I had just turned 19, one month before we married. He had celebrated his 21st birthday a month previous to that. Looking back now, we were so very young. Two years later, we were ready to start the large family that we both wanted. Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men…
I’m not certain what prompted the trip down memory lane this week, so many holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries later. But in any case, my mind and my heart have been time traveling, particularly to our pre-parenthood days. I cannot recall a time when I did not want to be a mother! Even before we married, I dreamed of what it would be like to have children, our children, tumbling and frolicking on the living room floor, like a litter of so many adorable puppies. I imagined a day when Leo would return home from work to find baby’s breath adorning every available surface, including my hair, to announce that we were pregnant.
I was absolutely filled to overflowing with this mysterious, inexplicable, tremendous baby love; a love that did not yet have an outlet. A cousin to other types of love, it was nonetheless not the same. It was both yearning and incredibly protective. It was an energy, a force, that I felt certain even strangers could sense from several feet away. It seemed to ooze from my pores, shoot out of the ends of my hair, and flow through my veins with each beat of my heart. But for all of its magnificent beauty, it was, at this time, most of all, terribly frustrating and sad. With no baby to receive the love, it had no place to land. It was like being 9 ½ months pregnant — forever! Or like experiencing overwhelming hunger or thirst that seemed never to be satisfied.
So intense was the longing for a baby, that my mind became an excellent deceiver. Each month, I would imagine that I was experiencing the beginning of morning sickness. I would be certain that I was NOT noticing the tale-tale signs of a cycle approaching. But, alas, the cycle would indeed come. And along with the cycle – tears. I would plummet from mountaintop bliss, hope, and expectation, to the deepest and darkest holes of disappointment and hopelessness. I was undone. Month after month rolled by, and still no baby. As the months became one year and then two, I cried out to God. Why? We would be such good parents! I worked in a radiology clinic where we often saw x-rays of babies and children brought in due to abuse. Why were these people allowed to become parents, and we were not? Many of our friends had already started families, adding to the sting. It wasn’t that we weren’t happy for them; we simply wanted to experience that same kind of joy as well. I would offer to babysit, cuddling and rocking many babies, but when the parents returned, I would place them back into their arms. This was not my baby.
It is the nature of love, is it not; this yearning energy that must have somewhere to go? Love without someone to receive it, can bring no joy, no life, no fulfillment.
Another two years passed with no pitter patter of tiny feet in our home. It wasn’t until we had each undergone extensive testing, that we learned the heartbreaking truth. We, as a couple, were incapable of conceiving. Depression. Despair. Tears. Why had He given us such a love with nowhere to put it? What were we to do now?
[big_title2]Title[/big_title2] THE ADOPTION OPTION
After some time, when tears had subsided, and emotions no longer ruled, we began to seriously consider adoption. For, even though the hope for conception had ended, the intense yearning for a baby had not! Adoption! A perfect solution!!! A baby who was waiting for love, and a couple who had plenty of love to spare! Could it be that this was the ultimate reason that we had been withheld from conceiving? Perhaps our Almighty God had orchestrated the situation, choosing us as parents for a baby that would be birthed not from our bodies, but from our hearts! Surely one special baby waited for a particular set of parents; us.
So we persevered through the extensive and intensive process of applications and home studies. Many hours and much energy was invested in creating the perfect “family book.” The family book was a hybrid photo album/scrapbook, at a time before scrapbooking had come onto the scene. It would be shown, along with those of other applicants, to biological mothers, (and sometimes fathers as well), who had decided to place their unborn child for adoption. The social worker encouraged us to focus on making the book both pleasing to the eye, and soothing to the soul. We were to include pictures of the nursery, our home, family, and even pets. We had the opportunity to write about our interests, our hobbies, our dreams and aspirations. We included a letter to the birth mother, expressing our deep desire to raise our child in an atmosphere of love, and described the excitement and support of our extended family.
It was often a connection the birth mother experienced from viewing these books that would help her make a most important, and often difficult, selection. Open adoptions were not common at the time, nor were they something we wished to consider. So this book was the only avenue we would have, in our attempt to convince a birth mother that we were the best parents for the child she carried.
