THE MIRACLE OF ADOPTION
"We have had a picture of you in our hearts and in our minds for some time now. You are an angel sent our way." These simple words began a heartfelt letter to the woman who allowed me to become a mother through the miracle of adoption.
My husband, Joe, and I married when we were in our mid-thirties. We decided to start a family right away. We had no idea that would not be possible. We excitedly started fertility treatments, certain we would soon get our hoped-for child. As the months dragged on and nothing happened, I remember feeling as though I was the only woman in the world going through this pain, but every time I went to the doctor, the waiting room was full of other women, just like me. Some of them eventually became pregnant, but I didn't. I finally reached the point where I could no longer stand feeling like a science experiment. Also, it was obvious that these expensive and emotional treatments were not going to work.
During this time, several of my friends became pregnant and it seemed that everywhere I looked, someone was having a baby. It was devastating and painful every time I heard someone's joyful news. At the church we attended then, our pastor and his wife gave birth to their eighth child. Oh, how that hurt me. As our pastor announced the birth of their latest arrival, he remarked, "there's nothing like the feeling of having a newborn baby in the house." The church voiced its agreement. I sat there silent with no idea at all of how that felt. I felt only misery. I remember being in such anguish and asking God, "why can they have eight children and I can't even have just one?" I really could not understand. But, you see, I was counting on my own plans to work.
Although we constantly prayed about having a child and many people prayed for us, I still really believed it was something I could do myself. In fact, I became convinced it was something I would have to do myself. By now, we had been praying to have a baby for nearly four years. Obviously (in my mind), God was not going to answer that prayer, or worse yet, maybe He had answered it, but His answer was "no." After all, I had a timetable and He was not meeting it. It became too painful to even attend church on Mother's Day, especially when all the mothers were asked to stand. I felt conspicuous, like I was the only woman in the church not on my feet.
We began to look into adoption, but we were rejected by most of the adoption agencies because we were too old-by now nearing 40. We were repeatedly told that the girls the agencies worked with wanted younger couples to adopt their babies, not couples as old as their own parents. The agencies that offered to work with us would only help us with an adoption if we could find our own baby. I remember thinking that if I knew how to find my own baby, I wouldn't need an adoption agency--especially at the prices they charged. So, added to the failure of the fertility treatments, we now seemed to have total failure in the adoption process as well. It appeared that I would never become a mother. I felt completely and utterly hopeless about my situation.
It was important to me to become a mom. In my life, I had played many roles--daughter, sister, wife, and attorney. However, to me, "mother" was a revered title and one that I desperately wanted. I wanted a child to love and one to love me back. I wanted to hear a little voice say, "I love you, Mommy."
Someone finally put us in touch with an adoption agency in Houston that only worked with older couples. For the first time, we had real hope. We paid our deposit and began gathering photos to create an album for birth mothers to review. We felt sure we were going to get a baby.
Just as we started this process, a friend of mine called. She had been trying everything to help us find a baby. She said, "I wanted to let you know that my husband and I are going to spend the weekend with another couple. He is a lawyer and he handles adoptions. I want to tell him about you and Joe, just in case, so he can put you on his list." Of course, I agreed, but I didn't expect anything to happen.
That was a Friday. On the following Monday, I received a call from that lawyer. He said our mutual friend had given him my name over the weekend and just that morning, a couple had come into his office wanting to place a baby for adoption. I will never forget his next words: "the baby is yours, if you want it." I was speechless. I asked the baby's due date and he said, "August 2nd." That was going to be my fortieth birthday. The day of the phone call was our wedding anniversary. I immediately began to see God's hand in this.
We had about two and a half months to get ready for our baby. I never once thought about anything going wrong. I did not expect the birth mother to change her mind. I did not expect the baby to be anything short of perfect. I was so certain that everything was going to be right that I insisted upon having the baby brought to our house immediately after he was released from the hospital instead of going to foster care for ten days. (Under Arkansas law, the birth mother can change her mind for any reason during those first ten days.) Our attorney was against this idea, but he reluctantly went along. I knew I was never going to get to bring home a newborn baby from the hospital and I did not want strangers having my baby for his first ten days. I wanted him with me.
The hospital released the baby early because the birth mother had decided to keep him in her room. The doctor thought that was a bad idea and feared that the adoption would not occur. So, Nicholas Adam Hays came home to his new mommy and daddy when he was just nineteen hours old. He was tiny-just 5 pounds and 10 ounces-but he was so beautiful and perfect. And when we held him, he was so content and at peace, just like he knew he was at home where he belonged.
It has not all been easy. Being a parent for the first time at age 40 can be a bit challenging, especially when God uses His sense of humor to gift you with the world's most active child as your son. I marvel every day when I look at him and listen to him talk. No, I do not see a miniature version of myself or of my husband in him-and that is fine with me. However, I do see many wonderful qualities in him that we have instilled. True, we did not plant the physical seed from which he grew, but each day, we plant the seeds from which his heart and his mind grow. He is an adorable, creative, and sensitive child.
When Nicholas was four, we told him a simple story about his adoption. We explained that we had wanted a baby for a long time and could not have one, so we prayed to God every day to send us a baby. Then, one day he was born and some people brought him home to our house. A few days later, I asked Nicholas if he remembered what I told him about his adoption. He said, "sure, I was playing in heaven and God told me that he needed me to go live with my new family, so some angels flew me to your house and I held onto the blanket really tight so I wouldn't fall out on the way." I liked his version of his adoption story much better than mine, plus even this little child realized that it was an angel who sent him our way.
It would be a great story if it ended here, but our story has a second chapter. When Nicholas was 22 months old, we unexpectedly received another phone call from our attorney. The same birth mother was pregnant again. She was having another boy. She would like them to grow up together. Would we consider adopting him as well?
Joe and I were so overwhelmed. How could we possibly say no? How many adopted children actually get to grow up with their own biological sibling? Of course, we agreed and on September 24, 2000, William Hunter Hays was born and he became part of our family, too.
Will is also a great blessing to us. He is funny, loving, imaginative, and smart. God was kind enough to send us one son that is tidy, closes doors, puts things away, and even eats vegetables. The boys are complete opposites in so many ways, yet uniquely ours. Some of our friends have affectionately named them "Will" and "Won't."
Looking back now, it is easy to see how God had a plan for us all along, but we didn't realize it at the time. We were too impatient. It wasn't happening on our timetable. We thought that God had abandoned us or that He just didn't care about our pain and anguish. We were wrong.
What God did is very much like what we do as parents around Christmastime and birthdays. We buy our kids some really wonderful gifts and hide them away in the top of the closet. Sometimes, our kids start begging us to buy them a certain toy and we refuse because we know that we already have it hidden away for them in the top of the closet. Our situation was like that. We prayed and we begged for a baby for four years. God kept trying to tell us, "Joe and Pat, I have some really great gifts hidden away for you in the top of My closet. It's just not time for you to have them yet. I wish you could be patient and wait and see what I have for you." In our case, when we got our first gift from God's closet, we didn't even dare imagine that there were other gifts. We had no idea that God had hidden two wonderful treasures for us in the top of His closet.
I thank God everyday for my two boys. To this mother, both boys are true miracles.