Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Family, Pro-life, Sanctification, Service
By Meredith Geldmeier
A Mother's Heart Changed
Right now 11-week-old Hampton Rich is too little to know that he has a remarkable story, but someday his parents will tell him about how he came to be part of their family.
Daniel Rich says he doesn’t really know where his desire to adopt came from in his 20s: from a desire to help the needy, perhaps. It started even before he met his wife Kendal and never left over the years as they had first one child, Evie, then Kapri, then Brinley. By their third child, Daniel’s desire to adopt was growing stronger.
Kendal, however, says she didn’t share his passion. They talked about it yearly, but the conversations never went anywhere. She wondered, “How could I love a child that was not my own?” And didn’t want to “just go along” with an adoption.
But the two of them had been growing through the expository teaching at Sovereign Grace, which encouraged them to ask, “How is our family going to be able to minister to others around us?”
“'Change your life based on the Bible.' We'd never been in a church where that was happening so dramatically to so many families,” said Daniel.
The two of them light up now when they talk about how God changed Kendal’s heart, how suddenly, “like night and day,” she caught the vision for adoption. That’s when they started calling adoption agencies and found Christian Adoption Services. Their fourth child Sebastian was only three months old then, but they knew the adoption process would take time. And it did.
The Adoption Process Begins
First, there was the paperwork; lots of paperwork. Enough to make Daniel and Kendal quail momentarily. Then, there was the cost: huge. Scary. Finally, once they made it onto the list, which meant they were approved for adoption, there was the size of their family.
Discouragement came as they watched other families on the list turning over within weeks or months, while for over nine months they continued to be passed over, continued to wait for their baby.
The Riches chose domestic adoption as their way of putting their faith and pro-life views into practice. “Hampton is what gets aborted,”' said Kendal. “If I’m going to go out and stand with a sign, I’d better be prepared to take a birth mother’s hand.”
Because Hampton’s birth mother wanted a Christian family for her son, she chose Christian Adoption Services on her own instead of allowing the hospital to choose the agency, the usual practice. She also asked the agency to select the family for her because she felt like God had a family picked for him. When the Riches’ caseworker first met Hampton in the hospital, she immediately thought he looks like a Daniel. Then she saw Daniel’s incoming number on her cell, and put the two together.
The Riches said the hospital where Hampton was born does not work with Christian adoption agencies. “When our agency got the phone call, they thought it was a prank call,” Kendal said. Hampton’s adoption was the first CAS had with that particular hospital in ten years.
The best part of this story, of course, is watching Daniel and Kendal tell about The Call when they finally knew they had a baby waiting. Though they knew it was high-risk, meaning the birth mother had bonded with the baby and could choose within seven days to take the baby back, they decided to take the chance. “We want this baby - this is our son. We want to get him! We’ll risk it,” they said.
Daniel and Kendal had been talking about adoption with their family the entire year leading up to Hampton’s arrival, and the kids wanted the baby to come as much as their parents did. They didn’t care about color, and the Riches were thrilled Hampton was bi-racial. They knew it would open the door for them to share with others. Their desire now is for their kids to adopt someday, so instead of just asking them, “How many children do you want to have when you grow up?” they also ask, “How many do you want to adopt?”
Someday Daniel and Kendal will tell Hampton all these things. He’ll hear about the call when they finally knew they had a baby waiting, how Daniel rushed up the stairs to tell Kendal, yelling, “How about we go get a baby tomorrow?!” His parents will tell him about the tears in his oldest sister Evie's eyes when she realized they were going to pick him up. He’ll hear how loved he was from the beginning, by everyone.
“I think it’s important that he knows how much his birth mother loves him,” said Kendal. They’ll tell him how his birth mother held him the entire time at the hospital. And they’ll tell him about that moment they met him, as he was paraded through the doors by the staff of the adoption agency. Hampton will know that “he was treated as a prize possession,” chosen, desired, and instantly loved.
But there's a bigger story the Riches want Hampton to know, the one behind and over and under and filling every other detail. It's the Gospel, the story that belongs to every believer who by grace has been adopted into God's family. It was their motivation, their passion, their reason for muscling past every obstacle, and that is the story they hope Hampton will share.