
Christmas time should be exciting and fulfilling, but this year definitely did not turn out that way.
Christmas morning we went to the local bagel shop for breakfast. Although they have the best bagels around, it did not heal my heart; it just filled a hole in my stomach.
At noon we traveled to a relative’s home for Christmas dinner. When we arrived, the questions and comments were too much to bear:
“You have no children this year!”
“What happened to the children you brought with you last Christmas?”
I bit my tongue and tried to explain that foster care is temporary and our efforts to adopt had not worked out.
My heavy heart remained on December 26, so I reached out to a friend and invited her foster child to shop for special day-after-Christmas sales. I just wanted to get out of my house. Mid-afternoon, I finally ventured home.
During my shopping excursion, many phone messages had cluttered my answering machine. I carefully listened to each one and then called my foster care social worker back.
I could not believe the words from her mouth! A baby, born December 26th, early in the morning, was all ours.
After eleven years of marriage, with five years of waiting and almost giving up hope, God answered my prayers. I called my husband and we immediately started working on the arrangements.
Two days later, five-pound Danielle arrived at my front door in a Christmas stocking.
God did not forget me! His timing is always perfect and He does all things well. <<Click to Tweet
My worst Christmas became my best Christmas ever! Now as we celebrate the joy-filled season of our Lord’s birth, we also celebrate the birth of our beloved daughter.
Elaine L. O’Neill currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, Dennis, and their two grown adopted children. She has a passion for prayer, teaching, missions and parenting. She is an excellent communicator, has a strong Biblical foundation, and loves using her gift of teaching to inspire people to pray, share their faith, become strong disciples and grow spiritually. Elaine is a Bible teacher, speaker, writer and children’s worker. Her blogs are found at www.elaineloneill.com.