So, I haven’t been completely honest with you. And I’m sorry. (And I’m sorry for the length of this post). It’s not that I’ve lied; I just did that whole convenient withholding of certain facts and details. I kind of gave you an edited version of me for the last two and a half weeks. I don’t think you got totally gypped – there was still plenty going on and more than enough to report. I mean my gosh! It’s been a pretty epic couple of weeks: Matthew graduated from kindergarten, we started summer vacation, we’ve had some major snafus to deal with for the National Engaged Encounter Convention (for which we are the Co-Chairs), I ran my third half marathon and we also found out that Zachary needs to have surgery! (His “Inguinal Hernia Repair” will take place at Children’s Hospital on July 28th…when Mike is in California for a conference. Oh well. That was the earliest they could do). It’s not like you’ve been wanting for something to read here (and I do appreciate that you visit here to read), and I’ve certainly had more than enough to share. However, with all that said, I’ve totally been holding back.
See, for the last two and a half weeks, we’ve been on one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride, and I just needed to ride it out before bringing you all along. On Friday, June 11th, we received an “Urgent” email from our adoption social worker, Joy. We got this email two minutes before our friends Jason and Julia arrived for dinner. I didn’t have a chance to read it as I was busy assuming my role as Chef-Goddess-Extraordinaire. (Or, so I like to pretend). Mike took a quick glance at it and quickly dismissed it. When I asked him for details he said, “Well, it doesn’t apply to us. It’s for siblings.” Oh, OK.
Yeah, OK, UNTIL I read it the next morning and my heart started to thud and my stomach flutter. See, we never had adopting more than one child on our radar for several reasons, most of which are practical: we can only afford to adopt one child (I’m sorry, but it is a pricey business), and we couldn’t be foster-licensed for more than one (or “sibling groups”) as we don’t have enough bedrooms. Plus, there’s the whole general concept that kids are awesome but most of the time kinda cramp your style, your space and definitely cost a lot of money. Case closed……
UNTIL I read this email. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Out of respect for the Birth Mom (henceforth: BM), I won’t go into too many details but will provide a general picture. Occasionally, a birth mom comes in who wishes to relinquish child(ren) who are not newborns. The agency provides these moms with support and resources and often – 99.9% of the time – they decide to continue parenting their child(ren). This time, however it seemed like BM’s mind was made up. And here’s the deal: she has not one, but two beautiful little girls – both healthy and happy. The oldest is 2 ½ and the youngest will turn one next month. Oh, and BM is pregnant with #3. That’s right, the agency was asking for families to think over the weekend if a.) you’d be open to the two girls (as they would NOT separate them) and b.) if you’d consider the third baby should BM decide to relinquish that child as well (which is still very up in the air because of several different factors).
Mike and I spent all weekend talking and praying about it. I spent all weekend unable to think of anything else. We had to decide by Monday morning if we were interested in learning more. I called Joy on Monday and said that we were definitely interested…in learning more…and just seeing where this went. We waited through that first work week in agony. BM was supposed to be meeting with the BM counselor and providing all medical records/social history and pictures and names of the girls. We had to wait through another weekend. EVERY SINGLE DAY I checked email in eager anticipation for more news. See, the problem is, you have to play this emotional yo-yo. You HAVE to get excited. You HAVE to open your heart to the possibility. But you also know that it might not happen. And yet, there’s some relief in that too. I was terrified for us to get picked. I was terrified for us to not get picked. And I was SO tired of just waiting, and waiting for more info.
When we finally received the email at the END of week two, the wait had been so full of anxiety and frustration that it was almost anticlimactic. But then, I saw the girls – pictures of these two beautiful, adorable little girls who just need a mom and dad and a Matthew and Zachary to love them and take care of them and keep them safe. Within moments, we realized that this was an awesome situation – better than we could’ve hoped for based on lots of stories we’ve heard. BM is young and healthy. The girls are healthy, great ages, etc.. It kind of seemed too good to be true. I sent Joy an email that said, “Bring it on. We’re in. All in.”
During all of this, I asked Mike one night, “What if Baby Girl is actually girlS…and then possibly one more?!!”
In the morning, I put this question to the boys at breakfast. “So, kiddos,” I said, “What if Baby Sister is actually TWO baby sisters?!!”
