I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our different adoption journeys and more specifically about our adoption loss. It’s hard sometimes to understand how everything weaves together when thinking of God’s ultimate plan, and even harder at times to find peace in never getting a satisfying answer to the “why” questions that come up. When you are able to have even the tiniest glimpse of the “big picture” perspective it is truly an encouragement and for me, recently, it came at the perfect moment.
Our youngest daughter Annabeth just celebrated her 2nd birthday a couple weeks ago. Since she’s only 2 and things have been so busy, we didn’t do much to “celebrate” other than a simple family dinner, but those tend to be my favorite these days. In the days leading up to her birthday, and the days since, I have been struggling with a huge bag of of mixed emotions. It has all left me in a little bit of a “funk” over the last couple of weeks. Funk might not be the MOST descriptive word, but I think most of you understand what I’m trying to convey. It’s that feeling where you can’t always pinpoint exactly what is wrong, but you feel like there is a dark cloud looming and you are subconsciously anxious while waiting for it to release the biggest rain storm ever down on you… THAT mood. Well, in order for me to fully explain what I now believe is the source of this mood, I need to rewind and fill you all in a little bit.
Before we adopted Annabeth, our family was matched with a Birthmother in Michigan. We were SO excited. Our journey with Neriah had been such a great one (for the most part) so we were allsmiles awaiting the arrival of this next baby. When we found out it was going to be a boy, we chose the name Elias Hunter. As his due date quickly approached, we made plans for Hunter to be off work, and for all of us to drive up to Michigan so that we could be there when Elias was born. His Birthmother was in a very bad situation. Having two other small children, no job, no home (living in a car) she made what she believed was the best decision for Elias and chose to place him up for adoption. It was a very sad situation and this decision was a difficult one for her. She was a loving mom, we could tell this in the little bit of time we got to see her with her boys, she was just not able to provide even for the ones she already had.
So, when the time came, we loaded up into two cars, Mom and Jon deciding to go up at the same time in order to help with the kids. (and to be there being the excited grandparents they were) We took our time. taking two days to get up there. I found a home on AirBnb which ended up being in the perfect location with a wonderful host. We scouted out several good restaurants in the days we were waiting, and probably one of the best memories of the trip was it SNOWED!! It was April, and snowing! So cool. The kids had a blast. Snowball fights, tiny little snowman, lots of good memories. Anyways, after several days of being in Michigan waiting, the call came… she was in labor! Hunter and I jumped in the car and rushed up to the hospital just in time to meet Elias and spend the evening with him. The next morning we went up and his Birthmom was already in the process of checking herself out of the hospital. Since Elias was not yet ready to be discharged, they gave us a room with him and all of the kids (and Gramma and Pappy of course) were able to come up and meet their new little brother. Hunter and I stayed overnight with Elias, and the next morning they discharged us. We took him back to the home where we were staying to wait out the time tat was required by the state for all of the legal paper work to go through, which would then allow us to cross state lines and take him home to Florida.
After a couple of days my Mom and Jon drove the 3 boys back home so that they would not miss too much school. They all hugged and snuggled Elias before loading up and heading back to Florida. Giving him kisses that would have been more than enough to hold him over until they would see him again in a week. ❤ The following day Hunters parents drove up to meet their newest grandson and to help us make the drive home. During this time, I was so fortunate and was able to breastfeed Elias. I know that may sound weird to a lot of people, but I actually nursed ALL my babies, biological AND adopted. It was something that was really important to me, so I pumped for a while before they each came, took lots of Fenugreek and used a supplemental nursing system when needed. My favorite part about breastfeeding our adopted children, was that with EACH of them, I never really made any milk, in ALL of my pumping…until the first time they would actually latch on, then my body just knew what to do!! Anyhow, I got to spend a lot of sweet time with him snuggling and bonding. Time that I am so thankful for, not realizing in those actual moments where things would end up. Hunters parents got in late that evening and were able to spend some time with us. The next day, the day everything was supposed to go through and “clear”, we received that call. The Birthmom had changed her mind. Each state is different with varying amounts of time they allow for this to happen legally. In Florida it is only 48 hours after birth, but in Michigan she had I believe 5-6 days and she was just barely still in that window. I honestly have never felt anything like the pain I felt hearing those words before, or since then. I have had very difficult words spoken to me before but this was something entirely different. My first reaction was to pack up and run. We could take all the kids, we could leave the country, how could we take him back to the situation I knew he would be handed over to? How in the heck could THIS be God’s plan??
