I don't even know where to begin. Seriously. I know alot of people say that to begin a story, but it's true. The last 48 hours have been the craziest whirlwind of my life, and our heads are spinning with excitement, so I don't know that I can even complete sentences or make coherent thoughts at this point.
Do I begin with the painful years of infertility, and how I can see looking back how God gave us that pain as a GIFT to reveal his bigger plan for our lives through adoption? (crazy.)
Do I begin with the amazing story of a birthmommy Megan and how through her own deepest sorrow gave us the greatest GIFT of our lives-- our daughter Caroline--?
Do I begin with the heartbreak of last month, when a seemingly "perfect" adoption situation fell through our hands, leaving us to question God's loving hand and wonder what He was doing? (Marc wants to tell you that he compares this to the deer scene in season 2 of "The Walking Dead," whatever that means...)
OR, do I back up even farther and tell you about how over the past several years, the Lord has given us a love and a draw towards loving people that are utterly different than us? Watching the adoption of Simeon Hamby 8 years ago, welcoming 5 bi-racial children as new nieces and nephews, having our eyes opened through Sunshine Gospel in the southside of Chicago, serving at the local soup kitchen downtown, our RUF students.... these are no coincidences. Little did I see what the Lord was doing through those very things.
You see, when I signed up for adoption this time around, I envisioned adopting a baby that looked like me. I know that's not out of the norm for adoptive families. Call it playing it safe, call it racism, call it what you want. So many factors went into which racial "box" we literally checked on the child acceptance form. I already have a bald child-- do I really want to take on MORE stares and inappropriate comments with a transracial adoption? And until this past Wednesday, the answer was a firm NO. (those of you that know me well know my idol of safety, security, and the lack of risk taking in my life...)
Forget the fact that I have wept so many tears of joy for families around us who have adopted trans-racially. One family from our former church, the Kleins, sent us a Christmas card last year, and on the front was a picture of their newly formed family: two white, biological children of their own now joined with two black siblings through adoption. I hung it up on my kitchen wall and looked at it in wonder EVERY. DAY. You better believe that all the other Christmas cards came down, but that one kept hanging up. It was like the most beautiful portrait of God's amazing grace on display in glorious COLOR! :)
Little did I know what that one picture was doing in my heart.
Ultimately, I think my feelings about transracial adoption were shrouded in fear. Fear of the unknown (what do I, being lily white, know about african american culture and HAIR, after all??). Fear of acceptance. Fear of man's judgment. Fear of risk and the loss of comfort.
The adoption situation last month looked seemingly perfect in our eyes. It was exactly what I had envisioned-- a beautiful, intelligent birthmother with a blue eyed, caucasian baby boy. The birthmom wanted to name him Jamison, a name that we had already discussed! So, how could we not think, "this is it!?" Deep down in our hearts, I think we just knew the Lord had a son named Jamison (or Jameson) for us.
Then she picked the other family.
No, no, no, no, no, NO! This is not supposed to happen, God! What are you DOING????
This past month has been quite a low for Marc and I, both emotionally and spiritually. We have had to reach into Scripture and hold onto truths that we simply could not see or feel.
Shortly after we were rejected by the birthmom, Marc began resuming the idea/dream he's had for quite some time now: adopting a black son. The poor guy would try talking to me day after day about it, only to be shut down by a wife with hands over her ears. That's too much for me to take on. I can't do it.
I don't know what exactly it was that slowly began changing my heart over to this idea. I didn't even tell Marc about it, but the wheels in my head were constantly churning over the idea of adding a black child to our family. And at times, secretly I would feel downright excited.
This past Wednesday night, I returned home from a music rehearsal, and my sweet, persistent husband began telling me about a long phone conversation he had made to a friend (a former RUF campus minister) who has adopted transracially. As I listened to the reality of this family's experience, it was uncanny to me how many parallels there were between transracial adoption and that of having a child with alopecia. Stares, inappropriate comments, people going above and beyond to tell you how beautiful your child is, the "Mama Bear" situations, etc.
Somehow I realized in that moment that through my daughter's alopecia, He has called my family to not look like everyone else.
It hit me hard. There are lessons about being different and resting upon Jesus' approval of us that I am already teaching to my child. Perhaps He was wanting me to do the same with another child... maybe I didn't have to fear.
