To My Wife, On This Mother’s Day

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MOTHER & SON, ON THEIR FIRST FULL DAY.

Hi Honey,

Time is flying by and today is another Mother’s Day.  Today, Jacob and I celebrate our good fortune to have you in our lives.  You are so worth celebrating (both what you do and who you are) and the only regret that I have, on this day, is that I do not celebrate you enough the other 364 days of the year.  The fact that you never hold this oversight against me is just another reason why today is a happy day.

Although, I also remember that not too long ago, Mother’s Day was the hardest of days.  Of course I celebrate and give thanks for my own mother today (Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!), but this one is for you, Carita.

I remember how “motherhood” eluded you.  And, by extension, us.  I remember how you waited and how you despaired and how you prayed…I remember how brave you were.  But it always felt like the unwinnable prize, the unreachable goal. Motherhood was that inaccessible club that you couldn’t get into, like the United Club Lounge at Tokyo Narita that we enviously peeked into on the mid-point layover of that 24-hour-long trip to Asia.

I remember the doctors’ appointments.  I remember the heartbreaking calls inevitably following those doctors’ appointments.  I remember the needles and the injections.  I remember the surgeries.  I remember looking at our bank account statements and wondering if we’d just spent our savings on yet another fruitless pursuit.  I remember our unborn children.

And, when even your capacity for hope and faith was exhausted, I remember God’s grace carrying us – from those days to this day.

I want to still remember those days.  Especially today.  It’s not as if all of that just went away when you became a mother.  I know that Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day for you, as I know it must be for many others. We know others who are unable to have children and those who have lost children. We know those who have lost their mothers and those who never had someone to even call “mother.”  Today must be a complicated day for them, too.

It is the seeming lack of nuance surrounding Mother’s Day that prompts my thoughts today.  It never felt like there was room on Mother’s Day for both the bitter and the sweet.  As if, by acknowledging the sad and broken things, we couldn’t celebrate the joyous things anymore. Or, if by celebrating something joyous (for, indeed, Jacob’s presence in our family is joyous) it betrayed the memories and significance of harder times.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, at least not for us.  We can have room for both.

So, today, I celebrate with you and I celebrate you.  I celebrate the day that God made you a “mother” and each day since.  I also remember all of those prior days that made up the steps along your journey. Thank you for allowing me on the journey with you.  I love you.

Broken Promise (Part 3)

From the moment we told Ted that we were interested in adopting, things went into overdrive.  We had paperwork to fill out, police and FBI background checks to attain, travel plans to make, things to purchase, a house to prepare…and the baby was supposedly due March 1st, which was less than a week away?

Our everyday lives were put on hold as we hustled to take care of details.  The first week of March passes by and no baby, yet. Going into the next week, we figure it’s going to be any day now.  Sitting on pins and needles doesn’t begin to describe how we felt…

On Saturday, March 12th, we receive a call from Ted.  Once we decided to pursue this adoption, we’d been free of doubt regarding whether this was what God intended for us.  Now, Ted was telling us the the birth mother was having doubts about us adopting.  Was she just getting nervous?  Did she have hesitations about us as people?  Is she even considering what’s best for the baby boy?

We will probably never understand how difficult of a decision it is to choose to give up your child.  How difficult it must be to see the upside of those choices?  Birth mothers who make that choice, against all odds and in the face of the “convenience” of abortion, often do so under horribly stressful circumstances.  So, we weren’t completely shocked to hear that she was having doubts.  We still hoped and prayed that God would somehow calm her nerves, help her to consider the welfare of the child, and ultimately choose us.

On Monday, March 14th, we get another call from Ted’s office.  The worst thing we could conceive, in our grimmest imaginations, was actually happening.  The birth mother changed her mind and no longer wanted us to adopt.  After all of the positives steps forward in this adoption, she decided that she’d rather one of her relatives take custody of the boy.  We knew, from all reports, that there were no “good” situations within her family.  What made things worse was that, once she decided that we weren’t going to adopt, we had zero access to any information.  We wouldn’t know when she’d deliver, what hospital she’d be at, nothing.  There was no closure, no explanation as to why.  Selfishly, we couldn’t believe that she’d backed out.  More importantly, we couldn’t believe that this was the outcome God intended.  It was a loss and a sense of desolation far worse than anything we’d endured thus far in our infertility and adoption journey.  We felt completely cast aside.

Seriously?  C’mon, God.  After all that we’ve gone through, over the years and in the last two weeks?  We were beyond crushed. This felt like an incredibly elaborate hoax, cruelly played out by God and we were the ones being punked.  We never went after this…why did He have to bring this to us?  If He was going to say no, why did He say yes in so many smaller ways leading up to this?

In nine years of infertility, we never allowed ourselves the choice to purchase baby-related items, never picked out kids’ names, never made any plans as if children were a certainty.  But, this adoption was like kicking over an ant pile and it set things in frenzied motion. Our house was littered with the remnants of our hope deferred: the stroller that we’d picked out three days ago, a bassinet filled with baby clothes, a study in need of conversion into a baby room.  We’d even given the boy, our son, a name.

We spent the next week in a haze of sadness and regret.  A part of us sensed that God wanted us to keep hoping, but I found it difficult to attach that hope to anything.  And attaching it only to God didn’t feel all that reliable at the moment. Carita’s faith amazed me, though.  The substance of her faith was, once again, revealed through fire.  While I crawled into my hole to lick my wounds, she cried out to God and pressed harder after Him.  What an amazing woman…

On Sunday, March 20th, we got yet another phone call.  This one was from Madera Community Hospital in Madera, California. We were informed that at 4:20 that morning, the birth mother had given birth to a healthy baby boy.  The hospital social worker said that the birth mom’s preferred option to adopt him had fallen through and that she was, once again, wanting us to adopt.

There was one catch:  We have to travel to California before anything is finalized or the baby boy will be taken by social services and placed in a foster home, pending resolution of this adoption.  The hospital needed to know whether we’d be willing to travel out there to take custody of the baby boy.

This was what we’d been hoping against all hope to happen – that she’d pick us. But was this just another false lead? Would the birth mom change her mind again? Would a blood relative appear at the 11th hour to take him away?  In our hearts, this boy was already our son.  The thought of him spending even a single night in foster care seemed unacceptable.  At the same time, the possibility of us traveling to California to hold our son for a couple of days…and then have him taken away was a nightmare beyond reckoning.

What are we willing to risk for this child, who would be our son?  What are we willing to lay on the line and hand over to God, by faith?  So, with as much faith as our wounded hearts can muster, we make arrangements to fly out to California. And by faith, we believe that we will be bringing our son home.