I grew up on my parent’s 100-acre property and I refused to stay inside, I loved being in nature.
I would just go out there by myself
and I would have all this time
and I would be talking to God.
And we would have this conversation and,
I didn’t know that was strange or unusual,
I would just pray to Him
and sometimes He would say something to me
and speak to me.
I was about 10 or 12 years old,
in the middle of the day
God gives me a very vivid picture
of a little kid and I’m holding her,
swinging her around in my parent’s yard
and she’s just laughing like crazy.
In the picture that I had in my mind
she had dark skin and dark eyes
and God said “”This is going to be your daughter”
and her name is going to be Chloe.
Walt and I grew up together,
I think he moved to town the year I was born
so we’ve known each other my whole life.
When I was 10
we moved right across the pasture from him
so we grew up together.
Her family and my family were friends
so I got to go over to her house frequently.
Of course she’s a little munchkin
so I’m not really paying attention.
First I was using shampoo and conditioner
but not anymore,
now I use this,
“I don’t know the name, but it’s good for your hair.”
My whole life I was like,
I think Walt Manis is amazing.
and I always thought
when I grow up I want to find someone just like him,
who was in my age group.
I went to university about 30 minutes
from where he was living
and when I went he just kind of came in
and helped get me settled
and helped introduce me to a church
and so we just started spending
more and more time together
and we were sitting in this car just talking
and we had this conversation about what our dreams
and our hopes were for the future.
I said that I felt like God had just made me to be a mom.
That’s what I wanted more than anything;
I wanted to be a mother
and I said that I had actually a name picked out already
that I wanted to name my daughter
and he said, “I do too”
– which I thought was weird
because I didn’t think guys did that.
And I was like, “”What’s the name?”
“She said, “Chloe.”
And he’s like “”you’ve got to be kidding me!”
You won’t believe this,
God gave me when I was 12 that name Chloe.
So he’s telling me this story and I’m thinking
this is crazy, like first of all,
I don’t have a lot of experience
with God speaking to me like that.
She was in the same place that I was
– we couldn’t believe it, you know.
In the picture Chloe had olive skin
so he always thought he would marry
a woman with olive skin.
She can’t have a brown-eyed child;
I didn’t know what to do with it.
I think we both knew pretty early on
that we were going to get married.
“It was just, I don’t know?,”
the best way I can describe it is that
Walt felt like home to me,
from the very beginning I felt like,
this is where I belong with this guy.
When we first got married we decided we wanted
to wait a little while to have children,
we ended up traveling,
doing some work with some different missions agencies,
and then at a certain point we realized
now this is the right time
we want to start pursuing having children,
and we were so excited,
we thought it was going to happen immediately,
and so we, like, yeah, let’s start our family,
let’s have children
and then, months turned into years
and pretty soon we were 4 years into trying
and still nothing.
I had always clung to this promise
that God had given me
about the daughter
so I didn’t know when it was going to happen
but it was starting to get hard to wait.
It was really hard,
I think I struggled with questioning God’s goodness
in that time
because I just felt like it was so mean,
such a mean thing to do.
There was probably a 4 1/2 year period
that I would say was really really hard on us individually,
on us in our marriage
and also like the way we were relating with God,
especially for me
I felt like, is God good
even when he’s not doing things that I would
define as good?
All of her friends were having kids
and she had to just wait and put on this cheesy smile,
this fake smile,
and say, we’re happy for you.
And every time we would hear
about someone getting pregnant
we would just be devastated
because we were thinking
this isn’t going to happen for us,
we’re just fools,
we’re fools who want kids
and it’s never going to happen.
And then I would say, somewhere,
I feel that God shifted something in me
There was a point where I started to realize,
actually no, I can live a really full and happy life
and experience so much with God
and know Him so deeply
and be satisfied in the deepest way
a human can be satisfied
even without having a child.
It sounds like a simple concept
but for me that was a big change,
a big shift in my perspective.
We kept praying through that time
“God, if your saying that
You don’t want us to be parents
just take this desire away from us.
but more than ever we wanted to be parents;
the desire was almost getting stronger.
He kept compelling us
in His love
to love this idea of being parents
and love this idea of having this little girl.
“So that’s what we did,”
we just kept praying.
There were tons of people praying for us
“and with us,”
“people that we didn’t even know,”
people would come to us and say
“this bible study group”
“I’m a part of is praying for you guy’s,
is praying for this situation.
That was a really special thing to get to
feel the body of Christ on a larger scale
like standing with you through something.
Annie is, like, “well, maybe we are supposed to adopt.”
and I was adamantly against it.
How are you feeling about adoption?
I don’t want to speak about adoption.
“I had this thought of,”
“like, I don’t want – I called it – a band-aid baby.”
“We are struggling,”
we are hurting
“and, I don’t, I didn’t want just a fix,”
“I didn’t want just some kid,”
“I wanted the kid that we were supposed to have,”
He progressed me from being adamantly
“to be “”you know, I just want the kid”
“that God wants,”
maybe it’s not supposed to come
“through biological means,”
maybe it’s supposed to be through adoption.
“So, what do you think?”
I think that Iím very excited to adopt
but waiting will be hard.
We had gone through all the paperwork.
Annie had done so much work
and I had supported her in that
but I still wasnít convinced that adoption was right.
I remember one night we were at Waltís sisterís house
and I was checking my email
and there was an email that came in
and it said “it’s a girl!.”
