Monday, January 11, 2011
About a year ago I was really praying that God would either take away my desire for more children or open Scott's heart toward foster care and possible adoption at some point. Thinking (and I suppose this is where I had not so much faith) that God would change my heart, I reluctantly prayed the prayer, praying for peace at the same time.
I have learned in my 31 years that having peace is so much better and more fulfilling that getting what you want. Even getting what you want can leave you empty and longing...but peace? That's where it's at.
Anyway, I prayed and prayed and prayed.
After miscarriage number 4, about 6 months later, and after a visit with a domestic adoption agency where the representative looked across the table at me and said, "If you've got a check for $25,000, I can get you a baby pretty quickly." and then when I asked, "How much counselling do the birth mothers receive?" and he answered, "You don't have to worry about the birth mothers," I walked away with a really, really bad taste in my mouth.
I've since heard that this adoption agency is shady, but I feel like that meeting, and subsequent talks with Scott had us realizing that we did not have the money for a classic domestic adoption. We talked more about another pregnancy and decided against that (haha), and I was ready to leave the living room to go upstairs and get ready for bed.
Then I heard it.
Scott's voice, quiet: "What about foster care?"
Scott had told me earlier, a year or two even, that he could never, ever do foster care. It wasn't something he was comfortable with and it just wasn't an option for us. Though I was disappointed, I knew that you can't force your partner into something so huge or there will be some pretty dire consequences as a result.
So, friends, when he said this?
It was almost like you could hear the record-screeching sound in the room.
The week before I had decided that we obviously weren't ready to begin looking into foster care, so I knew we weren't going to start the MAPP classes then. The NEXT DAY after Scott and I had this conversation, I got a call from a fostering agency I had called for an information packet telling me, "You're coming to start the MAPP classes on Monday, right?"
Laughing a bit, I called Scott at work and said, "Apparently we're starting the MAPP classes on Monday."
And we did.
Ups and downs, ins and outs, so many things to think about and prepare for. There were many times during the process that I really thought, "This is a nice class, but we won't be able to do this."
"I can't ask Scott to do this. It's too much."
God kept nudging me to give all of this back to Him, even though I was starting to get really excited about it all.
After I learned I was pregnant (and I saw that pregnancy test and literally laughed out loud), there was one more meeting with the social worker we needed to do. "Let's just get it done," I said. "We've come this far!"
So we did. Nauseous and near vomiting, I signed the forms and Scott grinned a little bit, wondering if I needed to excuse myself to throw up.
Then the social worker said, "Well, how about we sign you up for two kiddos?" and we looked at each other and kind of shrugged and said, "Sure."
After she left that night, we looked at each other and said, "Two! Ha!" and laughed.
We really didn't talk about it much more than that, thinking it would take forever to get our temporary license, and knowing that some people wait for forever to get a placement. We hadn't even talked about what would happen when they called us about a placement, because we thought it would be forever.
Random day in the end of December: Phone rings, it's the director of the agency on the line..."Hi, Rachel, um, you're approved, we've got a placement of a newborn at the hospital and 2 year old sibling. Admissions is going to call you in about 2 minutes to ask if you'll take them."
I hang up, laughing, thinking, "Of course we can't take them. I just got over feeling nauseous 2 days ago, and we can't possibly have two more kids in the house!"
Admissions calls, giving me the baby's statistics and telling me what they know about the sibling (very little). They ask me if they can bring the children over, and I say, "Wait a minute! Don't you need to have more information about me or something? We don't have anything set up! We don't have the hardware for our crib! Wait a minute!" and she said, "Well, do you want to check with your husband and I will wait until I hear back from you before I call anyone else?"
I laugh and say, "No, don't wait. I'll talk to my husband and if you haven't found a placement for them within a couple of hours then you can call me back."
I call Scott, Mr. Two Children and Done, and breathlessly tell him, "You will never believe this. The agency has a newborn still at the hospital and sibling, and they want us to take them! Isn't that the funniest thing you've ever heard?"
"Oh, well, isn't that sort of what we signed up for? I mean, it's up to you, if you think you can do it."
