Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 7

I used to say that I could never do an open adoption. I said it in that annoying, naive way of someone who doesn't have a single clue what they are talking about. I said it in that patronizing way, "Oh, good for you! But I could never do it."

I didn't say these words aloud, but I said 'em, alright. I said them to myself. I said them to my heart.

You would think I would have known better. "Never say never!" Ha ha ha. But I still said never and I meant it, every time. I had seen all of the Made For TV specials. Open adoptions usually ended with dashed hopes and empty pocketbooks and gussied up cribs that would never be smudged up with baby grime hailing from who-knows-where. Occasionally, open adoptions even ended with custody battles and soul-shattering tug-of-war.

It's true, I knew that there were some positive outcomes. But that was not a risk I was ready to take.

And mostly? I did not want to share some one else's baby.

So, when a February night sky watched as we shuffled into a nondescript restaurant to meet the Birth Mama's parents, I was as surprised as anyone. And holy cow, was I nervous.

Think of the scariest job interview you've ever sat through and then ramp up the anxiety level by a factor of one hundred. That's sort of what it feels like to interview for a baby. Only we didn't know anything about these people. We couldn't Google them beforehand or bone up on their research. We couldn't impress them with the right answers, because we didn't know what their "right" even was.

The good news is, in times of uncertainty blended up with the jitters, I tend to default to my truest self. Maybe everyone does this. But for me, it's all I know to do. Stress boils me down to a shy-but-talkative, kinda-funny-but-mostly-not reduction. It boils me down to Shannan. Take me or leave me. (But please, take me!)

I know we ordered food, but I do not remember eating. I remember looking over at Cory when questions were asked. I remember deferring to his calm. I remember loving that profile sitting to the left of mine. I remember hoping that if nothing else, they could see the strength of our two-man team.

The people across the table ate fries and asked us questions that felt like getting to know a new friend. They were gracious and kind. They were in uncharted territory, just like us. Their nerves snapped and jumped right along with our own.

They told us the whole story. The promised nothing. They were fulfilling their part of a mission that may never move another step forward, and we all knew it. But we walked back into the icy dark with a spark of a hope. We hoped for a brand new gift. We dared to believe that God's plan for their daughter and her child might sweep out wide enough to bring us in under its net.

Still, we knew that this new hope we held was really just a speck on the horizon. There were other things that factored in. There were other people who had a say. There was one brave girl making the hardest decision of her life. There was the possibility that God had something different up His sleeve.

Months passed and the speck grew speckier. The Birth Dad was wild-cardish - unresponsive at one turn and over-eager at the next. The agency thought the baby might fit better with an inter-racial family.

Inch by inch, that lush blanket of velvety hope slipped out of our fingers. It was ok. It really was. We were at peace and we trusted that God knew best. I prayed at night for the Mama, the baby, the different family who might welcome the child. We believed strong that if it wasn't God's best plan for us, it wasn't worthy of our angst. We knew enough to know that we could walk away with hearts as full as they were the night that call came in.

So, we got back to the business of our regular, ordinary bliss. We kissed almond eyes and fiddled our way through a winter of toy school bus adventures on the dining room floor and stacks upon stacks of books.

All the while, I prayed for the girl who I wouldn't recognize if she were standing in front of me in the check-out line. I prayed that she was being guided graciously through all that she was facing. I prayed for people to stand in a tight circle around her, to prop her up. I prayed that she would know, for sure, what to do. And that she would feel loved, all the way through.

Somewhere between cold and warmish, the phone rang again. The same voice on the line wondered where we were with our home study.

Home study? What home study?

We were told that Birth Mama had switched agencies after some complications and differences in opinion. She had switched to Bethany, the very same agency that had completed our first home study, for Calvin.

Birth Mama was still intending to place the child for adoption. She was still interested to learn more about us. Were we still interested?

Wires that had inadvertently crossed were ironed smooth. We had some work to do. But we were interested, baby. We were 20 miles past interested.

In completing a home study for an open adoption, we were tasked to write an autobiography that the Birth Mom would read, along with a few other profiles, to make a final decision on adoptive parents.

We took turns at the keyboard and tapped out the clearest, truest written version of ourselves. We hoped that she liked us, but we resolved to not try to make predeterminations on what the "right" answers would be. Six pages later, we had an encapsulation of Us, our parenting styles, the state of our marriage, our faith, our views on being an interracial family, and all that falls in the cracks. I would be lying if I did not admit that with every line that I wrote, I breathed a silent plea, "Pick us! We'll love that baby. We'll teach that baby everything it needs to know."

