“I grew up in a Catholic family, so God and I conducted most of our business on Sundays, via the droning of various parish priests, while I counted to see how many bald guys were at Mass that day. Comb-overs didn’t count and I collected bonus points if they had something weird growing on their head. I don’t think God liked that part.
But even though I wasn’t technically listening to the teachings of the Bible or the sermon or really anything at all while I was at Mass, I knew God was there. Probably just waiting for me to grow up a little bit, so we could chat about important stuff, like world peace and ending poverty and why I had to go and get boobs way before everybody else. So I just waited.
I waited until one blisteringly hot Sunday in July of 2016. My husband Brian and I were at our church in Nashville, TN – mostly just to access the free childcare and have a few, uninterrupted moments of sitting together without a child in each lap, when I had the almost audible thought of, ‘We should probably adopt a kid.’
My first response as a rational, responsible wife and mother-of-two was, HELL NO we should not. It sounded too expensive and too risky and too… much. We’d always talked about the possibility of adopting, but our family had just gotten our heads above water and back when Brian and I were first married and said, ‘maybe we’d want to adopt someday’ we meant like, in 20 years. And a dog.
But I couldn’t shake this feeling. This feeling that God was finally speaking to me. After all my years of waiting and wishing to hear from him, I finally felt like I could hear what he was trying to say. But like any true native New Englander, I refused to breathe a word of this to anyone. And I asked God to up his game. I asked him to tell me again, and louder this time. And then I sat back and waited for radio silence.
Four days later, Brian took me and our two boys, Oliver and Archie, out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants (which was basically any restaurant that served food I didn’t have to make) and as our five and two-year-olds raced Hot Wheels cars all over the table and giggled every time they almost spilled their lemonades, we started up a conversation about how life was good.
Finances were good.
Marriage was good.
Kids were good.
And then he said it, ‘So what should we do now? Like, adopt a kid or something?’
And my chin dropped to the floor. Which was sticky, because our kids had finally spilled their lemonades.
I hadn’t breathed a word to him about my first-ever conversation with God earlier that week. And here he was, bringing up adoption. And confirming what I’d ask God to do – to speak louder. To tell me He was real.
And so we did it.
We started the adoption process. First in the hopes of adopting a child from Burundi. We filled out all the paperwork, 12 lbs. of it to be exact. Completed our home study and home study revisions and home study re-revisions. We cried on the phone with USCIS workers and immigration supervisors and begged for extensions when things fell through the cracks or weren’t completed in time. We learned about Burundian culture and what we could expect from walking through a transracial adoption. Hell, we even had t-shirts made. Our family spent a over a year dreaming of the little boy or girl that would join our family from Central Africa. We talked about what they might look like, sound like, be like – only to have that dream torn form our fingertips without warning. Without a single sign that our entire world would be turned upside down.
One morning in May of 2017, just as school was letting out for the summer, my cell phone rang. It was our adoption caseworker. No updates on our Burundi dossier process – what else was new? But her tone seemed too cheery to be calling without any good news. With caution in her voice, she began to tell me about an 18-month-old little boy in the Philippines, whose mom had unexpectedly passed away, after he was born 10 weeks too early. With no one else able to care for him, he’d been transferred to a state-run orphanage and had been waiting there ever since. She asked if we would be willing to read his file and because I am nothing if I’m not a people pleaser, I said I would be.
Brian and I sat together and read over his comprehensive and lengthy medical file over lunch at one of those causal dining establishment that serves 3,000-calorie salads. There was a lot to digest (pun very much intended), but we both felt strangely calm about the whole thing. Especially because this little boy had some special needs that fit exactly into the wheelhouse of my profession as a speech language pathologist. So much so that as we looked over his file, we both agreed that it almost seemed too good to be true.
Was this God speaking to me again? I couldn’t be sure. I thought I had heard his message clearly the first time, but this seemed like a pretty significant audible – even for Him. Were we really ready to abandon the dream we’d been pursuing for the last year? We were ready to start from scratch and walk this terribly difficult walk all over again?
After moment’s hesitation and I finally answered, ‘Sure, let’s freaking do it.’ The whole thing seemed too on-the-nose, too predestined, to ignore.
Because a decade ago, I got this unexplainable feeling that I should change careers and go back to school for a very specific degree, to be able to help children with very specific, special needs. An unexplainable feeling that I couldn’t rationalize at the time, but still decided to follow. A feeling that, though irrational, seemed to make sense. And as it turns out years later, that very feeling would lead me right to our third little boy, living halfway around the world.
A feeling that makes me realize now, that God has been talking to me all along… and because I’ve realized that He’s been talking to me, I now know that all those times I prayed for patience when it came to raising my boys – those prayers have been answered. Because this process has required us to exercise patience like we never could have imagined possible. And we’ve gotten pretty darn good at it; although every now and then it’s punctuated by spontaneous fits of crying for absolutely no reason at all – Sorry lady at the Starbucks drive-thru…
So, for right now, our family continues to wait. We wait for a phone call that could come at literally ANY moment. A phone call that will tell us, ‘Come on down! You’re the next contestants on the Time is Right!’ like some sort of all-powerful, adoption-themed Drew Carey, telling us our family has won a trip to the Philippines in the Showcase Showdown.
And so, if you happen to bump into me on the street and you notice me compulsively checking my phone, please excuse me. I’m just waiting for our lives to change forever. Also, maybe I’m checking Instagram. But it’s probably the first thing.”
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