When he was growing up Walt Manis knew that one day he wanted to become a dad.
He had always dreamed of having a little girl that he would name Chloe, but when he and his childhood sweetheart failed to get pregnant he felt completely let down.
The couple eventually decided to adopt, but this was when Walt realised that he had seen this baby before.
When ten-year-old Walt Manis moved to the small town of Arkansas, Annie had only just been born. The pair were both from Christian families and soon enough the families became close.
When Annie was young she also knew that she was destined to become a mother. She knew that one day she wanted to marry a man like Walt Manis – she idolised him in every single way.
Annie said, “My whole life I was like, I think Walt Manis is amazing and I always thought when I grow up I want to find someone just like him – who was in my age group.”
Little did she know that one day she would marry a man JUST like Walt.
Obviously being a decade older than Annie meant that Walt never showed any romantic interest in the little girl. He said, “Her family and my family were friends and so I got to go over to her house frequently and of course she’s a little munchkin so I’m not really paying attention.”
When Annie headed off to college, Walt lived just 30 minutes away – a relationship between the two soon blossomed.
Walt knew how daunting it was to move away from home so he was always there to offer Annie a helping hand. He even took her to his church – their religion was something that brought them together as children.
Annie said, “He helped me settle and introduced me to a church so we just started spending more and more time together.”
A love blossomed and the couple soon started planning their lives together.
Annie had loved Walt since she was a little girl, so she had no doubts about the couples new found love. “I think we both knew pretty early on that we were going to get married. The best way that I can describe it is that Walt felt like home to me. From the very beginning I felt like, yeah this is where I belong with this guy.”
Annie’s dreams came true when she married Walt in a beautiful wedding ceremony.
The pair were happier than ever and knew that the next step in their relationship was to start a family. Annie said: “When we first got married we decided we wanted to wait a little while to have children, we went travelling doing some work with different missions and agencies. But at a certain point we realized this is the right time, we want to pursue having children.” Both of them had always wanted children and neither of them had ever considered the fact that they might not be able to conceive.
The couple admit they were a little naive, “We were excited, we thought it was just going to happen immediately.”
It soon transpired that falling pregnant might not be easy for the couple. Months turned into years and pretty soon we were four years into trying and nothing. It was really hard, I think I struggled with questioning God’s goodness at that time because I just felt like it was so mean, such a mean thing to do.”
The pressure of not being able to conceive put a weight on the couple’s marriage and they could not believe that God would treat them like this.
Annie said, “I would say it was really hard on us individually, on us in our marriage and also the way we were relating with God. Especially for me, I was like, ‘Is God good?’ Especially when he’s doing things I don’t define as good.”
Annie admitted one of the hardest parts of her ordeal was watching her friends become mothers. Obviously she was happy for them but she always felt defeated after every pregnancy announcement.
Walt said, “All Annie’s friends were having kids and she had to just wait and put on this cheesy smile and say ‘we’re happy for you’. Every time we would be devastated because we would just think this isn’t going to happen for us. We’re just fools. We’re fools who want kids and it’s just never going to happen.”
After years, the young woman eventually came to terms with the cards she’d been dealt.
Annie said: “There was a point where I started to realize I can live a really full and really happy life and experience so much with God and know him so deeply and be satisfied in the deepest way a human can be satisfied, even without having a child. It sounds like a simple concept, but for me that was a big change, a big shift in my perspective.”
The realisation was heartbreaking but she thought that maybe God had other plans for her. Walt did not want to accept the fact that he would never be a father as God had already told him he would have a daughter.
As a child Walt would often spend time outside talking to God. He said: “I would go outside and talk to God and we would have this conversation and I didn’t know that that was strange or unusual, I would just pray to him and then sometimes he would say something to me, he would speak to me.”
This is when God gave Walt a vision of his future child.
