My lesson of the Oak Tree - Our Adoption Journey (Part One)

People ask me all the time about our family's story. Not that I can blame them. My beautiful children are six weeks apart. This alone leads to questions!

Our story is so sacred to us and simply cannot be shared in a matter of minutes. It is one that involves God's hands in even the smallest details. This is the reason for my sharing. So here it is, in its entirety. Well, perhaps "entirety" is a bit too much. I will be blogging here and there with more details. But here it is in its "almost" entirety:

Our journey to adoption began long before we ever filled out our adoption paperwork.
It began years ago in our hearts. We have always known we wanted to adopt. We just didn't realize our journey to parenthood would begin this way!

In late February 2007 my husband and I began filling out our paperwork for adoption. A few weeks prior “a mighty wind” shook our lives when we discovered that my body would not be getting pregnant. At least not by the fun way of getting pregnant! ha ha! Now, many will say that a few weeks is not enough time to know if we should be proceeding to adoption. Well, for us it was. Moving towards adoption so quickly was the only thing that gave my heart rest. It was the only thing that brought excitement and joy to the hearts of my husband and I.

We spent hours and hours filling out paperwork, having interviews, and more interviews, completing a homestudy where a social worker came to our house to make sure we had a fit place for a child to live in. We had to divulge every bit of our history. They wanted to know if we had ever been in trouble...they wanted to know if anyone in our family had ever been in trouble! We had to go to the police station to get fingerprinted for a background check. We had to prove financial stability. We had to get blood work....oh wait, that was the infertility part! ha ha! Leave it so say, 

adoptive couples pass a lot of tests to prove that they want to be parents and are capable of being good parents!

During this time period we made a conscious decision on two things. 

Number one. 
Adoption is not our second choice. It is our "chosen" course. 
We feel we were chosen for adoption and we feel so honored to have this as our calling and pathway to parenthood. 

Number two. 
We would take joy in our blessings and focus on what we do have. 
We have eachother. We are blessed.

Along this journey we also decided that we would celebrate our achievements along the way. When we finished our paperwork...well that was cause for celebration! When we finished writing our profile...that was definitely cause for a weekend celebration! And when we got our fingerprints...well that was cause for at least a new outfit, right!? And when our first adoption "failed" well - not much to celebrate, but we endured and that was cause for a week in Maui!

One of the most difficult parts of our paperwork was putting together a one-page letter to our potential birthmom and a few pages of pictures. How do you tell someone all about yourself in a couple of pages?!! We agonized over this. We poured our hearts into it. We revised our letter a million times. Until the day came that we felt it was perfect. Perfect for us. On July 3, 2007 we submitted our profile (and last step) to our agency and then we waited. We were done. And this was cause for celebration! 

Our email to our caseworker read:

We are so excited! We are now officially ready to adopt! This is a major celebration for us. Our profile is online and our paperwork is all mailed in. Is there anything else we need to do? Thanks for all your help, we appreciate you hard work! Have a great 4th!
Mamma Mia & Hubby

Our caseworker wrote back:

Nope, there is nothing you can do now but wait patiently. Congratulations!

And that is just what we did. Minus the "patience" part! I was scared, anxious and fearful. All the while trying to put all my heart into God's hands.

One thing we learned very quickly in this process is that in adoption your sense of control goes out the window. The term
“surrender” took on a whole new meaning in my life. And it was hard. There was one point that my heart was just aching and I needed help. My father came over to give my husband and I a "Father's Blessing." For those not a part of our church, allow me explain. We believe God is a God of order. We have many ways to gain an answer to a prayer. A blessing is a way for us to receive direct revelation or comfort from our Heavenly Father in regards to a specific question or need we may have. During this blessing, my Heavenly Father let me know that we had an amazing journey ahead of us. There were many things said, but of them, one sentence stood out. We had some very special spirits that were waiting to join our family.

A few days later my dad called my husband to tell him how strongly he felt during this blessing. He felt so strongly about what he felt inspired by the Lord to say. We truly had some special kids that were waiting to be a part of our family.

I wanted to believe this. So badly. Without seeing or knowing, I tried my very hardest to put my trust in God that this would be true. Some days this was something I had to remind myself to do on an hourly basis! I figured that our special kids would join us over the course of our lifetime. Little did I know these "special spirits" were coming very, very soon!

Over the next few weeks we received several "inquiries." I could take up a whole other blog entry telling you about these. Some of them were blatant scams and made us laugh out loud at the ridiculousness. Others were very real and tender...but just not the right match for us.

On July 9, 2007 we received a message on our voicemail. This was different from all the others. We called back the next morning and spoke to a man named "Jack." We felt like we were talking to a long time friend. Jack told us that his daughter came home from work that night. She began searching adoption profiles and came to ours. She finally felt peace for the first time and knows that the child she is carrying is our son. That evening his daughter, "Emma", came into his bedroom and told him her decision. He held her as she cried and then they called us. We then spoke with Emma. There are not words to describe the feelings in our hearts at this time. It was a spiritual and sacred experience. We loved her from the moment we spoke. There wasn't any awkwardness that I anticipated!
We felt like we were talking to family. Emma has a great sense of humor and had us giggling from this very first phone call even to now! She is a great reminder then and now how important humor can be and what medicine laughter is in our hard times.

