by Randy and Lindsay Hillyard
We knew from the beginning of our marriage that children were something we both wanted, and almost immediately we started trying to conceive. After a couple of years with no luck getting pregnant, we took it to the next level and went to see our doctor. Tests were run, and, in spite of our efforts, we remained childless.
Our faith in God was strong and unwavering. Once, when Randy was in his prayer time, God spoke to him and said we would have a baby girl, so we knew it wasn’t a matter of if we were going to have a child, but when. Then the years started passing by, and we watched as friends and family gave birth to precious children. Each time, a little part of us got bitter because they were enjoying something we so desperately wanted, but each time, we regained focus and continued praying for the baby girl promised to us.
In 2005, we moved to Northwest Arkansas and our struggles to conceive continued. About a year after moving here, we went back to the doctor to help us figure out other options we might have, and our doctor set us up an appointment to see a specialist. The doctors focused primarily on Randy and a battery of tests were performed to find a solution. A few days passed before we got the news, “You have no viable sperm.” Randy’s heart broke. He left the doctor’s office that day feeling like a little piece of him was dead. Randy did not understand how God could promise us a baby girl, only to find out years later that it was impossible for us to conceive. Randy looked towards the heavens and said, “Lord, I don’t understand why I am hurting, and I am confused, but I will praise you in this storm.” The news was gut-wrenching, and telling me was even worse, but we both agreed that our faith in God would not be broken, because the God we served was a God of hope and healing.
More years passed, and still a piece of us was missing. Then, one day, a friend approached us at church and told us about a young lady who was pregnant, but wasn’t financially able to take care of the baby. She wanted to give the baby up for adoption. Immediately, we said yes, and we made plans for all of us to go out to dinner to meet the young woman. Afterwards, she told us she definitely wanted us to adopt her baby. We were thrilled, we consulted an attorney and began paying the young woman’s expenses, including rent, electric, phone, and clothes, and provided her with transportation to various places. We found out the baby was a girl, and we were overcome with joy as we felt this was God’s promise being fulfilled. Everything was falling into place. We picked out a name and set up the nursery. One day, the young woman called me and told me she had changed her mind — she was going to keep her baby. There was so much anger at first, which gave way to hurt and confusion. We lost another little piece of ourselves that day. “Not God’s will” is what everyone told us, and deep down we knew it to be true, but that didn’t help with the pain at the time.
About the time we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary, Randy had accepted the fact that we would never have a child; however, I never lost faith. Randy’s faith wavered, and he began to believe that those words God spoke to him so long ago were just a figment of his imagination.
Since we didn’t have any children, and we both loved children so much, we decided to look in to foster care through the Arkansas Department of Human Services. We set up our initial interview, and about six months later we attended Foster/Adopt Pride training. During this process we also purchased a home and settled in West Fork, AR, where we had been attending church for the past seven years. Shortly after we got settled, our home was opened to receive foster children and right away we got our first child, several more came and left. All of them were good kids, and we enjoyed loving on them. It seemed that just about the time you would get used to the noise of children in the house, they would leave and the house would be silent again.
Michael came to us in December 2013. Lindsay picked him up after work from the DHS office and brought him home, along with a pizza. Michael had been in foster care for a couple of years, and rights had already been terminated for his biological mother, but his mother had filed an appeal, so he was just in limbo. I remember how unkept Michael looked when Lindsay brought him home. He was in bad need of a haircut, so the next day we went shopping and got him some new clothes and a proper trim. Michael smiled when he looked in the mirror after his haircut–for once in his life he had a little pride and self-esteem. A week later, in the middle of the night, we got a call to take in two more children, a sibling group ages 1 and 3. They were so scared, and crying when the case worker dropped them off. We gave them a bath and spent the next few hours calming them down and getting them to sleep. They were precious little kids and we quickly got attached to them, as did Michael, living up to the big brother role. For the next 14 months, we were a family. We ended up adopting Michael on October 1, 2014, and it looked like we would be adopting the other two as well, but at the termination of rights hearing, the judge ruled that those two angels we had grown to love so much would go live with grandparents in another state. We were devastated, as was Michael. We cried for days and for the next month we prayed day and night that somehow, someway, God would bring them back to us. However, after a month or so of praying for God’s will to be done, we finally heard him tell us that it wasn’t His will for them to come back. So, we prayed together for their safety, for them to grow up knowing they had a God that loved them, and we asked God to let us see them again someday.
In the weeks that followed, we considered closing our home. The pain of losing those two was too great, and we didn’t want to face that ever again. One day a friend who ran an emergency shelter for children called us. He said he had two sisters that were almost out of shelter days, and he thought they would be perfect for our home. At first we told him no, that we were thinking about closing our home, but then recanted and said we’d have to pray about it. Randy called his mom and told her about the two girls, and she asked him what we were going to do. He said he didn’t know, that we needed some time to pray about it, and in a moment of motherly wisdom obviously inspired by God Almighty she said, “Randy, the only reason you want time to pray about it is because you think you can get out of it, but you already know what God wants you to do”. She was right, Randy knew God wanted us to take those two little girls. Randy got off the phone and cried because he didn’t want to get attached to these two precious girls, only to have them ripped from our home a year later. That was when God softly and tenderly spoke to him, saying, “Randy, not everything I call you to do will be easy,” and with that he said, “Yes, Lord.” When Lindsay came home that day, Randy told her they needed to take those girls… they needed someone to love them and teach them about Jesus.
A couple of months later, we got another call from DHS asking us if we would take in a newborn baby girl. With some hesitation, we agreed, and two days after she was born we moved her in. She was such a tiny little thing, weighing a little over five pounds, and she was so beautiful. We never had a baby before and, unfortunately, our baby skills were lacking. She had digestion issues, so for the first few months of her life she had a lot of stomach pains because she wasn’t digesting the formula. This made her cry a lot, which panicked us because we didn’t know how to help her. Top that with the fact we didn’t want to get too attached and it all caused us a lot of stress. Randy remembers one particular day when he thought his head would explode. He picked her up, looked into her beautiful blue eyes and prayed, “Please, God, give me the patience I need to help her because this little girl deserves the best”. He answered Randy’s prayer in a way he wasn’t expecting, He made him fall head over heels in love with that little girl and, from that day on, taking care of her was just natural.
Move ahead a year, and we added those two sisters to our forever family. We were officially able to introduce them to the world as Avari Grace and Breanna Noel on May 18, 2016. Our family was growing fast, and it was overwhelming at times. We went from 15 years of marriage with no kids to three kids in three years, and on December 21st, 2016, that sweet, beautiful little blue-eyed girl was ours forever. Brooklann Louise Hillyard would be the final addition to our family.
It is all about God’s timing, and not ours. God’s plan was to bless us with more children than we had ever expected. He heard us pleading with Him all those years for a child of our own, He heard our cries as we watched couple after couple get what we so desperately wanted and He never gave up on His promise to Randy, although Randy had given up on God’s promise. Not only did God pour out blessings on us with four beautiful children, but also our final one: that baby girl He told Randy was coming all those years ago.