It is with a heavy heart I write to you this morning. I’d rather just forget all of this, refusing to acknowledge these circumstances. But I am convinced by the Spirit of God that even these dark days are part of my story. The tapestry of my life is being woven together, thread by thread, and today I am engrossed in this one tangly moment. I am quickly losing sight of the glorious masterpiece Father is creating. But I am reminded that “we simply and humbly offer all that we are to the One who offers us the option of becoming more than we are...For to bind our lives to Jesus Christ requires that we try to walk with him into the sorrows and suffering of the world.” (Rueben P. Job, Guide to Prayer, p. 136)
We can’t step back or forward far enough to see what Father is doing in this adoption. We want desperately to have some control, but as your Daddy said last night, “God, you got us into this. You’ve got to get us out.”
Your birth mother is second guessing all of her decisions and listening to inaccurate advice. She may also be doing things to put your life in danger. Before I knew any of that I felt led to write her a letter. I expressed the prayers and concerns so many are pouring out over her, recognizing the magnitude of this decision. I shared our story of infertility, our hearts’ desire to become parents. I described all of the ways we’ve been busy preparing to bring home this baby, trying to offer her comfort that her unborn child will be well cared for. And I offered to talk with her, to hear her own thoughts and desires.
Today at 11am she will be handed this letter. And we pray in earnest.
I commune with my heart in the night;
I meditate and search my spirit:
“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love ceased forever? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is so great as our God? You are the God who works wonders;
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
As we anticipate your birth, we consider your name. It occurs to me that no matter how many years I’ve been making baby name lists, nothing could have prepared me for this responsibility. At this point, naming you seems like a massive decision – right up there with choosing to become a Christ-follower, and saying “yes” to becoming your Daddy’s wife. Yes, it feels that important.
There’s a lot to think about in choosing a child’s name. How will the first and last name flow together? What will their initials be? What kinds of nicknames might this name incur? Will people instinctively be able to pronounce it? It is difficult to spell? There are questions about honoring a family member or some cultural tradition. There’s ethnic roots to consider. And there are meanings of names to take into account.
Kevin and I had an epiphany within the first few days we learned of you, and we thought we had settled. For me, though, nothing is ever truly settled. There’s always room for more discussion, more contemplation, more mulling. Back to the drawing board we went.
I was kind of assuming I would arrive at the hospital on your birth day with two or three names selected. It would be a “game day” decision. I have heard plenty of stories of babies whose parents are debating names right up until the moment of birth…or even as late as after they go home with their unnamed infant. But then yesterday our lawyer called and informed us he would be emailing us copies of the paperwork he’d drawn up so we could look it over. Then, the dreaded question: “Do you have a name picked out?” “No, not yet,” I replied. “Well, you’re going to need to figure that out quickly so we can add it to these documents to be prepared at the time of birth.”
The two of us plopped ourselves down, settling in for a serious time of decision-making. Daddy set a timer for how long I had to add or remove names from the pool. (This seems crazy, but it’s so necessary when you’re dealing with a “waffler” like me.) Then we set about discussing the results. A decision was made.
Many people have wondered what your name will be. We have decided to keep it treasured in our hearts for now. (Well, ours and the lawyer’s apparently.)
In the midst of this naming process, my heart has cried for you, Child. I have called you by name, you are mine. To know one’s name is speak of their worth. A name offers insight into a life, has shape and color, a song attached. To utter a name connotes responsibility, relationship, intimacy. The Lord God created each of us, calling us by name, beckoning us into His Love. And with a mirrored fierceness, I call you by name, My Son. You are mine.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name,
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire
you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I can almost picture you. You’re no longer some far-off dream of mine. I have been busy preparing for your arrival every day since February 1st. Yes, this includes doing the necessary paperwork, but also readying my home, researching baby equipment, and getting all sort of wonderful tips from friends. This morning I thought to myself, “You know you’re nesting when you spend Valentine’s morning cleaning the mold off of the bathroom ceiling with vinegar, having been disgusted by it for 9 months and never done anything about it previously.” I just knew, “I can’t have my baby in this environment!” (Apparently it wasn’t a big enough deal when it was just us, or the slew of visitors we have over.)
