Sunday, July 8, 2012

"An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never breaks."

You would think, given our history, that I would know better than to get my hopes up.
You would think I would always assume that the worst will happen, or at least I should be weary of getting excited. You would think I would expect to come close and to have things not work out.   However, and maybe I can blame my overly positive mother for this, but I am ever the optimist.

We have received emails from a few people telling us that they know someone from church, or from school, or who was the friend of a friend, and they were sending them the link to our adoption blog. They told us that someone was looking for the right family for their baby. They wanted us to be considered. Each time we feel so grateful for these people helping to get the word out about our hope to adopt. We feel like nothing we can do could ever pay them back for thinking of us.  But aside from that, and I think this is normal, I always instantly think "I hope they like us. I hope it's right. I hope this is it."

That first night, after receive these emails,  it is always the same; we automatically feel the world is a better place because we feel hope. We get excited that something is happening. Being considered is a million times better than being unknown. We lay in bed talking for hours, Lucas more cautiously than me, about how amazing it would be if this worked out. The conversation of what if's usually ends with Lucas slowly falling asleep to us talking about our favorite baby names. Once he's asleep I usually cuddle up to him and lay awake for hours, just hoping and imagining.

The next day I keep my phone in my hand at every moment. I frequently check it despite it not ringing. I check my email at every spare moment. I create "spare" moments so I can check more often. I re-read the emails. Lucas calls me repeatedly to ask if I have heard anything, despite it being so early. We pray that if this is right, that it will work out for our family. We pray for comfort for the birth moms who are going through making such a difficult decision. We pray for the babies.

Then we repeat the process day after day. Slowly, we allow ourselves to accept that they might not ever contact us. We might not be what they are looking for. I worry they will think we aren't rich enough, or funny enough, or artsy enough. I wonder if my blog is too emtional, I wonder if my pictures aren't professional and beautiful enough, I wonder if I offended them in any way. I worry that they wont choose us because maybe we are different religions. I worry that for some reason, they hate us. Its pretty impossible not to critique yourself when you know you are being very closely examined.

 Even after we are fairly sure we haven't been picked, deep down I dont let go of hoping until I know they chose someone else or the baby was born and we didnt hear anything. I know that if I were to get a call that said, "A mother in Kalamazoo has chosen you as an adoptive family. She is in labor now. Get on a plane, you have to be here tonight." I would be there. I would drop everything. I would never consider not going. I could not be stopped. If there was no flight, I would drive. If there was no car, I would run. So, unfortunately, I wait until I know for a fact that that is not my baby. And even then I think about them.

One day we got an email that was different than the others. I got it one night while watching a movie. I read it to myself in shock, then read it to Lucas. It was from a friend of a girl I barely know. She told us her story, which was heartbreaking. Before I even finished reading it I was in tears for her situation. She told us she was touched by our blog and knew our story. She told us about some worries she had and about the reasons for her believing adoption was right for her.  She told us that she could not promise anything, but that she would like to speak with us about adopting her baby who would be due near the end of the summer.

 I honestly think my heart stopped. I think it is afraid of beating wrong and ruining this. I felt different. I didn't feel the same as before because I didn't fear she would think we were all wrong. She had already told us she liked us. I was so excited. Even though I knew she wasn't saying she chose us completely, this was the most hope I had felt since we started our journey. Lucas said to me, "Something feels different here. I feel so good about this." That night he couldn't sleep either. We stayed up talking about names and that maybe this time we wouldn't just come close, but we could actually have a family.

We were nervous about the right way to respond to her email. In my heart I wanted to write to her and tell her everything. I wanted to tell her that I ached for her. That her story broke my  heart and that I wanted to hug her, not as a potential adoptive parent, but because she deserved comfort and love. I wanted to tell her, despite how it might affect us, that if she felt that adoption was not right for her, or if she was being pressured into it by someone, that she needed to trust the Lord and trust herself. I wanted to tell her that even though I desperately want to adopt, I want the best thing for her family, including this baby, even if it meant NOT placing her baby for adoption.

