a little and a lot

Monday, April 06, 2015

I've Just Seen a Face

{Psst: There's a new medical update over here today... }

The weeks leading up to seeing Brooklyn's sweet face for the first time are remarkable when I look back and think about them.

I was still sorting out the medical bills/insurance mix-up hassles.  Rhet and I had started back to school that fall, and we were adjusting to our new schedule.  I inevitably got a respiratory virus that was being passed around, and it took me almost a whole month to shake it off.  After it came back with a vengeance, I high-tailed it to my parents' house in Atlanta for help and rest.  We had fall break that week, and Rhet and I went early in the week and Nick joined us later for a few days.

The day we arrived, I had a missed call on my phone from a number I didn't recognize.  It's here in the story that I need to push rewind for a second...

A year and a half earlier, I had been praying for a 7-month-old little girl in China.  A friend had been advocating for her, and her picture just stuck with us.  Her file was not complete (nor was it being worked on at the time), so I just prayed and prayed for her family...and I prayed for us...that maybe we could be her family.  She had a medical condition I had never heard of before: biliary atresia.  I googled it and internet-researched it (yeah, the best kind of research right? ;) ) and just prayed.  Biliary atresia seemed big and scary.  And yet I just prayed....Lord, please find her a family.  Lord, please let us be the family.  Nick wasn't feeling it.  We had just gotten rolling on our Dave Ramsey quest--we still had all of our debt.  We didn't have any space for a new kiddo.  He didn't feel led to say yes.  And that is the way things go.  One person feels the pull, the other person isn't on the same page.  You live in the tension.  You pray and talk and one of you moves.  It requires lots of respect and communication and open hearts and a commitment not to harbor resentment, and it is really hard.  I think most adoption stories for most families probably include a piece of that.  But you move forward, knowing that you both have your family's best interests and God's leading on your hearts, and you'll make a decision...together. We decided that I could fill out a Family Profile for the adoption agency in order to find out more about her if and when her file was completed, but otherwise, I moved--this time was a "no."

So I listened to the voicemail from the unknown number.  A year and a half later, it is a representative from the adoption agency whose voice I'm hearing.  The message was vague: Can you please call me back?  I have something I need to ask you.  The voicemail was out of the clear blue and it perplexed me.  I stood in my parent's driveway, alone, just wondering.  I called her back and got her voicemail.  I googled her name--she is the coordinator for the China Hosting Program.  Ahhh, she wants to know if we could host a child next summer, I guess.  Um, lady?  Do you know we are already stacked on top of each other in our itty bitty house?  I dismiss the message in my mind.

But all week, my mind went back to it.  Is that what she really wanted?

I received a text from my dear friend Brooke, a matron of honor in my wedding, on the same day that I received the voicemail from the adoption agency.  The message says: We must talk.  Been way too long.  You've been showing up in dreams!  For real!  I figure it's a sign.  We played phone tag for the next couple of weeks.

The week at my parent's house was just what we needed.  Relaxing, recovery from illness, playing, sunshine, date nights, just enjoying being together. Nick and I even took the plunge and updated our "archaic" phones.  Our family of three drove back to Memphis at the end of that week feeling lighter and more restful.

Nick was unpacking the car that night while Rhet helped, and I flopped on the bed for a minute to stretch out from the long roadtrip.  I went to Facebook on my phone, and my eyes were drawn to the picture of a baby girl staring back at me.  A friend had reposted her picture from a China Waiting Child Advocacy page.  She was 9 months old.  With biliary atresia.  (Yep, I know what that is.  I've been sitting with that idea for a year and a half.)  Her name was Brooke.  (Brooke!  She's been having dreams about me...)  Nick came in the house with another suitcase and I called out to him, "Hey Nick!  Come look at this little girl..."

"Oh geez..." he mutters with a smile as he takes my phone.  He looks at her a second longer than usual.  "She is adorable," he says, his voice softening.  My heart leaps--NOT Nick's usual response.

I've written about what our decision-making process was like that week.  What I didn't include is that we'd seen a house we were interested in the previous week when we were in Atlanta.  We contacted our realtor and set up a time for me to go see it while Rhet was in school on Monday.  It was small--not much bigger than what we currently live in now.  But it was cute and staged well and it was in a neighborhood close to where Rhet and I went to school.  I brought Nick and Rhet to see it on Tuesday, and in those 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday we ran the numbers with our mortgage broker and talked seriously about living there.  There wasn't a lot of room in the house to play, but it had a big yard.  There wasn't room for family/friends to stay with us when they visited, but we could just pile into one bedroom and put our guests in the other.  There wasn't an extra room for an another kiddo, but we could just put Rhet in the master bedroom with the alcove off of it and put a crib in the alcove.  We all walked out of the house talking about the purchase.  We promised to be in touch, Nick got in his car parked on the street and waited for us to back out of the carport, which I'd parked under due to the rain.

Scrrrrraaaaaape.  My driver's side mirror scraped along the side of the house.  AUGHH!  I immediately re-centered the car and tried again.  Scrrrrrraaaaaape.  My passenger's side mirror scraped along the other side of the carport.  No no no!!!  I can't explain what physiologically and emotionally happened to me in that moment.  I know I'm sounding melodramatic, but as I finally got the car backed out the carport and backed down the driveway and scrrrrrrrraaaaaped the bottom of the car as I pulled onto the street, it was like a clean break.  I rolled down the window and said to Nick, "Did you just see that?"  "Yeah, bummer," he replied.  And in my mind, it was done.  There was no way we could buy that house.  The scrapes on my mirrors had just snapped me back to reality.  Nope, not our house.

Now as I think about that day, it feels like God was saying "You can NOT buy this house."  There wasn't enough room for Brooklyn over the next 5 years, and more importantly, if we had put that sale into motion, we could not have pursued her adoption.  The agency wanted someone who was already paper-ready for a China adoption (meaning their dossier was already sent to China).  We were not, but we promised to move swiftly.  USCIS requires that you re-submit paperwork for any address changes--we would have had to wait 30 days to close on that house and then get new clearances on several different levels.  It just would've set us too far back.

The day after we committed to pursuing Brooklyn's adoption, I finally got in touch with the woman from the other adoption agency with whom I'd been playing phone tag for a good two weeks.  She was actually calling to offer me a referral for a little girl with congenital heart disease.  My jaw dropped.  What if I had answered her call that first day of fall break?

I've just seen a face
I can't forget the time or place
Where we just met

She's just the girl for me
And I want all the world
To see we've met
Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm mmm mmm

Had it been another day
I might have looked the other way
And I'd have never been aware
But as it is I'll dream of her tonight
La, di, di, da di di

Falling, yes I am falling
And she keeps calling
Me back again


Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more