We attached a photo of our little family, and with the click of the mouse, our fate rested in hands we had never seen.

A few weeks later, we got a different kind of call.

We were chosen.


Join me here next Wednesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 8

(To catch up on Chapters 1-6, click here and start from the bottom.)


  1. Dang, girl, you've got the gift of writing suspense! It's so exciting to read! Looking forward to the next chapter...

  2. Ooh, I'm getting goosebumps even though I know the happy ending!

  3. I have really enjoyed reading this series it is so beautifully honest and I feel like I know exactly what you're talking about even though I really don't.
    I'm happy for you that you were God's plan ~

  4. this is so captivating!.....and it's your life! :) i love it. my cousin just had her little girl's adoption finalized in court today ..... thank you for loving the little one's and being the awesome mom that you are!

  5. Why in the world am I on the edge of my seat when I already know how the story ends? You got a way, Farmgirl. A way with the written word, that's for sure.

  6. a big gasp escaped my mouth with those last words, "we were chosen." wow. it's so interesting, we went a similar experience - we made up our profile and several different birthmoms looked it over and never were we chosen. it was the hardest time of my life - over that year BUT God had foster care for us. little did we know at that time. amazing how he works isn't it?! :)

  7. I am loving this series. I can't wait to hear about you meeting Ruby!.
    Aubrie spent the night Mon. and I showed her Ruby's picture. Her other grandma is Ruby so she was interested but when she saw Ruby in the skates oh boy! We went to the store today and got a pair for her and Everett. They are going to have to practice on carpet for awhile though b/c they have NO control. Luckily, they came with knee and elbow pads. We may have to strap pillows on their hineys!
    PS I agree with Teresa ... you need a book deal! JK Rowling has nothing on you!!

  8. Please tell me you're going to put this in a book all together. It's so good.

  9. I was about to say that I was excited that we didn't have to wait until Wednesday...apparently the week is flying by here...

    What an exciting time!

  10. Shannan, please write the next installment and post it tomorrow. Ok? Please? I loathe suspense and this story is too good to put down. OK, so next week. :) Thought of you today because I met a nice elderly lady from Indiana. (I thought of you because of the state not the elderly part, just so ya know). We had 4 tornado's here in our little town today. This poor gal thought Arizona would be sunny. :) Ok, that was random. :)

  11. Merciful heavens, girl! I haven't felt this kind of suspense since I was left wondering who shot JR. And I've been through this adoption thing. Writing the autobiography--one of the most blessedly painful, revealing gifts you've ever received, wasn't it?

    This series has reminded me of something I used to say to folks during our whole infertility/adoption shuffle--family planning is a myth! So glad you're giving voice to your story!

  12. thank you for such a truly touching post. im right there with you pulling for the details to stitch together as i wait to hear the next part!

  13. This has been such an insightful series to read and I thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly.

    x Felicity

    PS If you'd like the chance to win some beautiful bunting for your home skip over to my blog x

  14. From reading this installment of the series it is so evident to me exactly why you were chosen. I think you have many more gifts than just writing.

  15. I love this. You know that right? It's something I snatch up and devour the minute I can. I have to have the right minute distractions, just me and FPFG's adoption story.

  16. I have to admit I was captured by Pioneer Woman's Love Story. I have quickly learned that it doesn't hold a candle to Big Adoption Series. This is the best, well written, heart tugging, goosebump giving, real life story, I have ever read. Thank you for sharing.

  17. How I love to hear, over and over, the precious stories of my grand babies. Our little finthess,is just what the Lord had in mind for us. God knew we needed the "River" to help complete our family circle. And nobody can hop on one foot like her!!

  18. I'm in tears again. I know I beg, plead, and petition you ever other time you post this series...and I always think to myself, 'Self, you must stop acting so blogger stalker like..' and I resort to my old ways of soliciting you to puuuulease publish this. I want to hold this in my own hands, flip the pages, fall asleep with it in my bed...

    I need to read, absorb, cry, pray, and have this all in a bound book. I need to be able to pass it out to others. Lady, you have a God given talent and you need to spread the word.

    I'm thankful for those three lil kid bellies that will be sitting at your breakfast table tomorrow morning.

  19. This series is amazing. I am seriously on the edge of my seat. Can't wait for next week. : )

  20. Wow. You are so articulate in your writing. My husband and I are still in that "we could never do an open adoption" place. I can't wait to see what's next in this story!

