Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Big Adoption Series - Chapter 8

So, we were adopting again. Adopting already.

We were gearing up to bring a wrinkly-faced, codgerish baby into our mix and in hindsight, that sounds pretty scary, but at the time, it felt positively right. We did the math. By Summer's end, we would have a 17-month old toddler and a baby.

We could never have imagined that within six months of bringing Calvin home we would be brewing a new addition. Yet at the time and even in this exact moment, I am comforted by time-frames that free-fall out the window. I am calmed when a brand new plan floats down to fill a spot on our plate that we didn't even realize was empty. I know enough to know that when things come together "behind the scenes" I am the one standing in the back. There couldn't be a better reminder of who is really in charge. Hallelujah, it ain't me.

This baby was knitting together in hot pursuit of us because that was the story God penned for its tiny, magnificent life. We were drumming our fingers on the table, waiting on that very life to fold into our own because that was the story God whispered in our ear. Only really, he didn't whisper. Really, he laughed crazy-loud and shouted "Get ready for this!" Because He knew that our serene life was about to give way to the kind of mayhem that arrives uninvited on the heels of mid-night feedings and nap schedules and cans of formula worth their weight in gold. Oh, and a toddler who is barely walking but already won't. stop. talking.

Oh, we had no idea.

I pitched myself off of the crest of hopeful anticipation and right into the place where I do my best pre-baby nesting. Ebay.

I searched for another crib to match the one right across the hall. I searched for boy bedding. I searched for girl. Of course, I couldn't buy, and this pained me. I was an artist with no brush. I was Rachael Ray with no EVOO. I had a vision. Scratch that - I had two. But I couldn't execute either of them.

Baby's birth mom had relayed the information that she would not be finding out ahead of time whether the baby was a he or a she. She was guarding her heart in any way possible. It made sense to me, but even if it hadn't, it wasn't my show. It was none of my business.

Lurking in the dustiest corner of my mind was the notion that she might change her mind and decide to keep the baby. We have all heard the stories. But from every indication, she was resolute.

We did not hear from her during this time and we rarely heard from her family. With our home study complete, we heard very little from our agency. In lieu of communicating, we all did a version of the very same thing - we watched those paper pages fly from the calendar. This was time-sensitive waiting we were doing. There was a bright, shiny light at the end of a tunnel that was growing ever shorter.

Cory and I swam in a sea of butterflies and scooped them up, one by one, in our nets. Without warning, they would be loosed, and we would repeat the entire scenario again and again.

(My pent up anxiety unleashed one night as I slept, when I dreamed the baby arrived as my 28 year old cousin, Terri. We thought it was a little surprising, but in the end, we rolled with it.)

We inched nearer to the sun, our shadowed selves grew longer, our tomato plants scrambled up the side of our garage. We marveled as Calvin plucked words from the sky and made them his own. We kissed his black hair. We waited.

We held tight to the one thing that we believed - there would be a baby in our arms at Summer's steamy end.

New information was sparse, so we gripped harder on that one thing. Our knuckles blanched and our muscles ached, but we did not let go.

With just one month to go, I wrote a Bible verse on a note card then folded it in two. Words of courage and faith and selflessness written in everyday blue linked together chain-mail-style and stood guard in my back pocket. We bundled up our jangled nerves, kissed on the lips and walked into Papa Vino's to meet Birth Mom Shosh, for the very first time.

There we sat, Cory and I, Shosh and her parents. We glided through small talk and every now and then the thought would hit me smack dab in the heart: she has a baby growing inside her and she's planning to give that baby to us. The evening swung wildly from normal to hard to comprehend. I pretended to eat my food and mused silently that those seated around us, dipping bread into oil, talking with a friend, perhaps on a first date -- they had no idea what was happening right beside them.

Of course - I fell in love with her. Of course I did.

I wanted to push pause on the rest of the world and just stare at her beautiful smile, her gorgeous curls, her earthy skirt. I wanted to memorize her, to intuit her baby. I wanted her to like me. I wanted her to trust me. I wanted her to love me back.

Somewhere beyond tiptoeing around the difficult and looking past the belly we all touched our toes to the water and before long, we were in up to our ankles. The conversation took a turn. We all knew why we were there. I struggled then just as I sometimes struggle now to strike a balance between demonstrating my all-in excitement and respecting her loss. I felt myself reigning in in deference to all that she was preparing to release, and then I worried that she would find me too far removed from the magnitude of the gift. I vacillated and prayed that God would give us all the exact lenses to view the scene most accurately, most graciously.