I couldn’t physically do it, it took every ounce of strength I had to release the grip I had formed on him over the course of what is now remembered as the worst phone call of my life. (Even typing this, I can feel the same lump begin to form in my throat and the tears welling up in my eyes making it hard to see the screen as I’m remembering this gut wrenching day.) Thankfully my incredible husband and father-in-law stepped up in that moment and got ready to drive Elias to the attorney’s office. In a window of clarity that could ONLY have come from the Holy Spirit, I packed EVERYTHING we had for him into a bag to send with Hunter, knowing he would need ALL of it. I kept one blanket that I still have, which I clung to tightly in the weeks that followed. It Still radiated with his “smell”, and my grieving heart could not get enough of it. I knew in my head that his Birthmom loved him and I NEVER viewed her as a villain in this story. She was, and I’m sure still is, doing everything she can do, and acting out of love. I pray still for her everyday.
So, fast forward to today, now that you have some history. We now, BECAUSE of this experience have our amazing, beautiful, sweet, tender Annabeth. I would NEVER want it to be any different than that. The struggle that consumes me at times is that I still miss Elias, which then leads to a battle with overwhelming guilt for missing him. Someone said to me one time that when I have those feelings, I have to learn to keep them separate. I can grieve and miss Elias, longing to feel his little head on my chest, and still love and never want to live life without Annabeth. Those can go along side each other and be completely separate. I don’t have to find a way to reconcile them together. That has helped me a little in this weird grief process.
Now back to seeing the big picture as I referred to earlier. When I start feeling these things, sometimes I get bogged down and stuck in the emotions of it, which is where I have found myself in the last month or so. Just recently, however, I was able to spend some time out of town with a friend of mine that I’ve known forever.
When we were younger, she made the choice to place a baby up for adoption. I was with her through that entire process, seeing and witnessing first hand how much she LOVED that baby. Everything she struggled through, and still struggles with at times, is rooted in the LOVE she had for the little one that she placed. This time we recently spent together put my thoughts in motion trying to see and understand the “bigger picture” in regards to OUR adoption journey. I truly believe that God knew where I was going to be RIGHT NOW, even WAY back when He allowed me to be a witness to my friends heartbreak and grief as she made the choice for life and for adoption. I believe that experience has allowed me to have a unique love and care for ALL of our children’s Birthmother’s, and in having that perspective, I was able to process things with Elias much better than I would have, had I NOT seen the other side first hand. I have never felt ANY bitterness towards his birthmom. I still ask why, but I am able to usually settle those thoughts remembering how much I KNOW she loves him. I’ve never had to question that love, hugely due to the love I still witness from my friend for her daughter even today. God is so good. He is always weaving our lives together, using our stories and struggles in a way we could never imagine or orchestrate, and using them in a way that is ultimately best for us in the end.
Being able to have this clarity and appreciation for how much WORSE it could have been with Elias, it has allowed me a very small window into His plan in regards to Elias and Annabeth. Which in turn, has helped me in just this last day or two moving forward in this grief process. I’m SO grateful for that. Grateful ultimately to Him, but grateful to our Birthmoms, to ALL Birthmothers really, and grateful to my sweet friend and her parents for unknowingly helping ME when they were real, transparent and open through their journey and honest with their grief. So, as a final encouragement to anyone who made it this far, if you are struggling now, or have in the past- by letting others come along side you to support you, and just to witness your journey, you may never know all the ways that your story may impact their lives for the better. So reach out if you are hurting. Don’t go through life alone. God has given us people to “do life with for a reason. He is always weaving stories together in ways we may never see or understand.
Please comment below and let me know your thoughts and feelings! I would love to hear from you and connect.