I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me again for our “Monday’s Life Change” series. I have loved sharing these stories of life change with you! Today, I’ll share a bit of the journey that Shane and Malissa Henrie have been on. We had the privilege of doing life together before we all had children, while living in Texas. I know you’ll be blessed by their story.
In 2003, Malissa and Shane Henrie moved from the East Coast to Dallas, Texas. They were struck with the difference in the cost of living and settled into a nice 4-bedroom home. One Sunday as they read over their church bulletin, they noticed a meeting, which would take place after church for those interested in foster care or adoption.
It struck a nerve with them, because they had been asking themselves, “What should we do with all these empty bedrooms?” Their hearts had been burning to help those with real need, like children without safe and loving families.
Before they knew it, they were licensed to foster and adopt. They served as “respite” care for a short time and then, they met “Grace”. She was a 4 ½ month old baby girl living in foster care. The Henries helped out her foster mom by caring for Grace while she worked nights, 3-4 times a week. Having never been parents before, they feared caring for a little baby, but in time they realized that this would be a good fit for them. They just didn’t realize how much she would change their life.
When Grace came to them, she was sick. At 6 months of age she weighed less than 10 pounds. Malissa would rock her through the night, just praying that her little body would heal. She would sing “Amazing Grace” to her as tears fell onto the baby’s soft cheeks. These precious moments together are what God used to give Malissa a burning desire to have children, something she had not felt before now.
As the Henries learned more about Grace’s case through the foster system, it became evident to them that they should try to adopt her. They loved this little girl that they rocked to sleep at night and they wanted her to be in a safe and loving home; their home. But, her case was complicated, and CPS was going to other states searching for family members. Malissa recalls this as being a terrible roller-coaster of emotions. They so badly wanted to love Grace as their own, but feared the worst.
Malissa also became pregnant with their first child. They continued to spend time with Grace as often as they could and pursued her adoption relentlessly. They knew it would be detrimental for her to go back to her birth parents to live.
One day, worn out by all the emotions of this situation, Malissa sat down with her Bible and devotional book and prayed, “Lord, I’m not getting up until you speak to me about this.” As she opened her devotional, the verse for the day was “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Malissa just cried. She knew that God was speaking through His Word and that He would indeed make Grace their child. She called her husband and shared what God had just confirmed in her time with Him. “I know she is going to be our daughter. It’s just going to be a matter of time.”
As they sought legal counsel, they were informed that they would need to file paperwork to sue the state of Texas in order to adopt Grace. They learned that only two people hold the key to adopting a child. First, is the caseworker and second, is the judge. Malissa had not personally met Grace’s caseworker to that point, but the woman had not been kind to them over the phone. Instead of feeling angry with her, she felt a peace in her heart. “The Enemy was using this woman to stop us from adopting Grace, but I knew that God would get the glory.”
The Henries felt that an appeal against the state of Texas was like David fighting Goliath, but they knew that as with David, this battle belonged to the Lord. They kept going back to the day that God spoke through His Word: “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”
Since their legal counsel confirmed that they would need to sue in order to adopt Grace, they reluctantly agreed and they just prayed and prayed.
The day the paperwork was to be filed, CPS called Malissa. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing:
“Grace’s case worker has had to go on emergency medical leave. It seems it will be at least 3 months at minimum and we would like to get her case wrapped up. As we’ve looked through Grace’s files, it seems that you and your husband are the natural fit to be her parents. Do you still want to adopt her?”
Malissa couldn’t believe her ears!
Goliath had fallen and God had moved a mountain on their behalf.
She couldn’t help but hear, “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” And she knew He had.
Malissa quickly called her husband with the news. A few months later, Grace was in their home full-time and they finalized her adoption another 6 months later.
Malissa and Shane now have a house full of little girls and another on the way. These past few years have been trying at times as they work through issues with a hurting child. As is common, there are many behavioral issues and challenges. Malissa says, “If I didn’t know that God had called us to do this, I might want to give up.” She has learned to look past the behavior to meet the need. She believes outward behaviors are often manifestations of deep pain.
The Henries’ heart is to be intentional with what God has given them. As you look at your home, your cars, and your family, ask yourself, “What do I have? Who could benefit from me?” And then, be prayerful! As they’ve experienced, prayer changes everything!
“The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”