Friday, June 14, 2019

Saying Yes, Hearing No

A week ago today, an email came through on Friday afternoon from our home study agency with the word URGENT in the subject line. Nothing like that to make your heart skip a beat and your knees go weak!

Skimming it, then reading it several times more slowly, it became clear that there was a fast-moving adoption situation they were seeking families for. More specifically, our home study agency had been contacted by another agency (in Florida) that was looking for possible adoptive families for a child who had already been born. And our agency had in turn contacted the home study-approved families who may be interested and were open to the unusual circumstances surrounding this case.

There were therefore some unique aspects to the situation that merited further discussion, including some medical diagnoses and tragic, family dynamics stuff. Dan and I spoke on the phone soon and emailed back and forth with our agency's director to gather more information. We had until Sunday at 5 p.m. to decide whether we wanted our profile book to be considered. And the working plan was that the baby's mom would look at books on Monday, sign papers on Tuesday, and place the baby on Wednesday. (Whew!)

It's hard to think about anything else when something like this comes up. It's hard not to constantly wonder "is this it? is this our child?" It's hard not to obsess over every detail that we were given, hash out and rehash every last "what if?" It's hard just to take a deep breath and act normally.

In short, it made for a really intense weekend. Thankfully we had few plans on Saturday so we both had plenty of time to discuss and pray together and also had nothing that would be short-changed by our extremely short attention span.

Long story short, after we were finally able to get through to the placing adoption agency to answer a few questions, we decided Sunday afternoon that we would show our book, so we began that time we know well by now of waiting for that phone call or email that could change our family's trajectory forever.

Ultimately it came on Tuesday afternoon, in the form of an email saying that the mom had chosen a different family. While we weren't shocked, we were definitely disappointed. It's pretty impossible not to get your hopes up. And that takes a while to get out of your system, to let go of the multiple thought experiments you didn't even realize you've done - imagining flying to Florida, meeting the baby, coming home as a family of four, starting this new adventure with the baby, etc. What events over the next three weeks would need to be canceled or rearranged? But nope, not happening. You get to Wednesday and instead of welcoming another child into your family and home, you're doing whatever usual thing you do on Wednesdays.

This is definitely one of the harder aspects of adoption, enduring this kind of emotional roller-coaster that can come out of nowhere. And just to clarify: our matching agency in Georgia doesn't tell us when our book is being shown, so long as at least on paper we seem to be a good match for the situation. So at least things there happen in the background, so to speak. But sometimes a situation will be more "gray" in the sense of right up against the edges of our comfort zone or some unpredictable situation that isn't definable in advance to say 'yes' to, which is when we're told in advance, by either our GA or MD agencies and situations like this one from the last weekend occurs. With those cases, it's good to have that time to discern - given that adoption is a lifelong decision for everyone and you want to discern whether you are the best for this particular child - but it's just so intense.

Also, no matter the outcome, you really do open a welcoming space in your heart, home, and prayer life for this precious child. Our hearts were certainly expanded and then broke when weren't chosen. Despite the sadness, we marvel at our how amazing it is that a child just by existing can open the hearts of complete strangers thousands of miles away? He will never meet us, but he expanded our hearts just by existing. What a gift all life is no matter the tragic circumstances and believe us when we tell you that this was a very tragic circumstance to the point that many people would consider it a life not worth living - so sad, they know not what they say!

And going through these experiences makes us feel our infertility more keenly, how difficult it's been (comparatively speaking) to grow our family. Thank you God for the gift of our precious Zelie to lift our spirits (and keep us busy) but the questions of "Why us? Why do we have to go through this?" inevitably surfaces. We're asked again to accept this cross we didn't choose, and to try to do so joyfully, knowing that these are opportunities to become the saints we're meant to be (as much as we stumble on that path) and to offer up this suffering for the sake of others, especially other infertile couples or couples who have had a recent miscarriage (like some of our friends).

One last thing that struck us about this experience was that despite this little one having several pretty serious "issues" in terms of health and background, multiple families said "yes" to adopting him. Hence us not getting chosen. The Florida agency said they received an "overwhelming response" - all over the span of a few days. Even in difficult circumstances, this child was loved and wanted. Pretty amazing and encouraging.

So we carry on, a bit sad and slightly bruised at not being chosen, but contemplative about the hidden graces and mystery within this situation. Please pray for us, and kudos to you if you read this far!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

While We Wait, Round 2: May 2019 (Month #4)

Adoption news: Nothing this month either. It can be disappointing, not hearing about any situations and not being matched yet. We have to remind ourselves, it's still quite early in the process (statistically speaking)! But every day we pray for God to bless us with another child. And at the same time we are thankful every single day for Zelie - in a profound sense, she is and always will be *enough* for us as her beautiful unrepeatable self - and at the same time we pray for our family's love to keep overflowing to more children! God's will be done!

In Other News: May was a big month for us! Probably the biggest thing that happened was Dan graduating with his PhD - amazing! We had a cookout celebration the Saturday before, attended the school's graduation ball the night before, and went out to eat after the ceremony. So a lot of celebrating was done, and he deserved every minute of it! For those not aware, Dan worked for this PhD for 10 years - the entirety of our marriage and then some. He sacrificed so much free time, endured setbacks and numerous "hurdles" (exams, languages, etc.) and worked SO hard to accomplish this.

All dressed up at the graduation ball. The highlight for Zelie was the chocolate fountain.

Silly faces with Dr. Daddy!

May was also Mother's Day. Since it was the Sunday immediately before Dan's graduation, we had both of our Moms in town, so it was lovely to celebrate with them. On Mother's Day, I felt (as I do pretty much every day) what an amazing thing it is to be Zelie's mommy - and I said some extra prayers for her birthmother and all birthmothers.

On May 28 we celebrated our 8th anniversary. Thanks to Grandma (Dan's mom), we were able to spend the long Memorial Day weekend away in Williamsburg. It was HOT but super fun. We went to Busch Gardens, Yorktown, and Jamestowne, and had a nice colonial-style dinner in the historic part of Williamsburg. 

In "Germany" at Busch Gardens.

While we were away, Grandma helped our little artist create some really lovely paintings as an anniversary gift - swoon!

In May, Zelie started swimming lessons. She's been having a blast! Due to Dan's work schedule, he was able to go to the first three with her, which was really special. She's not too keen on putting her face in the water but loves kicking and jumping in from the side. She's getting ready to enjoy the pool at Grandma and Grandpa's house (my parents) this summer!

To close: one quintessential SUMMER pictures: icy pop....flip backyard....SUMMER.