Cheryl and I tried to adopt a pre-teen orphan named Maria from an orphanage in Tecate, Mexico long ago, but all of our efforts had failed. Both of Maria’s parents were dead, and nobody in her extended family wanted her, so she was dumped in that orphanage. We fell in love with Maria the first moment we saw her working tirelessly in the facility kitchen, so we inquired about her. Mrs. Prado, the orphanage owner/operator, gave us hope that Maria was adoptable, but we had to explicitly follow Prado’s instructions and wait patiently.
Many visits and six months later, Mrs. Prado realized we had seen too much of the underlying child abuse and explicit evil going on there, so she abruptly told us that Maria was no longer available for adoption and that we were no longer welcome there. Cheryl and I were thunderstruck and filled with grief. In earnest prayer, I asked God how it could be that all of the love and investment we made to bring Maria into our family suddenly ended so tragically. In the end, I had to admit to myself and to God through many tears that the only claim we really had on Maria was our deep love for her… but that’s exactly what God had been waiting to hear!
Then the phone rang. Friends from church who had adopted two kids at the same orphanage, told Cheryl that all the children were going to Disneyland on a bus for the weekend under a group visa. Cheryl called the group coordinator to ask about seeing Maria there, but they just shut Cheryl down. The next day we found out that a little girl on the bus was on the verge of death, forcing Mrs. Prado to stay in Los Angeles at the hospital after the bus had returned the children to Mexico. We suddenly realized a window of opportunity had opened to make contact with Maria; we were ready.
Through frenzied research, we found out that Maria had a grandmother in Tecate with “full custody” rights to Maria, but we had to find her. With pouring rain and a mud bath in Tecate streets, we found Maria’s grandmother in just one day. We all got in our car, drove to the orphanage, filled out all the legal paperwork, and Maria’s grandmother removed Maria from the orphanage. She then turned Maria over to us, and a friend of the family drove Maria across the US border to a new life. The next day we retained an attorney, informed US immigration what happened, and we were told to take Maria home and put her in school. From the day of my prayer to when God brought Maria home to us was less than one week.
Epilogue: A year later, the orphanage was shut down, the remaining children were returned to their families, and the orphanage operators were arrested and put in prison. Maria attended San Pasqual SDA Academy near Escondido, California, and successfully passed through 4 grades in a single year. A baby girl named Deanna who Maria took care of at the orphanage was brought to us and we adopted her too.
I adopted Cheryl’s son Tim, and we became a family of 5 here in Oregon nearly 40 years ago. God answers prayer… He does everything possible to take us home with Him, because He does it all from deep selfless love.