Wednesday, June 11, 2014

where the heart is - part two

It’s really quite something when we find ourselves in the middle of a God-sized story.  I think sometimes my procrastination in writing stems from my fear of not being able to do the story justice.  So many layers to our experiences and our emotions and our circumstances and how they are artfully woven into His plans.  At any rate, that combined with a burst of crazy in the old schedule and a to-do list long enough to cause adult onset of attention deficit disorder is enough for me to struggle with finding time to properly put this story into words.  Please forgive my delay. 

I left off at the moment I had received an email containing “Daphne’s” file.  I experienced a teensy bit of guilt before clicking to open the PDF.
The thought crossed my mind that perhaps I should wait until Jon got home from his day of meetings in Miami.  Maybe we should look at it together.

I’d bet this is the point where most adoptive moms would be shaking their heads and saying, “OPEN IT, ALREADY.”  So I clicked.  And scanned like a mad woman through detail after detail about this tiny baby girl.

Born early February.  Just a little thing. 

Jilin Province.  Never heard of it.

Right heart enlargement.  Treatment.  Medication. 

More acronyms and abbreviations than the Army uses.

PHOTOS. Sweet. She’s adorable!!

And then there it was. 

As I scanned back over the pages, it caught my eye.

And I knew she was ours.

“…and on February 5, 2013, she was abandoned…”

What might seem like a coincidence to others was nothing less than a neon sign for me.  This baby had been abandoned on the very day of the year that God chose for our sweet Caroline’s beginning in our family.  I know that there are many who have different views of the day they met their adopted children, but so far I know only of my one experience.  For me, for our family and for the families of ten other beloved baby girls, it was such a special beautiful day…one of endings and beginnings and redemption and crying and laughing and sweating and grieving and bonding.  In a way it was like we all linked arms, and it was understood that we were in it together from that moment on.  We were one big family, and we were forever changed.  Because of everything it means to all of us, good and otherwise, it is a day celebrated. 

The paradox of what that day means to us and the realization of what that day meant for this new little one was not lost on me.   Yet I knew it was what tied her to us.  And then the reality of her illness and the “what ifs” started creeping into my mind.

The phone rang, and it was my oldest daughter, checking in before heading home from college for the weekend.

“Hey, Mom.  Whatcha doing?”


“Well, what?  Are you okay?”

“Um.  I’m looking at a photo of the sweetest little baby girl.”

“Yeah.  And?”

By the tone of her voice, she wasn’t impressed.  She knows of my soft spot.  She knew that on occasion a photo on social media would capture my attention and make me wonder if it was “the one”.

“I’m actually looking over a file our agency sent us.”

“YOU’RE WHAT??!!  You got a referral??!!”

“Well, I’m not sure.  I mean…”


So I sent a quick screen shot.   And I told her a bit more about this baby.  She listened intently and then asked me what my hold up was, told me I was crazy for thinking twice and couldn’t wait to hear what her dad said.  Who, by the way, didn’t bat much of an eye before saying yes.  I imagine I looked like the proverbial cat that had swallowed the canary when he walked in the door from the airport.   Not to mention I was absolutely certain his analytical mind would trigger a lengthy discussion, numerous questions and a hefty amount of research before a commitment.  He was, after all, the one most reticent about another adoption.  Instead I got a hug and a “let’s do it.”

And here’s where I admit that I started to lose my mind just a little.  What on earth was wrong with me?   I’d been praying, asking, pleading, pouting, grouching, begging, waiting for this moment for years. 


A vision of what I imagined God had in store for us, the unlikely vision of a tiny baby girl with a broken heart, had been embedded deeply in my heart and soul for years. .  

I was well aware of waiting lists and the reality of the years it can take to receive such a specific request for referral. 


Right in front of me was exactly what God had prepared my heart for, and I was scared silly.  Scared that her heart defect was a little more than our family could handle.  Scared that I would say yes for my own selfish reasons.  Scared that this baby’s file would evaporate into thin air and another family would snatch it up.  

I must have looked at her photo a million times over the next few days.  I started allowing myself to believe she was real.  I fell in love with her eyes and her tiny delicate features.   I realized her heart, broken as it was, was precisely what grafted her into my own.  And I started to embrace my doubts and fears because I knew that was exactly where God would meet me and make this a story worth telling.

From there it was a matter of going through the motions.  Through a dear friend, we were able to share her file with a pediatric cardiologist who answered our questions.  A pediatric cardiologist from Riley, our local yet nationally renowned children’s hospital, who emailed us privately almost immediately. 

I began writing our Letter of Intent and gathering documents to submit. 

In the midst of my writing and gathering, I opened my “Jesus Calling” devotional.  I was a few days behind, so I went back and read from the day we got the call.  I was more than a little blown away by what I read.  Here are some excerpts.

December 5…the day I didn’t know we’d received “the call”.

”Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

December 6…the day we received her file.

”Stay ever close to Me, and you will not deviate from the path I have prepared for you.”

December 7…the day I wandered around in a stupor, trying to ignore my fear of wondering if we were doing the right thing.

”I am with you in all that you do. “

December 8…the day I’d read a little too much on the internet about her heart defect.

“Your needs and my riches are a perfect fit.  I designed you to need Me not only for your daily bread but also for fulfillment of deep yearnings.”

December 9…the day we received our initial response from the pediatric cardiologist.

“Be willing to go out on a limb with Me.  If that is where I am leading you, it is the safest place to be.”

As if that weren't enough affirmation, God added a little extra flourish.

I was curled up on my bed, sharing these devotional “coincidences” with my daughter.  She was flipping through my Jesus Calling book as we were chatting.  All of a sudden she stopped. 

“MOM.  Get this.”

She’d looked up the devotions written for “Daphne’s” birthday and Caroline’s birthday.  The first line of each?

“I am with you and for you.”

Another coincidence?  A quick flip through all 365 days revealed that those were the only two entries that began with those exact words.  Not a coincidence in my book.

I wrote our social worker to tell her we were all in.  

Because in that moment I knew without a doubt where my heart was.  It was following the One who called me.  And it was waiting in China.

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