I found myself pregnant at 15 years old. For the next two decades, I lived fear-stricken and full of shame. I thought this was normal and the only way to live. Feeling like my life had been a series of unfortunate events, I allowed my pain to define me. 

My life felt like a lie with no purpose. 

Wanting to Forget

The months during my pregnancy were difficult for me and my parents as we navigated through it the best we could. Our navigating brought us through the questions of what was best for our family and for this baby I carried. We decided on adoption. 

Decision made, I went to live in a girls’ home associated with AGAPE of North Alabama. Although this felt like punishment, I look back now and see God’s love and protection provided through my caregivers there. 

Dec. 3, 1997, a beautiful baby girl, Anna Grace, came into the world. But her time with me was limited. I’ll never forget those moments in the hospital before her adoptive parents came to take her to her forever home. So many emotions filled me, but I knew I had made the best decision. 

I’m forever thankful we decided upon an open adoption. Because of this, I was able to communicate with Anna Grace’s adoptive parents throughout the years. It started with letters and photos through snail mail and then moved to Facebook messages. 

There were many times, however, when I grew silent in my communication. I was living a lie, wanting to forget this part of my life ever happened. In those moments my pain and lack of purpose defined me.

Desires Unmet

In 2006, I married the man of my dreams. I told him about my past well before marriage, thinking he wouldn’t love me anymore. But he chose me even though I felt unworthy. We had many conversations about our hopes, dreams and desires for our new life together, which included children down the road. 

About six years into married life, we decided it was time to stop preventing pregnancy. Three years later, nothing. We saw a fertility doctor, and after a series of labs and procedures, they told us there was no reason we shouldn’t be able to conceive. 

The desire remained in our hearts as we carried on with daily life.

Love at First Sight

2016 was a big year for us. I received a Facebook message in January from Anna Grace, who was 18 at the time, saying she wanted to meet me. I felt nervous but yet so excited. For years, I lived in my own prison, convincing myself she hated me for what I had done. 

The day finally came for our meeting. It was the most beautiful day. We connected instantly and talked as if we’d known each other for years. We learned so much about each other, like our love for God, family, friends and Asian food. 

I gained a deeper understanding of God’s grace and goodness that day. What the enemy used for years to destroy me, God used to bring healing and restoration. Anna Grace comes often to spend time with our family, and it still overwhelms me that God chose us to be a part of this beautiful journey.

That wasn’t the only excitement of the year. My husband and I agreed God was leading us to become foster parents, so we signed up for classes. Less than a month after finishing the classes, we received a call with the news, “It’s a girl!” They shared many details of the baby girl’s journey they thought might discourage us, but we just said Yes! Yes! Yes! 

We had about a week to prepare our home for our first child. Our family and friends rallied around us — painting, rearranging, gathering essentials, and bringing donations. When that beautiful day in July finally came, we knew it was a day orchestrated by God — with her first name being my husband’s grandmother’s name and her middle name the same as mine. 

From the moment we saw her, we loved her. It immediately took me back to the feelings I felt Dec. 3, 1997. It was love at first sight. 

Even though we knew Lilly would be our daughter, we still had to walk through many court dates, unexpected parent visits and uncertainty. But Dec. 10, 2018, Lilly legally became a member of our family.

Just a few months later, we received a call asking to foster two brothers, ages 4 and 7. As new parents to Lilly, we felt nervous. But we believed God had graced us for it. 

Before we knew it, we were new parents of three — all in different phases of life, bringing many obstacles. We navigated being tired parents of an infant and frustrated parents of two boys who had experienced trauma. It was a very difficult season, but we pressed into Jesus. Some days, we just survived. 

After many court hearings, parent visits, disappointments and much heartache, the boys officially became Williams on Oct. 21, 2019. 

Full Circle of Redemption

Anna Grace married in 2019, and Lilly was her flower girl. My life has come full circle. It’s an adoptive story of redemption and restoration. I wish I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self how good and faithful God is, that it will all be OK. 

I used to believe there would be shame, condemnation and judgement that would come with sharing my story. This kept me in bondage of telling anyone the truth. But I have found so much joy, peace and love as I have walked out my faith and shared my God story.

Step by step, hand in hand, Jesus has refined me in the fire, helping me discover who I am in Him. I am His masterpiece. Although He is not finished with me yet, I am living a life of freedom, and it’s all for His glory.

Guest Author: Emily Williams