“Before I Knew You, He Loved You”

There is an ache in my heart every year on Aiden and Emma’s birthdays. A pain. A longing.

A wishing with all my heart that I could have been there to hold them on the day that they were born.

To whisper in their ear about beauty and hope and destiny and mostly LOVE.

I wasn’t there.

But He was.

He was there…

“For You created my inmost being;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in the secret place,

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

All the days ordained for me were written in Your book,

Before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:13-16

Ukraine March 2009. Emma, Aiden, and Momma

This is one of the first images I have of two of my children. Aiden was three. Emma was two and a half.

I have nothing else.

No images of precious baby faces, only dreams of what I wish could have been. Newborn babies in my arms.

Before I knew them, He loved them.

They were His and they are still.

Several weeks ago and idea was born in my heart.  A friend shared with me the pain that she was walking through with her own sweet one. It was time for a “guess that baby” bulletin board at school. There were no images of her daughter as a baby. She debated, keeping her home from school. Sheltering her from that pain. My heart listened.

And Jesus planted an idea in my listening heart.

If an artist can project what a child looks like into the future, like FBI artists do for missing children, couldn’t an artist project backwards and find an image of a child’s missing past?

The artist for the project immediately came to mind. Diana Downing, friend and fellow adoptive mom, one who had walked the journey long before I had. One who had encouraged my heart many times in the midst of my deepest pain.

Because she understood.

She had drawn this image of Mattie right into her Bible as she prayed for him to be able to recover from heart surgeries and come home to his family.

Mattie drawn over Psalm 119 in Diana’s Bible.
Mattie with Diane when he was 10 weeks old.
This is Diana’s precious son Ben who is now with Jesus after fighting illness for many years. He is now free. Perfectly whole and loved by his Maker. If you’d like to read about the Downing’s adoption journey with Ben, visit Diana’s blog www.callmeovercomer.wordpress.com and read back starting in March 2010 as Diana shares their story.
Benjie in progress no background
A portrait of a much younger Ben.

You can see why I just KNEW Diana was the artist for this project. Adoptive mom, amazing artist and a woman with a heart of compassion and tenderness that runs deep and wide.

I asked her.

She said, “Yes.”

And a project was born.


B4 I knewYou Collage

If you, like me, have missing pieces to your child’s story and  would like to commission Diana to do a portrait of your child as a baby, please visit her website Overcomers Art.

Email Diana at t.downing@ymail.com to request information about this project.

For a limited time, portraits are $85.oo plus shipping for an 8×12 portrait in oils on wrapped gallery canvas. (Holding your spot on Diana’s waiting list for portraits requires a $20 deposit.)

She will request two early photos (the earliest you have of your child) and one current photo of your child on which to base her work.

She prays over each project and really asks the Father to give her insight and revelation as she creates the portrait.

I’m pretty excited that she is currently working on Emma and Aiden’s portraits!

And so very excited to show you the first completed portrait of this amazing project.

My sweet friend Sydney!

If you follow my blog, you’ve met Sydney. She has an amazing mom, my friend Kerry. Kerry blows me away every day with her fierce love and commitment to her children, all three adopted from foster care.

Kerry is a single mom. It’s hard. She is one of my heroes.

A few months ago the Lord prompted me to encourage Sydney regarding her FATHER’S deep love for her.

I wrote to her.

“You have a Heavenly Father who is simply wowed by you. He never ceases to dance with joy when He looks down on you and sees the beautiful young woman He created, becoming everything He wrote that you would become when He penned the story of your life! And He has put HIS HEART inside your beautiful Mother, so when you hear her words, remember, you are hearing HIS!!!”

Today for her 13th birthday, she received this gift from her mother.

And her mother shares,

“For a child who came from foster care into an adoptive setting, so many times they do not have baby pictures. The birth mother had baby pictures of Katyana and Ethan, but none of Sydney, who loves babies. More than anything, she has desired a baby picture of herself through the years. Between not knowing her heritage and not knowing what she looked like as a baby, she has been left longing. A wonderful artist, Diana Downing, painted what she thought Sydney to look like as a baby based on a series of pictures I had sent her. Sydney has not left the portrait since opening it. She is so amazed. She keeps repeating ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh wow, that’s me! Oh my gosh!!! I have a baby picture!!! This is the best present I have ever received. I love it so much. Oh my gosh!!!’ So… here is the gift I have been waiting to share with her. A gift that might not seem like much to some but to her it is priceless. Happy Birthday Sydney!!! I am so glad you were born!!!”

I cannot begin to explain how much joy it brings me to present this project to you.

I’m praying that these portraits will bring healing to many children, and parents like me, with longing in their hearts for lost days.


4 thoughts on ““Before I Knew You, He Loved You”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Tracie! With all of our kids I have at least one picture of them as a baby, except (surprisingly) Mike. Having not met him until he was 15 I have not even the slightest idea what he looked like as a baby. I will be looking into this and talking to Doug for sure.

  2. I just read this to Sydney. She loves this post and thinks it was absolutely the best way to finish the most perfect 13th birthday. She hopes this project will help others like her and she is so happy to be the first. We thank you and Diana from the bottom of our hearts.

  3. This idea is so inspiring! I’ve been reading your blog for a few years (came across it when we were working with CAC) and love hearing about you and your beautiuful family. I am sure families will be lining up for miles to bring home one of these precious gifts from Diana. What a treasure for any adoptive family!

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