Pride in the Wait

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Pride often sneaks up on me. It’s always there, of course, asleep on my shoulders, but I’m not always aware of it until it wakes up and rears its ugly head in my face.

It’s been over 400 days since we started our second adoption from foster care process and we still have not brought home our child.

There was that first match meeting which was postponed for months only for us to not get picked. Then there was the adoption disruption. And then, more waiting.

We took family photos and captioned them things like, “Last Christmas as a family of four” and “Last time we’ll ever do ___" and instead we’re ending a school year and heading into the summer and still there are only four of us.

This was not how it was supposed to go. We were cocky. We had planned our calendars. We had requested maternity/paternity leave. We had postponed our own trips, wanting to save outings for next child. We knew we’d have one or two more children by now. We knew 400 days would not go by until we were a family of 5 or 6.

And yet we’re still waiting.

The feelings of failure have been strong. More so with this second adoption than we’ve ever felt in our infertility journey. At this point in 9 years of marriage it’s almost expected we won’t have biological children. No, it’s less shameful for us to not have birthed a child than it is for us to not adopt again. I mean, we attend our foster care support group regularly! So we need stories to add. We regularly speak and preach about why people need to enter into foster care! Where is our new child(ren)?!

It’s been hard. Dejecting and hard. It’s hard not to take it personally when you’re not the family that’s picked for a child (even though we make it a point to pray and rejoice knowing that child has a family). It’s hard not to take it personally when an adoption disruption (even though we’re rejoicing in seeing fruit from that hardship). It’s hard to put non-refundable deposits on summer trips and vacation homes and use pen to fill our calendars with plans because shouldn’t we wait? The What If Game is repeated over and over in our home.

At the end I know it will be worth it. I know because I’ve walked that road and even though it was significantly shorter I know the outcome will be similar.

At the end it will be worth it. I just wish we knew when the end was going to be.

Redoing The Room

I can’t bring myself to redecorate The Room.

I said I wouldn’t. I said and promised my husband I would. not. touch. it. until Future Child(ren) came and made her decisions because I once decorated a Future Children’s room four times before Future Children actually came into existence. So I swore I wouldn’t redecorate this room, even though the closets are wonky and the paint colors are terrible.

But then She came in and made the decisions and things started progressing and got done and the beginnings got decorated and then She isn’t coming back here. She decided on lots of white with a little bit of gray and I was going to surprise her with twinkly lights suspended from the ceiling.

I can’t walk past that room without seeing the comforter and sheets we picked out for her in the doorway, so we keep the door closed. I can’t go in there without seeing things She tacked to the wall, so the husband finally took them down. I can’t see that room without seeing her so now I need to redecorate it, even though I promised and I swore that I wouldn’t.

But I have to redo it and strip it of it’s character so i don’t keep seeing her. It’s what must be done.

When We First Met

by Rachel Williams

 

I remember very clearly the day my heart became a mom to my son Randy.  It will forever be burned into my memory.

 

About five years ago my husband came to me and told me he felt like he was supposed to start teaching the youth group at our church.  I was adamantly opposed because with our 2 children and 1 foster child, we had three kids three and under, and he already worked evenings. Adding 4 + more evenings to our month where he was not home to help, felt like he was asking for the moon.

 

With a firm, “now isn’t the right time,” and a frustrated attitude about it all, Joey lovingly said, “this is something I know I need to do.”  And put his foot down.  If you don’t know my husband, you wouldn’t know that this is extremely out of character for him.  He rarely has strong opinions and he is always easy going.  He is he very opposite of me in every way!   Recognizing how much this must mean to him, I gave up the battle, and prayed for a better attitude.

 

Not even a month later, he came home and said, “I need to tell you about this boy in my small group.  I need us to pray about adopting him.”  He poured out our son Randy’s story to me: no longer living with his biological family, because of the unhealth of the environment, he bounced around between friends houses sleeping where he could, all while enrolling in the military and trying to finish high school.  He came to church every single weekend with his girlfriend’s family and he was always bringing new friends to youth group.  As soon as he graduated high school, he would be completely on his own. Without a driver’s license, a car, health insurance or any help getting into college, he was going to be sent into the world completely unequipped for it.  With an aching heart, he asked me, “will you please consider praying about adopting him?”

 

I recall not having an ounce of hesitation, my answer was an instant, “yes.”  Excitedly he asked, “you will consider praying about this!?” and my response was, “no, I am saying ‘yes we should adopt him.’”

 

My heart was 100% in.  No questions asked, I remember a transformation happening in my heart that day.  It can only be described as a burning into my heart with the desire and almost a need for him to become my son. I distinctly recall missing him, wishing with all my heart I could grab him into my arms and embrace him as my son.

 

I had not even met this boy.  I had never laid eyes on him, I had no idea what he even looked like. What I knew was that my husband wanted to be his dad, and my heart had already become his mom.

