Monday, December 10, 2012

In Her Own Words: An Adoptive Mama Shares Her Heartache and Her Joy

You might remember Tim and Stacey from this post. In it, I alluded the the heartache and loss their family had gone through to get to the point of celebrating the addition of the daughter. Their story is a powerful one of the hard road of adoption, the emotions of waiting, and the goodness of God. I encourage you to follow more of their journey at their blog, Tim and Stacey Adopt.

"Stacey... well, this is not a phone call I want to make." 

When our social worker called me to tell me that our adoption was failing, I was waiting at a stoplight across the street from the hospital. I was on my way to see the little boy who I thought was my son. The little boy who had been born at 4:43am the previous day, weighing in at 7 pounds 7 ounces, 20 1/2 inches long. It was February 14th, 2012, it was Valentine's Day, and when I woke up that morning I was a mother. 

Or at least I had thought I was. 

That day, I was broken. I physically hurt. My husband and I crawled into bed, pulled the curtains, and I cried until my chest and my eyeballs ached. It felt a little bit like somebody had taken a crowbar to my chest out of nowhere, and all the wind had been knocked out of me. Emotionally, I was doubled over in pain, caught off guard, and still trying to catch my breath from the impact.

Some excellent advice I heard years ago was brought to mind: When the bottom falls out, lock your gaze on the cross. You'll find all the answers to all your questions at the cross. 

So that's what I did. I dug in, held on tight, and locked my gaze on the cross. 

About two weeks after that adoption failed, we were chosen again by an expectant mother and father. It was a messy situation. Paternity was unknown, and the adoption plan depended on paternity which wouldn't be determined until after the baby was born. Tim and I made the decision to not tell anybody about this match (and likely any subsequent ones) until we had a baby in our arms. While we waited on the paternity test, they changed their minds and decided to parent. That was failed adoption #2.

So we kept waiting. So far things had gone far from how we imagined... how could I have confidence that anything would change? It was not easy. It was not my idea of how things should go. But God does not make mistakes. He was working all those things for my good. 

We were "active" with a couple different agencies at the same time, with the hopes that we would be exposed to more potential adoption situations. We were notified of several different situations over the months, and were given the opportunity to have our profile shown. A couple were not a good fit, and we declined to be shown. With the others, we threw our name in the hat and hoped and prayed that this one would be "our" baby! 

Each time we got the phone call saying, "I'm sorry, but they selected another family," it was hard. Really hard. I felt defeated. I felt like God had forgotten us. He had brought us this far, then left us high and dry. Why would He do that to us? Days later I saw a quotation on a friend's blog that spoke deeply to me, and I wrote it down and began carrying it around with me as a reminder. Little did I know how true this would become for us, and very, very soon. 

Days later, in early June, a woman at work told me she had a good friend whose daughter was pregnant and they had decided to make an adoption plan for the baby.

I emailed her a PDF of our profile book to pass on to her friend, and gave her permission to tell her about Tim and I and let them know that we were wanting to adopt. Past experience had taught me to not get my hopes up, to not assume anything, to not look forward to anything. There are no guarantees, we had learned. There's a fine line between guarding your heart and cynicism, and we had been walking it.

My heart fully expected another no. This time, it was a yes. They wanted to meet us.

Tim and I went into this meeting with no assumptions and no expectations that this would actually result in a baby. She was not due for over three months, and a lot can change in three months. Additionally, they might meet us and decide we weren't the right family for them. It was completely their decision, as it should be. 

The door had opened, so we walked through it. That's often how adoption works.

By the time dinner was over, they had asked us what we needed to do next to continue with an adoption match. Wait, what? Are they saying they choose us?  They had. They had chosen us to love, care for, and raise their precious baby girl!
We were so excited to become parents to a baby girl! She was due in late September, and it was mid June. While we were excited, we were also fearful. Past experience had demonstrated to us that there are no guarantees in adoption, and that sometimes (or in our case so far, always) things don't work out like you hoped. We knew the next three months would be hard. We were in that place yet again of waiting, cautiously expecting, and hoping. Just like with our second match, we decided not to tell anyone.
One day I angrily prayed, "I just wish I could know for sure! If I KNEW for sure if this little girl will actually be our daughter or not, I could make it through these next few months!"

Not even a second after I thought those words, God spoke to my heart and said, I'm asking you to walk by faith, not by sight. You don't know how things will turn out, and that's the point. If you knew, why would you need me?

Throughout our nearly ten month process, hiring an adoption consultant proved to be invaluable. Not only did Susan provide support and encouragement (she "talked me off the ledge" several times, when things got especially difficult!), but it made all the difference in the world to have someone to answer our adoption questions and point us in the right direction when we had no idea where to go next. When we found ourselves presented with an unexpected private situation, her help became especially important as she became our main go-to person to walk us through the remainder of the process.

Norah was delivered via scheduled c-section on Thursday, September 20th. We spent time in the hospital with her birth family, which was a deeply emotional and special experience. Per state laws, her adoption paperwork was signed 24 hours later. That day, we became parents to the most precious baby girl. We are undeserving, and our hearts are profoundly grateful to her birth parents for giving us this most precious gift! 

Two days later, Norah left the hospital in our arms and we surprised our friends and family. And what a surprise it was! Thirty days later, we stood before a judge and he declared what we already knew in our hearts: she was completely, legally, irrevocably our daughter.   

So you see, this story has a very happy ending. I always knew that one day we would look back and say it was all worth it. And I was right. 

The thing is, this really isn't just another adoption story about a couple who wanted a baby but couldn't have one, so they decided to adopt and it didn't go as planned so they waited some more, and then one day they finally got what they wanted. This really isn't our story at all, it's God's story. It's about our hearts, and it's about transformation, and redemption. God is in the business of redeeming seemingly hopeless situations, and redeeming ugly hearts who sometimes think He can't (or won't) do what He has promised. Spiritual transformation doesn't happen when we get what we want. It happens while we wait and trust, even when we have yet to receive what it is that we're waiting for.

God knows better then we do, and He is enough. I can trust, even in the midst of my darkest days, that God is working for my good. God does not make mistakes, God does not have a Plan B. 

Two and a half years ago, my perspective of God was too small. He worked in my brokenness, and He will do the same for you.

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