I want to tell you about two warriors.
I want to tell you about love, loss, heartbreak, and Jesus healing all.
I want to tell you about these two warriors coming home.
I want to tell you about my treasured son and daughter.
** Names have been changed for privacy & parts of the story have been excluded for personal/legal reasons **
In January 2014, I moved indefinitely to Ghana to follow God’s call to be His hands & feet in this small West African country. I had no idea the plans He had for me, but I faithfully packed up my life and moved across the globe. Less than a month living in Ghana I got an email from a Ghanaian man named Joseph that said, “My wife’s sister just passed away leaving behind six children. 4 primary school aged children and 10 month old twins. The 4 older children are living with their grandmother in a village and the twins are staying with different people. The twins are underdeveloped and not feeding well. Can you help me?”
Because of my connections with many non profits here, I get these calls/emails frequently about children who need assistance. I investigate every case and see if I can help them directly, or connect them with a partner organization that can offer any services or programs. Even though I get these requests for help often, this one seemed different. It touched my heart in a different way and I felt the nudge to act. I picked up the phone and called Joseph. I learned more about the situation and my heart broke even further. Since their mother’s death, the twins had been passed from person to person because no one could provide nutrition or medical care. I knew I needed to do something.
I got off the phone, began to pray for discernment and guidance, and asked friends and family to join me in lifting this situation up to our Father.
I do not believe in removing children from their biological or extended family unless absolutely necessary. I believe in supporting, encouraging, and assisting the family that God born them into, before considering removing children. I believe that orphanages should be the last resort for children, but often times they are used as the first and only option. Most times, with economic assistance, families can, and want to, take care of their children. (For more information, please check out Abide Family Center).
I called Joseph back the following day and asked him if any family members would be able to care for the twins with support of formula, diapers, wipes, etc, along with financial provision. I explained to him that I whole-heartedly didn’t want to bring the twins to an orphanage without exhausting all options of keeping them in their family. He said he would talk to the family when they gathered for the funeral of the twins’ mother.
I prayed constantly for these two sweet babies, their older siblings, and for the entire family. I wanted someone to step up and offer to take care of them. I wanted this to be a success story of keeping a family together through economic support. I wanted to walk alongside this family and watch all the kids grow up healthy and happy. I wanted none of the children to be in an orphanage. I wanted the utmost best for all of them. So I prayed and prayed, and knew that the Maker of the universe had every little detail already planned out.
A month later, Joseph called back and said that when the entire extended family gathered, no one wanted to care for the twins, for various reasons. I didn’t ask about any details, nor did I want to stick my nose too deep into their family’s issues. Joseph also said that he approached a few local orphanages to see if they could take the twins in, and they all said they were full. He said, “Rebecca, I am worried the twins will die very soon. They are underdeveloped and have only been fed rice and water for months, because that is all we could afford. Is there anything you can do?”
It was very obvious that the family had exhausted all avenues of caring for the twins, and without intervention, they would die. My heart hurt a little knowing I would have to remove the twins from their family, but I felt at peace with the situation. I got off the phone and called the director of a Babies Home that I have worked closely with.
This Babies Home is extremely unique, and the only one in Ghana (that I know of) operating as a short term, temporary home. The children in the home are all under 4 years old and most of their mothers have died in childbirth or shortly after. Each child has a specific exit plan, and most involve reunification with extended family once healthier and off of formula. The home is not a permanent or long-term solution for the children. They don’t believe in institutionalization of children, or keeping children who have family that want to love and care for them, but simply can’t due to poverty. I fully support their mission and vision, and they are the only Babies Home that I work with here in Ghana.
Because of our close relationship, the director of the Babies Home said that I could bring the twins to stay there until a better solution was found. I called Joseph back, and we arranged for his wife to bring the twins the following day.
Joseph’s wife brought the twins 10 hours south, on bus through rough terrain, and met me at the Babies Home. I had never seen the twins before, because I had only spoken to Joseph on the phone. The minute I laid eyes on them, and my heart was captured. Their dark brown eyes cried out for help and love. Their frail bodies could barely move. They had no muscle tone on their bodies, no meat on their bones, and no food in their bellies. They were 10 months old, but weighed that of a newborn. And they weren’t just “underdeveloped” like Joseph had said, but both had special needs.
I got them settled in their crib and learned more details about their situation that absolutely shattered my heart. I could not fathom all that the twins had been through in their 10 short months of life. After hearing everything, I knew that it was best that they were at the Babies Home, but knew their long term plans were very hazy. Ultimately, God had closed so many doors, opened even more, and placed them in my life for His mighty plans.