Within days of your adoption even being an option, I set to work painting your nursery. I didn’t care that I had the worst headache ever; it needed to be done. Absolutely essential. I realize it’s totally not that important, but this is how motivating my maternal instincts are. They’ve been stifled for years, stuffed down deep so as to not step foot in the baby department or get lost for hours on mommy blogs. But now, Child, my nesting nature is in season and working overtime to catch up on 9 months of preparations.
In 2010 when we started trying to get pregnant, I turned my garage sale inclinations to all things baby. I had built up quite a stock pile of beautiful onesies, bottles, bibs, and gadgets. As the years went by and we moved homes again and again, I slowly started getting rid of these items. The only things I kept were 5 Avent bottles, 4 onesies (U of M, 2 Hungry Caterpillar, “Little Squirt”), an adorable bedroom set (including an impractical comforter, window valence, clothes hamper, mobile, and a bumper which I hear I’m not supposed to use), an inexpensive front carrier, and a beautiful red jogging stroller.
It’s taken all of my self control (and a little of my husband’s) to keep me from buying a crib, diapers, wipes, formula, new bottle nipples, car seat, changing pad, bathing necessities and a slew of onesies. We’ve already received so many offers of hand-me-downs as well as rumors of baby showers, that we know many of these purchases won’t be necessary. Now if I can just stifle my nesting needs just a little while longer.
Our people are seriously incredible. On a daily basis I am reminded of the friends and family who are rooting for us, praying fervently for us, and overwhelmingly supportive. I have received lengthy emails giving me all of the details of baby supplies and needs. The details are so important to my psyche and I can’t believe so many would take the time to share their experiences. I have friends who tell me, “You’re going to be fine. I promise.”
In the past few days, there have been a handful of emails that have brought me to near tears. (Side note, I haven’t had a big cry over all of this yet. It’s like my tears have dried up in exchange for the productivity necessary. I’m just waiting to be overtaken by sobs. I’ll get back to you on that.) These particular words are exactly what I needed to hear; I was already worried about this. How did she know? I am certainly going to need to return to often over the next season of life.
“Even though you desperately want a baby, and have been trying for YEARS and paying lots of money and undergoing multiple uncomfortable medical procedures, and even though you’re doing everything you can to adopt this baby successfully, and you really, really want to hold his little self in your arms and just be his mom…even though ALL this is true, you’re still allowed to be overwhelmed sometimes, especially at first. You’re allowed to have bad days, and you’re allowed to think wistfully back on the days before the baby and remember how you could get the sleep you needed, or how it was easier to do what you want when you wanted. ALL moms have those feelings, but I don’t want you to feel that because you’ve done so much more than most people to get a baby, that to feel that way is somehow ungrateful. The truth is, being a mom is amazing and wonderful and so, so good, but it’s also brutally hard and exhausting and overwhelming. That’s just normal. And you have every right to feel that way too.”
Child, as much as you are loved and prayed for, know that your Mom and Dad are also covered in care. We are so thankful.
Come quickly, Child.
Help Kevin & Melanie bring home #BabyEccles at YouCaring.
Sometimes there are so many swirling thoughts, countless circumstances being juggled, it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s easy to feel paralyzed by the options and opinions. Deep breath. One thing at a time.
I’m a future-planner. A get-all-my-ducks-in-a-row kind of person. Thus, I am so thankful for your Daddy, the guy who speaks truth and peace into my harried lifestyle. He empowers me to accomplish one task, well. Then we’ll move on to the next. Because of him, I haven’t had to do any brown-paper-bag breathing. (Thanks, dear.)
You see, Child, for the first time in nearly five years of barrenness, we are beginning to see a glimmer of hope, that perhaps you are going to join us. And before I go any further let me tell you how much I love you already. I don’t even know you yet, but you, Child, are loved a hundred times over. And not just by your Daddy and me, but by countless people who have treaded this path with us. They, too, have dreamed about this day, prayed for you to join our family. You are widely and richly loved.
Sunday, February 1st dawned cold and snowy. The flakes fell hard and fast, covering the path behind us even as we shoveled. Your Dad and I got to church at 7:30am and readied the sanctuary for the brave souls who might venture out in this weather. The service was undeniably small – 27 people compared to our usual 60 – but the warmth and intimacy was felt by everyone in the room. We worshiped together as friends.
