[Because this is so long, we have broken it up into parts. We hope you stick along for the posts.]
Many of you amazing human beings have asked for a little more details about how this match came about, why it is so expensive, and just in general: can we hear the story. Loren and I cannot wait to share bits and pieces that only solidify ten fold that this baby, Sage Isaac, was created for our family. It is unreal. It is more unreal than anything I have experienced before, the absolute confidence that God does have every last detail planned and that He did create a specific situation for us.
Before I get more into the nitty gritty, I do want to confess a few things.
First: over the last 9 months of this process, while waiting and crying and fundraising and feeling so much anguish and loneliness during the many trials of what adoption brings, people (especially in the adoptive community) would always say things like, "God has the perfect baby just for you. There is one baby out there that is destined to be in your arms." I went back and forth about believing those words. One part of me thought, "Really? One SPECIFIC baby? Like one baby. And if we end up with the wrong one, oops!" ? The other part of me thought, "I do believe that God has a plan through this journey and process. He may not even gift us a baby through adoption, but I know He will use us and this journey to grow us, mold us, shape us. He may have a specific situation for us, but I am doing my best to not put our hope in a baby."
Second: when we signed a contract with Susan through Christian Adoption Consultants, we felt that adoption may be impossible because of our lower income and the fact that we did not own our own house, but trusted that God had called us to this journey, no matter what the outcome. And we have experienced time and time again His unreal and undeserved provision. However, when we saw Sage's situation pop up into our computer screen, we both said, "Nope, too much, impossible, not our baby." (And I cried).
Alright! Now that we have those things off of our chest, here are some of the details of a story much greater than I could ever dream to write.
Wednesday January 6, 2016 I woke up and did what I always do: checked the adoption agency websites and my email for any "available situations." Agencies will sometimes have a page on their website that is password protected for active adoptive couples; they post "available situations" with the race, due date, gender (if known), and an estimate of the fees. You then can email or call them and ask for more information and then decide whether or not to be presented (usually you have 1-3 days after they post to decide whether or not to present to any situation). We also get emails each week from our consultant Susan who has a lot more connections to agencies and attorneys; she will forward available situations.
I saw a situation that made my heart throb up and down and maybe out of my chest on our agency's website. Due date: born today! | Gender: baby boy! | Fees: let's just keep that tucked into the people's brains who need to know...and you can be certain that this was the most expensive situation I had laid eyes on in the last 9 months [due to the fact the expectant mom started with one agency and transferred to a much better one].
I stared at the screen for awhile, letting the disappointment and sadness sink in that we did not have as much funds as I wish we did. But also doing my best to remember that if we were supposed to have the funds, we would have them because we have been doing everything possible to grow our adoption fund. I trust Jesus and His provision, I trust that when He is ready, the provision will be there one way or another. I told Loren about the baby; he was bummed too, about our lack of funds.
A "stork drop" adoption seems ideal to us, in the fact that there is less risk of first mama changing her mind...that may be super ignorant of us. But we thought, "If baby is already born and she still moves forward with wanting to place her baby for adoption, then the risk is low!" But I also knew stork drop babies are a little bit more rare. [Stork Drop: when a baby is already born and you get a call that (s)he can join your family].
Still Wednesday. I go to my job interview; I am interviewing to be a barista or bartender at a retirement village: can you envision me 8 months round serving scotch in a classy lounge? I love it.
At this point in the adoption journey, I have yet to cry over not being able to present to a baby. I have cried over a lot of things through this journey, but driving home from my job interview I was overwhelmed with the disappointment of not presenting to this precious birth mama. I was disheartened that we had not received any grants yet and that all of our loans we had applied for were either declined or approved for a third of what we had hoped to be approved for.
I get home and pull up the available situations page one more time for the day. I think to myself: if we were somehow matched with a baby soon, and we have to take out a loan (somehow, with a co-signer?), I will work this 20 hour a week shift. I will work opposite schedules of Loren and do what it takes to pay off this loan. Of course I want to stay home full time. Of course I want my from-home freelance writing to bring in enough to supplement alone. But I also want to be ready and available to do whatever is necessary to bring home our baby when the time is right. I want to be open to what He may ask of me while Loren is going to school for his masters to pursue a teaching position.
