Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our adoption story Part I

Sometimes in life, we think we’re heading in one direction but God has other plans.  That’s exactly what happened to us in late 2007.

We had four children ages 9 and up.  We were in a different season of parenting and enjoying it.

I worked with a young woman named Kat over 4 years ago as a social worker for an adoption agency when she placed her newborn daughter Hallie for adoption.  Hallie was born on Easter Sunday of 2004.  Kat was 19 years old at the time.  I was with her in the delivery room as her support person.  I continued to work with her in the years that followed.  I consciously chose to befriend her as well as to mentor her.  She also has a daughter Kirsten who was 8 in 2007.  Kirsten is a year younger than my daughter Linnea.  We live in the same small town and our girls go to the same school.  Kat and I would meet for a Bible study or just to have coffee.  She called me regularly to discuss parenting issues or to just share what was on her mind.  I have always admired her for her strength and courage.  She’s had a hard life and is doing the best she can. 

Kat went on to get married and then in the spring of 2007 she separated and then got divorced.  She moved in with Ty, who is the father of both Kirsten and Hallie.  I lost track of her for a little while until one day I ran into her sister Sophie at the grocery store.  Sophie told me she was living with Ty.  I usually knew when things weren’t going well for Kat because she would stop calling me.  This is what happened early that summer.  We re-connected and Kat told me that she had moved out of Ty's house and back in with her grandma.  She later told me that she was pregnant.  She had every intention of parenting.  One day when she was barely pregnant, she told me she thought she was having twins.  I didn’t say anything but thought there’s no way she could know that and dismissed it.  Sure enough, she found out through an ultrasound that she was in fact having twins!  Amazing!  To this day, she says she “just knew”.

One day Kat came to see me and told me that she had thought about it and realized that she was unable to give 2 babies what they needed and was going to place them for adoption.  Her voice was shaking as she told me.  I sat down and cried.  She asked me why I was crying.  I told her that when I first met her she was a stranger, now she was a friend and that I wouldn’t wish that upon someone once, let alone twice.  I also told her I didn’t want to see her go through such pain but that I would support her and be there for her of course.  She made a remark about wishing we could adopt her babies.  I laughed and said it’s my job to help her find a family.  I gave her profiles of couples waiting to adopt.  I am always excited to show profiles because so many of our couples are so awesome and they become special to me.  Kat asked what would happen if she couldn’t find a couple.  I told her not to worry because I could call other agencies to share their profiles as well.  Several weeks later she asked to meet and interview one couple.  I went with her.  I thought it went well and asked her in the car on the way home, what she was feeling.  She said, “I was thinking all day that I just wish you could adopt my babies”.  Once again I laughed never thinking she was serious.  A few days later she wrote this couple a letter telling them they were wonderful people and she liked them a lot and hoped they would soon have a baby but that she did not feel they were the parents for her babies. 

Thanksgiving Day 2007 arrived and I had invited Kat and her daughter to stop over for dessert if she wanted. This is where our story begins.  We had family visiting from out of town and were enjoying our full stomachs when the phone rang.  It was Kat.  She was calling to say she wouldn't be able make it for dessert.  She went on to tell me that she had told her family that she was going to place her unborn twins for adoption.  She said they were not happy, as she had previously placed a baby as well.  She told them she was considering Kevin and I to raise them.  She went on to clarify and say that she had been praying about it and felt that God was leading her to place the babies with us.  She asked if we would very seriously consider it in prayer. I hung up the phone and immediately told Kevin and his brother and sister in law.  I was literally in shock.  I know Kevin was as well.  I very clearly remember where I was sitting, what I was wearing and how I felt my world spinning with this unexpected request.
Thanksgiving Day 2007 

My first concern was for the agency I worked for.  I contacted my attorney, another adoption agency and the state licensing board to see if there was a conflict of interest.  I was told that she could place her babies with whomever she wanted.  

I loved my job.  I did it because I wanted to help other people.  When we are serving God and serving others, we don't look for anything in return.  I was so shocked that my loving her had resulted in her desiring to give us such a gift.  

One day over a year previous to this I had been driving down the street thinking about this quiet yearning I had for a baby.  I wondered if it was normal and if we as women never lose that instinctive need to nurture.  Kevin and I had very informally talked about adopting internationally, nothing serious.  I had never really spoken of it to anyone.  I prayed that if it be God's will for us to adopt that something would literally "fall into our laps" and if it was not his will that He would take away the desire I had.  That was it.  I remember I let it go at that point.  Funny though, I can still remember the exact street I was driving on and the exact spot where I said the prayer.  