But just before the service started our good friend, Cathy, dropped an incredible opportunity in our laps. In her practice as a nurse midwife, she had begun caring for a young woman who was 34 weeks pregnant and had another baby at home already. (I will not be sharing the details of her story, as it’s not mine to tell.) In the flow of conversation, the idea of adoption came up and Cathy’s mind instantly fled to “Kevin and Melanie.” She cautiously broached the subject, not wanting to scare this delicate girl away. The response from the birth mother was positive, wanting to know more about us and the adoption process.
So here we are, Sunday morning, getting ready to do what we do – lead a church service together – when suddenly we realize we might be parents in a month! Instantly we said yes, but weren’t very optimistic that this was actually going to happen. We were afraid to breathe.
At the end of the service, I felt led to tell our entire congregation about this adoption possibility. We need our church family, side by side, shouldering this with us. And they responded so wonderfully. The whole group came forward and laid hands on us as we prayed – for this unborn baby, for this birth mother and her family, and for us. May the name of the Lord be praised.
In the 13 days since this announcement we have hit the ground running. I literally had not stopped working on this adoption in all my waking hours until last night around 6pm. There was so much to be done. Thankfully, God had been preparing for the speed of this process as we prepared an application for another agency back in August. A few months ago, we had put the adoption app on hold, feeling like we just needed to wait on God’s “yes.”
God’s “Yes” came with neon, flashing lights, and the speed and intensity of the Top Thrill Dragster! We have filled out applications. We have received letters of recommendation from three references (thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, friends). We compiled our official documents – birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, social security cards, marriage license (one copy for the social worker, one for the lawyer). We have been fingerprinted. (This is the longest part of the process – pray that the government works miraculously fast on our background checks.) We typed 12 pages detailing our personal history. Thanks to Cathy, our messenger, we shared our “Dear Birth Mother” scrapbook with the birth mother and her family. (Shutterfly scrapbooks are an A+ in my book, and a beautiful way to introduce to this unborn baby’s family in a heartfelt, but hands-off way.)
We learned that the baby – a BOY! – is healthy, measuring now at 36 weeks. The final key to all of this is the birth father. We learned on Monday that he has agreed to sign off on the adoption. Praise be to God! Birth mother has repeatedly told Cathy of her certainty that we are the right family for her baby and that she is absolutely going through with the adoption. Her family and the birth father’s family are all supportive as well. We are as certain as we can be until the baby is born and both mother and father sign their names.
Oh right, we found an incredible adoption agency to do our home study in an expedited fashion, and we found a lawyer right in town who can very easily facilitate our adoption. We have met with both the social worker and the lawyer, filled out the necessary paperwork – pages and pages, and paid both in full. The home study will be finalized next week, followed by the lawyer drawing up his papers for the court.
And we bought a baby-mobile! It’s a 2009 Mazda 5 – described as a minivan crossed with a station wagon. It’s got sliding doors, two bucket seats, and a two seater bench in the back. We love it! The gas mileage is a bit frustrating given our history of 38mpg cars, but totally worth it for the ease and safety of this vehicle. Our little beloved blueberry – a 2008 Toyota Yaris – just wasn’t the right vehicle to bring home baby. We’re selling it if anyone is interested.
Child, we are readying a room just for you. We have been given clothes and bottles and swings and carriers from friends who want to help us prepare. I wasn’t expecting to have to compress 10 months worth of preparations into 10 days, but we are totally ok with this. I started out feeling fearful, struggling to be excited because we’ve been disappointed time and time again. But one of my friend counseled me by saying “the joy of anticipation now is greater than what the sorrow of disappointment would be.” And truly I believe God will hold our hearts through this, as He has over the past many years. We want to eagerly anticipate the arrival of you – our firstborn son – not live in skepticism and fear.
And so we wait with open arms and hearts full of love.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for following our journey. It has been completely overwhelming to discover the number of people who care deeply about our story, having read my entries from the beginning. I first shared this struggle 31 months into our infertility – January 2013. In December 2013, I began to write Letters to my Future Children, a venture which allowed me to share my life, my thoughts, and my dreams with the little ones who I prayed would join our family. Thank you for being faithful to pray for us, for telling me of your joy and excitement over this announcement.
My deepest desire is that the name of the Lord be praised. Our God does great things.
Believing that many of you would want to help us in some way, we started a YouCaring fundraising page. Again, we are blown away by the generous investment in our family. Thank you for contributing to the finances of this adoption. It’s come fast and furious, and our hearts rest easier as we watch God provide through your donations.