I love this family. They have some of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen and they live their lives for Christ and His kingdom, even when that means loving when it hurts. God has given Kim a beautiful gift for words and I’ve shared some of her writing here and herebefore. I’m so glad that she was eager to share now about their experiences in bringing their daughter home. Rick and Kim started back with Christian Adoption Consultants on July 2015 on their fourth (yes FOURTH) adoption. I think you’ll find yourself loving this family, too, as you read Kim’s words:
You would think we’d be comfortable and confident walking in to meet her. This would our fourth expectant Mom. But as we drove we talked hesitantly and anxiously about how our day would unfold. Would she give me a big hug like my son’s birth mother? Would she look away with tears in her eyes like the first time we went down this road?
We didn’t know. And until we knew what she would be comfortable with, we settled on a reserved demeanor and overly wide smiles. Because despite how little we knew, we loved her already. And we wanted that to be clear.
But we didn’t want to scare her. Because this love, for now, was a choice – a choice that would fill itself out with the proper emotions, in time.
And in the back of my head, the wise words of my friend, Jill, kept running through my jumbled thoughts…
“Every instinct you have will encourage you to run to the baby. They’re cute. They’re vulnerable. They need you. But resist that urge and run to the Mom. She will never forget this moment. She may forget what was said, or exactly what happened. But she will never forget how you made her feel. Focus on the Mom.”
Four adoptions later, some borne out of tense situations, we still highly valued that advice. When emotions were high and trust was lacking, we remembered to “focus on the Mom.” In the end, how we showed her love; how we made her feel – would color her future decisions more than logic, promises and words.
So we knocked on her apartment door and waited nervously to see the face of the young woman who might share the face of our daughter.
This was how the journey to our daughter began – a trip to Florida to spend some intentional time with a woman in need.
But all stories have a back-story – and so does this one. This was just three months after our first failed adoption. An adoption we thought would take place under very different circumstances.
We believed we would get a call when our son’s birth mother was in the hospital. We may or may not meet her. And while we were open to contact, we likely wouldn’t have any before the birth. But despite the lack of contact, she was “100% certain” that adoption is what she wanted.
It turns out adoption would not be her choice. And though we made it clear we would love to meet her, not to persuade her, but so that we could encourage her. Contact is not what she wanted.
And as we headed home it occurred to us how much a relationship changes things.
We had adopted under circumstances where there was little or no contact before or after the adoption. So when this baby boy’s story came across our computer it felt familiar. We felt like we were made to handle the uncertainty and the step of faith that this little guy needed. And, to be clear, we don’t regret at all that we drove our whole family many hours to Florida to await his arrival. Because love moves you to action. And this little guy was worthy of that.
But also because of that little boy, our daughter’s back-story would be full of valuable lessons in loving others well – at great cost. That little boy prepared us to be better parents to our little girl.
After a good, but a little awkward, weekend in Florida with our expectant mom, we headed home full of expectation and hope. She liked us. She could tell that we loved each other. We hoped that she could tell that we loved her.
We spent the next two months texting occasionally and calling her once a week. And after what seemed like years, instead of weeks, we headed to Florida once again to see our expectant mom and to await the late arrival of our little girl.
With a scheduled induction on the calendar, I snuggled in to my bed at a too late hour after dropping my husband at the airport. He would rejoin us in a few days when little miss was scheduled to make her debut. Almost asleep, I got a text from our e-mom. She was having contractions. It was time!
I threw myself in the car, hitting a bush in the friend’s yard that we were staying at, as I drove to her side. The next 8 hours were a blur of anxiety and sleeplessness. It makes my head hurt remembering how tired I was.
It would just be our e-mom and me. I had never been through birth – I didn’t know what I was doing. And I don’t do particularly well with the sight of blood. I wondered if I might be a detriment instead of a help. But I was determined to love her as best as I could.
She had invited me in to this sacred space. She was allowing me to see the birth of my little girl. But she was also giving me the opportunity to see her at her most vulnerable. It did not escape my attention that had I been in her shoes, I would hardly want the doctors there, let alone a relative stranger. And yet, she allowed me to hold her hand. To tell her I was proud of her. And though I tried to give her privacy, to see her at her most exposed – and most brave.
And though, like any momma-to-be, I worried about my little girl. Was she safe? Is she getting what she needs? I kept saying to myself, “Focus on the Mom!”
So when my beautiful, and presently slimy, daughter took her first breath I marveled at being there from the beginning. She was the cutest thing to ever come from this messy and painful, and not-cute experience called birth! And I longed to hold her, and kiss her and whisper sweet promises in her ear.
But when they asked her birth mom if she wanted to see her or hold her and she said “No”. And when they asked me if I wanted to go with the baby, or stay, I confidently said, “I’m going to stay.”
Because our birth mom’s heroic and selfless acts had already started. And she needed a witness and an encourager in the process. Of course, she wanted to hold her daughter. Of course she loved her deeply. But her act of love was remembering what holding her baby girl would mean. And choosing not to hold her was in remembrance of what she wanted most for her. She was choosing to love her, by choosing to sacrifice.
And with tears in my eyes, I squeezed her hand a little harder, looked her in the eyes and squeaked out a “Thank you! You are so amazing! We love you!”
We spent the next 24 hours together – that brave girl and me. It was an unlikely scenario for relationship building – two almost strangers, in a dark hospital room, eating cafeteria food and watching bad television. But in that space I was able to communicate – I choose you. You’re safe with us. We love you no matter what you decide. For you, Love, we have much hope.
As her emotions and hormones swirled, I sat with her. I listened to her. I cried with her as the pain of her past spilled out of her too full cup. And that evening, despite the unlikely circumstances and the outside pressure that would pull us apart – I saw a prayer answered. I saw when her doubt turned to determination. I saw her fear turn to confidence. And I watched her walls melt in to trust.
I saw us become a family.
The next morning, as I helped her pack her bags, she asked if she could call me “Mom.”
I hugged her tightly, put her in the back of a cab and said “Of course!”
We headed to Florida in pursuit of a little girl – someone who needed us to care for her, love her; someone who needed to be given hope, clarity, and confidence.
We left Florida invited to extend this to two girls in need. We gladly, but with much trepidation and dependence on the Lord, accepted this honorable role.
And in the process, we found that these sweet girls weren’t the only ones in need. We needed them. We needed to learn to be brave and vulnerable – to be sacrificial and strong. They taught us about the transforming work of relationship – and the depth of love that is shared when you’re willing to walk in another person’s shoes.
We’re an unlikely crew, all of us. A family divided by distance and years – one that somehow thrives on text messages and mutual love for a precious little girl who is blissfully oblivious to her start in life. But I think it’s in the most unlikely of scenarios that God makes himself the most evident. And seeing Him show up is always worth whatever comes your way. Even if it’s bad hospital food, being awake for 36 hours straight, and wearing your heart on your sleeve so a precious woman can share her much-hidden heart.
(To read more of Kim’s story, check out this beautiful article that was published by Relevant earlier this year.)