I was sitting on a roller coaster. Where was I going? I didn’t know, but I’ve always loved speed and adventure so I knew I’d be going somewhere fun.
Off it went, so fast, wind in my face, my hair flying behind me.
Up, up, up it went and then… I was there! Where you ask? Heaven itself.
And He was there.
I couldn’t see His face clearly but, My Heavenly Father, how kind He looked as He smiled, so proud of who He was holding… In His left arm he had a white baby, in His right, a black one.
His smile was a knowing smile, full of love and excitement. I can still remember the wonder I felt, as I looked; along with an unexplainable expectation and a deep peace. The Father and I didn’t say anything to each other but I knew He was showing me something.
There was something about this dream, something special, something real.
Then I woke up.
Have you ever had a dream that you knew was not just a dream? A dream that despite not writing it down, you have always remembered?
This was my dream. I was the little 7-year-old Catherine, asleep in her flowery wallpapered room, in England; and now, at 36, I still remember it vividly.
I remembered every detail. My mind didn’t understand, but my spirit knew. God had planted His dream, like a seed into my heart.
My house was always full of Tearfund magazines, from the living room to the bathroom. Flicking through them, I was always drawn to the African children… did I know why? No, well perhaps again, my spirit knew.
God certainly did, He was watering that seed!
My fascination continued. My Grandma gave me a world map duvet cover and I lay there for what seemed like hours, studying all the countries and again, Africa just “got me” in a way I couldn’t explain. I would stare at all its places saying, “I want to go here, and here and there and there” until the entire continent was covered. Little did Granny know (or maybe she did) that she had chosen a present for me that would further stoke the fire for this beautiful country and its stunning people. Thank you precious Granny – my favourite Christmas present by far, one that God has used so greatly as part of my journey. I love how God is so into details!
I finally got there at 21. As I entered the HIV/AIDS orphanage that sunny day in Kwa-ZuluNatal South Africa, tears streamed down my face as I was met by 20 beaming children singing to me. I’d been fortunate to travel a lot while I was young but there was something different about Africa. I can’t really explain it but something in my heart; something I didn’t even realise was there, became alive when I was there. I came back to England, burst into tears in my boss’ office and explained I’d like to have a break from Physiotherapy and go back to South Africa. Long story short, I handed in my resignation, sold my car, moved out of my flat, and ended up in Canada… Yes, not exactly Africa… not yet. As I’m sure you know, timing is everything.
Canada wasn’t my plan… But God had other ones… Better ones than my own.
For starters, a husband, to accompany me in my journey. How my Puerto Rican man and I got together is a crazy story in itself, with far too many “coincidences” to be by human design – A story for another day – too cool not to be told.
One of our first conversations was about the fact that both of us, since a young age, have wanted to adopt… Hmmm, the boy had already caught my heart. And now this!!!! I’d never had a boyfriend… This boy from a far away island (which of course I pretended I knew where was) was completely distracting me – in a good way – from anything and everything else.
We were married the following year, moved to Puerto Rico, 4 years later, to Raleigh and of course went to Africa together. Adoption never left our conversations throughout our years together. I still remember the exact moment I realised the babies in that dream so many years before, were the babies God had chosen, and was holding for us! We were recently married and it suddenly hit me! Those gorgeous babies God was holding were actually our babies.
Our babies! He was holding our babies! Oh my gosh, He is holding our babies!!!
I realise I’m repeating the same thing… That’s how my brain reacted at the time of the revelation! I just kept saying it again and again, as if I had just found out the best news in the entire world! Well, I had!
And then there came the day: Jan 10th 2010, decision made. Agency found. We are officially adopting. No more talking about it… Let’s do this!
Paperwork filled. Interviews done. Classes taken. Pregnant.
Ok, adoption pause. Pregnant again. Woop, woop again. Pause again. Agency goes bankrupt. Thousands lost.
Ok God, you know what you’re doing. You have all that money. It’s not lost. She’s not lost (although it did feel that way at times!) She’ll come when she’s supposed to. Ok, deep breath! Let’s do this! New agency. Forms again. Interviews again. More paperwork. Worrying, and God replying “Remember that I am her protector. I am looking after her and still will be when she’s in your arms. She will ALWAYS be in my arms of love. ALWAYS!” Another deep breath, peace. You’re right God (of course) sorry for worrying. Thank you for reminding me of that.
October 2015, Skype call.
