Tuesday, April 3, 2018

When Adopting Feels Like a Sick, Practical Joke

I walked through the store, quickly and purposefully, certain that at any moment, I would be discovered as a fraud.  

I headed straight to the back of the store where the baby clothing was.   And I looked.  I told myself, I'm looking as a mom, not as a hopeful mom.  This is is.  This is MY turn.  This is MY day.   

I looked through every single rack of pink and white clothing.  I wanted to choose the exact right outfit:  the perfect one to say "welcome to the world" to my little girl.  

Then, there it was.  I held it up and examined the detail.  The zig-zag stitching, the tiny snaps, the delicate pink and warm white.   This was it.  

I made my way to the front of the store, my confidence and excitement quickly melting away.  Once again, I felt like someone who didn't deserve such hope and happiness.  After all, I wasn't really a mom...yet.  

I was certain the cashier would call me out.   Would reject my purchase.   But he didn't.  He just smiled, swiped my credit card, placed the outfit in a plastic bag, and said, "Please take our online survey. Have a nice day."  

I walked out of the store with it's artificial lights and into the natural sunlight in the parking lot.  I slid into my car (with no carseat in the back) and drove home.   

What had I done?  What was I thinking?  

Every time we had our adoption profile shown, it was either a "not you" or a "they're parenting."  We were almost matched, twice, once with a mom in Hawaii and once with a mom in Michigan.  But the communication with both moms faded.  Almost every time, as I shared in my newest book, we were shown for Caucasian boys.  This profile showing, the one we were waiting to hear back on, was for an African American baby girl in Tennessee.   

The day I learned about this possibility, I decided I was sick and tired of waiting.  Because though we'd only been officially been waiting a year, I had been waiting far longer to be a mommy.   

Two days later we got an e-mail from the social worker. 

Not chosen.  

So I returned the outfit.  Because it was for a specific HER, and that her wasn't to be OURS.  

It was a vicious cycle:  a dance of hope and rejection. Yet this was the first time I dared to dream enough, to hope enough, that I bought a specific baby a gift that I dreamed to give from "mom and dad."  As I returned the gift, I felt embarrassed, tired, and depressed.   

What was wrong with us?  Why weren't we parents yet?  Why did I see profile after profile on our agency's page stamped "placed" in bold print while ours still sat there, desperately?   

It was exhausting to be rejected over and over and over.  And at every turn, our nearest and dearest, be it family members, church members, friends, and co-workers would ask, "Heard anything yet?"  At first it was endearing.  They were excited for us.  But at a certain point, I just wanted to scream in frustration.  

With every "no" my heart broke a little more.  I felt jealousy (of other couples), bitterness, and shame creep in and create a home in my soul.   I didn't understand why I had so clearly knew we'd adopt, yet we hadn't adopted.   

I rationalized:  we were educated, financially stable, had great families, loved to travel, went to church every Sunday, and were happy.   So why not us?   Weren't we an expectant mom's dream couple?  

It's well over a decade later, and when I drive down the road in my minivan FULL of kids, remembering the fact that now I'm blessed beyond measure, I realize a few things:

1:  I wasn't really ready to adopt at the time I thought I was.  I still had lessons to learn, people to meet (as I outline extensively in my new book). 

2:  All of those babies who didn't become mine weren't meant to be mine.  They belonged to other mommies and daddies:  either their biological ones or the ones that adopted them.  

3:  After waiting twelve months, due to a few experiences we had, a shift happened.  I began asking God to bless the woman who was carrying our future baby, to bless her with peace and wisdom and strength, rather than crying to God that I needed a baby RIGHT THEN, RIGHT NOW, to fulfill MY needs.   The adoption journey became about the baby and expectant mother and not about me.

Because these lessons were learned, this wisdom bestowed, I was able to readily receive the surprise of a lifetime:  a "cold call" asking if we wanted our profile shown for an African American baby girl born that morning.  We said, of course, and two hours later, the call that said, "Come get your daughter."  

And two years later, another "cold call" for another girl, on THE DAY we started waiting to adopt a second time.  

And two years later, a two month match and then the birth of our son.  

And three-and-a-half years later, the four-and-half-month match and then the birth of our daughter.

Every wait.  Every "no."  Every tear.  It was ALL worth it.  Because every time of in between was a lesson in what we needed to be the best parents we could to the babies who would become ours.

So if you're in a place now where you're feeling broken, rejected, discouraged, uncertain, confused, may I tell you this?  That your miracle may be just one day away. And I know that you've perhaps told yourself this for many days, weeks, and years on end.  But the truth is, any moment could be your last day of not being a mom.  Your future can change in a split second:  that phone call or e-mail.  The one that says, "Congratulations."

Hold on, dear.  Just a little longer.  Have faith, and lean on the only ONE who knows what the future holds.  Pray for the expectant mothers who are making decisions for their babies.  Pray that your heart doesn't harden, so you are ready and able to learn the lessons God has for you and for your hands to be open to the little one that is coming your way.  

Take it from someone who has been there:  your "yes" is pending.  Are you ready?  

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