Traveling the Adoption Journey: A Story of Heartbreak, Hope, and Grace.


Adoption is often called a 'roller coaster.' But I'm not so sure that's the best or most accurate metaphor. Roller coasters are fun. They are exciting, thrilling, and fill riders with adrenaline. Yes, there is a great deal of fear as you slowly creep up the first hill and anticipate the stomach toss that will come with that first large drop. But mostly the emotions are exhilarating and positive.


When was the last time someone included words like grief, sadness, and heartbreak to describe a roller coaster?


Instead, I believe the best metaphor to describe the adoption experience is to equate it with traveling a difficult yet awe inspiring journey. And as our precious son celebrates his first birthday, I wanted to reflect on the journey that brought him to our family.

BEGINNING THE JOURNEY

Our family’s beginning didn’t start off easy. After getting married in 2012, we both had a very difficult journey with grief, losing both of our mom’s just months apart in 2014. Not too long after, we discovered that we’d likely not be able to conceive a child together. That was a very painful season of grief for us that lasted several years. Much of our social environment revolved around young families with kids, so we needed to find a supportive community where we could express our grief honestly and openly while coming to accept the reality of our situation. As we healed emotionally, we knew that we needed to do something with our grief in order to move forward. After a couple of years, we began exploring the idea of adoption and eventually were approved to adopt in June of 2019.


A couple of weeks later, we launched a GoFundMe page to help with the adoption costs. While we had already saved closed to to 50% of the total funds needed (including any unforeseen legal or travel expenses), we still needed to raise just over $15,000. We were told to expect a 12-18 month wait before being placed with a child so we figured we'd have plenty of time to raise the funds! However, through the incredible generosity of our friends, family, and social network the entire amount was raised in just four weeks!


As it turns out, the speed that the funds arrived wasn't a coincidence...


A CHILD IS BORN

I was eating lunch at work in early August when I got an email from our caseworker with ‘URGENT’ in the subject line. A baby had just been born early that morning and the mother made the difficult decision to place them with an adoptive family to beat care for this child. He was born at just 30 weeks and weighed only 3.3 lbs. This meant that there were some significant medical risks along with weeks of hospital care. Our caseworker wanted to know if we were interested in having our family adoption profile to the mother. After taking it through with my wife, we both responded YES! This baby needed loving parents to help him grow healthy and strong, and we felt like we needed to make ourselves available.


For the next 24 hours we anxiously waited, not sure what to expect. We knew the odds were slight that we’d get selected. After all, this was our first time our profile would be shown. The agency told we'd likely know more in the next 2-3 days. However, that next day at lunch I got a phone call from our caseworker. “Can you get your wife on the phone? I’d like to talk with the two of you.” She called to tell us that mom had selected us amongst the profiles she saw and believed we were the best candidates to raise this child. We were being placed with a precious baby!!


We weeped with joy thinking about how the long journey of grief and healing that brought us to this moment. We began to envision what our lives would look like parenting this child and shared with our closest friends, family and coworkers this exciting news. There were lots of calls, texts, hugs, and exciting conversations that envisioned our future family.


We would be heading to the hospital in the morning to sign paperwork to for temporary guardianship. After this, we'd be meeting our future baby boy!

This picture was taken just as we were leaving for the hospital. We were so excited!

THE HEARTBREAK OF ADOPTION

[from Dads Journal] Well, it's 24 hours later, and I want to vomit...I guess that’s where the ‘roller coaster’ metaphor kicks back in...


The mother of this child failed to show up for our appointment this morning. She’s didn't answer or return any calls from the social worker. She’s not at her home. There’s no way of establishing contact.


We came home from our hospital visit with heavy hearts running a million different 'what happened' scenarios through our heads.


In the meantime there’s a little baby in the hospital who doesn’t have either of his biological parents. If contact isn’t established within 24 hours, Child Protective Services will be contacted, and the child enters the foster care system. At that point, we would likely no longer have a chance to be involved in the child’s life.


This situation sucks.


There’s still a chance that communication with the mom is re-established. However, every hour that passes by takes with it a little more of our hope. Yes, our hope remains in Christ. But our hearts are heavy right now as we wait and wonder.

Jesus spoke about moments like this with his disciples just before his death and resurrection...


Here on earth you will experience many trials and sorrows. But take heart, I have overcome the world. - John 16:33

The greatest stories often come from the greatest heartbreak. But that doesn’t make it easier to feel in the moment. That’s why we continue to cling to hope and pray for the child. That's all we can do right now.


-Rick


ANGER IS A HECK OF A MOTIVATOR

The next morning, the sadness of my grief began to transition to deep anger. I thought to myself "How is it that a tiny premature baby is alone at a hospital right now while a flawed system would rather see this child placed into the foster care system instead of allowing a loving family, already selected by the biological mother, to care for him and take him home?"