Tonight, I watched as my little boy ran across the street to share his big bag of marshmallows, fresh from the grocery store, with the neighbor he so loves. I listened to my husband tell him about a dozen times not to jump on the couch near his baby brother, as he halfheartedly listened to Dads’ instruction. I sat in my living room & witnessed a marshmallow fight with my coffee table and dining room chair as forts. I laughed as he screamed because my husband & I were snuggling on the couch, and tried emphatically to physically move his Daddy away from me.
When he finally settled down, we joked about how for years we sat quietly & peacefully on the couch, watching our TV shows, wishing we had kids to fill the silence. And now, here we are, wishing for just a couple minutes of silence from the loudness & chaos & screaming….all the while knowing we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
And during this time, it got me to thinking about my sweet little big boy. The one that God gave me to remind me that He still answers prayers.
He was such a blessing, even from the start. Even before we knew he existed, when the money to fund our adoption seemed to fall out of thin air- straight from an inheritance that wouldn’t even be duly mine for almost 3 more years. We’d talked about adopting, met with an agency even, but had decided that it just wasn’t in the budget for a couple middle-class twenty-somethings with mediocre savings. Then a family member, unknowing we’d even considered adoption, came along with a fairly substantial sum of money. Not enough to fund an agency adoption, but enough to fund a private adoption. It would be almost a year before we knew why God presented us with that money.
Blessings even from the very first phone call that posed the question, “Leslie, Amy is pregnant. We were wondering if you & JW would consider adopting the baby?” What she didn’t know is that I’d prayed for this. Specifically for this. In a community of babies that were seeming to appear out of nowhere for well-deserving couples to adopt, I’d so jealously told my husband that I didn’t understand why that couldn’t happen for us- why wouldn’t a baby just fall into our laps, so to speak? It was pure, ugly sin talking. And then, months and months later, came that early-morning, out-of-the-blue phone call that would change our lives.
Blessings even from how the details of how our adoption fell into place. I didn’t have the first clue how to piece together an adoption myself, without locating & receiving placement through an adoption agency. Did we start with an attorney? Could we pass a home study, living paycheck to paycheck in a 2 bedroom apartment? I literally Googled an attorney, which led me straight to someone in the state where he would be born. It only took a few phone calls to have all my “ducks in a row”, and we were miraculously on the right path.
Even from the grace extended to me by his birth mother in the moments of his birth. She labored, felt the pain both physically and emotionally, and gave birth to this perfect baby boy. And in that moment, she let me hold him first – the baby that she would give to me to raise. She was the only other woman in the world that possibly loved him as much as I did at that moment, and even her smallest acts were selfless. Words can’t even describe the admiration I have for her.
What Bryce’s birth story has taught me is that God is good. He does answer prayer. Although not always executed in the way in which we expect, He answers. If you’d told me 8 years ago that I’d be an adoptive parent, I may have laughed at you. Heartily. I would’ve never expected that adoption would be the avenue God would choose to bring me a child. But I can tell you so surely now, that He chose that avenue because Bryce was meant to be a part of our family. Not just any baby. Bryce.
I had so many questions. So many emotions, in the days leading up to and following our adoption. What would it be like, when he was born? Seeing him for the first time. Loving him in person. Knowing that no signatures had been signed, no paperwork drawn up. Loving another woman’s baby, waiting for him to become mine. Would be look like her? Would he be attached to her? Would he cry for her?
After he was born, I remember wondering how she could do it. Not in a mean, “How can you give up your baby?” sort of way. In a “How can one person possibly exude that much courage?” sort of way. She had to be the strongest person I knew. The emotions she must have felt are completely foreign to me, but the sentiment is most definitely not lost on me. I remember wondering what I’d done to ever deserve for her to give me this child.
Friends, as much of a pure blessing as Bryce was, and is, to our lives….so is Amy. She gave us an unimaginable gift. The most generous gift I could ever dream. She entrusted us to raise her child.
See, before he was mine, he was hers. Yes, it hurts a little to think about it. It hurt me so deeply to know that in order for me to have my happy ending, she had to experience so much pain and loss. I cried so many nights, thinking about her impossible situation. It’s such a hard emotion to explain – I could never, ever blame her for wanting to keep him. I truly, truly would have understood. Even though, if she decided to do so, it would have torn my world apart.
How was it fair that Gods’ blessing to my life was such a sacrifice to hers?
And then, we experienced His blessing and grace again on March 25, 2013, when we nervously stood in a courtroom as a judge declared Bryce officially and legally ours. Our sole responsibility, entitled to everything that we have, and as if he’d been born naturally to us. Naturally. To us! We wept in the courtroom. We felt His answer to our prayers.
He is spunky, and fun. He isn’t scared of much of anything. He is tough, and stubborn. He is tender-hearted, and so caring. He is outgoing, and talks non-stop. He loves Jesus, and wants “everybody to go to heaven”. He is smart, and so wise for his age. He likes tractors and airplanes, and wants to be a dinosaur. He is two-going-on-ten. He is the little love of my life.
As an adoptive mother, I think I will always carry a degree of wonder with me. What would his life be like, if he was with her? What kind of mother would she be? What would my life look like today? Would I have no kids, instead of two? How old will he be, when he asks to see her? What kind of relationship will they have? What about him is most like her?
See friends, adoption is so much more than just a way to parenthood. It is a lifelong commitment to ride an emotional rollercoaster. A lifelong commitment to intertwine your heart with someone else. I will always have a piece of her heart, and she will always have a place in mine. No matter how little or how often we talk, no matter whether we communicate daily or not at all, we are connected by him – and by Him.
God had a plan for Amy’s life, just like He had a plan for Bryce’s life. And for mine. And for JW’s. And even for Sam’s. Bryce & Sam were meant to be brothers. JW & I were meant to raise him. Not because we are special, or better, or more “fit” parents. That’s not it at all.
Bryce needed to be with us, in order to be in the place that God needed him… in order to be used for God’s glory. He was meant to be a part of our family.
For Bryce to be who God meant him to be, he needed a part of Amy. Maybe it was her fun charm. Maybe it was her outgoing personality. Maybe it was her DNA.
For Amy to get to the place that she needed to be, she needed his story to be part of her life. I don’t know the specifics of her story. I do know that many people, myself included, had prayed for her to experience a breakthrough moment in her life and situation – even before Bryce existed. Maybe God answered those prayers inadvertently through the birth, and giving up, of her baby boy. Maybe…. What I do know is that today, she is in a good place. And I believe wholeheartedly that it’s a place that she may not have made it, had things been different.
For us to learn of God’s complete grace and glory, to be reminded of His goodness, we needed to be given this child. We needed to see prayer answered tangibly. We needed to feel a certain obligation to raise him with the Lord. We needed him to complete us.
We all needed each other, in order for God to work all things together for His good. He answered many prayers, prayed over many years, in one big way on September 23rd.
Friends, it’s not about how badly you want a baby. It’s not even about what a wonderful mother you’d be. Sure, this is true. God did create us to be mothers. To love & nurture. To have olive plants around our table. To have our quiver full of arrows. But ladies, He created us to be Mommy in HIS time.
If you’re considering adopting, there’s an Amy out there that needs to learn something from Him, as much as you need to learn something from her and her unborn child. There are many unanswered prayers waiting to be answered intricately in your one situation. In.due.time.
“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT)