Join co-hosts Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber as they discuss with special guest, Monica Bidwell, the myths of domestic adoption. After a miscarriage, Monica wrestled with anxiety and depression. Like many who long to be parents, she didn’t understand why she couldn’t be the one to raise that child. In part one of this two-part series, hear how Monica began to understand God’s sovereignty over her life despite not knowing what the future holds.
Be inspired by listening to Monica’s brave and transparent story today.
To learn more about adoption and foster care, visit sendrelief.org/foster-care-adoption.
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Announcer: Welcome to the Adopting and Fostering Home Podcast. Whether your family has been on this journey for years or you’re just getting started, we’re here to support and encourage you along the way. And now your host, Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber.
Lynette Ezell: Welcome back. You know, it seems like to me that God’s word is a story of a loving God who just writes beautiful stories for our lives.
Tera Melber: He does. They often don’t make sense to us though, do they?
Lynette Ezell: Exactly. And so, so many times I think of Abraham and Sarah, how they had an idea for their marriage and their family, and that’s not the story God was writing for them.
Tera Melber: Right.
Lynette Ezell: And then I think of Hannah.
Tera Melber: Yes.
Lynette Ezell: She’s at the temple and she’s crying before the Lord just with all of her being desiring her child, and God writes her story differently than what she thinks. And then you even think of Mary. Who would have thought that so young that God would give her a child and it would be his son. And the Lord truly does write the best stories, and he does it differently.
Lynette Ezell: That brings me today to Monica and Scott Bidwell. We love this couple so much. They’ve been married for 15 years and they have three beautiful children. They have a biological daughter who’s 11 and then two cute sons who are nine and three. And the boys joined their family through a domestic infant adoption. The Bidwells have been in camp ministry.
Tera Melber: They have. Friends of ours for years.
Lynette Ezell: And church ministry and missions for their entire married lives, I don’t think they know any different. Monica has a passion for orphan care and ministering to other moms. So Monica, thank you for joining us today.
Monica Bidwell: I am just honored to be here. Thanks.
Tera Melber: Well Monica, you know, I’ve known you for a long time and have known your story for a long time and walked actually alongside the ups and downs of how God built your family. And I know that there are a lot of our listeners who have struggled with miscarriages and failed adoptions even. You know, the hard part about your story is that you’ve experienced them all. So we wanted to invite you on today to talk about how God writes the best stories even when we don’t understand. So, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your life and how the Lord did that for you and Scott?
Monica Bidwell: Well, I am actually really excited to get to share this because as time has passed, you start to realize that it’s not your story, it’s God’s story. And whenever you get to share it, you get to encourage other people and just glorify him as you’re telling it. Anyway, our story started, I lived a pretty charmed life growing up, nothing really big ever happened in the way of hardship. I married the man of my dreams young and about a year and a half into our marriage we decided we wanted to start a family. And so, really, difficulty with that never entered my mind. I mean, why would this be any different, right?
Monica Bidwell: So, we got pregnant really quickly and things were going well. We’d had an ultrasound where there’s this squirming wiggling little one, and then at 11 weeks, it’s like I knew something was wrong. We went in, had an ultrasound and there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound and it was devastating to me and to Scott. He had been through some ups and downs in his life, and this was really my first major crisis of faith where I just had to, it really was where the rubber met the road for me. It was just such a difficult time. Well, not long after that, we moved to another town with work and got pregnant again and had a second miscarriage. Here we are in a new town and don’t have very many friends, the Melbers were there, and we were getting to know people at a new church, but we felt very alone.
Monica Bidwell: And this was an all time low for me. Sometimes in those all time lows, other things develop and I ended up developing a major anxiety disorder and depression at this time. I got to say, I mean, this was probably the lowest point of my life. I would just sit at home and just cry and pray and agonize. I wasn’t really able to function outside the home. I didn’t find a job right away. And my husband Scott led me in a really amazing way through this, but he also recognized that I needed a counselor too. And so, we sought help in that way.
