Dawson and Smyth’s Story

In late fall of 2001 we received a phone call from a woman who was helping her friend. Her friend was looking for a home to place her unborn baby. We jumped at the opportunity.

A couple of months before the birth of this baby we received news that the mother and her unborn child were killed in a car wreck. Judith came unglued. I did not. Judith embraced the emotion of hurt for the family as well as disappointment for us. I did not.

I played the role of a pastor. I assured her of God’s sovereignty, without taking any real comfort in that sovereignty. I was emotionally disengaged. Later we learned that the police had misidentified the bodies. This mother called us to affirm her decision to place with us and congratulated us for being parents, but closing in on Christmas, just one week before birth; she sold her baby to the highest bidder.

“What are you doing God?”

A couple of months later while preparing to preach the 2002 Easter service we received yet another phone call from a mother who was having her children removed by social services. She had a toddler and an infant and, according to the state of North Carolina, was unfit to be a parent. We said we would gladly adopt both children. That also did not work out.

“Why are you wounding us God?”

After this we decided to register with an adoption agency. They were so helpful, and understanding, and compassionate. I was in town for a total of thirteen days that summer which delayed much of the paperwork. Finally, late in August of 2002 we had everything prepared and our profile began to be shown to women looking to place their children into the arms of adoptive parents. We were chosen quickly.

In September a birth mother chose our profile. Because the birth mother came to the agency two days before birth, we decided to leave our daughter in the agency’s short term foster care until the seven day revocation period ended. We called this home often and listened to the coos of our little girl.

While on the golf course with my little brother just two days before the revocation period ended I received yet another phone call from the agency. She let me know the birth mother was returning that afternoon and had decided to parent. This little girl was not our daughter after all. Now I came unglued. The paternal instinct had awoken. I had the unpleasant task of informing my wife that night when she returned from a late night with old college friends. She was numb and wanted to go to bed.

Around 4:30 a.m. I felt her sitting up. We wept together for a long while.

“God, is it because we would be such horrible parents? Are you protecting a child from us? What is wrong with us, Lord?”

After this we decided to bring to the Lord whatever our hearts were feeling. It was a dark journey. But several weeks later I was driving down the road returning from a trip. Tears of release poured down my face and I sang over and again the entirety of the great hymn, “It is well with my soul.” The pain had not gone away, but it was well with my soul. That night Judith and I walked and I shared of my journey. She laughed because at the same time I was singing; her bible study group was also singing the same song. She had the same reaction.

A week later another phone call came. Another mother had chosen us. We met the birthfather who was elated with us becoming the parents. But after giving birth the mother never called the agency again.

A month later another phone call came, another mother had chosen us, but three days before the revocation period ended, she also changed her mind. “God, I quit! Take the desire away. I don’t want to hurt anymore!”

In early March, 2003 I went to the youth room of our church facility to pray. This Friday I prayed for a very short period of time for students. I sensed God’s leading to pray for adoption and I resisted. He persisted.

I began to pray, “God, if it is possible; if it be in Your will; if it would bring You glory; if…”

And then I sensed that God, much like a coach who would get right in the face of a player, came nose to nose with me and said, ”David, I know you believe I’m sovereign, I want you to pray for what you want. What do you want!?”

“Lord, I want twin boys. And I want to adopt them either before Easter or before Mother’s Day.”

That night I shared with Judith I sensed God calling us to pray for what we want. He did not have to bring children into our home for us to realize He is faithful. We accepted that. So we knew just because we were praying specifically, God was not bound to provide children. I did not tell her what I prayed for. So I asked, “What do we want?” She said, “I want twins, and I want to adopt them either before Easter or before Mother’s Day.”

I smiled. We prayed.

We prayed on Friday. We prayed on Saturday. We prayed on Sunday. On Monday I received a call from an agency in Georgia. She told me a mother had chosen our profile but that this was a different scenario. She informed me that the birth mother had twin boys and she wanted to make sure we would be ok with it. Immediately after hanging up the phone my body tensed and I said, “Lord this will not be funny if it doesn’t happen.”

I chose not to tell another soul — including my wife. I thought it would be too much for her to handle if she knew and it fell through yet again. The boys were born on April 7, 2003. I still did not tell my wife. The birth mother released her rights after a short stay in the hospital. She was so thankful that we were going to be the parents who raised the boys she gave life to.

The revocation period was to end on April 21. On April 20 I went to bed with my cell phone in hand. Judith had gone out for her daily run when the agency called and said, “Come adopt your boys.” When Judith returned home I was sitting on the couch and told her to come and sit down.

I began “Honey, our week needs to look drastically different than what we had planned.”

“OK, is everything alright?”

“We need to go to Georgia, where we’re going to adopt our son Samuel Dawson.”

She did the girl thing where she fanned her face and cried while asking, “Are you sure, are you sure, are you sure?”

“The ten days are over and we need to go pick him up…but there’s a problem.”


“We need to think of a different name.”

“Why, I love that name?”

“Because he has a brother and we’re going to adopt twin boys.”

We both came unglued. We cried, and hugged, and prayed, and cried, and hugged, and prayed. “And by the way, Judith, you’ve got an hour to pack.” She took 45 minutes. We drove down and met them in the hospital while they needed a few extra days to gain health and strength. We signed papers on April 23 and took them home a week later after interstate compact papers were completed.

Since then not a day goes by that we don’t ask, “God, why are you so good to us?”

Woody and Elissia loved, nurtured and trained their daughter (my future wife) for 18 years. I am indebted to them more than I could ever repay. Their love and support has never ceased. Smyth carries their family name.

We really don’t know how we would have made it in our darkest hours without being held, literally and figuratively, by friends of ours — two couples. Dawson is named after one of those couples.