I tell him I think it's funny and impossible, and I laugh. We hang up.
Newborns get placed very very quickly in foster care, so I was sure I would be "off the hook" and they would be placed and we wouldn't hear from the agency again. 2.5 hours go by, and no word. I call my cousin, my friend Nicole, and leave a message on my friend Dawn's cell phone. All the while I am praying to God for guidance, laughing a bit that I am even considering this.
Am I crazy?! What will our families think?
My cousin calls and tells me that maybe these children are meant to be in our lives for one reason or another. Looking at that as "my sign" and finally feeling peace, I call back admissions, fully expecting the children to have been placed long ago.
"No, they haven't been placed,"
and I gulp.
"Can you go to the maternity ward at such-and-such hospital and pick up the baby?", she says, nonchalantly, because she arranges these things every day, I suppose.
I stammer again, and it's arranged that the children will be dropped off at our house. My heart is pounding as I make phone calls, clean the house, rally the troops. I take Lucy to a birthday party at the local skating rink, listening to my friend Alisa shriek and smile on my cell phone.
It is so surreal.
What are we doing?
There have been tears and many many sleepless nights. There have been wide-eyed looks from strangers, especially the one who told me I "looked great" after I told her the baby was 6 days old and I said, "And I'm pregnant, too!"
My OB visit was funny as well...she looked a little confused when I walked in with a toddler and a newborn!
For the most part, reactions have been positive and I've heard from strangers their own foster stories. One woman at Costco today looked me straight in the eye and told me I was an angel sent from heaven.
Sometimes I need to hear that, because some days are hard. Heck, after 12 hours I was calling the social worker asking her to find the children a new placement. Oddly enough, it wasn't really found and we changed our minds. :)
Scott and I have had to work as a team more than ever before. Having four children under the age of 5 has tested our patience, but it's also made our house a livelier and more filled-with-joy sort of place. I've noticed that he has become amazingly more tolerant of noise. If we go back to "Just two" soon, it's going to feel like a very empty place around here. Funny how your perspective can change!
The outpouring of meals and gifts from people in our church body has been amazing, as well. My friend visiting from California the first Sunday we brought all 4 to church said, "I'm really touched by how much people here care." She kept telling me, "You can do this." Funny how I've kept hearing that phrase, in one form or another, for quite awhile now.
I cried when my dear friend Alisa sent the kiddos new clothes and lip gloss and a Snickers bar for me. I felt the love that went into packing that box, and the excitement for these babies' lives. That was in the early beginning, when I wasn't sure how I was going to keep on doing this.
I think the timing of this is all pretty funny, as having these children has not allowed me to worry about this current pregnancy. I just don't have the time and the energy to think about all of the "what ifs" or "could be's" and I feel like that is a gift from God in itself.
My 3 good friends here in KC all say how good it has been for me to be busy during this pregnancy. It is! It's been so good.
I wanted to document this story and I also wanted to encourage those of you who have been praying and praying for something and see no results.
I prayed and prayed for a baby for 3 years. All I had to show for it was miscarriage after miscarriage, a history of babies with birth defects, one fallopian tube, various blood disorders, and dead-end adoption options.
I couldn't help but think of Sarah, long ago, longing and longing for a child and finally giving up. 100 years old?! Too old. Abram tells her God told him they would give birth to a son, and boy did she laugh.
I think of Sarah sitting in that tent out in some desert in the middle of nowhere, laughing away. Thinking that her God had deserted.
God didn't hear her laughter. Instead, he was focused on just a few furiously dividing cells in her old, dried up womb.
He saw nothing funny about it. He was delivering on a promise...but it was His timeline, not hers.
In the end, her laughter only served to spur on the plans God had for her life...plans He held to His holy bosom, jealously. He didn't need to give her His reasons for the wait, and He let her laugh as much as she wanted to. Her laughter did not affect His plans, yay or nay.
I do wonder, sometimes, if those laugh lines on her face faded a bit the first moment she heard the cries of her wrinkly, newborn little Isaac.
I wonder if it was, instead, tears of joy that fell at God's feet and covered them,