This time last year, we became "active" meaning that our homestudy, adoption paperwork & profile books were complete, & we were ready to start presenting to birth mothers. We were living in Canada, for those you know don't know, my husband played football in the CFL for 5 years & recently retired. At this time last year we were living in Hamilton, Ontario & about halfway through the football season with the TigerCats.
Back to our adoption journey: We were sooo excited to finally start the matching process. Cue me thinking it would happen quickly & being frustrated when it didn't. It took 3 months before we were matched with Isabel's birth mom. Those 3 months were rough. Week after week other families from FAC matched while we didn't. We prayed nonstop, raised our budget, considered situations we weren't initially comfortable with & STILL we didn't match. I had no idea how to guard my heart during this emotional season of our journey. I remember feeling frustrated, heartbroken, confused, jealous & bitter during that time. God was pulling all of that out of me, forcing me to lay my doubt at His feet & trust in His timing.
In November, like we'd done a few times before, we heard about a situation & sent our profile book to the birth parents. We soon learned that they had narrowed down the prospective choices down to two couples, & we were one of them! Our hearts leapt; we just knew they were going to choose us. We tried not to get too excited (yeah right!) & spent time praying for that couple every day for 10 days while we waited on pens & needles for news. Finally, we learned that they'd chosen the other couple as the parents of their baby. This news left us shocked & crushed, but more than anything, we were emotionally drained & exhausted. Together in prayer, we came before God & expressed our disappointment, our weariness & desire to be matched to our baby. We cried & held each other close that night. Over the next week, I remember feeling more peace than I had in the 3 months we had been active.
When I checked my email a few days later, I saw an email from our consultants about a situation with a birth mother in Georgia. A feeling of peace came over when I read the limited information available. Cary was at work, so I sent him a message telling him to read the info & call me back so we could make a decision on whether we wanted to present our profile book to this birth mother. Within 5 minutes he called me back & said a simple, "Yes, lets do it." I agreed with him & had complete peace with saying yes. This situation was the only one we'd heard about so far where our "yes" was immediate. God's plan is so amazing. Within a few days we learned that the birth mother had received the books & was in the process of narrowing down the potential couples. Then on November 25th, 2 days before Thanksgiving & my 25th birthday (they fell on the same day last year) we heard that we had made it into the top 3 or 4 couples that she was considering. I remember exactly where I was & how I felt when I received that information. At this point, we'd learned that it was wise not to get our hopes up, but we were still trying how to figure out how that was possible ;). I got off the phone & sat down at the table in our apartment & looked across the room out the big beautiful windows watching the leaves on the trees outside dance & sway in the wind. I remember feeling an overwhelming peace come over me as I whispered a simple prayer, "Lord, I trust you. I give this situation to you. Be with this birth mother as she makes this difficult decision. Give her peace, wisdom & clarity. Surround this sweet baby with your love & protection. Be with us as we wait. Calm my anxious heart." I can still remember that prayer & the feeling I had so vividly.
We assumed it would be days or another week before we heard any news about the birth mother's decision. Even so, for the first time since becoming active, I was able to put the situation in the back of my mind & wait for news without great anxiety. That same afternoon Cary was on a 6 hour plane ride to fly across Canada to Vancouver for the Grey Cup (the Superbowl of the CFL). About 4 hours into his flight, I was sitting in our apartment watching the Dancing with the Stars finale when my phone rang. I looked down & my heart almost jumped out of my chest when I saw our consultants name & number on my screen. I answered the phone to hear three simple words that changed our lives forever, "She chose you!" Tears filled my eyes as those words replayed themselves in my mind...."She chose you!" Hearing the words that we had longed to hear for so long was truly surreal. The hardest part about all of this was that I was experiencing it alone & had to wait another two hours before telling Cary the amazing news. I'll never forget the moment I got him on the phone! I wish I would've been able to see his face, but the excitement in his voice was priceless. Later that night I laid in bed reflecting, thanking God for answered prayer & recorded a little video for our baby-to-be.