I know the heaviness of this thought process may seem pretty ridiculous for many of you because you'd have signed up to adopt transracially in a heart beat without giving it a second thought! It was different for me. It's a crazy thing how our experiences and attitudes towards race are revealed through this adoption process. I suppose they have come to the forefront for me, and I have seen the fear and wretchedness in my own heart like never before as I wrestled through this. I know there are just as many of you that have a hard time (like me) wrapping your mind around transracial adoption, too. That's okay. I was there.
So Wednesday night (as in, two and half days ago!!), at the end of our late night conversation, I was ready.
"Let's email our caseworker and let her know" came out of my mouth.
At 11:40PM, I sent the email that, in a nutshell, said "The Lord is at work in our hearts. We are open to an african american BOY. Sign us up!"
At 6:38AM, I received an email back from her that said "Amy, I received this email just in time to present you THIS MORNING to an african american couple who is due very soon."
Um, WHAT?!?!?! I think I even chuckled at the impossibility of this timing.
Here's how close it came.
The family's caseworker sends over a text to our caseworker: "I'm about to pick them up. Show Marc and Amy or not?"
Our caseworker: "Show Marc and Amy!"
Then, our caseworker called us to let us know about some variables.
Like unknown gender. Were we willing to take a black baby GIRL as well as a boy? the caseworkers needed to know. I was totally willing to shout "YES!," but for whatever reason, Marc could only envision himself with a black son. It had been his dream.
Were we willing to do a closed adoption? the caseworkers needed to know. (with no contact, no pictures, no meeting.) That's what this couple was requesting, mostly because they thought it would be easier on them due to the extreme feelings of loss.
Well, anyone who's read our blog knows we are HUGE fans of open adoption! Having a relationship with a birthparent is so important to us, for our own sake and especially for the sake of our children to not have to wonder where they're from and if they were loved. But not every adoption is that fairy tale story, and I reminded myself of this as I told my caseworker we would manage. With no prenatal care, there were also looming questions as to whether the baby would be healthy.
So we decided to tell the caseworkers we would be open to the situation if it was a boy. (okay, now you can call us sexist, too. :) But honestly, I also didn't know how the girl-with-no-hair and the girl-with-hair scenerio would play out... you have to think about these things... Surprisingly, because of the nature of this unique situation, they were willing to present us to the family with that gender stipulation in tact.
Within 12 hours of my initial email to commit to trans-racial adoption, this birthmother and birthfather together looked through the albums of families, and as you can imagine where this story is headed, they loved OURS. (Can this be any more of God's timing?!??!?)
What clenched it for them? They said when they saw how happy and full of joy our daughter was in the pictures, you can't just fake that. (As my case worker recounted this to me yesterday, tears began to flow. They have no idea what that statement meant to my heart.) Marc says this is almost as good as hearing "well done, thy good and faithful servant." Almost. :-)
Anyways, I knew we probably wouldn't hear anything on Thursday after the profiles were presented. My caseworker said she'd get back to us with any update she had the next day, Friday. It wasn't too agonizing of a wait for me, but I couldn't get my mind off of the what-ifs. I woke up Friday telling Marc I fully expected to hear negative news this day. (oh, the naysayer in me...)
I had no idea what kind of day the Lord had in store.
After lunch, I spoke to my caseworker on the phone. "Have you been on pins and needles the past 24 hours? Well, I have an update to give you, and you might want to grab a pen and paper, sit down, grab a tissue, and hold onto your hat as I tell you this."
I figured, this sounds good, right? Could it be???? My mind began racing. Did they pick us???
Oh yes, they did. Out of all the families, they saw their sweet little black child fitting best in ours. Perhaps it's because they saw the various shades of brown skin in our family already, perhaps it's from the pictures of our college students. But they saw diversity in our surroundings.
AND... a happy little girl.
I teared up. Then their caseworker had to break the news to them about us only being open to adopting an african american boy. (in hindsight, I had been wishing we hadn't given that stipulation, but I kept listening.) They were disappointed, hoping we would be willing to adopt this baby, whatever the gender.
I thought the story ended there. We've been picked! Oh Lord, we're going to have a baby soon!
