Shane and I are so very thankful that we have two children. And even more wonderful, is the different ways they joined our family! AND, they are children of church staff, which brings it own joys, as well. I was really thinking on this the other day and wanted to put it all into words- because each story is truly special.
The announcement of Allen’s existence was complete joy- for everyone else! Shane and I were really back and forth (he was completely unplanned, and pregnancy hormones are REAL, y’all). But, both of our parents were ecstatic- Allen was going to make all of them grandparents for the first time! Our sisters would be aunts- and they were all ready to spoil the living daylights out of their nephew. Our friends and church family were so supportive- congratulations and smiles were the norm for weeks at a time. It was a lot of fun, in spite of our worries, to feel everyone’s excitement for our growing family.
The pregnancy was uneventful, which was a good thing, and just days before his due date Allen came into his new world. We had family and friends come visit, I was eating a ton of waffles, and life was even better than we had imagined. Okay, except for the sleepless nights, and constantly worrying if he’s eating enough, and the fear of breaking him while we changed his clothes… But other than all that stuff, perfect!
We enjoyed watching him grow and form little bonds with other people. His grandparents, of course, were favorites of Allen’s (and still are). He also had some wonderful friends early on in life (Hallie, Max and Allen, the Three Musketeers for life!). As he got older, he began looking forward to going to church. He knows his teachers, asks for his friends by name, can tell me who he played with and lots of other fun stuff. He even loves our pastor, affectionately known as “Mr. Mike.” Allen has to see him every Sunday morning before we walk home after church! There is truly something wonderful about seeing other people take joy in your children- it’s a blessing I will never grow tired of.
The announcement that we were adopting was also full of excitement, but there were also expressions of reservation. “Are we really ready to be done having children? Are we sure this is something that we can manage? Are we aware that a lot could go wrong?” It’s ironic how the roles were somewhat reversed this time- we were *mostly* experiencing anticipation for who God had for us, while others were back and forth. Not unsupportive, just voicing fears from this big decision.
The waiting has been harder. After we were matched with Ruth, I thought waiting would be easier. We had a face, we would receive updates… should have made everything more bearable. But instead, we became impatient. Sometimes downright angry- so many hoops to jump through, and why?! But rationale (and a lot of God) pulled us together, and we continue to wait.
The most striking difference between our two children’s “birth” stories is how involved others were in their early lives. For the most part, Allen was only here because of his dad and I. We were heavily supported by our family and close friends, of course. And for that we are so very thankful. But really, we could’ve brought him into our family on our own. You know, delivery, paying for hospital bills, learning to parent a newborn etc. But with Ruth, it could not be more opposite. And I’m going to continue typing through my tears, because this is where it gets me. Yes, biologically birthing Allen was special. Bonding with him as he fed and rocking him to sleep are memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. I thought that I would feel regret for not being able to make those memories with my adoptive daughter, since she’s already days away from being 3 years old. But you know what? God has gifted me something in place of those memories, and these the gifts: having complete strangers ask how they can help bring Ruth home. Being brought to a church family, not even really knowing anything about this youth pastor and his family as they are brand spanking new, stand behind us 200000% in this huge endeavor. A group of adoptive families coming together to prepare us for parenting our little girl and promising support every step of the way. Friends who do not make much money at all giving sacrificially to make sure we bring Ruthie home.
I just can’t mourn missing Ruthie’s milestones early in life when God has given us this. Someday, I will get to tell Ruthie about all of the people who loved her before they even knew who she was. Someday, she will realize that she may have been abandoned by her biological family, but there were HUNDREDS of people waiting to welcome her into her forever home. Someday, she will understand the incredible acts of love that contributed to making her who she is. We may not get to see her first steps or hear her first word, but God has given us something irreplaceable: seeing the glory of his love carried out in by his people. We are rich, indeed. She is not orphaned, she is miraculously loved.
Though their stories began very differently, Shane and I’s prayer is that they finish exactly the same: Allen and Ruth will grow up in a loving home, with a loving family, and a loving church. They will hear the Gospel, respond to the Holy Spirit, and live their lives as a constant testament to God’s grace. I could ask for no more than this and die the most fulfilled mother who has ever lived.