Monthly Archives: April 2016

April 4? No, April 12.

April 4.  That is the date that is written everywhere and that I’ve written dozens of times.  He will too.  That’s not the date I remember though. April 12. That’s the date etched in my heart.

April 4, 2010.   I remember a clear blue sky and a day of photos, smiles and family.  Photos of our 3-year-old daughter hunting Easter eggs in my brother-in-law’s front yard.  Some high.  Some low.  Each with a treat inside.  Photos of me with bunny ears perched on my head awaiting our turn to visit the furry white rabbit in the garden gazebo.   Photos of the Easter feast soon to fill our round bellies.  That is what I remember.

April 4, 2010.  Elsewhere, another round belly was the focus of the day.  The round belly of a young mother about to give birth.  She was young, excited and scared.  Her plans were made.   She knew what she needed to do, difficult though it may be.  This child would arrive. Today.  The two parents she’d chosen for him were there.  Waiting.  Parents she’s chosen three months before.  She loved him. More than breath.  She could not provide for him though.  Such a difficult day.  Afternoon came and brought this gift to the sunlight for his first breaths.   He was perfect.  Ten little fingers.  Ten little toes.

As the afternoon turned to evening, plans shifted, jilted and crumbled.  The young mother drew a deep breathe and did again what she knew was right.  She sent the couple home.  They were not the right parents for this special child.  She felt lost, confused, afraid.  A new plan was created to bring him home and find a new family.  Somehow.  One day.  Two views.  Two views that were about to become one.  We had no idea.

April 10.  The phone call.  It was Saturday and I was happily chatting about play and its power with parents of special needs children at my Discovery Toys booth in Fort Wayne.  A vibration in my pocket alerted me to the call.  As the screen turned to view and I saw “Adoption Agency” on the screen, my heart stopped.  It had been a wait of 13 months for our second child.  I surely had not expected the phone to ring that day.  But it did.  It did!!  Oh.  Oh? Oh!  I sought a corner of quiet and the social worker explained the situation.  Yes.  Yes.  Okay.  Uh huh.

The next few hours were a blur of phone calls, hand me down clothes gifted by a team member who happened to have them in her car, excited hugs from a nearby vendor now a forever friend bonded in this special shared moment.    A boy though?  I had been so sure we’d have two girls.  Lily and I had talked for months about her sister, Jasmine, and what life would be like when she arrived.  A boy?  I thought surely this match was not the right one.  What if it was?

April 12.  Two long days later, we made the two hour drive to her home.  A million thoughts go through your mind.  What do we say?  What do we do?  What will she think?  What will we think?  A boy?  Really?  We didn’t have a name.  There are no boy plant names.  Cedar?  Oak?  Maple?  Family names?  Nicholas.  Yes.  IF this was a match, he would be named Nicholas after his great-great-grandfather.

We arrived at the small house.  Later we would learn it was home to this special young mother, her grandmother and her four brothers.   The house and it’s tenants were clearly carefully cared for.   A knock on the front door was quickly answered by our social worker.  She was there with her huge, beautiful, sad brown eyes.   Eyes that he got from her.  Her grandmother lovingly by her side.  He was there, snuggled in a small bassinet dozing in the patch of sunlight from the front window.

For three hours, conversation somehow flowed smoothly.  I wish I remembered more of what was said.  So many emotions tangled up inside.  Disbelief that we might really become parents again after such a long wait.  Excitement.  Sadness for the reality of the situation.  Tenderness.  Respect.  Patience.  Impatience.  Indescribable.  “I’ll go check his laundry,” she said and excused herself to the basement.

Thirty minutes went by.  “Should someone go check on her?” I asked.  Her grandmother went and soon returned with her.

A few minutes more of unremembered words and then the words I’ll always remember.   “I want you to be his parents,” she said.  I know I can never fully understand the courage of a birthmother to decide such things.  The weight on her heart must be enormous and yet perhaps some relief as well.  There in her living room, we hugged her and cried together.   The attorney was called and we left. We perched at an Arby’s table.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Then the call asking us to return.

This is no rule book written for how to feel and what to do in adoption.  There isn’t.  Arriving back at her home to pick up her son who was now ours as well was so difficult.  Our prayer was to be respectful and loving as we knew not what else to do.   She was sitting at the kitchen table holding him.  She was rocking gently back and forth, whispering to him, telling him how much she loved him, telling him how much she hoped that one day he would understand.  Tears from those brown eyes splashed and disappeared one by one into his fuzzy blue blanket.