Many hours were spent collecting photographs of aunts and uncles and grandparents, as well as nieces and nephews and friends. Pink, green, yellow, and blue teddy bears, carefully cut from construction paper, adorned each page.
The nursery had long been decorated, complete with hand sewn curtains, bedding, and wall hangings, lovingly crafted by my sister and mother. The walls had been painted a soft yellow. Images of brown teddy bears frolicked along the bedding, and hung on the wall alongside wooden plaques with Raggedy Ann and Andy decoupage; a gift from my brother-in-law. Tiny, kitten-soft sleepers in lemon yellow, and mint green lay neatly folded in the chest of drawers. And in the closet, on baby-sized hangers, hung several oh-so-frilly dresses, alongside miniature blue jeans, flannel shirts, and tee shirts adorned with fire trucks and cartoon characters. Stuffed animals filled a bassinet and lounged on the windowsill. A white fluffy baby blanket with the most delicate pink roses hung expectantly across the back of an antique rocker, while a baby blue version with dark blue trim was draped neatly over the end of the Jenny Lind crib. Everything was perfect and inviting. Only one thing was lacking in this lovely nursery. A baby!
But alas, a baby did not come right away. Each week I would enter the perfect nursery, dusting beneath the stuffed menagerie, and fluffing bedding. I would rock in the rocking chair, cuddling a stuffed bear, longing for the time when my arms would cradle a baby instead. Like Rachel in the Bible, I wanted to cry out “Give me a baby lest I die!” This unbelievable love had not dissipated. It ebbed and flowed and crashed on the rocky shores, but had yet to find a place to rest.
And then it happened! One day, while walking through the mall, we ran into friends we had not seen in some time. Having now been married for six years, it had become rather common when encountering people we didn’t often see, to be promptly asked about children. Although completely unintentional, it was a question that evoked considerable pain, and one which we generally avoided answering. But, of late, we had begun responding that we were seeking to adopt. We often received a response indicating that our friends would certainly contact us should they hear of a baby in need of parents. But, not THIS day! Dana excitedly responded that she worked with a young lady who had recently become pregnant. Barely able to support herself, and with the birth father already out of the picture, she desperately wanted to place the baby in a loving home. This definitely had all the markings of a divine appointment! We were excited but cautious, as we handed Dana and Steve the name and phone number of our attorney. We had been down this road before, and it had ended in disappointment. Still, it was very difficult not to become eager and hopeful once again.
The birth mother met with our attorney promptly, and quickly decided that we were the couple for which she had prayed! Throughout the following months, we occasionally received reports regarding the progression of the pregnancy through our attorney, Sam, who maintained close contact with the birth mother. We didn’t know her name and she didn’t know ours, but Sam described her as the most level headed young lady he had encountered when working an adoption. He had great confidence that we would at last be parents in just a few months. With the baby due the first week of September, the hot summer days were filled with excitement and anticipation. We could scarcely wait! I informed my employer, that as soon as we received word of the birth, I would be leaving employment to be a full time mother.
And then, on Friday morning, the 20th of August, shortly after arriving at work, Sam called with a surprise announcement. I was at last a mother!!! Making an appearance two weeks before her due date, the baby had been born the night before. Our DAUGHTER! OUR daughter! OUR DAUGHTER! It kept rolling over and over in my head, sounding exceedingly strange and extraordinarily wonderful! I immediately called Leo, whispering excitedly into the phone so my coworkers would not hear, wanting him to be the first to know after me. And then, with legs shaking and hands trembling, I left the office, almost shouting as I drove down the road “I’m a mommy! My baby is here!!”
After all the years of waiting, it was hard to digest the wonderful information that, very soon, we would at last hold our baby for the very first time. Sam described her as both beautiful and healthy. I could scarcely speak! We were ecstatic! The day we had waited for – the day we had prayed for – had finally arrived! We were parents!
Out of an overabundance of caution, and due to a touch of jaundice, our baby would be kept in the hospital until Monday morning. We were instructed that early that day we would be meeting Sam in the judge’s chambers, where the adoption decree would be signed. Then we would return home to wait, not so patiently, for Sam (whom we had begun calling “The Stork”) to deliver our little girl into our arms.
