When high school sweethearts Brandy Chandler and her husband Gene married in 1992, they had no idea of the journey they were about to embark upon. The next 19 years would be filled with laughter, tears and heartache as they waited for their perfect child from God.
The two met in Seattle and ended up moving to the Houston area to be closer to Gene’s family. Soon after, the couple found out they were pregnant. About a week later they unfortunately lost the baby, but a new resolve to have a child was born.
“It was just an incredible feeling to know we were going to have a child,” Brandy said. “Even though we were super young and not quite ready, it was the most incredible feeling.”
“When I was a teenager, I was told that I had a heart problem and that I would probably have to adopt, so that was always in our minds,” she said. “After the doctors told us we had unexplained infertility, we started thinking, well, maybe God’s plan from the beginning was adoption.”
Even though adoption seemed like next logical step, Brandy struggled with the decision to give up on having a biological child.
“As a woman, it’s so hard to come to that final moment where you say, okay, body, you’re not going to provide a child for your husband. You’ll never see half of you and half of him.”
But, despite her hesitation with giving up on trying for their own child, Brandy knew that her and husband had always had a heart for orphans.
“Every vacation we went on, instead of going ziplining, we’d go to orphanages,” she said. “When we went to Honduras, there was a four-year-old little girl named Virginia who walked up to us and we just looked at each other like, this is our daughter.”
Unfortunately, the country had just suffered a devastating hurricane and they weren’t allowing adoptions. But the orphanage said they’d contact the couple as soon as the ban was lifted. Sadly, the couple learned just a couple months later that the child had passed away during a medical procedure.
As the Chandlers were dealing with the loss of the daughter that could have been, Brandy received a cancer diagnosis. Although she knew she had a long road ahead of her, she wanted to move forward with adopting another child.
“I had narrowed it down to a few Christian organizations and all of them said you have to be clear of cancer for two years before you can be eligible,” she said. “I started thinking, maybe this isn’t what God wants. Maybe he wants us to be missionaries and help many babies instead of just one.”
When Brandy was well again, the couple had a long talk and decided that they would say a prayer and give up the whole situation to God. Two weeks later, they were visiting a new church campus, when someone asked if she had any children.
“I said, we don’t have any kids yet, but we’re hoping to adopt,” Brandy said. “One of the ladies said, one of my good friends owns an adoption agency in Fort Bend, would you mind if I gave her your information? A little lightbulb went off and I said a prayer.”
Within four days, the couple received a call from Debbie Richards, founder of the Rainbow of Love Adoption Agency saying she had a birth mom waiting for adoptive parents.
Richards founded the organization in 2003 after years working as a social worker for the state. She wanted to make a difference and adoption seemed like the best way to do that. The former CPS worker decided on the name Rainbow of Love because of its positive connotations.
“Love is always very positive, and when you see a rainbow in the sky, you know that the storm has ended and the sunshine is coming,” Richards said.
Hearing from Richards was the hope of the sunshine after the storm for the Chandlers. Soon they were chosen by a birth mom and six weeks later she delivered the couple’s new son, Camden.
“I was in the OR with the birth mom and after he was born the nurses said, do you want to see your son,” Brandy said. “I’ll never forget that moment, turning and looking down at him. Our eyes met and it was like the whole room went black and I heard God saying, this is your son. It was the most amazing, beautiful moment.”
It’s stories like these that keep Richards and the Rainbow of Love Adoption Agency striving to match infants and those in the foster care system with adoptive parents.
“Choosing adoption is a big step and it’s very scary. But nothing worth having in life is easy,” she said. “If this is the route you feel you were led to go on, it will happen.”