Our story has just begun.
I sit right now on the ﬂoor of her tiny room, looking at book shelves, her crib, and a giant world map on her wall. Kyle has tools out and is installing a dimmer light switch for her. The waiting has become fairly agonizing.
We press on even though often I feel like screaming things like, "Who cares about a dimmer light switch?!" The next minute I'm begging Kyle to install it. It's strange the things waiting with no sense of control can do to you.
Kyle and I ﬁrst talked about adopting when we were engaged. We waited a long time, however, to take the ﬁrst step. When we ﬁnally took that leap of faith, God began to clearly show us this was the path we were to take. Every door we walked through (picking an agency, learning about different types of adoption, going to a conference, talking to people who had adopted) seemed to ﬂy open and lead us to the next thing. It was an exciting time, and we are blessed to have experienced encouragement and conﬁrmation everywhere we turned at that time.
Everyone who adopts knows about the special needs checklist. This was a dreaded thing. We tried to ﬁll it out together one night and argued. We put it off while doing other paperwork for a while. Finally, it was one of the last things we had to ﬁll out, and we tackled it again after much prayer. Kyle was open to heart conditions, and I was hesitant about them. I was hoping for a need that was less scary to me.
Kyle got us tickets to go see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert in September of 2013. We were so excited, because we knew about his advocacy for orphans in China through Show Hope. After enjoying ourselves completely, we bought several CDs and a book for our soon to be child. I journaled about the concert, and we became pretty obsessed with his newest CD, "The Glorious Unfolding." I called it our adoption anthem, and we literally listened to it all of the time. We also decided to apply for a grant from Show Hope.
We got a call on an ice day (off of work and stuck at home) in December from our adoption agency. We had only been 'logged in' for two days. Our sweet social worker proceeded to tell us that they had a referral for us, and it was a little girl of about 16 months. She explained that her heart condition was more severe than we had indicated being open to. She asked if we would like to view her ﬁle, and with a rush of adrenaline and joy, we were saying, "Yes, yes, yes!"
The day came for us to consult with the doctors. It wasn't the news we had hoped to hear. We were hoping they'd say, "It's not as bad as it seems; she will be ﬁne once she gets here." Instead we learned that hers is a condition that will probably require multiple surgeries and lifelong care. Willow has transposition of great arteries, ASD, VSD, PDA, and pulmonary atresia....?
After we hung up, Kyle began to get emotional, because we were really invested in her at this point. I was emotional as well, but I suddenly started grinning. He was a little bit thrown by that. I explained that as I watched him cry and heard the details of her condition, I felt like a mom. I looked at him and saw her dad. It was so clear to both of us that we were her parents.
We began revealing to all about our baby girl, starting with our families at Christmas celebrations! This was a blast! We made wonderful memories. My mom realized that her ﬁrst birthday was the same day we had a fundraising garage sale in which tons of family and friends showed us lots of love. That was a little gift from God for us to discover. In January, we got our update on Willow with six pictures. She had four teeth! We had always been a little bit confused about how she had received her ﬁrst heart surgery (in April of 2013). Who had provided this for her? Kyle saw some keyhole shaped doorways behind her in these new photos that looked familiar. He went to Show Hope's website and as we sat on the phone with each other from our prospective workplaces, we realized that Willow was being cared for by the incredible volunteers of Show Hope! This was a goosebumps moment. She had been moved there at about 8 months of age, right before her surgery. Kyle found an old blog entry asking for prayer for her when she was about 11 months, right after her surgery.
Willow is now almost 19 months old, and we pray for her several times each day. We never really stop thinking about her no matter what we are doing. A part of our hearts is half a world away from us at this time. To those who have held a referral picture in their hands while hoping papers were not stuck under a pile on a desk somewhere, I know you understand. It is very possible to miss someone you have not yet met.
We know that she is our child. We love her unconditionally and without reservation. We constantly prepare, read, and learn about adoption and heart conditions, because she motivates us to do so.
I told several students at my elementary school about our adoption. I think it might be as simple as a little fourth grade boy articulated to me. I explained to them that she did not have a mom or a dad to take care of her, and we wanted a baby. He said happily, "It's a win/win!"
No matter what may come, we are very in love with our daughter. God knows the number of days she will be on this earth, and we will soak up every single one He gives us with her. We have no idea of the trials that are to come, but we know we have within us the eternal source of strength, wisdom, and comfort to face any hard days. At the end of the day, she's just a little girl in need of parents, and we are parents in need of a child. Like any other parent loves a child who happens to have a physical difﬁculty, we just love her.
Your prayers for us would mean so much. We hope to travel in May of this year. Our story has just barely begun!
Music video: http://youtu.be/G2HyzEQBplc
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:24-25
May God bless all of these precious heart babies, and may He continue to show doctors miraculous ways to save and enrich their lives.