However, I also wanted to tell her how much I would love that baby. I wanted to tell her how her email made me happier than I can remember feeling. I wanted to tell her that I had thought of nothing but her and that baby since the second I opened her email. I wanted to tell her that I already loved her and I already loved the baby. I wanted to explain to her about every goal and hope and dream I have for my future children. I wanted her to be able to meet Lucas and see and feel what a wonderful man he was.

The hard part is, that you fear scaring her. We didnt want to say the wrong thing. We didn't want to say too much or too little. We didn't want to come across that we were just begging for her baby and would say anything to anyone to adopt any baby. We genuinely wanted her to know the truth about any question she would have and to know that we really did care about her.

The only email I can imagine that would be harder to write, is the one she wrote us first.
We prayed together the next day that we would know what to say to her, and got to responding.
It took a long time, but we finally felt that we said enough without saying too much. We were honest with her and we tried to be respectful of her. Then we sent the email and POOF, time stopped moving.

Second felt like hours.
I tried to distract myself by watching TV but ended up staring blankly, my mind going a million miles per hour. Finally I went upstairs to re-read the email and try and put myself in her shoes. I hoped it would feel as comforting as I hoped it would.

But then I noticed that I had spelled her name wrong.

I felt like throwing up. I felt like she wouldn't even read the email, she would think we hadn't really cared. She would think it wasn't meant to be if I hadn't spelled her name correct.
 I had known someone by her name years ago, and had spelled it the way I knew it, instead of the right way. As quickly as I could I wrote her a quick email to apologize for spelling her name wrong. I didn't tell her how much it scared me, but simply told her I was sorry and I wasn't sure how it had happened. I felt like that one mistake could ruin everything. I went and told Lucas and he said, "Amber, I'm sure she will understand that you are human. We were super nervous about writing the email, it wont be perfect. It will be okay, I just feel good about it."

I hoped he was right, and got ready to wait.

Days felt like years.
One week passed and we hadn't heard anything. We knew that she had months before the baby was born, and she might need space. She had a big decision to make and we knew we probably weren't the only family she was considering. We knew had the right to take as long as she wanted and we wanted her to know she made the right choice. We knew she had the right to never talk to us again. What could be more sad than not allowing yourself the time to know you made the right decision? We knew she deserved it.

However, all week I had been feeling like we hadn't fully addressed her concerns in the email. We had tried to keep it simple, but I worried that maybe she would like to know how we felt about the concerns she had mentioned. So we wrote her another quick email to give her more information and wish her well. I knew it was a risk and that it could come across as impatient instead of how we intended, which was to give her all the information she mentioned thinking about in making her decision. Sent the email and then waited more.

Another two weeks passed we continued to pray for her and for her family every day. We waited.
Another week passed and when I got home from work I went upstairs to change my clothes, and I broke.

I stood with my face in the clothes in my closet and began to cry. I could not hold my emotions and the fear I had that we would never adopt. The further away we felt from what had felt so right, the more I missed my babies. I bawled. Lucas hugged me and told me everything would be okay. He told me he still felt good about it. I had checked my email and phone so often with no word that I had let myself get disappointed that many times at the risk of not seeing her email. It had worn me down.

I changed out of my work clothes and decided to go for a run. I took off down the street and began to run as fast as I could. I ran out all my anxiety and fear. I ran and ran and ran with no direction. I ran until my body hurt so bad that my heart couldn't hurt anymore. I hoped that anyone I passed would mistake my tears for sweat because I couldn't keep from crying.  I ran until I was so out of breath that my mind had to think about breathing and about making my legs move so I wouldn't miss my babies so much. I hadn't run so hard in so long and eventually I had to stop. I layed down in the grass at a local park and gasped for air. I ached everywhere, inside and out. Physically and emotionally. I said a prayer and asked for strength and for peace. I prayed for patience. I prayed that despite what I want for my family, that this sweet girl would know what was right for her baby, even if it meant we would continue to wait.

