Most of our daily interaction with our adoption agency is via email, so I was surprised yesterday to listen to a message from our awesome coordinator. My first thought was “Oh my gosh… her accent is the CUTEST THING EVER” and then I realized that inflection still matters with a sweet southern drawl and hers was not good. I still hoped that this was the call for our travel dates. I still hoped this was the news I had been waiting for… but the heart knows.
I set the babies up with their books and returned the call, bracing myself for a set back… like a paperwork snag that would cost us the precious time before the summer shut down. I was totally unprepared for the conversation that followed, and to be fair, so was she because it’s not one that has ever had to happen. Naturally it would be our family.
“Lucas’s family has rescinded permission to adopt, and as far as we can tell they have taken him home with them.”
I asked her to repeat it. And again. And we laughed because what else can you do, and she said that she had to read and re read the email before calling me because this is entirely unheard of. And we both celebrated that a little boy can be reunited with his family, and she laid out our options for proceeding from here and I thought that I had enough information so we said goodbye and when I hung up I felt like my lungs no longer worked. I sat on the floor, gasping for air as the little boys dug through Lucas’s drawers, pulling out his clothes and toys. How can this be? He has a bed here. Clothes. Toys. Brothers and sisters and a mommy and daddy. We’ve worked so hard to bring him home I cried over and over again, and then immediately I would remember that what we are really talking about is a little boy returned to where he belongs. This is such a hard space to walk because it’s truly the best possible outcome for everyone but us.
My husband happened to be on his way home from an annual meeting that would land him in his car alone a few minutes after the call ended. Any other day I would have had at least four hours to process alone and to entertain the kiddos like nothing had happened. I sent him that text that is code for “something is wrong but I don’t want to tell you something is wrong”… “hey, can you please call me when you get to the car?” and then I texted my closest friends while my stomach flopped in my belly and my lunch threatened to re emerge.
After talking with the husband, I had to tell the kids. I expected this to be absolutely terrible, but our kids are so good it hurts. My daughter said “Oh, I am so thankful for foster care for teaching us to both love and also to let go.” Such truth.
I dragged my body up the stairs and climbed into a hot shower and literally curled up in a ball on the floor of the bath and cried one of those good, healing, cathartic cries. I kept asking why us? why does this always happen to us? and then I gave myself a few more minutes to wallow and then reminded myself of what is absolute truth. WHY US? Because we were the family for the job. Because we have a heart for reunification. Because we know that as much as this hurts, this is a miracle and we got to be a part of it. Because we trust in the Lord’s plan and we know He has one that will blow our minds. Because anything that could be said about us already has been and we don’t care what gossipy, cruel, jealous people have to say any more. Because our home is so, so full of love and laughter and joy that we want to share it with a child who doesn’t have a family… we don’t want to take a child from a family. We can wait. We can trust. We can praise this plot twist and call it JOY. We will lean into each other. We will be fine… better, even. Thankful that God chose us for this special story.
In May I knew that Lucas would not be alone for his birthday, which is Tuesday. As the weeks wore on, I questioned God a little because there was no way that we would be there in time and while that didn’t matter so much to us, I knew what I had heard. He is so, so faithful. It was never us that was meant to be with him.
So many times since December I have imagined carrying him out of the orphanage, but I could just never “see” it. I can so clearly “see” his mommy finally bringing him home. It was never meant to be us.
So many tiny mercies in our sadness, the way He paved the way is such a treasure, but the bottom line truth is that it was never meant to be us. Adoption is so glorified, but it’s never “meant to be,” initially. It’s rooted in grief and loss and sadness and I just don’t believe that God ever means for any family to experience that so that another family can raise a child. I believe it is a beautiful, brutiful plan B that He makes way for and provides for and that is so, so amazing, but my heart is forever with first families, too. I am often refined through grief…God knows that he can speak best to me here, I guess… but I feel reminded by Him that these are my beliefs and I have to both walk it and talk it. I cannot claim that I don’t want to rip a child from a family that could keep him, and then mourn that I am not able to do so. I cannot publicly wish to see the stigma of special needs lifted in these places, and then do anything other than root for the family stepping into such a brave space to claim their little one.
So today we begin again. Last night I came into the kitchen after everyone was asleep and I ate cold pizza and drank too much wine and sobbed “My baby is gone” over and over again, but I knew that in the morning I would knock it off. So here we are, and with swollen eyes and a headache I am heading in to notarize the document that allows our dossier to be registered for any child between the ages of 0-2 with down syndrome. And we let God be God.
we loved being your family, little Lucas. We are so proud of your mommy and daddy, and hope they feel our love across the ocean. ❤