What do music row, chicken and dumplings, and Needtobreathe have in common? If you're me, these things are what dreams are made of, but beside that, they are all stops along the way to meeting our baby girl, Brighten Storie.
In an effort to do her story justice, I'll be posting in several different parts. At the end of each post, I'll link to each different segment so that you can follow along and see the full picture of her amazing life so far.
Searching for Sunshine: Music Row
On August 22nd, Jason was working in Nashville and I had tagged along with him. The office he works out of in Nashville is on music row and I'd met him for lunch. While we were sitting in a small little pizza place and I was attempting to eat a terrible salad, Jason's face got this weird contorted look on it and he handed me his phone. "Read this," he said, so I did. It was an email from a friend at Brook Hills to the church's adoption support group. Funny enough, we didn't even realize we were still on that distribution list since we left to be part of Immanuel Church almost two years ago.
The email didn't give much information, but basically just said that if you know someone who is domestic home study ready (we were) and would be interested in adoption a baby girl from Texas who was would be born in September, contact this person. So we did.
As we headed back to Birmingham that afternoon, I emailed back in forth with the attorney and another mutual friend from Brook Hills, we'll call her "C". They didn't have a ton of information, but from what we knew, we wanted to move forward and keep the conversation open. A baby girl from Texas not what we were expecting, but how could we say no just because that wasn't our expectation? The only expectation that matters in adoption is the child's expectation. Did we meet birth mother's parameters of an adoptive family? Yes. Were we home study ready? Yes. Were we ready to become parents? As ready as we could ever be.
One of the biggest realizations that I had on this very insightful three hour trip home was this: I'm not wise enough to discern if our family is right for a child or not. If there's a baby who needs a home, I have to walk through every open door I can and depend upon God to shut the door if He sees fit to do so. I trusted that He would because I'd seen Him do it time and time again throughout this journey.
Rewind: An Unexpected Grace
Let's step back a couple of weeks. This is part of our story that we have not told. Partly because it was painful to talk about and partly because it abruptly became someone else's story to tell. But today, I will tell our part and I hope that it'll do the story some sort of justice.
On August 8th, we found out about a baby boy who had been born at 28 weeks and his birth parents were looking to place him with an adoptive family. We found out at about 9:30 a.m., talked to the attorney at 10:30 a.m., submitted our profile for consideration at 11:00 a.m., and found out that the birth parents had narrowed the potential families down to two and we were one of them at 12:30 p.m. It was an urgent situation and they wanted to meet that night.
August 8th will live on as one of the most emotionally charged days of my life. In the midst of preparing to meet the birth parents of baby boy on Birmingham, we got an call from our adoption attorney in Florida. She had a potential placement for us. What in the world?! We decided to continue on meeting the birth parents that night and we'd let the Florida attorney know if we could move forward the next day. About 30 minutes after that call, the Florida attorney called back and said that the family decided not to go through with the placement. We went from zero potential placements to one, to two, back to one in a matter of hours.
That night we arrived at the hospital at 7:30 p.m. to meet with the birth parents of baby boy and the adoption attorney. They asked us some questions and then we met baby boy. We were there for about two hours and walked away praying for extra amounts discernment the birth parents as they made their decision.
Since baby boy was born at 28 weeks, he was expected to be in the NICU for several months while he continued to grow and develop. We felt so torn and excited and scared and nervous. On the one hand, we wanted to be open to what God had for us. We prayed for Him to send us out into the brokenness of this world and the messiness of adoption. But on the other hand, our lives would change in an absolute instant if we were chosen, and not just in the normal ways of becoming first time parents. Adopting a very premature baby had many added variables, and we knew that baby boy not only needed a family, but needed the right family. The gravity of this will never translate in the words of a blog post, but it was heavy, and we felt its weight. We walked away excited, but terrified, and committed to praying more fervently than we ever had before.
We were told we'd know something the next day. Once the next day rolled around, we waited and waited and heard nothing. Our hearts sank as we thought they'd chosen the other family but hadn't told us yet. As it turns out, they needed more time and said they'd let us know something by the weekend, which was four days away.
The next several days were so hard. Actually, hard is an understatement. We'd met baby boy and had envisioned parenting him - parenting him in the hospital and dreamed of the day we'd get to bring him home. We'd leapt into plans of our next few months and work and life and how everything would revolved around little, tiny, 2.5 lb. baby boy. We jumped all in with our hearts and minds because he deserved that from us. If we were chosen, we'd take custody right away. We decided to begin to love him right then and there. That Friday night, the attorney called and told us that the birth parents had chosen the other family. We were sad and heartbroken, but also rejoicing because a baby had a family! It was the strangest mix of emotions I've ever felt. We had an answered prayer - discernment for the birth parents to choose well, but the outcome was not what we wanted.
This week was one of the hardest of my life. It was everything good about our God and hard about this world. Little did we know, just two weeks later we'd find out about a little girl in Texas.
Back to Brighten: Giving Our Yes
Back to the week of August 22nd...
We emailed back and forth with C, our mutual friend from Brook Hills. We said we would like to be considered to be chosen as this baby girl's parents. We asked questions. C asked questions. It was a good dialogue for both of us because we were both getting to know each other, which was a vital part of this adoption. Why was it important? I'm so glad you asked...
Brighten has a biological brother in Birmingham, and C is his mom.