But that still leaves a LOT to say!!
Back-up to Monday, February 6. Right after we got home from work, we realized we had a phone message from the director of St. Joseph's Adoption Ministry (the original agency we had signed up with over a year ago). It was about a little girl in California, due April 1, with some information about her and the situation, and were we interested?
We needed a little more information, and after we got that from the attorney in California who was working with the expectant parents, then we said yes the following day (Feb 7) to showing our profile.
Then came some looooooong and somewhat torturous days of waiting (per usual). We knew that the parents were given our profile on Thursday, February 9, and initially we thought that if they liked us, we might be setting up a phone call with them that night or shortly thereafter. But no. The next week started, and when we checked back in with the attorney's office (he and his staff were always very gracious) we were told the parents hadn't yet decided but that they were looking at our profile and others. The attorney was also helping the parents with some crisis-level problems, which was understandably occupying everyone's time.
So we waited some more, and mid-week that week, the attorney's assistant let us know that the parents were now considering our profile and ONE other family's. (!!!!) It felt like we were *this close* to winning the lottery and yet something even better because c'mon, what compares with the great gift of a child?! The tension just kept increasing....
Then they told us on Friday, February 17th that the expectant mother would make her decision by the afternoon. ...But no call came. One more day passed and we were both at a family event on Saturday. Dan, in particular, thought all hope was lost on this case. He was very sad; we both thought this would end like other cases, with a "no". Another day came and went, and it was Monday, February 20th. Dan emailed the lawyer's office and asked politely what the answer was, even it was a "no" so we could grieve and move on. He got what seemed like an ominous email, "Dan, could you please share with me the best number to reach you and Bethany today, in case the lawyer has to call you?" We thought it was just a formal call to say we were not chosen. Instead, the lawyer called and said that the mother wanted to talk with you!!! At the time, we were sitting on our porch enjoying the unseasonably warm February weather, enjoying our day off (President's Day); the call came during the 3 o'clock hour, which in our Catholic tradition is the hour of mercy.
About ten minutes later, we are talking with the expectant mother! What do you say in such situations? Come Holy Spirit! (And we needed a lot of the Holy Spirit, too, because there was a bad phone connection! Ugh! Thankfully, we don't *think* we missed any important details.) We ended up talking for over an hour and it was one of the most amazing and unforgettable conversations. We can't go into those private and intimate details of the conversation, but we were really blown away by the beauty of her desire to do what is right for her daughter. We assured her that she would always be viewed as a hero by her daughter for this heroic act. We really enjoyed talking with her and we look forward to getting to know her and the father if they want to get to know us. We also wanted to affirm her that no matter her choice with who she chose for the adoption, that she was courageous for what she is doing and she is giving a great gift to her daughter.
In short - it was truly a holy hour, and no matter what was a chance for us to encourage a woman facing a difficult situation. What a blessing.
The call ended around 4:45....and we had friends coming over for dinner at 5! We had done nothing to prepare but they were so gracious when they arrived and found us scrambling around, giddy and kind of spacey after such an intense time!
Then more waiting came... Would she choose us? Did she like us from our conversation? We prayed a lot that evening for her, the father, and the child. As providence would have it, we had a Eucharistic holy hour to go to that evening and we were able to go to this holy hour with two really great and holy sisters from the religious order Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (St. Faustina's order) who work with Dan. All of us prayed and prayed that evening for a successful match, for the mother and father, and just tried to rest in Christ's love during this anxious period of waiting.
Tuesday, Feb 20
The morning was uneventful, which we expected because of the time zone difference between MD and CA. At Mass - wow - the Gospel included this line: "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me." That word....receive! Chills!
Around 3:30 p.m. (again the hour of mercy) Dan received a phone call from the lawyer! He had his supervisor in his office for a meeting and had to quickly ask him to leave! How embarrassing, but his supervisor was gracious and understood the importance because Dan mentioned it was an adoption lawyer. Would it be good news or bad news? Another rejection or the miracle we had been waiting for, waiting for almost six years?
