TRUSTING IN OUR GREAT GOD
Written by Teresa.
Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Benjamin is 3 1/2 weeks old! It's been such a whirlwind of activity and exhaustion, but what an incredible experience! God has blessed us beyond measure through Christian Adoption! On March 20th the call about our birth mom's delivery came and we missed it. Our birthmother Lisa went into labor during the early evening and her mother (Grace) began calling us as soon as it was "official" (about 10 Pm). At the same time a sudden thunderstorm passed overhead and we later concluded that our phones were temporarily knocked out. We never heard any of the frantic phone calls they made to us ALL night long! The baby was born at 2:43 Am and when the phone rang at 7:30 Am. we were cooking breakfast and getting ready for church.
"Congratulations, you have (another) son!"
I came into the kitchen to see who was calling, and why the house was filling up with smoke (Tom was burning bacon). Tom looked at me with tears in his eyes and said "He's born!"
I was not so calm. "What do you mean he's born? What happened?"
Tom handed me the phone and Grace explained how they'd tried to call us ALL night.
"Where were you?" "We were here!"
Tom turned off the overcooked bacon tidbits and the thought raced through my mind...this was not how I'd envisioned this important moment.
The rest of the morning was pure frenzy as we packed, phoned, reserved and orchestrated details. Dropping off children to family for several days and the dog to a sitter was no easy task on a Sunday morning. We had more packing to do for ourselves and our new baby, as well as fine tuning our long distance trip. We left 12 hours after our son was born and my emotions were mixed. I couldn't bear the thought of not seeing him on his 1st day (his first 24 hours), but our absence would allow his birth family to have quiet time with him--something we all agreed we wanted. We called Deborah with Christian Adoption to ask for prayer support and we knew the Christian Adoption family would faithfully uplift us.
As we zoomed down the highway, we barely allowed ourselves time to stop for gas or use the bathroom. We were on a mission and time was wasting...at least in my mind. We began referring to our plight as "Finding Benjamin". We raced through the night across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas arriving in Oklahoma at about 2 Am. We searched for the hospital, missing it twice. We wondered if anyone waited for us inside. We found the maternity ward and told the nurses our names.
"Do you want to see the baby?" "YES!"
They ushered us into the nursery, where 6 little bassinets were lined up. But they were turned so we couldn't see any of the babies. The nurse pulled one bassinet towards us and I looked down at this amazing, tiny little bundle.
"Do you want to hold him?" "Oh, yes."
Tom held him first and we took pictures of each other. It was an indescribable time of joy, filled with speechless moments. We staggered out of the hospital with a promise to return in the morning. When we got in the car, it was 2:43 Am! "He's 24 hours old--WE MADE IT!"
After 4 hours of sleep, we got ready to go meet Lisa at the hospital. There wasn't any way to know what today would hold. What do you wear to meet the birthmother of your child? After wasting about 30 minutes agonizing over my outfit, we were finally on our way. It was an incredibly beautiful day! The sky was bright blue, the sun was shining, and the temperature was perfect. It was a day to celebrate and to remember. As we entered the maternity ward at 9 Am, we began looking for Lisa's room. All the doors appeared to have pink bows announcing baby girls. We asked for help to find #242 and were directed to a bow-less door. I was indignant! "Why doesn't our birthmother have a bow?" The nurse informed us that the hospital has nothing to do with that practice; families usually provide these acknowledgements. We walked through the door thinking about all the things Lisa had given up for us to adopt her son. Grace and Lisa greeted us with hugs, smiles, and warmth. Lisa reminded me of my favorite cousins; a sweet face with short curly hair, freckles and sparking eyes. I just wanted to absorb everything about her and her family. We spent the morning talking, laughing, and loving our baby together. It was absolutely amazing. There was a sense of family among us that only God could have provided--no awkwardness and no shyness. We all discovered how much we liked each other and I silently thanked God for our "match" through Christian Adoption.
At noon we decided to get lunch and then I would return to the hospital, while Tom would go to the hotel to nap. We stopped by the gift shop to buy a big blue door bow! We quietly placed it on Lisa's room doorknob and now the entire world would know this mother had a son. After lunch we needed to shop for one more thing--we still didn't have a special gift for Lisa. Even after all the advice we'd received on birthmother gifts, we hadn't been able to decide on the "right" gift for our birthmother. We walked into Oklahoma's largest Hallmark store hoping we'd find the perfect gift. Tim went one way and I another. The first thing that caught my eye was a large display of "Seraphim Classic" figurines. I started to walk away from them and then saw one on the bottom shelf. It was an angel sitting just behind and watching over an unknowing little boy who was playing with a train. It was perfect, even though it was just a porcelain figurine. How could I hand her a figurine when she was giving us her child? The reality set heavily on my heart and I began to cry. I walked around the store, trying to hide my emotions and looking for another gift, but found nothing.
Tom joined me as I showed him the angel and said, "I pray that when she looks at this she'll know Ben is protected and safe." I couldn't hold back the tears as Tom said, "It's perfect."
