Trust in Him at all times, O’ people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalms 62:8
It was super early at the airport.
Duchess dropped us off with hugs, heavy heart (she had class Monday and couldn’t go with us, plus the puppy brothers needed supervision) and prayers. I remember walking into the security and thinking that this may be one of the few remaining times we travel so light. We get to our gate, both tired but so buoyed by excitement for this next step that we can’t stop fidgeting.
We watch other people around us, wondering what their destination is, wondering if their journey is as HUGE as ours…we hold hands, we lean on each other and we pray. The boarding begins and flight number 1 is ready for take-off. We began counting the hours down until we would meet the baby who would hopefully be ours.
I remember that we didn’t talk a lot on the flights. Both of us put headphones on and dove into worship and praise music. We just listened, watched the window and prayed. Prayer was constant. It filled us more than the air it seemed for those hours…
But God spoke. He sent us some messages in those smooth flights, the rainbow He sent that seemed to wrap around us and in the peace we felt with every passing cloud.
We snacked on Bananas, popcorn and Biscoff cookies – thank Delta for those delicious cinnamon biscuits.
When we touched down in Omaha I remember us looking at each other and trying to just take that second, that moment before we ran full steam into the unknown, and into the exciting hope that lay before us. We both took our phones off airplane mode to see the following information: our birth-mother was dilated to 4 cm. She was coming soon.
While we were touching down, our birth-mother was in labor. Technically she had started the 6 hours she was in labor right when we got to the airport back home. Our sweet baby was ready to meet us, God's timing is precious and perfect in all things.
The hospital is one town over and so we knew that there was drive time ahead.
When we saw my cousin in the airport, waiting to pick us up, her face lit up and the three of us hugged while we walked. We were chittering like children it seemed as we headed towards her parked car. M was blown away at my family resemblance (he had never met the majority of my cousins from up North) and so we chatted about that before we focused on the drive.
It was while we were leaving the airport that the first picture of our sweet baby girl surfaced on my cousins’ phone.
I remember the tears silently slipping down my cheeks and the elation on M’s face as he stared at the picture. I remember the worry TRY to slip in, the fear TRY to slip in but I kept clinging to the words on the radio, to the songs in my head….the flight had been full of promise and hope, I wasn’t going to just let that worship slip away.
Silent moments filled the drive, then we all would chatter then the silence would return. Tears never stopped. We pulled into the hospital. I remember not knowing what to take in, what bags to grab, what items we needed, if any…I just was helpless in a moment. Needing to grab something. So I did. I grabbed M’s hand and we walked into the double doors to meet our daughter.
I won't deny that I was terrified that we wouldn't get through the doors, that some Ogre or something was going to tell us "Turn around, you have no business here." But with every step no Ogre appeared.
Do know that the hospital was very aware that this was an adoptive parent/birth parent situation. They wanted to make sure we were conscientious of certain things…one thing in particular – for the next 48 hours, birth-mom is still in control. Until she signs, until Monday at 12:23 p.m. she still holds all the cards. Remember last post about guarding hearts? This is why.
We knew this going in, most adoptive parents know, its your job to understand the state you are adopting from and its laws on children, birth-mothers and proceedings. You NEED to know, you NEED to understand – whether you agree with them or not – they are important.
We knew the 48 hours wouldn’t be easy, but they were there, they were a part of our process and they were important to us and to the woman who we would be meeting very soon.
I remember nurse D when she came first to the window to see us, to tell us where we could go; she was stern, you could tell she was the birth-mother’s assigned nurse but more than that…she was a barrier, a buffer, a protector of sorts for the young woman who had just given birth. At first, I thought she disapproved, I thought the emotion she was projecting was because maybe she didn’t want the baby to be given for adoption…
God, my dear Village, He is by far so much smarter than we are.
We followed her, down a hall, up an elevator and to a floor where you must press a buzzer and state the name of your family member to be let in. I remember saying her name. I remember the small hospital bracelet being placed on my wrist that carried her name, the woman I wanted to shower with love, to let her know her worth and somehow let her know that even if she changes her mind in the next 48 hours, she is still everything and MORE than what I can shower her with. I had expected it to be heavy, to speak her name, but it wasn’t. Again, that special part of my heart had already given her a home.
We stepped through and were led to a family lounge, a waiting area, while the baby was being cleaned up. We weren't sure when, where we would meet anyone. Then our sweet baby's maternal grandmother and birthfather came in. I will never, ever forget the first time I laid eyes on her birthfather. He was holding back tears and as if we had all known each other for centuries, he hugged Marcus and I both. I cried, telling him we loved him, he cried telling us how beautiful she is and how amazing everything had gone.
