Tuesday, November 27, 2012

{Adoption} It's a journey ...

Mary and her sweet family

You all met my cousin Mary yesterday. Now you get to hear her adoption in her own words. Thanks, Mary, for sharing your journey with us. I'm so grateful the story has the precious ending it does. Your faith getting there encourages me and I believe it will others.
Proverbs 16:9 : “A man makes a plan in His heart, but God directs his path.”

This past weekend my little family of three went to have our first Christmas picture taken. Things have really changed over a year’s time! A year ago, my husband and I were left hoping, praying, and believing that we would become parents.

My daughter, Penny, was born in February of this year and God blessed us with her through the amazing gift of adoption. As soon as I held her I knew everything would be okay and that this is the child had had intended all along for us.

The Journey Begins

Let me back up and tell you briefly about our journey to Penny. Our adoption journey started out as a wonderful whirlwind. After praying about where to start with our adoption journey, God literally led us to Faithful Adoption Consultants (I cannot recommend them enough!) in the fall of 2010. During the span of nine months, starting in January 2011, we matched with four different birthmothers and four baby girls. (We were not gender specific, believe it or not!)

The first baby girl was born and we spent five days in the hospital with her. She was born with a rare multi-system genetic disease. We visited her in the hospital for hours each day during those five days just praying we would be able to come up with a way to provide for her needs. The only other option we had was to walk away from the baby and end that match. After much praying, begging God, and crying the very ugly cry with snot going everywhere for many hours, my husband and I made the decision after asking God for some type answer to walk away.

God revealed to us very clearly through the words and tears of a neurosurgeon that we could not be adequate parents at that time for that little girl. She would have required one of us to stay at home with her 24/7 and at that time, we could not do that and still provide for her financially and responsibly. That was traumatizing, but we knew deep in our hearts we did the right thing. Let me add that God introduced her forever family to her a few days later – praise Him!

The second match (we were matched just a week or two later) I drove down to Florida and met with another birthmom and made the drive back with my husband two weeks later when she had a scheduled C-section. After spending two days with her in the hospital she told us we were not allowed to name the baby the name we had chosen and then shortly after that she stopped answering the calls from the agency. The hospital she used was known to have nurses who were anti-adoption and we witnessed that during our short time there. Even the social worker was anti-adoption which was just really sad considering those particular circumstances. We were crushed and discouraged but made the long drive home once again.

The Journey Continues

The next match was one that I was never comfortable with from the beginning. The birthmother was only four months pregnant at the time and while I know many people who have gone on to have successful adoptions when matching early like that, I knew that was a long time for the birthmom to have to change her mind, especially considering her family was not on board. Kyle and I flew out to meet the birthmom for lunch one weekend and then a few weeks later, with some help from Google, I found her baby registry online. The birthmom tried to deny it at first and I asked to dissolve the match immediately.

A few months later she had her baby girl and it turns out she lied about a lot of other things and never intended to place. While I felt good about dissolving the match, I was more discouraged than ever. I told my husband if we did not have a baby by our anniversary that fall then I wanted to put our adoption journey on hold because my heart couldn’t take anymore. He agreed and that was our pact. Little did I know, I would quickly learn not to place a time limit on God and His timing

The fourth match that turned into a failed adoption/placement was a very fast match. We got a call on a Tuesday about a birthmother who had a one-month-old baby girl and wanted us to be her parents.

We left that evening and met her the following day. The birthmother was so sweet and fragile – she had really been through a lot during the past year. Her baby was so beautiful and she asked us to keep the name she had given her, Olivia. She signed the appropriate papers on Sunday and we immediately took placement. I remember driving with the baby girl in the car seat and my husband and I just looked at each other and started smiling and saying how we could not believe we were finally parents.

We had that baby girl in our home for 11 weeks and from week two things started to get shaky. The birthfather was contesting the adoption and he and his mother were going to fight for her. The agency told us it wasn’t a big deal at first because there was no way he would be able to gain custody of her given the criminal records that he and his mother had. (They would be living with his mother.) The records were very scary and so we just figured the agency was right. (And please know that I do not blame the agency for what happened … really, it was a strange case and they couldn’t foresee this happening.)

As each week went on we kept getting calls from the agency attorney (who was great, by the way) and the calls kept getting less and less encouraging and hopeful. During week 11 the second hearing was finally set and that’s where the judge did something that baffled everyone, including the attorney who had been practicing adoption law for more 20 years: Custody was granted to the birthfather and we were to return the baby within 48 hours. We returned the baby to the agency within 15 hours and made the trip back home.

I can’t explain how devastating that was, but I think I shocked people when I healed from it extremely quickly, almost immediately. In order to heal, I had to tell myself that it was like a death and that us returning her to the agency was us burying her. God really brought us through that situation and even though it was heartbreaking, I know it was necessary. If we had continued on parenting that baby we would have lived in fear for our safety for the rest of our lives. While Olivia is a pretty name, it never sounded right as my daughter whenever I said her name and I always said that from the beginning.

Lastly, I learned more than anything to truly trust that God does indeed have plans for us and they are definitely not on our timing so I needed to not put time stipulations on anything anymore. Our adoption journey brought Kyle and I closer to God more and more each passing month. Losing that baby made me realize that yes, we were meant to be parents and we would be mighty good parents with God’s help.

That day while driving home, I let the agency know we wanted to continue on and be presented immediately, but we had criteria: We were open to any race and gender. We would not be able to drive or fly down before the birth because of the travel expenses we had incurred that entire year. And the birthfather had to be on board and sign the papers. I knew our wanting the birthfather to sign off could push back our waiting time even more, but we were not willing to go through what we just had again.

The Journey Ends

A few weeks later, which was at the end of last November, we were matched. The baby wasn’t due for another two-and-a-half months, which made me a bit bummed out that it wasn’t sooner, but everything was falling into place beautifully. The birthmother and birthfather were both going to be signing and had picked our profile after seeing the profile of a very wealthy family. She said as soon as she saw the front picture of us and before she even opened our profile book she just knew we were meant to be her baby’s parents. She had such a great feeling in her heart.

This was the first situation that I did not let myself get excited about. I was a little jaded and I just knew at that point that if this was the baby that God intended us to be the parents of then everything would work out. Fast forward to the end of January and I started getting anxious when the due date came and went. The wait was starting to get to me. Two weeks later they induced our daughter’s birthmom and she delivered a beautiful baby girl.

My dad and I made the drive down to meet her and as soon as I went into the hospital nursery and held her I just knew God was telling me, “Mary, this is your daughter. This little life is who I was preparing you for.” 

Papers were signed right after that by everyone and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the birthparents. They were so nice and extremely funny! I enjoyed seeing them interact with each other and with our daughter. From the second I met Penny’s birthmom she made me feel like Penny’s mom – what a dream come true! I was really nervous that she wouldn’t like the name Kyle and I picked out – Penelope Carol … turns out she loved the name!

I finally had my Penny. I finally became a permanent mom.

The question I asked so many times – “Why?” – throughout our journey finally made sense. Penny is why. Penny and her birthparents are why we had to wait so long. God was making her and preparing us for her all along. Penny was more than worth the wait. I would do it all over again just for her. All of the heartache and heartbreak and tears of pain and sorrow we experienced during our adoption journey all made sense and all disappeared. Meeting Penny just felt so natural. Parenting Penny feels so natural. My little girl brings so much joy and laughter to our home and families and just so much happiness to everyone who meets her.

I am so thankful and grateful for God’s perfect plan and the promises He has for us. His faithfulness sure is sweet. 

This is the eighth in a series of posts this month in honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month. You can read my past adoption-related posts here. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

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