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Our Three Failures Led Us to Our Baby

Hope was overwhelming when our home study was done.

The profile book was completed.

And we were active.

How would we find our baby?

We were with a consultant and had signed on with agencies, including Heart to Heart. We received cases from other agencies and our consultant.

Our hearts would fill with excitement, and we’d wait, hopefully. But, always, there were emails that started to wear down our hope. Emails that said we want you to know, this expectant mama has chosen another family.

Then one November day, we got a case. It was perfect. Yes, we wanted to present! Show the family our file. By now, we were so used to no’s that we pushed every phone call and every time we were asked to present to the very back corner of our minds. We refused to be excited.

Two weeks later, on December 3, 2021, the phone call came. The one we’d dreamed of, longed for, and prayed for. We’d been chosen! We were going to be parents to a precious brown boy in January. Our two biological daughters joined my husband and me in the excitement. We were over the moon. We started shopping.

UPS and FedEx trucks bumped down the driveway with sweet clothes, blankets, and baby gear.

Finally, it was time to board the airplane and go to the city where our little guy would be born.

We waited a few days for the birth mother to go into labor. Expectant mom preferred not to be induced, but she wanted us in the delivery room, so we went a few days ahead of time. We waited in our Airbnb, tried to eat and sleep, shopped a little, and our hearts nearly burst out of our chests when the phone rang.

Her due date came and went.

Then one Monday morning, my phone rang! It was our case worker! Surely she would be telling us that mom was in labor. Almost immediately, upon answering the phone, I could tell there wasn’t excitement in her voice. Something was wrong. We numbly listened while she told us that they’d contacted the hospital. Their records showed that she had delivered a baby boy, and both mother and baby had been dismissed. We were free to head home.

We hung up the phone and cried until the tears were gone. We quietly packed up the apartment and headed for the airport, where we pushed an empty stroller and car seat around. It was heartbreaking, and we didn’t know where to turn next.

Our daughters kept praying and making wishes on every dandelion they encountered.

We waited a few days, then told our case worker to put us out there again. If they felt so impressed, our home study to a birth family.

Six weeks passed. One night, quite late, my phone rang. It was Darla with Heart to Heart again. With pounding hearts, we listened to her words, trying to take them in. Two-month-old little boy, mom wanted the agency to pick the adoptive family. Could we be there by tomorrow night? We thought and prayed overnight, got up exhausted the following morning, and let Darla know we were putting our “yes” out there.

We were running to pack and catch a flight to Texas when the agency called and said that the birth mother wanted placement the following evening. We left in the afternoon and started making our way to Texas. A few hours down the road, we got the call that she wanted to push signing off another day. Red flags started waving in our minds, but she still told the agency she would place.

We kept traveling as placement was changed from Wednesday to Thursday, to Friday, to Saturday. On Saturday afternoon, the agency told us they were confident it would be another disruption, but would we stay one more night?

Sunday morning, mom finally told the agency that the baby’s dad had found another agency because he wanted the baby to stay in Texas.

We once again loaded the empty car seat and headed for home with broken hearts. Our girls are six and ten, and their little hearts were shattered.

Two weeks later, on a spring afternoon, my phone rang again—baby boy, due in nine weeks, healthy pregnancy. Once again, we put our yes on the table. We had a phone call with the expectant mama and were matched within 45 minutes.

We were excited, yet terrified, cautious, yet hopeful.

The weeks dragged by, but it felt different this time. We had much more contact with mama than we’d had with the last two. We connected with her and were excited to have her be a part of our life. She decided to travel to the agency for delivery, and an induction was scheduled. Finally, it was time to travel.

After all the heartache our girls had already suffered, we kept this baby a secret from them. They knew we were going to meet the agency, but nothing more. We met with mama and both of our case workers for dinner. We loved her even more after meeting in person.

Two mornings later, the day had arrived. The day that this horrible wait was going to be over. We were both in her room the whole labor and delivery. I cut the cord. After hearing stories of it taking a while to feel a bond with baby, we were happy to find ourselves falling in love with him almost immediately. We spent the day with the beautiful little guy in our own hospital room, but the hospital policy required we leave for the night. We were back the next morning at 6 o’clock. Baby was in the room with his mama. We felt a prickle of unease when it turned into a couple of hours. (who am I kidding? The unease we felt was way more than a prickle.)

Desperately we prayed and waited.

Finally, I got a text that we could get him. Relief coursed through us, and we could breathe normally again. We watched him have his first bath. Then the nurse said that mama wanted him in her room again. The fear was back. We tried to be brave. We wanted mama to have all the time she needed, but we needed reassurance.

An hour crawled by. A frantic, dragging, helpless hour. I was texting with our case worker, and she said she’d come up and see us. This didn’t seem good. Then there was a knock on the door and a nurse with that beautiful baby boy. I cried hysterically while my husband reassured me that surely if she were deciding to parent, she wouldn’t send him back in.

There was another knock on the door, and our case worker came in.

One look at her face and we knew.

We knew our hearts were about to be shattered again.  I asked the fateful question, “Is she changing her mind?” Darla closed her eyes, waited a beat, then nodded. Horror washed over us as we stared down at his sweet face, and we tried to breathe.

I can’t explain the agony of the next thirty minutes. The desperation we felt, kissing a baby goodbye before we’d had a chance to say hello. To watch his bassinet being pushed out of the room, knowing he’d never been ours, that we’d likely never see his beautiful face or his sweet mama again.

Numbly, we drove home. The only bright thing in this horrible darkness was that our girls never knew.

So, life went on. I’d look at the bassinet and try to choke back the tears. We felt as if we’d experienced a death. The grief was so enormous, yet we felt guilty for feeling it. Emotions rolled like waves. I wanted to be angry at his mama, but I couldn’t be. I’d watched her deliver. I’d seen the tears roll down her face. I’d heard her whisper, “I just don’t want him to resent me.”

Rather than feel any anger toward a loving

mother, it was easier to be angry at God.

“Why? Why did You let us match with her if this is how it was going to end? They say You won’t give more than we can handle, but guess what? This is too much.”

God felt far away.

I had two phone calls with the counselor at Heart to Heart. Our case worker touched base with us often. They were both there at the hospital. They saw how much we loved him, how broken we were when we had to say goodbye. Their care was one of the things that kept us going. When we thought our hearts had taken more than enough and were ready to quit, they reminded us that we hadn’t reached our end goal, that if we just kept at it, we would someday have a baby. So, reluctantly, we put our profile back out there and waited once again. A few weeks passed.

Read here about the fourth time Joni and Lane traveled to get a baby.