Lynette Ezell: Let me stop you right there, Monica, because I think there’s a lot of gals listening to you today and families and couples who are privately walk in this valley and they don’t, like you said, you stayed at home a lot, and I appreciate you being so transparent and candid because a lot of people just don’t talk about that, especially within the body of Christ. We just don’t talk about it in the church. Your story’s a lot like mine started as well, who would have known the Lord would give us six children later. That when you miscarry, you think, Lord, am I ever going to have a little one? Is this not your plan for me? And it’s really hard to trust the hand of God at that time, but you do have to pull back and start to trust his heart.
Monica Bidwell: Yes. Yes. And you just think, God, you know that we would raise this child to love you and serve you. It just doesn’t make sense, does it? And so, we’re just sitting at home and Scott, you know, continuing to work. I’m drawn to Job, the book of Job, like so many people are whenever they’re going through a tough time. I mean, nobody had it worse than Job. And God just really started to speak to me through it, specifically through Job 42:1-3, and I’d like to read that if that’s all right. It says, “Then job replied to the Lord,” now this is after all of his hardships and losses and he’s been humbled by the Lord. He literally says to God after God’s revealed just how big he is, he says, “I know that you can do all things, that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge. Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things that were too wonderful for me to know.”
Monica Bidwell: And that just knocks me down, with just God’s sovereignty over my life. I immediately identified with Job’s response in my heart because I didn’t understand it. It was too wonderful for me to know what was going on. But I know that I can trust his plans and that was just what we anchored on during that time. I didn’t really realize what the future would hold and I probably would have died right then and there if [inaudible 00:06:55] That was just a moment where God spoke to my heart and he just met me there.
Lynette Ezell: Oh, that’s beautiful.
Tera Melber: I can remember coming over to your house after your second miscarriage and thinking, this is the saddest thing that I’ve ever seen you go through ever. And I can remember you talking about how you grew up and your parents are loving and kind and just great parents and had modeled such a wonderful walk with the Lord with you. And that this just really was the first major thing that had ever happened to you. And it happened to you as an adult. And I watched you really cling to the Lord during that time, even through the anxiety and the depression. And I can remember praying, Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” And I remember praying those things for you, begging the Lord to be near to you during such a struggle.
Lynette Ezell: And he did.
Tera Melber: And he did. He really did. And it wasn’t too much longer that your sweet girl came, right?
Monica Bidwell: That’s right, that’s right. You know, right whenever we are at our lowest, God knows where we are and what our heart’s desires are and he just kinda had to speak to us and say, you know, don’t you want to know me more than you want to know why? That was a really tough place to be. But not long after that, we did become pregnant and found a high risk doctor there in town in Louisville. And Kylie was born later that year. And so, that was a joyful season for us. And we were just so grateful for what the Lord was doing. Not long after that though, and Scott started to get the adoption bug many of us have-
Tera Melber: It was catching bad during that time.
Monica Bidwell: And at first, I was a little resistant but I started to just, we started to get into the scriptures about it and just hear testimony from other people and it just starts to capture your heart, doesn’t it?
Tera Melber: It does.
Monica Bidwell: We decided that we felt called to adopt. And so, first, we were thinking, well, let’s adopt internationally. We had a lot of friends, you all included that had done that. And started down that road. But it just seems that doors and relationships kept opening and developing towards domestic infant adoption. And so, we started that process. In that area, during that time, there was a special need and that area for people that were willing to be multiracial families. As many of you all know, nobody really has all that money in the bank for an adoption. And so, we applied for every grant that there was and relied heavily upon the generosity of our church and our friends. And we were able to get going on domestic infant adoption. I know you all probably remember that.
Tera Melber: I do remember. I remember you going to the agency, used a secular agency for your first adoption. And I can remember you coming home and saying you were in this group of people that you had to meet with on a regular basis and that, I don’t remember, you were the only Christian couple in the entire room?
Monica Bidwell: As far as we knew based on-
Tera Melber: Conversations, right. There were a lot of unbelieving people in the room. And so, I can remember you saying where our believers willing to step up and say, we’re willing to adopt, we want to adopt.
