Monday, April 18, 2011

A Quick Dose of Reality

I think I need to put it out there that although right now we are proceeding towards this adoption with hope and love in our hearts, it is not at all a sure thing.  M could change her mind after giving birth to her son;  this happens a lot---and it's not difficult to understand why.  After she holds that baby in her arms the first time, the world could suddenly look like a completely different place.  No matter how firmly she may feel at this moment about making an adoption plan for her baby, that could all change in a second after those tiny fingers wrap around hers.  And should this happen, Stu and I would not be angry or bitter with her.  Sad---yes.  Disappointed---yes.  Angry---no.  Part of us is expecting this to happen.  To some degree, it seems almost inevitable.  When we try to put ourselves in her shoes, we can't.  We can't imagine her situation, we can't even begin to comprehend the sacrifice she is preparing herself to make out of love for her little one.  We can't know what she will ultimately decide.   But for now, we will continue to fold the tiny clothes in the nursery;  we'll continue to pack our bag with diapers, baby wipes, and other necessities;  we'll continue to look forward with anticipation and excitement.  And if we drive to the hospital one day and return home with an empty car seat, well---that will be hard.  But I don't believe it will be for naught.  I don't believe that anything that happens does so without reason.  There are just reasons that you can fathom and reasons that you can't.  And no matter what happens, crossing paths with M and C will not be something we look upon with regret.  Meeting them was a privilege;  hearing their story was a privilege; whatever happens next will be in line with God's will and God's plan.  And we will continue to pray that our will may be aligned with His.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meeting M

Today we drove to Jackson to meet with an expectant mother.  On the drive over, Stu and I felt mostly at peace---we said:  "We'll just be ourselves.  If this is God's plan---it will happen---if it's not---then it won't."  We kept this atmosphere of contentment alive and well on the whole car trip over.  I noticed blackbirds cruising in the air, wings open yet unflapping and I thought about how they were supported by something unseen but very present;  I believed that God was supporting us in much the same manner, unseen but undeniably carrying us.  This spirit of calm rapidly disintegrated into nervousness the moment we sat down at a table at our agreed upon location.   Stu and I were the first to arrive, and waiting those twenty minutes for the social worker and M (I'm going to refer to this expectant mother as M) to join us was torturous.  We watched the door intently, afraid to look away.  Stuart remained calm.  That's who he is.  He never seems to lose sight of the fact that we have no control of what will happen---but he trusts God and doesn't seem to balk at the idea of unquestioningly allowing Him to direct our situation.  I, on the other hand, am the worrier.  This is just one more situation that proves that five years ago, I married the man whose strengths many times cover up my weaknesses.  Stu held my hand---offering support and reassurance.  As we unblinkingly watched the front door, M and the social worker approached us from behind.  Ain't that always the way it goes?  What we're looking for always seems to come at us from an unexpected direction.  Anyhow--Stu and I pretty much jumped from our seats to greet M.  There was this weird little moment--I went to shake M's hand--she went to hug me---then I went to hug her and she went to shake my hand.  We were both so nervous!  M is a really beautiful woman.  She has long hair and dark brown eyes.  Her complexion is the color of coffee with cream---and she definitely had the whole pregnancy glow thing working for her.  M brought her daughter, C, with her to the meeting.  C is five years old---bubbly, sweet-natured, polite, and altogether adorable with her sparkly shoes and meticulously braided hair.  M sat down with us and began to talk as though she had already made up her mind that Stu and I were to be the parents of her child.  She wanted to ensure that we would pick up the baby from the hospital.  She wanted to ensure that we were ok with sending her pictures and letters, and with meeting her once a year for visits.  She asked if we were excited.  I think that even Stu was a little shell shocked at this point---because it was our understanding that this meeting was a way for M to determine whether or not she really wanted us to parent her child---and all of a sudden it was as if she had really already made up her mind in the first five minutes of meeting us.  And I think we were both a little afraid to believe it--it seemed like a too good to be true kind of thing.  We told her we were very excited---we told her how long we'd waited for a child---and we told her that it was difficult for us to express how happy we would be to have a child---how grateful we were to her for even meeting with us.  M told us about her family.  She told us about her son, whose personality actually sounded to be a lot like Stuart's personality. She shared about why she was making the decision she's making.  We gave her information about our own families, and told her how excited everyone is.  We really really liked M.  She's a sweet young woman with a lovely daughter---and we very much wish her the best.  The meeting ended with M saying that she thought we were very nice people and that she was thrilled to meet us.  We told M that we wanted her to know that whatever she decided, we would pray for her---that we too wanted the best for her child.  We each hugged her---C did a little pirouette that she'd been dying to show us.  And we left.  At this time, although we felt that the meeting went very well---we don't know for sure that M has decided anything.  As much as we liked her, as much as we can't help hoping that this child that rests in her belly might come to our home someday soon, that God will connect us to this sweet woman and her family (honestly, I couldn't picture a better person to be in an open adoption with)---the thing that we must pray for is God's plan---and that whatever is best for that child (whether it be that child resides with his birthmother, another family, or with Stu and I) will come to pass.  Thank you for all of the prayers.  No matter what happens in this situation, we believe that God is working.

