I'm not good at keeping secrets. Well, let me rephrase that; I'm not good at keeping my own secrets. I've always been a verbal processor, so I think that telling my own secrets is some sort of coping mechanism. But with adoption, sometimes telling too much too soon can hurt the people who love you, and can break your own heart as well.
Last August we were so fatigued. We had walked through so many circumstances that left us feeling like this adoption thing was just never going to happen. I felt as though if I was patient, my patience was foolish. However, to not wait patiently felt like I was abandoning the call to adopt altogether and dismissing God's promises.
Somehow, though, in the midst of all of this, one year ago today, Jason and I found ourselves eating Thai food and sitting across from a woman named Jenny who was telling us we were going to be parents. I could count the number of people who knew this dinner was happening on one hand. We had hardly told anyone for fear that it wouldn't work out; for fear that we wouldn't be chosen. But there we were, with empty plates of Pad Thai in front of us, hearing that we'd be going to Texas in less than a month to meet our daughter.
(by the way, Jenny is referred to as "C" in Brighten's story because it's her last initial since we already have a lot of J's in our family)
If you've read Brighten's story, you know all about what came next as far as the preparation, travel, and her birth. But the untold story is how we had to put our hearts out there in order for those things to come to fruition. It's human nature to put a wall around our hearts and guard ourselves when we are let down too many times. We learn to disengage, to save a piece of love for ourselves, but what happens when you can't do that? What happens when, for the good of the baby girl who is going to be born and who you will soon become your daughter, you must drain the moat of self preservation and and allow all of the people, the feelings, and the emotions to come pouring in? That is adoption. That is our adoption into God's family, and because of the example that Christ set for us, we knew that these were our marching orders for our adoption of Brighten.
Shock, excitement, and terror were the feelings that I had when we left the restaurant that night. I was shocked that THIS WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. I looked at Jason as if to say, "You heard that too, right?" After almost three years of laboring through the adoption process, it was finally time for us to become parents.
Even though we knew that the time was short between that night and our daughter's arrival, it felt like mountains would have to move for us to get everything ready. From paperwork to travel plans to actually having what we needed to bring an infant into our home, it was just a tiny bit overwhelming to think about getting it all done in such a short amount of time (not to mention we were both working full-time and had to get everything ready to leave for 14-30 days).
I'm good with a to do list, so this part was easier for me to wrap my mind around. What was difficult was letting myself go ahead and love this baby girl because I SO BADLY did not want this all to fall apart.
When we left the Thai restaurant, we called our parents, went to visit my sisters, and called several friends to tell them the news. It was late when we got home and we had to get in touch with the adoption attorney to get the ball rolling on the paperwork and legal side of things. The next morning, I woke up early and counted down the minutes to an appropriate hour to begin reaching out to more friends and family to let them know our special news. There was no denying that this was, in fact, happening...or at least we had to decide to try our best operate that way and not question it.
One of the most special messages i sent was to our Gospel Community group (GC as we like to call it, basically, our small group from church).
I decided since most everyone in our GC has kids and/or works, everyone would be awake by 7:15. Everyone's response was so encouraging and I just kept reminding myself that this was actually my real life. Even son, every time our attorney or Jenny would text me or call me, my heart would beat so fast I thought it was going to burst out of my chest. I had made the decision to not fear that this would all fall apart, but when I saw their names pop up on caller ID, I couldn't help but allow my brain go there for just a millisecond.
With each day that grew closer to Brighten's due date, our love for her grew stronger and stronger. We got a few pictures from her birth mom showing off her baby bump, and that was so special. I'll always cherish those pictures because other than the night before B was born, it was the only time we got to see her before she was born.
We also got to talk to her birth mom on the phone once about a week or so before we left for Texas. It was so special to get to tell her how we chose the name Brighten, talk about our travel plans, and just connect with her in some small way. It's funny though because I remember feeling queasy for almost a solid 24 hours after our phone conversation. When we talked to her, she had to get off the phone kind of abruptly and she said she'd call us back later. Well, we didn't hear from her until the next day because she had to go to work and I seriously thought we'd said something that had sent her running for the hills.
It's hard to believe that it's been a full year since Brighten was born. I can't imagine a world in which I'm not her mommy. She's so special and spunky and I'm so glad that we were chosen to be her parents. Adoption is so, so hard at times, but there is certainly beauty amidst the brokenness, and that's what we've gotten to experience though Brighten.
One of the things they don't teach you in adoption training classes is about when to guard your heart and when to let jump all in with love. It's messy, and you open yourself up to experience deep pain and grief, but learning to love without hesitation is one of the greatest gifts that I've received from our adoption journey. Learning to love this way, without hesitation, it truly changes everything. For us, it all began one year ago with a little Thai food and whole lot of hope.