September 25, 2018. I will forever remember that day.
The day before, we received an email asking us if we wouldn’t mind our profile being shown to an expectant mother. We gave our permission after learning few details, fulling convinced that we wouldn’t be chosen because “she has explicitly said she would like a family with no children. But we believe she needs to see your family.” That was Thursday.
Then Friday came. With Zo in the car, I picked up Ro and O from school, then headed to our favorite spot for family photos where I met Zane. I received word that our profile had just been given and she would be taking the weekend to decide.
We went into family photos the way we had so many times before: Pregnant and expecting a baby, just having a baby, waiting to be matched, just bringing Zo home, expectant over the journey we *thought* we were on….I mean, literally every photo session with our photographer had included a chalk board with some sort of message regarding the growing/growth of our family.
When our photographer jokingly asked what our chalk board would say this time, we shared of the possibility unfolding. We all pondered, briefly, then decided that no; Rather than a chalkboard, we were just going to have our family photographed. Because…she wasn’t going to choose us. There was no way!
My brain was swirling. Literally every single unknown phone call from the previous two months could have been from our foster agency regarding a new placement. Adopting a newborn? Sure, we knew it was a possibility. But…we thought adoption was sliding off the table. We thought fostering was the new chapter of our family’s story.
This picture from that day cracks me up. Ro’s face especially….purposeful on that day or not, it is the face he makes when he surprises me or tricks me. I look at it and chuckle that I indeed was surprised. The Lord surprised our lives in such a sweet way. Those who walked the next several weeks with us knew such joy and laughter filled my moments. The anticipation, the love, the excitement…this picture so perfectly shows what was to come.
I remember leaning over to Zane during the photo shoot and whispering, “you’re about to be a Daddy to four.” I wasn’t serious. I was just letting my tongue try on the words. The words sounded nice. I had believed for years that the Lord had another child out there for us. And I had no doubt that at some point He would bring us and our fourth together. I just didn’t know His timing was literally being viewed in pictures by our son’s birth mother at that very moment. As she looked though our pictures, read our words, envisioned her son playing with our children, she had a stirring in her heart that only she can describe.
Her heart was stirred by and for our family. A humbled heart beating in my chest barely touches how I feel typing these words. The tears that sting my eyes are an outpouring of the Lord’s grace in bringing our stories together. Adoption is hard, beginning from brokenness. And yet sometimes the beauty and the love made from the ashes just cannot be ignored. It is so strikingly evident.
I look at this picture and see the hope in my eyes. I see the contentment in my smile. I see the love on that swing and am so grateful this was captured. I see a strong man by my side unknowingly ready to weather what was about to come. His family was full. Yet he joyfully and faithfully made room for another. And those three kids…I knew they were full of love for each other; yet by God’s kindness I had the honor of watching their hearts open for a baby brother. One that required them sacrificing their own snuggles with Mommy so she could snuggle him, just as all babies do. A chapter was ending and one was about to begin.
That night, our babysitter came over to watch those beautiful children while we went out on a date. Now, like many of our dates that aren’t headed toward the latest Marvel movie or an Escape adventure, we weren’t 100% sure of our plans. Just that we wanted time with each other. A warm meal, that remained warm the whole time we endulged, without interruptions except for the occasional, “can I get you anything else?” I cannot remember where we ate. For the life of me I can’t remember. But I do remember us praying for the birth mother, for the birth father, for the family that would be chosen and for the relationships that would follow. I also remember us ending up at Target. We headed for the toy section to see if any super hero gadgets were on clearance.
Then I saw it. The cutest, softest, and cuddliest Elephant I had held to date. I wanted it. I had long said that whenever the Lord brought our fourth child into our home, I wanted his or her ‘lovey’ to be an Elephant. My dear husband, wise as he is, asked “do you think we should be buying this? Why don’t we wait until we know if she chooses us or not.” Keep in mind, we fully believed she *would not* choose our family.
I replied that we needed to have a stuffed animal for our next foster child to have as their own. Whether for this unborn baby or our next foster child, this Elephant needed to be in our home waiting for someone to love it.
Little did I know this would happen.
I look at his little face and I’m still filled with such joy and laughter. How silly I was to think I knew exactly what God would be doing next. God’s plans, indeed, are always far better than whatever wishful thinking I come up with on my own.
When we came home from our date, I promptly went upstairs and sat the Elephant on the twin bed made up in the spare bedroom. I looked at it for a moment and pondered, perhaps for the first time, that she *might* choose us. Then I shook my head no, told myself to not give it a second thought, turned off the light and walked away.
One year ago she looked at our pictures for the first time. Today, I mailed her a letter filled with pictures of T and the latest “this is what he’s getting into now” ramblings. Our lives were forever connected that day.
One week later we would meet face to face. Today we begin trying to set a time to celebrate together his first year of life. What a beautiful thing the Lord has indeed done. I know this full well.