When we received the information on Jaylen's birth mother and her adoption plan it originally stated that she had no desire to meet us and wanted the adoption to be closed. To some, that sounds wonderful. To us, we were excited to have been matched but had to completely change our mindset because we had prepared for an open to semi-open adoption. In a way we struggled. We thought we were going to open our arms to a little one, but also to the woman who courageously carried him! Then we heard that her heart had changed and she wanted to meet us! We were thrilled, but so incredibly nervous! Like more nervous than a job interview nervous. Our agency set up a Zoom call (because this all occurred during COVID-19 madness) and our heads were suddenly swarmed with questions...
What do you ask? What do you say? What do you want as the background of the call? What do you NOT say? What do you NOT ask? Is thank you appropriate? How on earth am I going to keep my emotions in check?
Let me tell you...that that Zoom call was the most natural, heart felt, wonderful, and comforting conversation. We decided we would simply listen, we wanted his birth mother to feel like she had the floor to ask the questions and explain her thought process. Her first question, "What are you all thinking about for names?". Her second question, "Will you baptize this baby?". Her third and final question, "Will you please get him involved in sports?". Now, if you know Drew and I at all, how do you listen to those questions and NOT believe that this entire situation is absolutely crafted by God and he had a hand in each and every part of this match.
When we were discussing the names for this sweet little nugget, his birth mother loved the idea of Jaylen (Drew has always loved this name). She mentioned the name Lee as his middle name and we loved it! Lee is her father and brother's name, so Jaylen will always have a tie back to his biological family.
When she asked us about baptism for our little guy we were very shocked, but so incredibly thankful. She explained to us that she never grew up in a Christian home but wants her son to know how loved he is by God. She was attracted to Drew and I because she knew without a doubt that Jaylen would be raised in a Christian home surrounded by a wonderful church family! As she asked this question about his baptism it opened the door to discuss what it means to be a Christian with her; and Pastor Drew Taylor doesn't miss an opportunity to walk through those doors :). It developed into a beautiful conversation not just about baptism, but sacrificial love. As he so eloquently does, Drew was able to relate that sacrificial love right back to her and the incredible decision she has made.
And sports...come on. This boy will be saying "Go Gators" and "Go Knights" before he says mama! And he will be involved in every sport possible until he picks his favorite! If the size of his feet can determine anything...Jay Tay will be a center on the basketball court or an offensive lineman on the UCF football field. Black and gold really bring out his eyes. Right Drew?!!
And then Jaylen Lee was born on May 7th. We were preparing ourselves to have a parking lot hand off because of Corona. The agency had been in regular communication with the hospital, his birth mother, and us. Every minute things were changing. At first they said no one would be there with her during delivery or the following days of recovery. Then they allowed one person. Then two. Then three.
May 9th, as we are driving an hour away to the hospital, we received a phone call asking if we had masks with us. When we responded yes the birth mother coordinator told us, "Great! Jaylen's birth mother has asked that you all come up to the room to meet her, Jaylen, and the rest of her family." Right about here is when I started to hyperventilate (peep the pic)! The same questions from before the zoom call swarmed our heads again.
As we walked into the hospital room (thankfully I was wearing a jacket because my dress was soaked with nervous sweat, but you can't tell in pictures) there she stood holding Jaylen. She and I made eye contact and it was a feeling I cannot really put into words but never ever want to forget. As I looked at her I couldn't help but let the tears fall. Here she is, holding her son, c-section sutures and all, ready to hand him over to me to raise him. Courageous. Compassionate. Wise. Determined. Brave. Loving. Selfless. Fearless. Gentle. All of these words, and so many more, describe this woman. We hugged and it was the most precious hug. I simply laid my hand on Jaylen's belly, not yet ready to take him into my arms, respecting her time with him.
Two and a half hours we spent in the hospital room. Jaylen bounced around from birth mom, to Drew, to me, and back to birth mom. We talked about our dreams for Jaylen, the love we all have for him, her personal desires for Jaylen and expectations of us. We shared laughs, many tears, a ton of hugs, but most of all we shared the most emotionally confusing day. This is the biggest day of Drew and I's lives. We are becoming parents. Yet, here is this woman who is, most likely, having one of the hardest days of her life as she confidently hands over her newborn son to another family.
The only thing his birth mother was worried about throughout her entire hospital stay was Drew and I. She was determined to make this day a special day for us. She wanted to make sure we got pictures for his baby book. She wanted to make sure we knew what formula he was eating so we had enough when he got home. She wanted to make sure she didn't make any medical decisions that we didn't agree with. She wanted to make sure he had a special outfit to meet us in and come home in. Courageous. Compassionate. Wise. Determined. Brave. Loving. Selfless. Fearless. Gentle.
As we walked out of the hospital, she looked at Drew and I, handed Jaylen to me and said, "I trust you." That is all I needed to hear. But at the same time, those three words brought my to my knees. She is trusting me (and Drew) to care for, support, discipline, educate, and love this little boy. Becky, don't jack it up big girl!
Since that day we have prayed for his birth mother daily. During my morning walks with Jaylen we listen to praise music and I just pray that the Lord opens his birth mother's heart, shows her how incredibly loved she is by us, by Jaylen, but most importantly by Him. We communicate with her regularly, about once a week, and share pictures of him!
To say Jaylen is a blessing is an understatement. To add on the fact that we have gained a courageous, compassionate, wise, determined, brave, loving, selfless, fearless, gentle "member" of our family that gets to share the love of Jaylen is something we are so thankful for. God is good all the time. All the time God is good!