From an early age, Rachelle wanted to adopt.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because everyone deserves to feel loved. If I can love somebody that would otherwise remain unloved, I know I’m doing what God wants me to do.”
Shortly after their daughter (Addi) was born, Rachelle and James went on a humanitarian trip to Haiti.
July 2009, Haiti
Vultures circled overhead. There were piles of garbage everywhere, like huge mountains. The stench was overwhelming. The heat was overwhelming. The stench and heat together was unbearable.
This was not like home. Not at all.
But worst of all were the children. They were everywhere. Kids walking alone, rummaging through trash, fighting over dirty water.
Kids fight over toys and video games. They aren’t supposed to fight over dirty water.
Where were the adults?
Rachelle shook her head, grabbing James’s wrist for support. The scenery induced a turning in her stomach. Her heart sunk. She felt sick. She could see the children’s bones through their tattered shirts. She could feel the desperation in the air.
Any one of these kids could have been hers.
She had to do something.
Rick, the lead missionary, walked to the front of the group.
They passed another pile of garbage and saw it. The orphanage. It was nothing more than a slab of concrete that supported crumbling walls but no roof. Only tents sandwiched too-tightly within. It looked like a tornado had passed through Montrouis Haiti.
Beside the building, kids kicked a soccer ball while two tired women, the nannies, rinsed clothes in large pots of dirty water.
The game stopped. The nannies turned their heads. The children’s faces lit up.
And they ran toward the Americans.
Rachelle leaned toward Rick. “Why are they running toward us?”
He shook his head. “Two nannies. Several dozen kids. How often do you think they get to be held?” He sighed. “They have nobody to love them. Except us.”
“Then let’s love them,” she said.
The need to adopt grew stronger. There were so many kids without someone to love them. Rachelle knew that God was speaking as he had in times past–Love the unloved.
Only this time, the kids who needed to be loved had an identity–they were Haitian. Rachelle decided that Addi would have Haitian siblings.
People often assume that because God commands something, that something will occur with ease. I wonder if Moses thought that. Or maybe he reserved his frustrations until he stood before the Red Sea.
Six Months Later
Rachelle bent to pick up clothes, side-stepping a mini-ball pit, half-clothed barbies, and a plastic horse.
“Mommy, mommy,” Addi shouted. “Mommy, mommy, mommy!”
Rachelle tightened her jaw, her blood pumping like a piston.
He said nothing. It was always nothing, lately.
“I need—” She growled.
She dropped the pile of clothes and charged into the office. He minimized the screen, but not before she saw flesh-colored shapes standing in seductive poses.
She shook her head.
“You’re a Christian,” she said. The words came out biting—accusing.
“And so are you.”
Her blood boiled hotter. She bit her tongue, barely suppressing a shout.
Slow and calm. Slow and calm. “I need you to watch Addi.”
“Right. You’re always busy.”
She opened her mouth…but what could she say? He hadn’t listened yesterday. Or the day before. Or before that.
She marched to the kitchen, grabbing a pad of paper.
She began penning her arguments as she’d done before, but stopped, shaking her head. What did it matter? No matter how reasoned, how clever, how persuasive, he always refused to read them. Letter after letter remained unread and unanswered
When was enough enough?
“Let’s go Addi.”
She hastily packed her bags, throwing toothbrushes with skirts and blouses.
James emerged from the office, folding his arms. “Where you going?”
She shook her head.
“Where you going?” he asked again.
She left, slamming the door.
He stood. What just happened?
She couldn’t have left. Could she?
She promised not to. Both grew up in broken homes. Both promised they’d never have their children experience what they’d gone through—the rupturing of a family, forcing kids to choose between parents, always feeling like the middleman. Everything that was safe, that was secure, that was comfortable was gone—shattered by two adults acting like children.
She’d promised. He’d promised.
Now she was gone.
He never thought she’d do it.
She’d really left.
His chest ached.
What could he do to bring her back?
James opened his Bible, seeking answers. He began talking to mentors—individuals in church he trusted and who understood. He started therapy with a mental health counselor.
And he read her notes—the ones she penned after every argument where he refused to listen.
He listened now.
Why hadn’t he seen it before? Why hadn’t he listened to her?
He had to call her—beg her to come back, plead with her to love him as she did.