That weekend was a blissful blur of buying and laundering a lot of pink! We chose the name Jessica, and began referring to her by her name. My heart beat wildly within my chest and my emotions swung just as wildly from excitement to tears and back again. Tears of joy for me, and tears of sadness for a birth mother whom I knew would be handing over her baby in just a few hours.
All of our family members were thrilled as well, counting down the hours with us. We asked them to allow us to meet and spend time with our baby alone before other introductions would take place. Upon leaving the judge’s chambers that Monday morning, we stopped by the stork’s office with a delivery. I had purchased the sweetest and softest little preemie nightgown, white with tiny pink flowers, and matching ruffled cap. I had carefully laundered it to remove any harmful chemicals, and now Sam would take it with him to the hospital, where nurses would lovingly and tenderly prepare our little angel for her trip home. Home! Our baby, our Jessica, was coming HOME!
[big_title2]Title[/big_title2]HOME AT LAST!
I was so full of nervous energy that I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t sit still. What was taking Sam so long? I paced back and forth, smoothing the basinet sheet time after time. I repositioned the stuffed lamb and straightened the yellow ribbon that adorned the ruffled basinet skirt my mother had made. For the umpteenth time I checked bottles and diapers and blankets. All at the ready. The hours, and then minutes, and even seconds seemed to tick by at an excruciatingly turtle-like pace. Leo held me close as I wept into his chest, the emotion kept imprisoned for seven years finally making a jail break.
And then, with the sound of a car in the driveway, she was here! Sam walked through the door along with his assistant, cradling a small bundle. She was wrapped in a soft white and yellow receiving blanket on which giraffes and bunnies seemed to scamper and play. The sweet little rose covered cap, had fallen from her head, and now dangled by its pink satin ribbon from her neck, exposing thick, black hair. I met Sam a step inside the door, unable to wait another second to see my baby. My hands trembling, I gently but eagerly eased the soft blanket away from her face. I wanted to memorize the second I first saw her. Our baby! She was beautiful and perfect and precious! I had thought it impossible to feel MORE love, and yet, I did! As I tenderly caressed the soft skin of her face, love flooded every cell, rushing from my heart and overflowing my eyes. My hands shook as I took her from Sam. My baby. Our baby. Jessica.
We chatted briefly with Sam, receiving the small box of diapers and formula sent by the hospital. We wanted him to leave, so we could have time with our precious baby girl! We removed her little socks. Such tiny, little feet. Perfect. I held her to my shoulder, allowing her to nestle her little head into my neck. What a miracle I was holding! A flawless miracle! I warmed a bottle and offered it to her, finally getting to rock my baby for the first time. Leo reclined on the sofa and she lay, perfectly content, sleeping on his chest. She occasionally emitted a tiny squeaking noise in her sleep, which lead to her daddy’s lifelong nickname for her; Squeaky. She looked so tiny against his 6’3” frame! And there was something in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. He was smitten.
And then we could stand it no longer. We HAD to show her off to the numerous people waiting to meet her! So many had been earnestly praying for her arrival for years, and anxiously awaited the time they could lay eyes on this miracle; the answer to their petitions!
So we swaddled her in the soft blanket, placed her carefully into the new car seat, and began making the rounds. We took her to family. We took her to friends. We even took her by our credit union and introduced her there! Our baby! This tiny miracle that would change our lives! Our love at last had a receptacle and was now complete. Our baby. Our Jessica.
Baby Jessica is now thirty-four years young, and yet, as I write this post, the emotions are again fresh. It is as though this morning’s newspaper was dated August 23, 1982, and the stork was about to walk through our front door with Jessica in his arms. Why is that?
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps that is why our Creator, Yahweh, chooses to teach us through the images He has implanted throughout Creation. Perhaps even these powerful emotions of yearning and love are threads being used to weave a picture which will ultimately display His love for us!
In fact, might He even have embedded information about Himself, not only within the design of nature, but within the motion pictures of our individual lives? And, is it possible, that we each have opportunity to learn of Him, not only from our own individual experiences, but from those of others as well? If so, what information about Him might we have the opportunity to glean by viewing this Baby Love episode, written into my life story by the Ultimate Author?
