Every so often I think about her. At the time this is being written she will have just turned six years old a few months ago. She is likely finishing up her kindergarten year. Is she shy, or does she command the attention of the room? Is pink her favorite color? Is her preferred Disney princess the famed Elsa or is she more of a Moana girl? I wonder if she’s happy, thriving and being cared for. I think about how she was mine for a few short moments and then suddenly, she wasn’t. I had her name. I searched the meaning of it and prayed the virtues of that name over her. I felt with every fiber of my being that she was God’s clear answer to my prayers. After so much wrestling with God on the subject of adoption for our family, and stuck in our own indecision, we had finally resolved to tell Him that if He wanted us to adopt, a baby was just going to have to fall into our laps.
And fall she did.
It was a Thursday morning, two days after Christmas in 2013. In my prayer time that morning I had specifically talked with God about the pull on my heart toward adoption and how I just needed Him to make something happen if He, in fact, had a child for us. My boys were busy playing with their new toys and I worked to put away decorations.
The phone rang. A friend from small group was calling to tell me that a baby was going to be born in two weeks time and an adoptive family was needed. The attorney she and her husband had used to adopt their son had reached out to her for help finding a family for this baby girl. My friend had remembered a conversation she and I had had 6 months prior at a play date where I had shared our interest in growing our family through adoption. “This is it!”, I thought. “This is the sign I’ve been asking God for!” My friend shared what little information she had received from the attorney and passed her contact information along to me to take the next step if we were interested.
After ending our call, I quickly got on the phone to my husband to share the news. He too was excited and intrigued at the prospect and encouraged me to reach out to the attorney. A quick conversation with the attorney that afternoon had led me from quietly putting away Christmas decorations to scheduling a meeting to take steps to add another child to our family within a two-week time period.
Mind you, at this point in our lives we were completely ignorant to all-things adoption. We had no home study and – kind of a biggie – no money! Basking in the surrealism of it all, we threw caution to the wind and happily looked forward to our face to face appointment with the attorney that had been scheduled for the following afternoon. If God was orchestrating this, surely He was going to make a way.
The next morning my husband left for work and I had a full day ahead of me with our two boys, at the time ages 6 and 2. At 7:30 a.m. my phone rang. This time it was the attorney. “I need you to get to the hospital right now! Birth mom is on her way to the hospital and likely giving birth in the ambulance!” Immediately I went into crisis management mode. I called my husband and smacked him with a doozie of a phone call. He quickly rerouted, called his boss and headed toward the hospital. I called my Mom and asked her to inform the rest of the family, got my boys dressed and headed out the door with no idea what we were walking into.
Fortunately, the hospital was only ten minutes from our home. We arrived in a flash. With our two boys in tow, my husband I momentarily stood in the parking lot on that cold December morning, took a deep breath, clasped hands and gave each other that look that meant, “Our lives are about to change”. We were right about that, but not in the way we thought.
We made our way to the waiting room and having never set eyes on the attorney, we waited for her to identify herself. A few minutes later the attorney whisked in from around the corner, shook our hands, said “Hi, I’m so and so, let’s go meet your baby.” Disclaimer: For those of you reading this and screaming at the complete lack of ethical practice in this scenario, remember we were completely ignorant and were happily floating through what we thought was an epic Hallmark movie moment. Reality would soon give us a quick plunge back to earth.
I’ll never forget the scene we walked into. We turned the corner into a dimly lit room where a young mom was surrounded by family and friends. She had in fact given birth in the ambulance and was fairly unresponsive due to the sheer shock and exhaustion aided by the help of pain medication. A baby girl was placed in our arms and the attorney left us with a room full of strangers. We quickly realized we did not share culture or language with these people whom we now seemingly had a forever connection to. Being completely unaware of the social awkwardness of it all, my boys were persistently begging to meet their new baby sister. I bent down to introduce them with an audience standing by.
We began making attempts to break the ice and talk with our new extended family. One patriarchal figure spoke enough broken English to at least put us somewhat at ease, but we still couldn’t decipher much of the story he was telling us. We wanted to ask questions but didn’t want to pry. We wanted to put their hearts at ease that we were going to love and cherish this little life we were holding. At one point we turned our attention to the birth mom and, out of a desire to honor her, asked if there was anything she wanted us to pass on to her little girl about her or from her. She blankly stared at us and shook her head with a clear “No”. Still trying to manage the discomfort in the room we continued making small talk and taking in this little miracle we were holding.
