Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The White Swan

The Story of our White Swan

Some months back I read in my local paper about an organization making a presentation at a local church in regards to adopting abandoned infant girls from China. I decided I was going. At the time I can’t tell you why I was so drawn to going but I knew I would be going. Later on that week I spoke to my wife about what I had read and that I thought it might be interesting to attend.

I need to explain something here. My wife had been reluctant to consider adoption as she had continued to hold out the hope that we would be blessed with a biological child of our own. However at 53 and & 47 the prospect of us having a child was beginning to take on the biblical proportion of Abraham & Sarah. Additionally I knew that adoption options were dwindling due to our ages, mine in particular. My wife said she was open to attending. With that backdrop, I slipped off before going to the adoption presentation and quietly asked the Lord in prayer to open my wife's heart to the idea of adoption if it was part of His plan; both for the two of us and the little girl.

The adoption presentation was interesting and informative. We also were definitely the oldest couple there. For the following two weeks my wife and I spoke occasionally about the adoption presentation but it was more of a soft dance towards, around and to the side of the issue of our adopting. Then the dance began in earnest. One evening as I was sitting in the kitchen, Alyson approached with the adoption application papers we had gathered up with all the tons of information packets we had brought back with us. A decision had been made. We laughed, we hugged, and we each shed a few shared tears of joy.

Because of our age, mine in particular; I knew it was not a certainty that we would be approved. We mailed the paperwork off and began the wait to see if we were approved for an adoption. Because we mailed the documents going into a holiday period we expected the response time to be somewhat longer than usual.

It was during this time that I began to privately question our reasons for adopting. One major fear I harbored was the fear I was doing what I wanted to do with little to no regard for what the Lord wanted. I was concerned that Alyson and I were putting our wants ahead of what God really intended for us. He had already given us Justin and Leaa D from my previous marriage years ago, maybe we were not suppose to have other children. Maybe God did not plan for us to adopt but rather we were pushing ahead thinking only of ourselves. I began to wonder if I was pushing my wife into doing something that maybe she did not really want to do and I wasn’t listening to her or God. It was a very troubling and confusing period for me.

Time dragged on slowly with no word from the adoption agency. During this time we each settled in to enjoying a rare day off from work together enjoying the 4th of July holiday. I still remember getting up that holiday morning and taking the Salty Dog out to do his morning "duties". We've been fortunate to live on the St. Johns River for a number of years now and in all that time I had never seen what I was seeing that morning. Sitting (or maybe floating would be a better choice of words) close to the riverbank, in our backyard directly beside our dock was the largest, most beautiful white swan I had ever seen. I called to Alyson to come look. We each couldn't take our eyes off of the swan. Interestingly, our dog, Salty Dog, would normally run down the dock barking at the wading birds that regularly gathered to feed in the shallows. But not this time. Salty Dog stopped at the foot of the dock walkway. No barking, no running. He was content to join Alyson & myself as we quietly watch this huge beautiful swan. I cannot begin to describe to you the peace we felt simply watching the swan. Then I remembered something from the night before that I had read with regard to our agency and what we could expect on our adoption journey.

I quickly logged on to our computer, found the information site and read it again. To adopt our daughter and return to the USA as an American citizen we will fly to China and eventually at the end of our stay; go to the American consulate to finalize the adoption papers and take an oath. The entire trip normally consists of about two weeks time. Signing numerous papers creating our family will make up the final days of our stay in China. During those days our agency would most likely have us stay at The White Swan Hotel. Alyson and I just looked at each other and then went back to look at our swan. Could it be?

The next day we hurried home from work to see if the swan was still there. It was, still swimming only around our dock and still, Salty Dog was not chasing or barking. After work the following day we hurried home and once again there was our swan, we were not disappointed. Coming home to see "our" swan provided some excitement and a strange sense of peace with everything going on. We looked forward to seeing "our" swan. We also had a message on the answering machine from our agency saying they had tried to contact us and could we please call them.

We went to bed that night not knowing if the agency had called with good news or bad news. We said our prayers (me still filled with worry about if we were doing the right thing) and went to sleep.

The next day around 10:00 AM my wife and I made the call to the agency from her office. I vividly remember my wife's eyes filling with tears as she was told we had been approved and that this time next year she would be holding her daughter. We were beside ourselves.

That evening we raced home to see our swan only to discover it was gone. We felt a definite sadness about the swan being gone but we were still miles high from receiving the great news from our agency - we had been approved. The worry was over. Everything was fine. We were going to get our daughter.

It was then that God's plan for the both of us became clear. We then knew that our visit by a white swan did not just happen and why it's appearance had given us so much joy and peace.

The White Swan Hotel. You see, we knew how nervous we were while waiting for our adoption approval. So did God. I was worried about if I was doing the right thing. God knew my heart. God sent the white swan and put it in our backyard for 3 days as His sign but we only felt the joy and strange peace in seeing the swan, we didn't recognize it as from God. Once we had spoke with the agency and found out we were approved - the swan was no longer at our home because its work was finished. God had given a sign of His approval and had answered our prayers. Along with providing some much needed distraction and comfort. Our swan.

And that is the simple but truthful story of our white swan. Now, we understand how this may sound to many of you. A swan shows up at our house. Big deal. It hardly represents the parting of the Red Sea. However, for us it represents our conviction that God is holding the hand of Alyson and myself and that of Alyzabeth An – our daughter.


kathleen m. said...

This really moved me, Ford. Such a testament to God’s good graces and your faith in Him. I knew of the White Swan Hotel and thus the significance of yours in the river. There were definite “interventions” if you will from God in our adoption journey – I have quite a few stories. It was all according to His plan.

John and Beth said...

Hi Ford, I "met" you on RQ's January board and followed your link and I have to say I'm sitting here with tears rolling down my face. This is one of the most moving and beautiful things I have ever read. Your swan was definitely God's sign that you were doing His will. I posted about my falling star last night. God is definitely there to answer all of our questions. He will never ever not answer our prayers. Hugs to you both!
Beth in Mississippi

Anonymous said...

Hi Ford & Alyson,
I read your post on the RQ board as well and followed your link to read the beautiful story of God's presence in confirming your adoption journey by sending the white swan. What an amazing story of seeking Him and finding Him faithful! Thank you for sharing it with us and for the encouragement I received today in hearing God's goodness in your testimony! It reminded me of all the ways He has touched our path on this long journey to China and I felt blessed all over again at the way He constantly whispers to each of us that believe in Him, "Yes! This is the way, walk in it." Thank you!