SHADES STORIES

Faith

Jesus spoke about the power of childlike faith. For Anna and her family, that faith transformed their lives.

Story by Callie Phelps | | Photography by Laura Carden
“It still amazes me. When I was little, I understood it was a miracle but now I truly understand how much of a miracle it really was. I was just like, ‘Oh, God fixed my mommy’s tummy. Awesome!’ Now I understand how deeply he was really involved.”

Anna Wood

The intentional provision of God permeates the story of the family of Anna Wood. They radiate joy - joy that comes from years of waiting, a parentless child, and lots and lots of faith. Joy that comes from knowing that God strategically made them a family. Ten years after their youngest daughter’s miraculous birth, the Woods are still in awe of the provision of God. 

Donald and Jennifer Wood married in 1990. Having big hearts for children – and coming from big families themselves – starting a family was at the top of their list. In 1991 they began trying to grow their family, but Jennifer always sensed that getting pregnant would be difficult.  

After five years of trying to conceive, Donald and Jennifer relocated to Tuscaloosa. Jennifer dreaded the move. Still, they prayed, packed, and followed in faith. Their lives have never been the same since. After a hard adjustment, they finally found themselves in a new church. Now settled, they felt they could explore growing their family in a way they thought they were called: adoption.

They started the process in March of 1998.

Jennifer went on a girls weekend later that year with her friend Laura, where Laura told Jennifer she was pregnant with her third child. Though Jennifer was always excited for her friends’ pregnancies, her infertility and the looming length of the adoption process weighed her down. She spent much of the weekend wondering why this road had been so difficult for her. 

“I was so excited for her but, at the same time, I was dying inside,” Jennifer said. “Like,  ‘God, you’ve got to be kidding me!’” Jennifer rejoiced for her friend but still ached for a child of her own. 

Soon after she got home from the trip, she and Donald were nervously delaying creating a photo album of their family for the adoption agency. One day Donald finally told Jennifer that they were making it that day and mailing it the next. The day after the photo album arrived at the agency, a young woman came in to pick a family for her child. In June of 1998, Anna was born. 

By the time Laura had her baby in November, Jennifer was visiting her with five-month-old Anna in her arms.  

“It’s amazing, just the little details – to see how God is so in the details”

When Anna was nine-months-old, the Woods moved back to Birmingham, the place they had been so upset to leave three years earlier. Jennifer is still in awe of the workings of God during the time she had so dreaded in Tuscaloosa.

“It’s amazing, just the little details – to see how God is so in the details,” Jennifer said.  “It’s like God said, 'I’m going to move you here because this is where I’m going to lead you to your baby.'”

The Woods never hid that Anna was adopted, and at age three, she started to ask Jennifer questions about her pregnancy. 

“She asked me one time,  ‘How big was your tummy when I was in your tummy?,’” Jennifer says.  “And I said,  ‘Well you didn’t grow in my tummy, you grew in my heart because my tummy’s broken.'”

This satisfied Anna for a while. But being the only three-year-old in a house full of adults became lonely, so she decided she needed a sister. 

“I just wanted someone to play with! But I knew that my mom’s tummy was broken so I knew that I couldn’t have a baby sister,” Anna said.

Jennifer and Donald had always taught Anna about faith and how faith had brought Anna into their family. So she knew that if faith got her to her parents, surely faith would bring her a baby sister.

“I thought,  ‘Well, God can give me a baby sister, so let’s just ask him,’” Anna said. “So I started asking God to heal my mom’s tummy and give me a baby sister. I just fully believed he could do it.”

So Anna prayed – a lot.  Every single prayer for the next four years ended with, “And please give me a baby sister.” 

She never relented.  Donald and Jennifer never lost faith that God could give them a baby, but they didn’t think that it was God’s plan for them. Donald even said that after a while he would worry, “Oh, goodness, here we go again!” when Anna prayed for her sister.  

They worried that Anna would be disappointed if God didn’t answer her prayers exactly the way she wanted.  By the time Anna turned six they were considering adoption again. Still, Anna knew that God would heal her mother and she would have a baby sister, it just wasn’t time yet. She kept her faith even when people tried to talk her out of it. 

“People would sit me down and say,  ‘Anna, sometimes God’s answer to our prayers is no,’” Anna said. “And I was always like,  ‘Well, yes, but not this time!’ I just knew He was just saying not right now.” 

Then, in January of 2005, after four years of faithful prayer from Anna, Jennifer found out she was pregnant while Anna and Donald were away on a fishing trip. Jennifer called Donald 50 times before finally getting through to him. They were planning on having a cookout with burgers that night. Jennifer thought otherwise.  

“I think maybe tonight calls for steak instead,” she said.

Donald and Jennifer knew immediately that this was the baby sister Anna had been praying for.  After 15 years of infertility, when Anna was seven-years-old, Jennifer gave birth to Faith.

For the Wood family, nothing amazes them more than the fact that, in the face of infertility, God provided a child for them through adoption who had faith to pray for a child for them through conception.

“We always tell the girls they never have to doubt that they were wanted,” Jennifer laughs. Anna cites this statement as one of the biggest reasons she was able to pray for Faith in the first place.

“I think a lot of adopted kids go through a bit of a crisis but my parents helped me to see I was wanted,” Anna says. ”We are all wanted and seeing how we’ve prayed for Faith, how we are all included, and all wanted – they’ve always paralleled that to how God wants us to be a part of His family. They’ve always used my adoption as a tool to help me grow in my faith and, in turn, that helped me pray for our Faith.” 

Their faith in God is an obvious part of the journey that led them to their two daughters – not a faith that God would provide anything they ask for, but faith that what God provides is far greater than we can ever ask or imagine. For Donald, this plan still astonishes him. 

“We couldn’t have written it better,” he says.

Through Anna’s fervent prayer and her parents continuous faith, the Wood’s have a family better than they could have ever dreamed.