We pulled out of the attorney’s office after meeting our potential son. There was a sense of excitement for our family. Could this really be it? There was a sense of loss for his mother. Our hello was the beginning of her goodbye. But there was another overwhelming emotion: fear.
Only a few hours earlier, I was in the drive-through line of Starbucks during my lunch break when my husband called to deliver the news. There was a mother who had bravely come into the office of a local attorney to choose a family for her then 3-week-old son.
Two hours later, we traveled across town to meet this new mother face to face, hold a precious little boy, and allow the mother time to decide if she would like for us to parent her baby. We let her know our desire to adopt and why. We answered all the questions she had. And then we left. She wanted one more night with her baby. We were asked to come back the following day, and if she returned too, we would leave with our son. If not, well, then it just wasn’t meant to be.
Wasn’t meant to be.
The sweet advice of well-meaning friends when you get your first no, and then your second, and third are simple words that do nothing to heal your aching heart. The heart that you never imagined could hurt so deeply for a mother you never met and a child that was never yours.
This wasn’t our first rodeo. We knew what it was like to say yes to an expectant family. We had presented our profile book before. We had read countless situations, prayed, presented, and then waited. We waited for days to weeks, but no matter the length of time, the wait always felt like an eternity. And then the six times before this, the same answer came.
How do you continue to give your yes after each no? Here are three thoughts that helped me.
1) Remembering my yes gave an expectant family the reassurance that their child was loved and valued.
One of the greatest gifts we have is the gift of empathy. I often reminded myself to get out of my pity party and into the mind of the expectant mother. No two situations are the same, but I know that many are making a decision to place a child for adoption because they lack the support of others who see their child’s worth. Some will hear that abortion would be easier. Some will be told their child’s life isn’t worth having. While it hurts to be one of many profile books not chosen for that particular baby, I found joy in thinking that perhaps I was a part of the pile that said to the expectant momma, “You’re right. Your child is worth it.” And just as important, each time our book was presented, we knew a mother was given our letter stating we thought she was brave whether she chose to parent or place the child for adoption, reminding her not just of her child’s worth, but hers as well.
Does the “no” sting when the call comes, saying the mother decided to parent? Sure. Does the “no” hurt when you learn the expectant mother chose another family? You bet. But is that feeling worth knowing you were at least a whisper of love and value into other’s life in their most vulnerable moment? A resounding yes.
2) Acknowledging my no is someone else’s yes.
Our sixth no came after a three-week wait. When we said yes to presenting, there was an expectant mother due any day. One week into our wait, we knew she had narrowed her decision down to three families. We pulled out my oldest child’s baby clothes from the attic. We washed the sheets for the crib. We daydreamed about little girl names just in case. Two weeks into our wait, we found out the mother went into labor sooner than expected. We checked flight itineraries and made childcare plans just in case. We found out the following day the family wanted a couple more days to decide. Three weeks in, we got the call that informed us she had chosen another family.
It was impossible not to feel. I shoved the clothes back into a box and closed the door of the just in case nursery. I told my husband I was done. This hurt too bad. Where were all the babies if there was such a need for adoption? What was wrong with us that time and time again someone else was chosen? Once I could pass the resentment in my own heart, I reminded myself there was another lady somewhere walking the same journey who had just received great news. The ache was still there, but it didn’t linger as long when I remembered my no was someone else’s yes.
3) Knowing our yes would make the nos make sense.
As we drove away from the attorney’s office, I replayed all the previous nos that had come before this. My heart was open and willing, but I was terrified. We had just held this sweet child in our arms with the biggest yes we could give, knowing that tomorrow we could hear no in return.
After telling my husband a few days before that I was done, we were pulling into Target to buy baby bottles, formula, and diapers just in case. We were calling close family and telling our two oldest children that a baby may be joining our family tomorrow just in case. We were giving our yes boldly while still partly broken just in case.
This ending was different than the six before. This ending was perfect and humbling and healing. This yes made the nos make sense.
Dear adoptive family,
Keep going. Say yes boldly and completely even when you’re broken. Go all in again and again.
Your child is worth it.