The following day the twins were taken to the hospital and put on a high calorie diet to help fight their malnutrition, and seen by a physical therapist to begin to loosen up their non existent and very tight muscles. Even in just 24 hours, their faces had become less grey colored, and the twinkle in their eyes was glimmering small. The doctor took one look at them and said they were dying, and if I hadn’t brought them in that day, they probably wouldn’t have lived much longer.
The Babies Home is six hours roundtrip from my house in Kumasi, so I began visiting the twins twice a week to monitor their health and overall well being. I worked closely with the Babies Home director to help get them the best care possible.
Friends and family began lifting the two babies up in prayer, as I was watching God heal their tiny bodies and hearts. Over the months, they began gaining weight, becoming more alert, and making huge strides in their development. I was watching miracle after miracle happen before my eyes, and was in awe that God chose me to be a vessel of His love for the two of them. They were the sweetest pair, and I had fallen hard for them.
[Boy twin growing big & strong- March 2014]
[Girl twin gaining weight & muscle- March 2014]
The long term home for them was still unknown. I hoped that they would be able to be resettled back with their family once healthier, and that an extended family member would care for them with my long-term assistance.
But everything changed with one email.
A volunteer at the Babies Home contacted me saying that boy twin had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. I saw him a few days before this happened and he was happy and seemingly healthy. He was rushed to the hospital and declined. Just a few days after his 1st birthday. My heart was shattered, and I had no idea how to pick up the pieces. This child held a massive piece of my heart. I considered him a son, not by blood or by legal order, but a son nonetheless. My treasured boy. The world was missing a hole that only he could fill. But in the midst of pain, I rejoiced. For he was with our Heavenly Father, and was reunited with his mother. I could only imagine the singing and dancing that ensued when they saw each other. My precious boy went home, to his true home, the only place he belongs. So I thanked the Lord for the time we had together on Earth, and praised Him that we will all be together in Heaven one day. But that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t still missing a piece to this day.
[My boy had some heart piercing eyes]
[When I was at the Babies Home, he never wanted to be out of my arms]
[My treasured son, how I miss you to this day]
My mind began to fill with worry about girl twin. “What about her? She has lost her mother, and her twin brother. Her father will never be in the picture. Her family can’t care for her. She is living at a Babies Home with 30+ other children, and has a continuous rotation of caregivers. She has special needs that require constant attention. Where is best for her? God, please show me the plans for her. What should I do?” Those words were whispered for day in and day out as I tried to figure out what was best for Little One. I continued to visit her at the Babies Home twice a week, and watched her change from the dying, sickly tiny baby into a bigger, healthier, smiley child.
Since the minute I met her and her brother, I had been (secretly…or not so secretly) praying about foster care. I know my home here in Ghana is for special needs treasures, and of course I would have loved to welcome them both in if God made it clear that was what I was to do. But before then, I always felt the road to foster care was not one I should walk down.
I went to visit her at the Babies Home one day, and had an inkling that someone big was bound to happen. I sat down to talk with the director, and she said, “Rebecca, we are taking good care of Little One, but I have been praying, and I think she belongs with you in your home. She’s your daughter, and has been from the beginning.” And I was speechless. I was going to talk to the director that day about getting foster custody of Little One, and she brought it up first. ONLY GOD. And that’s the moment that I knew. I knew she was my daughter, and I was her momma.
I called Joseph that night and shared my heart for Little One, and my thoughts on fostering her. He said he would want her in no other home than mine. He gave me his family’s blessing to proceed with the process.
I don’t know whether Little One will be with me for a short time, or a long while. I have foster custody of her, and am praying about the next steps and for her future. She is my daughter. She is mine, and I am hers. With children, you don’t love halfway. There is no partial loving. It’s either all in, or all out. I love her fiercely, whether she will legally carry my last name one day or not.
So that is the story of my two warriors. Both who have come home. One to the Father, and the other to my home. My son and daughter. My two little loves. My treasures. This story is not over though, it has only just begun.
That’s what happens when you pray bold prayers, God just might answer them in a way you never expected, but always wanted.
After lots of paperwork, meetings, and phone calls…it is such an honor to introduce to you God’s greatest gift to me, my treasured daughter, my sunshine girl, my Ellie Grace.
[ ^^ February 2014]
[^^ Six months later…August 2014….God heals & restores.]