Love me again.
He reached for the phone.
But somehow he knew that she wasn’t ready.
First, God had to work a miracle.
Good bye James.
It was a rare night, one that caused for celebration. How long had it been? Years, perhaps.
But tonight was different.
She opened the door to the bar and grabbed a seat. Drink after drink, shot after shot, her speech slurred and her inhibitions fled. Eleven PM turned to midnight, which soon turned to three.
She stumbled into her apartment, collapsing onto the couch. She reached for her phone and turned off her alarm. Maybe she’d wake at noon. Or even later. What did it matter?
She was free.
With that thought, she grinned and fell asleep.
She woke with a strong urge to go to church. After fighting the prompting, she succumbed. It was too late to attend her normal service, which was probably for the better. In her state, she didn’t want to face anybody she knew, anyway.
After she arrived, a woman in her fifties approached, wearing an over-sized t-shirt and khaki pants. She had a large gap in her teeth and her hair was short and looked like she’d cut it herself in a foggy mirror.
“Can I pray with you?” the woman asked.
“Um…I guess,” Rachelle said.
The woman bowed her head, closed her eyes, and prayed.
“I pray for this woman, that she will know Your will.”
Rachelle nodded. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? That’s what others did when Rachelle prayed for them.
How long had it been since she’d prayed for another?
It didn’t matter.
The woman continued. “And that she will be given guidance at this difficult time in her life.”
How did she know? Was it that obvious? Were the circles under her eyes so visible?
Yes, that was it. This woman was simply reading the obvious. Insightful gal.
“And I pray that her broken relationship will be restored.”
“There has been an addiction. This addiction no longer has a stronghold.”
Rachelle shook her head, but couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in her eyes.
“And through mending that relationship, her difficulties from the past will be mended.”
Her chest shook as sobs racked her body.
“In Jesus name, Amen.”
How did she know?
Rachelle remained in the church for several minutes, thinking. Who was this woman? How did she know?
She must have listened to God. That was something Rachelle used to do—to reach out to those in need, listen to the whisperings of God’s spirit to guide her in her path. For too long she’d partied too loud and the anger boiled too hot to hear it.
But now it spoke to her again—a drum beating, deep inside her chest. Go to James. Make amends.
And there was that other call—the one that she could never forget.
Love the unloved.
She could love the unloved. But James?
She went home to Addison that night. James’s mom was there, watching her daughter, now three-years-old.
Rachelle kissed Addison good night.
“Did the angel talk to you at church today?”
Rachelle’s breath caught. “What did you say?”
“The angel. Did she talk to you today?”
Tears filled Rachelle’s eyes. “Yes, Addi. An angel did speak to mommy.”
“Good.” Addi smiled and closed her eyes.
“And now everything’s going to be okay,” Rachelle said.
Rachelle plopped onto the couch and wept.
…he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Jesus hadn’t come, but he’d sent someone as he would have—meek, humble, and filled with the Holy Ghost.
James and Rachelle began to reconnect, attending movies and restaurants with Addi. He never asked her to come back. It seemed God’s spirit was working on him too, telling him to wait until she could be healed of the anger.
Yet always, when he saw her, he said his silent prayer—let her love me again.
They stood at the edge of a park, watching Addi swing on a swing set. Whoosh. Whoosh. Crickets called in the background and a breeze blew. The air smelled of autumn, cool with a hint of crispness. James smiled as he watched Addi.
His eyes shifted to Rachelle. There was a smile there too—faint, yet sincere. Her eyes were softer than they’d been in…
How long had it been since she’d looked like that?
Love me. Please love me again.
He loved this woman. If only she could love him back.
Rachelle leaned closer to him, her smile growing.
Could she love him again?
She took another step closer, brushing his arm.
Yes, she could love him again. She already did.
She wrapped her arm around his bicep and rested her head on his shoulder.
Once again, a family. Just as God intended it.
“And it wasn’t just him,” she’d later say. “Sometimes, for those who were abused, they bring a lot of baggage. When I got mad at him for this thing, it was really me being mad at that plus so many things from my childhood. But, I learned to let go of the past. That angel—she was right. By reconciling, it fixed things from my past.”
“And how long before you started thinking again about adoption?” I asked.