I was just saying to God the day before “You know what God, I’m really ready for another little one… I’d love it if the adoption was sooner rather than later”… It wasn’t really a prayer… More like little me saying her thoughts out loud to her big Heavenly Father.
I saw Him smile, He said nothing. The next day, we got an email… Sarah (our adoption agency worker) asked us to Skype. Mid chit-chat, she said unexpectedly “So, we have a little girl, she’s 6 months old”… That was it… I was crying… Then laughing… I couldn’t actually say anything… My emotions did the talking. And Sarah hadn’t even asked us anything yet.
She said “I take it from that that you’re interested?!” and we both said “Yes” – we didn’t need time to think about it, we didn’t even consult each other before we answered, which I always do (to the point of irritating Carlos) We just knew yes was the answer.
“Her name is Sitota” she went on to explain, and she was born on April 21st 2015. Wow! Skype call ended. “Let’s look up what her name means” I said excitedly… “It means gift” Carlos said… That was it, my river of tears turned into a full on flood. We told the boys… Excitement all around.
The following week, Sarah called again. There had been a mistake. She was actually born in 2013, not 2015. I had immediate peace… As if someone had told me she had a pink T-shirt on rather than a yellow one… Something that insignificant. I laughed to myself… God had told me years before that she’d be 2 when we got her. When Sarah first told us she was 6 months old, I thought to myself, “Oh, well The Bible says we hear and see in part so maybe I misheard, or, God told me that so we don’t lose hope if the process takes a long time and she’s 2 by the time she gets here.” But no, I did hear correctly. One more thing, I found the journal I’d written that in – He told me that on April 20-something 2013, (yes, the week of her birthday!) Annoyingly I didn’t write the date down but it is between my entry on April 19th and April 24th)
Then, the referral arrived. With photos!!! Oh my gosh… What a cutie… She actually looks incredibly like one of Carlos’ nieces… Wow, she already looks like part of the family!
“Boys we’ve got something to show you” we said, and before we could continue Alejandro looked and said “Is that my baby sister?” “YES, Alejandro” we exclaimed, surprised he said that, but not surprised at the same time!
So yes, that’s where we are… Excited, trusting God (most of the time) for perfect timing, and all the details to come.
So, watch this space… We’ll keep you updated.
Little did that 7-year-old Catherine realise that her dream would be brought to reality in Raleigh, North Carolina, 29 years later but wow… It is!
I’m quite undone by God’s goodness. Indeed, “No eye has ever seen or no ear has ever heard or no mind has ever thought of the wonderful things God has made ready for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
It’s the truth! Did I imagine that my life would be as incredible as it is? Never. I could write pages about how God has surprised me with His faithfulness, goodness and love.
So what about you? What are those dreams placed deep within your heart? Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” What seeds has He planted in you? Whatever they are, He will water them and nurture them; they will come to life!
God is a God who finishes what He starts! He chose Sitota to be our daughter in the beginning. He let me into a bit of His secret when I was 7. While I don’t remember the exact moment I said, “I’d love to adopt”… I don’t remember ever not saying it!
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a young boy also found himself talking about wanting to adopt. 17 years after the dream, The School of Ministry in Toronto brought them together, March 2003. The pieces started coming together as they talked about what was important to them, what they wanted in life. The adoption journey continued. And now, 29 years after the dream, we’re running towards the finish line. Which is also really a starting line for us actually 🙂 I can see it now… Jesus is standing there, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit and Sitota in their arms. They’re eagerly waiting at that finish line, as Carlos, Catherine, Alejandro and Sebastián run towards them all, big smiles on their faces, excited for this new embrace – the embrace of a dream come true (literally!), the embrace of our precious Sitota, the embrace of our next adventure, the embrace of life.
Oh, how I can’t wait for that day. When it will be, only God knows and I’m so glad He’s in control of this whole thing. He started it all… He’s been there the whole way through, intricately and excitedly putting His plans in place, and YES, He knows when she’ll be here with us in Raleigh, North Carolina… She’ll be with us when she’s supposed to be – not a day too early, not a day too late… Yes, that I am sure of! He’ll finish what He started – that’s what He does.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Phillipians 1:6
Thank you to all those who are in this with us. Running with us, cheering us on from he sidelines.
We so appreciate all your support. More than words can express. We are overwhelmed with gratitude, and can’t wait to properly introduce her to you… soon!
Thanks for reading. Be encouraged. This isn’t just for me and my family. What God has started in you, He will surely bring to completion!
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27