It’s that time of year again. As each week gets closer to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I find myself feeling a little bit mistier and mistier. It’s been 17 years since we grew our family through adoption. Our younger son came into our lives toward the end of December of 1999. How does a family living in Central Wisconsin connect with an adoption agency and family from Texas? The story itself is a long one, but the short version is, it’s a “God thing.”
We were a family of three. My husband, Paul, and I had been married close to seven years before we had our oldest son, Alex, in 1991. He was our first little miracle. I had wanted to adopt children since I had been in high school. After a few more years of trying to have a second child, we continued to have no luck. It was then, that my husband and I decided to look into adoption instead of continuing down the road of having another biological child. We prayed about the decision. Paul and I were getting older and we did not know if adding to our family was God’s plan, but we felt drawn to go through with the application and the home study. We felt if we didn’t take this step, God couldn’t answer one way or the other.
Shortly after deciding to go forward, our family met with a local agency that specialized in foster care and adoption. The actual process was quite complex. Each of us needed to complete large amounts of paperwork as well as be interviewed. A long series of events took place and time went by, but finally, in June of 1999 we completed our home study. We were so excited and filled with anticipation.
One day during that summer, I was taking a walk with a very good neighbor friend of mine. We walked and talked and chatted about everything under the sun. Somewhere in the conversation, the topic of completing the adoption paperwork and the home study came up. My neighbor was surprised since she didn’t know our family was looking into adoption. She mentioned that she had several sisters living in Texas and one of her sisters had a close friend who had adopted several special needs children through an agency in the Dallas, Texas area. My friend wondered if she could give my name to her sister and have her give me a call sometime. We hadn’t heard much from the local agency that we were working with, so I said sure. I didn’t expect that it would necessarily lead to the adoption of a child from Texas, but I was always on the look out for more insights and information about adoption in general. I thought it would be great to talk with someone who had been through this process.
My friend’s sister called a couple of weeks later. She asked if it would be ok to have the family friend who had adopted these children give me a call. A few days after that, I spoke with this “friend of a friend” who had adopted special needs children. This entire string of events eventually led to contact with the adoption agency in the Dallas area. One of the first things that went through my mind, and that of my husband, was to make sure this agency was valid. We contacted our local agency and filled them in. They made some contacts and assured us that all was good. Our next steps included making a book about our family and completing more paperwork.
It wasn’t long, after all of these events occurred, that the adoption agency in Texas contacted us with a potential expectant mother and wondered if we would be interested. We said that yes, we were interested. Our anticipation began to grow.
A series of conversations and events took place over the next several months. At times, things were “on again, off again” with the expectant mother, Karen and her baby. As December grew closer, Paul and I spoke with our respective places of work “just in case” we would need to be gone. Since this would be an inter-state adoption, it required staying in the baby’s home state for a specific number of days. The caseworker also let us know that since this could be taking place during the holiday time, there might be some extra delays.
One December day, while at work, I received a phone call from the adoption agency in Texas that this baby boy had been born. My husband, Paul, and I were elated! We shared a little bit with our son, Alex, but didn’t want to say too much since we knew how quickly things could change. The caseworker said it was ok to go ahead and make plans to come to Texas. Much excitement and planning took place very quickly as the three of us (Paul, Alex, and I) worked to make flight arrangements and ensure everything was still in place with our paperwork and home study. Two days later, my husband and I received another phone call from our caseworker. She called to say that Karen decided to take her baby home and to cancel our plans to come to Texas. Our hearts broke; my heart shattered into a million pieces. For all of us, our emotions were all over the place.
On Christmas Eve morning, the caseworker called again. I called my husband in from the garage where he was unloading 2 x 4’s to build storage shelving in the basement. I handed him the phone because my heart just couldn’t take more news right then. The caseworker spoke with my husband and said that Karen was going to come in to sign the paper work that day. She asked us if we were still interested and if so, would we be willing to speak with both of them, the caseworker and the birth mother, on the phone later that afternoon after all of the paperwork was completed? We said, “Yes, we would,” and made only a couple of phone calls related to the new possibility of traveling to Texas.
It was the longest few hours of my life.
Finally the phone rang; Paul and I each got on different extensions so we could all be included in the conversation. We spoke with Karen, along with the caseworker for a couple of hours. When we finally hung up, we were so very excited! As was our family tradition, we ate our Christmas Eve meal and then went on to church for the Christmas Eve service. One of the hymns that was sung near the beginning of the service was “For Unto Us a Child is Born, Unto Us a Son is Given.” My husband and I nudged each other with tears in our eyes as the congregation sang this song. At this point, we were the only ones who knew we would be on our way to Texas in another day to grow our family through adoption.
A couple of days later, we were in Dallas. We met the caseworker and Karen, along with her mom. We were also introduced to our new baby boy’s 20-month-old biological brother, Jaren. After all of the waiting and excitement, my eyes met with the face of this tiny baby. My heart jumped and skipped as I held our new little boy, Noah, in my arms. We all stood around the room, feeling a bit unsure of things, visiting and getting to know each other. Karen and I made our way over to the couch and took turns holding this precious little one. Karen shared with all three of us a photo book that she put together with pictures of our little ones first days, some poems, and a letter to her son. My husband and I were beyond excited that we were adding to our family, yet it was hard. When we left, I felt both joy and sadness. My husband and I wanted to be happy; we were happy. It was a joyful time for our little family of three that was now growing to four. But there was also an underlying sadness that took place. We knew that our joy was Karen’s heartache and sorrow.
We stayed in Dallas for several days before returning to Wisconsin. Since it was an inter-state adoption, we had been told earlier that it would take awhile for the proper paper work to be completed by each state. A few days later, before we left, the caseworker made arrangements for us to meet with Karen and her son, Jaren, again. We met at a restaurant and had a good visit, all six of us together.
Shortly after that, we returned home, back to Wisconsin.
We kept in touch with Karen, Jaren, and their family through cards, pictures, email, and phone calls. We try to get together once a year. Over the years, the relationship has grown into more than a great friendship. It is now more like one big family.
God brought our two families together even though we lived half a country apart. Through every step, God’s hand has been in this relationship. God knew more than anything we could ever see ourselves. He not only grew our family through adoption, He brought two families together to offer support and friendship to each other and to raise this child. My love and gratitude is never-ending for this relationship, friendship, and family.
My story, One Woman’s Choice, is a true story.
While the agency led Paul and Rebecca to believe that I was “on again/off again” about my intention or choice, I was never sure and never made any empty promises.
This is what I wrote,
“Even though I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go through with the adoption, I had to at least try. I contacted the agency and made arrangements to meet with one of their caseworkers named Kristen.”