It's been a while but...
This was one of our last "family photos" before we had a little man join our family (boy, do we miss this little pup more than you will ever know).
As I look back at this picture I think about so many things:
- the amount of secrecy - the amount of support - the amount of excitement
- the amount of doubt
- the amount of trust
So, let's walk through each of these...
The amount of secrecy:
I've mentioned it before. With adoption, you just never really know if your "yes" is truly a "yes". When Drew and I received our "yes" on February 24th we immediately told our close family that we were going to be parents. We had to have our community to celebrate with! And then we basically told them they could never tell a soul until our precious little baby (we didn't know for sure that he was a boy) was home.
It. Was. Weird.
We had an entire office we needed to clear out and turn into a nursery. We had furniture to sell, things to buy, and just crap to get rid of. But, we didn't want anyone to know. We wanted to be ready, but knew when this baby came into our lives we would be abundantly blessed so we tried to be cautious as to how much we bought. I sent my mom and dad on "secret" adventures to pick up stuff we bought off Facebook Marketplace (I didn't want us to be "caught"). I put boxes (big ones...crib, car seat, stroller, etc.) on the curb in between our trashcans so our neighbors wouldn't notice (they did and didn't mention anything until later).
Both of our families threw us "surprise" baby showers. Drew's family surprised us with one in the Keys at the very end of February when we were on our family vacation. This was the first time Drew and I realized this was real. We were blubbering fools as we opened gifts that were picture frames, onesies, and bottles. And then in late April my family was insistent that Drew and I head to the beach condo for a weekend. We walked into a completely decorated condo with all of our immediate family. We were showered with baby clothes, toys, and books. I also received absolutely beautiful "Mother's Day flowers" from my in-laws the day before Mother's Day.
Those of you that know me know that I LOVE posting what's going on on social media. THIS. WAS. HARD. Feeling so much love and not being able to brag about those loving on us was so hard!
The amount of support:
There's just too many examples of the support we received. Through the journey leading up to being chosen, the process of being matched, and bringing that little squish home. I am literally in tears as I type this.
The. Support. Was. Un. Real.
Every time we hit a dead end during the journey someone was there to give us a swift kick in the a$$ and tell us to keep going. We needed that. Because, honestly, we probably would have given up. So, if you provided one of those kicks...thank you to the moon and back.
Those of you that knew we were matched. Wow! You know I freaked out. I'm a planner, this was not in my planner. What in the world is a girl to do?! You all rallied the troops.
Here's a small example of the support I am talking about...when I thought I had all my ducks in a row (which is a freaking joke when it comes to adoption because you can never truly plan out what is going to happen) I got a call from the hospital the day Jaylen was born that we needed confirmation from a pediatrician that we have a newborn appointment scheduled. No problem. I called the pediatrician I had visited, talked to at length, and fell in love with to let them know that our precious bundle of joy had been born and was coming home tomorrow. Easy...until the answering machine picked up and told me they were closed Fridays-Sundays. This was on a Friday. In a complete panic because our precious bundle of joy could not be discharged until that proof of an appointment was secured, my dear friend (without any hesitation and was leading a staff meeting) privately calmed me down because the staff couldn't know I was about to be a mom, gave me a pep talk, and sent me to her pediatrician. Without even skipping a beat that office took us in and we were able to have J discharged the next day. That is the kind of support we needed.
And then bringing him home. Good Lord! Eighty-five cars, y'all! Eighty-five cars drove by to welcome our little man home. Can you believe that?! Everyone from my old teaching friends, to chamber members, to city employees, to swim parents, to church members, to high school friends, to family members, to neighbors we had literally never met in our lives (funny story about that...ask me one day). Eighty-five cars drove by to look at our perfect boy and let him know that they had prayed for him, for his birth mother, and for his new parents. (By the way, I'm still crying typing this).
Basically, we could NOT have done this without our community. It takes a village. Not only to raise a child, but to also bring a child into a family. If we have not personally thanked you, we are SO sorry. Please accept this as our heartfelt thank you for all you did for us.
The amount of excitement:
I can't really put it into words.
It's different than a pregnancy, obviously. I do believe with my whole heart that that "pregnancy glow" happens to adoptive parents once they are matched. Adoption announcements go a little differently than pregnancy and gender announcements. It was weird telling our family members that we were "expecting" as I poured myself a glass of wine, took a sip and then blurted out "WE'RE GOING TO BE PARENTS BUT WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE BABY!" (My "I'm expecting" picture that I sent to friends is on the left.) No one really knew whether they should celebrate because it wasn't official, ask questions to clarify, or just go with the flow. The only thing they couldn't deny was the glow that Drew and I had for those two months of anticipating our son's arrival.
The amount of doubt:
I just had this conversation with Jaylen's birthmother this week. Adoption is weird. There is no other way or word to describe it. Here we are, chosen. Told we are going to be parents. But yet the child is not born, we do not know the birthmother at all, and we have nothing to base the finality of her decision on because we don't know her. DAILY it was a mental battle...we are going to be parents...no we aren't...she loves us...nope, she hates us...she's made her final decision...negative, she changed her mind for sure.
If you are a believer in Christ you know this constant doubt that you can NEVER be good enough. The terribly wrong belief that He paid it all for your sins, except for that one that you cannot even state out loud. The lie that He loves every part of you, except for that one terrible trait.
Adoption is SO similar. It is a constant mental battle of when-is-she-going-to-find-the-flaw-in-us-and-change-her-mind-because-we-aren't-good-enough. Constant. And man. We are so incredibly thankful for Jaylen's birthmother and her support system. Without the clear communication from them we would have fought this 100 times over.
The amount of trust:
There are a lot of people I trust in. My husband. Our families, our dear friends.
There are a lot of things I trust in. My car to get me from here to there safely. My house to keep me safe during bad weather. My health, career, etc.
But God, that is who we had to put our utmost trust in. That is who I turned to during the tough times, many times angrier than I can describe. That I who I praised in the good times. That is who I had to continue to turn to in the peaks and valleys of this adoption journey. Drew (although he is an amazingly supportive individual) and our families and friends (who were and still are amazing support systems during those peaks and valleys) couldn't help me through completely. That was too much of a burden for them to carry.
But, God. He carries it all. He's been through it all. He understands it all. He handled my anger and grief. He celebrated with us. He walked me (us) through it all. He loved us through it all. Trusting that the Lord had a plan and was going to see it through to completion, just like the Bible tells us, was the only thing we could do many days. "Lord, you've got this. We are a mess. But we trust you." That was our daily prayer.
April will forever mark the time in our lives when we experienced sheer panic, joy, doubt, fear, and peace. Not every story has a perfect ending, but when God's hand is all over a story I can guarantee you it will be a pretty darn good one.