It’s hard to believe it has been over six months since we got the call. Our boy has grown. Our hearts are overflowing. And I desperately want to share the story of how it all came to be. It’s a story of perseverance and relentless love. Of fear and trust and allowing yourself to jump in head first without the slightest idea what lies below you. But most of all, it’s a story of God’s boundless grace and it needs to be shared so that others may have hope and remember the greatness of the One who holds our lives in His hands.
When I first wrote Nathaniel’s birth story several months ago, I wrote every single detail I could recall. But something about it didn’t sit right with me. I read those pages over and over, praying for wisdom to include the important parts but not say too much. I realized some of what I had written are things we won’t be sharing with Nathaniel until he is much older and able to better understand the ways of the world. Soon, I understood that those parts needed to be removed, they were not for me to share. Nathaniel can choose to share or not share those tender, difficult, confusing parts of his story someday, but for today I will have to keep these words more general. Please feel free to ask us any questions though, we are happy to have those conversations one-on-one.
I’ll start from the beginning because I want to make sure I cover the whole story. God’s been working this together for many years and deserves to have each part of His plan recapped. Be warned, this will surely be a lengthy piece. But I hope you enjoy it!
So here we go….Once upon a time there was a young couple who met at a camp, got married a year later, and started off together on this crazy journey they call life.
Jeff and I were married in September of 2005. We didn’t think much about kids at that time. Our plan was to follow the typical path most of those around us followed – enjoy married life for 3-4 years, then have kids. Otherwise, you miss out on spending time together as a couple, or something like that.
After we waited the appropriate amount of time, we agreed that we would have three kids (though secretly, I know I would have pushed for four). And we would have them by the time we turned 30 because we didn’t want to be old parents, or something like that.
In Fall 2007, we moved to Texas and started a new life. We fell in love with our town and our people. We settled in and decided it was a good time to start a family.
Things didn’t happen as quickly as we thought they would and after two years of no pregnancy, we started pursuing adoption. I know this decision is very hard for some and it can take many years for them to open up to it, so I can only give credit to the Lord that we were so peaceful about the idea of not having biological children. We knew many families who had adopted and through them all of our previous fears about adoption were put to rest. These families were just that…families. There was nothing weird or scary about it.
In Spring of 2011, we applied as adoptive parents at our agency. We went to the orientation and filled out a lot of paperwork. Our last step was to create a scrapbook of our family for the birthmothers to look through when they are making a plan for their child. I wanted our book to be original and personal so we decided to take our time getting it together. Besides, everyone we knew who had adopted got a call within a few weeks of turning in their book and we wanted a little more time to prepare. We planned to have everything completed and submitted by the end of the summer.
Then we had a fire and things got a little crazy.
We turned our book in right before Thanksgiving of that year.
At that time we were still open to receiving a child, even though we had no home. We didn’t know how it would work out but knew the family we were living with would go to great lengths to help us, so we felt confident. And our agency had no concerns about placing a child with us while living in that family’s home. Bless them!
So any day now, we would get a call…
Any day now…
Two more years went by and we started to feel restless. Why was this not happening for us the way it had for others? I desperately sought to find the answer, but of course there was none. We were back in our home. I had a good job and Jeff was in school so he had the ability to be a stay-at-home dad, at least part of the time. It would not be ideal, but we would make it work. We knew it would be worth it.
We started to wonder if we had missed something along the way. Maybe God was telling us to choose another road and we had been so focused on this plan that we didn’t realize He was pointing in a different direction.
We prayed about other options, and door after door was closed in front of us. What was God doing? Why didn’t He want us to have kids?
Our empty home was becoming too much to bear. We felt prepared for kids. We had space for kids. Not having kids made us feel like we had no purpose. We no longer fit in with 90% of our friends who now had children of their own. It was lonely. We felt lost. Surely, there was something God wanted us to do.
