"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1
M held Everleigh from the moment we left the family lounge, as they signed papers, as the two families breathed when the clock ticked away to that fateful hour of closure; he held her. Not me. I had held her for pretty much 42 of the 48 hours there. He was the one laying claim that morning. I will never forget a few minutes we had with our Nebraska lawyer alone. We spoke of how she had been doing this for quite some time, how when she got started she had not expected her work to be so monumental - but she gave glory - she spoke of how she was just honored to be a vessel that God could use to aid families during some of the hardest and most beautiful decisions they encounter. She spoke of her faith and how God has blessed her in this area of her life and beyond. We were blown away by her honesty and her heart. We mentioned the sweet Paralegal who had spoken for so long with me and who had expressed such kindness. We learned that the Paralegal had been adopted and also had adopted - God is great Village - He placed us along a journey filled with symbols and people who gave us great peace, comfort, hope and especially love.
After the papers were signed, that same lawyer stood among us, as we all were gathering diapers and wipes and clothes and things we had lived in for the past 48 hours she patiently waited before asking if we could all pause for a moment. I remember that intake of breath that passed through M and myself. We waited, hesitantly worried - we knew the paperwork was done - irreversible, yet the enemy will try to pick at those worries, those fears. God had been in that room for 48 hours, He wasn't relinquishing us anymore than M was letting Everleigh out of his sight.
Lawyer: "Would you all mind if we had a word of prayer before I left?"
The room froze.
M: "I think that would be great. Yes, yes. Thank you."
We all stood. I stood in front of M, beside the recliner that had been my bed for the weekend; the birth parents stood beside the hospital bed that they had made their camp in, my cousin stood beside me. We stood together - a unified group - as words tumbled from our lawyer's lips praying for peace, for comfort, for joy, for growth, for protection, for love and for honor of the God who had orchestrated this from the beginning. My gratefulness to God in His timing grew tenfold in those moments. I had endured years of screaming while driving home from work, hours of tears that coursed down red cheeks and hiccup sobs as the emails that softly said no while I loudly screamed why, I had faced changes in my own body - changes that I thought defined who I could be, I had accepted fears as truth only to finally face them with hope and promise, I had watched M battle with aggravation and frustration over timing, over selection and watched as he hurt with me every time the days had been dark and seemingly desolate - in that moment it all fell softly into place for this first journey into adoption. He seemed to be standing beside me rubbing my shoulders, squeezing me tightly and whispering words of peace into my heart.
It hearkened back to the first time I remember being truly grateful - the first surgery - the first true time in my short life that I had faced fear of death, fear of loss, fear of not being enough. I remember the moment I found gratefulness during that journey - it was in a hospital room as well, only I was staring into the eyes of a woman who would soon know me and be a part of my story unlike any others, she was explaining what was going on, why I was in such pain and I felt that same whispering, that same comfort, through the spasms I felt good about her, about God placing her in that moment. I was still terrified but I didn't feel alone and I was grateful to Him for that promise.
That Monday, standing there listening to this sweet woman speak words of light over us, I felt that same gratefulness. I was again terrified - not of danger or any issues with the paperwork - terrified because -Holy cow, they are going to let us leave with her? We are really parents! This is terrifying - we don't know anything about babies or have anything but a diaper bag and car seat! - that kind of terrified, but He knew that, He had already set that aside and was reminding me that this woman before me was here because she was the perfect one to be used to orchestrate the union of these families, to be standing here reminding ALL of us that none of this was by chance, that none of this was mere coincidence - no, He had done as He does - He had given us more and I couldn't have been more grateful.
She finished and the birth family left before us as we got Everleigh into her car seat. She was so small, so tiny in that big seat and we climbed into our cousin's car for the hour drive. I let the world know on that drive. We called the first connects of family to let them know it was done - she was ours, then I created a slideshow, created a storybook of sorts for social media...that was the big one. We had asked for prayers, but because our Village is so huge, because it spans so far and wide the public post was the best and simplest way to say "SURPRISE, WELCOME TO THE WORLD, OUR BABY GIRL!!" It was the cork popping the champagne bottle of announcements and the messages rolled in, the phone calls came and tears of joy were shed.
We had one of those parent moments on the way to my aunt and uncle's house. We stopped at Target, red eyed, no shower, sleep deprived and dressed as though we had been on a 3 day bender. My cousin sat with Everleigh in the car as we scoured aisles, looking at the list our sweet nurse had made for us, and grabbing cute outfits along the way. We laughed as we walked to check out, pushing that buggy full of formula, baby items was surreal and was one of the highlights. We were parents in the most honest and real way in those moments.
Because of ICPC you must stay in the adoptive state for up to 10 business days while the receiving state and adoptive state get all their paperwork together. We were beyond blessed to have family so close by and to have them open up their home to us. In fact they had a bassinet (one that all my cousins on that side had slept in, that my own mother had once slept in), a rocker (that had also rocked my mother to sleep - God is amazing y'all, simply amazing), a fully furnished apartment/basement for us and more love than sweet Everleigh could ever imagine in her first week of life on Earth.
