Thank you so much for reading our story.
Today is a shout out to those who carried us through this adoption journey, who prayed diligently for us, who prayed for our birth mom, who generously provided references, who encouraged us through the rough patches, who rejoiced with us when we were matched, who grieved with us when matches fell through, who counseled us, who reminded us of God’s tender mercies and perfect timing, and who ultimately praised the Lord with us when we brought our sweet son home.
You are appreciated.
You are valued.
You are important.
You are reflections of grace.
You are sources of strength.
You are cherished.
You are LOVED.
A couple of days ago, I wrote about all the unexpected things that happen as you navigate through an adoption. They are countless and continuous. Among them, though, are truly extraordinary details that regularly confirm that you are on the right path. We had many of those along the way…too many to remember, but here are some of the biggies:
There were many other moments like this, but these are the ones I remember the most. Even if they were the only ones, they would be enough. God is extraordinary. He loves in extraordinary measure, and he moves in profound and extraordinary ways to show us.
You do a lot of waiting when you pursue adoption. A LOT. There is nothing fast about the process, and even if it feels comparatively as though you’ve been moving along at a pretty good clip (and we did), it still takes months and months…sometimes years and years.
From the beginning of our first attempt to the end of our second, five years passed. While we were waiting, we got older…and fatter, we moved across the country (and started over), family members got married and started families of their own, we bought and sold houses, our biological child started school, we lost some old friends and made some new ones, and all throughout we were waiting.
The questions go on and on, and they are not productive. I was utterly unprepared for the onslaught of self-doubt, even though I doubt myself – and my self worth – all the time. Worse, I didn’t say those things to my husband, which I should have…not because I needed someone to refute some of my more ridiculous worries (and I did need that), but because he would have helped shoulder the burden of uncertainty that is a natural part of this process. He would have eased my anxiety, and perhaps even suggested that we ask the questions out loud to our agency, so I would have a more definitive answer, and so I would not needlessly worry. I honestly did not know how to articulate my worries, because half of the time they were just half-formed questions skittering around in my head.
The waiting…waiting…waiting took a toll on me. On us. So if I could give any advice to those who are waiting now, it would be this: Speak your questions and worries out loud. Tell your spouse…make sure you’re not trying to shoulder the burdens alone. Ask your agency. Get answers. Most importantly, tell God. Tell him your fears, and ask him to shoulder them for you. He will. He has offered, and He will. I wish I had done that more, because I really could have used the peace that only He provides.
We had a great ending to that chapter in our lives. The best ending…and the best beginning to the next chapter. It is worth every worry and every doubt I had about myself to be where we are now. Still, I made it harder than it needed to be. I see that clearly now, just as I see clearly how present God has been throughout, and I am grateful that when I doubted, He didn’t.
Since we have an open adoption, we have a contract with our birth mom and birth dad stipulating visitation and written communication for them. Because they are not together, we have separate contracts. She is entitled to up to three visits per year, and four written communications per year (including pictures). He is entitled to one visit per year and four written communications per year (including pictures). The written communication is required, and we are sending an update approximately every three months. The visits are not required if the birth parent does not request them.
We have had one visit so far, and it went well. Our birth mom, from the very beginning, was not sure she wanted to have any post-placement visits, but she did request one when he was about 3 months old. We met, of all non-neutral places, at her mother’s home. I was nervous about the visit, but everything went fine. Her social worker was there (a minimum requirement for me), and we had a set time to arrive and leave so it would not be an open-ended visit. Standard visits last 1-2 hours, so that is what we arranged.
I am very glad we were able to have that visit, because not only was our birth mom present, but her mother and grandmother were there as well. I wanted them all to be able to see our son, to see that he is happy and thriving, and most importantly that he is loved. I was even more grateful the next month that we did this when we did, because we learned that our birth mom’s mother passed away unexpectedly. She, in particular, had some big reservations about the adoption…at least, until she met us and learned what open adoption is. Her concerns stemmed from the fact that she surrendered one of her own daughters (she has four), and was never given the option to know the adoptive parents or see that her daughter was ok. She never stopped grieving about it, and once she understood what our post-placement relationship would be like with our birth mom, she was completely supportive and on board.
