Just a Teddy Bear

Welcome to part three of our adoption story that we are sharing in recognition of National Adoption Awareness Month. Here is a link to part one and to part two. It has been a true honor and blessing to have heard from folks who have walked or are walking this same road to parenthood. Again, we hope God will use our story as encouragement in His journey for you.

That Sunday afternoon in March, our world completely changed in the span of a phone call. On the other end of the line, was a close friend of ours who had been connected with a young woman in the hospital with a baby girl. For reasons we are forever thankful for, he visited our birthmother, saw a little bundle of pink through the nursery window, and immediately saw us holding her.

The call went something like this:

“A baby girl was born yesterday, we think she is your daughter. Are you interested?” 

“Um, yes. We are.”

“Okay, I will go talk to the birthmother and will call you tonight.”

“Cool.”

And that was about it. The next few days moved in a fog of phone calls to attorneys, counsel from a social work friend and very little sleep. We had more questions than answers, and no assurance that our birthmother would sign her papers, but we knew that no matter what God would direct our steps.

Living in Dallas at the time, we had about a 6 hour drive to go and, potentially, meet our daughter. Before we left the apartment, I remember walking upstairs to what would hopefully be her room. It was almost completely empty, save a teddy bear in the corner. The gift from an adoption agency closing it’s doors on us, and the promise that God was with us every step of the way. There was no prior “nesting” moment, no furniture selection trip, no car seat or changing table.

We struck out prayerfully, to hopefully meet our daughter, with just a teddy bear.

If something went wrong, and we were again turning from the sunrise into a dark night of childlessness, we decided that we would just keep driving. We would find a beach somewhere and go off the grid until we were good and ready to re-emerge. The chance that this adoption would not happen was in the choice of a mother, dreaming of a better life for her child than she felt she could provide.

At a Louisiana rest stop, while I was in the men’s room, the call came. This amazing young woman, who will forever be our hero, had signed the papers, and we had a baby. For the next few hours, the speedometer stayed pegged at or above 100 mph, as we drove and cried, drove and sang, and drove thanking God for answering our prayers.

On March 10, our Gotcha Day, we finally met our baby girl, with close friends by our side. I’ll never forget whispering her name in her ear for the first time, and telling her we had been waiting years to meet her. Every doctor’s visit, every negative pregnancy test and every crushing phone call were a distant memory. In that heartbeat, we knew we would do it all again 10 times over because she was our daughter, home in our arms at long last.

Then we went to Target.

Somehow the baby registry gun found it’s way to my hands, and so along with the outpouring of love from our friends and family, came a boatload of diapers and Skittles. We eventually got a crib, changing table, wipey warmer and other essentials for parenthood, but for a while, all we needed was that bundle of pink in our arms. The first Sunday back at the church where I was on staff, we introduced our daughter to the congregation, Lion King opener-style. No less than 4 little-old ladies scolded me for holding her up over my head at the pulpit-turned Pride Rock.

Months later, at the adoption finalization hearing, my grandmother’s gavel that she held in her hand for years as a family court judge, was now in another judge’s hand as the adoption became official. We were finally parents in practice, and also now according to the law. Over the next few years, birthdays were celebrated with family and friends, then a few days later, the 3 of us would gather on March 10. Gotcha Day every year became the chance to tell our daughter the beautiful story of a selfless woman and of a sacrificial act of love. We speak appreciatively of the broken road that God walked us along to form our family, as well as watch the video of the moment we first made eye contact.

Then one day, the phone rang again. Just about a month before our daughter’s 5th birthday, we got another call. And another opportunity to make a child a part of our family. This time around, we had more time to prepare, but nothing would prepare us for that sacred, solemn moment in a hospital room. 5 weeks after the next call, a 24 hour-old boy was again placed into our arms by another amazing young woman.

In the middle of our joy, we did not even realize that our second birthmother was packing to leave the hospital. After a tearful goodbye, and before we really, fully grasped the totality of the moment, Kelly and I were in the room alone. Standing there with a baby boy in our arms, the maternity nurse walked in and simply said, “congratulations mom and dad.”

Our family was now four strong, we had a daughter and a son.

Oh, and there was one more God-smile moment… It was March 10 again.

Got-Ya’ll Day.

We received a little “I’ve Got This” reminder that, when we could not see a way, God had already worked out something bigger than we would have ever known to have asked or dared to have imagined. So here we are today, during this Adoption Awareness Month in 2012, blessed with two amazing, hilarious, brilliant rays-of-sunlight-of-children.

And, yet we cannot escape this feeling, another call may be coming.

Next Week… Another Seat at the Table