Eight months have gone by in a flash and I don’t even know how to begin, so I will just give a brief history and then share most of the details with you about our adoption of Phoebe Jane.
It started with a phone call from someone we knew well on April 25th. Brian and I had been asked to attend Les Miserables with some friends; they had second row, center seats at the Paramount so that’s where we were when we got the call. We did find it a bit odd that the same person had called both our phones, she didn’t leave a message on mine, but left a “hey, give me a call when you get a chance tomorrow…” kind of message on Brian’s.
See, we have talked about adoption for 20+ years. When I was young the Doctors let me know I might have difficulty getting pregnant so before we were even married the topic of adoption had already been discussed. After our wedding we decided to start trying immediately just in case it did take a long time or find it was impossible. After about a year and a half we had already turned our discussion to adoption. We had been approved through Catholic Charities to be foster parents and had high hopes it would be a placement which would eventually lead to adoption. The last step in our process was to get fingerprinted, and the day we were going to get it done I found out I was pregnant. That’s how they say it happens, right?!
Needless to say, adoption and foster care took a back seat to our exciting news and a couple years after Lucy was born, we were pregnant again with Sophie. We then waited a few more years and decided; maybe just one more and that’s when our son Henry was born sleeping. But that’s another blog for another day. After an additional baby was lost at 20 weeks, its twin, Gus was born alive and kicking! I should let you know now, none of these were easy peasy births, all successful, but we certainly needed the excellent doctors and nurses God brought into our lives each time a baby was born.
After Henry was born, we had once again visited adoption. We met with friends who had adopted internationally, we talked with agencies, we gathered information, read books and we prayed. Then we had Gus, we assumed we were done. We had been through so much with Henry and Gus’ twin (the one Gus doesn’t currently know about) – we were just happy to have our lively little boy and we were content… but in the back of our minds I think we both had that nagging sensation that adoption was still a part of our story. We did the only thing we knew to do and started up again on our research. Brian had gone on a missions trip to Ethiopia so that seemed like a great place to start, but things were changing with guidelines and governments so we shifted to Haiti because that was going to be opening again! We started with an agency again and were so excited, but then something happened and we both got very busy with work and it just didn’t seem like it was the right time so we stopped. We really hadn’t given them much money, so that was good!
It was two Wednesday’s before the opening of our latest show I was producing, a new musical for our company and a beast to boot! Set pieces needed to be finished and delivered, costumes needed to be finished and flight equipment needed to be installed and actors and volunteers taught how to use it; I was overwhelmed. That day, Brian got a phone call from a friend who has an incredible sports ministry that helps fund adoptions. He asked Brian if we were still interested in adopting Internationally and if we were they would like to help us prayerfully and financially. We talked about it and decided we just weren’t in the position to commit to fundraising, classes and paperwork. We thought it was best if this ministry bless someone else, Brian would put it on his to-do list to get back to him and let him know.
The following Wednesday, things hadn’t slowed down any but I asked Brian if he would be interested in re-visiting foster care, I was beginning to think if we did, God would just place the child(ren) we were meant to have in our home and we could leave it at that. Brian agreed and we decided that would be our next move after Tarzan was finished. But then we got the call on Saturday, while at Les Mis that changed the course of our plans. Brian returned the call like he was asked on Sunday afternoon and he heard, “Someone we know had a baby and she is unable to keep her, she doesn’t want her to go into foster care and I told her I thought I knew someone who would like to adopt her; would you?” Brian responded, “Sure!” On the other end of the phone was a giggle and a question, “Should you ask Missy first?” Of course I agreed immediately and we were given the number of a social worker and we contacted a friend of ours who happens to be an attorney.
I left a message for the social worker (let’s be honest, I may have left more than one…) but it was Sunday so we got no word. Our friend did tell us he no longer did adoptions but had a partner who did, so he gave us his information and Brian contacted him. On Monday morning, the social worker returned my call without matching the same level of enthusiasm I had. She was curious as to who we were, was one of us related to the birth mom and all sorts of other questions. She told us that this isn’t how the system works and that most likely we wouldn’t be able to adopt this baby but we could come to her office if we wanted; we did. I think we were at her office by 10am., she asked us what we knew, we shared the few details we had and she told us the baby was going to be placed in foster care that day. She told us there wasn’t much of a chance for us and this baby but we could go through the process of becoming licensed and after 4 months we could see where this baby was, but not to get our hopes up.
We left her office sad, but not defeated! The mom had conveyed she wanted us to adopt her baby so we contacted our attorney, he was very knowledgeable about adoptions, but said he knew someone even better that had worked with DCFS on many cases and recommended we seek his council, so we did. Within minutes of our call he left a message for the social worker and boy did things start moving! The social worker called and asked us if the birth mom knew she had a court date on Wednesday? How would we know?? But we were able to get word to her that she did and we were told we could attend that court date but it was unlikely anything would happen. I had a staff meeting at my office that morning and shared with my sweet co-workers what was going on and they prayed quickly for me before I rushed off. Brian and I were very punctual in our arrival of the 1:30pm. court time. When we arrived the State’s Attorney was there, the social worker, DCFS’ attorney and the birth grandmother were all there, the only one missing was the birth mom.
