by Sally Matheny
What's the adoption process like? I’d compare it to riding your first-ever roller coaster ride. While waiting in line, you see the process. Your desire to do it is beyond measure. But the excitement and eagerness mingles with an ever-increasing anxiety in the pit of your stomach.
In honor of Adoption Awareness Month, I shared the first part of our adoption story in my last post.
Today, I'm sharing the rest of our adoption adventure.
Just like waiting in line for a roller coaster, it helps to hear the excitement of others’ as they finish. However, ultimately, there’s no way to prepare fully for your first experience. When it’s time, you simply take a step forward, and away you go!
The First Call
Eighteen-months of waiting on a call from the adoption agency left me with ample time to wonder. Wondering how our lives would change with a new addition to the family. Wondering if we would measure up to birthparents’ expectations. Wondering if anyone would ever choose our family for their child.
The home study required for adoption is only valid for eighteen months. After our initial home study expired, we questioned if we were doing the right thing. The agency told us the eighteen months was the world’s timeline, not God’s. After much prayer, we felt at peace. We began the process of renewing the home study.
Within three weeks, a call came from the adoption agency. A birthmother wanted to meet us! The baby’s due date was only a month away. And it was a boy!
What if we had given up and not renewed our home study? The adoption agency was right. It had been the world’s timeline—not God’s.
Our meeting with the birthmother was indescribably beautiful. At first, we were all nervous, but as we began to talk, an overwhelming peace and joy filled our hearts. We shared our story with the birthmother, what led us to adoption, and how God was working through it all.
The birthmother cried as she told us we were the answer to her prayers. Life had not turned out as she’d hoped. She had made unwise decisions but was working at getting back on track.
She said the baby’s father was also struggling. She spoke with love and compassion as she spoke about him. He never had a chance to witness what a good husband or father looked like.
Even though his life was tough as a kid, he “never chose to turn things around, to work, or show responsibility” as an adult. His choices in life continued to spiral downward until, for the safety of her and the baby, she finally had to leave.
She loved the baby but there was no way she could take care of him. More than anything, she said she wanted him to have a good daddy. He would not get that if she kept him. She wanted to protect her son from negative influences, from possible harm, and place him in a loving home. Her greatest fear was that the baby would grow up resenting her. Through my tears, I assured her that as he grew, he would hear how much she loved him.
My heart was totally unprepared for this part of the adoption journey. I had been praying in general for all birthmothers making tough decisions. Up until then, my perception of our child’s birthmother had been very abstract. Now, she had a face, a name, and a personality. Best of all, she had an enormous heart of love.
As we all sat in a circle, the adoption counselor asked my husband to close our meeting in prayer. I was sitting beside the birthmother. I asked if we could all hold hands. I desperately wanted to hold the hand of this precious woman. A woman who loved her son so much she would part with him in order to provide for him.
As my husband prayed aloud, I prayed additional, silent prayers for this woman. I prayed for God to protect her health, her mind, and her heart in the days ahead.
We hugged and cried some more before leaving. But the smiles on our faces showed the evidence of God’s presence.
There was still the challenge of getting the birthfather’s consent. With every passing week, I continually asked God to calm my nerves. There was nothing we could do but trust God with the outcome.
The Second Call
The birthmother had seven days to change her mind after signing the relinquishment papers. We weren’t informed of the baby’s birth until he was eight days old. The agency waited until the seven-day-period was over before calling us.
Finally, we received that long-awaited call but we were told to come with “guarded hearts.” The birthfather had not signed the papers yet. He wanted to meet us first.
Trying to curb excitement, as well as fear, I was a nervous wreck. The morning of our meeting, the agency instructed us to go get a bite for breakfast. The plan was for the birthfather to see the baby and talk with the counselors. Hopefully, he'd sign the relinquishment papers. If he did, then if he desired, we would meet with him. Not until after he left the adoption agency, would we finally be able to meet our son.
Meanwhile, we were to wait for their call at a restaurant and prepare for a long wait.
Moments after sitting down with our food at Bojangles, we jumped as the phone rang. The birthfather had signed the papers and wanted to meet us! Woo hoo! That is the only time I have ever thrown away a Bo Berry biscuit. I was so afraid he would change his mind before we could get there. Who could eat at a time like that anyway? My husband! When we got in the car, I noticed he looked like a chipmunk after stuffing his entire sausage biscuit in his mouth.
We all act differently when under stress. You’d have thought I was in labor. I told my hubby to put on the hazard lights and run all the stop signs— none of which he did. He kept assuring me, “It’s okay. It’s okay. We’re almost there.”
It’s funny what God will use to lighten up a moment. After arriving, I bolted out of the car. My husband caught up with me and said, "You have a ton of lint on your pants."
“What? Oh, no. I want to make a good impression!”
We hurried back to the car and found a lint brush. As we stood there in the parking lot, my husband rubbing the lint brush across my backside, I lost it. Jittery laughter rolled along with the brush.
Once inside though, our meeting with the birthfather was more subdued. It looked like he had taken great efforts to look nice for the event. He wore an inexpensive suit with the tag still on the sleeve, a white dress shirt, unbuttoned enough to show a gold chain around his neck. I didn’t notice his shoes but my husband told me later they were soiled, black athletic shoes and the shoestrings were missing. His efforts blessed my heart.
The man acknowledged his inability, and somewhat unwillingness, to raise a child. He knew adoption was the best thing. Yet, he struggled with it because he, through no fault of his own, was placed in foster care at age twelve. He didn’t want his son to feel abandoned as he had felt.
We talked for a short while, encouraging and assuring him before my husband was asked once again to close in prayer.
Before the man left, I wanted to shake his hand. I longed to thank him once more. But, just like with the birthmother, I needed to touch his hand, his life-giving hand. As he took my hand, my eyes welled with tears . . . again. Instinctively, I pulled him in for a hug. It was unexpected, but I felt like he had to know someone sincerely cared. By the tears in his eyes, I think he did.
Then, after he left, we had to wait almost an hour (which seemed like an
eternity) before they brought us our precious baby boy. It was
well worth the wait, worth all the ups and downs, twists and turns.
|First day with his forever family!|
I wish I had the time and space to tell you all the AMAZING ways God worked through our adoption journey. Unexplainable miracles, that occurred with impeccable timing that can only be attributed to God.
God blessed us with a vast amount of love in our adoption journey. The tremendous, uncontainable love I felt the instant I saw our son. The magnitude of a birthmother’s sacrificial love I will always remember. Also, I’ll never forget how God softened the heart of a man, who had continually made bad choices, and helped him make a good one. God put a sincere love in my heart for more people than just the child we were adopting. I'm forever grateful.
That’s our adoption story in a couple of nutshells. I’d love to hear yours.