Today I heard many prayers and had to decide whose to answer. Since her birth a year and a half ago, I’ve been closely involved in the life of Baby Hannah, a cute little girl who is being raised by her dear great-grandmother, a member of our ward. Grandma Hannah is an angelic woman who raised 10 children, fled Sierra Leone at the outset of their civil war, and has lived in America for nearly 20 years. Because her health is deteriorating, she’s not able to care for Baby Hannah full-time and has relied on our ward and friends for help; we’ve had Baby Hannah at our home for weeks at a time. Knowing that a long-term solution was needed, Grandma Hannah decided to place Baby Hannah for adoption. At first she hoped we would adopt her, a request we seriously considered until we learned Lori was pregnant with twins. Then Hannah turned to LDS Family Services to find a family that would love and adore her precious. After months and months of obstacles, and set backs at nearly every turn, today the director from LDS Family Services came to Hannah’s apartment to show us the profiles of six families who want to adopt Baby Hannah. Hannah asked me to come help her decide.
The couples wanting to adopt Hannah bare their souls. Their letters read like prayers: lots of explicit promises to do well should we hear their plea. “We will sing to her every night, pray with her before bed, and teach her to love her Heavenly Father.” “We will take her swimming in the summer, and hiking in the fall.” “We have lots of fun traditions, from canoeing on Memorial Day to sleeping at grandma’s on Thanksgiving-Eve.” “‘We love to garden and plant flowers, and will teach her to love them too.” “We are excited to learn about Sierra Leone and will teach Baby Hannah about it’s culture. We tell her how much you love her every day.” Promises of bounteous cuddles and hugs and kisses and I Love Yous are everywhere.
I believed these good couples; they would do as they say. Though all of them were white (no black couples are currently available), each of them has already adopted a black or minority child (because of complicating circumstances, we had decided to consider only families that already had a black child). Seeing their family pictures with their beaming adoptive children made me love these disciples engaged in God’s work. And here they were, pleading for another helpless child, and paradoxically saying that if they spent countless, thankless hours feeding, diapering, bathing, clothing, teaching and training a baby into an adult, their lives would be better. I believed them. And my heart ached for them as I saw the dates they started the formal wait for a child. We weren’t the only ones hearing prayers, I knew.
While I sincerely hoped they could all have another child to shower with love and service, our aim was to find the family that would be best for Baby Hannah. Our paramount concern had to be her best interest, not which couple seemed most deserving. The families provide detailed information, some of which was awkwardly personal: heights and weights, ages, health issues, education, occupations, whether they work full- or part-time, and lots of pictures. I regretted that I, like Samuel seeing the sons of Jesse, look on the outward appearance, and though only God can look on the heart, I somehow knew that all of these people had good hearts. (Their desire to open their hearts to an unknown child of a different race is a good sign — and many of their profiles said they would take children with severe handicaps. True saints.) But I still wondered how just it was to look beyond these saints’ hearts and consider their occupation, weight, age, education and appearance. God doesn’t weigh those factors when sending children. At least I think he doesn’t.
After an hour of reading their profiles and scrutinizing their pictures, and talking about Grandma’s goals for Baby Hannah, we made a decision. The prayers of a couple have been answered. They will be notified soon.
I am so happy for them. May they keep their promises to care and love our sweet Baby Hannah.