The good news was, she had called to say she was running late, so the Judge held his courtroom for 20 more minutes. 20 minutes turned into 30, then 45 and then an hour. We were told it was unlikely mom would show up, that things like this happen all the time. But for some reason, the judge, the State’s Attorney, the social worker and DCFS’ attorney all stayed and the judge agreed to hold his court and wait for her. They let us know that at 4:30pm. if she didn’t show up, it would be a no go for us. The birth grandmother decided she would take matters into her own hands since the birth mom had a C-section and was unable to drive. She left maybe around 3pm., of course traffic was bad and the location she needed to drive to was not close to the courthouse, so we decided nail biting, chit chat and silent prayers were our best bet at that point. At 4:27pm. she was at the courthouse – yep, 3 minutes prior to our “deadline”. The judge called us all into his courtroom and asked us all a few questions and then let the birthmother know, she was late. Very late, too late to complete anything regarding an adoption and she would need to come back on Friday.
One can probably imagine our disappointment, we were all there! Everyone that needed to be there, was there… and we had to wait. My mind was racing, we all went into another room outside of the courtroom. Birth mom was insistent that the baby not be in foster care, DCFS’ attorney told her there was a paper she could sign and the baby could be removed from their care and placed in ours. Mom was very reluctant to sign it because it had DCFS at the top of the page, but she looked up at me and asked “Do you want me to sign it?” I replied, “I think it’s the only way we can have the baby” she signed all the paperwork immediately and then left with her mother.
I quickly inquired with the attorney as to what exactly she had just signed! She let me know that the paperwork she signed placed the baby in our care as guardians for one year. I, of course, was panicked! One year?! What happens after that?! She tried to calm me, but told me it was the best case scenario for the baby, so I tried to relax. That evening, the baby was removed from the Foster family, who had high hopes themselves they would be adopting this sweet baby girl, and brought to our home around 8:30pm. When the social worker arrived I couldn’t believe how tiny she was! I had only seen a blurry picture taken with a poor quality cellphone and that was it until now. She was perfect. Tons of dark hair, big cheeks and just perfect at 7 lbs. and 19 inches long. That was it, one look and we were absolutely in love! This is precisely when our friend with the sports ministry called to ask about our decision and Brian excitedly explained the events the last few days had brought and yes, we were planning to pursue adoption but God had just dropped off the perfect one.
I took to Facebook to give a quick prayer request and God heard our prayers. Friday came and as I arrived at the courthouse and put my purse on the belt for the security scan, the guard leaned over and touched my arm and said “She’s here!” I couldn’t believe he knew who I was! How did he know? He quickly pointed across the large foyer and there she stood with her mom and my husband creating small talk. I joined them and we were all told to come back to the same room we had sat for many hours just two days before. Birth mom and grandma went into a room with their attorney and we sat nervously making chit chat with anyone that would indulge. She met with him for about 40 minutes and then asked to see the judge by herself. She came out and we were asked to come into his chambers, he was a very kind man and we had sensed that the last time we were in his courtroom. He first asked how the baby was doing and then said, “Congratulations, mom has surrendered all of her rights to the baby and she has specifically named you, the adoptive parents.” That sweeping joy rushed through every vein in my body! The sense of relief, joy, and every emotion you can imagine washed over me. This wasn’t a dream, this was really happening.
When we left the judge’s chambers we went back to the room to wait and birth mom was still there. We talked again, she asked how the kids liked the baby and I was happy to report they were in love. She talked about having horrible heartburn during pregnancy and attributed it to the full head of dark hair she came out with. She talked about her time in the hospital and the allergic reaction she had to some of the medications and just small talk. It was nice, she was very brave as just a few tears ran down her cheek. I told her the baby had a hearing appointment coming up, (she had failed her hearing test in the hospital, but would later pass with flying colors) I had an appointment that afternoon because she seemed to be jaundice and she was born with a heart murmur that I would be taking her to a specialist to have checked out. It was as though she also had a large sigh of relief. A baby comes with more than just emotion, it comes with lots of care and I would like to think at that moment the relief I saw in her face was because she knew, we would give her the care and attention she needed.
In that conversation she also shared with us that she had prayed and asked the Lord to tell her who to call about adopting the baby. She said she continued to have the same name run through her mind over and over again. She asked her mom to call them, but for her own reasons was reluctant. After many requests the birth grandmother finally made the call and inquired if they knew anyone that might be willing. They immediately thought of us and said “Yes!” When the she heard we were willing, she knew 100% God had his hand in this. We later heard for the first time since the birth, she seemed at peace.
After that, it was just paperwork and waiting. We contacted our adoption agency, we had started with the year prior and had them complete our home study. We filed all the necessary paperwork and our attorney worked diligently on all the rest. It’s not the easiest or most peaceful process, but we surrendered it to the Lord and He was faithful. In record time the adoption was complete and Phoebe Jane was legally ours in every way. Friends and family came to the courthouse that day and filled the room, it was one of the best days of our family’s life.
We are abundantly grateful for the opportunity and so thankful that our Heavenly Father has entrusted this special life in our hands. We are also thankful this woman chose to give life and breath to this baby. We will continue to give thanks for her and hope in her future, she not only reflects on surrendering her rights as birth mother, but she would reflect on the fact that God answered her prayer when she called out to him. And as she comes to that realization, she would surrender the rest of her life in the capable hands of our Lord and Savior, so she might tell her story and change and inspire the lives of those around her, so they too might know the healing power of Jesus.
Ephesians 1:3-8 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
Phoebe – Bright and Pure
Jane – God’s Gracious Gift (Jane = Brian’s moms name, the Foster mother’s name and yes – Jane is a leading character in Tarzan – our production at the time; the theme of which is about adoption)