On Wednesday, November 7, I reached for my ringing phone and immediately recognized the number of our adoption agency. Our case worker checks in about once a month, but it had been less than two weeks since her last call. There could be only one reason that she was calling.
But there’s no way, I told myself. We’ve been active for two months, and the average wait time is 15 months.
When I answered the phone, our case worker Ashley began to tell me about an “opportunity.” This is Gladney’s label for a birth mother to whom they’d like to show our profile book. We had previously told Ashley that she didn’t need to ask permission to show our book (she could simply show us to whomever she thought was a good fit), except in situations where there was potential for severe special needs. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Ryan and I both plan to continue working full-time and therefore might not be the best parents for a child who needs full-time, specialized care.
I took notes as Ashley began to tell me about a birth mother, Sarah*, and her baby girl. It was amazing how much information Ashley knew about Sarah and was willing to tell me. I felt like I began to know this momma as I learned about her family, her job, her childhood, and her struggles. In addition to drug use during pregnancy and a lack of information about the biological father (situations for which we didn’t require Ashley to call us about), there is a history of nonverbal autism in Sarah’s family. After telling me everything she knew about Sarah, Ashley informed me that we had less than 24 hours to decide if we wanted Sarah to look at our profile.
I got in my car to drive to Ryan’s office so we could talk in person, but in my heart I knew what he would say. I picked Ryan up, drove to a coffee shop, and told him what I had learned. I wanted Ryan to have ALL the information, so I was honest with him about the things that had caused a lot of other adoptive parents to say “no” to Sarah. I was also honest with him about the deep respect and gratitude that was growing in my heart for her — she had made mistakes before and during the pregnancy, but the efforts to which she was going to provide the best possible life for the baby girl growing inside her brought tears to my eyes. She was making sacrifices, working hard, and most importantly, she had chosen LIFE for her child. What a deep, deep love.
I called Ashley back a few hours later and told her to send Sarah our book. She would be choosing between a handful of families, and Ashley said she would let us know in about a week.
We didn’t have to wait a week. We had to wait three. Some people recommend not telling others when your profile book is being shown (for similar reasons to why most people don’t announce a pregnancy until after the first trimester), but I couldn’t help it. I wanted everyone we knew to be praying for Sarah and her family. I wanted to share the excitement we were feeling and allow our friends and family to be a part of every step of our adoption story.
The three weeks had big highs and big lows. My birthday fell during the middle of the first week, and I spent the day in a state of crippling anxiety. I tried to respond cheerily to birthday calls and texts, but I couldn’t focus on anything except the fact that Sarah could possibly be looking at our book at that exact moment. Finally after a week of casual, cursory “God, help my anxiety” prayers, I was honest with myself about the difference between saying I was laying it at the Lord’s feet and actually doing it. I had given the Devil a foothold by thinking I was going to be immune to the emotional roller coaster of adoption. Other people were the silly ones who lost sleep during the waiting process. Other people were the desperate ones who wanted a baby SO BADLY that each additional, childless day was torture. Other people were the ones who couldn’t do it alone.
But I, of course, cannot do a single thing alone. I need God’s grace and strength every moment of every day. I was suddenly, profoundly reminded of how easy it is to believe those words with my head and not live it in my heart. I begged the Lord to help me give the weight I was carrying to Him – truly give it to Him, not just say the words. The next day my soul was one thousand pounds lighter. There are certain moments in the Christian faith when God works so obviously, so miraculously, in your life, and those moments become the ones you look back on in times of doubt. I know I will remember this day for the rest of my life because the radical difference in my spirit could have only been possible with divine intervention.
They always told me that the adoption process would be sanctifying.
Today, three weeks after I received that first call, our case worker told us that Sarah decided to move forward with a different family. It hasn’t been easy, but nothing about adoption is supposed to be easy. This afternoon, I reread the prayers I wrote down over the past several weeks, and I was reminded that God does not waste pain. It’s funny how sometimes the words He uses to minister to you are your own. I am thankful for the time I spent praying for and dreaming of this baby girl. I am thankful for the revelation of my sinful pride, and for the grace that met me the moment I asked for it.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4:16
I am thankful for all the text messages I received from friends saying that they had been praying for Sarah. Sarah and her family will never know how many people approached the Throne of Grace on their behalf over the last couple of weeks, but I know that it wasn’t a waste. Lord willing, I will one day meet baby girl in Eternity and learn all about the life she lived and the parents who raised her. Until then, I can keep praying.
I wrote the following prayer the morning after we learned about baby girl, as our profile book was being shipped to Sarah’s house.
Is this our daughter?
Lord, you know. You know who Sarah will choose to parent her child even before she receives families’ profile books. You know the life story of this baby girl even though she is not yet born. You know the people who will shape her into the woman that she will become. Even if we are not her parents, thank you for the opportunity to pray for her. Thank you for the army of people that are now praying for Sarah because our profile book is being shown to her.
Adoption is the result of a fallen world. In this case, it is the result of a broken relationship, a lack of sufficient resources, and the reliance on idols to bring peace to a situation that only you could heal.
But it is also the result of a decision to give this baby girl life. It is the result of you placing a calling in the hearts of Gladney workers, and the brave, selfless choices that Sarah is making.
This adoption will bring pain. It will be hard as baby girl learns about her past and realizes how much she will never know. It will be scary for her parents to not know her full medical history and to care for a baby who did not get everything she needed at the very beginning of life.
But this adoption will bring beauty. It will reflect to the world the Lord’s redemption of us. It will provide baby girl with parents who have prepared a place for her, both in their homes and their hearts. And, by God’s grace, I pray that it will help her to grasp a little bit about who You are and how much You love her.
I don’t know if we will be her parents. But I know that at this moment you are knitting her together, that she is beautiful, and that You love her more than her parents ever will, no matter who they are.
Prepare her parents for her specific needs, God. Help Ryan and I to trust You, even if we are not chosen. Help us to always want the best for her, not to seek after what we THINK is best for us. Amen.