At one point in our conversation Jack made the comment that, “this baby would be all "[insert lastname]." My husband and I just stared at each other in silence. Good glory! We have the same last name as Emma!! We shared this with them and we all knew in our hearts this was a "little miracle" and a way for God to tell our hearts that he was guiding us. We had such peace in our hearts. We knew this was right.

Ten minutes after we hung up the phone with Emma, we received a call from our caseworker. She told us that a BirthMom named Lilly had selected us that morning. She was due in a few weeks and was having a girl.
We were absolutely floored! Our caseworker admitted to us that she purposely didn’t show Lilly our profile. She wanted Lilly to choose another couple who had been waiting longer.  Yet, Lilly and her boyfriend went online and found our profile. Our caseworker said she realized that her role in adoption is to “assist” with the miracles. Lesson learned. While I was a bit upset that she intentionally did this, I could see where she was coming from in wanting to show other couple’s profiles that had been waiting much longer. This was another affirmation to me that our children are meant to be our children no matter the time or place! God has a plan for them.

We told our caseworker about Emma. We were told we had to choose between the two. We were completely torn. We prayed. And in every prayer we received no distinct answer. Both of them felt right. My husband and I were absolutely united on this and felt we both were receiving the same answer.

Emma felt the same. She told us that it didn't matter to her what route we decided (whether we were to have both children or not) but she knew without a doubt this was our son. This confirmed everything we were feeling about Emma and the special little boy she was carrying. We didn't know why we felt so strongly about both, but we did.

We called back the caseworker and told her our decision. We ended up getting special approval for us to proceed with the adoptions of two babies. Now, to say
we were completely humbled is putting this mildly. We know how difficult the waiting process can be. Part of me felt really guilty that there were so many other couples that have been waiting a much longer time than my husband and I, and here we were being presented with two! Yet, something deep inside of me knew that the timing wasn't mine to control. If these children were meant to be raised by my husband and I - that was all that mattered to us.

We were able to meet Lilly the next week. We didn't feel as close to her as we did with Emma but we were absolutely willing to put ourselves out there, heart on our sleeves! We continued to correspond through email and occasional phone calls. Meanwhile, we flew out to visit Emma and her family. We fell in love with them. The familial feelings we felt are indescribable. We could literally feel the hand of God orchestrating the details of our coming together. It was an incredible time and very hard to put into words.

If my body were able to get pregnant, there would be no doubt that the child I was carrying was meant to be my child. With adoption this experience is completely spiritual. We knew this child that Emma was carrying was meant to be our child. It had been confirmed to our hearts in such a solid and powerful way. I had to trust the feelings I had. We learned another depth to the word "faith."

I also learned a great deal how much
Heavenly Father deeply cares for every single one of us. While He may not cause bad things to happen to us, He absolutely finds a way for us to find peace and lead us to the best way. Even when we aren’t so sure we are being lead!

On July 21, 2007, we received a phone call from Lilly. She told us she was going to the hospital and would like us to be there for the birth. We were so excited, scared and completely anxious! We quickly got our stuff together and headed out the door to meet her at the hospital. We had absolutely no idea what to expect. My mom and sister came over to set everything up for us bringing a baby home.

The next couple days were the hardest days of our lives. We were filled with so much anxiety, confusion and complete lack of control.

We were blessed to be there for the birth of this beautiful baby girl. We named her "Faith." This name kept coming to my mind a few weeks prior. I knew without a doubt that this should be the baby's name. The birth was an amazing experience and one I will always be grateful to be a part of. We held this child and gave her much love. We came by the hospital a few times a day, but made sure to give Lilly and her family as much time with the baby as possible. On the day we were supposed to go home with baby, our caseworker advised us to leave for several hours. We weren't being told much and we were scared to death at the possibility of Lilly changing her mind. We left….our fear in tow. We went to the movie amazing movie theater! We decided it was time for some food therapy. We walked up to the counter and ordered everything on the menu. I'm not kidding. We ordered one of each. They had Cinnabon pretzels, pizza slices, chicken fingers, and cheese sticks. We took all of this into the movie and tried our best to laugh and keep our sense of humors about us while a tornado of turmoil began boiling in our hearts.

The excruciating part came when we went back to the hospital and were preparing to leave. We felt sick to our stomachs. We knew something wasn't right. We just felt so in the dark about everything. When we finally left we felt so sad. It was so hard to see how much pain Lilly was in. And we couldn't shake the uncertainty that was in our hearts. Our caseworkers even said it was one of the hardest placements they had been to. Yikes!

When we got home we had our family there to greet us. This actually was really hard and something I would do very differently had I to do over again. Not that we don’t appreciate our family. We do. We just needed some time to unwind and get our heads around everything we had just been through.

That is another thing about adoption. Because you don’t actually give birth, others think you are ready to go! When in all reality we needed just as much sleep and recovery as a woman who has given birth! The range of emotions we experienced during the last three days were enough to last me a lifetime!!

