[READ PART ONE: MEANT TO BE | THE STORY OF OUR MATCH]
[PART TWO: OH, THERE YOU ARE]
It was 2:35 a.m. January 8, 2016 when I closed the heaviest lids my eyes ever carried. You know when you're so tired your eyes sting?
The loan application was signed electronically and submitted, the adoption agreement signed and scanned, our bags were packed, our flight booked by my brother.
I had taken a really long shower around 1:00 a.m. thinking it was the last shower before I had a baby in my arms. I cried hot tears of long-awaited joy in that shower as the water ran down my face.
It was 3:00 a.m. when my alarm sounded: time to wake up and get dressed. The few minutes of "sleep" were spent half awake with my heart racing. I figured the lack of sleep we had the last two nights were a nice warm up for the beloved months and years that were about to begin.
We have a son in Utah and we are in Oregon. We must get to him.
We have the best village. A friend brought over a car seat, baby blankets, onesies, and such. Family bought plane tickets, paid for our rental car, and drove us to the airport. Everyone scrambled to boost us towards our son and support us as our family grew to a visible three.
Our flight to Utah was filled with nerves and nausea, free breakfast boxes from the flight attendants, anxiety and anticipation.
What if his mom doesn't like us after all? What if we say all the wrong things? What if we are not tender with her aching heart?
Soon enough we found ourselves in our rental car and then walking through the hospital doors and then rounding the corner into the room where two beloved humans waited.
As she placed our tiny, new son into my arms—the boy we both love endlessly as mamas who will do anything—a disbelief and shock washed over me: We get to be his?
This was the boy we'd been praying for for 8 months. This was the boy we had done countless fundraisers for, the boy our village had rallied around us for, the boy we wondered about. This was the mama we had been praying for, aching with, and wondering about. The long days and long nights, the countless "no's," easily and suddenly worth it.
My soul sighed a relief, softly but confidently resounding, "Oh, there you are. We've been waiting for you."
I rested in the reality that we had found the two people we had been waiting and praying for: our son and his first mama.
My heart wrapped around the two of them fiercely and there is nothing in the world they could do to change that. How could I not embrace and love the one who continuously chose life for our son? How could I love my son so much it hurt, but not the people who gave him breath, gave him life, chose and placed him with us?
It was more understanding—more reality—of our great joy wrapped entirely in her deep and pain filled loss. It was a reminder of our broken, tragic world.
Our desire for openness in communication only increased as we met her, knew her, realized how much she loved this boy and how much we love her.
We witnessed with our eyes and our soul felt the weight of a love we hadn't yet experienced...a sacrifice so thick the room's air bled love.
As we met and got to know his first mama, the woman who loved him more than many can comprehend, every part of me knew we were living sacred moments. I did my best to be fully present and presently aware, soaking in the bits and pieces of the room and our conversations and her.
I wanted to remember these sacred moments forever.
I knew to the very pit of myself that she, as most [if not all?] other birth moms, had brought forth her child with unconditional love into her arms...and placed that child into another mama's arms. My arms.
This morning, January 8th, 2017, we are iced into our home in Portland. We were sitting on the couch finishing up a podcast when I look at our one year old son and say, "We met you a year ago." The tears sting instantly, thick emotions choking me as I look at my husband and we sit in suspense, reliving those first moments with our son.
He is a continual reminder of His goodness, His graciousness, His faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. He is a continual reminder of her strength, her love, her sacrifice. He is a continual gift we have the privilege of unpacking as he grows.
But with his adoption also comes the reminder that this world is full of brokenness, that beauty is born from the ashes...but the ashes don't disappear. The tragedy and the pain and all that's wrong in the world still exists. A reminder that this side of heaven, tragedy remains, and today represents joy and grief intertwined.
Adoption is beautiful. But adoption is born out of loss.
And this life I am living? It is wholly undeserved.