"Mother!" my youngest son, David, yelled as he bounded up the stairway two steps at a time. "Guess what I found? I found a baby, a real live baby!"
He was out of breath and talking so fast I could hardly understand him.
"Hey, slow down! And how many times do I have to tell you to take these stairs one at a time. Now, tell me what this is all about."
"It's true, Mother! I really did find a baby!"
My heart did a somersault as my mind tried to grasp the full meaning of David's words.
My husband and I, along with our six children, had been living in Tehran, Iran, for over a year. We had heard stories about babies being left on doorsteps, but I never dreamed we would see it happen!
"Where did you find the baby?"
"On the Stanley's doorstep. Slater's the only one home, and he called the police!"
"All right," I tried to sound calm, "you kids stay here while I go see what's going on."
Stanley's were U.S. Air Force personnel and lived two blocks away. Their son answered the door, and led me to his bedroom where a small bundle lay squirming and faintly crying.
"It's just a newborn baby," I murmured in astonishment. The baby calmed down the moment I picked it up. "And you are a beautiful baby girl!" I said, as I changed her diaper. When she looked at me through the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen, I fell in love.
When the Iranian police arrived I attempted to question them about what would become of the baby. Between my awkward Farsi and their
halting English, I found out that they were taking her to the Narmack orphanage.
Walking down the narrow, dirty street toward home, my emotions
began playing leapfrog with my mind. I wanted that precious baby for my own! Every step I took became a silent prayer to God for help, and He began giving me hope and courage to try.
At home, I called the Foreign Residence Bureau and asked Soraya, one of the Iranian ladies who worked there, what we needed to do adopt the baby. She wasn't sure because the baby had been taken to such a strict Muslim orphanage. However, she said she would do what she could and even agreed to be my lawyer and interpreter in the court system. I told her that my husband worked in Ahwaz, about 600 miles south of Tehran, and wouldn't be home for two weeks.
"If you are sure your husband will want the baby, my advice is not to wait for him. The Iranian orphanages are understaffed and overcrowded, and there's a very real danger that the baby may die if we wait."
"All right, Soraya," I answered, "let's try."
We were in and out of the Iranian courts for four days. The waiting and tension drained me physically, but the assurance God had given me from the beginning kept my spirits up. Soraya and I hugged each other in exhilaration when we walked out of the last court room with the custody papers.
The Iranian police agreed to reclaim the baby, but first I had to go with them to identify her. Soraya told me that it would be dangerous for a non-Muslim to go into the orphanage with the intentions of adopting. It was a tense moment when an obviously unhappy nurse brought a bundled up baby to us. I reached out to take the baby, but the stern looking nurse stepped back and wouldn't let me have her. One of the policemen said something to the nurse in Farsi and she handed the precious bundle to him. He pulled the covers back and asked me if she was the right one.
"That's her," I answered.
"Good," Soraya quickly said, "now, let's get out of here."
After we were seated in the police car, I was allowed to hold the baby. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we drove out of sight of the orphanage.
Soraya took the baby and me straight to her doctor. He questioned me in broken English as he examined the baby.
"Why do you trouble with baby?" he asked.
"Because God intended for me to trouble myself with her."
"She... weak and dry out," he said, as he struggled to find the right English word.
"Dehydrated," I ventured.
"Yes," he answered, as he turned to Soraya and started talking in Farsi.
"He said she was a breech baby. And her mother was probably just a young girl," Soraya interpreted for the doctor. "The mother may have died in childbirth, and perhaps that's why the baby's bottom and back are
The doctor pointed to the strip of torn cloth tied around her
"She born at home," he commented, then turned to Soraya again and gave her instructions to care for the baby.
"You can probably care for the baby at home as well as the Iranian hospital would," Soraya told me. "Just give her liquid every half-hour for the next 24 hours."
I caught a taxi home, and all my children ran out to greet us, begging to hold their new sister.
"I know you want to hold her," I told them, "but she's sick and needs special care for a few days. When she's well you may hold her all you want."
Mary and Juan Zayas, our American neighbors who lived across the street, telephoned me as soon as I entered the house. They volunteered to stay up with the baby that night so I could get some much needed sleep.
"What's her name?" Mary asked as she took the baby from me.
"Soraya Lynn," I answered proudly. "I named her after the lady who went out on a limb to help us get this baby. I know that will please her."
"I'm sure it will. Now, don't worry about her," Mary and Juan both assured me. "If she doesn't respond the way the doctor said she should, we'll take her to the military base hospital. We know she'll get good care there."
Knowing Soraya was in good hands I went home. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to sleep when I crawled into bed. But as I lay there, God's sweet assurance that He was in control relaxed me, and I drifted off into a deep sleep.
By morning, Soraya had bounced back, and then it became my turn to feed her every thirty minutes.
Soraya Lynn grew up knowing all about her adoption. She has continually prayed for God to send someone to witness to her birth-mother so that she will see her in heaven. I pray for that also, for Soraya's sake as well as her mothers.
Soraya is married now with four children of her own.
Her first born boy, Riley Owen, is in heaven with Jesus (June 24, 2004 -
July 20, 2004). His earthly death was devastating for our family in more
ways than one can imagine. However, we know we will one day be with him in
heaven where all sorrows and pain will disappear.
Little Riley's Memorial is here:
Soraya and her husband, Ryan, love their children so
very much, and Soraya is a wonderful mother with a soft heart for all