I looked into the eyes of this young woman, my peer, and saw Jesus looking back. I know she was nervous. I'm sure she was overwhelmed. But I saw glimpses of her heart and I wanted to see more. I saw an intelligent, genuine, trusting soul. I saw a woman being obedient when it couldn't have been more difficult. She said to me on that night that from the moment she discovered her pregnancy, she knew the baby was not meant just for her. She quieted her confusion in the midst of voices of dissent so that she could hear the Only voice that really mattered. She knew what she was to do. She knew for sure that God's plan was oceans wider than what we could cobble together on our own.

She loved that baby. She kept it safely in her care. I will never know the way she talked to that life within, the prayers she prayed over it, the tears she shed. Those moments are theirs alone. But I know that my child was loved from the very start, and that is a gift that can't be wrapped.

Our plates were cleared and I had one question saved up. I turned it over and over in my pocket, so unsure of how it would be received. And then I asked, "Would you be willing to give this baby its middle name?"

Her eyes welled and she looked back at me in awe. "I was just telling my mom how much I wished for this, but I was sure that you wouldn't ask. It was just a dream."

She already had a name in mind for a girl and a boy.

We had chosen ours, too.

I joked about the fact that we had just bought tiny knit pants covered in monkeys at Old Navy - one pair pink, one blue. We had scoured the clearance racks, just for the fun of it, with plans to return those that we would not need, in the end.

"Do you want to know which ones to take back?"

It was my turn to look back in awe.

"Yes! But...I thought you weren't going to find out..."

"Return the blue pants."

My eyes spilled over. I bit my lip and shared our girl name, so unsure if she would "get" it. She smiled wide and shared her girl name and the moment glowed bright and warm.

I clasped my hands tightly in my lap, because just like that, Ruby River felt close enough to reach out and touch.

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Join me here next Wednesday for Big Adoption Series - Chapter 9

(To catch up on Chapters 1-7, click here and start from the bottom.)

70 comments:

  1. Ah Shannon. I'm blurry eyed as I type right now. THAT is BEAUTY FULL.

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  2. ...Thank you for sharing......God has it all planned out!

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  3. Amazing.
    I am LOVING this series. Adoption stories fascinate me and warm my heart to no end.
    I adore Ruby's name. River is such a GREAT middle name!!!

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  4. EVERY Tuesday night, my heart bursts and my eyes well up from your latest Adoption Series post. Lovely.

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  5. Once again I'm choked up. Amazed at the love & grace given by God to all involved.

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  7. I love hearing the stories of how your kids came to you. My sister has been through three open adoptions (so I feel like I've lived through them too!). Baby #1 is Presley, baby #2 was Seth and his birth mom changed her mind on day #9, and baby #3 is our beloved Stone who just turned two. It's an amazing process, full of highs and lows, but as you very well know, all SO worth it! Thanks for sharing the story of Ruby River. ♥

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  8. Shannan, that is so beauty full. For reals.

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  9. Hi, I've read every post of yours since last autumn. I originally found your blog because I was searching for adoption stories. So you can imagine how excited I was when you actually started this Adoption Series. My oh my, this post moved me to tears. Thank you for sharing. I hope to adopt one day myself.

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  10. Oh. My. What a perfect name, and the story of how her name came to be? Wonderful. What a heritage Ruby River has...she's a wonderful girl!
    XOXO
    Joni
    (And you are a beautiful writer and great mom!)

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  11. I was sitting here waiting for this post to pop up, it was worth every minute that ticked by, this was BEAUTIFUL!!!! I have tears pouring down my face, I love the beginning of Ruby River. Her birth mama sounds just lovely, will Ruby know her? She is such a sweet, poka dotted, curly girlie!!! You are a blessed Mama!

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  12. Your words make me long for my grown children to be babies again. And my mamaw to still be with us.
    ~G~
    Love your heart!

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  13. Reading this series catches my breath every time I read a new part. Thank you for sharing your feeling and thoughts with us.

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  14. Wow...wow! It's not like I didn't know how this chapter ends but I read on breathlessly anyway. That Ruby River is a lucky girl!

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  15. Amazing! Every time I work with an adoptive mother I marvel at her! She gets treated like royalty in the hospital, because she is making the most selfless choice that anyone could make. It humbles me. CAN't WAIT FOR MORE POSTS!!!!

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  16. so hard to find the words...enjoyed this so much...just saying Ruby River brings happiness.

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  17. What a beautiful continuation of this wonderful story.

    Ruby River is such a lovely name, and she is a blessed little girl who was loved from the very beginning and grows in love daily.

