By the time Ben and Julie Swain were celebrating four years of marriage, they had two young boys – Bryson and Lincoln. In the spring of 2013, before their five-year wedding anniversary, the Lord began breaking their hearts for adoption – specifically for young girls in China who were eagerly waiting on their forever families. Ben and Julie knew that many Chinese girls who aged-out of orphanages were pulled into a tragic life of sex trafficking and then often used to bear offspring – also resulting in high rates of abortion – further breaking their bodies and souls. Given the Swain's passion to speak and act for the unborn, adopting a child out of these possible circumstances was a conviction carved deep into their hearts.
The Swains followed their call to obedience and received a referral for a little girl in February of 2014. They were told that their daughter, who would be named Selah, was quiet, reserved and did not smile much in the orphanage. Julie mentioned that the advocacy group who visited Selah's orphanage did everything they could think of to get her to smile. Alas, no smile. The Swains received photographs of Selah during her time in the orphanage and Julie recalls the child's scared and sad face in every single one of them. These images really worked over Julie's motherly heart, wishing she could just reach out grab her daughter from afar, helping her to feel safe and secure and loving on her in her soon-to-be home.
When Ben and Julie met their daughter in person, in August of 2014, Selah cried herself to sleep the first night they were together. Julie mentioned that Selah even woke in the middle of the night with a detached and glazed over look on her face. Julie wondered what the transition period would be like; she wondered what and how long it would take for Selah to feel joy in her obviously broken and scarred heart.
The next morning, the family woke and had breakfast together – still no smile from Selah. They gathered their things and left to go finalize adoption paperwork; half an hour later, something amazing happened. Julie illustrated the scene this way,
“30 minutes after the adoption was finalized...she smiled. And smiled again, and smiled again. Something in her heart that was broken had been repaired. Something that was once dead had come alive. It was almost like there had been oppression that had been over her that was lifted, and God breathed in hope. We are not the saviors, He is. And His work of adoption in her life reminded us so much of His work in adoption of our own lives. How He took us out of darkness and brought us into the light. How He gave us joy.”
As you can see, the Lord has made it obvious that the Swain's adoption story is part of His big story – His big story in all of us! Isn't it an absolute JOY in all of us that He is the Light who leads, who heals, and who rescues us from the depths of whatever darkness we encounter. Nothing is too much for Him. When we are resting in His abundant grace, mercy and goodness – who can do anything BUT smile?
Don't forget, Apex has a large population of adoptive and foster families. If you are a part of one, or considering becoming one, please join us on the 1st Thursday of every month, at the Kettering campus at 6PM for our 'Adoptive and Foster Care' group. To learn more, go to: http://www.apexcommunity.org/care-ministry.
Author: Tess Augustine
Photographer: Hilary Tebo
Originally posted: December 10, 2014