“In no way is it enough to set out cheerfully with God on any venture of faith. You must also be willing to take your ideas of what the journey will be like and tear them into tiny pieces, for nothing on the journey will happen as you expect.”
–from Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman
When we left off in Part One, David and I had just agreed to adopt Zoe’s biological sibling, who was due in eight weeks. Over the next month, we told our parents and closest friends about our news, prepared a nursery, prayed hard for our future addition, and got organized for life with two.
On Christmas Day, we told our extended family about the upcoming addition. Everyone rejoiced.
As the weeks went by, some red flags started to emerge. The birth mom skipped several OB appointments and lied about several things. But she kept reiterating that she intended to place the baby with us. Ordinarily, red flags would make us run—but we knew her. She had given us Zoe. We loved her and trusted her. And we didn’t feel like God was telling us to run.
Then, two weeks before the baby’s due date, I got a call from our case manager.
The birth mom was having second thoughts.
I want to make it clear that I respect the enormity of a decision to place a baby, and that I don’t automatically think I am more qualified to parent than someone else. However, in this particular case, every professional involved thought it would be in the best interest of this child to come home with us as the birth mom lacked the physical, emotional, and mental resources to care for this child and lacked family support as well. After working in Title I schools for a few years and learning the difference between “rougher than my upbringing” and “harmful to a child,” I agreed with their assessment. We were scared by the thought of a child entering this situation.
The case manager and the social worker working with the birth mom suggested that I have a phone conversation with the birth mom to remind her of her positive feelings towards us. I agreed, feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of this assignment.
The next day, I was on the elliptical machine at the gym when my phone rang. Was I free to talk to her now?
I stepped out of the gym and sat in my car. It was a crisp Friday morning, and I shivered a little in the car as I chatted with the birth mom. At first, it was just a conversation between two moms—updating one another on their kids and on life.
Then it got serious. She said she was having second thoughts about this adoption.
I told her, “I know it’s a huge decision. I want you to know that we love you regardless of the decision you make about this baby, and we will always love and respect you because you are Zoe’s birth mom. I want you to make the decision that is best for the baby. I can’t tell you what that is. But either way, we will still love you. Please just let us know what your decision is.”
And at that moment, she said “I woke up this morning and knew what I have to do. I need to place the baby with you. It’s the right thing for the baby. Talking to you makes me feel certain it’s right.”
She said it would be helpful if I would come to some OB appointments with her, as she didn’t have any friend or family support, and invited me to go to an appointment with her a few days later. Everything she said sounded “right.” But I still came home and said to David, “I’m not sure what will happen here.”
We felt exhausted. But at the same time, we didn’t feel like we were supposed to “move.” In many ways, I wished we felt that way. It would have been easier. But God kept telling us, “stay with this.”
I wrote to my prayer group that day,
“I was reading this morning about how a planter and a harvester aren’t always the same person and I realized that in this situation, I feel called to faithfully ‘plant’ love regardless of whether I see this ‘harvest’ or not. I get the sense that God just wants me to obey and live out what He has called me to (pursuing this adoption and loving and supporting the birth mom) regardless of outcome. I feel strongly that there is an entire spiritual dimension going on that I know nothing about, that may have very little to do with me, but that my obedience still can impact. Of course, God is going to do what He is going to do and I couldn’t stop Him by NOT obeying—but maybe He wants me to play a ‘willing participant’ role instead of ‘mere bystander.’
And so my cry to God is ‘if all I am in this situation is a planter—let that be enough.’ I am praying for the outcome I want too, of course, and I trust that God CAN do that and very well MIGHT do that but that is not the most important thing to me anymore. And so I ask for your continued prayers for this situation, for the outcome but also for the process in me and in whoever it is supposed to be impacting.”
Over the next two weeks, I attended two appointments with the birth mom. She acted relieved and excited to have me there. We made our birth plan. My mom came, ready to help.
And then, the day of the C-section arrived. We waited and waited for the phone call telling us our baby’s gender. Hours went by, with no information. “She should have been done by now,” we realized.
It was pouring outside. My mom snapped some photos, trying to capture the mood of the day our new son or daughter would be born. They are telling.
It was not a happy moment. Our birth mom had been through the C-section procedure, refused calls for a while, then finally got in touch with our case manager only to tell her, “it’s a girl. I love her and I’m keeping her.”
Our case manager said, “she sounded pretty loopy from the pain meds. I bet tomorrow she will say something different.”
If you’ve read my blog or followed our life at all this year, you know that she didn’t. For three weeks, she wavered while we waited, grieved, felt guilty for grieving, hoped, felt stupid for hoping, prayed and generally went crazy, but ultimately, she said she was keeping the baby—that she knew it wasn’t the best decision for the baby, but that it was her decision.
Our case was closed.
We didn’t know. But we knew—and wanted to trust—that Someone else did.
Part III coming soon.