“I had a choice to make. I could turn away from God or believe that He loved us and had a plan for our lives. Fortunately, through His Word, the Lord helped me see that we could trust Him, even as a dream was dangled before us and was seemingly ripped away.” – Matt Walker
What do you do when the flood of tragedy seems never-ending? Where do you go when your plans are derailed? Matt and Andrea Walker know exactly what that’s like.
In the fall of 2010, the Walkers thought they’d made it through the storm. “The Lord had restored our marriage, and we were fighting for oneness in Him for the first time,” said Matt. “He surrounded us with a community of friends who encouraged us in our faith, and we were thankful. Then we discovered that a traumatic brain injury I’d sustained as a teenager meant that it would be impossible for us to conceive. We were shocked.”
Instantly, Andrea says she was plagued by fear and doubt as she wondered if she’d ever be a mom. “When we found out we could not get pregnant, it seemed like everyone around us was pregnant! It was so hard not to compare our lives to the lives of other couples. Our marriage was back in a state of struggle again, and it seemed like my heart had turned to stone. I had a lot of trouble allowing others to love me, and that kept me from fully experiencing God’s goodness. Thankfully, the Lord reminded me of the value of opening up to Him and to the com-munity of friends He provided.”
The Walkers got involved with Tapestry, Watermark’s adoption ministry. As they heard from others who had expanded their families through adoption, the idea of domestic or international adoption started to seem less foreign. “Our minds changed, and we started to think less about infertility and more about adoption being an opportunity to really love a child,” said Andrea.
The Walkers went into the international adoption process with eyes wide open to the long, complicated process. Changes in policies or government leadership could make the international adoption process arduous and unpredictable. But they never imagined the season of incredible highs and lows they would endure in their pursuit of adoption in Ethiopia. After two years of waiting to be matched with a child, the agency they were working with shut down when the Ethiopian government halted all American adoptions. It felt like a huge bait and switch, and the Walkers were devastated.
“I was so hopeful that we would bring a child home from Ethiopia,” said Matt. “But when our hopes were dashed, we grieved deeply. In our lowest moments, I had a choice to make. I could turn away from God or believe that He loved us and had a plan for our lives. Fortunately, through His Word, the Lord helped me see that we could trust Him, even as a dream was dangled before us and was seemingly ripped away.”
After a year of waiting and going through the application process with a domestic agency, the Walkers’ dream of becoming parents moved closer to reality. An expecting mother had chosen the Walkers, and they were building a relationship with the birth mother as they awaited the arrival of the baby. The nursery was ready, and the car seat was buckled in as the Walkers awaited the baby’s arrival. But 72 hours after the birth mother delivered the child, she changed her mind. They were devastated to learn that the baby girl they had hoped for would not come home with them after all.
“My grief was so heavy,” said Andrea. “Nobody wants to come home to an empty nursery. I’d been involved with Shiloh, Watermark’s ministry to those walking through infertility and miscarriage, and those ladies were a real source of hope. We memorized Scripture like Psalm 51:16-17 together. God’s Word helped me see that I could go to the Lord honestly with my tears and questions, and I could trust Him to provide comfort.”
Andrea says that the most surprising part of her journey through suffering was that her heart didn’t want to pull away from God. “I found the Lord enjoyable and wanted to spend more time with Him, even while I was hurting. God allowed me to view my relationship with the birthmother as a privilege. I was thankful God had given me opportunities to share the gospel and discuss her worth in God’s eyes. Although I had no idea if we would ever become parents, the Lord gave me faith, love, and peace, despite my circumstances.”
Matt and Andrea believe the point of their story is not that they became mom and dad to Lillian almost two years ago – although they consider her among the greatest blessings the Lord has given them. “Our story is less about infertility and adoption and more about what happened when we abided in God’s Word,” said Andrea. “Had our story been different, perhaps we would have missed the most significant gift God was longing to provide – intimacy with Him.”
“Regardless of where we were on this journey, God was gracious and kind to us,” said Matt. “God guided us through it all, and we look forward to comforting others in the same way God comforted us in our afflictions.”
To find out more about Tapestry, Watermark’s adoption and foster care ministry, go to watermark.org/tapestry. Discover more about Shiloh, Watermark’s ministry to women and couples who are experiencing infertility and/or miscarriage, at watermark.org/shiloh.