To begin with, what should we understand from this by design common human yearning for children? Why has He embedded it within the human DNA? Is this design detail, implanted within the human soul from creation, simply meant to ensure that the human race is perpetuated? If so, then how do we explain that animals continue to reproduce WITHOUT the need for a design model which includes love, emotion, and yearning? In fact, wouldn’t it seem that our loving, omniscient, and merciful Creator could have, (and, indeed, should have), spared infertile couples excruciating emotional pain by also removing from them the desire for children? Could there truly be purpose in our individual stories, (even the difficult ones), that indeed teach of His love?
You see, the true story recounted above, is not a unique one. A version of it has undoubtedly played out in countless homes throughout the world, due to the common thread He has placed within it. Since this desire and, indeed, need for parents to produce children is part of His design, placed not only in our bodies but in our souls, this is where we will begin our search. Perhaps, just perhaps, the end result will be that we see His glory and His godhead, and better understand the depth and breadth of His love for us!
Because this Baby Love scene in our lives focuses on our role as parents yearning for children, perhaps we should first look at Him in His parent role.
[big_title2]Title[/big_title2]THE PICTURE COMES INTO FOCUS
Through our intense desire for children, might we come to understand that He, too, the Ultimate Parent, eagerly and impatiently waits for the “adoption decree to be signed?” Does He indeed dispatch His “Stork” (the Holy Spirit/Ruach HaKodesh), to bring us home to Him? Does the Stork arrive bringing new spotless clothes, in which we will be clothed before He transports us into the presence of the One Who has chosen us and yearned for us? Wow!
Today I can truly say that I am grateful that I endured years of yearning for a baby to fill my arms, for now I can understand His great desire and yearning for each of us! He YEARNS for us! His greatest, all-consuming heart’s desire is that we be brought to Him one day. He is willing to wait for as long as it takes to make us His. So great is His desire to draw His children to Himself, that He, with great thought and tenderness, has written a Family Book, with a carefully crafted love letter invitation to come to Him. He has meticulously placed within this Book, pictures that describe Who He is and why He should be our choice. He has already prepared a room for us and filled it with gifts, in anticipation of our adoption. In fact, the room was prepared before we were born! And, yes, as a part of the process that would bring us to Him, He has endured excruciating pain.
And while He waits impatiently for us to come to Him, He checks and rechecks all of the preparations, because He values us so highly. He is ready to feed us. He is ready to nurture us. He is ready to protect us. And once we are brought into His presence, His tenderness towards us is so great that it compels Him to draw us to His chest, where we can be soothed by His heartbeat, safe and secure in His arms! Surely He then exults over us, taking us from place to place and introducing us as His child; His love having finally found its resting place.
Ahhh, the love of the Ultimate Parent! Perhaps He has designed and allowed us to experience this unfathomable love towards our children, with the goal that we may one day come to realize the depth of His love for us!.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Yes, I cannot say what prompted my time traveling this week, but I am grateful for the journey. Revisiting the powerful emotions, the longing, and the yearnings that He has placed within the human heart, has helped me grasp, to some tiny degree, the enormous love He has for me and for you.
This week, may you bask in His love and recline upon His chest, being soothed by His heartbeat. May you spend time contemplating the fact that He sought you out, painstakingly prepared a place for you, sent His Messenger to retrieve you, and will one day bring you into His house to live in His presence forever. Ahhhh. Now THAT is LOVE!
Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
1Jn 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
**Note (Before writing the last few paragraphs of this post, I had no idea exactly where they were going to lead. Yes, I knew that His glory and His godhead would be displayed, and could clearly see the picture of a loving and yearning parent. However, before recounting them, I had not yet seen the many parallels He had embedded within this episode of our lives. Writing a family book to draw us to Him? Preparing a room? Enduring excruciating pain? Having to wait? Being one of many applicants? (Yes, Ha-Satan desires to have you also). Sending a “Stork”? New freshly laundered clothes for the journey?? How can it be??? And yet, it is! Isn’t He amazing! He really does drop down into our lives, and through our individual life events, reveals Himself and His great love for us, in a most intimate way. HalleluYAH!.
Below I have included pictures of a father’s love.