While preparing to adopt an unborn baby, a couple was given the opportunity to meet the birth mom. That meeting came with a shocking revelation when dad locked eyes with the young woman and realized he’d seen her before.
Walter Manis and his wife Annie grew up together in Arkansas after Walt’s family moved to town around the same time Annie was born. Annie’s family lived on the property right across the pasture from Walt’s parents’ farm, and their families were good friends.
Walt went to Annie’s house often, but since she was “a little munchkin,” he didn’t pay her much attention. The little blonde girl noticed Walt, though. “My whole life, I was like, ‘I think Walt Manis is amazing,'” Annie admitted. “I always thought, ‘When I grow up, I want to find someone just like him.'”
When Annie went to college, her childhood friend helped her get settled in and introduced her to a church. The pair spent more and more time together, getting to know each other better. One day, while talking about their dreams, Walt was reminded of a vivid vision he had as a young boy — one he had never forgotten and never will.
Growing up, Walt loved being outside on his parent’s 100-acre property, where he talked to God, and God often spoke to him. During one of those conversations, God showed 12-year-old Walt a vivid image of a child. “She had dark skin and dark eyes,” Walt recalled. “And, God said, ‘This s going to be your daughter and her name is going to be Chloe.‘”
Years later, as Walt Manis was talking with Annie about their hopes were for the future, Annie said she felt like God made her “to be a mom.” It was what she wanted more than anything else, and she had already picked a name for her future daughter, she told Walt.
Without telling her about his childhood vision, Walt asked Annie what name she had chosen. It was Chloe — the same name God had given Walt years before. Both Walt and Annie were stunned as Walt told her about his childhood vision and his belief he’d one day have a daughter by the same name Annie picked for her future child.
Since Walt saw Chloe with olive skin and brown eyes, he didn’t think Annie, with her blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, could be the mother of the little girl God had shown him. Annie, however, felt early on that Walt would become her husband. “Walt felt like home to me,” Annie said. “From the very beginning, I felt like this is where I belong — with this guy.”
Annie was right about her future with Walt. The two eventually married and decided to try to start a family. Sadly, Annie and Walt struggled to conceive. Months turned into years, and their inability to have children strained their marriage and tested their faith. Annie began questioning God’s goodness.
Devastated by infertility, the couple prayed for God to take away their desire to be parents if it wasn’t what He wanted for them. However, their desire only grew stronger. “He kept compelling us in His love to love this idea of being parents and love this idea of having this little girl,” Walt recalled.
Annie thought that maybe this meant they should adopt, but Walt was adamantly against it. “I called it a band-aid baby. We are struggling, we are hurting, and I don’t — I didn’t want just a fix,” Walt admitted. “I didn’t want just some kid, I wanted the kid we were supposed to have.”
God continued to work on Walt, and he eventually went from being adamantly against adoption to “just wanting the kid God wants” him to have. With Walt finally open to the possibility, Annie excitedly began the adoption process, and the couple eventually got the news they had been waiting for.
“It’s a girl,” an email from the adoption agency read, telling Annie and Walter Manis that a woman named Alison had chosen them to be the parents of her unborn child. As the couple awaited their daughter’s birth, the biological mom asked to meet the adoptive parents-to-be. Annie and Walt traveled to Wichita, Kansas, and Alison opened the door. When Walt got his first look at her, he realized very quickly he had seen her face before.
“She opens the door and it looks like a grown-up version of this little girl in my head that was from the past,” Walter Manis recalled. The couple talked to Alison for hours, and the subject of the baby’s name came up. Annie and Walt had taken the name Chloe off the table, abandoning it as a fluke coincidence. But, when asked if she had thought of a name, Alison said, “Ever since I got pregnant, even before I knew it was a girl, I’ve been calling this baby Chloe.”
Annie and Walter Manis were floored, realizing God had kept the promise He made Walt as a boy. All of Walt’s doubts about having a “band-aid baby” immediately and completely disappeared. “When the birth mom said the name ‘Chloe,’ in an instant, I had become a father. Even before she was born, I was her dad,” Walt said.
Annie and Walter Manis became Chloe’s parents, just as God had always planned. “This surreal presence of God was just all around us, and I felt Him saying to me, ‘See how much I love you? Do you see this? Do you see what I’ve done? I’ve been writing this story — you had no idea — I’ve been writing this story for years. Since Walt was a kid, I’ve been writing this story,'” Annie said.
“What I saw as Him not loving me was, in fact, Him being the most loving He could’ve been,” Annie explained, admitting she had been foolish and her perspective had been skewed because of her pain. “It’s like He was whispering to me, in that moment, ‘I’ve been here this whole time, and you didn’t know, but I’ve been here this whole time, I’ve been walking this thing with you and I was just saying trust me, trust me, trust me, trust me. I’ve got something good — I’ve got something good up ahead.”
“I think God is incredible. I think it’s incredible the way He flung the stars into space. And, that same God, the same God who keeps the world from falling apart, He loves me,” Annie furthered. “I can be so secure in that love. And, to be able to trust in that and to rest in that — it’s the greatest gift.”
“It’s a constant struggle to just sit in His sovereignty — when everything is falling apart in your mind — just to wait,” Walt said. “He just doesn’t leave anything to chance, and it’s not random. It’s amazing. It’s a miracle.” Others definitely agree as they find an increased faith, hope, and trust in God’s promises through Walt, Annie, and Chloe’s story. God is good, and He works things out for us in His perfect timing.