The Closed Womb

Essay by Gail Grace Nordskog

I love getting up between five thirty and six o’clock a.m., before the noise and the distractions of the day begin—having a nice hot cup of coffee while reading my Bible and journaling, out on our back deck in the beautiful harbor of Ventura, California, where I live. This is my favorite time of the day. Usually it is so peaceful, but not that Friday morning. You see, I was wresting with God.

This new battle within myself and with God had begun the weekend before.

My husband, Jerry, and I had gone out to dinner with some dear friends who had just come back from Russia. They were so excited to share with us about the visit they had with their soon-to-be-adopted seven-year-old daughter. Their energy was contagious as they showed us pictures of this beautiful child. It was so moving to see how much this little girl looked like her adoptive parents, Jim and Lisa. In a few months, they would return to Russia, after finishing up the tons of paperwork needed for international adoption, and bring Elizabeth home.

Lisa couldn’t wait that long to see her daughter again and asked if I would travel back to Russia with her to visit. I told her that Jerry and I would pray about that.

While driving home from our visit I was quietly contemplating their decision to adopt. I had never really wanted to consider adoption. I did very much want children with my husband, but not someone else’s child.

Jerry was excited, and encouraged me to travel with Lisa. He then reminded me of a discussion we had had a year earlier. I didn’t remember that discussion—probably because I didn’t want to. He had promised me that if I did not conceive before the year was over we would seriously consider adoption.

No! I did not want to give up yet. I was convinced that God would grant me the desires of my heart. I had prayed fervently for years and would often cry out to God to grant us children. I felt like Hannah, the Prophet Samuel’s mother. She poured out her soul to the Lord for a son. Yet “the Lord had closed her womb”
for a season and for a particular reason.* Had the Lord closed my womb? For what reason?

Jerry and I had been married for close to five years at that time, with no sign of life in my womb. Jerry and I both had children from previous marriages and we just assumed we would have children together as well. We had happily taken on the responsibility of raising our two pre-teenage daughters together, and I desperately wanted to add to that number.

I now felt challenged to finally discover if the Lord had indeed closed my womb, and if so, why.

I knew what to do. I would observe an Esther fast. This is based on the Bible story of Queen Esther, who fasted for three days before she approached the king to ask him to spare the lives of her people, the Jews. Her cousin Mordecai had reasoned with her, saying, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” She fasted along with her servants and the Jewish people in the city. They had no food or drink for three days, night or day. Esther resolved to herself and to God, “…If I perish, I perish!” She needed boldness, and so did I. I also needed wisdom and direction—and an open womb.**

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I fasted. No food passed my lips and the only drink I had was water.

Monday evening, I was not expecting any answers yet from God. After all, I was just getting started with my fast, and the Creator of the universe was probably too busy to pay attention to me until I put in more time on my knees. Surprisingly, I did get a strong sense that I was being prompted not to go with Lisa to Russia. On Tuesday morning Lisa called and told me she had decided not to travel to Russia before the adoption date. Interesting!

By Tuesday evening, much to my surprise, I had a clear revelation of God’s answer. I knew it must be from God because I had never even thought of this possibility. I sensed God saying, “Yes, I do want you to adopt children, but not from Russia.” Instead, I realized God wanted Jerry and me to go to China. I learned later that because of China’s one child policy millions of baby girls and special needs baby boys were being abandoned. It is a Chinese tradition to desire a healthy son who will care for his parents in their old age. I now understand God allowed us to be part of the rescue of innocent children abandoned because of this policy.

At the time, I was fasting all that I knew about China was that it had a communist government that was anti-American, anti-Christian, and isolated from the rest of the world. I didn’t know anyone who was Chinese, and rarely interacted with anyone of that heritage, except if I went to a Chinese restaurant. I know this may sound racist, but it is a simple statement of the way things were for us in the 1990s. What I also knew God was saying to me was that the child would not look like us. I wondered what Jerry’s reaction would be to that!

I went to Jerry right away, thinking he too would wrestle with this possible choice for adoption. If we did choose the path of adoption, Russia seemed more realistic, because our friends were paving the way for us, and the children would look like us. To my great surprise, without hesitation Jerry said, “Yes, let’s do this!”

Wednesday came and I finished the fast, but heard nothing more from God.

Thursday, I decided I really hadn’t received a revelation from God after all. The Creator of the universe really wouldn’t have taken the time to respond to me so soon, would He? Could good-old Ben Franklin be right when he surmised, “God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” Is it probable that He would care so much about orphans in China that he would speak to my heart, almost audibly? Is it possible that He cared so much for me and my broken heart that He would close my womb to point me in this unexpected direction, chosen for my husband, me, and our family?

Now it was Friday morning, and my favorite time of the day. I wanted to sit down on the patio and begin my Bible reading, and make more excuses to God about not really hearing His voice during the fast. I would continue to cry out to Him because He had closed my womb, and I was approaching the age of no return. I wanted to keep asking Him, “Why, why, why?”

Instead I felt convicted and said, “OK, God. If that was really You, You have to show me what the next step of this journey is. I don’t know whom to call, or where to go. What do I do now?”

Unsettled, I walked out front to get the morning newspaper. I went back into the house and poured a second cup of coffee, then went out back to sit down and read. I opened the paper, which was a little damp from the sprinkler system, and spread it out to dry. As I looked at the front page, I was stunned. The headline seemed to be jumping right off the paper and into my heart! This is what it read: “Families from Ventura County Wanted to Adopt Children from China.”

As it turns out, there was an adoption agency right in my very own town, less than ten minutes from our home. They had just started promoting foreign adoptions from China! God’s perfect gift to us—our adoption journey—began that day twenty-four years ago.

Christyana Joy Nordskog was born in 1996. She was twenty-two months old when we traveled to Wuhan, China. This little treasure joined our family in August of 1998.

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