Everyone has a list of goals they have for their life, trying to tick as many off as possible. We plan what we eat, where we go, and what we wear. We plan what to study, what job we want, and who we want to spend the rest of our lives with.
But sometimes, not everything goes according to plan and you have to work your way around it. If you don't, it will most likely hurt you more in the end. One man from Arkansas had been firm in his plans and when they didn't go the way he wanted, his resistance gave him something to regret forever.
When he was a young boy, he used to walk over the grounds of his family’s property and dream of his perfect future. He worked hard at making this future a reality, chipping away at it.
However, in doing so, he ignored a part of his life that ultimately forced him to make a choice he was against.
Walt Mantis grew up in Arkansas, where he lived on a 100-acre property with his parents. He developed a love of the outdoors from an early age, preferring to wander the property over watching TV.
At the age of 12, he had a vision of his future, and he was willing to do whatever it took to make it a reality.
“I just had a vision. God sent me a very vivid picture of a little kid,” Walt said to his parents once. In his vision, he saw himself swinging a little girl by the arms on their property.
She had “dark skin and dark eyes.” He knew that this girl was going to be named Chloe and that she was his future daughter.
He knew that the first step would be finding a woman to love, a good woman that would become his wife and, eventually, Chloe’s mother.
This step turned out not to be too difficult. The little girl who lived across the road, Annie, had had a crush on the “amazing” Walt Manis for several years.
Many years after Walt had his vision, he and Annie, now both college-age, were chatting in a room of their student dorms. During that conversation, she admitted to him that she had always wanted to have kids.
And that wasn’t all. Furthermore, she knew that she was meant to have a daughter, and she even had a name picked out.
Meant To Be
That’s right, Annie told him that her daughter would be named Chloe. This was absolutely shocking to Walt. But immediately, he realized something.
Despite the fact that the girl in his vision couldn’t be Annie’s, as the girl had olive skin and dark eyes, he committed himself to Annie. In time the pair married, dreaming of being Chloe’s parents.
The couple spent several years doing missionary and humanitarian work at missions all over the world before finally settling down. They were determined to make their visions come true and spent four years trying to have a baby.
However, they had no luck. Walt was becoming impatient. What was wrong with them? Did any of them have any physiological flaw that made it impossible for them to conceive life together?
“I had always clung to this promise that God had given me about the daughter,” Walt recalls. “I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but it was starting to get hard to wait.”
But he wasn’t the only distressed one in the household. Annie, his beloved wife, had her own struggles to deal with. And they weren’t easy at all.
“It was really hard,” she admitted. “I struggled with questioning God’s goodness at that time because I just felt like it was so mean.”
After wishing for a daughter all her life, it seemed impossible. What exactly could be wrong with them? Due to their desperate desires for their perfect future, the couple started to fight constantly.
Their lack of success sat between them like a barbed-wire fence. There was no way to deal with it without painful feelings.
Things worsened to the point where not only were their marriage and relationship suffering but so too was Walt’s faith. Had he believed in a lie all his life? Had he wasted all those years hoping for something that would never come true?
Every time any of their friends or acquaintances announced a pregnancy, the couple were happy for them but felt slighted due to their own failure. They felt humiliated. Why could everyone have kids but not them?
“We’re just fools,” Walt thought. “We’re just fools who want kids, and it’s never going to happen.” The happy couple became truly miserable and despondent.
Despite the pain, troubles, and disappointment, the couple’s desire for a family never waned. In fact, it only grew stronger. In time, Annie suggested that they could adopt a baby instead.
Walt, however, refused and adamantly insisted that they would never adopt. Ever. What about his vision? What about the dream the two of them used to share of having their own kid?
“I had this thought,” Walt explained, “I don’t want, I called it a ‘Band-Aid Baby.’ We are struggling. We are hurting. I didn’t want just a fix. I didn’t want just some kid. I wanted the kid that we were supposed to have.”
For a while, Walt didn’t want to hear anything about the topic. In time, however, Walt would change his tune.
In time, Walt came to accept the idea and decided that whether or not the child was his biologically, he would have the baby he had always dreamed of.
So the couple set to work and dealt with the mountains of paperwork and red tape. Then, it was time for them to wait, hoping to be chosen.