We were so emotionally drained and tired. We took baby “Faith” home with much faith, in every way. In our state, BirthMoms have 72 hours to change their minds after signing relinquishment. For all couples this is a tense time period. But you go through it. You go through almost anything for your child!

We had to live with this while falling in love with this little bundle. No matter what happened, we decided that this precious little girl deserved as much love as possible. We loved her up and down. We cared for her night and day for the next three days.

My husband was so sleep deprived, he woke up in the middle of the night and pointed to the baby and told her to “sit!” A command we give our puppy quite frequently. But never a baby! LOL!

Things were going just fine. Until….we got the phone call. The call we deep down were dreading. Our caseworker called and said, “Could you put both you and your wife on the phone?” To this day my heart races whenever someone says these trivial words.

We needed to bring the baby back. Lilly just couldn't go through with it. We were devastated. Our worst fear just came true.

We immediately hopped in the car and brought our "faith" back. We handed back our "faith." My sweet dad went to our house during this time and completely emptied it of any baby stuff. I can't imagine how hard this must have been for him. I now understand the love of a parent. It pains my heart to see my child cry. I cannot imagine the pain my dad must have been feeling as he did this for us. I love him so much for that.

We went home empty handed and feeling very down. Over the next few days we stayed in and, well, grieved. I couldn't believe this was happening and yet a part of me knew it was going to. I prayed so much. I remember praying and telling God how cruel this was. How could I be told I would never be a mother only to get a glimpse of how wonderful it is and then to have it taken from me? The moment I said these words an amazing feeling enveloped my body. I felt so much peace come over me.
I knew in that moment that I had a choice. I could blame God and continue forward with bitterness in my heart towards Him and all that were involved in this. Or, I could hand it over to Him. I chose the latter. Although, I didn't know exactly how. I prayed that He would take this burden from me. I prayed that He would build me up to be able to endure this. I can't describe the feeling. But He did. He did. He strengthened me. I felt peace.

There were not many people I could go to at this time. I felt like I was dealing with a death and yet, like my infertility, I needed to endure it in
silence and with dignity. The hardest part was knowing the home that baby "faith" was going back to. It broke my heart to know of the challenges she was going to have to endure in her life. I know we could have given her so much more. The thing that brought me comfort was knowing that above all, this was Heavenly Father's child. I wasn't just handing her back to her BirthMom. We were handing her back to our Heavenly Father. She will be okay.

Another true blessing that came from this was the bond that strengthened between my husband and I.  We had been through so much the last few months. Our love had grown and our foundation felt so much stronger than it did just a month before. I truly love this man with all my heart.

The next few weeks came and went with much healing. We found it in our hearts to forgive and move forward. We didn't give away our "faith" after all.  We kept it in our hearts.  We were broken and yet we couldn't have felt stronger going forward.  We knew we had an amazing journey ahead of us. We just didn't know what that meant exactly. I wrote "baby Faith's" mom a letter. But I promised myself
I wouldn't send it until I absolutely meant every single word from my heart. On August 8, 2007 I sent this letter:

We just want to tell you that we wish you and baby the very best. We feel very blessed for the time we got to spend with her. Our lives are forever changed and enriched for this experience and we wish baby the best that life has to offer.

We had too much of a close experience together for words to go unspoken. We have no ill feelings for you and want you to know we are here with open arms. We hope everything goes well for you, and especially for your special child. She will always be a very important and special part of our lives.

With Love,
Mamma Mia & Hubby

Emma and her family were there for us during all of this. When we told her the news of "Faith" she was sad. The first thing she said to us was, "That's not gonna happen with me!" One blessing that came from this is Emma really evaluated whether this was absolutely the right thing. And she received the confirmation again that it was.

Next? Maui! We took a much needed, much anticipated trip to our favorite island. We really looked forward to it. We came back so refreshed. We had been through our worst fear. And yet, everything felt right. This was our story. This was OUR story!!! We were going to embrace it. I share this story with anyone who wants to know. So much healing comes to my heart in sharing this. And to relate the “Oak Tree” poem, we had been shaken. Our leaves had been stolen from us, our branches had been broken but we were still standing. And no doubt, our roots had grown deeper. We were stronger than we EVER knew!

We knew one thing going forward. Our future children will always know how much we wanted them.
They will know how much we went through to get them here. And most importantly they will know, it is not just any child we were meant to parent, it was them! They will know.

I love the quote, "When a door shuts, a window is opened."  It felt as though a door had shut on us.  Little did we know that God was opening a window for us.  It was a window to an amazing miracle about to take place.

What started out as a "failed" adoption has turned into a memory that warms my heart whenever I think back on it.  I can truly say that I am grateful for this experience.  As Cliche as it sounds, I am.  

Little did WE know, our journey had just begun!

Click Here for Part Two


Ashley said...

ooohhh... i'm crying like an idiot.....

Andee said...

I am DYING to read the next part.
you are an AMAZING writer.

I found your blog on the adoption..changing lives from beginning to end blog.


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