He gets the call in the morning, before we’ve had breakfast, before the day becomes marred by bad news.
I can hear his voice through the bathroom door as I get ready for the day, but I can’t hear what he’s saying on the phone.
Later he tells me the whole conversation—how the adoption agency delivers the news that the birth mom wants to parent.
“Do you have any questions?” The lady from the agency asks after telling him the birth mom’s decision.
“Am I supposed to call the nurse to take the baby back to her?”
“You mean the baby is with you in the room?” she asks.
“Yes,” Sam says. “I’m holding him.”
“Oh, I never dreamed…” she says, her voice trailing off. “I’m so sorry.”
I’ve just walked in when he says goodbye and hangs up. My world has shifted in one call but I don’t know that yet. The day is still full of fresh promise. We’re stuck in this cramped hospital room until we bring the baby home.
If we bring the baby home.
If, if, if.
There are dozens of new pictures on the camera. New baby clothes with the tags still on. I almost cut them off a few days before, then I change my mind.
If it happens, then I’ll take them off.
At home, the bassinet sits next to our bed, but the nursery is not set up. I wonder if I’m a bad mom for not getting out the big crib and putting away the guest bed or moving my office desk. Something tells me to hold off.
If the baby comes home, I tell myself, then we’ll move the desk. Then we’ll set up the nursery.
“If, then” is where I’m living these days.
“If” the baby comes home, “then” we’ll set things up.
“If” this works out, “then” I’ll make plans…
I sit on the hospital bed. My husband walks over with the baby in his arms.
The look on his face is like the sky during a July thunderstorm, when the clouds turn a dark shade of charcoal and you can feel the storm before it hits.
“That was the adoption agency,” he says slowly. “They got an email from Theresa* this morning and she is going to parent.”
He is still holding the baby as he tells me this.
I sit on the bed stunned. He puts the baby in the bassinet.
“Did you want to say goodbye?” he asks.
No, I think, then yes. I touch the baby’s head and say something. My husband says a prayer for him and calls the nurse.
I go into the bathroom and wait for it to be over. I can’t watch her wheel him out of the room. I just can’t.
When I come out, the baby is gone.
“What do you want to do?” Sam asks.
“Leave.” I say. I don’t have the heart to ask the birth mom why she’s changed her mind and I don’t want her to see how sad I am.
When it comes to adoption, someone always goes home with a broken heart.
We pack up our stuff as quickly as we can and walk into the bright morning sunlight outside the hospital.
Sam carries the gift basket we planned to give to the birth mom after she signed the papers. The valet parking attendants make a joke about how good it looks as we walk by.
My husband stops, wheels around and asks, “Do you want some?”
“No, no.” they say, embarrassed by the offer.
“Can you eat on the job?” Sam asks.
“Yeah,” they say.
“Then pick whatever you want,” Sam says as he offers them the basket.
We are relieved to give some of it away and I want to tell them, Thank you for taking it off our hands.
It’s the same way I feel when I return the new baby clothes.
When we get in the car for the two-and-a-half hour trip home, we text our family and friends the bad news. The messages pour in, tender words that act as a salve to our bruised hearts. People who are confused and angry like we are. People giving us hope that God is not done yet.
I think through what we could have said to change the birth mom’s mind.
If I had said this, then what? Would it have changed things?
“If, then” can be a very terrible place to live when life goes badly, but I cannot keep myself from going there.
We recount our conversations, our actions, what we should or shouldn’t have done. We wonder what we did to deserve this, even though we know we did nothing wrong.
The problem with the “if, then” mentality is that I can’t change the past. There is nothing we could have done to alter the outcome. But the human side of me wants a logical explanation. I want things to make sense.
That’s when I remember my words to God. I prayed that if this was not the right baby for us, then God would stop it from happening.
A mom choosing to parent is one way He closes the door to adoption.
I realize the “if, then” mentality only makes sense when we see the hand of God working through our prayers and the unfolding of His will, whatever that might be.
If God had wanted our adoption to happen, then we would be holding a baby.
Only in the light of God’s complete sovereignty and goodness can we understand that God’s will is the best thing that could ever happen to us.
To someone who doesn’t believe in a sovereign God, this might seem crazy.
But to us, it is enough of an answer. Yes, it still hurts. No, I don’t like it.
But a sovereign God gives order to life’s chaos when human answers just don’t make sense.
Though we don’t understand the outcome, we trust that God is good, even in disappointing circumstances. We hold onto the belief that God’s intentions for our lives are still loving, whether we receive good news or bad.
When we cling to these promises, we let go of questions like “if God is good” and “if he loves me.”
Though tears may fall, the “if, then” questions are fulfilled in Him.
Through His mercies new every morning.
Through His grace for today.
Friends–thank you for all the love and support you have given us though this disappointment. I am grateful for the words of encouragement and the prayers for us over the last week. We continue to trust these words: The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. (Psalm 138:8)
*names have been changed