In Adoption’s Revolving Door

This is part two of our journey to parenthood in recognition of National Adoption Awareness Month. You can read the first part of our story from last week here. Kelly and I hope you are encouraged by God at work in our story.

If the decision to pursue adoption was grueling and gut-wrenching, it was nothing compared to the actual adoption process. We naively thought that once we decided to adopt, it was just a matter of filling out some papers, paying some money and waiting for someone to hand us a kid. And if that didn’t work, we would just re-enact our favorite movie at the time, Raising Arizona, and go grab us a young ‘un.

As it would turn out, the adoption process was actually a lot like being stuck in a revolving door. We worked hard to get in, and had opportunities to get out on both sides, we just never could. We quickly found that pursuing adoption through the typical agency process is a yogurt-machine-middle-handle swirl of endurance trial and swimsuit competition.

It takes ruthless persistence to just fill out the initial paperwork with an agency. We answered questions and wrote essays that disclosed more information to strangers than we even knew about ourselves. There were interviews of interviews, fingerprinting, background checks and at one point, we were separated to be interviewed individually, as if we actually might be H.I. and Ed McDunnough.

We also put together what is known as a “profile” for birth mothers to review. To choose the man and woman to parent their child, from cropped and glued pictures in a notebook. Perfectly normal, like a Trapper Keeper Beauty Pageant. Kelly and I nipped and tucked our pictures, and forgoing the typical “scrapbooker” route, created ours digitally, which might have also allowed for slight edits and corrections to photos. Why workout when you have photoshop? Our hopes and dreams were riding on appearing somewhat normal, friendly and stable for giving a kid to. I guess it worked.

After getting a phone call that our profile had been selected, that we were one of two couples that a pregnant high school senior had wanted to interview, the phone immediately became our best friend and worst nightmare. We had a great interview with this amazing young woman, who knew she could not provide her soon to be born little boy the life that she dreamt for him. She wanted to place him with a family that could, maybe us. The phone rang a few days later and she told us she indeed wanted us to be her baby’s parents. We knew what it felt like to get “The Rose” from the bachelorette, pun intended, and immediately jumped on the phone to tell everyone we knew that in just a month or so, we would be parents. It was our one chance at the “we’re pregnant” announcement.

The next morning the phone rang again. Just as we thought we were getting out of the revolving door, it sped up, trapping us inside. I answered that phone call and heard that for legal reasons, our birthmother of 24 hours would not be able to place her baby boy in our empty arms. We were immediately devastated, as a whole lifetime of good morning hugs, pickup basketball in the driveway, kissing boo-boos and driving lessons fell broken on the green carpet floor of our apartment. That day we drowned our sorrow in retail therapy at the Arlington Mall, in a Jackie Chan movie and at PF Changs.

In the next year, we got more phone calls, including one that led us to Lubbock, Texas, to meet with a sweet girl who we just knew immediately would not be birthing our child. Some phone calls were from from friends who were calling us, as gently and kindly as they could, with their “we’re pregnant” announcements. We tried, as best we could to be happy for them and we truly were.

The revolving door started spinning so fast at one point, we even got the most unimaginable phone call of all. Our case worker broke the news through her tears this time, that our adoption agency was closing its doors and “our file” would be moved to a new agency across town. We feared we would simply become a manila folder in back of a metal drawer and mourned yet another loss. As they were literally packing the office up during our final meeting, we were handed a teddy bear in remembrance.

Kelly and I continued to walk this winding, seemingly unending road to parenthood, enduring and making the best of every moment. We played drinking games with our water bottles at parenting seminars, chugging a swig every time someone said the word breast feeding. We shared a high-five every time we learned terms like episiotomy, butt donut or postpartum. We ached to be parents and struggled to understand why we were somehow not-worthy of raising a child, but managed to keep our sanity.

Looking back now though, in the midst of what could have been the worst days of our lives, by God’s grace, our marriage grew stronger than it ever could have otherwise. We learned to be content who we are and live for Him no matter His deafening silence to our most fervent prayers. We leaned on each other, made the most of every opportunity to be together, and stayed close at heart.

Kelly and I forged a marriage during those days. And we began to settle into a routine life, cussing daily at child-proof cabinet locks -we were for some reason forced to install- and waking up each day warily hopeful. One Sunday afternoon in March, in the midst of an after church NASCAR-induced nap, the phone rang again. The revolving door had finally stopped spinning.

Next Week: With Only a Teddy Bear