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Shelly Roberts – Adoption Advocate/Speaker/Author

Over the years God has taught the Roberts family about His deep love for the fatherless which led them on two separate adoption journeys. From a human perspective, there were many reasons for the Roberts family to discount the idea of adoption, not the least of which were their financial limitations. As church planting missionaries living on a tight budget, paying for an adoption did not seem feasible. As they mulled over their list of adoption pros and cons, David and Shelly were deeply humbled when their young sons approached them asking whether they were going to follow God’s call to adopt or listen to the voices of “reason” around them. Together, as a family, they stepped out in faith being willing to do anything it took to help a child in need have a family. Little did they know that during the time God was challenging them to answer His call to care for the fatherless, a little girl was being conceived who would be born in need of open heart surgery just days after her birth.

Enlisting prayer support, the Roberts family embarked on their adoption journey. Throughout the process of filling out paperwork and opening their home to visits by a social worker, David and Shelly continued to read about and research all aspects of adoption, including financing options. Their three young sons were busy putting up signs all around their small rural town willing to do odd jobs to help in every way they could. During an internet search, the Roberts were excited to find The ABBA Fund’s website. After their home study was complete, they submitted their application for an interest-free loan.

Finally, just after the New Year, four days after the birth of Naomi and the day of her heart surgery, the Roberts received an email from their agency: “A little African American girl, undergoing major heart surgery … no family for her.” David and Shelly struggled deeply with the realization that in America on that day “a little newborn baby lay there fighting desperately to stay alive with the little potential for having a forever family.” What a privilege they felt it was to gather their family together and pray for this little child during her lengthy surgery. No doubt God knew the needs of this little one, and He had begun orchestrating a loving plan for her life clear back at her conception. Soon they received the wonderful news she made it through her surgery and not long after Shelly was on a flight to meet their first daughter.

Shelly vividly recalls walking into the hospital room where she met her little girl for the first time. “She was surrounded by machines and tubes, still on a breathing machine and dialysis at that point … but as I went to her bedside her dark brown eyes met mine and she took my breath away.” At Naomi’s bed lay a bear given her by Star of Hope mission, a ministry for the homeless in that city of TX. On the bear’s back the words of Matthew 25:35 were written, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in.” On that day, Shelly experienced the mighty power of God as His adoption plan for the Roberts family was clearly revealed in that little life. Shelly spent every possible moment at her side, rejoicing in Naomi’s constant improvements. The hospital staff expressed tremendous compassion for both Shelly and Naomi, creating many unexpected opportunities for Shelly to share her faith in Christ and dependence on God through their adoption journey. Two weeks later David joined his wife and new daughter and then helped to escort them home where the family would finally all be together at last.

As they reflect on the journey God ordained for them, the Roberts family still marvels at God’s hand of direction and provision along the way. By obediently following God, David, Shelly, and the boys placed themselves in the position to observe God’s work in them. Although the journey was difficult and not without trial, they rested in the realization that God’s plan is perfect. They praise God that Naomi’s birthmother chose to give her child the precious gift of life and that Naomi, as an orphan, received outstanding medical care from a top pediatric cardiologist surgeon in the nation. Financially, God provided what seemed impossible as the Roberts stepped out in faith and received confirmation of their loan through The ABBA Fund only after Shelly had already made the trip to Texas to be with their daughter.

Two years later, God called their family on an even greater step of faith to once again adopt in spite of all the mountainous obstacles. This time the Lord led them to Ethiopia where they would welcome another precious daughter into their family. Maleah was born with TB and with the Lord’s great faithfulness was welcomed into her forever family at 14 months old. The Roberts family testifies that it’s because of the partnership with The ABBA Fund that their second adoption was made possible. They worked tirelessly for a year doing fund-raising to raise nearly half of the needed funds before they traveled to bring home their youngest daughter.

Today, both Naomi and Maleah are heathy, thriving and each have a strong love for God. The girls both have deep hearts of compassion for others in need. While their oldest brother is now grown and married, they are on a new journey in the Roberts family as they are preparing to become big sisters in a new way. God has led the Roberts family to respond to the needs of children living in the US foster care system. They just completed all the necessary training and are waiting for their first placement of a medically fragile child, for as long as this little one needs the support and care of a family.

“The Lord has blessed us so immensely through these experiences,” says Shelly. “He has given us a glimpse of His heart for all children … including us as His children.”

You can find out more about Shelly’s speaking ministry at reachingheartsblog.com