I don’t know how the Duggars do it. For every baby I’ve had, I get exponentially more weepy when I get news of my friends heading to the hospital or holding their sweet newborn for the first time. Just thinking about a photo I saw yesterday sends chills up my spine. Something about the emergence of new life gets to me. It gently grabs me in my core and shakes really hard until all the tears come out.
Last night I had to shy away from Facebook for a while because all the love toward friends of mine welcoming their baby girl got me shook up in a good way and she really didn’t need me gush-texting her at that particular moment. Then other friends made their way to the hospital to meet the newest member of their family after they had received word the birth mother in their adoption was induced. This several-year journey that they’ve allowed me to peek in on was culminating. I stayed up much too late thinking over and over in my head, “they’re going to be holding their baby any time now. They’re going to be holding their baby any time now.”
Seriously, my heart might just bust open and drip all over the floor.
I believe adoption to be one of the ways in which God works shalom into his world. This idea – peace, a returning to the right order, a sense that goodness pervades and wins the day – is central to what we mean when we talk about God at work. He can write love stories into tragedies. He grows life out of barrenness. In my mind, I see a big tree stump that appears dead but with a small sprouting bud beginning to emerge. I admire those that enter into the adoption process for their willingness to step into some unknowns with faith and love of and for someone they have never met.
If I may, I need to write from my gut, not my knowledge, for a moment. I’m out of my realm here, and I know it, but something is brewing and bubbling inside.
In the next several days – weeks! – I’ll be offering prayers for my friends and their new little families. They will awkwardly carry the baby carrier out to the car and wonder, “what in the world were we thinking?!” because that’s how all new parents leave the hospital. They will turn their heads to check on the sleeping one no less than a million times in the 10 minute drive. They might remember the empty fridge they left behind and stop for a bucket of chicken on the way home. That happened to us at least once. Then they’ll come home and go about the work of adjusting to life and wondering how this little person, who takes up so little space in the living room, can take up so much space in their hearts.
I will be offering other prayers, too. I’ll pray for another woman – probably young and probably mostly alone – who will sign papers to be released from the hospital. Hopefully her mother picks her up because a mother can help begin sorting the emotions that come from expelling a living being from your center. This girl will return to her home where there is no crib, no stacks of diapers waiting, and she, too, will go about the work of adjusting to life and wondering how this little person who takes up no space in her living room can take up so much space in her heart.
She will endure a process ahead of her. Her body will bleed for weeks. Her moods will shift and her eyes will leak tears as her breasts leak milk. The task of releasing your child into adoption is not a decision you endure for a singular moment of time.
Those who enter the adoption process, from any side, I believe operate with a great amount of faith and generosity. My friends, for agreeing to bring a person into their lives and homes, to provide for him or her. To make this person a son or daughter. This will be their child.
And this woman, who chose to endure the birth process, only to hand off the fruits to someone else. Such an act can only be described as hope. We don’t know her story and how she ended up in a maternity ward. Perhaps she didn’t want this pregnancy – or perhaps she did but realized she couldn’t provide the life that every parent wants for their precious ones. Whatever the case may be, she gave 10 months of her life, her body and a sense of her future to someone she has never met. No matter what we might believe about this woman’s story, I see a thread of selflessness woven through it.
I am outside my realm here. I know so little about this. I’ve experienced none of it. But I know someone who has. If you or someone you know is interested in the redemptive work of adoption, let me point you toward my friend Angela. Both her heart and her living room is filled with this sense of shalom. They have started an adoption agency, Choosing Hope Adoptions, to make adoption affordable for families who want to step into this faith-filled and hope-filled place. If you want to give to this cause and continue making adoptions possible, you can give online.