The Ups and Downs of Adoption: A Love Letter to a Boy Who is No Longer Ours

Yesterday, I sat down to write a blog post. I only managed a few lines before someone delivered the kind of news that gives your chest a nice, hearty wallop.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share any of this online, but I’d already announced the good news about our referral early in September. An update would eventually be necessary. Plus, I’m a writer. Which means the best way for me to process anything is…..revelation of all revelations….through writing.

Here are the lines I had written…

We all want to believe that our anguish can turn into joy.

That our tears are never wasted.

That God has a plan.

Not just a plan with an upper-case P, as in the ultimate plan.

But a plan with a lower-case p, as in a personal plan for each of our lives.

Then the phone rang and I answered it and it was our adoption agency with sad news.

Our little two-year old Congolese boy is no longer ours. 

The story is long and heartbreaking and comes with more questions than answers. 

But despite the sadness, I have to believe it wasn’t a coincidence that these were the words I was typing when that phone call came. 

I have to believe it wasn’t a coincidence that I’d just listened to a message about anguish and joy, a la Beth Moore. How the two are opposite sides of the same coin. And if we trust God with our anguish, it has the potential to birth something precious. 

I one hundred percent believe that God has a plan for us in this.

But most especially and more importantly, I have to believe that God has a plan for that little boy. 

When Brogan was in utero, I wrote him love letters. Words that expressed my hopes for his future, my excitement about all the things we would share as mother and son, and how much that little bean was already loved.

Even though this little guy is no longer ours, I feel like he’s no less deserving of a love letter all his own.

So here it is. The hopes I have for his life, wherever it may take him.

Dear Little Man,

I hope that wherever you are, you would have hands to hold you when you’re sick, hug you when you’re scared, and lips to kiss your hurts.

I hope that somebody teaches you about God’s love. 

I hope that you will not grow up with a hardened heart.

I hope that despite being forgotten and neglected and beat down by this messed up world, you will feel God’s presence in your life and know He will never abandon you. I know your story, little one. He can turn the deepest scars and the worst anguish into joy, if you let Him.

I hope that you grow into a man who loves the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. 

I hope that you discover your voice and use it to stand against injustice.

I hope that you never let fear or doubt or failure keep you from living life to the fullest.

I hope that you will know freedom and you will know joy and despite it all, you will know laughter and love.

                     All of my mine,

                     A woman who would have been honored to be your mother

39 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Adoption: A Love Letter to a Boy Who is No Longer Ours

  1. […] home study, put together a huge fundraising event, got matched with a two-year old Congolese boy, lost the referral, watched from afar as the country broke out in violence, and continue to have our eyes opened to […]

  2. […] seemed to be moving for a bit. We were matched with an adorable two year old boy. But that fell through (and praise the Lord, we learned that he is reunited with extended family in the Congo, which is […]

  3. Kristin Reickard


    Your letter… I have no words, only tears. Thank you for sharing this deep intimate piece of your heart over this special little man that God brought into your lives. Grieving with you. Rejoicing that the God who made him has not forgotten him, and that a family on the other side of the world knows he exists, loves him, and is praying for him. No longer a nameless orphan to so many that were introduced to him via your picture and announcement, never a nameless orphan to the God that made him. Grateful God has revealed that piece of grace to your family in this tough time.

  4. You will always be his mommy. Always. In heart and in prayer. The loss of a little one imbeds them in your heart forever. I know. I hurt with you. Much love

  5. Julia Reffner

    Heartrbroken for you, Katie! I know this is not the news that you wanted to hear. Your heart is so beautiful blessing us all here in spite of your pain. I’ll be praying!

  6. Friend, I’m crying and praying with and for you right now. And joining the ranks that will pray for the Little Man for the rest of his life. He’s so blessed to have you waging war for his heart and his spirit.
    Love you. So much.

  7. Katie, thank you so much for being able to share your faith at this difficult time. It must be completely gut wrenching for all of you but isn’t it a blessing and comfort to know that first and foremost we are His children – all of us – and that He does love us all and as we cry He holds us in His great omnipotent hand.

