A perennial Christmas favorite is the 1947 movie, Miracle on 34th Street which is about a department store Santa who claims to be the real Santa Claus. Christmas, however, is not really about Santa but about the miraculous birth of a baby. Receiving placement of a baby for adoption is always a blessing, but something about receiving a baby for Christmas makes the placement even more wondrous. In one particular case, it might even be said that the event was a miracle.
As adoption professionals are aware, our job is one that is 24 hours a day seven days a week 365 days a year. And yes, those days do include legal holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Babies cannot read and do not have calendars, so they feel free to make an appearance when they feel like it—normal business day or not. And we adoption professionals just have to deal with it.
One Christmas Eve, I was tasked with taking a birth mother’s consent and getting a baby discharged from the hospital in a city about an hour away. This placement was a last-minute situation with little heads-up. Fortunately, our office was able to line up an adoptive couple fairly quickly—no easy task when half the world was out of town visiting relatives or too busy shopping to answer their phones.
Dutifully, albeit begrudgingly, I made the trip to Sacred Heart Hospital over on Ninth Avenue in Pensacola, Florida. Why I did not have a thing else to be doing that day, I sarcastically thought to myself as I was driving to the hospital. I considered saying “Bah, humbug!” but felt it might be a tad unprofessional.
My destination was located right across the street from a large mall. As I turned into the hospital parking lot, I could not help but notice the festively decorated and crowded mall parking lot; in it were cheerful groups of people out with their families and friends enjoying their Christmas Eve. They were shopping, laughing, and visiting. But, poor pitiful me, I was relegated to getting about 50 pages of adoption paperwork executed in a hospital. Oh, Christmas joy!
Of course, my bad attitude evaporated immediately when I saw the beautiful bundle of joy and the beaming faces of the new parents. Even Scrooge would have been forced to smile at witnessing the creation of this brand new family. The young couple had received the best Christmas present ever; if they did not receive a single other gift that holiday, they would not have cared. And so what if I did not accomplish all the personal tasks I had on my lengthy Christmas Eve to do list? I had been privileged to witness this blessed event and to have a hand in making it occur.
For this adoptive couple who had been unable to have children biologically, becoming parents was a true miracle. But adoption placements are made regularly, so the simple fact of receiving placement of a child alone cannot be characterized as a miracle. Babies are born every day of the year, so placements are likewise made throughout the year—even during the holidays. Again, a placement around Christmas alone is not a miracle. In this particular case though, the circumstances leading up to the placement might justify a miracle label.
The wife worked as a preschool teacher. Earlier in December she had been out on her school’s playground with her young charges. As she stood keeping a close eye on them, a little girl came up to her and started a conversation. Given the season of the year, unsurprisingly, the topic of Christmas arose.
“What do you want for Christmas?” the little girl asked her teacher. The woman replied that what she and her husband wanted most for Christmas was a baby, but she did not think she would get one. Without batting an eye, the little girl stated that if her teacher wanted a baby, then she should ask God for one. She immediately dropped to her knees on the sandy ground, bowed her head, clasped her hands, and spoke a simple prayer asking God to give her teacher a baby for Christmas. The teacher no doubt thought that this was a sweet gesture, but did she truly expect her student’s prayer to be answered?
A few days later, the teacher and her husband received an unexpected call from our office. They were offered a last-minute opportunity for an adoptive placement set for Christmas Eve. The couple would welcome a baby just in time for Christmas.
Was this placement shortly after a child’s heartfelt prayer a coincidence or a Christmas miracle? I may not believe in Santa Claus, but I do believe that this outcome was a miracle completed at a hospital on Ninth Avenue. The prayer of a little girl with childlike faith was answered when a baby was placed in the arms of an adoptive couple who got exactly what they wanted for Christmas. Who needed Santa Claus, real or not?