  21. Before we adopted (internationally) we had the unexpected privilege of hosting a birthmom in our home during her final months of pregnancy. It was a profound experience for us as future adoptive parents, let me tell you. Before that, I had felt just like you - I wouldn't have said it, but deep down I wanted a birthmother to give us her kid and get out of our lives. But when we found ourselves on the other side of the table, sitting next to the baby mama, vaguely wary of the adoptive parents and desperately protective of the unborn life they were pledging to raise in love, it changed my perspective permanently.

    I've enjoyed reading about your adoption. All adoption stories need be told, as any true story does.

  22. You write so beautifully....when you write your book I will buy it!!!



  23. I wish you would post THAT letter. I have no doubt it was penned from above!

  24. i really don't know what to say. with every chapter in this series you are writing...i feel myself taking one step closer to this calling in my heart. i could close my eyes and hear your words from right inside. and i wonder what's in store for our family. if some little life will join ours. or if we are meant to be four. i pray. i know what will be, will be. but i love reading about your journey.

    as an aside...i can appreciate granola, but i'm not crunchy.. i'm more of a frosted mini wheat kind of girl:) xoxo

  25. If I had read this twenty years ago, I'd have a houseful of babies right now Shan. All the time I read this installment, I kept thinking of little Rubies, up in her mom's belly - growing, and knowing full well the Good Lord was giving her to you.

  26. Chills. I love how God does His ironing.

  27. I'm loving this adoption series! I love how your faith, and God's plan, echoes with every word you write.

  28. ... I cry remembering that night, that dinner. You guys were awesome then and your still awesome. We truely love each one of your specially kids. Gods strength to the both of you. Keep up the excellent writing Shannan. You and Cory make the world a better place.

  29. Makes me want to read your letter, because i am sure it is award worthy! And of course they chose you, who else would they have chosen? love these posts!

  30. I'm SO glad they picked YOU!

    PS - I got loved bombed today - I can't put into words how amazing God & complete strangers are - speechless!

  31. I love reading your story each week it is so honest, real and full of hope. I love how God is using you.

  32. I got the goosebumps at the end, you always do that!

  33. yay yay yay!! I am missing the beginning of The Office and my date with Andy to read this awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing! You have a gift of writing so eloquently, keep it up! We can't wait for your next adoption series! We find out next week if we are done with our homestudy and a step closer to our Ruby. Blessings!

  34. We too agonized on our Bethany profile/autobiography to make sure that we weren't "selling" ourselves - and the phone call took us by happy surprise as well! For someone whose brain seems to lose rather than store away bits and pieces of our family adventure, I love this series that triggers those memories again. What a crazy ride that I would never have wanted to miss.

  35. Can't wait for the next "installment". It's so interesting to have a little window into your life stories.


  36. Hey there, fellow Indiana blogger :) This is my first time commenting but I've been following for awhile now! LOVE this series. So beautiful. So wonderfully captured. And so.....real!!! Every week I look forward to the next chapter. Can we pretend tomorrow is Wednesday again??

  37. You have got to stop making me cry! My husband is going to veto your blog! (Really - keep it coming. I can't wait!)

  38. Awww- I'm sitting here bawling - this is such a sweet, true story. Thank you for sharing! Hugs, Lola

  39. OOOH I love this---I got goosebumps too. What a fabulous story and I especially like you're strength in trusting that God knew best and was devising His own plan. Sometimes its amazing what happens when we just turn it over to Him. Seriously loving this series....

  40. My heart is smiling from this chapter! Thank goodness Miss Ruby came in to your lives!

  41. Wow! I finally had the chance to thoroughly read through your Big Adoption Series (all caught up to Ch.7!). I'm so glad that there are people out there in the world like you. I have so much respect for you and your beautiful heart.

    I've always known that adoption was for me (ever since the 5th grade!). I can't wait to get married someday and accomplish that goal. My heart longs for children who need homes.

    Can't wait to read more of your amazing life stories. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  42. WOW!
    I can't wait to read your next post!!!
    Kev and I are just starting to learn what's involved in adopting a child, and reading all your posts has really got us feeling happy/inspired/excited/hopeful this morning- thank you!

    Layla :-)

  43. B E A U T I F U L.
    What a joy to receive
    THE CALL....and what
    a blessing that little
    sweetheart must be to
    xx Suzanne

  44. beautiful!
    praise the Lord, working behind the scenes, hearing every prayer and delighting in giving you the desire of your heart:O)

  45. *This*: "Still, we knew that this new hope we held was really just a speck on the horizon. There were other things that factored in. There were other people who had a say. There was one brave girl making the hardest decision of her life. There was the possibility that God had something different up His sleeve." -- it sure has a way of taking us beyond ourselves, doesn't it?!