This morning I turned 39. Never ever did I expect to be expecting at 39. Never ever did I ever think we would have six children. Yet–this…THIS is the sweet gift of all.
We always dreamed of a big family. But to me, a big family in our culture meant 3 MAYBE 4 kids. But there are some things you just don’t plan when you put them in God’s hands. Even growing by adoption, as planned as that may seem–when you know in your heart and you are walking with Jesus–you just know the next steps for your family no matter how crazy or big or uncertain it may feel.
In August of 2009 we shared here–my first post ever–about the Lord calling us to grow to 4 through adoption. At the time, we thought, “Wow. We are completing our family in such a sweet, unexpected way.” What a journey it was bringing home our Isaac. At 8 months, he weighed less than all my newborns and when we picked him up at 1 year he was just 10 pounds. We were told he may never sit, walk and would certainly have many delays–yet therapy after therapy we saw God’s healing, miraculous hand and this past Fall I stood on the sidelines watching this child jump airborne over and over to stop goals for his soccer team and cheer his teammates on. We were prepared for anything, and received over and over the unexpected—such a sweet gift each milestone and achievement.
I had no idea what I was missing as I had raised typical kids with the biggest challenge being something like dyslexia and had no idea how sweet the physical milestones would be after years of physical therapy…to find us where we are now.
Then we received an unexpected surprise a few years later that we were expecting. I’ll never forget the day I found out. We were hosting a precious teenager, and I raced to a baby store to buy Richard a gift to surprise him. I found it–a sweet simple frame with a bow with the words “Love at first sight”. I put a little note in it and took it to his office. Our hosted teenager was with me–but not able to speak or read English she just thought that delivery was a simple errand in our day. We set that frame on Richard’s dresser and for weeks I prayed about our sweet baby while focusing on the daily of caring for our 4 children and a precious teenager we were also praying for.
Then in September–I shared our news. Our loss. It was also unexpected…as losses always are–especially for our hearts. Traumatic is the only word that I can describe it best as we chose to try and let nature take it’s course after the heartbeat stopped. But unfortunately I still needed surgery, so it felt so drawn out…both the loss and the grief. I look back and read through some of those posts that follow, and oh my GRACIOUS…to see now what God was doing.
Then I never thought I’d say it–but our loss was a baby…a sweet angel…who led us to our next baby. Just one month after that September 2012 post on our loss–on October 18th we shared we had been matched with a baby boy. We didn’t have a completed home study. We had no plans to adopt again. But as I sat rocking in my chair one night I told Richard I was going to spend the time thinking of my loss praying for children who also had loss. I prayed for children who had lost their parents and I stumbled across a picture of my son–who was waiting on a “Special Focus” list–which meant he had been on a wait-list for so long and also had a special need that was considered immediate–and we didn’t even need a home study to be matched. We only had to complete one and our dossier within 6 months–which we did in just a few;) Seven months later we found ourselves HERE–in the airport returning home…just a couple months after our due date for our little one that I’m quite sure was on the cheering committee helping the process speed up a bit;)
Our loss helped me see loss differently for my boys. I knew how much they had lost…their birth families, their cultures, their birth countries, familiar language, caregivers who had watched over them like mothers in their orphanages…just so much. But I didn’t grasp their loss until I experienced loss too. Their tears at night took on deeper meaning. Instead of wanting to be immediately accepted as mommy and hugged back, I understood they needed time and I’d wait by their bedsides until they were ready to let another mommy love them. When they finally folded into me as mom, I knew healing was happening–and after our loss…it took my breath away in ways I hadn’t experienced in our adoptive parenting before until this personal journey of loss ourselves. I felt we had a different, deeper bond–and this loss…this precious angel that awaits us in heaven…had given us the sweetest gift–to both us and our boys…connecting deeper that I knew possible as I understood their hearts in a way there are no words for.
While I’d give anything in the world to have gotten to hold our baby girl–if asked to rewrite the script–I know that part where she goes to be with Jesus is one of the most beautiful, sacred, ordained parts. If asked to type it out–I’d do it with tears. And it’d be very, very slow and probably erased a few times and then rewritten. Because I know that’s part of His story for us. A part that I see NOW needed to be written. But she will always be longed for and I can’t wait to see Jesus and then race to twirl that little bug around!
God uses loss to write a more beautiful story, but it doesn’t mean He replaces or fills that loss. Some losses can never and will never and should never be filled or replaced. Yet that picture frame…remained. Empty–on Richard’s dresser. There were times I wanted to give it away. But I couldn’t. I felt the Lord had a newborn for us still…maybe adoption–certainly I was getting too old to have another. Good grief…how would one chase 5 kids and have another as she approached 40? More power to the Duggars–but that ain’t happening over here y’all.
I held onto that frame–and decided to keep it and pray that while God doesn’t replace loss–I prayed He would one day bring us a baby’s picture to put in it. That felt like a crazy prayer. Very few knew I was praying for that…and I didn’t expect the feelings and emotions when we found out we were expecting last Fall.
This has truly been one of the most holy, sacred pregnancies. In my 20’s and early 30’s I was very naive. I thought a pregnancy meant you had a baby. Since then, I’ve seen so much. I’ve sat beside more friends who had the holy privilege of holding their babies for a few hours before they sent them to be with Jesus and countless friends like me who had miscarriages.
Pregnancy after loss–and even after adoption–has take on holy ground. For the first trimester, each day was a praise. Each day I expected or thought, “What if today is the day?” This is something every mom goes through in her pregnancy after a loss. Each night when everything still seemed okay, I dropped to my knees and just thanked Him for another day. With every moment of sickness their was rejoicing. And now with flutters–and feeling baby kicks–even more rejoicing. Each day is such a gift–and I’m trying my best to just enjoy each day without worry–knowing that He is the author of our story…of our baby’s story…and He can be trusted no matter what.
I moved that frame on Richard’s bed beside mine…right after I filled it. Nothing had ever been there. Looking back I know He knew. He knew I did buy it for my baby girl…that one…and this one too. I had no idea. I’m thankful I didn’t at the time. And I’m so thankful for the story He has written between then and now. I’m thankful I clung close to Jesus during our loss…and followed His prompting to pray for children who had also experienced loss. I’m thankful how He used that to lead us to our son in China. I’m so thankful how He used our loss to lead us deeper to connecting to the hearts of our boys…and that He gave us several years to do that before writing more to our beautiful story. I’m thankful for the picture that sits in this frame and for that baby girl whose heart is still beating and little feet are kicking on this mom’s 39th birthday today. Truly–this is the sweetest gift.
So while I woke this morning to super heroes shouting…and I made my own birthday breakfast to have those super heroes ask for it. I scooted over in my robe and shared with my boys whose hearts are so tender and dear to me. I got to sit and write and remember His faithfulness and how beautifully He writes our stories today…and reflect on the sweetest gift of how He uses our loss to write beauty from ashes. Our baby in heaven is such a sweet part of our story–just as pivotal and important as the others…and that once grief as turned to the sweetest aroma of joy and future hope–something to really look forward to one day in heaven. I can’t believe the Lord gave me another baby—a picture to put in this frame…and the gift to know each day really is a miracle. Never will I take these gifts for granted…and I sit here today with a full, happy heart…thankful I asked Him to be the author of my story.
May your days be sweet as you follow Him.