“It never left my mind,” she said.
God had plans for them—plans that involved adopting two daughters.
Neither of which are Haitian.
As their relationship mended, James and Rachel turned their minds and hearts to what they knew God wanted—he called upon them to adopt.
James went to Haiti to help establish a school. During his trip, he met Krista—an attractive American with a vision for the orphans—a vision shared by James. He collected her number, grinning and left with a promise to keep in touch.
This could be it. Despite all that had happened, James never could forget the first time he saw the orphans—the irrepressible need to provide a home for the unloved.
He had to do it. God commanded it. They’d hoped and prayed for the opportunity to adopt and it seemed as if God was clearing the underbrush.
He returned home, anxious to tell his wife about his connection. They called Krista. “Let’s do this.”
“Great!” she said. “Let me call you back after we’ve done some paperwork and matched you with some Haitians.”
The next several days dragged as they watched their phone, waiting for the call that would change their lives forever.
The call came. Rachelle answered it on the first ring. “Yes?”
“You aren’t going to believe this,” Krista said. “We’ve found a group of siblings. Two girls and a boy. Both parents dead, bless their hearts. But get this—the boy’s name is Jamesly.”
“Yes, Jamesly. Just like your husband. Oh, honey. I think the good Lord above is smiling down on you.”
“When can we come?” Rachelle asked.
“As soon as you’d like.”
“How about next week?”
Krista laughed. “Oh you are too precious, child. Too precious. Why don’t you call me when you’ve got a date and we’ll arrange for you to meet the siblings.”
“Thank you,” Rachelle said. “You’re an angel.”
“No honey. You’re the angels.”
They arrived two months later, Addison in tow, who spoke incessantly about her new sisters and brother. With the siblings, they played at the beach together, ate ice cream together, and dined at Haiti’s finest restaurants. And with each minute, Addi fell more and more in love with her new siblings.
“When, mommy? When?” she asked as they boarded the plane to America.
“They’ve got to finalize the paperwork, honey.”
Rachelle grinned. “Soon, baby. I promise.”
Without hesitation, they wired their life savings to Krista, all $30,000 of it.
And they waited, watching their phones.
“Krista?” Rachelle called. “It’s me again. What’s the status?”
“Well honey, there’s been some complications.”
Rachelle’s stomach turned. “What sort of complications?”
“The kids had an uncle and just as the little dears were about to board the plane, he pretended to be their father.”
“They have an uncle, and he’s—”
“I thought you said they didn’t have any family.”
“Well…well they didn’t. Listen, honey. Let me get back to you.”
Another several days pass with no word.
A text arrived from Krista—Please pray. Court isn’t going well.
It didn’t make sense. The children had already been cleared for adoption. They shouldn’t have had any family. They shouldn’t have to go to court.
Something was seriously wrong.
She logged into a Facebook group with fellow adoption parents. Through a collection of private messages, an image emerged, not of a well-intentioned adoption agency struggling to repair broken lives—but of an agency borrowing children and stealing well-intentioned people’s incomes.
It was all a lie. Krista, with her ebullient personality and Christian front—all a lie.
Addison was devastated. She’d already spent hours cleaning her siblings’ rooms, writing welcome letters, and praying to God that they would be safe.
James was angry. Rachelle was furious.
How could this happen? Their entire life savings—gone. But what hurt the most was that they’d never have these kids. Who would love him now?
The daughters weren’t orphans. Krista took them from their families—families who wanted them. She falsified documents, borrowed the children, starved them until the day before Rachelle arrived and fed them just enough so they could run to greet a family that could never have them.
How could God let this happen?
Maybe it was better this way—just Addi, just James, just Rachelle. They’d finally learned to be a family and maybe that’s just the way it was supposed to be.
But that ache to love the unloved remained like a roaring fire that couldn’t be doused by deceit. Krista had taken her money and shaken her trust in humanity, but she couldn’t steal that.
An email arrived from a church friend. “I’m so sorry about the adoption,” she said. “And I’m hesitant to bring this up, but a friend of a friend of a friend is looking for a good Christian family who is ready to adopt. I thought of you.”
But the infant wouldn’t be Haitian.
A storm of emotions boiled inside. She could love another—care for another, provide a home for someone who had none. That love for a child unmet and unknown warmed her chest.
