When I asked Brittany Winstead how she would define adoption, her response was this: “a picture of God’s grace in bringing beauty from the ashes.” In Daniel and Brittany’s story, and in the stories of many others, adoption stemmed from pain. It stemmed from darkness. And when we look at adoption from the point of the orphan, adoption always stems from some form of tragedy. Although these stories begin with loss and pain, it is important to remember that stories do not always end where they begin. God cares deeply for each and every one of His children. He sees their stories. He feels their brokenness. He catches all their tears (and that is not just a pretty way of putting things, that is biblical; Psalm 56:8). God is a Father to the fatherless and He is a good, good Father. In the stories of adoption, the Lord chooses to use His children to care for the orphans, and in that, also fulfills the deep longing of their hearts to become parents.
Daniel and Brittany Winstead got married in the summer of 2008. Like many other young couples, they decided to wait a few years before trying to have children, a decision that was reinforced by Daniel’s year long deployment to Iraq early in the couple’s marriage. Flash forward four years to January 2012, it was the beginning of a bright new year and the couple decided they wanted to start trying for a child. What followed were six long months of negative pregnancy tests, numerous fertility tests and medications, and no medical answer to why they could not conceive. During this time, two things occurred. The first is that the months of struggling and failed attempts at conceiving pushed Brittany into a dark place, a place where she felt as though God was somehow punishing her. The second is that Daniel felt called to go with others from his church on a mission trip to the Philippines. Daniel and the other members of the mission team spent Christmas break to early January working at an orphanage called New Faith Family Children’s Home. They spent their time relieving many of the regular workers of their usual tasks so that they could spend some time with their own families. It was on this trip, in an orphanage in the Philippines, that God began to break Daniel’s heart for the orphans of the world, and over 8,000 miles away He was doing the same to Brittany. When the team returned home, Daniel and Brittany prayed to God for clarity, for an answer to whether or not they should start the adoption process. And He answered with a yes. When the Lord called them to adoption, the darkness that surrounded Brittany began to disappear. At the realization of God’s will, a light broke through the darkness and Brittany was filled with an undeniable peace. She stopped the fertility medications, and with faith stepped out into the unknown. Looking back now, she says that “it was worth all the years, every tear, every heartache, and everything in-between.”
Daniel and Brittany may have been at peace with God’s will, but that does not mean their adoption journey was easy. To know and believe that the Lord’s timing is perfect and that He is in control is essential in all believers’ lives, but even the most steadfast in their faith can question. With the adoption process, they had no control. Everything was out of their hands. The couple had no where to go but to God. The waiting was the hardest part, as nothing in the adoption process happens quickly. The minimum age to adopt a child from the Philippines is twenty-seven, so the couple was forced to wait until the summer of 2013 to begin the adoption process. This was only the beginning of their waiting. As their journey progressed, the song “It is Well” by Bethel Music became their anthem, with a bridge that declares “So let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name.” The Winsteads may not have been in control, but God was. His faithfulness was seen in every step of the journey, from providing funds, to providing friends and family who overflowed with love and support. Through the long and arduous process to being united with their child, God taught the Winsteads one essential truth: trust. Trust His timing. Trust His plans. Trust His ways. Trust that He is good and that He is in control.
In September 2013, the Winsteads completed an application to adopt a child between the ages of two and six. In May 2015 they received a call that they had been matched…with a nine-year-old boy named Jack. At first they were shocked. Jack was three years older than the oldest child they had prepared to expect, and the thought of two twenty-nine-year-olds raising a nine-year-old child was terrifying to them. Again, the same message God had been teaching the entire journey rang out: trust. Brittany says that looking back, it is clear to see that the Lord was preparing them for an older child all along.
One incredible blessing that occurred during the adoption process is that Daniel and Brittany were able to Skype with Jack for six months before bringing him home. This meant that when they went to get their son they were not strangers. He was not going somewhere he knew nothing about. Jack got to meet family members, he saw the house that would soon be his home, he met the pets he would call his own, he danced with his parents and drew them pictures and introduced them to his friends. They were able to build their relationship as a family, even with 8,600 miles between them.
When the Winsteads received their adoption grant from Reclaimed Project, they thought they would be traveling to the Philippines within the next month and they intended for the grant to go towards the costly prices of last minute international flights. It ended up that it would be three more months until they could travel to get their son. However, the grant was still able to take a great financial burden off the couple after they had done many fundraisers but still found themselves short. At the end of April this year, Daniel and Brittany returned home with Jack. They are now a family of three and there is one less orphan in the world. Now that Daniel and Brittany have been united with Jack, their life looks a little bit different. They describe their days as being joyful and exhausting, feelings that I am sure many parents can relate to. Sometimes it seems like a dream, they look at Jack and it is hard to believe that after so long he is finally with them. In an instant, their lives were changed in the best possible way and now they are growing and flourishing as a family. When she looks at her son, Brittany says she knows that “God has big plans for Jack Barrera Winstead.” The Winsteads are incredibly grateful to God for uniting their family and they continue to share their journey with others as a testament of His love and faithfulness.