Walt remembers the day that God told him he would have a daughter. He explained: “I was about 10 or 12-years-old, middle of the day and God gives me a very vivid picture of a little kid and I’m holding her and swinging her around in my parent’s yard and she’s just laughing like crazy. In the picture I had in my mind she had dark skin and dark eyes and God said this is going to be your daughter and her name is going to be Chloe.”
He told his wife about his vision well before the couple started dating. Annie could not believe what she was hearing.
“We had this conversation about what our dreams and hopes were for the future and I said that I just felt like God had just made me to be a mom. I said that I had actually a name picked out already that I wanted to name my daughter and he said ‘I do too’. I thought that was weird cos, you know, I didn’t think guys did that.” Annie explained.
Walt decided to ask Annie what she planned to call her future daughter and he was gobsmacked by her response.
“I said, ‘well what’s the name?’, and she said Chloe. She was in the same place that I was, we couldn’t believe it, you know,” said Walt. This was more than a coincidence and the couple believed it meant something more. Now that they were having trouble conceiving would they ever meet their little girl Chloe? Walt said, “I clung to this promise that God had given me about the daughter so I didn’t know when it was going to happen but it was starting to get hard to wait.”
After four years of trying, the couple decided they would need to help start their family another way. But Walt couldn’t face this.
Walt was completely against adopting, he said: “I was adamantly against adoption. I didn’t want just some fix, I didn’t want any kid, I wanted the kid we were supposed to have.” He thought adopting would mean he would get a “band-aid baby” – a child that they would love, but would only be hiding the pain of not being able to conceive.
Despite being reluctant, he knew how happy adopting would make his wife. So the pair decided to go for it.
Before they could meet their baby, a birth mother had to choose them. But it didn’t take long.
Annie received an email from an expectant mother that would change their lives forever.
The subject of the email was: “It’s a girl!!”. “I just sat there looking at the email like, I can’t believe this!” However Walt couldn’t help but feel sad. He said, “Annie gets this email, she’s super excited and I’m just like I going to wait and see cos I don’t know.”
The couple prepared for their newborn in every way possible, but would the couple call her Chloe?
The couple decided that there was no way, given Walt’s vision, that they could call their baby Chloe. Walt said: “The name Chloe is completely off the table, we’ve abandoned it.” But things soon changed.
The couple decided to meet with the birth mother to get to know each other before the birth. But when the mother, Alison, opened the door neither of them couple believe their eyes.
Alison was identical to the girl that was in Walt’s vision. Walt said: “She opens the door and it looks like a grown up version of this little girl I had in my head that was from the past and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, what in the world!’”
The father-to-be could not believe his eyes. He said: “We were floored. In a second, that name was back on the table.”
It also turned out that Alison had been calling the baby Chloe ever since she had fallen pregnant. Annie said: “She said, ever since I got pregnant, even before I knew it was a girl, I’ve been calling this baby Chloe. Both Walt and I, I don’t even remember what we did exactly, but I know that I was ugly crying.”
Meeting Alison changed Walt’s perception on the entire adoption. He said, “All those doubts about having a band-aid baby were completely out the window, I just had full body shivers and it was like the Holy Spirit was right there.”
After nine months of waiting the big day finally came…
Annie and Walt waited patiently in the delivery room. Annie said, “This surreal presence of god was all around us and I could just feel him saying to me, see how much I love, 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.”
A few hours later the daughter they had been waiting for finally arrived.
Annie recalls the incredible day she was born saying, “I remember just holding her and looking at her face and just being like ‘I’m your mom!’ So weird to say those words.”
Walt had waited even longer to meet Chloe, but did she live up to Walt’s vision?
“I’ve been waiting for her for so long and she’s finally here. I’m the father of this child, just like God had always planned it to be and I’m completely owning it, on cloud nine, amazed at what God has done. Sit in his sovereignty and when everything is falling apart in your mind, just to wait.” Walt said.
Since Chloe joined the family, the couple have decided to adopt once again. They have now adopted an adorable little girl named Naomi. They are now complete!
All image source: YouTube/Moving Works