"We had gone through all the paperwork. Annie had done so much work, and I supported her in that. But I still wasn't convinced that adoption was right," Walt recalls.
However, it was done. Now, the process was unstoppable. And one day, all of a sudden, they received an email that would change both of their lives forever.
"I remember one night we were at Walt's sister's house. I was checking my email. There was an email that came in, and it said, 'it's a girl!'" remembers Annie with a smile on her face.
"I clicked on it, and I realized it was from the adoption agency. They said, 'we just want to let you know that a birth mother has chosen you guys, and you're going to be parents'".
"I just sat there looking at the email like, 'oh my gosh, I can't believe this," she said. However, Walt's reaction was sort of different.
"Annie gets this email, she's super excited, and I'm just like, 'alright, I'm going to wait and see.’ Because… I don't know, you know?" he recalls. He wasn't aware that he was in for the biggest surprise of his entire life.
February Or March
The adoption agency told them their baby girl would be born in late February or early March. The couple, and particularly Annie, was as excited as they could be.
However, there had been something on their minds for some time. They talked about it, and they finally reached a conclusion. Just a few months ago, nothing could have ever made them think that they would change their minds like that.
A Change Of Mind
They decided they no longer wanted to call their girl "Chloe." In Annie's words: "we had decided 'oh, that was just a fluke thing, that it was a coincidence that we both liked that name.’"
"So we had even talked about a different name." However, there was something to be done before that decision. One day, they received a phone call from a social worker.
The social worker told them that the baby's mother, a young woman named Alison, wanted to meet them before giving up her girl for adoption.
The couple was more than happy to do that. So they got in the car and drove all the way to Wichita, where the young woman lived. Little did they know that they were about to experience the most shocking episode of their lives.
Going To Her House
The woman lived on the outskirts of Wichita, close to the countryside. "We went to the house where she was living, and we knocked on the door," recounts Annie.
Then, they waited for a few seconds. But nobody came out. And that wasn't all. There was something else about the scene that made them feel somewhat uneasy.
Not a peep could be heard from inside the house. Maybe they got the wrong address? Did anyone even live there, or was the house abandoned?
But suddenly, as they were standing on the front porch, looking around and feeling confused, they heard a creek. It was the door opening. When Walt saw the person who opened it, he felt his stomach drop to his knees.
"She opens the door, and it looks like a grown-up version of this little girl in my head that was from the past," Walt recalls, teary-eyed.
Alison was the spitting image of the girl in Walt's vision! When he first saw her, he couldn't believe his eyes. "So, in a second, the name 'Chloe' was back on the table"
"We went up to this room, and we sat on the table and talked for like 3 hours," Annie recalls about the episode.
"The social worker says, 'let's talk about a name. Have you thought of one?' She said, 'yeah, well, ever since I got pregnant, even before I knew it was a girl, I've been calling this baby Chloe."
Tears In Their Eyes
"And both Walt and I… I mean, I don't even remember what we did exactly, I just know that I was ugly crying," remembers Annie.
"We were weeping, and she was like, 'oh, you hate the name.' And we were like, 'oh my goodness, no, we love the name. God has spoken, he's told us that name," says Walt, close to choking up and with a wide smile.
"All those doubts about having the band-aid baby were just completely out of the window. It felt like… I just had full-body shivers. It was like the Holy Spirit was just right there."
"When the birth mom said the name Chloe, you know, in an instant, I had become a father. Even before she was born, I was her dad."
Presence Of God
"The 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 have done?"
Just a few months later, the big day finally came. The couple was relaxing at their flat one morning when they suddenly received a call: Alison had just gone into labor. Quickly, they rushed to Wichita, to the hospital where she was staying.
"Yeah, I was just crazy nervous that morning," recalls Annie. "I remember going to the hospital, and then all of a sudden it was happening, all of a sudden the doctor came in, and he was like 'OK, she's ready, you're gonna have a baby now.'"
"And there was all this moving and bustling around, and then Chloe was there. I was looking at this baby, my baby."
"So many years anticipating her as a child, and she's here!" recalls Walt. "She's been a part of my life for so long, and she's finally there."
"There is no mistake, I am the father of this child, just like God had always planned it to be. He just doesn't leave anything to chance, it's not random. It's amazing, it's a miracle." In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.