  8. i just read your post…and with tears in my eyes, all i could think was, “i hope that someone somewhere is pinching those adorable little cheeks.” i know you’re heartbroken. i love that you’ve been candid, and allowing a community who loves you to lift you up in prayer. and of course, little guy is being lifted up, too. God has a plan…the absolute best for him! so i bleed with you, friend, but i ultimately rejoice in God’s unfailing, perfect knowledge. he’s seeing the forest, while you might be seeing just one tree. i pray for God’s perspective for you through this time.

    i love you….and i’ll call you soon.

  9. I’m so sorry, Katie. You have such a good heart and God has something wonderful planned for you. It’s difficult when the plan is something we can’t see yet, isn’t it? But it’s there and your time will come. Praying for you, your family, and for the little boy, too.

  10. Kara I

    Oh Katie, I can’t even say how sorry I am.

    I pray this little boy, so far away, will know God’s presence in his life, and that whoever your new son or daughter is going to be, wherever they are, will have their path lead to your home soon.

  11. Janice Boekhoff


    Like so many others, I’m crying as I write this. I’ve never read a more beautiful letter. I know it must have been so hard to share this news, but I’ve heard many people say without the hardship there is no testimony. And you, my friend, are a living, breathing testimony to God’s love and grace as you walk through this trying time. I join you as a prayer warrior for this little guy and I also will never forget his face.

    Love you,

  12. So brokenhearted for you today, Katie. Losing a child is the worst pain I think a person can ever go through, and this was your child. I am so sorry…Praying for peace and comfort today.

  13. Susan Mason

    You are an amazing person, Katie! It takes great courage to go through the adoption process. When my husband and I thought we may never be blessed with children, I considered adoption, but knew that I was not one of those people who could do it. Thankfully, we were blessed with 2 beautiful children. I know you will be blessed, too. The road may just be a little different than anticipated.

    Praying for you as you await your blessing!


  14. Cried as I read this…beautiful and wrenching. I echo your prayer for that little guy. So hard to trust sometimes…but sometimes it’s all we’ve got.

  15. Aww, what a beautiful letter, Katie! Your family members are in my prayers! Always keep in mind Jeremiah 29:11 and know that ALL things work together for the GOOD of those who LOVE God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)!

  16. Katie Ganshert

    Hey friends,

    Thanks so much for those prayers. I can definitely feel them. We are really doing okay. Our biggest concern now is for that little guy and like Kinsey said, if our roll in this is to be his prayer warriors, then I will be on my knees for him until the day I die.

    I feel like I keep running into this theme in my life – about beauty from ashes, joy from anguish. Ever since our Wildflowers from Winter blog tour, I feel like God has been pressing that message of truth onto my heart. Over and over again. And although Ryan and I have been traveling through a winter season as far as children go, because of God and His great promises, we are both looking forward with joyful expectation for what He is going to do in our lives.

    I don’t love that adoption is hard. But I do love that God’s presence and grace is magnified in the hard.

    Please, please, please be in prayer for that little boy. Because as let down as we are, it is nothing compared to the hurts he’s experienced in his little life. Truly, nothing.

    Much love and gratitude,

  17. Precious Katie, I’m lifting you and your family up in prayer just now… Psalm 121:1; Jeremiah 29:11; Hebrews 11:1…and so many more…


  18. I’m so sorry, Katie. I’m praying that you will rest in the knowledge that God loves that little boy even more than you do, and if He has chosen a different path for him and for you, that it is only what is best for you all.

  19. So sorry to hear this, Katie. And what a beautiful letter. You have blessed this “little man” from afar, and I know you won’t stop praying for him.

    I just posted a CS Lewis quote on grief today over on my blog. It’s just full of such raw emotion–so exposed. I know we’ve all been in those pits. Praying that God will feel especially close to you right now.