I don’t know if we will have any more visits. None have been requested so far, and our birth mom told us when we saw her four months ago that she probably wouldn’t want another visit. You do have to take those comments with a grain of salt, because even though she has access, there is still a grieving process. And even though she is still certain she did the right thing, she still needs the reassurance that he is ok. He is more than ok…he is wonderful, and happy, and growing like a weed…all things I make sure are evident in the pictures we send her.
My hope and prayer for her is that she is buoyed by our letters and pictures. I hope that she doesn’t ever feel we want to prevent her from seeing him and knowing he is doing well. I hope she requests a visit if she needs it, and doesn’t deny herself what is her contractual right, especially if it will calm her heart. I hope that she sees God’s presence in all that we have been through together, in the clear connection that we have with our son, and in our continued affection for her and gratefulness to her. Most of all, I hope she sees God’s incredible, empowering, and steadfast love.
For as many things as you anticipate, going through adoption, there are that many and more that you don’t. There’s simply no way to fully prepare for everything you will encounter. In fact, there’s no way to even predict what you will and will not encounter…it’s both the beauty and the curse of the process. So here are some of the unexpected things that happened to us:
Stay tuned for more…the eXtraordinary surprises, because in the end, every detail was worked out perfectly, and God was glorified in everything.
Our social worker the second time around was great. After our first disappointing experience that included a social worker that didn’t seem to really be in our corner, I was fairly skittish about the second go round, so you can imagine my relief when we met our social worker, and she appeared happy to meet us, enthusiastic about representing us, and desirous of supporting us through everything. She was our advocate, and she did not disappoint us. Even when she had to make the phone call to tell us of our disruption, she was sympathetic and kind, and she encouraged us to stay the course. Those are not easy phone calls to make, and she handled it well.
When the second match went south, she was quick to point out that this was not a situation we wanted. Not only would it have been very difficult dealing with a mentally ill birth mom, but the potential for a hereditary illness was there as well, and bipolar disorder is not something to take lightly. Judging from the birth mom’s psychotic break, it was a potential disaster that we were grateful had been avoided.
And finally, when the right match happened, she was so happy for us. She made sure we knew to call her anytime we had questions or concerns. She kept up (and kept us up) with our paperwork, and she educated us well on what to expect at the hospital, including that she would be our voice and advocate at the hospital for anything to do with insurance or the legal issues surrounding our adoption. We were grateful for that, because hospital insurance representatives and social workers are working for the hospital, and that is almost never going to align with the best interests of the adoptive parents.
We were extraordinarily blessed during our adoption, though, because we had two advocates in our corner…quite unexpectedly.
We met our birth mom’s social worker at our second match, and we connected instantly. She liked us immediately, and the feeling was mutual. We spoke briefly afterwards, and she told us she liked what we had to say. When the match fell through so quickly, it never occurred to us that we would have an advocate in her, but we did…in spades.
She is an extraordinary woman with not only a passion, but a gift for her job. She cares for these birth moms with a mother’s love, she treats them with respect, she is kind, and she is tough when she needs to be. Above all, she exemplifies the love of Christ to them. Her birth moms thrive under her care. Our birth mom thrived. I thrived. And I still thrive, because we are still connected, and she is as much a part of our story as our birth mom.
When I say that God has been present in every single detail of our adoption, this was no exception. She wanted a match as much for us as for the birth mom she represented, and she obviously felt that we would be a good match for our birth mom, because she encouraged our birth mom to choose us. I can’t thank her enough for that, because she was right. We connected with our birth mom immediately, and I felt confident from the beginning that it was right. God was at work there, not only connecting us to this wonderful social worker, through whom we were connected to our birth mom, but also smoothing the way ahead of us and allowing our relationship with our birth mom to feel natural and easy. We saw each other every week, and every week I was reminded of the extraordinary things God does.
This lovely woman, with her heart for these troubled young women, is the best thing our agency has going for them. I hope they know it, because she is worth her weight in gold. God called her to the job she does, she does it extraordinarily well, and she touches the hearts of everyone with whom she works. I am so very grateful for her, for all she did for our birth mom, and for how she blessed us in the process.