We can set our expectations, our ways, and our path, but there’s no guarantee that any of our plans will work out the way we intend. I mean is there anything in life that goes exactly how we want it to? If life went according to our plans we would all be living happily ever after with a big house, a perfect job, an amazing spouse, and a home filled with love, joy, and laughter. But life isn’t so simple. Life isn’t easy. It’s not meant to be lived according to a blueprint that we lay out. It’s meant to have peaks and valleys, it’s meant to have moments of pure bliss, and moments of dreaded sadness. We can do all we want to plan our future but the Lord, or the Universe, or whatever it is that you believe in will ultimately do what it wants with your journey.
When we first began fostering we set out a list of expectations. We decided we wanted to adopt and so this would be the easiest way of accomplishing that (Ha! How naive was I?!?!). Two years and 9 placements later, a newborn baby boy was presented to us. Immediately I wanted to say no. This was not what I had wanted. It wasn’t within my “plan”. We wanted a newborn girl, not boy. But my mother saw something I did not. God spoke to her when I wouldn’t listen. When she saw this sweet 9 day old baby boy’s picture, laying in a hospital bassinet she began crying at her office desk 1500 miles away. She told me, “Bailey I feel like I’m looking at my grandson.” I kind of wanted to laugh out loud. The picture was so tiny and blurry you couldn’t even really see anything. But this is where God’s biggest miracle started playing out. With the urge of my mom, the push of a best friend who said she would watch him for the 2 weeks I needed while I finished teaching for the school year, and an anxious heart we said yes. Forty-five minutes later I found myself in a hospital parking lot picking up the tiniest baby that I had ever seen. Unbeknownst to me, I had just met my son.
The months to follow were pure bliss. I never knew how caring for a newborn could be something my heart so desperately needed. Each day that passed I fell more in love with this sweet baby. His future looked likely to allow him to stay apart of our family forever. Our hearts grew, our expectations for the future became clear, and everyday I couldn’t believe that finally after all these years of waiting I was going to be able to become a forever mama. But when our sweet boy was two months old our world unexpectedly came crashing down. Our baby boy was being moved to another family, to be placed for private adoption. He would be hundreds of miles away with strangers who had never once met him. Never once in my life have I felt grief the way I felt when I was told we were losing him. It was the darkest day of my entire life.
I did not stop crying for a full 24 hours after finding out that he was gone. I remember laying on the couch that night hoping and praying I could just find a way to stay up all night long because the thought of falling asleep only to wake up the next day and deal with everyone all over again felt completely impossible. Grief is common in foster care, it’s almost expected, but I can truly say this was the most debilitating grief I have ever experienced. Unknown to me though God was working one of His most miraculous plans I have ever seen and what was about to happen can only be explained as miracle.
As we went through the next few days we learned more details of what this move would entail. We spoke with the adoptive family and God began to heal my heart in ways I never could have imagined. He reminded me that this sweet child was not mine, but His. He allowed me to learn details of this adoptive family that softened my heart and our community of followers and supporters rallied around us as we prepared to say goodbye. Still, I had no idea of what work God was doing in other people’s hearts.
One week from the day we found out our sweet boy was leaving we received a phone call that changed everything. The adoptive family withdrew their petition to adopt because they felt that God was saying he was our child. I literally could not believe it. I felt like I was in a dream. What this family did not know was that it didn’t matter if they felt like he was our son, for various reasons we couldn’t be considered for private adoption and no matter what he was leaving our family. Private adoption and foster care adoption are two totally different worlds and unfortunately it’s not that easy to allow them to coincide with each other. Once again though, I had no idea what God was up to.
The details to follow feel like they are out of a storybook. Sometimes I honestly can’t even believe they happened to our family. Somehow, someway God opened the door for allowing a conversation to occur between us and the private adoption worker. We pleaded with her to let us just be merely considered for adoption. We spoke about how much we had fallen in love with this child, how our hearts shattered when we lost him, and how if at all possible we would love to be this child’s forever family. We hung up the phone with her saying, “I’ll think about it and call you tomorrow.” The next 12 hours I did nothing but cry out to Jesus. Our entire community was on pins and needles praying so strongly to the Lord to make a way when they felt there was no way.
The next morning the phone rang with the disappointing news that we were likely not being chosen. She explained she would call back in a few hours to discuss more details but this is where her heart was leading her. I was used to disappointment at this point and I knew it was a long shot anyway. I called my mom, my husband, and my dad and told them that unfortunately it looked like our sweet boy was still moving to another family. I was heart broken but knew God had orchestrated so much. I began to trust that whatever it was that God had planned for this baby’s life He knew far more than I could ever understand. Once again, I had no clue what Jesus was up to.
Two hours after that first phone call I was spending time worshipping as my two foster daughters played in the pool. I had our sweet boy napping next to me while I read my Bible and sang out to the Lord. I knew that whatever the final decision was, I was going to be okay. God had prepared my heart this far, He would get me through whatever was to come. When the phone rang I answered it with a weariness to my voice. I just wanted the bandaid ripped off once and for all. This teeter tottering back and forth was too much for my weak heart to handle. As the adoption worker spoke on the phone I will never forget her words, “I feel like he belongs to you and your family. I’m choosing you.” The wails from the depths of my soul will never, ever be forgotten. Four years of longing to be a mother were released in that moment. Finally, oh finally, the time had come. Jesus had worked a true miracle.
If I were to tell you the miraculous moments after that phone call that were still to come you wouldn’t believe it. Like how people across the world were praying for our family and asking God specifically for this situation to occur, or how attorneys who fight the system each and every day rejoiced and cried on the phone with us as we told them the good news, or how a man who had loved and supported our family in the past stepped up in the most amazing way to support a need that we could not have met on our own. He paved the way for allowing us to adopt our sweet boy. The miracles just kept coming. To this day they still haven’t stopped.
Finally in December of this past year we made it official what God always knew. We adopted our son and became forever parents for the first time in our lives.
When I think back to all those years I so desperately wanted to be a parent, how I worked so hard to make “my plan” work the way I wanted it to, I am in awe of how much I would have royally screwed up all God had to offer. If it was up to me I would have had a biological child years ago and never would have been able to experience God’s goodness the way I have through fostering and adopting. I look back on our life and see how God said no to so many things because He was preparing us for our son. I see how He allowed me to teach for 5 years before bringing us a forever child so that I would be able to leave my career and stay home to care for our son and his high medical needs, how Josh transferred jobs two years ago and is finally settled enough for us to be able to focus on our family more, how He said no to the 4 houses we put offers in on to buy and led us to purchasing the home we were renting which kept us close to the hospital we would so frequently need to visit for therapies and hospital admissions. I see it all, and none of it could have worked if our son was brought to us a day sooner. God, for years, was paving the way for this sweet boy to join our family, but we had no idea. So now when I become frustrated that things aren’t working out the way I want them to I remind myself, that His plans are not my plans, they usually are better.