And then she kept talking.
Just a few hours later that day, the birthmom went into labor!!! And at 9:45PM on Thursday, November the 8th, she delivered
a perfectly healthy baby BOY.
(Cue the sobbing here. I've never felt anything like that moment before. At this point, Caroline comes out from playing in her room saying, "What, Mommy? What, Mommy?")
My caseworker's voice suddenly started taking on the muffled voice of the teacher on the Peanuts' cartoon ("wah wah wah wah") as my mind was swirling with thoughts and emotions. He's alive! My son was possibly born LAST NIGHT! AND... he's black!!! :)
I kept listening.
The couple wants us to name him. Oh my gosh, they want us to NAME him?!? This dear boy that's laying in a hospital who knows WHERE from here that I've never met and didn't know existed, and some strangers are waiting for ME to NAME THEIR SON?!?!?!?
It hit me then. We WERE going to have a son, Jameson, afterall.
"Jameson David" I told her through all of the "what, Mommy?s" from Caroline, without even consulting Marc to make sure! Marc was at work at the time.
We have a baby! He's out there!
Virginia adoption law gives the birthparents ten days after the birth of the baby to change their mind. (I know, I know. Nail biting... for the next 9 days it is conceivable that they could change their mind.) The way our adoption agency handles this ten days is that once the babies are discharged from the hospital, they are placed in the care of sweet, trained families called "godparents" that provide round the clock foster parenting to the baby in their home until placement day. Many times there are legalities that have to be worked through and the wait is much longer than 10 days. In this case, because both the birthmother and birthfather are solidly committed to an adoption plan, it appears that we would be looking at a ten or eleven day placement!
Then our caseworker told us how the Lord was working in Jameson's mom and dad, too. She said that when they saw the pictures in our album on Thursday of Caroline with her birthmother and read about our open adoption story, they began to wonder if they should meet us. (!!!) And after the baby was born, they were discussing calling us to tell us how he was doing!! (though we had NO idea any of this was going on!) It is beautiful how the Lord can change people. So many times we don't even believe it's possible.
Just as I was about to get off the phone with the caseworker, I saw Marc pull up in the driveway, home from work early. He's gonna die. He's seriously gonna die when he hears this.
After I hung up the phone, it was time to assemble my little family on the couch and recount the story. And as you can just imagine, it was quite the reaction blow-by-blow. At finding out we were chosen by the birthmom and birthdad, Caroline shrilled, "The birthmommy picked US? She DID????" followed by jumping up and down screaming on the couch. Marc started weeping at this point.
Then I went on to tell them how she had gone into labor and HAD the baby!
Caroline's eyes got so, SO big and she gasped for air.
"And it was a baby BOY!!!!!" I choked out the words and we all lost it.
Like wailing. Hugging. Joy in abundance.
"I'M SO HAPPY!" Marc sobbed. "...I might die of happiness."
It was like a moment that I can only imagine will be experienced in glory. Where everything sad comes untrue. In just the blink of an eye.
I will never forget. I never want to forget.
As a family, we prayed together and thanked God for this blessing. We cheered and screamed. Oh, and we voted on the name Jameson David. It was a hit. (Caroline is now going around talking about her brother, Jameson. It melts our heart to hear!)
Later that evening, we found out that the couple did indeed sign the paperwork at the hospital. And they sent us our first picture via text of our little bundle, who has NO idea what is about to happen to him!!! YAY! The text said, "Meet Jameson David, 6 lbs 2 oz, 19 inches. Sorry we couldn't call today- we will try tomorrow." He was perfect. Wrapped up so snugly and tight in a hospital blanket, sleeping soundly, adorned in a TON of hair. (ha ha! Isn't that the Lord's sense of humor to give us a son with alot of hair?!) I love him already.
That's where we are today, friends. Celebrating God's goodness and totally STUNNED at his timing. Caroline is beyond excited, and she's walking around the house picking out things from her room that she can give to her brother. And life has suddenly picked up its pace because in the next 9-10 days, WE'RE HAVING A BABY!!!!
What can I give back to God for the blessings He's poured out on me? I'll lift high the cup of salvation-a toast to God! - Ps. 116:12-13