I want to continue to tell Eliza’s adoption story because each dotted i and crossed t points back to a loving God that so intricately wove our stories together. Every time I look at her face, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness. Of his goodness. Of his grace. (Read part one of her adoption story here.)
It was just an ordinary Wednesday morning when an email — the e-mail — arrived in my inbox. I had just finished hanging ornaments back on the tree (my two little ninjas kept knocking them down!) and I cracked open my laptop to follow up on a few work-related assignments. I spotted a new e-mail. An adoption situation email about a two-week-old baby girl, waiting for her forever family.
When she was born, she had been unexpectedly diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and she though she had a few obstacles, she was doing very well. My heart skipped as I quietly imagined this sweet little one in our family, and then I shook my head. Surely, we couldn’t be her family. Our family was busy — two busy boys, one with a chronic illness, and another baby on the way in the spring. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking of her. The tears came when I saw her photos. I called Jonny upstairs and asked him to read the email.
“Maybe we could be her family.”
“Maybe we should consider it.”
And we did. I Googled more than I ever have in my life and reached out to friends and acquaintances who have adopted and fostered children who have Down Syndrome. I learned that people born with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome, and that affects their development. I also learned that I had many misconceptions about what people with Down Syndrome could or couldn’t do.
Jonny left to go to work, and I tried to go through the motions of the day, but I could not get this sweet girl off my mind. I prayed and researched and threw the idea out there to some close friends and family. To my surprise, everything kept coming up yes. So often, God uses his people to speak to us, and when I kept expecting cautious no’s, I didn’t receive them. Little did I know, Jonny was doing his own research and calling his own connections.
That evening, we shared our fears and hopes and dreams. We talked realistically about pursuing special needs adoption and wrestled with trying to discern God’s will. We both felt a tender spot in our hearts for people with Down Syndrome (remember when I wrote about Down Syndrome adoption here?). Jonny and I took a class together at Drake where we learned the heartbreaking, staggering statistics of Down Syndrome abortion after prenatal diagnosis (around at least 70%), which I think sealed in both of our hearts that we would pursue Down Syndrome adoption much further down the road.
But now? I had been expecting to adopt a toddler. Could we really be the best parents for her? We knew we both had to be on the same page. We believed that God wouldn’t call one of us to something without calling the other, too. We sought prayer and wisdom from others and we went to bed that night fully believing that if this little one was our daughter, God would pave the way.
The next morning, adoption forms from interested families were due. We answered the questions about why we felt led to pursue this adoption situation, initialed the dotted lines, and submitted it just a few minutes before the 10 a.m. deadline. I hit send and felt a whoosh of relief. I also felt a pang of sadness, already worried that I had given too much of my heart away to a little one who wouldn’t end up being ours. But mostly, we both felt confident that we served a God worth trusting.
Confident that God is a God who orchestrates more than we could imagine. That he knit together this little girl in her birth mother’s womb and that she was fearfully and wonderfully made. Throughout the adoption process, we walked through doors in faith, and when those doors shut, we felt confident that we had been obedient. Things were out of our hands, and we went about our day. Maybe we would hear something further about the situation later in the weekend.
Light snow fell as Jonny headed to our local college to pick up Edwin, our host student, to drive him 2.5 hours to the airport so Edwin could spend Christmas with his family. I kissed Jonny goodbye and went about my day, trying not to obsess about that potentially life-changing document we had just submitted. I took Joseph to school and played blocks with Asher and cut the crusts off peanut butter sandwiches.
At 1 p.m., I received an unexpected call from an unknown number.
“I’m calling about the adoption situation.”
I ran into the living room to escape the Curious George Asher was loudly watching as he ate lunch.
“Congratulations…you have a daughter.”
I stared at the Christmas tree as the twinkle lights began to blur in a mess of tears and laughter. I took a breath and tried to find the words to say and a chair to sit in before my pregnant body fainted in shock.
“You’ll be hearing from the agency soon. They submitted you along with other families to the baby’s birth mother, and she quickly chose you. You’ll start getting paperwork soon.”
And that was it. I stood, mouth gaping, phone in my hand, staring at the Christmas tree, in shock of the life-altering call I had just received. My heart dropped and burst into a million pieces. My hands shook as I called Jonny, who was in another state on his trek to the airport.
My words jumbled and I somehow choked it out that this was it.
We were going to be parents to the most perfect baby girl.
(To be continued)
[Photo by Everyday Moments Photography]
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