It took two years of waiting from the time we were approved for adoption and the day we brought home our first daughter. And her birth mother chose us about six months into her pregnancy, giving us time to prepare, mentally and physically, for bringing home a baby. And even before our daughter, we had a failed placement, so we were familiar with the uncertainty of both waiting to be chosen, and waiting to see if the placement would happen as we hoped. And all that’s pretty typical. Adoption is a roller coaster of emotions and uncertain outcomes.
So when we decided to apply for adoption again, we assumed we were in for another long haul of waiting and hoping, uncertainty and possible disappointments. We submitted all our paperwork, and mentally settled in for the wait. I tried really hard not to get my hopes up, to keep my expectations in check, to just enjoy my daughter and my life and let our next adoption unfold as it may. What happened next completely surprised us.
It was eight o’clock at night, three weeks after all our paperwork had been approved, and our daughter’s 2nd birthday. We had spent the day at our little town’s summer carnival, and just gotten home when the phone rang. I glanced at the number before answering and was confused that it was our case worker. Why would she call so late? Unless…?! That’s all the thought I had time for before I answered the call. Our case worker asked me if Mike was with me. Now I knew something was up. I ran to him and we listened breathlessly as our case worker explained was what going on. There was a couple in a hospital about an hour away, with a two day old baby boy. They had, for various reasons I won’t get into, suddenly decided to place the baby for adoption. Their caseworker had given them a stack of adoptive parent profiles to look through, and they liked ours and wanted to meet us. Tonight. Our caseworker told us that if we were interested, to come up to the hospital as soon as possible, and if everything worked out, the relinquishment would happen the next morning.
Seriously?! I had heard of adoptions happening like this, but never thought it would actually happen for us. I didn’t know what to think or do. I felt completely overwhelmed. My husband and I told our caseworker that we would call her back in just a few minutes. We knelt to pray and suddenly both felt a calm assurance that this was meant to be, and our anxiety calmed, though we were still in that whirlwind. We told our caseworker that we would be up at the hospital as soon as we could get there. We dropped off our very confused daughter at my husband’s brother’s house, stopped at the store to pick up a gift, and sped to the hospital. In the car, we tried to wrap our minds around what was happening. We threw name suggestions back and forth as we drove.
When we arrived at the hospital, our case worker led us in and introduced us to the couple. We talked for a while. I have no recollection of what we, or they, said. It was all a blur. They asked if we wanted to see the baby (of course!) and brought him in. He was beautiful. Before we left, they told us that they wanted us to be the adoptive couple. We arranged with our case worker to come back at nine o’clock the next morning, when the relinquishment would take place, and we left in a complete daze. That night, we technically went to bed, but neither of us slept. My mind just kept trying to take it all in.
We also realized that we didn’t have any supplies to bring home a new baby. I hadn’t wanted to stock up on anything because I didn’t want to get my expectations up, knowing that we might wait for years. We had a car seat, but that was it. No diapers, no formula, no clothes – nothing. We rushed to the store before going to the hospital and ran up and down the baby isles filling our cart. No time for lists or registries or shopping around, it was all grab and go.
We arrived back at the hospital and waited for a few hours while the birth parents filled out their paperwork and said their goodbyes. We talked with them again and expressed our incredible gratitude and love, and then they left. All of a sudden, I was holding a baby. Our baby. The nurse was explaining check out procedures to me and asked if I had any questions. And that’s when I lost it. I broke down sobbing. I felt like all the emotions that happen with waiting and placement – excitement, uncertainty, anxiety, hope, fear, and love, had all happened in a tiny 18 hour window instead of being spread over many months or years. It was crazy and unbelievable.
Last night I had one child. Today I had two. I hadn’t read any baby books or gotten all my laundry done or made freezer meals. I barely remembered how to hold a newborn. But as I looked into this little boy’s eyes, as I held his tiny body wrapped in a hospital blanket, as I set him carefully in the car seat to go home, I realized that we would be just fine. That families come in all sorts of ways. And that adoption is a miracle, no matter how long – or short – the process is.