“We have a baby for you and Jamie.”
Those were the words that came across the phone line on Friday, April 22, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. There I sat, planning an upcoming project with a teammate, when the phone rang. It was our adoption counselor calling to see if we would be interested in a Hispanic boy born on April 21, 2005 around 5:30 in the evening. Our counselor gave me all the particulars– his size, weight, and health– but only a small amount of information about the birthmother. She informed me that our birthmother went to the hospital on Thursday afternoon, gave birth, and told the doctors that she did not want to see the baby or even know the baby’s sex. She had to place the baby for adoption.
This particular hospital works with a religious-affiliated agency, and they contacted them immediately. Before the evening was over, our agency had delivered three prospective families’ information binders to the birthmother. This was the birthmother’s chance to read through three different families’ wishes to become parents. After reading the binders, she decided which family would raise the baby. Incredibly, she selected us. I must have had a strange look on my face during the phone conversation, because my teammate kept asking me if something was wrong. When I raised my arms to cradle the air, she understood that I was learning about our baby. She quickly went to tell my officemates the great news. Hanging up the phone left me even more confused about what to do. I had so many questions rapidly firing in my head: What did he look like? When was I going to clear off my calendar so that I could start maternity leave? How was I going to get all of this done, this late in the afternoon on a Friday? Probably, the very first thought I should have had was that I should call my husband to let him know the great news. This was our journey towards becoming a family.
Our journey included years of infertility treatments and endless forms to complete towards adoption. Anyone who has every walked by a childless room, or put on a happy face as a friend announces that they are having a baby, will understand our journey and the emotional roller coaster that it brings. There are no truer words than, “Things are done in God’s time, not ours.” As much as Jamie and I prayed to become parents, we certainly had our moments of doubt that God would ever present us with the gift of a child. We were not quick to move, early in our marriage, towards becoming parents. We took the slow, less-traveled path of letting nature take its course. If it happened, fantastic; if it didn’t, no biggy.
In our 4th year of marriage, we decided to get serious about starting our family. Month after month we became more discouraged. After consciously trying for about 8 months, Jamie and I were certain that something had to be wrong, so we decided to go to the doctor. After many tests and procedures we came to the crossroads of in vitro fertilization or adoption. It was at this crossroads that Jamie and I became divided in our thinking. He was of the mind that it was not in God’s plans for us to become parents, then we should be happy with what we had in each other. While I was happy with us, I still didn’t feel complete. I always saw us as the parents of two children. It wasn’t that I wasn’t sure what I wanted; I was unsure of how to arrive at parenthood. As many adoptive families are quick to find out, insurance does not cover the very pricey in vitro fertilization process. In addition, with in vitro, there was the possibility of numerous procedures and no guarantee that birth would be the end result. Adoption, on the other hand, would be a lengthy and expensive process, but at the end we would have a child. After much deliberating and months of research, Jamie and I were finally able to merge our roads back into one. We were ready to start down the path towards adoption.
Since we are both Catholics and were working with limited funds, we felt like our chosen agency would provide us with our best opportunity to become parents. When we started meeting with our guidance counselor, she told us that they were in great need of adoptive parents. They had several birthmothers waiting for prospective families. She encouraged us to complete as many classes as possible and as much of the adoption paperwork as quickly as we could. Wow, someone needs us! Jamie and I took her advice and started our classes immediately. Our chosen agency required prospective adoptive parents to take nine classes that cover topics ranging from how the adoption process works to what to expect with an open adoption. As soon as we took our first class, “Open Adoptions,” Jamie began to get cold feet. I found myself going to the next couple of classes alone until finally Jamie admitted that he really wasn’t comfortable with adopting a child. Our journey ended.
Again, he was happy with it just being us and I was devastated about not becoming parents. After many heated discussions and quiet prayers to God, asking Him to help us understand His greater plan for us, Jamie admitted that he really only had two concerns about adoption. The first was that he had never really envisioned himself becoming a father and he didn’t believe that he was going to be a good father. Secondly, he was not able to wrap his mind around the idea that we had to sit through nine months of parenting classes, have someone check our backgrounds, go through our bank accounts, interview us, and inspect our home when there were plenty of far less deserving parents out there who never had to go through any of that. I completely understood where Jamie was coming from.
What we have come to understand today and failed to realize at the time was that we had to go through the grieving process. This may sound strange, but it truly has to happen before couples can come to terms with creating a family through adoption. It wasn’t that we were divided in our dreams of becoming parents; we were at completely different places in the grieving process. God had revealed His plan. We had to go through grieving to arrive together in the end. When we were faced with the inability to produce a child we were in shock and denial. Why us? What happens when either one of us is no longer around? Would we be completely satisfied with just us, without children? Then we entered the second phase, pain and guilt. Maybe we should had argued less. Maybe we should have started earlier. Maybe we should have gone to church more. Quickly moving through that process, anger and bargaining followed. This is where Jamie was. How was it so easy for others to have babies and not us? Why were people going to look at us under a microscope? If we went to church every Sunday, would you please grant us the ability to have our own child? We jumped to the reconstructing and working phase with understanding that our family was going to be formed through adoption. It was at this point that we came together.
We didn’t skip the last four stages of grieving; we only delayed them. A year and a half later, we recommitted ourselves to adoption. We completed all of the paperwork, our background checks, the home visits, attended all of our classes, and we created our birthparent information binder. Somehow, while we fooled ourselves into believing that we control what happens to us, we forgot that everything really is in God’s hands and time. We were so wrapped up in making sure that we met all of the agency’s steps, we completely forgot to turn the process over to Him. There we were, almost three years later, and there were no prospective birthmothers waiting for adoptive parents. Where were all of those birthmothers the agency said they had waiting?
The last four stages of grieving, earlier delayed, now entered the picture. It looked hopeless. Day in and out, walking by a child’s room ready to accept a baby at a moments notice, allowed depression and loneliness set in. Will it ever happen? Will there ever be a baby to occupy that empty crib? Upward turn, reconstruction, and acceptance seemed to all happen at once. We contacted our counselor for our annual home visit and let her know that we were dropping out of the adoption program. We realized that we were never going to become parents and we were finally okay with that; God had something else planned for us. She was sad to see us leave the program, but understood. Her only request was for us to think about it a little longer and call her in a month. We were pretty sure that our minds would not change, but promised to call her in a month with our final decision. Before the month was up, the phone line rang at my office on Friday, April 22, 2005 around 2:00 p.m. It was our counselor. ”We have a baby for you and Jamie.”
Remember when I said that there are no truer words than, “Things are done in God’s time, not ours?” Even though Jamie and I had our moments of doubt that God would ever present us with the gift of a child, those words are true! Our dreams of parenthood were always in His hands. He is the one that determined when the time was right for us to become parents. Once you turn your dreams and hopes over to Him and trust that He will deliver, then let go because He will deliver!
We would like to leave you with why our son’s name is significant to our journey. Jarod Ian was the long-awaited child of our heart, whose life has brought so many blessings to us and the many people that joined us in our journey. Both Jarod’s first and middle names come from the Hebrew language. Jarod means “To descend” and Ian means “Gift from God.” Jarod is truly a descendant of, and gift from, our God. He reminds us daily of God’s hard lessons we learned in the silent hours of questioning His goodness, sovereignty, and love. Now, we know the answers to the question “Why?” Even though we shouted some pretty mean things towards Him in our struggles, God’s grace showered us with the greatest blessing of all– in His time.