We’re often told that God has has a reason for allowing bad things to happen. It’s usually little comfort when trudging through seemingly awful circumstances. But it’s the hope and trust in what God is doing that carries us through, especially knowing we would never otherwise make it on our own strength.
But every once in a while, God shows us those reasons, and it is such a gift that it makes it impossible not to share with everyone.
It will be five years ago this December when we were expecting the birth of our firstborn, a little boy whom we decided to name Logan. His due date was December 10th. A Christmas baby.
Logan, however, had different plans. I was induced and delivered him on September 16th, a day after a middle-of-the-night rush to Labour and Delivery revealed that Logan had died in utero.
We held him, we prayed over him, and with tear-stained faces, handed him back to God.
We had just had our baby shower. We knew it was traditionally a few weeks early, but we wanted to have it over a three-day-weekend so that more out-of-town guests could come. While in the hospital my husband privately coordinated with friends and family to have all of our gifts removed from our apartment before we returned home.
Three days after coming back to an empty house I was admitted to the hospital with a heart rate of 32 beats per minute. To shorten a rather lengthy story, odds were really good that if I had carried my pregnancy to term my heart would not have made it. At that point it became glaringly obvious why God had me deliver when I did. Although we could not understand why we lost our little boy, we were at least comforted with the knowledge that it was necessary for him to arrive early in order to save my life.
And so life went on. Our original plan was to have one birth child and adopt the rest. We had our birth child, for the little time that he was here with us. On the anniversary of his stillbirth, we were introduced to a woman who had foster-adopted through a local agency and were given their contact information. We were ready to move forward.
In fact, our living situation further encouraged growing our family. We had the opportunity to move from our one-bedroom apartment into the only two-bedroom unit in our building by the beach, graciously offered to us by the building’s owner. We moved, cleaned, and painted, leaving the spare room empty, a physical reminder of the hole in our family that we were seeking to fill.
My husband and I attended our foster-adoption orientation on October 6th. There we learned a number of things: Healthy, newborn babies were rare, so don’t expect one. The younger the child you want, the longer you will wait especially if you want a girl. And don’t expect a “Christmas baby.” For some reason the adoption agency gets a high rate of parents starting the adoption process right before Christmas, expecting their child to be home before the holiday. Interesting. All good things to know.
As much as we would have wanted a newborn, our hearts were open to whatever God had planned for us, so we embarked on our paperwork journey believing that we would probably end up with a sibling set of toddler (or older) boys.
For those who know me, it is no surprise that I finished our entire adoption packet in three weeks. I’m a paperwork junkie, and if there is one thing that I do well, it’s details. Besides, I had it in my head that the faster that I got my part in the adoption process completed, the faster that God could do His work in bringing our child (or children) home.
By mid-November (a month into the adoption process) our social worker finished our home visit for the homestudy, and I was left with nothing to do but wait for her to write it up and start the search process.
When pregnant mothers unpack their baby shower gifts, decorating and preparing the nursery for their babies, it’s called “nesting.” When a woman who just started the adoption process starts pulling out the gifts she received from the baby shower of her stillborn child, it’s called “crazy.” But I just had it on my heart to put the crib together, to pull out the blankets and bottles and clothes. To have everything washed and to finally start filling that empty room. I’m not a very patient person so I needed to be doing something to help with the adoption process. And that was that was all I had at the time.
Our social worker was still working on writing up our homestudy, so we received calls from her from time to time asking for clarification of this or that. So it wasn’t a huge shock to have her call me early in December (2 months into the adoption process) while I was putting the final touches on our “spare room.” Before answering her call I remember looking around and thinking it finally felt like it could be a home for someone.
What was shocking about the call was that our social worker relayed that a healthy, negative-tox, newborn baby girl was relinquished at the hospital and she wanted to ask if we were interested in adopting her!
A relinquishment is when a birthmother did not make an adoption plan and relinquishes the baby at the hospital. Rarely are healthy babies reqlinquished nowadays, and even more rarely was our adoption agency the one that was called in such instances. As such, we were informed that time was of the essence, so we needed to make a decision fast.
My head was spinning. I had just finished putting away the baby clothes in the dresser of the spare room. The baby clothes that would have never have fit a toddler. I called my husband, who was teaching, so that we could quickly discuss the situation. Up until this call we had had our minds wrapped around having toddler boys. However, we were totally open to what God had planned for us. We decided to let our social worker know that we were interested in learning more and wanted to know how we should proceed. I hung up with my husband and was ready to call our social worker back.
And then it occurred to me. It was December 10th. One year, to the day, of our son’s original due date. And I wept. From that moment forward I knew in my heart that this was the plan that God had for us all along. This is why we had our baby shower early; we were going to need those baby things, just not when we thought we were going to. This was why I rushed to get the paperwork completed so quickly. This was why I was putting together a crib and washing baby clothes when everyone around me was rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. It wasn’t just a child that God had planned for us. It was this child, and everything needed to happen exactly when it did in order for us to receive her.
We had to submit our homestudy for her, along with several other hopeful parents. And our social worker had to pull an all-nighter just to write ours up to be considered. It took three days before we heard that we were chosen to be her forever family. When we asked what we were supposed to do next, she said “Come pick her up.”
And that was the day we met our daughter. She was six days old, healthy, and beautiful. Although she was African American, she had a full head face of freckles. I have freckles, myself, and I loved the fact that she did too. Although they have long since faded, I like to think that God placed those freckles on her for the sole purpose of allowing me something about her to which I could immediately bond.
Her birthmother had 2 weeks to change her mind. Those two weeks ended on Christmas Eve. When we awoke Christmas morning we knew for certain she was here to stay. On the very day that God’s son was born, so was our family.
Sometimes God gives a reason for why bad things happen. By walking in faith and obedience, when one child was taken away, another was given. If Logan were to have lived, we most certainly would have adopted. We just wouldn’t have adopted this little girl. And this little girl was so clearly the one whom the Lord wanted for us to have.
We called her Zoe, which means “alive,” not so much for the fact that she was the living of the two children with whom the Lord blessed us, but because without the hope that lived within us during this whole experience we never would have known her.