I clicked on it
and I realized it was from the adoption agency
“and they said, “we just wanted to let you know”
that a birth mother has chosen you guys
and you’re going to be parents.
I just sat there looking at the email like,”
“oh my gosh, I can’t believe this.
Annie gets this email,
she’s super excited and I’m just like,
“I’m gonna wait and see,”
because I don’t know, you know?
We have some adoption news, finally,
there’s something happening.
“Yeah, we’re really excited.”
she’ll be born in late February or early March.
Weíre working on a name right now.
Weíre working on it.
“The name, Chloe, is completely off the table.”
Weíve abandoned it.
“Weíd decided oh,”
“that was just a fluke thing,”
a coincidence that we both liked that name.
That was nothing.
So we had even talked about a different name
and the social worker working with us said
“the birth mother would like to meet you”
“before she has the baby.”
“We’re like, yes, we want to meet her,”
so we took a trip up to Wichita.
Todayís a big day
– what are we doing?
Weíre going to meet Alison for the first time.
Are you nervous?
“Yes, a little bit.”
We went to the house where she was living
and we knocked on the door.
She opens the door
and it looks like a grown-up version
of this little girl in my head
that was from the past
“and I was like, oh my goodness,”
what in the world?
“So in a second, in my head”
the name was back on the table.
“We went up to this room and sat and talked for,”
“I donít know, 3 hours or so.”
The social worker says letís talk about a name.
Have you thought of a name?
“She said, yeah,”
well ever since I got pregnant
even before I knew it was a girl
Iíve been calling this baby Chloe.
We were just floored.
“And both Walt and I,”
I donít even remember what we did exactly.
I just know that I was ugly crying.
“We were weeping and she was like,”
“oh, you hate the name.”
“And we were like, oh my goodness, no,”
“we love the name,”
“God has spoken, Heís told us this name.”
“It just dawned on me,”
“before I even knew you guys existed or anything,”
“it was like,”
I want to name this little girl Chloe
and I didnít know if you guys would like it
“or stick with it or anything like that,”
I just kind of figured maybe youíd have something else.
So thatís why when I threw it out there
and said Iíve been calling her Chloe
“and you guys were “”ohì!”
“And Iím like, okay Iím sorry, itís a bad name.”
All those doubts
about having the band-aid baby
were completely out of the window
“and it felt like I just had full body shivers,”
the Holy Spirit was just right there.
This is so much a God-thing thatís going on right now.
“Youíve been planned for, for a long time.”
“Before you were even conceived,”
we knew your name
“and I think we know what youíre going to look like,”
“I donít know, but weíll see.”
I love you.
We look forward to seeing you.
“When the birth mom said the name Chloe,”
“in an instant,”
I had become a father.
Even before she was born I was her dad.
This surreal presence of God was just all around us
“and I felt Him saying to me,”
“See how much I love you?”
Do you see this?
Do you see what Iíve done?
“Iíve been writing this story, you had no idea.”
“Iíve been writing this story for years,”
since Walt was a kid Iíve been writing this storyì
“and I realized how foolish I was, I guess.”
How my perspective was just so skewed
“in my own pain,”
that what I saw as Him not loving me
was in fact Him being the most loving He couldíve been.
What are you about to do?
Go to the hospital
and I canít find your toothbrush holder.
Are you nervous?
A little bit.
“Yeah, I was just crazy nervous that morning”
“I remember going to the hospital,”
“and then all of a sudden it was happening,”
“all of a sudden the Dr came in and was like,”
“””Ok, sheís ready -”
“youíre going to have a baby now””.”
“I donít know,”
there was just all this movement
and bustling around and then
Chloe was there.
“I was looking at this baby, my baby,”
“I was just looking at her,”
all of a sudden; she wasnít there
and then she was there.
“how are you doing, Annie?”
“Iím good, Iím really good!”
“So many years of anticipating her as a child,”
“she’s here, you know?”
Sheís been a part of our lives for so long
and sheís finally here.
I remember holding her and looking at her face
“and saying “”Iím your mom, Iím your momì.”
It sounded so weird to say those words.
“There was no mistake,”
“I am the father of this child,”
just like God had always planned it to be
“and Iím completely owning it,”
“like, on cloud 9 just amazed at what God has done.”
“It was like He was whispering to me in that moment,”
“like “”Iíve been here this whole time”
and you didnít know
“but Iíve been here this whole time,”
Iíve been walking this thing with you
and I was just saying
“trust me, trust me, trust me, trust me”
“Iíve got something good,”
got something good up ahead.ì
Itís a constant struggle
to just sit in His sovereignty.
“When everything is falling apart in your mind,”
just to wait
And there were so many people that got
to celebrate with us.
I canít even count the number of people who came
and said that they had prayed for us
or that they had waited for this baby with us
or that our story had somehow spoken to them.
“I donít know,”
it was just such a special time of seeing like
this wasnít just about me and Walt and this baby
“and our birth mother,”
it was about all these people
that God wanted to touch
and encourage and bless through this story.
He just doesnít leave anything to chance
and itís not random.
“Itís just amazing, itís a miracle.”
It only speaks of God.
People can say
“””itís just a coincidence, you know?ì”
You canít convince me that.
I think God is incredible.
I think itís incredible the way that
He flung the stars into space
“and that same God, the same God”
“who keeps the world from falling apart,”
He loves me.
He loves me.
“With or without us ever having a child,”
thatís what Heís taught me through this.
He loves me
and I can be so secure in that love.
And to be able to trust that
and to rest in that.
Itís the greatest gift.
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