Bringing home our daughter, Jillian, when she was three months old was a “God moment” for me. I was incredibly happy to have this beautiful baby girl join our family. At the same time, it was a heart-wrenching time for Jillian’s birthmother who had decided that she was not able to care for her. I discovered that joy and sadness are sometimes just a breath away from one another. I realized the meaning of interdependence as we became utterly dependent on others, mostly strangers; and likewise, they were dependent on us. It was a roller-coaster of a year leading up to the day we brought her home; we had to truly let go and let the universe decide how things were going to unfold.
A year earlier in January 2004, Derek and I attended a two-day seminar at an adoption agency in Spokane. We had read every book we could put our hands on about adoption, and decided on pursuing a domestic open adoption, which is when the child has the potential of developing a relationship with their birthfamily. For several years we had tried to have a second child but I had experienced recurrent miscarriages. I now realize that my son, Wesley, was my “golden egg” and marvel in the fact that he was born a few years earlier. For the adoption agency, we completed paperwork, gathered notes from our doctors reporting that each of us were “expected to have a normal life expectancy”, and completed home visits with the social worker. The biggest project early on was creating a portfolio with pictures and information about our lives so that birthmothers could look at it and be introduced to us. Once we had completed everything on our to-do list, we had to do the hardest part: wait. And for the record, I do not “do” helpless very well. I am used to setting goals, crafting plans, and making things happen.
Every day when I got home from work, I would go directly to the answering machine to see if the red light was blinking, in hopes that there would be some exciting news. Around July we received a call about a birthmother who needed to place her two children, a baby and a young child who had some unique needs, and the agency wanted to find out if we would be open to this situation. It felt like a decision that should be left to a higher power. Ultimately we decided that we were not ready for this and another loving family adopted the children. We received another important call in August. There was a birthmother who was pregnant and due in a few weeks who had chosen another couple to be the adoptive parents, but had changed her mind a month earlier. She had contacted the agency again wanting to place the child for adoption and had chosen us. I talked with the birthmother almost every day for two weeks and everything seemed to be going well. Her labor was going to be induced and we were ready: car was packed, hotel was reserved, clothes and supplies were on hand as we planned to bring the baby home after she was born. I told my friend, “The worst thing that could happen is the birthmom will change her mind.” It turns out that I was wrong. That was not the worst that could happen. There were complications during labor and the baby girl died shortly after birth. We were heart-broken–for the baby, the birthmother, and ourselves. This experience made me rethink my view of God. No longer did I see God as “God Almighty”. Instead, I began to think of God more like a whisper or a breath.
In October, we received another call. A woman had just delivered a baby girl and talked with the adoption agency about placing her. She had seen our portfolio and was interested in our family. A few days later we were told that she decided to parent her instead of adoption. I told myself that I would not fall in love with another child until she or he was strapped into our car seat, heading for home.
When the big call finally came, it was January 2005. The birthmom who delivered her baby in October had decided that she really was not able to parent her after all. We met with Jillian’s birthmother and while she asked us questions to help with her decision-making, we could tell how much she loved Jillian. Two days later, we were strapping Jillian into her car seat, next to five-year-old Wesley, and heading for home, feeling extremely blessed. Even seven years later, I joyfully remember this “God moment” as if it just happened.