Our on-again, off-again contract with the birth mother had taken a toll on us, (and I am sure on her as well), however a date was finally set for the third and final time. Summer was now almost over and Joe was preparing for his first semester of graduate school. We were cautiously optimistic, but perhaps dangerously naïve would be a better description. When a child’s life is at stake, people go to unusually great lengths to secure their health and well-being. Equal to that concern was our own passionate desire to become parents. I suppose it was a perfect storm.
When it comes to adoption law, each state is a bit different; some have a period after the child is placed with their adoptive parents during which the birth mother can change her mind, no questions asked, and undo the adoption. In Georgia, that period was ten days. After talking with some of our friends we decided that the situation warranted some protective measures, and so some very dear friends agreed to keep Joshua for the ten day waiting period. In that way, even if the birth mother changed her mind yet again, the damage would be less than if we had the baby in our home. Of course it would still be sad, but not as bad as it could be. So I took all of the baby supplies, and even the crib over to Bob and Debbie’s home in Lilburn, a good 45 minute drive from our house, and the four of us exchanged prayers, good wishes, and parental advice. Joe and I were supposed to attend a conference for our work, and so we left Bob and Debbie’s home with high hopes that soon after the conference we would be returning to pick up our new son.
We had many good friends at the conference, people who had known us for at least ten years, and who had prayed for us to begin our family. They were all so kind and excited, as we told them the news of Joshua’s arrival. We did not feel that we were in the clear yet, but we were trusting and hopeful. Things began to go south pretty quickly however. We had only been at the conference site for a few short hours, when we received a troubling phone call from the lawyer.
In one of those unfortunate conversations where more information is revealed than is intended, the birth mother had found out that her son was not going directly to our home, but instead was going to be placed with friends for the ten day waiting period. We were told that the lawyer did not volunteer the information, but that something that was inadvertently said had aroused her suspicion. Perhaps he referred to the baby’s placement in the home instead of their home; we really do not know the exact wording. What we do know is that when she got wind of our plan, she was extremely upset, and threatened once again to call the whole thing off. We were told that she was shocked that we were so unconcerned for her child that we left town for a conference. What kind of people do that? she wondered. So she set the new terms; we would leave the conference at once, and take the baby directly, or not at all. Reading this when you know the outcome is a bit like watching the Titanic movie. You know it is going down, but you still hope it won’t.
So we agreed to the terms, and looked at the bright side—we would meet our son tomorrow! As I look back, I do recall that we were nervous, and not confident, but that tiny seed of hope that had bloomed in our hearts kept us going. Perhaps it was watered with denial, but it was alive nonetheless. We called Bob and Debbie to let them know of the change of plans, packed up our things, left the conference, and drove back to Lilburn to re-gather all our baby items, and get things ready for the big day.
We did meet Joshua the next day. Surreal is the only word that comes to mind. I am not generally at a loss for words, but I cannot adequately describe the wonder and bliss we felt upon meeting this beautiful child and brining him home in our dream-like state. I wonder if there is a drug that can rival the high we were experiencing. We spent the next 8 days getting acquainted with him, and caring for him with love and pure, unadulterated joy. The 10 day waiting period loomed over us, but each day that passed without a phone call from the lawyer was such a relief, and we thought we might head into Day 8 on a roll. The baby’s cold and cough abated a bit each day, and he was bright and happy and…perfect.
Each day during his morning nap I would get on my knees and thank God for this wonderful gift, and read the Bible. I had been reading through Genesis, and that day I found myself in Genesis 22, the story of Abraham offering his son Isaac to the Lord. Like us, Abraham and Sarah had waited and trusted God for a child but none came. Although I could not imagine being asked to sacrifice my son, as Abraham was, I understood that it would have been so easy for Abraham, and for us, to treasure this much anticipated child more than anything in the world, even more than God Himself. So after reading I knelt down by our bed, and prayed to the Lord:
Lord, you know how long we have waited for this child, and how happy we are to have him. You know we love him more than we have ever loved anything in this world.
But…I know he belongs to You and not to us. You know we are so scared about finishing this waiting period, with just two days left. I pray that we could keep him, but I bow to Your will in this and all things, and will trust that You are good, and that You have a plan for us. Help me to be like Abraham, and to trust You always. Amen.
As I finished, but before I was even able to get up, the phone rang.
The voice on the other end began with the words, I am so sorry….to have to tell you that (my brain seemed to freeze at this point, but I tried to concentrate) the birth mother has changed her mind again, and feels that she could not live without this child. I was to pack up his things, and have him ready to be picked up at 5 p.m. that evening. Again, so very sorry. Nothing spoken on my end of the line save gasps, tears, and a feeble ok as I softly hung up the phone. I felt that I was in shock, but was trying to remain rationale…sane…alive.