Thank all of you for all of your sweet words, prayers and encouragement over the last four months. To everyone who has called, texted, and sent messages: thank you! You have shown us the kind of love and support that we needed! So, let me tell you a sweet story of our Hannah Brielle...
After we left the hospital without Adeline, we came home and talked quite a bit about whether or not to come off the waiting parent list at our adoption agency. Justin and I both agreed that we didn't want to come off the list; we still wanted to be considered immediately for a baby to add to our family. We had scheduled a mini-vacation to a resort outside of Las Vegas for the middle of May. If you'll remember, we left the hospital with an empty car seat on April 6, so we had a few weeks to pray and recover. I remember, very clearly, thinking that we probably wouldn't match, so we'd start trying to get pregnant on our little getaway and that we'd adopt our fourth child after biologically having our third. I was discouraged, and just didn't think that God could do it. Not that He really couldn't give us a baby that quickly, but just doubted that I'd heard Him correctly, doubted that I was understanding what He was trying to do. I think I was sort of in a state of emotional shock. Little did I know...
A few weeks after my birthday, we got a phone call from our adoption agency that we had been picked by another birth mom. This young lady's due date was July 26, which left us with nine weeks of waiting. I was sure I couldn't do it. After our previous experience, I didn't know if I had the emotional energy to go through it all again, but this time with nine weeks to attach to a baby that I may or may not be able to call my own. Skeptical was a good word to describe my mood when I got the call. Would this one go through? How would I do it? Was the baby healthy? Was it another precious girl that I'd have to leave at the hospital, once again? With all that weighing on my heart, Justin and I agreed to meet the birth mother and see if we were her baby's parents.
As we approached the agency that day, we were nervous. We prayed outside in Justin's truck for God's peace and purposes to reign rather than our nerves and fears. We prayed for the baby, for the birth mother, and that God would somehow rescue and protect our somewhat tattered hearts. I remember being so nervous, until I met our birth mother. She was absolutely delightful, from a wonderful family, had faithfully taken her prenatal vitamins and gone to her doctor's appointments. Her mom was with her, and by the end of the meeting we were not-so-discreetly exchanging phone numbers with promises to call and text. We signed our paperwork to "match" with her the next day, two weeks before we left for Vegas. I can only imagine the look on God's face as I looked at that date, just three weeks after Adeline was born.
The next eight weeks were full of fun times with our birth mom and her family, getting to know her and letting her get to know us. We went to dinner with them, they came over for play dates with the boys, I got to go have some girl hang out time with them, and got to go to every doctor's appointment. Our birthmother and her family started referring to her baby as our baby, we named her together (Hannah was the top of our list, and our birthmother chose Brielle, which means "God is our might".) and told the boys about their baby sister. I got bedding together and bought some clothes and diapers, made some fun things for the car seat and ordered more hair bows than I could ever give away if it fell through. I was nervous, yes, but trusted our birth mother and our Heavenly Father. I still am amazed at what an exceptional young woman our birth mother is; to think that she carried a baby she knew she was going to place, endured scoffing of cruel people and handed over her baby to us...it's just mind-blowing. When people ask me who the strongest woman I know is, she will forever be the first name on my lips.
In the 36th week appointment, the doctor mentioned that she was a candidate for induction. We agreed that would be best, as our birth mother was starting school mid-August and needed as much recovery time as she could get before then. After about two minutes, the doctor walked back inside and said that our baby was going to be here on July 16! We were thrilled but also sat in the moment and thought about all that it meant. I was nervous that hearing a final date would be hard on our birth mother. Instead, she looked at me and was excited for me that I'd get to finally meet my daughter, after all this time! See?!?!? Only God could have put this young woman in our lives, and only God could have designed her in such a selfless way.