 

Within a week or two I was able to actually meet Randy.  He, of course, had no clue that we were praying about bringing him into our family, and we had no idea if he would even want that.  But the day I met him will forever be committed to my memory.  We had an unexpected weekend without kids, so with zero distractions, a boy appeared before me after church while I heard the words, “Rachel, this is Randy.”  He might as well have said, “Rachel, this is your son.” because everything I had already experienced in my heart, expanded times a thousand.  He had the same average build and stature as my husband, he had the same slender shoulders, he had the same color hair, and he even had a similar shaped face.  I felt like I was looking at the version of my husband from 17 year earlier, only with glasses.

 

He looked my like my husband’s son.  Somehow, someway, they stood there representing the perfect picture of father and son.  The way that Randy looked up to Joey, was written plain as day on his face.  He respected him, admired him, looked up to him, and he longed for a deeper connection with him.  I would find out a few years later, that Randy loved him so much, he actually considered asking if we would adopt him, all the while we were already praying about it.

 

It would be three more months before we would ask him to become our son.  Since this was such an atypical adoption, we felt it was wise to take extra time to pray about it.  During that time, the longing for him to join us, only grew more within our hearts.  The desire to scoop him up and love him as his parents became so intense that the 3 days we waited for his answer answer after we finally asked him, felt like agony. We could not even focus while we waited, so we simply prayed fervently he would say yes, if it were God’s will, that he would choose us.  

 

And he did!!

 

I have continued to marvel at the love that God poured into my heart for my son that day.  The 18 years I missed as his mom seemed to be instantly and abundantly impressed upon me.  It was almost physically painful to love him, because I loved him so deeply.  I am so thankful for that miracle, because truly, that is what it was, a miracle all wrapped up in a mother’s love.

When We First Met - Met You Twice

by Kimberly Gehm

 

We have a unique story when it comes to meeting our daughter for the first time because we were able to "meet" her twice. Promise was brought into care two times and each time was a different experience.

 

We were chosen to be her foster parents because we were adopting her older brother Malachi. At one of the final meetings for Malachi's case before it was moved to adoption, the case workers had mentioned that the birth mom was pregnant again and they will most likely be removing the baby once born. Upon hearing this, my husband, being the one at the meeting as I was home with Malachi, started to pray "Lord protect that baby girl." Crazy thing is no one knew the gender of the baby. No matter how hard my husband tried to refer to her as just "baby" he physically couldn't. He knew without a doubt that she was a girl. So. for the next few months we prayed protection and safety over that baby girl.

 

On August 6th 2014 a baby girl was born. She had some obstacles to overcome but overall she was healthy. Two days later she was brought to our home. Receiving that phone call we had been anxiously awaiting for the past several months and hearing that the baby is a girl was surreal. We were so excited that Malachi would get to meet his biological baby sister and potentially get to grow up with her. She was identical to him in every way as a newborn. A full head of dark hair and chocolate brown eyes. We could have dressed her up in his newborn clothes and not have known any differently. The next few weeks were perfect as a family of 4. I had loved this tiny baby as if I had given birth to her. Praying for a child for months before actually getting to meet her connects you in such a deep, indescribable way. She was ours in every single way.

 

Then on August 29, 2014 because of extremely unfortunate circumstances she was returned back to their biological mom. Services hadn't been worked, no progress had been made and we had to hand our baby girl over to an unsafe environment. The system had failed our baby girl and ultimately her big brother. We tried everything in our power to talk to the right people and fight it, but no one wanted to get involved. We were devastated. We debated closing our home all together but decided to take a small break before jumping back in.

 

In January 2015 we reopened our home and waited for our next placement. A month went by and not a single call, which was so strange because we were getting multiple calls every month before she was born, but we waited and prayed for the right child to be brought to us.

 

On February 5, we received the call we never expected. Our baby girl was brought back into care and they would be dropping her off within an hour. Talk about major freakout mode! The house was a wreck, we were a wreck and recovering from the flu all week. We were all napping when I got the call. We immediately jumped into action mode. Clean up the house and clean up ourselves; cry, or really sob, and prepare our hearts for what was about to happen. We were so thrilled for her to come back home, but heartbroken because a child doesn't come into care unless there has been trauma.

 

An hour later, the investigator came to our home carrying a dirty car seat that was covered in a blanket. She placed the car seat in the middle of the room. I took a deep breath as I lifted the blanket and underneath the blanket was this huge 6 month old girl. Big brown eyes, what little hair she had was starting to curl and she gave us the biggest smile. Our daughter was home. She had grown so much and looked so different. I honestly wouldn't have recognized her if it wasn't for the little blood vessel blemishes she had on her nose when she was born. They were still there. It is such a surreal feeling to see a baby that you love so deeply but is a stranger to you.