Wednesday evening. Another situation was posted. Due date: Today | Gender: boy | Fees: less than half of the first situation. I saw this and I jumped for joy. I called Loren and I told him and he agreed: we could do that! We would only need to raise another $3,000 within the next couple days. I call Emilie from the agency and let her know we want to present to this girl tomorrow. Emilie calls us around 8 pm and lets us know expectant mama is in labor, asks if we can send two photos and a small blurb about us. So we send this:
“We are Loren and Natalie and we live in Oregon and have been married for 3.5 years! We do not currently have any children. Loren works with 6-11 year olds at a residential treatment facility for kids at risk. Natalie is a professional photographer and can’t wait to be a mama! We live in our state's most diverse city, one of Oregon’s largest. We are a a part of a diverse church community and plan to raise our family with grace, loving our neighbors as best we can. Our heart already loves our baby through adoption so much and we CANNOT WAIT to kiss and snuggle him or her. We also cherish and love whoever our baby’s birth mom is, and pray to have some sort of relationship with her! What a courageous, sacrificial, and brave decision she is making. We cannot thank her enough.”
I then texted Emilie: "Here is something we don’t know how to communicate or add: I am still pregnant and due end of May. But it's important she knows."
Loren and I were up late Wednesday waiting to hear back from Emilie. It was between us and one other couple. I texted a village of people asking for prayers: we confidently thought, this is it.
Around 11:18 pm Wednesday, Emilie called. She informed us that the birth mama chose the other couple. The states laws work so much better together anyways. "There was another baby boy that was born today that I am trying to find a family for---" I am pretty sure I politely cut her off. My heart ached. "Oh Emilie, we would love to present to him. We saw that and our hearts leapt! But the situation is impossible for us. There is no way we could have the funds by tomorrow." I could hear the disappointment in her voice.
She shared that his first mama had already had a family set up for her baby, but it fell through at the last minute. They had presented 3 or 4 more different adoptive families since the baby was born that day, and nothing was working out. She was not feeling a connection with any of them. I explained that both Loren and I would have loved to present, but we really honestly would not be able to come up with the funds within 24 hours. There was just no way unless God worked some ridiculous unbelievable miracles. I told her that I would call all of the grants we applied for in the morning; see if we can't somehow make one of them happen. I would also call some family and see if anyone had thousands to loan us or co sign with us.
Thursday the 7th at 6:30 am I see I missed a call from Emilie, she left a message asking if there was anyway we could present. I texted her and said, "No, we can't. It is just too much. I am so so sad to decline, I can't even explain the sorrow. Go ahead and present the other families."
I begin my Thursday by sobbing over the sink dishes, letting tears fall into home made sweet potato biscuits, and my heart aching all over. Why. Why did that birth mom not choose us last night? My heart felt more ready than it ever has to welcome our baby into our home, to become a family for a baby, and I was certain she was it. The urgency to find the missing puzzle piece through adoption is heavy; my heart felt certain it would happen before tummy baby arrives. Why did we not have the capacity to present to this situation? Why? Why does this have to hurt so bad?
Most of the grants got back to me: no, they cannot help us right now. Reviewing our applications in later months...Feb, March, April, etc.
I called some family members: no one could co-sign. No one had this much cash just stashed under their mattress.
Loren softly said to my sad self, "Man, this is impossible, Nat. It wont happen. Im sorry." Loren went to work. Before I dropped him off I looked him in the eyes and said, "Listen, I know that this seems impossible. I know it may be impossible. I also know this may not be our baby. But what if he is? What if he is our baby and we are missing the opportunity to be his family and to let him bless us? I need to do everything I can to be sure. I know that one of my spiritual gifts is faith; so I know it is hard to meet me in these crazy unrealistic, unlogical places. But I need you to pray and ask God to bring you here with me, to wander out of the boat so to speak. I need you to eventually wander to the deep scary waters, knowing we may be let down, but also knowing it is worth the risk. I need you more than I need anyone in this." He kissed my lips like the great husband he is. We prayed, and he went into work.
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....sorry to cut this off, but this will be continued tomorrow. Please stick around.
In the mean time...
If you have already supported us, which thousands of people have, many of them strangers...we pray from the bottom of our hearts that you know how much of a difference you are making. Whether $5 or $2,000, meals, our plane tickets, rental car, etc...you have changed our life, Sage's life, and Tummy Mama's life forever. For the better. You have brought a family and a child together, uniting them as one. You have grown our family and there is simply no way we would be here today, holding our son, without you. Thank you. There aren't enough words.
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