I'm not sure I got any sleep the night of July 15. I sang at church that day and wanted to both fall to my knees and beg God for Hannah Brielle, but also wanted to shout from the roof tops that we were going to have a baby the NEXT DAY! When my alarm went off at 3:30 am on Monday morning (Yes, I showered and got myself all pretty, because I was going to meet my daughter that day! You can call it shallow...I wanted to look my best for my baby girl!!!), I don't remember being very well-rested! It was the same hospital, the same nurse and the room next door to the one Adeline had been delivered in. I was nervous, and as the minutes turned to hours and the hours turned to half a day and the half a day almost turned to a full day, we waited. I met so many wonderful people that day: friends of our birth mom, Acteens leaders, church pastors, family friends. It was exciting, to say the least. Then, at 10:48 pm, Hannah was born! It was wonderful. I was in the room, and Justin came in right after. Justin got to give Hannah her first bottle. We got to escort her to the nursery and have her stay in a room with us each night. On Wednesday, we got to bring her home after getting some much needed time alone with her birth mom. It was surreal, and still is. I have a daughter. She's beautiful. She's laid-back. She's alert and smiles. Her brothers LOVE her. It's been amazing.
So, here are some of the really cool things about this adoption:
1) Had we not walked through our previous adoption process, we totally would have taken this experience for granted. Thank you, Lord, for knowing us better than we know ourselves.
2) Seeing Justin as a daddy to a girl. Can't write much about that because I just get so teary-eyed and my heart turns to mush.
3) Seeing the boys as big brothers together. Caden is the super affectionate one, kissing her every time he sees her and trying to pick her up when she does tummy time. Oh, the evil eye I get when I tell him no!! Noah is sort of her protector from afar. He takes in what we're doing and then, when Caden gets too close or when she's crying, steps in and makes sure she's being tended to. Noah talks so sweetly to her, reads to her when Caden is sleeping and has talked about protecting her so valiantly. (If you want to read more about this, scroll down to see the bath tub story...)
4) Seeing the boys become big brothers to an adopted baby. It's the coolest thing; adults want it qualified. They want to hear that she's adopted to confirm their suspicions. When I take her out, they eye me suspiciously and say something like, "You look really good for only having had a baby four weeks ago!" Most of the time I just say thanks and shrug, but every once in a while someone pushes and I tell them that she's adopted. To the boys, though, she's just their sister. Doesn't matter how she got here. She's here now, and she's here to stay.
5) Our birth family. They are phenomenal people who continue to amaze us.
6) Having three kids, and being able to share the responsibility of night time feedings with Daddy. ;)
7) Seeing how amazing our family is about having an adopted baby in the family. There is literally no difference between our kids in their eyes, which is how we hoped it would be. Maybe the coolest thing about this is that it never occurred to us to be nervous about this part; we knew they'd all be great, but it's exceeded even our expectations.
8) That everyone knows now, so we can just call her our daughter, from now until forever.
Thanks again for all your prayers! We covet and appreciate each one!
Here is the bathtub story of Noah protecting Hannah!
-This week, our babysitter was here and playing with the boys. Hannah was awake and happy so I decided to give her a bath. She generally loves baths, so it was fun. I got the bath tub ready over the sink and started the water. We have this tub, which allows me to monitor the bath water temperature without water that's too hot or too cold getting in the part she's in. Anyway, I started the water to allow it to get to the right temp, and Noah came over. He asked about the bath tub and why Hannah needs to take a bath in the sink. After we covered that issue, he asked about the screen and why it was blue. I told him that the screen on the thermometer being blue meant that the water was too cold. The screen then quickly went from green to red, as the hot water came through. It started beeping, alerting me that the water was too hot. Noah, of course, asked about that, too. I explained that this was a special thermometer that allowed me to see when the water was just the right mix of hot and cold, which would show as green on the screen. He asked about the alarm and the red screen, which I told him meant that the water was too hot. He looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Mom, I think I'll stay right here and watch the screen the whole time. I want to make sure it stays green, and I'll tell you if it changes to red or blue. Because, Mom, if it switches to red, we have to get our Hannah girl OUT!!!" He was so adamant about it and, indeed, stayed by my side the entire ten minutes it took me to bathe her, occasionally letting me know that the screen was still green. It was the most adorable thing ever. The Lord has blessed Hannah with amazing big brothers, and this is a story I look forward to sharing with our kids for a long time!