Two Minute View

Sarah DeGarmo has 12 brothers and sisters, 11 of whom joined her family through adoption. Here, Sarah shares about her journey to find God’s 30-before-30 bucket list for her life, and how she and her husband, Leighton, began their own adoption journey to their third child.

Sarah and her husband, Leighton, with their 4-year-old son, Wyatt, and 6-year-old, Levi.

My husband and I are currently in the process of adopting from the Philippines. While we may have just started our adoption journey, the seed of adoption was planted for me over 20 years ago when my parents returned home from the Philippines with my brother Isaac. After him followed Kim, Lancer, Josh, Gerard, Arturo, Ericko, Melvin, Cathy, Chris and Jena. I have one biological brother, Austin, making our family 13 children strong.

Back when there were only four of us kids, our family took a road trip to the Grand Canyon. I was 12 or 13 at the time and somehow Dad had convinced Austin and I that we should hike from the rim of the Grand Canyon down to the river and then back up to the rim in a day.

We were so excited!

Isaac and Kim were too little to go on the hike, so we felt special that we were able to go. We started down the 14-mile trail while it was still dark and like the beginning of every large trip, those first moments of anticipation propelled us forward. As the sun rose, we started to see how big of a journey were on. The Grand Canyon was showing itself to us in the daybreak and it was breathtaking.

As we were walking, we started to see signs of a seemingly concerned man holding his head. I inspected the signs and discovered that it strongly warned against hiking from the rim of the Grand Canyon down to the river and back up to the rim in a day — exactly the hike we were already hours into. At this point, I started to wonder why we ever decided to do this, but we kept walking.

Further along the trail, we saw people experiencing the Grand Canyon from the back of a mule. I was immediately envious. The journey was getting sweaty and hiking was getting harder and the trip would have been much more fun if we had taken a mule!

With cynical thoughts in my head, we finally made it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, where a small shack sold snacks for hikers. We split a $7 Snickers bar three ways, sipped a Coke and I continued to wonder why we ever decided to do this.

I remember being annoyed. Why did we need to stop and look at the Grand Canyon from this exact spot? We had hiked 14 miles in 10 hours and I had seen every crevice of the canyon I could possibly want to see. Why did we need to look from one more vantage point?

We left the snack shack and continued to walk by the river. As we were walking, we saw a yellow rescue helicopter swooping through the canyon with the word RESCUE on the side. As I panicked, Dad explained that sometimes “old people” get sick and need to be rescued. AGAIN … I’m wondering why we ever decided to do this.

The journey back to the top was long and sweaty. We rationed our water and at some juncture I had a verbal meltdown, questioning why in the world Dad had brought us here.

Normal families don’t do this for fun, I explained through my tears.

Finally, we neared the top. We could almost taste the glory of the finish when Dad called out to us from several yards back and motioned for us to join him.

I remember being annoyed. Why did we need to stop and look at the Grand Canyon from this exact spot? We had hiked 14 miles in 10 hours and I had seen every crevice of the canyon I could possibly want to see. Why did we need to look from one more vantage point?

As I got closer, I noticed Dad’s face was serious. He put his arm around Austin and me. Carefully, holding back tears, he said, “When I came here 20 years ago with my mom and dad, we walked down to this spot, looked at the canyon for two minutes and then left. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.”

My whole view of the journey suddenly changed. I no longer wanted to race to the top. I wanted to spend a bit more time on the trail with my dad.

To this date, this is one of my favorite childhood memories.

Why am I telling you this story?

Sarah and her husband, Leighton, began their journey to adopt a child from the Philippines in 2017.

Well, I think it is a good metaphor. So many times in life, we just want to stand at the edge and look at the beauty. We want a pretty picture, but we don’t want to engage in the journey. We don’t want to sweat or encounter danger or ration water or spend $7 to eat a mediocre candy bar in order to experience and appreciate real beauty.

As you read this today, I wonder where you are at in your adoption journey.

Are you excitedly starting your journey into the darkness? Has the rising sun made you question the dangers that lay ahead? Are you wondering why God brought you here in the first place and whether you’ll survive? Or, are you appreciating the end of one adventure … and lingering at its end with appreciation?

About a year ago, I can tell you where I was. I was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, settling for the two-minute view.

I turn 30 in less than a month, and it was about this time last year that I started to think about my “30 before 30” bucket list. I decided I only wanted to do one thing before I turned 30, and that was to visit the Louvre Art Museum in Paris.

I’m an artist, so I figured that visiting the magnificent Louvre Art Museum would be the best possible adventure I could go on.

A few short weeks after I had my single-item-bucket-list under way, our pastor gave a sermon on how we live in a bucket list culture. I remember him challenging us as a congregation, questioning what we could accomplish if we allowed God to create our bucket list instead of creating our own out of selfish motivation. I walked away from that sermon knowing that following Christ was going to cost me my trip to the Louvre. Let’s just say … DREAMS. WERE. SHATTERED.

So, at the age of 29, Andi had every single piece of adoption paperwork ready for her 30th birthday so they could submit it that day and begin their adoption journey.

 

My mind was blown.

 

Here was a woman who was using her bucket list for God and I was struggling to hold onto mine.

Later that evening, I shared my adoption perspective — as the sister of adopted siblings — with others in our congregation who were considering adoption. Several other people also shared about their adoption journey, including James and Andi Miller who shared that at the beginning of their adoption journey, they were confident that God was calling them to adopt from China. At the time, James was 30, but Andi was not, and China requires that both parents wait until they are 30 to apply. So, at the age of 29, Andi had every single piece of adoption paperwork ready for her 30th birthday so they could submit it that day and begin their adoption journey.

My mind was blown.

Here was a woman who was using her bucket list for God and I was struggling to hold onto mine.

I got into the car to drive home that evening. It was quiet and dark. I started to contemplate — okay, justify — why I wanted to go to the Louvre so badly.

Art inspires me and makes my soul come alive.

God made me this way, so why shouldn’t I go to the Louvre?

There aren’t many times in my life where I have felt the Holy Spirit in my soul, but that night, driving down the highway, I was keenly aware that God was with me.

He revealed to my unseeing eyes that HE is the ultimate artist. HE makes living, breathing masterpieces, not just pretty pictures that hang on a wall.

Sarah’s sons, Levi and Wyatt.

Here I was obsessing over art made by mere mortals and yet, just take a second and look at yourself in the mirror. YOU are a masterpiece … all God’s children are.

It was in that quiet, dark moment on the highway that God whispered to me, “I’ve got a masterpiece waiting for you and it isn’t the kind you hang on a wall.”

Our adoption journey began with me realizing that I don’t have to fly to Paris because the best masterpieces are in my home, in your home and in foster homes and orphanages all over the globe.

God brings the Louvre to our back yard, and all we have to do is realize it.

Sarah DeGarmo | Missouri

Are you considering adoption? Request free information here. 

Read a story from Sarah’s mom, Karen, about what she’s learned from parenting 11 adopted children.

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