Monica Bidwell: Especially for multiracial families. There was just such a deficit. Because of that, we were matched very quickly. And a few months went by and we were able to meet with the birth family, birth mom. We got to the point where delivery came along. And right at that time, we had a birth mom change of heart and the adoption just fell apart. Obviously …
Tera Melber: That was awful.
Monica Bidwell: Yeah. Being a person that has gone through a miscarriage, it felt exactly the same.
Lynette Ezell: Yeah. I was going to ask you that. Did you go back to those feelings again of Lord, where are you in all this?
Monica Bidwell: Well, I’m just thinking, God, you just paved this beautiful road for us to get here, and I just don’t understand. Again, you know, here we are at the point where God, I just don’t get it.
Tera Melber: And you’re seeking the Lord and you’re following the Lord and you’re trying your best to be obedient, to open your family, to adopt, and you know this is what the Lord’s called you to do. And one would think that if you’re going to walk that path and follow faithfully to the Lord that he’s going to be like, that the heavens are going to open and you’re going to be a mama again. And so, it didn’t happen that way and it was terrible.
Monica Bidwell: It’s really, really hard. And you know, we are tempted to think that way. God, we’re doing everything right, but there’s really no precedent for that in the word, is there? We were all suffering along the way. And so God had grown us through the miscarriages so that we would be prepared to deal with this. And he’s just so gracious to do that. We just trusted that he would fill our home and we kind of got back in there after a while and requested if we could be matched a little bit later with the agency I just said. If we could just come along a little bit, maybe even at the end of the pregnancy, you know, because it is just such a bumpy ride.
Monica Bidwell: And so, having said that, just two months after the disruption, our little guy came into the world very quickly. Overnight is actually the perfect definition because it was. We were called and said, you have a match. We said, well, when is he due? And they said, oh, he’s already here. You need to come to the hospital and get him.
Lynette Ezell: Oh, that’s wonderful.
Tera Melber: One of my favorite pictures of your family, and every time I look at it, I tear up, is a picture of you all going to pick him up at the hospital. And you are holding him and adoringly looking at him and Scott is in it and he is grinning ear to ear. And I thought, you could not have, even if you birth a baby, you can’t have as big of a grin. Like it’s the same. It was so exciting. I’ll never forget you calling and saying, guess what, we were matched. And guess what, we have a baby.
Monica Bidwell: You know, we were even at the moms Bible study there at High View, and the mom to mom group. And they formed a tunnel on the way to my car yelling go mama, go.
Tera Melber: Oh, that’s so sweet. Because these girls had walked alongside you through a lot of this stuff.
Monica Bidwell: They had.
Tera Melber: And they were watching the faithfulness of the Lord and providing.
Monica Bidwell: He was so good.
Lynette Ezell: He is. And I love Monica, what you said, he doesn’t waste any of our pain, any of our suffering, that when that first adoption fell through and birth mom changed her mind and decided to parent, you were broken hearted, you and Scott suffered, but God had strengthened you and he’d kind of prepared you for that moment. And I love how you shared that.
Monica Bidwell: I’m so grateful. We were parents of two. Not long after that God had called us to do some overseas mission. So, we ended up moving to Haiti, whenever the children were five and two. And that was all kinds of exciting. We experienced a great season of ministry there in Haiti. And just at the tail end of that, we did experience another miscarriage overseas. That was very difficult. We had decided that we really did want to grow our family some more. And so, that did occur.
Monica Bidwell: But, after we moved home, after our season there with the mission in Haiti, we decided, you know what, I think we’re going to start an adoption again. So, we got into the process, it moved quickly. And then we had another disruption. And I just remember calling you, Tera, and I was thinking of this last night and writing it down, that I just called you and I just was crying. It was almost like you knew as soon as the phone rang that what I was going to say. And at the end of our call, whenever I told you that it had fallen through, I just remember you saying, “Monica, don’t forget, God is for you and he is for your family.” And I needed to hear that so much because, you know, as experiences, God does strengthen you along the way, but as experiences pile up, sometimes the enemy causes you to doubt the character of God. I just remember hearing that and thinking, you know what, he is, he is for me. It doesn’t feel like it right now, but he is for me and he’s for our family.