When I returned to the hospital, we (Lisa and I), Ben's 2 mommies had time to talk alone. We talked about a lot of things that would only be spoken once and we knew this was our special time together. By late afternoon the hospital room was filled with people...Lisa, Grace, Tom, Lisa's 4 year old son Chad, Lisa's sister Kathy with her 2 children, and me. I eyed Chad and wondered, would Benjamin look like him?
We decided to leave early, so Lisa's family could spend their time with Benjamin. As we left the hospital the sun had begun to set while cool air and dark clouds moved across the sky. Tomorrow would be a different day; it would be Benjamin's (and Lisa's) homecoming day. During the night Tom became very ill with severe stomach pains and he struggled to get ready while remaining upright. We arrived about 9 Am with Lisa's gift in one hand and Ben's freshly pressed "coming home" outfit in the other. Lisa was dressed and packing, Grace was straightening up the room...Benjamin had been moved out of her room. Lisa had already been released but we all needed to wait until the attorney and social worker arrived.
I handed her our small but significant gift, "We wanted to give you something, it's merely a token of appreciation." I didn't know Lisa collected porcelain figurines, so it was perfect--thank you Lord.
"We have something for the baby," Lisa pointed towards the corner shelf while Grace retrieved a small bag and handed it to me. "It's lovely." I gazed at the sterling silver bank in the shape of a block. I would cherish this gift for Ben. I turned to show Tom but he was gone. (It wasn't the last time he would go in search of a couch to lay down.)
We sat down to pass the time. The baby wouldn't join us today. They had said their good-byes and they agreed that they couldn't see him again. I understood and reminded myself that I would have him soon, but my arms ached to hold him now. Three hours passed and we still waited. We chatted and paced; paced and chatted. The attorney was very late, Tom was sick, and Ben was alone in the nursery.
About noon, a Liz Taylor look-alike walked through the door and introduced herself as the attorney. I joined a very pale Tom in the waiting room and a new waiting period began. We talked, walked, and visited our son through the nursery window. After 2 1/2 hours of interrogating our birthmother the attorney came to get us. All the papers were signed, Lisa was going home and she wanted to say good-bye.
Lisa's arms cradled a blue bow and our angel figurine. Grace hugged me and whispered "Please take good care of him." They were ready to go home. I looked at Lisa bravely sitting in a wheel chair, her head held high with a smile on her face. She asked us to stay with her and walk her out. I was so blessed by her strength. We entered the parking lot and before Lisa got into the van, she turned and hugged me. The tears she'd been hiding appeared, and then she was gone. Three months of getting to know each other, planning, anticipating, and waiting together were now over. I felt a huge loss in my heart as we watched them drive away. I don't know how long Tom and I stood there, in the center of the sidewalk, sobbing. When we pulled ourselves together we went back into the hospital to get our son. He had started out Lisa's child, then for 2 days he'd been all of ours, now he was just ours.
As we entered the maternity ward for the last time there were smiles, congratulations, mixed emotions, and compassionate faces greeting us. "Are you all right?" "Yes, we'll be fine."
We asked for Benjamin to be brought into Lisa's empty room and I cried. Tom went to get the car seat and the rest of the afternoon was a flurry of activity. Dressing Ben, taking pictures, signing papers, collecting cases of bottles and supplies from the very generous nurses. We were answering questions about adoption from one young infertile nurse, while still grappling with a myriad of personal emotions. However, we were blessed to be a blessing. Suddenly I just wanted to go home and I dreaded going back to the hotel. But, back to the hotel we went, to what would be a 3-day faith walk. Soon after settling in at the hotel with the baby, we learned that our home study had been refused by the state of Oklahoma. We were told we might need to have new physicals, fingerprints and references. The possibility of going home without Benjamin never entered our minds. We were told to be prepared for a 7-10 day wait for ICPC. Tom had prayed and asked God to grant us clearance in 3 days (before the home study fiasco). Now what Lord? Tom might have to go home and then return for us. I thought about being alone in a strange state with Ben and I gained a new respect for International adoptions. Our 2 children were crying and begging us to come home with every phone call. We began scrambling to comply with the requests of Oklahoma. Tom made trip after trip to the nearest fax machine and Federal Express. Our beloved friends raced to get referrals faxed and our attorney was flooded with these tributes of friendship. Our dear Christian Dr. stood his ground when asked to change the date on our last physicals. (He chose integrity and God honored it.) Police reports were requested and sent within 24 hours and new reports were written and faxed.
On Friday March 26th we'd done all we could and we were doing all we could to simply stand and trust God. By Friday afternoon we could do nothing but sit, stare, and pray for the phone to ring with our clearance to go home. At 11:30 Am the phone rang, as I said one more prayer. I waited while Tom listened. He hung up the phone and with tears in his eyes said "We can go home." It had been 3 days. So began our wonderful life with our son Benjamin!
We thank God for His gift to us and for Christian Adoption!
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