They both looked at me with big goofy grins and then Matthew said, “That’d be awesome!”
Zach agreed with, “That’d be perfect ‘cuz then the teams would be fair.” Oh, OK. I didn’t know we had teams.
“Yeah!” Matthew added getting excited, “There’d be three boys AND three girls.”
Seeing that this was going so well, I decided to throw them a curve ball. “And then what if there happened to be one MORE baby?”
This made them pause. They discussed it quietly and Matthew – speaking on behalf of his team, said, “That one would have to be a boy.”
I debated about showing the girls’ pictures to the boys as we don’t want them to feel any disappointment throughout this process (if possible). But since, we HAD decided to put our name in the hat, and there was a chance this might happen, I wanted them to be a little bit of a part of it. When I showed the boys the pictures, I didn’t say, “These are the girls we’re hoping will be your little sisters…” or anything like that, I just said, “These are the girls that we need to pray for…’cuz they need a new family and we want God to help their mom pick the right one.”
Without skipping a beat Matthew said, “I hope she picks us!”
We had to spend another weekend just waiting. Thankfully I had the half marathon as a blessed (and muscle-soreness-inducing) distraction. On Monday (yesterday) at 10am, the interested families had to have their profiles in to be shown to BM. Joy had told me on Friday that she’d be able to tell me on Monday morning just what the pool looked like – yep, she’d give us the stats on the “competition.” I waited ALL DAY for an email or a phone call. I finally caved at 1pm-ish and sent a ‘just-checking-in-but-totally-harassing’ email. No response. Nothing.
[Again, God provided another major distraction. Mike’s come down with a nasty cold/stomach flu situation. It’s awful and now I’m just praying that my sore throat does not develop into the same thing...So, while the lack of communication was VERY frustrating, I did have other things going on. And, I, of course, have the constant Matthew-Zachary distraction duo to keep me busy. But still, this mind just won’t shut off.]
Finally, this morning, I got an email from Joy. Turns out she, too, had been sick over the weekend and wasn’t at work yesterday. She apologized for not being able to communicate – she knew it must’ve been torture. She said that BM did come in and collect the family profiles, but they had no idea how long she would take to decide. Great! More waiting! But, uh, picking the future family of your children is KINDA a big thing, so I can see why you wouldn’t want to rush that decision.
Joy COULD tell us that there were TEN families in the pool and that we were number five (based on completion of home study). Basically, they just stack them so the families who have been waiting the longest are on top and then it gradually moves to those newest to Child Search. OK, a one-in-ten chance. Got it. But do we got it? Are we what this Birth Mom is looking for? You just never know what little thing in your “birth parent letter” or in one of your photos will be THE THING that tugs at the Birth Mom. What little minute detail is enough to convince a mother to give HER child to become YOUR child?
I’m thankful that today’s wait wasn’t long. Joy called twenty minutes after emailing. BM had made her decision and contacted the BM Counselor this morning. Joy started the conversation like this, “Hey Jen, it’s Joy. So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news…but it’s not you guys this time ‘round.”
I immediately launched into autopilot, “Oh, OK. That’s totally fine. You know, it’s kind of a relief! I mean two more – maybe even three kids! It was a little daunting. So, it just wasn’t meant to be. I’m just glad BM found a family for her two girls…” Meanwhile, I’m wondering how many times Joy has had to start a conversation with “I hate to be the bearer of bad news.” How hard would it be to hear that when you’ve tried to have children for years, finally decided to adopt, finally feel like you’ve found the one(s) and then find out that “oh, sorry, you’re not the ones?!!” Gah. The heart break.
I’ve told myself that through this process, I’m allowed to get sad. Obviously, it goes without saying. It’s only been twice now that we’ve had “the feeling” and put our name in with a lot of hope. Both times have hurt. I can’t imagine that it will get any better. You have to open yourself up for these little girls – especially when you see their sweet little faces and you know their beautiful names. You have to take a moment to imagine – to put yourself in that place – of calling THIS specific child “your own.” You imagine them, for the first time calling YOU Mama. It can’t help but hurt. Kind of a lot.
I know, I know. It wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t God’s plan. Blahblahblah. When the time is right we’ll get the baby girl who is ours – The One. But until then…for now…we wait.