March 19, 2009, 6:30 pm
We sat in a large meeting room with seating for twenty or so. Our support group leader, Kelly had not turned the thermostat up since no one had ever shown up for this support group before. Andrew and I were the first and only couple.
Another leader from Hudson arrived as they typically have two leaders. And that was the support group, two women who have adopted and me and Andrew, straight from our meeting with our birth mom, Darla.
“Oh, I remember that,” said the lady from Hudson whose name I don’t remember, “we interviewed four birth moms and then our birth mom, and we just knew!”
Did I know? Did Andrew know? How do you know?
The Days Leading Up
Andrew and I have been reading a good deal about adoption since October. We have found an entire world that we did not ever truly understand or think about. And we have been strolling down paths and exploring scenarios that we never imagined encountering. In the midst of the journey we really began to feel the tug on our hearts to take this faith-risk, to step out into this unknown world and inhabit it fully.
As we explored our options: working through the Department of Children and Families (DCF), working with a private agency, or flying solo with a lawyer, we really believed that working with a private agency would be the best path for us. We chose Bethany Christian Services. Working with this agency would mean that we would be adopting a child whose birth-parents chose to put him or her up for adoption, versus working with DCF, where a family was disrupted by the intervention of the State. If we had chosen to work with a lawyer, we would be seeking out and interviewing various birth mothers, choosing what child and birth parents would be the best fit for us. Working with Bethany meant that we would instead be empowering a birth mother to choose us, this is a great leap of faith, for while we can choose not to work with a birth mother, this is more the exception than the rule. We submitted our paperwork, submitted to interviews, submitted all of our financial info, submitted references, submitted to all kinds of testing (including HIV tests and Drug tests) and leaped out in faith.
Before all of our paperwork was complete, Darla chose us.
March 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
Darla also chose where she would be meeting us for the first time: Panera Bread at the mall.
We knew as we prepared to head out for our meeting that we had been chosen, we knew that we would walk in together, we knew that whatever happened at this meeting we would be ok.
We also knew, with heavy hearts, that for Darla, this would be a really difficult meeting: we knew that she would be alone, that she would be heavy with pregnancy weight, that she was feeling insecure, that she was concerned about feeling judged. We knew that she had lived a difficult life, that she had challenging circumstances, that she had made bad choices. Our prayer as we walked into Panera was that we would have soft hearts, compassionate interactions, and that Darla would feel safe, known, cared for.
Our meeting was awkward. Darla sat down at the table not knowing that at Panera there are no waiters. She had trouble figuring out how to navigate the menu on the wall, was unsure where to go to get her drink. Panera is not an easy first-time place to have a serious meeting.
And as soon as we were all seated Darla gushed every reassurance that she could think of, she wanted us to like her, to know her, to understand her, to trust her. When she came to the end of a thought, she wasn’t sure what to do next and would turn to our case worker, “Now what, I don’t know how to do this . . .”
Our meeting was also incredibly sweet. Darla is insightful and articulate. She loves the child growing within her with an intense and sacrificial love. She was able to tell us about how this baby brings her joy and happiness in the midst of a dark time in her life. She is able to see with foresight into the days following the birth of the baby, and know what she most hopes for her little boy. She was able to express to us what kind of life she wants for her child and why she is deeply convicted that we are the ones who can give that life to this baby . . . and why she cannot.
We were able to express deep care for Darla. Andrew and I are not “desperate” to have a baby. We feel called to step forward on this path, motivated by a sense of call, not a sense of need. We are fulfilled already, open to the possibility of a child, but not anxious or worried. We were able to offer words of encouragement, words of hope. We were able to laugh with her, and to cry with her. We stepped into a place of deep sadness and sat there for a while with a new friend.
So when we said good-bye to our new friend, Darla, we did so with a truer, deeper, sense of sadness and sorrow. We are now on a journey with a woman who is hurting and wounded. And we were even more fully aware of the challenging first days of formation for the little boy within her womb. We are concerned for his health, for his well-being. We left our first meeting with our birth mother, and neither of us were sure of how to articulate how we felt or how it went. And then we went to a support group and were not sure that we “just knew” anything.
With days of reflection between that meeting and this writing, there are some things that I do know. I know that Andrew and I together have been called to live an adventurous life. We know that we will take the road less traveled by; we know that adoption is a tremendous faith-risk, not only for us, but for a birth mother as well. It is our intention to step forward in faith, knowing that we will be challenged and stretched. It is our intention to step forward in authenticity. When we are asked how it is going, we hope to give the most truthful answer, because we believe in the truth there is an incredible picture of grace and of beauty and of love. Loving is not always easy, but it is always worth the risk.
That I just know.