But the anger, the rage was still there.
And she couldn’t allow herself to hope. If it was dashed again, it would poison her, leaving her bitter for…well, maybe forever.
But how could they turn this down? They’d already made space in their home for three. Surely it was big enough to fit one.
She wanted to say no. She couldn’t handle anymore deception. She couldn’t put Addi through another failed adoption. Yet the only reason to say no was because they were afraid.
God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but … of love.
And she loved this child, whoever she was.
They had to do it.
Four weeks later, Selah was theirs.
With a second child in their arms, and time to distance them from the sting of deceit, their hearts began to heal and their minds turned again to Haiti. They kept their international green card up to date. But they also certified their home to adopt from DHS.
The phone rang.
“Hello?” Rachelle said. She balanced her cell on her shoulder while rocking six month old Selah to sleep.
“Hi, Mrs. Metcalf?”
“I’ve been reviewing your file and I think we have a need you might be able to fulfill.”
Rachelle stopped rocking the baby. “Oh?”
“There’s a ten-year-old. She was adopted from Ecuador at five.”
“And…let’s just say that her current living conditions are not safe.”
Rachelle let out a breath. Again, that love for a stranger returned. And again, that fear of losing what might have been turned her stomach in knots.
“Okay,” Rachelle said, “Can I get back to you?”
That evening, Rachelle and James spend several moments on their knees in prayer. They sat silent, feeling the whisperings of God’s spirit trickle into the room—warming and soothing like a gentle waterfall.
“Why wouldn’t we?” Rachelle asked. “We already have the room. Any excuse I can think of is selfish.” She sighed. “Why wouldn’t we?”
It was exactly what she wanted since she was twelve—to love someone who hadn’t been loved—to provide a safe home for someone who didn’t know safety.
Why wouldn’t they?
And that’s how Sara became a Metcalf.
I’ve had the immense pleasure of meeting Sara. I asked her about her favorite subject in school and what she likes to do. She grinned and cocked her head toward her shoulder, swaying side to side as she sat on the armrest of the chair.
“I don’t know,” she said. It seemed she was unsure why she deserved any special attention from me.
Well Sara—you’re an angel, that’s why. Not because of what you’ve been through, but because of who you are, despite what you’ve been through. Sweet, unassuming, compassionate. I watched the way you cared for your sisters without being asked and you did so with the practiced ease of a veteran nanny.
It’s hard to tell that you’ve been through more in your twelve years than most experience in their entire lives. When you smile, there’s no hint of repressed sorrow. Your voice has a gentle quality about it—the sort that requires a silent room to hear it.
You’re an angel. And I thank God you have parents who’ve made it possible for you to become that. Only love could heal such a difficult past—love given freely by two saints who also know the pains of a difficult childhood.
But the Metcalfs have saved more than two lives. In the years since Krista’s betrayal, James and Rachelle have returned again and again to Haiti—painting orphanages, laying tile, repairing cribs, and teaching in Bible schools. They’ve ministered to orphans who come running into their arms and they minister to those who are too famished to stay awake.
And there’s also a little boy named Nicholas—an orphan who gets to go to school because James and Rachelle pay a monthly stipend that funds his education. This boy has seen the Metcalfs three times since Krista’s betrayal, and upon each visit, he sprints across the garbage-strewn village to see his “sister.”
Nicholas. But you know him better as Jamesly.
I hope, like me, you all have been inspired by James and Rachelle’s story. Knowing of them and knowing them makes me want to become a better person.
Will I? Will you?
Not all of us can leave our homes and spent six weeks in a third-world country. Really. You don’t have to feel guilty about it either (as I’m wont to do). We’re a team in this, but teams consist of players, coaches, water boys, water girls, and scorekeepers.
In other words, we can all do something. We can all play a different role that suits our talents and preferences.
Maybe your something is to donate to Jasper House, the non-profit that James and Rachelle help operate. Or maybe your something is to donate clothes or canned food for those in need. Or maybe you can watch the kids of those who are “players” in the game.
Or maybe your something is a prayer.
Or something else? What else can we do?
Let’s chat. Drop a comment below.
The unabridged book is available on Amazon for $2.99 (or free for kindle unlimited subscribers).