After Kat called us, Kevin agreed to pray about it.  I would have immediately said yes, but then again I am impulsive and thankful to have a husband who keeps me balanced.  I committed to Kevin to let him make this decision by seeking the Lord without trying to sway him(or manipulate him)  We asked those who were close to us to pray for us as well that we would hear God’s will.  We talked about it and then we didn’t talk about it.  We involved the older children in our decision making process.  They were all very excited and said they were up for the challenge of having little ones around the house to help take care of. We prayed and we looked at our finances.  Our financial advisor advised us against it.  Our hearts however did not agree. I’ll let Kevin tell you in his own words what he went through during that time. 

My perspective – On Thanksgiving Day, we were lounging in the living room after a glorious consumption of homemade ravioli.  The phone rang and it was Kat.  Gina talked with her for a short time and when she completed her call she had a very unique expression on her face.  It was one of disbelief, awe, and confusion.  She looked at Jeremy, Karen and I and stated, “She wants US to raise her babies!” 
Two years prior, we had considered adoption but did not actively pursue the process.  We prayed that if God wanted us to adopt we would be patient and wait, jokingly saying that we would adopt if God dropped a baby in our lap.  Well…. He did.  As this was a major decision, regardless of the ultimate outcome, I committed myself to a 4-week period of focused prayer and the seeking of wise counsel.  I even practiced the discipline of fasting at times.  Ultimately, the choice that gave me the greatest sense of peace was to accept the gift of the two babies and proceed with the adoption.  The children were part of the decision-making process and everyone was given time to state their feelings and concerns. 
When I called Kat to tell her that we were elated to accept her sacrificial and loving gift, she was not surprised by my answer.  She stated that she knew all along that this is what God wanted and she had just been waiting for me to figure it out.     

I remember one day during the decision process Kevin called Kat to ask her why she wanted us for her babies.  Her answer was that she had witnessed our parenting, she had witnessed our marriage and she felt we would always respect her.  This statement still plays in my head and I have felt so honored as well as a huge sense of responsibility to live up to these things!  I also remember the day that Kevin came home from work and said “Gina, this is a ministry opportunity and I feel it is what we are suppose to do”.   So the decision was made and I was both excited and nervous.  We started telling people and began preparing our hearts and our home for the new babies.  It was interesting to be on the other side of  adoption going through the home study process.  We chose another good agency to work with us and take care of Kat.

During this time it was hard to really believe this was going to happen.  Kat began asking me to attend her doctor’s appointments.  She had many ultrasounds because of carrying twins and was considered high risk.  She already knew there was one boy but I was in the room when the ultrasound showed that the second baby was a girl.  I cried as I began to imagine having boy/girl twins.  It was beginning to feel more and more real.  I imagined, but could not truely know the joy they would bring to us.   It was fun to see them growing inside her.  She was put on bed rest in December.  My prayer all along was that the babies wouldn’t need to spend any time in the NICU.  I didn’t know how I would be able to manage caring for premature babies 45 minutes away and running back home to care for the four older children.

Kat wrote us letters sharing her feelings. I was so touched to know she was going to entrust us with her babies that she very obviously loved.  It was an extremely emotional time for me.  I can only imagine what she was going through.  She came to our house one day and asked the kids if they wanted to feel the babies and let them place their hands on her stomach to feel them moving.  I think this made it feel real to the kids.  They were so honored that she included them. 

We purchased a crib and put it up in our room right next to our bed.  That night I could sense the crib as I lay there in the dark, and I envisioned the babies there next to me.  I didn’t ever go into a deep sleep that night.  I prayed  and prayed for the babies.  I can't explain it but that was the night I fell in love with them, totally and completely.

It was strange to be thinking of names again.  Hannah and I made lists.  Kevin and I made lists.  It didn’t take long to decide on the names Rya and Roman.  There is a family I know who lived near us that befriended a teenage mom with a newborn.  They would baby-sit for her.  After a few months the gal asked this family if they would adopt her.  I didn’t know the family at the time but when I heard their story I told my friends “someday that’s going to happen to me”. This was over 10 years ago, before I ever even worked in the field of adoption.  Perhaps that's when God began preparing my heart?  The daughter they adopted was named Rya(pronounced 'Rye-ah').  I have always liked that name and it seemed obvious to us that was the name for our baby girl.  We chose the name Roman because we thought it was a strong name.  When it came time to choose middle names, we looked up names that meant ‘gift from God’.  We chose Grace and Matthew because that is what they are, beautiful, precious gifts from God. 

Look for Part II in the coming days

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