Lynette Ezell: And it’s such emotional ride. I mean, it really is. I think that that’s one of the things that really shock families when they step into the waters of adoption and foster care is the emotional ride that it brings with it.
Monica Bidwell: Yes, yes. But along with those emotions, we had so much unexpected joy that came just a few minutes later. We had a friend of the family contact us and say, you know, I have a friend that has a niece that needs to make a plan for her little guy. And we had not planned on first [inaudible 00:16:33] with adopting, this was a little bit after the one had fallen through. We met the couple and talk to them about their plans at a Dairy Queen, and talked about it. And not long after that, our youngest son came along. And we cannot imagine life without him, without either of our boys. Even through all of these struggles, I can’t imagine God knitting our family together a different way.
Lynette Ezell: And we just trust that the Lord knows the children that he wants us to raise. And whatever venue, whatever avenue it is that gets us there, then, you know, that’s what he takes us through and he allows to happen in our lives.
Tera Melber: So Monica, what would you tell families, couples who are struggling with infertility, miscarriages, even failed adoptions? That’s all so hard and it’s happened to you five times. How do you continue to trust the character of the Lord? I mean, what would you tell a family who’s really in that lowest point that you were in after that first miscarriage?
Monica Bidwell: Well, you know, I think that God knows exactly where our hearts are and how he’s going to get us, he tells us in his word that, you know, he’s making us perfect, until the day of Christ Jesus, he’s working in our hearts. And sometimes, we have our dreams and our visions that are good and right. But sometimes it just feels like he’s disrupting them and he’s asking us to walk a painful road. But, going back to Job, even though we are experiencing tremendous loss and tremendous grief, that we can see his healing and redemptive hand, he is always redeeming. I just have to just tell people that, you know, we can trust him. He is a good father and we have to look to the word to realize, you know, this is the character of my God. This may not be what my circumstances, my circumstances are not making me feel good, but my God is good and I can trust him.
Tera Melber: I think leaning into the character of God is the only way we can get through difficult seasons of life. Psalms 56:8 says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You’ve collected all my tears in your bottle. You’ve recorded each one in your book. He does love us and he does have our best interests at heart. And I think oftentimes when we hold our dreams and our plans as a functional idol in our lives to say, this is really what I want and I don’t understand why it’s not happening, then the Lord does ask the question just like he asked of you Monica, don’t you want to know me more than you want to know why. That’s a hard place to be. And I think it’s a place that we have to continually go back to and ask ourselves the question, do I want the Lord more than I want my plan?
Tera Melber: And as we continue to be sanctified and grow through struggles and difficulties and strife, we have to just continually remind ourselves, because the enemy is going to tell us his character is not what you think it is, but we have to continue fighting against that and saying that it is.
Lynette Ezell: Yeah. And I think that, this weekend I was sharing with some foster parents struggling, where you and Scott were many years ago, Monica, and just, when you can’t understand the hand of God, you just dig in his word and you just cling to his heart because the heart of God is so loving and he’s always about building our story.
Monica Bidwell: That’s right.
Lynette Ezell: He really is. Well, thanks for being with us today, Monica. But we just know you got another story in you.
Tera Melber: Yes we do. We’d like to talk to you a little bit about, maybe some myths about domestic infant adoption. So we’d like for you to stick around if you will.
Monica Bidwell: Yes, yes, I’d be glad.
Lynette Ezell: Thank you, Monica. And if podcast has meant anything to you, to our listeners, if it’s helped you in any way, would you mind just leaving us a review on iTunes? It would just mean the world to us and it really helps us in what we’re doing in this ministry. We just want to be about helping families move forward in foster care and adoption in any way we can.
Announcer: You have been listening to the Adopting and Fostering Home, a resource of the North American Mission Board. For more information about today’s podcast and other relevant resources, visit sendrelief.org.