    FlowerLady

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  18. What a wonderful way to start my Wednesday--I've enjoyed your posts so much. Your story of adoption has opened my eyes to so much--Ruby River--absolutely beautiful!

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  19. So beautiful. I love Ruby River! What a gift. I love your story. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Beautiful...just beautiful...I have no other words on how you write so wonderfully about such a beautiful beginning of Ruby:)

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  21. Ok, are you going to start supplying tissues every week?

    What a beautiful name and story!

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  22. uuuggggh. if this isn't the most moving thing...ruby river. oh my oh my.

    <3

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  23. Dammit, Shannan!
    I am at work at 7:30 in the morning and sobbing like a child! My makeup is ruined, but my heart is so full of you and your family!

    I can't tell you how much I look forward to your posts every single day. I've become such a slipshod blogger and somehow, you've picked up the slack here. Thanks for that. <3

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  24. can't. stop. crying. I love your adoption series so much and look forward to it every week! Thanks again for sharing. Ruby River! What a GREAT name.

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  25. Yes. And yes. You've said so beautifully some of my very same thoughts.

    I didn't expect to be crying while eating my Apple Cinnamon Cheerios this morning.

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  26. This series is incredible--thanks for sharing your journey.

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  27. Shannan, I like to think of myself as a tough girl. I don't cry at movies and when I get hurt I suck it up and move on without a flinch. But this, my friend. Has me sitting at my computer, eye filled with something I know to be tears, but I am slightly unfamiliar with them. I think this is going to require more thought. What are you doing to little ol' me with this adoption series?? You are bringing things out I never knew were in me, to be honest with you.

    ~mary~

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  28. Beautiful....tears in my eyes this morning.

    Ruby River...how lovely.

    xoxo,

    annie

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  29. Just found your blog. What a gifted writing talent you have. What a wonderful story. To God be the glofy.

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  30. Crying. Love her name...so sweet and meaningful.

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  31. I too have went through the adoption process and I know how a twisted tummy feels. U r the very best and i am sure your diddles have beem blessed by your parenting ways. u must write a book...if i could trade places w/ Ruby darlin' i would in a flash! Shes got the best she could have!

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  32. I love this series. I love what you said about brand new plans that float down. I think I love my plans, but His are different and better. Sometimes, I am not sure if I want to be a mother...and I don't think the time is right yet...but the way you write about motherhood, such excitement and joy, makes my heart open up and think, "maybe it is for me..."

    thanks for your writing!

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  33. Love, love, love! It jumps off the screen coming from the words you write. You must keep these blogs and share with your children when they are adult enough to fully appreciate how much you love them. I've followed your blog for a while now, don't know how I got there, (you must have painted or decorated something as that's all I follow) but I read yours EVERY DAY no matter what because I love what you have to say and how you say it.

    Lucky kids...

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  34. Having adopted internationally, meeting our daughter's birthmother and allowing them a relationship is just a dream for now. We kept the name she gave though, Yoselin Rubi, and added a middle name of our own, the only one that made sense: Grace.

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  35. when are you coming to colorado? will you bring the kids? i need like whole periods of time to pick your beautiful brain.

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  36. Oh dear - here I sit in tears week after week over these breath-taking posts that make me crave the next adoption story. Ruby River - what a lucky lucky gal & family - her story is just so touching - doesn't God work in the most amazing jaw dropping ways - he really really does!

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  37. First, I love the way you write/blog. Secondly, I am amazed by your strength and this incredible journey God has led your family. I will be thinking of you and your family during this amazing time!

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  38. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your love stories, with your children, with us...they make my heart smile and my eyes shine. As a woman with adoption close to her heart, I appreciate your faith and hope.

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  39. Thank you for sharing your amazingly beautiful story in such a wonderful way. You certainly have a way with words!

    I found your blog through a friend and I am loving getting to read your story each week. My husband and I adopted our son last year. Our situation was very similar to your situation with your daughter. God had a plan and it smacked us in the face with its perfectness. It wasn't what we were planning for originally, but it is certainly what was planned for us. And it couldn't be better!

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  40. Ruby River!! Amazing. What a beautiful moment. Thanks for sharing something so personal. Off to blow my nose and wipe my eyes.

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  41. ugh! I wish I would have read this before I put my mascara on! How perfect is God? Ruby River is P E R F E C T :) I would have been sobbing if I were there. How did you ever make it through those months of waiting for that precious gem? Your folded up verse... me too, I have a folded up peice of paper in my wallet I've been carrying for 15 years, it is the verses I wrote down while in battle for my oldest son's visitation rights. The edges are so folded and worn.