****Just got the call as I was typing.  M has officially chosen us to parent her child.  Excuse me, gotta go cry a few tears---the good kind.   :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


     It doesn't seem too long ago that Stu and I sat down on the stairs of our home together and finally came to the conclusion that we did not have the strength-- physically, emotionally, or even spiritually---to continue our infertility treatments.  The grief in the air around us was palpable.  That moment is so far removed from the bone deep joy that has settled into our lives since.  And in quiet, reflective slivers of time--I am humbled that God would transform our sadness into such happiness.  Intellectually, I know that none of us deserve the blessings God sees fit to bestow upon us.  But still--there's a part of me that whispers---there are so many people out there whose hearts were always open to adoption.  They didn't fight God's plans for their families;  they didn't spend years ignoring the gentle, nightly murmurs---"Maybe you're just supposed to be a child that is not genetically related to you.  Maybe there's a child somewhere that needs a home as badly as you need a child....."  And I think, those are the people who deserve this kind of happiness--the ones who were sharp enough to figure things out a tad bit quicker.  Not us.  Yet here we are, picking out a crib---a bassinet---and regarding the boxes stacked up in the bedroom with feelings that seem to pair in paradoxes---Contentment with excitement----Joy with fear;  but mostly we're just grateful for this blessing that we absolutely do not deserve.  Oh how He loves us.....I'll never understand why.   But with each passing year, my conviction deepens that God loves us more than we will ever comprehend.
     The seasons of the adoption process have passed quickly for us.  November: preliminary application.  December:  formal application.  January-February: completed self studies, interviewed at Bethany's offices.  March: completed home study.  April: completed an all day training.  Received our letter stating that we had been approved.  It seems overwhelming---before you start it is overwhelming.  But I think that every step of our journey has been, if not enjoyable at all times, crucial.  It can be tedious to describe your childhood vacations, your feelings about your family and friends, how you were disciplined, how you will help your child cope with loss; it can be somewhat disconcerting, jaunting off to the Rangemasters (that's the shop with the big guns) to get fingerprinted, or sitting at the Sheriff's office waiting for them to run that background check on you and hoping they don't discover your husband's secret life of crime.  Ha!  (Side note--I will relate this in case any of you ever find yourself in need of a background check---do not make jokes similar to the one above with any of the police officers wandering around--even if they kid with you first---it does not go over well--voice of experience here folks).  But on another level---all of these preparations encourage reflection on the past, the present, and anticipation of the future.  And there's a lot to think about---a lot to process---and a ton to learn.  The months you spend writing, praying, waiting, hoping, worrying, reading, learning----those months help to shape your heart, and the love that you felt when you first started the process---the love that was nebulous and hazy, but real nevertheless---gains definition.  As you read about the loss that your child will have to contend with, you will ache and hurt and wish that you could take that loss upon yourself and keep it from falling on such small shoulders.  As you become ever more aware of the challenges of transracial adoption, you come to accept with sadness that there will be some people who will not like your child simply because of the color of his skin---or in some cases, because he is a part of a family whose skin is a different shade than his--and you will be angry and hurt--and you will wish, not for the first time, that you could childproof the whole world, rather than just your tiny little corner of it.  Seeing random babies out in public will give you goosebumps, as you imagine what it will be like when you are responsible for such a tiny, precious life.  And you will dream---sometimes the baby in the dream will be a boy, sometimes a girl, sometimes half-tadpole (everyone has crazy "pregnancy dreams" right?  Please tell me I'm semi-normal.)  And you'll wake up wondering---where is my baby right now?  Has he been knitted in his mother's womb already?  Like I said---there's a lot to think about.
