Nicole invites us to see the inner workings of her heart and emotions through her family’s initial pursuit of adoption, as well as what led them there. In reading this beautiful story, I hope that you will find encouragement in the wait, assurance that you’re not alone, and that there is hope in this often difficult process.
I will never forget the feeling in that room. The padded chairs lined up in five rows, the February chill of a 1960’s church building and the flannel story board leaning in the corner. I sat huddled in my coat beside my husband, three years into my journey to motherhood, without much to show but sorrow.
It was in this place where hope started to come alive again.
Just three months prior, I was sitting in a different room, having a very different conversation. In this room, I was sitting at a desk across from a tall, thirty-something fertility specialist. I stared at his name embroidered in blue on the white lab coat, avoiding his eyes so I wouldn’t see his compassion when he said, “zero chance of natural conception.”
I sleepwalked out of that office and into the next weeks of my life. The rain which poured down daily matched my heavy heart. We pressed pause on the race to parenthood and took a vacation. A week in Hawaii over Christmas and a firm decision not to make a decision just now.
Three months passed, and I cracked open the IVF binder, which had gathered dust on my shelf. With six attempts, I had an eighty percent chance to conceive. All I felt was weight.
The adoption seminar was another option. We decided to go, just to check it out.
So I found myself on a Tuesday evening in that cold, dimly lit room thirty miles from home. We listened to a woman named Joy share about the possibilities of private adoption. From the outside, you wouldn’t be able to see the hope, but appearances are misleading.
For the first time in a long time, a path forward became visible.
The packet arrived in the mail, nearly as thick as a phone book. Forty hours of required training. Medical exams and tuberculosis tests.
One evening about a month later, a social worker appeared at our door, bustled into the front room, and declared: “God is going to give you a baby! Isn’t that exciting?”
She then proceeded to very cheerfully invade our privacy for nine hours on three separate visits with her exhaustive list of personal questions.
My office friends threw us a baby shower- filled us up with cake and punch, their belief that a baby would come, and a fully outfitted nursery. Our spare room transformed as we cleaned and painted, constructed the crib, hung artwork, and parked a car seat on the floor.
Summer arrived, and with it, our finished home study.
Joy encouraged us to take a quick getaway as a baby could come at any time, and we would likely have little notice. We embarked on our “babymoon”- a long weekend away in a caboose style vacation rental, with a plan of hiking and campfires and s’mores.
We were naive, I suppose, and we believed that our wait would be short and that in mere weeks we’d have our baby. Every time my phone rang, I was sure the caller id would show the adoption agency number.
Instead, we endured months of silence. The hope and enthusiasm of the early days stretched thin as we waited. I struggled. I prayed. I searched God’s word for something, anything, to encourage my weary heart. One verse kept rising to the surface, and I carefully copied it on 3 x 5 notecards and posted it on my bathroom mirror, my refrigerator, and at my desk at work.
“My grace is enough for you, it’s all that you need. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” 2Cor 12:9 MSG
I spoke to myself day after day- God’s grace is enough for me. My heart felt frayed and weak. I wasn’t sure how much I believed it because deep inside of me, I still harbored the fear that I would never be a mom.
But I kept breathing it in, letting God’s words change me.
I sat behind the computer screen some eight months after our babymoon and kicked my heels off under the desk. A coworker had made an offhand comment about our adoption, and with my emotions running thin, I left work early- with a face blotchy from tears, a migraine, and the determination to prove them wrong.
I spent weeks reworking our adoption profile, adding in new pictures for a fresh look. I needed to feel like I was doing something. I tried to hold on to grace, yet fear still drove me.
The one-year anniversary of my office baby shower was looming. And nothing at all was different. I felt vulnerable and foolish holding on to hope for something that hadn’t come to fruition.
My friend Megan invited me into her office that morning. I stared at the short taupe carpeting, splotched with spring sunshine as the tears filled my eyes. We didn’t speak. She just held that space with me as I wept in the waiting and the uncertainty.
I wanted to be stronger than I was. I wanted to dance on the delays. I wanted trusting God to mean that I didn’t grieve and labor and worry. But my heart that had spent years in hope deferred was still sick.
The new address for my hopes- one not named pregnancy, but adoption- still had not healed my heart.
This pain and these unanswered questions hung between me and God, and all my prayers were tainted with them. Every morning I tried to let it go, to give it to Him, but my desperate heart kept taking it back.
I continued to reach for Him, but my words felt hollow and weak.
The day after the dreaded baby shower anniversary, I was sitting on my back porch with three of my favorite high school girls talking about Jesus when my phone rang.
It was Joy- there was a birth mother 37 weeks pregnant with a baby girl, and they wanted to present our profile to her. She informed us we would not hear back until Monday since other families were waiting too.
I felt this strange and settled peace over that weekend. I pressed into God, all the while telling my heart that even if not, His grace was enough.
Monday came and with it another phone call. Joy said those long-awaited words; we were chosen.
There was relief and there was joy and two days later I held an ultrasound picture of my daughter in my hands for the first time. She was perfect. We found ourselves right where we had hoped to stand all along.
But we also knew that certainty was not part of this process. Our friends, through the agency, had a baby in arms and ended up having to release him back to his birth mom.
I decided right amid my cautious hope to take hold of joy. I would not let the thoughts of all the things that could go wrong rob me of these days. Grace would be enough, then.
Three weeks sped by as I trained my replacement at work, went to the police station for help fitting the car seat, and took my morning quiet times in the baby’s nursery.
It was Saturday morning, two days before her due date, and I was sweeping the kitchen when my phone rang again. The mother of my hoped for daughter was on the phone. She had driven herself to the hospital while nearly fully dilated, and she couldn’t find the adoption agency number, so she’d called me.
Two hours later, we were standing in the cafeteria, staring at racks of cold sandwiches, trying to choose lunch. I stood there, eyes glazing over as the decision- turkey or roast beef- overloaded my brain. The hospital wristband snuggled around my arm. I looked up at my husband and asked, maybe just coffee?
The loudspeaker crackled, and the notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star echoed in the tiled room. A baby had arrived. The buzz of the phone in my pocket said all that needed to be said. OUR baby had arrived.
We were greeted by a nurse holding a tightly swaddled bundle wearing a green beanie. Our faith became sight. Annie. Gracious God had given us a perfect gift of grace.
I hardly noticed how I was holding my breath. We had one more hurdle to clear- the forty-eight hour waiting period after birth required in our state. The period of time in which our girl’s birth mother could change her mind and decide she wanted to take her home instead.
The time passed and the court papers arrived, and my exhale turned to sobs. The weight of years and years of waiting welled up and spilled out, and we buckled our daughter into the car seat to bring her home.
Fast forward, and my sweet Annie’s going to be ten soon. We’ve both grown so much in these in-between years.
The long process of God bringing her home to us informs my heart as I live life with her now. So much of this work of parenthood is slow and hidden and hard. My good God does not despise my feeble attempts. He delights in my reach for Him.
I can see now how He shaped me into a mother as I waited. It was in the dark places that lacked hope that he built in me that which He desired in my life. He gave me gifts that felt hard in the moment but taught me how to hold on to Him in the dark.
Every time I wait in hope, God is there to hold my hand as he teaches me something new about his character in that place. I’ve learned, in the midst of hopelessness, God is greater than anything this world has to offer.
God has helped me see how to partner with Him to form the tender hearts in my home around His truth. The truth he used to graciously form me during my journey to motherhood. In all of this labor and love, I can confidently say, He is enough.
*embedded image: Nicole and her husband with their baby girl, Annie.