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  42. I completely teared up with those last several lines. Wow. What an amazing God we have.

    Blessings on you today!

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  43. Where were you when I needed to find a loving Mamma for my cousin's baby? She would not let Family keep him..........
    I'm so tickled you picked Ruby, It's my GrandMothers name!
    Tisha

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  44. I read your blog on the heels of reading the YouTube post of the girl who survived an abortion. And I'm now officially "wrecked" in the best possible way. A choice for life, despite all the difficulty that ensued, is still so achingly beautiful, and so very right. Thank you again for sharing your deepest heart, Shannon.

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  45. sniffling down here in TN. Beauti-full indeed. Hopefully I'll be able to share this story with our Ruby someday.
    Blessings,

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  46. You, my dear, are giving people hope and strength to travel down this same road, to go out to the ledge and in faith, jump into all that adoption is. Keep it up! xoxo

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  47. sitting here with tears in my eyes... thank you so much for sharing your story, it is a blessing to me and to so many readers! Hugs - Lola

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  48. OMG! I am on my prep period at school and now I am crying. I am the sibling of an adopted child and also the daughter of an adopted child. Sometimes God's alternate plan is for the best!

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  49. This just couldn't get any better! I LOVE this series!

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  50. Seriously I shouldn't read your series before I go to work because I cry so much I look a mess.Tears of happiness for your great family.Being an adopted child I know how fabulous it is to be loved and being a mum I know how wonderful it is to give love..xx

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  51. AAAAAHHHHHH!!!
    my heart.
    I am laughing and crying over here.

    so beautiful.

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  52. I don't know you...I've never met you and I sit here just crying like a fool!!! What a live experience. Today I am 16 weeks and four days pregnant with my third child. I have two beautiful, healthy, thriving gifts from God running around under foot and one in my belly. I have been sick, so very, very sick for the past 16 weeks and two days (today I finally feel better) and I have been feeling sorry for myself, I've been pathetic. Thank you for making me be thankful for all the nausea, for the heart burn, stretching skin and so many other discomforts. In the end it is just so beautiful...so, so beautiful and I am so blessed to get to feel it, live it, know it. Thank you dear friend. Your story is just beautiful.

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  53. God laughed crazy-loud! What else, when there is such joy. Beautiful tribute to birthmom. Simply beautiful.

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  54. What very special Mum's Ruby River has!

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  55. Shannan, I have just read through all the comments that have been left for you. You obviously have a lot of admirers, not just because you are such a cool person, but because of your talent with writing. So many people get so much joy from reading what comes out of your brain. Why don't you write a book??? Really! I'm asking the question and hope that you think about it.

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  56. Frog frog sittin' on a log, frog frog sittin' on a log, frog frog sittin' on a log - it jumped into the pond water.

    Sigh.

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  57. Chill Bumps. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  58. Oh wow I am so thankful you are sharing these stories. That Ruby River is such a blessed little girl. Our God is so so smart... he never ceases to amaze me. Love your writing ... I felt like I was sitting at the table looking into her birth mamas eyes. You're the man!!

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  59. whoa. i felt like i was at that table listening in. thank you for sharing. beautiful. whoa.

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  60. I'm really enjoying the "adoption series". Can't imagine what you'll be doing for your next series....

    Love Ruby's middle name and how it just fits together so perfectly.
    Chris

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  62. oh good gosh shannan that is THE most wonderful beautiful story
    i love how you painted the details
    i felt like i was right beside you dipping bread in evoo too
    gosh i love your heart
    what beautiful mamas both of you are
    xo

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  63. So beautiful.... I could just eat your writing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    And, I have a special place for the name River.... my own Savannah... is a Savannah Rivers :)

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  64. I have chills! Such an awesome story! I have loved reading your blog, and gave you an award over at mine! No need to follow along, I just wanted to let you know I love what you have to say!!!!

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  65. wonderful. there really is nothing more to say.
    Dana

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  66. *sniffle* .... when you've finished up this amazing adoption series, take it to a publisher, girl. certainly a best seller - i don't buy many books, but i'd pick this one up in a snap.
    God has put adoption in our (mine and my husbands) hearts, and although we don't know the where, when or how, this series is helping to elaborate on the what and why.
    Anxiously awaiting the next part of the series!

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  67. You did it again...

    I'm sobbing in my bucket.
    Love - Sami Jo

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  68. Holy Moly...I know I am late to the party and just reading of your journey, but this is so beautiful. Tears shed again...Thank you for sharing.

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