 

For the next several months we struggled to learn each other all over again and bring her back to health. Her case was a constant up and down battle and we thought we would lose her again. However on November 10, 2016 our precious little girl was forever sealed by adoption into our family.

 

The Day We Met

by Shelby

We were at church camp with no signal. Despite that fact, I had my phone strapped to me all day knowing at anytime we could get a call, a call that would make me a Mama. As the day went on, I realized it didn’t matter that my phone was attached to me, there was NO signal, so I finally stopped checking every five seconds. After helping teach a children’s class I decided to allow myself to see if, by chance, something had found a way to my phone.

There was missed call and a voicemail from our home finder! My heart leapt as I struggled to understand the message she left; it was broken up and choppy.  I was able to make out there was a placement for a baby girl. My heart was racing, this was it, I could feel it. This was that moment. The moment people talk about when they ‘just knew.’ I loved her before I even knew her name. I had never touched her, but my arms were already aching to hold her.

I found a spot where I could stand in just the right way to call Lindsey. I was able to get a bit more information amongst the static. A 6 month old baby girl was in need of permanent placement. It looked like this would go the route of adoption and we had been specifically asked for. I ran to find Boogie and I could feel the tears burning my eyes; we were going to be parents.

The next day we drove the 2 hours home and waited for the Social Worker to show up. I kept running to the window every time a car would drive down our road, crossing my fingers it would be her. When they finally showed up with a carseat and a small Walmart bag, I tried to act calm. I peeked around her carseat as they sat her on our dining room table. She was perfect. I asked to hold her, still unsure of how this all was supposed to happen, and gently scooped her up. She was calm and quiet, unbothered by all the newness around her. Her dark brown eyes skipped around and fixated on the light above us. It was surreal and almost like in that moment time had slowed down. As I was holding her and taking her in, the workers gave us the information they had. I tried to listen, but I was a little distracted with all the thoughts whirling in my head. About 5 minutes later, they were gone. And just like that, it was the 3 of us, the way God had planned it. I was finally with the child I had been writing to all these months. I wrote to her without knowing how old she was, where she was living, what her name was. All I knew was that I was writing to the child we were working for, worrying over, and praying for- Layla.

I may not have had morning sickness, labored in a hospital bed, or even known how much she weighed when she was born, but I was her Mama and I never, not even once, doubted that. You see, I may not have physically been sick because I had a little one growing inside me, but there were days that I was sick with worry about the upcoming trials and ‘what ifs’. Nope, I don’t have some great story to tell about my contractions and throwing ice chips at nurses. But I DID labor for her: home studies, background checks, paper work, hours of classes, paper work, interviews, oh and-more paperwork.

Even though I may not have those stories to tell you about the 9 months leading up to her birth, I have plenty to tell of the moments she grew in my heart. The times that I dreamed about her and talked about her before we had met, the endless nights we prayed for her to join us, the moments that she steals our hearts, over and over again. How when she calls for ‘mama’ it sometimes puts a lump in my throat because I’m so thankful it’s me she’s calling for, and it all goes back to that day- July 24, 2014. The day we met.

When We First Met - A New Fairy Tale

by Jen Stevens

 

There aren't many words to describe that moment when you meet your child for the first time. I had years to prepare and dream before our first daughter came. In my head I had built up this fairytale image... How when we looked into each other's eyes we would know each other.

 

In the beginning I thought that moment would be in a hospital room, looking into the face of a baby that had grown in my body. One that was synced to the rhythm of my heart.

When we started the adoption process that dream died and my new fairytale formed. While being her mom was my dream come true, that moment I had built up in my head wasn't meant to be. The reality of our first meeting was hard. Instead of the fairytale, our meeting followed exhausting days of travel. Unfamiliar sounds, foods, and customs, and a rushed schedule enforced by government officials.

 

The day we met, we were picked up at our hotel and rushed across town to the city orphanage. They asked that we place booties on to cover our shoes and then ushered us down the hall to wait. We paced in the silence of a small room until they brought our daughter to us. As they neared the room I could hear them talking, yet couldn't understand the words. It was just one more barrier in our initial connection. The words of comfort she knew were foreign to us. But we were determined.

 

As the door opened and they entered, my heart was in my stomach. She turned to look at us while clutching her caregiver. And the tears came, then the desperate sobs, as they told her we were going to be her "mama and papa". They encouraged me to take her and while I wanted to, I saw her fear, I felt her fear. She nuzzled into the woman's scarf and hid her face from me. I turned my back and choked back my own tears. I took a few deep breaths and reached into my bag for a toy and after showing her, I took her into my arms. That was it, I was holding my baby. My beautiful girl with big brown eyes and red hair. At 10 months old she was so tiny. I remember being able to feel every rib as my hand held her back. Barely 10 pounds, but every ounce was filled with fear. I held her close and stroked her hair. I knew we belonged together. In words she didn't understand I told her it would be ok.

 

And it was.