Then we talked, cried and talked some more. Then the nurse came to lead us to the nursery. The birthfather and maternal grandmother went back to the labor room.
We had no idea what to expect. We were trying not to cry, not to ask too many questions, just to follow, step by step as we leaned into wherever God was leading us.
Then we stepped into the nursery. A nurse stood to the side, our nurse D told them who we were and then we stepped into an adjoining room. A young doctor was lifting a baby, turning her side to side, checking her out, looking at the remaining gunk all over her and motioned us over. Nurse D introduced us. The doctor paused, I will never forget that pause, he looked at us, just stared for a heartbeat and then smiled. He introduced himself and we shakily said hello. The precious squirming gift he held so easily was our daughter. He introduced her to us, then handed her to me and a bottle. My baby’s first meal and my first real tangible moment with what hope and faith creates.
Sobbed a little as she took those first sips and M, he stood beside me, tears rolling saying how beautiful she was. We melted then, just melted. The doctor, nurses they watched as I sat in a rocker and spoke to her. They watched as M held my shoulder and spoke to her. My dear cousin stood beside us and cried, telling us how beautiful she is.We had a few more moments before nurse D (who had slipped out) returned to tell us we all were wanted in the labor room - this was it, we were meeting the woman I had pictured and prayed for, the woman who had made a decision that my heart ached for and the woman who was showing me a visual example of selfless love...
I remember seeing her face, beautiful yet tired, the length of her hair - so long and the weariness in her smile. I cannot imagine her thoughts. I hugged her, tight, whispered to her the gift she is and cried again. In all honesty in that singular moment I wanted the world to fall away and the two of us to just be for a bit - to talk about what she had given us, what she had given our beautiful daughter. This life, this beautiful soul sitting beside me in a hospital was more family to me in that moment than my blood relatives. We share something very special now, something that bonds me to her in thought and prayer in a way that I cherish so much.
We all talked a bit and then they brought E back into the room. From that moment forward the 5 of us (birth mom, birth dad, M, Everleigh and myself) began what we lovingly refer to as camping out in a hospital.
We all "lived" in that small room and in the family room down the hall from that moment forward. We ate together for most meals and when birth parents caught up on much needed rest, we spent hours with the nurses and staff asking questions on newborns, listening to their advice and learning so much about what we had in store. We were honored to share in the knowledge that some of the staff had experienced adoptions themselves - some had been a birth mother, some had family members who were adopted and a few were the adopted members of their families. God, He is a wise one. lol. We were loved on in a way that just any one wouldn't have known to love on us. Our birth family was loved on in a way that a typical scenario might not have been able to be such an impact on it all.
Monday came quickly. I woke up first, well Everleigh woke up first and I took her down the hall to the family lounge. I remember staring at her, just staring at the faces she made as she slept in my arms. It was then, alone, in that room that the sobs came. I had not cried since those first hours in the hospital, I'd been the one saying "God has this, no more worries, everything will be fine." I was guarding my heart with fortress strength walls and there in that little room, alone singing to her sweet face my walls crumbled, fear crept in and I began the REAL countdown. The 4 hours until the papers would be signed, the 4 hours until we truly knew whether or not she was ours.
The Holy Spirit comes in so many forms and manners. A photographer came to take newborn pictures of Everleigh just as I was shaking with sobs.
She was so kind, smiling and handing me a tissue. Then she stooped in front of us and said "These can wait if you'd like, I understand you are adopting her and today you discharge, right?"
I gave her a snotty, sniffling yes.
She paused. Standing up straight for a moment to look at us then the room.
She looked at Everleigh and at me. "You know, she is sleeping so sound in your arms. I just don't think she is going anywhere else today. Why don't we set up some shots?"
That sentence from a stranger who had no control, who couldn't have told you our birth family's last name, yet stood before me and told me she was mine in the most subtle and sweet matter of fact manner. I laughed.
She handed me another tissue and began moving chairs around. I blew my nose, apologized and stood up with Everleigh. She walked over to me.
"Let's try the window area and get some good light. Why don't you place her and I will arrange her as needed. You stay close to her though in case she gets restless."
That was that. I began to dry up my tears and we laughed as she arranged Everleigh in various positions, as we moved her around the small space and as she took some of the most amazing photos in the family lounge of the hospital. She left to get everything uploaded and I sat down. Completely at peace. When M woke and came down, I had already bought in, everything was on the table, God had all my chips and the leap I had already began running for so many years before was coming in for a landing.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27