Not Part of the Plan

Hands of Hope Blog

Nate and Rachel Bristol have dreamed of growing their family through adoption since they were dating, complete with a step-by-step plan for how to make their dream come true. While God was definitely the One to place this on their hearts, He had other plans for how it would all unfold.

Once the Bristols got married, the Holy Spirit began to lead them down the road of foster care instead. Nate and Rachel prayed for confirmation and began taking steps of obedience — getting trained and licensed to receive placements. Soon after, the Bristols started receiving calls but each placement opportunity felt off. Something felt unsettled.

One day Rachel got a call for a placement of three siblings that needed to be picked up within the hour, ages six, four, and an infant. The Bristols were caught off guard: they expected and prepared for one school-aged child, but they felt strongly that this call was where God was leading. How did they know it was from God? Rachel describes that day “not as peaceful, but full of frantic assurance.” Within one day, Bristol Party of Two became a Party of Five! And two years after accepting their placement, Nate and Rachel adopted those three siblings, making them a forever family.

When asked how this experience has shaped her faith, Rachel will tell you, “We got a front row seat to watch healing happen. There were times when I would be overwhelmed by the reality of trauma, not wanting our kids to become statistics. Then God would patiently remind me, ‘Do you forget who I am? I am a God who heals and restores.’ And that’s exactly what I’ve seen Him do for my kids.” The Bristols never could have planned out the steps of their adventure, but the story had already been written. God’s grace birthed a dream and built a family.

Written by: Maggie Johnson