This time last year, I was in a hospital room with a woman I barely knew, about to welcome a baby into the world that we thought was going to be our daughter. Sweet Adeline was born after a labor filled with weeping. Not happy weeping, but the weeping of a woman torn with anguish. You can imagine that welcoming a baby into the world after you've carried her for nine months, only to place her into the arms of another woman to raise her, would be horribly painful. I understood the weeping. But, as I sat in the room that day, I couldn't help but think that this wasn't how having a baby was supposed to be; it's supposed to be joyous, one of the best moments of your life. Instead, Adeline was welcomed to...weeping. I was overjoyed, but my joy was overshadowed by her mother. Adeline's first sounds outside of the womb were the sounds of her weeping mother.
As it turns out, when sweet Adeline was born, she tore a hole in her lungs and had to spend a while in the NICU. It was there that I finally got to tell her how excited we were about her, how much in live with her we were, but that Jesus loved her first and best. I was able to hold her as they were getting her ready, and I was able to love her. Really, fall in love with her. Which made the next 42 hours some of the hardest I'll ever walk through, I'm convinced.
After that time, and begging and pleading with the Lord, we were told that our Adeline would actually not be ours. Her birth mother had decided to parent. The birth mother's reason was simple: it was simply too hard to sign the papers to give Adeline to us. No, she didn't know what she was going to do, where they would live or how she would support her. No, she didn't have a car seat or nursery, even a bed for her. Really, she didn't even have a home to take her to. But it was just too hard.
As we said our last goodbye to Adeline, I looked at Justin and asked him how we were supposed to just leave, empty handed. This time, it was our turn to weep. It was hard, for sure. So we went home and played with our boys; we played for hours. I needed to hug my babies, knowing that they couldn't be taken from me. They were mine.
The boys had been to the hospital to meet her, and her birth mother. Miraculously, they've never asked about her. If you know Noah, you know that truly is a miracle.
Later that day, as we were discussing if we'd ever adopt or if it was just time to leave our family as it was, I'll never forget what Justin said. It was such a good perspective. He said if would be fine if we didn't adopt as long as the reason was something other than how hard this experience was. He reminded me that, to our knowledge, the only reason we left Adeline at the hospital was because it was going to be too difficult for the birth mom. So, if we prayed about it and had other reasons for not adopting, fine. But, if it was simply because facing the potential of doing this very thing again was too much for me, then we were no better than Adeline's mom. And we had a well of strength to draw from when things got hard: Jesus. She didn't. You can understand how things were too hard for her. Without Jesus, I'm not sure how anyone does anything difficult, how they face trials and persevere in the midst of difficulty. But, the truth is that I draw strength from a well that never runs dry, and that I have the Holy Spirit, who is my comforter. He literally comes to me and fortifies me.
Thankfully for us, that's not the end of our adoption story. This experience made us so much more thankful for our birth mother. Her strength and courage astound me. And now we appreciate her with such greater depths than we would have been able to. She is truly one of my heroes, and forever will be.
Thankfully for Adeline, that wasn't the end of her story, either. We learned that the birth mother was baptized three weeks later. We learned that the birth father, who we thought to be abusive, still didn't know where Adeline was, months later. For that, we're also grateful.
In all of this, I learned to trust Jesus in a way I know I never would have otherwise. So, I'm thankful, thankful to have had the chance to live Adeline for her first 45 hours, thankful to have had the chance to pray for her fervently then, and every day since then. I'm thankful. I get to pray specifically for a little girl for the rest of my life, knowing that God had me in her life for a reason. Maybe I can call her my spiritual daughter. Maybe I'll meet her some day. Probably not, but I pray that I'll get to meet her in heaven.
Our Hannah girl is one of my five greatest gifts in my life: Jesus, Justin, Noah, Caden and Hannah. Without any of them, I wouldn't be who I am. I can love all of these five with a reckless abandon that I didn't know about before, all because of 45 hours, one year ago. For that, I'll never be angry.
Thank you, Jesus, for Adeline. Thank you that she was not the end, just as your death was not the end. We are forever grateful for both.