As much as the memories of that day are fuzzy in parts, others are crystal clear.  What happened next is one of them.  This young mother who had been through so much.  Whose heart was breaking.  This young mother stopped rocking.  Took a deep, slow breath in.  She whispered, “ok,” stood up and turned to me.  Those big brown eyes looked at mine and said, “He’s your son now.”  Wow. I will forever admire her and love her with a depth that is hard to explain.  The love and courage of a birthmother is incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  We are so thankful to have her in our lives and so thankful for our son!  She trusted us to keep our promise of an open adoption and we have loved watching her grow as he has as well.  We’ve learned that open adoption does not take away the painful side of adoption but we pray that it has helped lessen it.

April 12.  That day?  That’s the one I remember as the first day we first met Nicholas.

 

 

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As Much as my Blue Eyes…

Recently my church did a series on depression.  Our pastor asked members to share their experiences with depression.  Below is a piece I wrote and sent to him.  It helps explain my cocooning for the past two years a bit and my rise toward the sunlight more so than ever now…perhaps you can relate?  Hugs if so!

Depression?  I know it well.  The dark tide that ebbs and flows through life washing over days, weeks and sometimes months.  It’s sticky tentacles wrapping between thoughts pulling you down and making footprints into lines dragging through moments.  My grandfather, my mother, my sister, myself.  Depression spreads from family member to family member.  As far back as I can remember, it’s shadow has come to visit me from time to time.  This past year it’s presence more frequent than years before.  

Before,  I would wallow in the darkness of it.  Wandering library aisles looking for suicide plans.  Plotting…dreaming…wishing I were really brave enough to make it stop.  Feeling alone.  Different than others.  The negative voices whispering louder and louder.  Always.  Always, though there was a seed of light within my soul that, while it sputtered in those dark times struggling to stay lit, it fought to shine.   An often unknown source of breath would blow in and fan the light to grow and the darkness would fade away once again.  I was an upbeat, forward thinking, life loving person most of the time.  Each time determined that that this visit from depression would be the last.  I’ve learned much since those early years…

I’ve learned the genetics matter.  My mother’s family is mired in depression.  I inherited it from her as much as I have my thick hair and freckles.  It is part of me and always will be.  My father’s family is alight with love and grace.  That is a part of me as well.  The two forces tug back and forth.

I’ve learned that kindness breaks the hold.  I’ve broken down sobbing in places one blushes to do so….yoga class, the grocery store, at stoplights, in the dentist chair, while reading an advent prayer at church recently….  Each time a kind soul noticed, comforted me, held me, cared for me.  The darkness runs then.  To know that I am not alone makes a difference.  I’m so thankful for those people who didn’t turn away when it was easy to.

I’ve learned that reaching out to others matters.   Noticing the silence, tears or distant look of another and reaching a hand out to help turns depression away.  Depression does not like company especially with someone who has looked it in the eye and and can link arms with you in battle.  Each act of kindness is a seed that blooms into light.

I’ve learned depression visits many.  Speaking up, sharing my story from the heart, asking for help…each step in those directions is often met with meeting others who have been traveling beside me invisible in the fog.  Truth is there are many, many, many of us on this road totally unaware of just how not alone we are.  Speaking out from our vulnerability is powerful.

What I learned 4 years ago was THE key.  It’s the one thing that depression has no chance against.  When it begins to weave into my thoughts, it’s what I cling to and am lifted every time to the light again.   My faith.  Four years ago I discovered the truth I had been missing all my life.  That Jesus was real.  That he really did live and he really did die. For me.  Cliche but true…that changed everything!!  Everything.  I know that depression is as much a part of me as my blue eyes are but now I know that it doesn’t have a hold on me any longer.  When I slip, as I have this month, into moments of worry, I turn my eyes above and ask for His help and like a knight galloping in, He arrives and chases it away.  I know I have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about, nothing to lose.  He will provide for me, love me, protect me and guide me. Always. No matter what.  Before depression would visit and settle in for lengthy stays.  This past year, while it has tried to visit often, it’s visit are scant.  Evaporating quickly and the light returning brighter and brighter.  Praise God!

I’ve also learned the my depression along with the patchwork of challenges that is the quilt of my journey are gifts.  They teach me lessons I could not learn otherwise. They give me my unique vantage point from which I can help others because I understand.  Deeply understand, to my core, what it feels like to be buried in the dark sure I could never rise from my covers again.  I get it. I get them and through my wounds, God can use me to heal others.  I am blessed indeed!