The Miracle of Hope
God’s perfect plan for a little girl named Hope
Delhi, India — August 4, 2010
The small girl stood overlooked, as so many are. Her dark hair unkempt; dirt smeared across her well-worn clothes; her eyes warm but reserved. She is as alone as any child could be in a crowded market within a city of 15 million. Long dresses and pant legs stream past, all unfamiliar, uninterested; on the main street, cars much taller than she and rickshaws and cows make her nervous and afraid. The girl begins to cry. Shopkeepers with their jarring shouts compete to pull passing eyes toward stalls stocked with brightly-colored clothing and jewelry. The air is thick with the discordant blend of fresh and discarded food, perfume, perspiration, goats, and spices, and as day turns dark the girl waits with diminishing expectation for the woman who left her there but will not ultimately return.
In time, a police officer notices and recognizes the girl as the same child who was abandoned two days ago in this same market. The girl in her fright explains all she knows and is taken to a local Catholic orphanage where she is greeted by a nun and led past a cradle drop box where babies can be safely placed by caretakers making excruciating choices. The nun offers her food and takes her picture, and the girl looks glad to be in this place, grateful that her distress has been relieved. She is off the street and she has a bed, at least for this night.
Spin the globe on this same August evening, and touch down in Houston. See Wes and Kasey Mathew in their home. Scan the biographical bullets; see them as high school sweethearts, both talented enough to receive scholarships to the University of Texas, she for softball, he for music. Kasey is a pastor’s daughter and Wes is a first-generation American from a Christian Indian family. She taught elementary school for nine years; he’s happily self-employed.
They have a three-year-old daughter, Priya, silly and sensitive and as kind-hearted as they come. Looking into her big brown eyes it is evident that she knows something fun, like maybe she’s played a joke on you and can’t wait to burst with joy when you finally figure it out. Very much unlike her parents, this girl loves animals, especially the ones that swim, which is sure to spell trouble somewhere down the line for an unsuspecting pet fish that might someday prefer to not be kissed by a human child.
The girl is full of life, as evidenced by her personality which blossoms more every day. Would you believe me if I told you she screamed in terror as Wes and Kasey carried her from the Hindu orphanage where she had been living just a few months earlier, her tiny heart beating a million miles a minute, blind to the riches and security of the loving arms that were holding her?
Zoom out again, rewind the tape to June 2009. Travel east all the way to Latvia, a small country tucked between Russia and the Baltic Sea. Wes and Kasey are in their late 20s and hoping to adopt someday, but they plan on having biological children first. In Latvia, everything will change. They’re here leading a team from their church at a summer camp for orphaned children, and they connect deeply with these kids who are so starved for interaction with parental figures.
On the plane ride home, Kasey tells Wes that she doesn’t think they should keep waiting to adopt, and he agrees. Their social worker suggests India, and they apply as soon as possible. The entire process is quick, smooth. Ten months after the Latvia trip they are in India to meet and bring home their first child, Priya Grace Mathew. At the hotel that night she does nothing but sit on the bed and stare at her new parents, but by the next morning she’s smiling and playing pattycake with Kasey and showing Wes flowers outside the window. Soon after bringing her home they know they are called to adopt again, and they begin the process of adopting a second child from India.
Close to two years later, no referral had come. Costs began to mount as paperwork needed to be renewed. They had the money needed to move forward saved in an untouchable adoption fund, but they began to wonder if they had misunderstood God’s leading. There were times when the wait was miserable, and they began to grow so weary that they considered shutting everything down. Still, they always came back to the truth that the one they were waiting on was God — not the orphanage, not a government, but God, the one with all knowledge, the one with all sight.
Then, in January 2013, Wes got sick. Forty pounds fell off in one month. Despite test after test, the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. As hospital bills piled up, the Mathews had no choice — the untouchable money had to be spent. All the money they had saved for their adoption was wiped out, and the referral could come any day. Their doubt and frustration had never been stronger.
Wes got better as mysteriously as he had become sick, and he was released from the hospital on February 15, 2013. This was great news, but it didn’t change the difficult realities of the waiting, the funding depleted, the child in India still without a family. They trusted God, but none of it made sense. The following Sunday their church was having a special service about adoption and orphan care when the pastor surprised them with a gift. The church gave an Adoption Aid grant in partnership with Show Hope to help fund the adoption. Generous donors from across the country gave to help their daughter come home to her family. So many people became a part of their journey. What no one knew, except Wes and Kasey, was that the amount of the gift was the exact amount that had been taken from their adoption account to pay Wes’s medical bills. God had replaced every single penny.
Less than two weeks later, they received a referral from the orphanage, which was in Delhi. The child was a five-year-old girl with warm, reserved, grateful eyes and a sweet, shy smile.
In the months that followed, the Mathews prepared for their new daughter, who would be named Hope Sara. The bedroom was painted and gifts were purchased. Priya, now almost six, couldn’t wait to meet her little sister. She kissed Hope’s picture and prayed for her several times a day, that she wouldn’t be scared to come into this family that would be so different from all she knew at the orphanage.
Everything was ready, but the process continued to move slowly on the ground in India. After praying and fasting, Wes and Kasey agreed that God was telling them to go and advocate for Hope. They obeyed, and once there they watched God plow through obstacles with ease. They kept hearing the word “impossible” from men and women in authority — impossible to get police clearance for Hope to leave, impossible to get her passport expedited, impossible to get her visa quickly. But what was supposed to take weeks took days; what should have taken days took hours. In the land of countless gods, the one true God did His work through and in front of police officers, nuns, hotel workers, and a taxi driver who cried with Wes and Kasey as everything fell into place.
They met Hope for the first time on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Priya had brought her a stuffed bunny and was giving her all the hugs she could handle. One week later, they were all home.
See the Mathew family now, on an early autumn evening in 2014. They might be playing soccer in the yard before coming in for dinner, and after dinner they’ll dance in their Indian princess dresses, giggling at each other’s silliness with every twist and turn. Enjoy time with these girls tonight and you would never guess they had both gone through the trauma of losing their birth families, of life on the streets, of emotional and physical abuse. You would only see them as beautiful, loving girls, full of joy to be at home with their mom, their papa, and each other.
Priya says she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up, or at least work in a pet store, and Hope wants to be a dance teacher. But in these early years they have more ambitious plans, too, like buying a big house together in India where all the kids from each of their orphanages can come live and be part of a family.
As for Wes and Kasey, they’re not looking ahead quite yet. Hope has been home for several months, and they’re walking with her through the healing process that will be their companion for some time. They’re teaching her that she can depend on a mom and dad who won’t hurt or abandon her, and a heavenly Father who loves her and has been her Shepherd all her life. They still struggle to understand why she had to wait so long to come into their family, but they know that God knew she would be coming home at this age, and they’re in awe of the incomparable glory He brought himself all along the way.
They’ve always envisioned a house filled with children, and they know orphan care remains in their future as long as they have breath. They also know that little in their lives has gone the way they imagined it. After all, this is a family that never should have happened according to the plans of man. Wes was supposed to be given in an arranged marriage to a girl of Indian heritage, an expectation that lasted long after he and Kasey had declared their mutual intentions. Latvia? They weren’t supposed to be on that trip, but stepped in the day before departure when the original leaders had to back out for medical reasons. The second adoption was supposed to be as painless as the first; and the list goes on. But God has always seen what man cannot, and the Mathew family is growing exactly according to plan — a plan that has included many generous donors and supporters who helped make Hope’s homecoming a reality.