The next morning we had a conference call with the birth mother, social worker & attorney. The purpose of the call was for the birth mom & us to ask each other questions & for her to be able to confirm her decision in choosing us as parents. We were so nervous! My stomach was in knots & I hardly slept the night before... I woke up every hour or so to check the time & pray over the upcoming conversation. Again, the most difficult part about everything was that Cary & I weren't able to be together for all of this (remember he was in Vancouver for the Grey Cup while I was still in our apartment in Ontario). Before I knew it I was dialing the number for the conference call. The moment we heard Isabel's birth mother's voice for the first time was a moment filled with so much emotion! After praying for & wondering about our birth mother for months, we were finally speaking with her for the first time. When Cary spoke, I could tell I wasn't the only one who was choked up! It was amazing how God's goodness covered every word of our conversation. I'm keeping the details of what we said to each other private, but it was truly a beautiful conversation. Whenever we hung up the phone, I remember being flooded with peace & confidence that God's hand was all over the situation. The next day, which was my Birthday & Thanksgiving, we were able to officially announce that we were matched with a baby due in February.
Sharing our news with everyone felt incredibly surreal & totally wonderful. A few days later, I flew to Vancouver to join Cary for the Grey Cup festivities & we were able to celebrate the amazing news in person. While in Vancouver, we had the opportunity to share our testimony of God's faithfulness through our infertility & adoption journey at the Grey Cup Prayer Breakfast. God's sweetness to us really blew me away. He orchestrated that we could receive this wonderful news the week of my birthday, Thanksgiving & also the week that we would be publicly sharing about trusting in Him through the highs & the lows of life. I realized that He had saved this incredible gift for us at just the right time, for our joy & for His glory. I remember sitting on that stage testifying of His goodness in front of a few hundred people & thinking "Wow, God. Your ways are truly miraculous & your timing is perfect." In that moment, I realized so clearly that every "no", every delay, every disappointment & frustration hadn't been in vain. The Lord had used every step of our journey to bring us closer to Him & to refine us. He allowed us to truly understand the depth of our desire for this child, to spend months on our knees in prayer for our future child & birth mother, to learn to lean on Him in a whole new ways & to experience His peace in the midst of waiting on answered prayer - all of these lessons would be vital to us as we walked through the next few months of our adoption journey.
I share our story for two reasons: to testify of God's goodness & to encourage others. I pray that God would use our story to touch the hearts of everyone who reads it. If you're currently going through this process & are waiting on your "yes" I pray that our story would bring you comfort & hope. My advice: press into the Lord & surrender your plans to Him. SO much easier said than done, I KNOW. I struggled to give up control through every step of our journey, but His grace covered my struggle. I learned that when I gave my heart to Him, His love & peace always refreshed my weary soul. It's natural to over analyze every detail of every situation, to make yourself sick over the "what ifs" & to be overwhelmed by the "no's". You've got to process it all in your own way for sure -but y'all- I promise you, God does not make mistakes & He hasn't forgotten about you. He knows which baby will be joining your family in what time frame. His plan is perfect & His timing is worth waiting on! Cling to that! It doesn't mean His plan isn't going to include a whole lot of hard, because let's face it, "hard" & "adoption" go hand in hand- BUT what's for sure is that His strength will sustain you through every second of this crazy journey. For us, His strength is literally the only thing that got us through it all.
Ways to help you from going completely bonkers in the waiting stage:
-Read God's word & stand on it. Combat negative thoughts with scripture. Pick a verse for your season of waiting & cling to it. Mine was: Philippians 4:6-7"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
-Find someone (or a few people) who are believing with you & will commit to praying with you & for you as you wait. It helps to be able to express frustration, disappointments & fears with someone other than your spouse (as long as they are trustworthy, on the same page as you & have your best interest at heart). For me that person was most often my mom.
-Find an outlet -for me writing & painting were extremely therapeutic. I wish I would have channeled more of my nervous energy into exercising ;)
-Set boundaries. Leaving this one mostly up to interpretation because you'll know what works for your specific situation. For ex. No adoption talk at dinner, etc. For women this is especially difficult since when something huge is going on with us we tend to process by talking & over analyzing...try to give your hubby an occasional break ;) I definitely wish I would've done a better job with this.
-Fill up the waiting with fun memories: I know it's difficult to do this when you are trying to save every extra penny & focusing so much energy on everything adoption. Although during our "waiting to be matched phase" we were fundraising day & night, we still tried to make time for quality time & simple dates. My only regret is that we didn't enjoy the last bit of time with "just the two of us" more!
No matter what answered prayer you are waiting on, whether your journey is adoption related or not, I pray that you would experience His love, goodness & faithfulness as you walk through your own season of waiting.
And as always, I want to encourage you that the wait for your baby is worth it! We are grateful for everything that led us to Isabel, even the disappointments & rough patches in the journey. We wouldn't trade any of the hard parts for the joy we are experiencing now!