A few weeks ago I made a “mistake” and held a soft, sweet, happy 3-month-old baby at a potluck so her mom could eat. It took me a minute to get my infant mama legs back, having been used to holding a wiggly 30-pound toddler, but it all came back to me and soon I was rocking back and forth, singing and talking. I even fed the baby while securing a high chair tray. As I held that tiny squish and gazed into those bright blue eyes, my heart (and ovaries) whispered: “IT’S TIME.”
Long before I met my husband, I wanted children. I have always had a heart for babies without mamas, and I’ve planned to foster and adopt as long as I can remember.
When we got married in 2014, my husband was on board with this plan, and we talked and made passive plans to begin to commence to start the adoption process “at some point,” and even took some training classes. In the meantime, there were job layoffs and car issues, and a baby born with a (very treatable but expensive) birth defect after a rather difficult pregnancy that included bed rest – we’ve been trying to catch up financially.
Another issue – we could never seem to get the house ready for the home study.
It doesn’t help that I’m a hoarder of craft supplies and nostalgia and can never throw anything away if I think it still has a use. As I sat at work or drove home I’d think of all the purging I would do: Out with the stuff I haven’t touched in 3 years, gone are the scattered toys that aren’t played with. But when I surveyed the rooms, suddenly all those craft projects seem doable, once we organize. All those toys were gifts from loved ones or educational, and fell into the exception pile; any amount of progress we made was like taking a spoonful of water out of an ocean of clutter.
But then: the squishy baby. The whisper: “It’s time.” Everything needed to change.
Change begins with a whisper and a meme
A week after I held that baby, I saw a meme on a local Facebook group which pricked my heart. It said, “Someone somewhere is depending on you to do what God has called you to do.” We asked our pastor to pray with us that Sunday about finally moving forward towards adoption and foster care. I showed him the meme and pointed out that the biggest thing that stands in our way was me.
The group who posted the meme was The Oklahoma Heart Gallery. It’s an organization that takes pictures and videos of children waiting to be adopted and puts them online and in public places to help match children with adoptive homes, and they do very good work.
A year ago I saw a face on their gallery that I felt very attached to, a bio that made me think “this child is our people. She belongs with us.” She was a teenager, an age group which has the most desperate need, but neither of us felt particularly confident in our abilities to parent a teen. Still, I couldn’t get her face out of my mind, and I would occasionally check on her photo.
One day I noticed her picture status had changed, and now said UNAVAILABLE. “Oh,” I thought, somewhat bitter-sweetly, “she’s been adopted. That’s wonderful.” I fell back into my bubble of work and commuting and toddler parenting, and the months passed with no progress on the foster front. But the nagging feeling, that I was not doing something that I was supposed to be doing, haunted me.
Then the Squish. Then the Whisper. Then the meme…
Recently, I was flipping through the Heart Gallery once again, and a familiar face popped up. My heart jumped. The caption read AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION. I immediately messaged my husband with the link and said our girl is back on the page. We have to adopt her! He replied back “What do we need to do?”
What do we need to do?
I’d love to say that things are in full motion and paperwork has been filed, but we’re still in the middle of it all. If this were a show, this would be the Second Act where the problem has presented itself, and the heroes don’t know how to go forward. Or they see how, but it looks insurmountable. She may get adopted before we meet her. She may not want us at all, or it may all fall apart. This is just the slow middle act. But it doesn’t matter.
Somewhere, someone is waiting for me to do what God has called me to do. Now I have a face. Even if this is not the face of our future daughter, hers is the symbolic face of The Waiting Child that tugs on my heart.
I have seen it, and I cannot look away.