What helped this Latter-day Saint woman keep her faith after 3 of her adopted children were abruptly taken back


In this week's episode of This Is the Gospel, Holly and her husband explain that they never imagined they would adopt multiple children during their lifetime. But after seeing the devastation of the Romanian Revolution, Holly and her husband felt the Spirit directing them to adopt children who were hard to place or neglected. And after feeling confirmation from the Spirit to adopt three girls from Africa in 2006, Holly felt that their family was about to grow yet again—until a devastating turn of events caused Holly to question her faith and trust in the Spirit.

An adapted story from this week's episode is below. Listen to the full episode here or read the transcript here.

When [my husband and I] decided to adopt...we always took it to the Lord. We always prayed. We always got confirmation. We both had to be on the same page. 

I think my husband would tell you that if we had adopted every child that I had felt would be a good fit, we'd probably have 50. We don't have quite that many, but we always got confirmation [that it was time to adopt]. That was one of the things that I relied on, right? [The] feeling of confirmation from the Spirit that these were the children that I needed to add to my home. 

So in 2006, we started to pursue an adoption from a country in Africa. ...We had that same familiar feeling, it's time to go add to our family. 

We did all of the paperwork, and I traveled to that country prepared to adopt. My husband was going to stay home, I was going to go and I took one of my teenage daughters with me to do this adoption. 

We actually spent months there...and we found three little girls. One was in an orphanage, and two were actually abandoned in the hospital, and they were legally adopted to us. We got birth certificates and passports in the Richardson name. The courts released them into my custody and I started taking care of them while we were still undergoing the rest of the legal process and the court process. 

[I] absolutely bonded [with these children]. I fall in love with my kids very quickly. 

The last step is to go to the American Embassy and get visas to bring them home to the United States. We went to the American Embassy and they said, "No." They turned us down. 

First they said, "Well, we need to go verify where these girls actually came from." So we tracked down all the information we had. We tracked down the police report where the kids were abandoned . . . provided all of the paperwork, and then there was another reason. We just couldn't figure it out, and it started to get concerning. 

One day, with my teenage daughter who had come with me, we got a knock on our apartment door where we were staying. It was child services from this country, and they were coming to take the kids back into their custody. Two of [the children] were newborns, one of them was only three months old, so they were really close in age. I had been their full-time caregiver around the clock for a couple of months at least. And here, these people show up and they're like, "We're here to take your babies." And I'm like, "What?  How can that be possible?" 

And they just said, "Well, we know you're having trouble with the American embassy, so you go work it out in America, and we're going to take care of the girls here," and [child services] told us to go home and work on the problem at home. 

I was just stunned. I couldn't believe it. It was really traumatic and very sad. 

Here I had been, trying to be faithful, following the Spirit, and it had not worked out. I was in shock and grief. I did not feel the Comforter, I did not feel supported, I actually felt betrayed. I felt betrayed by God, that He had led me so far, and then taken away the ability for me to get these little girls home. 

I had this realization that I was at a moment of choosing. I did debate a little bit on on whether this was going to be the last straw for me because we'd gone through some really rough stuff. I could have said, "Okay, I'm done. I'm out."

This was 2007, so I had a laptop and I had CDs with me from the [The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square]. As I played, "How Firm a Foundation," I was stuck on the last verse. The last verse says, "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I cannot, desert to His foes. That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never, no never forsake." 

I literally put that [verse] on repeat. This music helped calm my soul, it was so soothing, and I just sat there and listened and cried and listened and cried and cried. I made that commitment that I'll never forsake. I'll never forsake, no matter how hard it is. That was really my moment of choosing. That music really helped me choose faith.

For the rest of the story, listen to the full episode here or read the transcript here

Lead image: Courtesy of Holly and family. 
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