In my head, this post is actually called “What the hell is waiting well?”, but I thought that might be a little too abrasive for a title. It would, however, accurately depict where my heart and head have been at during these last several months. I’ve procrastinated blogging about the recent events in our adoption journey because writing is intimate and emotional and exhausting for me. I haven’t had it in me. To tell you the truth, I still don’t think that I do. However, this morning as I sat with my Bible to catch up on the reading with which I’m way behind (S/O to PRDX365), and I felt the nudging to share with you all the ups and downs.
At the end of December, during that typically-uneventful week between Christmas and New Years, we were notified of a little boy who had been born several weeks prior. He was in Oklahoma awaiting heart surgery, and his adoptive parents would need to be there in three days. Just as I had the first time we learned the story of a baby, my heart begun to dream. Our wedding anniversary was coming up that week — could I possibly be holding our baby in my arms on that day?
There were also fears. This boy would have long-term heart problems. He had already been in the hospital for three weeks without his parents, and I knew that time is vital for brain development and attachment. For the first time in years, I actually knelt beside my bed to pray. With my palms open and head bent, I asked the Lord for a verse. What do you want for this baby? Give me words to pray when I am so desperate that words don’t come.
And my faithful God answered. I opened my Bible to Psalm 51, and my eyes turned to verse 6.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
God didn’t lead me to pray for this child’s health, although I know He cares for that. He didn’t lead me to pray for the selection of his parents, although I know this prayer would have been heard. He called me to pray for his wisdom. This baby (whom we called by the name we gave him), was only three weeks old, and I began to fervently ask the Lord for him to desire to be truthful with God and for God to make him wise.
We were told that we would know the result of his mother’s decision in a day or two. However, with each day that passed, we received a similar message that no decision had been made. The “waiting” that I had been going through over the previous four months since we became active was a low-key, simmering, ever-present but easily-ignored type of waiting. This was different. We knew his story and we were acutely aware that every day that passed was another day that he did not have parents in the hospital with him.
When we were told a week later that a different family would be adopting this boy, we grieved. It was my turn to be the calming force in our family as Ryan was especially shaken. I then realized how hard it had been for him to deal with his own grief and also be a steady force for me after we were not chosen to parent the baby girl we prayed for a couple months previously. I finally began to verbalize the questions that had been swarming in my head for the past month: “Is this worth it?” “Are we strong enough to keep doing this?”
These were the questions I was silently screaming to God the next Sunday morning at church. And once again, God met me. There, in the dark sanctuary with members of my small group sitting all around me singing the hymn that was on the screen, a vision flashed before my eyes of a child in my arms and me slowly rocking in our nursery chair, and the Lord whispered to my heart, “I will be with you.” I had never heard words from God before. I’ve had feelings, was directed towards certain Scripture just weeks previously, and have even had friends (and strangers) pray a message over me that God gave them, but I had never heard Him.
Everyone said the sermon that Sunday was really impactful so I’m a little disappointed that I missed the last quarter of it, but as the pastor continued on, I looked toward Heaven and let the tears roll down my face as I repeated, “Thank you, God, thank you.”
I opened my Bible to the Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” God is with the missionaries searching out unreached people groups across the globe, He is with pastors laboring over how to lead their churches well, and He will be with me as I wait and then as I parent.
Two months passed, and life continued its routine. Ryan and I made a decision after that first week in January to not quit living life as we waited. So we scheduled trips with friends and took on work projects under the assumption that we would not be caring for a newborn, while attempting to schedule things with an open hand and the understanding that we may have to cancel. We had two baby showers (see left for a picture of me and my sister-in-law), but otherwise we weren’t thinking about the baby a whole lot.
On the morning of March 4th, I answered a call from our social worker, who told me about an expectant mother living right here in DFW. As I learned more and more details, my reaction surprised me. I wasn’t filled with excitement and expectancy as I had been after the first two calls; I was filled with dread. This baby had an uphill battle to fight, and it was steeper than any situation our agency had prepared us for. This isn’t possibly what God has planned for our life.
We’re so young that we both still get IDed ordering a drink. We’re so inexperienced that I had put a diaper on backwards the previous weekend when we babysat an infant for the first time. This situation didn’t make sense for us, but our caseworker needed an answer that day as to whether we’d like to be considered.
And then I remembered when I didn’t have words to pray and God gave me a verse. I remembered when I was at my most hopeless and He spoke words to me. I remembered His promise to be with me. I closed my eyes as we called our caseworker back and told her yes.
The next morning, a good friend texted and asked me how I was doing. I responded, “Digging this whole ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’ gig.” And it was true — it was incomprehensible how unanxious I felt. Not only was it completely opposite of how I handled myself when we were waiting to hear back about the first two matches, but this situation was objectively “scarier” with more unknowns. I was SURE this was God getting my heart ready to parent this baby. And therefore, I was pretty sure that we would be matched.
It only took the mother one day to decide that another family was best for her child. I was confused. My logical, black-and-white, cause-and-effect mind couldn’t understand why God would take away all my fears that week if it wasn’t so that I would be able to step confidently into the decisions that would need to be made for that baby. And then it hit me: God didn’t show His grace to me that week because He needed something from me in return. He showed me His grace because He loves me. I realized all the ways in which I was viewing myself as a warrior through this journey. Even if I was dependently praying for God to give me strength that can only come from Him, it was so that I could be strong enough to fight the battle. The truth is that the battle is already over. He has fought and He has won. He knows the future of that baby, and He knows the future of the baby that will one day be ours to raise. He knows them, He loves them, and He died for them. And He died for me, too, so that I can accept His gracious love and peace without any expectation of an adequate performance.
Over the past several months, one question has consistently been on my mind: “What does ‘waiting well’ actually mean?” It’s an often-used phrase, both in the adoption world and in Christianity generally. There were some options that could obviously be eliminated: being immobilized with fear and/or anxiety, completely ignoring the reality of waiting, busily filling up every second of the day so as to not leave time to face it (all of which I have experienced to some degree over the last 15 months). At some point along the way, I subconsciously decided that “waiting well” meant preparing myself as well as I could. That played out in me reading an insane amount of books on adoption and child trauma, desperately praying for God to weed out sin in my life before the baby came and pestering those around me to point out things I needed to work on, and petitioning the Lord for strength, faith, trust, confidence, and stamina. All these things are good, but they were not what God most desired. He is calling me to rest in him and let him fight the battle (Ex. 14:14). After all, he is a much better warrior than me.