The words resonated in the young woman’s heart, a whisper more vibrant than the Sunday morning music. And in that personal moment, a new journey had begun.
“I heard that still small voice say, ‘This next step will take ridiculous faith,’ ” Janice Walker said as she recalled the silent message and her immediate tears. Seated in the church pew, “I remember praying, ‘God what are you saying? I’ve already done ridiculous faith — and we’re good!’”
Only extraordinary faith — “ridiculous faith” in contemporary terms — could prepare the 34-year-old Pasco woman for another step on the long adoption path. Already she and her husband, Dean, had done what most people never dream of doing. While raising four biological children under the age of 6, the couple had adopted twin 5-year-old boys from Zambia, Africa, in 2010.
“A lot of people see adoption through rose-colored glasses,” said Janice, reflecting about fantasy and reality. “I had a mantra posted around the house, ‘It’s not about you!’ and I had to remind myself of that constantly.”
Never miss a local story.
During the orphans’ early years in a bush village, they spoke no English and didn’t use a toilet or eat with utensils in their primitive conditions. Now the brothers would struggle to learn how to function within a family and new culture.
“Our story isn’t about adoption, but about surrender,” said Janice, remembering how they had originally wanted to adopt a baby girl, one with a cleft palate, a child they could relate to because one of their biological sons had been born severely cleft-affected. “He changed everything and opened our heart.”
Even though the couple felt God was leading them to adopt the twins, it still wasn’t easy. Leaving her four toddlers and husband at home, Janice spent 28 days in Zambia trying to prove to the U.S. government that the boys were truly orphans.
“As hard as it was, my faith never wavered,” said Janice who experienced a miscarriage while abroad, adding painful grief she hid from the twins. “I felt for sure God called us to adopt the boys and unless he told me to stop fighting, I was there for them.”
The successful adoption of the 5-year-olds brought the total number of children in their family to six. Then in March 2011, Janice gave birth to a little girl.
“We were done. Seven kids and that was the perfect number,” Janice said, smiling at the memory. “And then God called us specifically to adopting in China.”
Working with a Christian adoption agency, Janice talked with their representative who was persistent about two special needs boys, even though the couple still wanted a cleft-affected girl. Emailed files from the agency revealed one boy had the identical syndrome their cleft-affected biological son had. Immediately, that prospective child found a place in their heart. But the second boy had intense needs and the couple said, “No.”
“A week after we had submitted our application, I was cooking dinner and I had a strong thought that I should look up the second child again on the adoption agency’s website,” Janice said, a catch in her voice. “When I did, there was a brand new video of him. And when I watched it, I sobbed so uncontrollably that I knew that it was God speaking to me.”
Still, there were doubts about taking on a severely handicapped boy and the couple asked for God’s confirmation. In their devotional that night, several scriptures spoke to their worries, including financial.
“God has the money and resources,” Janice said, reflecting on their decision in 2012 to add two more to their family. “He just wanted our heart — and he provided every penny.”
Even so, the biggest surprise came while Janice was in China to adopt the two boys and discovered she was pregnant with a “miracle baby,” this time without fertility drugs. By 2013, there were 10 children all under the age of 9.
But what about the whisper Janice heard while waiting for the church service to begin?
Today they are in the process of adopting a 12-year-old child from China who limps from cerebral palsy, a little girl God placed in Janice’s heart long before she saw her photo or file. Challenged beyond the physical disability, this girl has had no education, a deep concern before the adoption was set in motion.
“ ‘I can’t do this!’ even though I kept hearing ‘ridiculous faith’ in the background,” Janice said of their husband and wife conversation. Then shortly afterward, a Christian music station startled Dean when a person spoke about adopting a sixth-grader with no education — a station that typically plays music only. “That was one of those moments when God answered our specific doubts.”
And if more validation of their decision was needed, their adopted African child’s voice came through loud and clear.
“She is the luckiest girl in China because our family is awesome,” the little boy announced.
Followed by a tender note from the same child who once upon a time could not speak English or read and write: “Dear Mommy, I want to thank you for adopting me and Zunduka. Because of you, I now know Jesus. I am so thankful for you and that you know him, too. Love, Chazano.”
There, in black and white, a shout out to the power of love and ridiculous faith.