Before my wife, Sarah, and I knew each other, we both felt called to adopt. We both grew up hearing the verses like Galatians 4:4-5,7 and Ephesians 1:5, which spoke the truth of our spiritual adoption and paralleled the act of physical adoption. Almost five years ago, Sarah and I decided to take the plunge into the adoption process. We knew that theoretically, it could take time, but we never imagined where our journey would take us.
Peaks & Valleys
For the next two and a half years, we waited for our child. Sometimes patiently, but mostly impatiently, we jumped every time an unknown phone number flashed across our cell phone screens, feeling hope and fear and wondering if someone was calling us to tell us we had been chosen by a birth family to adopt a child. We had disappointments, once practically being on the way to the hospital when we found out that the birth family wanted the baby to be an only child. We already had a biological daughter, so we were ruled out.
The uncertainty was difficult and it was made exponentially so by Emily’s questions on when her brother or sister would come. She prayed for her sibling every night, which was compounded by the arrival of the book Maple, which follows the story of a girl named Maple becoming a big sister.
The Invisible Backpack
We were weighed down by an invisible backpack of doubt and insecurity. We constantly questioned why we hadn’t been chosen yet by a birth family. Did we answer a question “wrong” on our paperwork? Did our photo book that was shown to birth families make our house look too small? Should we refilm our adoption video to make a better first impression for a birth family? While we were always wearing this heavy backpack, no one saw it.
Every unrecognized phone number that flashed on our screen was another brick in the bag and it slowly weighed on us more and more. Even though we had a supportive circle of friends and family, we still felt isolated. We wanted to share our blessings and life with a child and its birth family; we recognized our privilege – we both grew up in two-parent homes where neither of us had to worry about it we were going to have food that night or if we were going to be safe or anything like that.
We wanted to honor the selfless decision that birth families make in wanting the best life possible for their child. We had a strong desire to tell a birth family that we heard their hearts, we saw their bravery, and we wanted to support them. We had done all the paperwork, saved the money, and now all we had to do was wait, but we were almost numbed to the emotions that came with the wait.
Then one day in October of 2016, we got a call from our social worker. We had to ask her to repeat what she said several times – a birth family had chosen us and wanted to meet them. On top of that, a boy – our son – had been born the day before. The next morning, we met the birth family. We all looked at each other and started crying.
The meeting was stressful and awkward, but everyone in the room wanted the same thing – the best life for this sweet baby boy. We answered their questions about if Andrew would have his own bed, if he would get to see the ocean, and what his extended family would look like. We were in awe of their selflessness and felt a deep respect for them.
Our family is now complete. After years of waiting, our beautiful son became officially ours in April 2017. We faced extensive evaluations, court dates for his birth family and us, and various rules like not crossing the state border without notifying our social worker.
We didn’t know Andrew before he was born, but as we tell him, you grew in his birth mom’s stomach, but he grew in our hearts. Being his parent is humbling, beautiful, and the journey for our family is still on-going.
Interested in Adoption?
There are so many types of adoption – private attorney adoption, adoption agency, foster care to adoption, and international. All of these ways are different, but all have peaks and valleys. I don’t tell you my family’s story to make you think this is what the adoption journey always looks like; I tell you this story so that if you feel called to adoption you will know there are people who understand what you’re going through.
Here are a few great books about the adoption process, parenting an adopted child, and explaining adoption to children:
- The Adoption Resource Book
- A Family is a Family is a Family
- The Whole Brain Child
- The Connected Child
- I’ve Loved You Since Forever
Here are some wonderful resources about adoption:
Our backs are still sore from carrying the invisible backpack of waiting for our son. But the journey was worth it.
For every moment of disappointment, there has been another one of happiness – watching our beautiful son crack a joke or listening to our daughter talks about how grateful she is for her baby brother.
Do not turn off the emotions on the journey. There may be the deepest of valleys and the highest of peaks. Open yourself to that. You’ve got to feel it, absorb it, sink into it, and feel the lows, while loving the highs.