by Melissa Harms
It was the phone call we never saw coming. Our adoption agency called to tell us of a birthmother who was expecting a baby boy. She asked us if our hearts were open to having our profile shown again. With a surprising look on both our faces and butterflies in our stomachs, we said “sure,” without hesitation, and she said she would call us by the end of the week so we would know the outcome. We knew that this phone call didn’t mean that we would be the chosen parents; it just meant that we were choosing to be vulnerable with our hearts and to put ourselves out there again.
After all, approximately three months earlier we had experienced our first adoption loss. As we were packing the car with all our baby paraphernalia to drive to the hospital and meet the baby boy that was going to be our son, the dreaded phone call came, the one prospective adoptive parents are cautioned about but never think will happen to them. Our plans to go to the hospital came to a screeching halt. The birthmother had changed her mind. As we took time to grieve that loss well and allow the Lord to heal us, we kept telling ourselves that at least things couldn’t get any harder.
Well, they did. About two months later we experienced a second adoption loss. We brought a baby girl home to join our family on Mothers’ Day, but after only two days of immersing ourselves in the joy of parenthood, the dreaded phone call came . . . again. The birthmother had changed her mind and decided she wanted to parent. After that shocking phone call came, we had a few hours to spend with this precious baby girl, so we prayed and sang over her with tears flooding our cheeks, and then she was gone.
So now, here we were for the third time . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting on the Lord. Wondering, waiting and hoping that this third attempt at a match might be the start of our growing forever family. Every time our phones rang, we experienced some level of anxiety and worry, always wondering if it was our agency calling and what news that call might bring. No matter how well trained, prepared, and educated an adoptive couple becomes or how much praying and meditating on God’s word they do, there simply is no adequate preparation for these phone calls that are defining moments and can change the trajectory of your life.
During the course of our weary, emotional roller coaster journey to parenthood that was so far from what we had ever expected or imagined, the Lord was always present. He was present in our sorrows as we mourned the losses of not only the baby we never held and the one we had to give back, but also the birthmothers that we invested in and built relationships with over time—all of which ended suddenly with no closure. These relationships are so different from anything we’ve ever experienced. They are hard and messy, but beautiful relationships that the Lord has used to grow, teach, and refine us and our marriage in ways we may never have experienced if he never called us on the adoption journey. In Turn My Mourning into Dancing, Henri Nouwen says, “Facing our losses also means avoiding a temptation to see life as an exercise in having our needs met. So much of our movement through suffering has to do with such unexpected moments. Moments that come as gifts amidst our waiting or struggling. Moments that often have much to do with the people God puts in our path.”
Life was no longer focused on having my human needs and expectations met by becoming a parent. The Lord revealed to me that this journey was less about filling my empty arms with children so I could be in the “mommy club” and more about answering His call to come alongside birthmothers. It became an opportunity to meet these women who were faced with unimaginable life-altering decisions and loving them well.
Because the Lord is the author, creator, and sustainer of life, we should be asking Him what He placed us on this earth to do for Him. Was it wrong for us to pray for the Lord to bless us with children?
Of course not. Being parents was one of the desires of our hearts since the day we said, “I do.” However, what the Lord was asking us to do in our prayers was to step out in faith and pray for His will to be done, and trusting Him alone with the outcome.
Even though our journey was filled with unanswered questions, grief, and loss, it was also a time of healing, drawing closer to each other, and entering into a more authentic relationship with the Lord. Our two adoption losses and our relationships with birthmothers are part of our story, our journey, that we don’t regret and will never forget. These were intentional, special relationships that moved us far beyond a desire to be parents, and more importantly, taught us to love well. It is these experiences and relationships that truly have grown us closer to our Heavenly Father.
Back to the phone call in which we agreed to have our profile shown . . . again. Our consent generated another call later that day, this one telling us that the birthmother had chosen us to be parents to a beautiful baby boy, and we could come to the hospital to meet him. I may not remember every detail about that day, but I do remember the moment my eyes welled up with tears as our son was placed in my arms for the first time, and all the heartache and all the trials became mere stepping stones to experiencing this overwhelming joy. It was also in that moment that the Lord reminded me of His unwavering compassion and His unconditional love. Still, I knew that as I was experiencing joy, someone else was experiencing loss. My calling was more than becoming a mother through adoption. It was also a lifelong commitment to love and pray for the beautiful woman that chose life for this precious baby boy.
Although nothing can fully prepare adoptive parents for how this whole process will unfold, it brings comfort to trust in the Lord as He sees everything before it happens. Somewhere along the way, He did something else. He gave us an incredible, supportive community of families who “get it.” Families that compassionately and genuinely validate one another’s experiences, are authentic and transparent in sharing their burdens, and, at the end of the day, help us worship in the wait so that one day we can move from unbearable mourning to inexpressible joy.