Where are you from? What brought your family there? Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Everyday normal get-to-know-you questions that all of the sudden when I answer turn the conversation into more than a get-to-know you surface conversation.
I’m from Alaska…. “Wow!”
My dad was a pastor…..”Okay, Interesting”
I have 2 sisters and 6 brothers. ….*cricket cricket* Eyes grow bigger with each detail of my growing up.
My mom homeschooled all of us in a time when homeschooling wasn’t trending or when vast support through blogs and curriculum companies wasn’t available. My parents traveled to China to bring home a specific little girl that they waited 3 years for. And around the same time took in 2 little boys who were just needing a temporary foster home not knowing that they were already in their forever home with us.
The more I tell people I meet the stories of how I grew up, I started to realize that my life was very special and unfortunately very rare. I realize now that my parents lived radical faith-filled lives in front of me. My mom put on a radically different life than the one she started out wanting for herself. And that made a big difference in my life as I grew up.
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]The more I tell people I meet the stories of how I grew up, I started to realize that my life was very special and unfortunately very rare.[/pullquote]
Today… the stories I tell are starting to have a more ‘here and now’ tense than a ‘back when’ feel. And like my mother, the life I’ve been called to put on has been nothing like I set out wanting for myself.
I felt like I was just starting out on this quest for a radical life of motherhood when I found out I was pregnant. Yes, this was the beginning of the life I knew I wanted. My husband and I loved the idea of children and knew we wanted several of them, and we couldn’t wait to raise them in a Christian home. We never dreamed that God would allow our firstborn to die only minutes after he was born. So many women don’t even want their babies and yet have perfectly healthy kids all the time. Why was this happening to us? I thought having children was being obedient to His word and thus deserved blessing…. not this.
The following weeks after we buried our sweet beautiful son, we were faced with a choice. We could go on living life as planned even though we knew it never would be what we wanted or we could surrender to this path that God has placed us on and live fully in it whatever the heartache or joy it brought, fully trusting God’s loving and sovereign plan for our lives. Thankfully we choose the latter.
I had quit my job in preparation to be a mommy and thus found myself with a lot of free time to sit in our small 600sq foot bungalow located in a rough area of town in downtown Raleigh. Often I would just sit and stare out the window, staring but not really seeing. One day a knock sounded on my door and I opened the door to find a girl who obviously was on a lot of drugs and probably was so to mask the pain of her profession of selling her body on the street where we lived. She had come to see the baby. When I shared with her what happened she melted into a puddle of tears on my living room floor. I shared Christ with her… I shared the hope that could only be found in Him in times like these. I cried too. I missed my baby so much, but I also knew that it was his little life that had this prostitute in front of me listening to the gospel. I learned that she had lost twin babies mid pregnancy… she had two kids that her parents were raising. She told me that most women on the street have had abortion after abortion. These were mothers walking these streets.
[pullquote style=”right” quote=”dark”]“So a batch of rice krispie treats later, I set out to meet this soon-to-be mommy. It took several weeks to win her trust but eventually she started to open up and even was coming daily to have lunch with me.” [/pullquote]
All of the sudden, I wasn’t just staring out my living room window, I was searching…. for her. I would give her food and drinks and a kind smile as she walked by. I started seeing all the others out there and looking for them each day. Then one day I saw April. She was pregnant. Yes, she was selling her body most likely for drugs even while pregnant. It made me angry. Did she not realize this gift she had? Did she not realize what I would have given to protect my baby from his death? And here she was basically killing her unborn child. Days went by and anger turned into compassion. I wanted to know her. I wanted to show her love. I wanted to show her Christ. So a batch of rice krispie treats later, I set out to meet this soon-to-be mommy. It took several weeks to win her trust but eventually she started to open up and even was coming daily to have lunch with me.
Our story of friendship is too long to tell in a blog post, but on January 6th she called me the first thing in the morning to tell me that she had had a perfectly healthy little boy…. a miracle seeing as how she had done drugs and consumed alcohol every day of her pregnancy. This little boy changed her life, gave her strength to get off the street and to get off drugs. There was a radical moment though that took Dan and I going to get her off the street because she didn’t show up at a foster meeting in order to fight to get her son back. She and I proceeded to have probably the most hard core conversation of my life, and I think having just have been a mother and feeling all what she was feeling right now I was able to really talk and hit home to what she needed to be told and challenged to do. We ended up going to 5 different shady places to get her belongings and then waiting all day to get her checked into a drug rehab center. My husband and I were totally out of our comfort zone, but we knew that if something radical didn’t happen in her life that she would die out there on the street.
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]“This baby needed a mother, and I needed a son. I was going to love him fiercely until God asked me to let him go.”[/pullquote]
Dan or I hadn’t prayed him for for the past 9 months… There hadn’t been a shower to celebrate his life…He didn’t have a nursery of his own… He just was dropped into our family in a few short weeks. God had known all along and I strongly believe that He had been preparing my heart to love this baby, because my attachment to him was quick and strong. This baby needed a mother, and I needed a son. I was going to love him fiercely until God asked me to let him go. I didn’t know if that was going to be in a few months, a few years or for the rest of his life. Some called our fostering radical… I called it being a mother to a baby who needed one.
God knitted this child into our hearts and homes, and God provided for us in ways that have forever strengthened my faith. We met several times with Jack’s birth-mom in prison and over time she and the baby’s birth-dad would write and tell us that they would not be able to get out of prison anytime soon. When Jack was 18 months we wrote and asked them if we could adopt him for always… and it took God to soften their hearts and allow them the courage to do the right thing for their child and to give him a stable and strong home when they knew they couldn’t offer him one. But they did eventually consent. And now, he is forever a Chappell.
[pullquote style=”right” quote=”dark”]“I think at this point, I had stopped being shocked at what God was calling us to do and just said, “Yes Lord, We are willing. I can’t wait to see you do this!!”[/pullquote] You would think that we have our little girl and now our little boy that our family would be complete…. But something was missing. Dan had been saying for years how he would love to adopt from Africa. Whenever he would mention it all I saw were dollar signs, long waiting, fund raising, uncomfortable travel and living situations, extreme hot weather and children medical issues because of being neglected. Yes… those were all reasons why I would never entertain the notion of considering an international adoption. But Dan must have been praying… because all it took was a few conversations between friends and the conviction of the Holy Spirit to put in me a love for a child I didn’t know in a country I had no idea about. I called Dan and asked him if he would want to adopt from the Congo (DRC) and he was all about it. Along the way, God laid on our hearts that we weren’t to go get just one child but two. I think at this point, I had stopped being shocked at what God was calling us to do and just said, “Yes Lord, We are willing. I can’t wait to see you do this!!” So here we are….. waiting for an email to tell us we are the legal parents of a 2 month old little girl and a 10 month old little boy over in Africa. God IS doing this.
My fears often remind me that going across the world to get them may be the easy part of this journey of obedience. I know that what may be most radical will be how we are to live the next 10-20 years as a mommy and daddy to these babies that God has placed in our homes. But I know that I have a Savior who loves me with a radical love and has saved me through His radical sacrifice…. Surely in the same way He equipped my mother, He can give me the strength day-by-day to showcase a radical life to my children in hopes that one day they, too, will live in radical obedience and trust having seen what a radical joy it brings.
Casey Chappell is a mom, blogger, and photographer. You can follow her radical journey of healing, trust, and adoption at www.caseychappell.com. All photos provided by Casey Chappell.