     There are also a lot of decisions to make, one of which concerns open adoption.  It used to be assumed that a traditional closed adoption was the best thing for all involved in an adoption.  Supposedly, the birthmother could go on with her life---the pain of separation from her baby would be lessened if she didn't see pictures, receive letters, or have any kind of contact with her child.  Supposedly, it was better for the baby to never know of the woman who gave him life and made an adoption plan for him.  The child would be raised as if he were the biological child of his adoptive parents, sometimes he might not even be told that he was adopted.  These assumptions have since been challenged.  Studies are showing that an open adoption is actually the better option for all involved in the adoption triad.  Ok, I'm going to stop here and say that I've found that many people express misgivings when I share that Stu and I are hopeful that we will be able to have an open adoption.  And I understand the misgivings.  I'm a teacher---I think that all teachers have been exposed, at least once, to parents who truly don't seem to care about their own children.  We've seen children who are neglected and abused, children left emotionally disturbed---broken---from things that their own parents did to them---and it shatters our hearts.....and it can jade us if we're not careful.  It can make us think to ourselves that if a woman chooses to part with her own flesh and blood that she must not love her child.  And if she doesn't love her child, then having her in the child's life will be a hurtful mistake.  But here's the thing, a woman who falls pregnant is hardwired to love the life that stirs within her.  Yes, I suppose there are exceptions. But I'm counting on the fact that a woman who cares for her child enough to A: Give him life and B: Part with him despite the fact that every hormone in her body and every string in her heart yearns to keep him close to her---all because she truly believes that she can't provide for the needs of that child to her satisfaction---loves her child.  And as another adoptive parent said, "A child can't have too many people in his life that love him."  I know there are a million what ifs that could be thrown out at this juncture and I've probably thought about them all in the wee hours of the morning.  And frankly, I don't have the energy to deal with them anymore.  Whatever our situation turns out to be---we'll figure it out once we know what it is.  But in the meantime, we're praying that God will weave our family tree with someone else's----birthparents as well as the child.  So that the birthparent can be a part of the child's life, so that the child can have a sense of his roots and a link to someone who is genetically related to him, and so that we, as adoptive parents, can minimize the loss for our child.  If there's a way to lessen our child's hurt---well--that's what we want to do.

***I started this post some time ago.  Now the boxes in the nursery are being unpacked and there is the possibility that we could have a baby in a mere two weeks.  We meet tomorrow with a birthmother who has chosen us based on our profile book.  We don't know what's going to happen---but already I'm making note of the small things that happened on the day we received that exciting phone call, marking them in my memory.  Keep this birthmother in your prayers.  Keep her baby in your prayers.  And keep us in your prayers, the coming days may prove to be heart-wrenching, wonderful, or some combination of the two---for all of us or some of us---depending on the outcome. Whatever God's plan is---it will be.  This at least we can have confidence in.  He will match us with the family He intends---just as He will match this child with the family He chooses.  All that's left is to wait....and pray.