Foster care seemed to be the missing link. We had thought about it but never felt peace about pursuing it. We loved the idea of helping children and families who are in need of a loving home. We knew we could provide that for them. But ultimately, God was asking us to let go of the possibility of ever having children of our own. We had to lay our lives down, as He has asked over and over again, and trust Him to fill whatever void was in our hearts.
We took a step forward and applied at a foster care agency. In order to do this, we had to close our file at our adoption agency, which was so hard for us. We loved them and had wanted so badly to be on this journey with them. And it seemed like our only hope for bringing home a baby that would be ours forever. This was no longer our dream. We had to have a new dream. We weren’t sure what that would be yet but were just trusting God to build it for us.
Miraculously, we completed the entire foster care licensing process, including all 8 training classes, in just three months. This was surely the path God had for us, everything was falling into place.
We got our license the week of Thanksgiving (still 2013) and expected to have a child within a few days. Because, once again, all of our friends who had fostered received a call after just a day or two.
Days went by. Weeks went by. Christmas came and went. No calls.
The agency told us it was because we were not able to take more than one child, that all the kids they were placing were sibling groups. I knew this wasn’t the true reason though, God was up to something. So we continued to wait.
Several more weeks went by when finally we got a call from our foster care agency. They had to do a routine check of our home. It felt like a slap in the face. But we knew it was something they had to do, regardless of whether or not there were kids in our home. They came on the 30th of January, it took all of twenty minutes, and then we went about our lives as usual.
An hour later Jeff received a call from our previous adoption agency. Part of him didn’t want to answer it, they were likely just checking on us and we didn’t have any news to share. As I said, when we chose to do foster care, we had to close our file with the adoption agency. It was a difficult decision, we loved them and all that they stood for. But we felt it was time to move on.
However, the agency kept our photo book just in case the right situation came along.
Jeff answered the call and was told that a young woman came in and looked at our book. She liked us but needed more information since our book had not been updated in two years. Could we send an update over the weekend? Yes, of course! We sent the update just a few hours later.
We kept our emotions at bay through the weekend. There were other options at this point. She could choose another couple. Or she could choose to parent the child. Our past record said to us that the chances she would actually pick us were low. Guard your heart, be prepared for anything.
The young woman, we will call her Sarah, was scheduled to meet with the agency the following Monday. Our case workers had no way of contacting her, so it was all up to her whether or not she would go to the appointment. It was possible she would never even come back. And if she did show up, it was likely she still needed time to make her decision.
That’s what I told myself, surely nothing will be decided until the end of the week. Don’t get too excited.
However, Jeff received another call on Monday afternoon. They had met with Sarah. She had looked at our update. And she had chosen us to parent her child. All we knew at that point is that it was a little boy and he was scheduled to be delivered in ten days.
Suddenly, emotions were running wild. We knew anything could happen, there was no guarantee, we had to move forward cautiously. Guard your heart, be prepared for anything.
As soon as the baby items starting coming in, all was lost. We prayed for God’s will, we wanted what was best for this little boy. But ultimately, we wanted him to be ours. We already loved him, our hearts were in this no matter how hard we tried to keep our distance.
That Saturday, Jeff was working and I was listening to some music while cleaning the kitchen. A song by All Sons and Daughters was playing and one verse literally brought me to my knees.
“If this waiting lasts forever, I’m afraid I might let go” (Reason to Sing)
In that moment, I was not afraid of the disappointment of receiving a call that she had changed her mind. I was not afraid of walking into our bedroom to place a hand on an empty crib. More than those things, in that moment I realized my greatest fear was if this did not come to be, that I would finally break. That after so many closed doors, it would be the last bit of pain I could bear. And that I would let go of the One who had been holding me all these years. I was afraid of breaking and not being able to recover.
This became my prayer, that I would not break, that God would continually remind us that He’s got this. The world is in His hands and He would not allow us to fall off the deep end.
Part Two can be found here.