It was the day my girls and I were covered in a faint blue sheen because we were spray painting metal bookshelves for volunteer hours at their school. Every bare-skin surface that should have been tan from the late summer sun was blue. I blew blue on my Kleenex. Kelly’s flip-flops had a foot shaped negative image on the inner soles, a blue outline of each of her toes and her heels. The air in the garage was a blue mist. We laughed because I had touched my face with a blue hand and left a bruise-like shadow under my nose. August 27. If I had noted things like our being “blue” as portents of the future, I might have been even more hesitant in my hope than I already was.
Four days earlier, on Friday evening, I had sent our adoption consultant, Courtney, an email confiding in her how discouraged I was feeling. How it was getting harder and harder for me to believe that it would ever be our turn. How we had waited almost two years for a baby, and my hope was waning.
Then, on Monday, she called me while I was in a parent meeting at my daughter’s school. When I saw her name on the screen, I hurried out to the parking lot to answer. She was full of good words and encouragement. Her voice was bright and convincing as she told me that she wasn’t worried about us at all, and that she still believed we would find our baby before our contract was up. She thanked me for reaching out, and told me she was praying for our family.
Tuesday I picked my girls up from practice and was driving one of their friends home when my phone rang. Kelly looked at it and said, “It’s Courtney.”
Thinking immediately that she was calling about a baby that had already been born, and that we would miss our chance if we didn’t answer, I told her to answer it and tell her that I was driving, and I would call her right back. Kelly told her, and we drove on to their friend’s house, parked in the driveway, and I called her back with a palpable eagerness.
“Hi Pam, I was just calling to check on you. How are you doing today?”
I exhaled. Not a baby then. I told her I was doing better. I had talked to a friend and felt a little more encouraged.
“Well, that’s good…because you have a match!”
I gasped. I wanted her to say it again to be sure, because it didn’t seem like it was really THE moment that we had been waiting for. But it was. It was true.
My girls and I cried on the way home. We picked their sister up from practice early to celebrate. I had the privilege of sharing the news with Jason this time, which was perfectly fair because he shared the news with me when we adopted Hudson. The whole family was giddy.
After almost two years of waiting, we were finally chosen.
Ember said, “You don’t have to feel bad about looking at baby things anymore!”
I messaged our consultant and asked if it was safe to tell people. She said yes.
We paced around the house for the rest of the day, not sure what to do with ourselves, discussing who to tell and when, daring to make plans.
A year ago my hair stylist read my book and saw the part where I mentioned wanting to get my hair done before we met our son in Korea for the first time. I wasn’t able to get an appointment on such short notice, and she worried that she had let me down. I assured her that it was a different hair stylist that I had tried to reach that time, but she felt so bad that she offered to do my hair for free when we were matched with a baby this time, as a congratulations gift. So, not knowing it would take so long for us to find our baby, I committed publicly to abstaining from cutting or coloring my hair until we were matched. So many times I had regretted making that promise. My hair was stringy and dry and the color had grown out to my chin. But I couldn’t stand the thought of answering hopeful questions about our failure to match with a baby if I gave in and cut it early.
But now we were matched! It was safe to cut it, finally! And it would be the sweetest way to announce it to my friends who knew about my commitment. I texted my friend and asked her if she had any appointments the next day. It didn’t take her long to understand why I was asking, and she happily offered to get me in right away.
Two hours and 6 inches of hair later, I drove home with the windows down, smiling at the sunset, and feeling God’s kiss on my forehead.
The girls and I opened the garage door that evening, turned on Pandora radio, and painted bookshelves after sunset. The temperature was still in the upper 80’s. We were sweaty and loopy from paint fumes, but drunk with joy and dreams fulfilled in a blue haze of delight and wonder.
In the morning I woke up and smiled. It was the first morning in almost two years that I didn’t have to wonder if we were worthy. We were chosen. And there were four emails in my inbox to prove it. Emails with details and instructions for the next steps.
We had a full day planned: delivering the bookshelves, selling items, grocery and back-to-school shopping, and piano lessons. The girls and I spent the day marveling at the relief and anticipation we felt, gasping at our new revelations. We had gotten the phone call one day before the anniversary of the big phone call from our first adoption. The baby was due three days after our son’s birthday. The whole family would be able to make the trip together. It seemed perfect.
We lingered in the baby sections at stores, we took a wrong turn and laughed about how far out of our way we drove before we realized it, and then laughed again about something I said that they misheard. We laughed until our stomachs ached and the tears made it hard for me to drive. It was a wonderful day. A day of bliss.
We told our parents. We put them on speaker phone so the kids could share the excitement of their responses. I told Kelly’s piano teacher. It was so hard not to tell everyone, but like early pregnancy, it seemed safer to wait a bit, at least until more details were in place, payment was made, and contracts signed. Our kids hounded us about when we would announce. Courtney had said it was fine to tell people. Our consultant’s media department had posted an announcement on Facebook saying that the “O” family was matched and asked for prayer for us as we moved forward.
But I said, “I can’t believe it. I keep expecting her to call and say it was a mistake, and it’s not true after all.” Maybe I shouldn’t have said it out loud. Maybe I shouldn’t have doubted. Or maybe it was a protection over my heart that I wouldn’t let myself believe it.
This morning I woke up at 4:00 and couldn’t go back to sleep. My heart was bursting with thankfulness. We had plans to spend the weekend with our church family at camp. We could finally answer all the questions with a “YES! We DO finally have some news about the adoption!” I didn’t have to hide pangs of jealousy when I watched my friends cuddling their babies or discussing their pregnancies. It was finally my turn.
At 6:00 am I got up, put on my “He’s in the waiting” t-shirt as a celebration of answered prayer, posted the photo of my new hair and waited for people to discover it. For two hours I watched as people “liked” it or “loved” it, and a few of my closest friends posted discreet comments of understanding and congratulations. It was a thrilling game. Those closest to me texted personally, asking “Does this mean what I think it means!?” And I was able to say “Yes, it does!” which was a balm to my battered spirit and made me feel alive.
Three hours later our consultant called. The phone connection was bad, and she had to hang up and try again three times before I could finally hear her. She said she had bad news. It didn’t even surprise me. She said there were some serious red flags that came up with our birth mama, and for our family’s safety, they couldn’t, in good conscience, move forward with the adoption. It was over. Our family was back on the list. Waiting to be chosen.
I have had to send updates to friends who celebrated with me just an hour earlier. I told my hair stylist and asked her if she could undo my hair. She said we could get a wig. It was funny. But not funny.
I wish I hadn’t let myself celebrate. I wish I hadn’t told anyone. But those 48 hours were so wonderful. If I could back up and sit down in that marvelous day yesterday and just stay there, I would. And now those closest to me know what a breathless high and crushing low we’ve had in the last 24 hours.
And this is the reality of adoption. This is not “getting a baby the easy way.” It’s brutal.
Between apologies, our consultant said that she thinks this is God’s way of showing that he is still looking out for us. And it shows that our profile is working. Mamas are seeing it and considering our family.
And so we are back to waiting. On a positive note, we’ve had a lot of practice at waiting. And I’m still wearing my t-shirt.