  20. So, so sad for you. Sad for all of us, that we’ll never know that little guy.

    I love what you said about anguish and joy. So poignant. So true.

    Still, sometimes…hard to grasp.

    Love you, friend.

  21. Connie Nylund

    I can’t believe this. Yet. So sorry. Praying.

  22. Echoing everybody else’s words of shared heartache. I’m so sorry, Katie. Tearing up as I’m typing…but believing and trusting with you that God has such a good plan for your family. Your letter to the little boy who was yours for a few weeks…beautiful. You are an amazing mom.

  23. I’m absolutely heartbroken for your family and this little boy. 🙁 *tears*

  24. My heart is breaking with yours, Katie — and trusting God with you too. I am so, so sorry for your heartache. Praying for you, sweet friend.

  25. I’m so sorry for your loss, Katie! You wrote the little guy a beautiful letter. May the Lord heal your heart and hold him throughout his life.

  26. Katie, as a fellow sojourner on the international (Ethiopia) adoption path, I long to be your next door neighbor. I’d be right over, your favorite beverage & sweet in hand, & I’d hug you, cry w/you, & praise Jesus with you. I can only imagine your loss. Will be praying for you. Grace, my friend. Grace.

  27. Kinsey Christin

    *tears* Wish in many ways we were still walking this journey together, but God did have other plans. This little boy is privelaged to have you as his prayer warrior and advocate before the throne of God, even if not his mama. Your hopes and prayers for him are precious, and God hears them, even if he never will.

  28. My heart is breaking for you. I’m so sorry. I wish I had words, but there are none right now. I’m here for you if you want to talk. I’m just so sorry.

  29. Katie, how difficult that news had to be!!! Your response to it and your continued love and prayers for that sweet, sweet boy are just incredibly beautiful.

    I know that no matter what child God places in your home, he or she will be loved like crazy!

  30. Katie, What a beautiful mother’s heart you have. I’ll never forget that little man’s face and will never cease praying for him. Love and hugs…

  31. Oh, Katie, the tears are rolling down my face for you. I love you. I’m hugging you from here and praying that the God if all comfort wrap you up in His Almighty bear hug from the inside out.

  32. I’m so sorry. I do hope that boy grows up loved as much as you would have loved him, and I know you’ll find your child soon.

  33. Katie. I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this. I’m sending you hugs across the miles. Your faith in God’s plan is so beautiful. I’m praying for you and that little boy. May God bring you both peace and comfort.

  34. I love you, Katie.
    ~ Wendy

  35. What a beautiful love letter. I’m so sorry, Katie. My heart hurts for you and your family. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to share this news online, but I hope in some small way, the love and friendship of your readers will surround you in spiritual hugs today and onward. Much love to you, my friend.

  36. I don’t know what to say. Just … I’m thinking of you through all of this. I’m so glad you have your faith to help you through.

  37. Oh Katie,
    oh my dear sweet girl. I am so sorry. I cannot even imagine the weight on your heart.

    I know that someday, a pair of brown eyes is going to look up and say “Mom, have you seen my book bag?” THAT child will be the one who leaves her socks on the floor and argues about expensive jeans and makes you growl because she likes a weird boy at school.

    God has you, your husband, your little boy and your Congolese child, or children, IN the palm of His hand. IN IT, Katie. Not near it, but held tight so no one can change His will.

    Like Lindsay Harrell says, God can handle it when you beat on His chest and ask why.

    You will be on my heart today and in my prayers.
    Jer 29:11

    MUCH love, Jennifer.

  38. Oh, Katie, no words can express how sorry I am today for you. In many ways, you were already his mother. And the words you had written are just as true before the phone call as after. God does have a Plan and a plan for you. Praying hard for you and your hubby today!!

  39. Oh, Katie. I’m so sorry to hear that things changed and that the precious little boy you’d already given your heart to is not to join your family after all. I join you in praying that the Lord has a special plan for Little Man. I pray, too, that He has another child in mind for you and your family.


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