That week we laughed, we ordered more Amazon baby items, ate tons of food, had her first baby shower and were blessed to be able to have my mother and sister fly up to see Everleigh and our extended family. The nights were not nearly as bad as so many spoke of with a newborn and honestly I'm not sure they ever will be - so long as that gratefulness remains in my heart. By the time it was the day to travel back home to Alabama it was bittersweet. We truly enjoyed the special time the three of us had to just settle into being family and the time we had with family that was so important, so special to our story. But there was more to the story to come and we were ready to see what was next.
She was only 8 days old when we took her on the plane. "Eight Days!!" -that was the chant of the day as strangers met her and saw her on the flights. We are forever thankful to Delta airlines and their attendants that weekend - they treated us as royalty.
Coming home though...wow. Seeing Duchess with her for those first seconds in the airport and then the days following. Listening to her hum the Harry Potter theme song as Everleigh slept and watching her step so easily into the big sister role made my heart so very happy.
Then, of course, my dear sweet Village you all came tenfold for us, you brought us meals, you sent cards, you brought us gifts, you gave your time, you showered us with laughter and you gave love in every way that you could come up with. I still am behind on thank you cards and this is not replacing them at all - they will come! I'm too southern for them not to, but I will be honest there are many and that example of such great love overwhelms me in the most beautiful way.
Everleigh is 5 months old now, just turned yesterday. She has 2 teeth with 3 breaking the skin as I type, she sits up beautifully and really is trying to walk instead of crawl (lol), she has been eating 'solid' foods for a month now and absolutely loves to bounce in her bouncer, she talks animatedly anytime you will listen. She has so much personality and we love every inch of her. She is a healthy 17 lbs and 26 inches long. My favorite new thing is how she likes to touch my face as she falls asleep, her tiny hand massages my cheek and rubs my nose as she closes her eyes against my shoulder. Sometimes her blue eyes open and she stares up at me as she moves, smiling wider the longer she stares. It melts me every time. That heart of mine, the one with all the hidden spots I didn't know about? It has more, I know that now. I know that when the opportunity to find a sibling for this beautiful princess occurs it will grow again - those pains of rejection might resurface but this time, this time I am going in with even more glory for God, even more gratefulness for His mercies, His gifts, His timing, His infinite knowledge of what is the BEST not just better humbles me every time I hear her "talk" to her toys or when she coos in her walker as she scoots backwards rather than forwards. Our story doesn't end here, it doesn't just stop and we are now just parents - no if anything our story is just beginning. We have new chapters now, new arcs and climaxes yet to come. We have new family - we keep in close contact with her birthmother and are so honored to get to do so. We have new goals, responsibilities and new ideals of what life can be. We have so many reasons to do as He asks - to tell of His greatness, that His trials and tribulations are parts of your story - He is never not with you so don't ever think those trials are done without His support, they are often His desire to bring you closer to Him and to learn how to give it all to Him.
Thank you dear Village for following this short series on how we saw Mountains move by Faith, how we were privileged to walk through storms, to feel the batter of mighty winds but to see the Prince of Peace through it all. We never expected this, we never even dreamed that this really would be where we would be standing - none of it is due to anything we've done/not done - it is all His grace, His mercy, His truth, His promises. We give this beautiful daughter of the King of Kings to Him, we dedicate our lives to making sure she is aware of Him, that she sees Him when she sees us and that she knows we are not perfect but in Him we can find the type of perfect love that transcends all things and that He loves her so very much.
Life is unpredictable. We are ill equipped if we try to travel this life without God, we can get by, we can live what seems to be an okay life - but true fulfillment can only be found if you have asked God into your heart and you've decided to let go - to give Him every single thing that comes across your path - there will be things you want to cling to, things that you think you can handle...don't box Him in. He is a big God. He wants your anger, your sadness, your disappointment, your sorrow, your happiness, your joy, your love, the big things, the small stuff...He wants all of you, because He loves all of you - the misgivings, the flaws, the fears, the worries, the beauty, the broken...He LOVES IT ALL. He is the only one who sincerely sees every bit of you, knows every bit of you and is in LOVE with every bit of you - no wavering, no conditions, no issues, no maybes - He. Loves. It. All!! What a beautiful truth!
Village, if you haven't gotten to know Him, if you haven't given Him all of you, take heart - there is no time limit, there are no requirements to be better before you go to Him, there is nothing you've done - wanted to do - not done that will keep Him from loving you. Truth is...He already does. He is just waiting for you to lean in. So do. Ask Him into your heart - those recesses that you think are full or dark, nope, He can get there. Give Him your heart, your life, your cares and let a peace beyond all that you will ever understand fill you.
One warning, it isn't just one and done. You will probably have to make this choice and do this every day, sometimes more than once a day - no worry, He forgives all you've done, gives second chances more than there are drops in the ocean if you just go to Him, give Him your mistakes, ask Him to forgive and open yourself to all He has for you. I have to do it daily, I have to choose Him daily. I want Him to hear from me every day, to know I love Him every day and to know that those days before I gave Him everything do not define me nor do they change how He sees me. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, my hope lies in Him who created the sun and moon and earth, I come from a place of Victory, this world is not my home, I am raising a daughter of the King of Kings - a Princess, and it is with Him I will run to when the days are long, Him I will teach her of when she seeks refuge and it is Him who I pray that you dear Village come to know, come to seek and discover love like no other. For He is the giver of great and beautiful things...don't you want that in your life?
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17