The lawyer said, "We have an adoption plan." Dan, confused by this language, asked bluntly, "Wait does this mean...we are matched?" Lawyer: "Oh sorry, yes!" Dan: "Wow, this is incredible..." (stumbles for words and thoughts) as the lawyer continues to talk about all the details of what happens next. Dan quickly waking up to his senses then shot off a quick email to Bethany. Lawyer went over a few more details about paperwork and the situation and then the phone conversation was over. It was about 4:00 p.m.
At about 3:30, Dan emailed Bethany saying "might be running late - talking with the lawyer." Bethany responded "And???????" Oh boy - what suspense! Dan emailed back "can't talk"; Bethany said "I am literally dying over here" [using "literally" improperly in a fit of emotion]; and finally Dan emailed "it is good!" Bethany left her desk and went down to the chapel on the first floor - so filled with emotion, thanking God, feeling just overcome with gratitude, relief, joy, so much... Dan called a few minutes later: "Are you sitting down? ....We're matched!"
Bethany then left work and began walking up the street to the Shrine where Dan works! She stopped in Mary's Garden (where Dan had first asked her to date) to pray and cry - and then on to the reliquary chapel at the Shrine. She lit a candle to John Paul II for the baby, parents, and everyone involved.
This is how she felt! (Elinor)
We met in the chapel with one of the happiest of smiles and biggest hugs we have ever had in our marriage. Tears rolling down our faces, we said a quick joyful prayer together to the Lord in front of a first-class relic of Saint John Paul II and prayed for his intercession (and thanked him too since we know he was working with Christ on this one!).
We felt like this too:
Then we were off to fill out paperwork, but we had to first buy a printer and set it up. We had been putting off that purchase for some time! So it took some time to set up the printer and finish the paper work (a big long contract and other forms). It was about 9:30 p.m. when we were finished and all we wanted to do was shout from the mountaintops with joy. Should we call someone to tell them the news or wait until tomorrow? How could we wait with such joyful news?! So we called friends and family! The last call was at 10:40 p.m.! Yup, we woke up more than one friend that evening :-) But it was so amazing to share and to hear the joy in their voices and the tears that were heard through the phone! We are blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends and so much love...
Yes, our future little daughter (with chills of humility we write those words), whom we barely knew, was already beginning to have a huge impact on the world, sending a ripple of joy through the hearts of so many throughout the country she has yet to meet. Isn't it amazing the joy one child in the womb can bring to hundreds of people, but especially to these two hearts of ours?! We're overcome by the beauty of it all.
We are so excited to be parents and to shower this child with much love. For close to six years throughout the suffering of infertility, we have prayed and waited patiently to be a father and a mother and we know that all the waiting is not in vain, but just served to strengthen our love for this little one. And so many already have shown immense love to our child, especially the ones reading this blog. We feel the prayers and support of each person.
We know that between the next few weeks hold uncertainty - after birth in California, there is a 30-day revocation period within which parents can decide to parent and not place their child for adoption. We realize this is a risk. But more than anything, we see this time as an opportunity to LOVE this precious little girl and her parents - to prepare our hearts and home to welcome this little one and to pray every single day for her and her parents. No matter what happens in the weeks to come, this is an incredible gift. We move forward with cautious optimism and hopeful JOY!
However, despite our immense joy, the last words of this post have to be love and admiration toward the heroic expectant mother and father for choosing to place their child for adoption in difficult circumstances and suffering. While we cannot fathom to know what it is like for them and how difficult it may be, we pray that our joy will become their joy in some mysterious way, a joy of knowing that their child will be safe, loved greatly, have a wonderful home, and think the world of them for this heroic choice. We pray God sends them peace, health, strength, perseverance, comfort, love and whatever they need through this situation. We look forward to being there for them - if they would like us to have contact with them - because our hearts are full of love for them too, especially the mother who makes such a difficult sacrifice here.
Thank you for choosing us; we are so deeply humbled. We will not let you down, we will love your daughter as our own with a love that is greater than mere human love, a love that reflects Christ's own love who sees in every person at every point of their lives a precious son or daughter of God's from their toes to the depths of their souls. Thank you God for mysteriously working through this situation to bring this greater love of yours to the world.