I cried to my sister that I had another child out there and just couldn’t get to him/her. I leaned heavily on my family, our neighborhood of dear friends, and my Building Better Moms group at church. We are so grateful for the other moms and dads, who we now count as friends, who came into our lives and were willing to shine a light as we traveled this adoption path they themselves have traveled. I had hard things to work through and they never judged, but only supported and lifted up.
We loved you before we ever met you.
And then, on our eleventh presentation, we got a call…..
The call caught me completely off guard. This was the very first situation we had seen through this new agency. I called Marc and couldn’t get the words out fast enough. And then, later that night, a call with the biological mom and dad, Faith and Matt. Faith and Matt of Montana (way up north) were expecting a baby girl! They already have one little girl together, Athena, who would be only eleven months old when this baby would arrive. They selflessly wanted the best lives for both their daughters, and knew they weren’t in a place to parent a second child. They were so open during our call, so brave, and so awesome. By the end of the call it was clear: They chose us! Marc and I stared at each other in awe, unable to form words. And then we stayed up half the night talking through every detail, unable to contain our pure joy. Marc’s family has two generations of all boys. Adding a girl was literally our wildest dream.
For the next six weeks, we had regular calls. Sometimes Marc and I would get anxious between calls. But Faith and Matt were always steadfast and resolute in their decision, which was incredibly gracious and provided us so much comfort. They told us they wanted us to be in the room for the delivery, they wanted us to be the first to hold her, and they asked us to name her so they could start calling her by her name. We named her Mary Ella Grace.
I struggled with guilt in the days leading up to our departure for Montana. It felt unnatural. I didn’t want Faith, Matt, and Athena to suffer. I wanted Ella Grace to have her biological family. I wondered how we would all be able to do this. The day before we flew out was my hardest day. There was so much anticipation and stress, and there were lots of tears and prayers. Again, it was hard. Often, life with Jesus looks different than easy.
We met in Montana. We’re making it forever.
While Matt & Marc anxiously awaited her arrival together in the hospital waiting area, I got to be in the surgery room with Faith for the delivery. It went so fast. Faith was strong and calm. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life – watching Ella Grace enter the world.
April 11, 2019 journal entry: Today I saw your face for the first time, and I knew. My heart knew. Baby girl, everything is going to be alright. Momma is here. Forever.
We earned ourselves forty-eight hours in the NICU with baby girl needing some extra oxygen. It was a harrowing first few hours, during which we were very close to being life-flighted to a bigger hospital. I found myself standing in the corner crying helplessly while they stuck her time and again trying to get an IV into her tiny body and start fluids without blowing a vein. She did not appreciate all this nonsense. Matt held vigil outside the NICU window, making sure she was alright. It was incredibly sweet and powerful, and still makes me tear up every time I think about it. I had to wait until late that first night to hold sweet Ella Grace. And when I did, angels sang to us. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
The hospital stay was such a time of bonding. Marc and I were grateful to have a room and to share with Faith and Matt those first precious days with our (all of our) little girl. I spent many hours chatting with Faith at Ella Grace’s crib side in the NICU, both of us taking turns snuggling her. Faith and Matt also had a private time of holding her and talking to her – I envision them whispering into her ear about who she is and how much they love her.
The first time our boys met Ella Grace via video call, she was in the NICU and they spontaneously began singing her a lullaby. The second time was in the moments after Ella Grace was legally placed with us, and they ran around the room screaming with joy.
All the nurses turned out to see what Ella Grace’s amazing head of hair was going to do when she got her first bath. We had the best nurses …one named Mary, one who was the mama bear and was adopted herself, a sweet newbie in training who let me listen in and learn with her, one who took such good care of Faith, and the one who heroically saved us from that helicopter ride. And then there was our lactation consultant, who became a fast friend and gave me the best shot possible nursing this little one.
Discharge day was emotional. Marc walked Faith to her car and then came back to our room and broke down. We care so much about every one of these beautiful people that are now part of our lives. And we are in awe of Faith in all her strength.
There’s no place like home.
We thank the Lord for my mom, who took such good care of our boys while we were gone, as only their grandma could. Marc flew home after a week in Montana, while I impatiently waited out ICPC missing all my boys. And by “waited,” I mean I showed up at Montana ICPC with our beautiful newborn nestled to my chest, and pleaded with them to get me home by Easter. Meanwhile, our attorney was finessing things on the Kansas side. And it worked – (once they finally had all the paperwork) Montana and Kansas processed in an unprecedented four hours total.
After ten days in Montana, the flight back by my (exhausted) self with a newborn was harder than I expected. Imagine lots of luggage and baby gear, and a mom with germaphobe tendencies (that’s me) with a newborn baby traversing through airports and on planes, and you get the idea. Oh, also imagine a giant blow-out from said baby.
We were home for Easter with our family. And our boys got their first long-awaited snuggles with their new little sister – this little sister for whom we had all longed and prayed. God is good.
Surprise! It’s a girl!
We didn’t tell many people during the 6-week match, and blew their minds when we announced that this sweet baby girl had joined our family. I posted to social media a sweet photo of Ella Grace with the caption “Some day she will move mountains.” A friend responded, “Pretty sure she already has..” Truer words have never been spoken.
On June 3, 2019, we made it official in a court of law. Baby girl, we are forever yours.
So crazy hard and so crazy good.
I nursed for four and a half years straight between our two boys, and it is a blessing to be able to nurse Ella Grace too. It turns out relactation is a rather daunting, and those with expertise hard to come by – shout out to the two who supported me in our journey. Women’s bodies are amazing and Ella Grace and I are doing it together.
I walk around on a cloud all day with the peace that our family is finally complete. I can’t get enough of this precious child, and am so grateful of the incredible gift we have been given. Daddy is wrapped around Ella Grace’s little finger, and she looks at him like he is her whole world. Hudson remains steadfast in upholding his big brother duties, and is so sweet in making sure his little sister is always protected. Beau has zealously taken on his new big brother role, his heart having always known he would be one. He is even somewhat of a baby whisperer. Ella Grace can’t get enough of her brothers. She thinks they are hilarious. She is right. She also adores her two pups, Agnes & Bernice, and laughs with delight when they sneak in licks to her little baby fingers and toes. She is such a perfect baby – we joke you have to go to Montana to get the good ones.
Along the way, I wanted to roll my eyes every time well-meaning folks would talk about God having a specific baby out there for us …because “free will”, and all these decisions we are making, and control issues. But, this is the exact child that we were intended to love forever. I have received that message in so many ways so loud and clear. And, through adoption, our hearts and lives will be forever intertwined with Faith and Matt and Athena. We are all family now. It will probably be messy and hard at times. Although, not if they can help it, because they are pure awesome. But it will also be beautiful and good. So, so good. And so very worth it. This is our family. And that is how it came to be.