Then I walked home. It was a strange breaking point. Adoption is the most emotional journey imaginable. I made a goal to brace myself for the fact that she might not choose us, but that that would probably mean we weren't the best family for her baby. I wanted, not just for this baby to be part of our family, but for her to be in the best family for her, even if her mother felt it wasn't with us. Knowing that, I gained more patience.

We never heard back from her. I am pretty certain that she probably chose another family or chose to keep her baby. I do not know, though I still pray for her every day. Her baby is due soon or might already be born, and I'm sure she has long ago moved on from considering us. I dont know why, and I try not to ask what we did wrong. It may just not have been right. Not hearing anything was hard, but we heard from people at church that the same thing happened to them a couple times too. They heard form a birth family that they wanted to meet them, and after they respond, they never hear anything. It is comforting to know it wasn't just us.

This is no easy journey. Not for us, not for anyone involved, especially not for birth moms and families. If they have to make a decision so difficult and important, I can wait as long as it takes. When it's meant to be, I will raise a baby in this life. I know it, so I can wait.

We have since heard from another mom who said we were "by far the best" of any couple she was considering. We got our hopes up again, of course. She lived on the east coast and kept vlogs that I followed on youtube. I was a little more guarded this time around, but still let myself get really hopeful.  She would update her adoption channel with her progress, so it was nice to be updated despite her not givine specifics. It was great to see her journey as a birth mom and get a feel for her side of adoption. Eventually she posted a message to all families she had been considering to say that she chose a family who lived close to her so she could have an open adoption. I understood and wrote her a quick message to tell her I was happy for the family she chose and I was proud of her. I thanked her for ever considering us and wished her well. Though I haven't talked to her again, I followed her blogs and when she had the baby I cried for her because I knew how difficult that day must have been.

It is kind of strange to feel so much empathy for these mothers who are placing their babies for adoption. I haven't been where they are exactly, but I have said goodbye to my babies. With each mom I hear about, I have this strange daydream of the day she gives up her baby. I imagine being able to be there. I imagine being able to pause everything so that I can go and hug her. So that I can lay beside her and cry with her.  So that I can somehow take away her pain, but I know I cant. I guess its good to feel for them, but when I think of the day we adopt I feel so much sadness for them mixed with what I know will be the happiest day of my life.  I will feel two very strong emotions at once, and it is strange to imagine.

So that's our journey so far. Some ups and some downs. We understand its supposed to be hard. I have decided I would rather get hopeful and excited and then be sad when it doesnt happen than to never let myself get excited. I dont want to be pessimistic about it in order go guard myself from heartbreak. When it does happen for us, I want to look back and know that I was excited every step of the way. Nervous, inevitable, but always excited. I will love our children from day one, no matter when day one starts for us.  Being a mother is what I want most in the world, it always has been, so there is nothing I can do about getting excited about the possibility of that dream coming true.


Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, Amber. I think you and Lucas are two of the strongest, bravest, most compassionate people I have ever met. The adoption wait is SO tough with so many highs and lows. I admire your faith and patience. Believe me when I say that NO ONE could read your blog and not love you. So try not to worry about that. If a birthmom doesn't choose you, it must be for some other reason, like she chose to parent instead of place, or she felt strongly that the baby was meant to be in a different family. I'm sure it has NOTHING to do with you because you are as amazing as they come! You and Lucas will be in my prayers. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you.

Nicole said...

You have touched my heart, Amber. You are in my prayers. Thank you for being such a magnificent example for me. I love you dearly and wish you the best.

Carrie Lynn said...

"Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great."

So maybe that was Tom Hanks trying to convince Geena Davis to not give up on baseball in A League of Their Own, but I think that quote has more power than that to it.

I love you.

erin d. said...

Your empathy is truly amazing. I can't wait to see the day (some day soon) when we hear the news of your new little ones arrival.