All of the sudden the door burst open and the attorney forcefully said, “You have to put her down, we’ve got to go!” Stunned, we quickly complied and placed the baby back in her hospital bed. Assuming we were going to get some answers and return we said nothing to the people in the room and walked out. We were told an angry relative with a long criminal history was in the building and looking to threaten us as well as the birth mom should she proceed with the adoption. He had returned from an all-nighter at the casino across state lines and learned of the child’s unexpected early birth. Seeking to claim additional government assistance for another dependent in his home, he wasn’t about to let this adoption take place. So, we literally hid in the hospital with our sons while security officers attempted to find and disarm him.
Quite honestly, the rest of that morning is a blur to this day. Little was said between us and the attorney and we parted ways quickly. My mom, grandmother and cousin had arrived in an attitude of celebration only to find us visibly shaken and completely unable to even begin to explain what had happened. They offered to take our boys home and watch them for us as my husband and I drove to a nearby restaurant to attempt to unpack it all. We were in complete shock. Much of the time we sat quietly with each other just staring. We said as much as we could and then had to return to some semblance of a normal day. My husband went back to work, and I went home to my boys and my family.
The days and weeks that followed were full of what I now know was grief. At the time I was just trying to make sense of it all. I was heartbroken, angry and beyond confused. I cried out to God, “Why?!” “I thought this was so clear.” “I had just prayed for this and it happened just as I prayed, I don’t understand!” The questions continued. I am being completely transparent when I tell you that I even felt betrayed by God. I had no idea He was using this situation to write an amazing story to His glory and at the time I was not mature enough to recognize that or even care. I was completely engrossed in my own pain and in the pain of my family. I attempted to explain the situation to my sons in the simplest of terms for their little hearts to understand but honestly, I didn’t understand or even believe what I was telling them at that point.
Despite all of the questions and anger toward God, He was so patient and loving with us. We later learned of God’s divine protection over us in that situation. The family of the baby girl had, unbeknownst to us and the attorney, taken funds from two other local adoption attorneys promising the baby to two other couples seeking to adopt. We were smack in the middle of Federal Fraud and had no clue! You can’t make this stuff up, y’all!
We learned a hard lesson in adoption that day. My heart is still sad for that baby girl. It wasn’t her fault that she came into this world under such brokenness and sin. She didn’t ask to be born into those circumstances. My prayer for her to this day is that she is loved and cared for. I pray she will know Jesus and not fall into the sins of her bloodline. She has no idea who I am, nor will she, this side of heaven, but she still has a piece of my heart.
I have heard these disrupted adoptions compared to a miscarriage. Having never experienced a miscarriage, I will not dare to assume that pain or compare. I will however attest to the stages of grief and the similarities we experienced. We did lose a child that day. We looked into her eyes and with our hearts promised her a forever place in our family as true as flesh and blood. We didn’t get to say goodbye. We simply had to move on.
By all earthly standards we had full license and permission to walk away from this crazy thing called adoption and return to our safe and comfortable life. But God. When He places something on your heart, you must pursue it relentlessly through the roughest of waters. That day at the hospital did change our lives forever, but definitely not the way we expected. This horrible day served as the catalyst to lead us to the daughter God had planned for us all along. We just had to take the first step. Granted, it was more like a plunge rather than a step.
I do not share this part of our story with you to scare you. If God is tugging at your heart to adopt, listen to Him and take the next step! If I could sit across from you over a cup of coffee I would tell you that the adoption journey is jam packed with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There are so many barriers that must be overcome and the utmost perseverance is required to see it through. It’s not all Hallmark moments. There will be challenging times that you are going to want to run, not walk away from. There will be seasons you need to take pause and catch your breath.
But, I would also tell you that you stand to gain the most amazing person in your life who will change you and your family forever. You stand to gain a story that God can use to bring growth, healing and encouragement to others around you. You stand to gain a new perspective, a kingdom mindset you might never have had otherwise. You stand to gain new relationships and community with the most incredible people that will walk alongside you on the mountaintop and in the valley. You stand to gain a gospel story of redemption, love you didn’t know existed and a change in the very direction of your life’s purpose. Gives me chills every time I think about it.
Our introduction to adoption began as a Hallmark moment, then quickly turned to a horror movie scene and now just feels like a daily episode on NatGeo Wild but we would not trade a single moment. Yep, we’re kinda crazy to keep saying yes and pursuing this thing. We’ve had more failed processes than I can keep up with. Domestic, international, DHS…we’ve walked them all. And we’re not done. Despite the craziness of it all, our hearts remain open and we wait expectantly to see the unfolding of God’s plan as His perfect timing reveals it to us.
I hope you will stick with me as I continue sharing our adoption story. Coming up on the next post will be the story of “When God Says Yes” – The Journey to Our Daughter.