I listened to the strange voice on the other end of the phone telling me that it was a doctor at a hospital in Arkansas and my mind went blank. Just days before Christmas, my name and number had been with my grandmother at the time of a nasty fall, so she’d given the information to the hospital as an emergency contact. That was all it took to alert the whole family. She’d slipped on some ice. It was just a broken hip. I’ve since learned that there is no such thing as “just” a broken hip…
My parents had to go be with her. My parents … the glue holding all the craziness together … left right before Christmas. It was awful. That was probably one of the worst Christmases I can remember. We were so sad, but in some ways, for the first time in months, my sisters and I had to see each other and communicate. So, it was painful but good all at the same time.
The original thought had been to get Grandma Poole installed back in her house post surgery and return to Chicago, but there were complications, and so, despite being back in town briefly over New Year, my parents began logging what would be a little over two months of their lives in Arkansas. During this time, we talked almost constantly on the phone. I’d call on my way to work in the morning, and on my way back in the evenings, and sometimes on some days (depending on the circumstances), I’d call several times in between. Our communication was strong and my ability to stand on my own in this (by God’s grace) got better.
Two really big events occurred in my life during this separation as well.
First, after much deliberation on the part of the board and discussion between the leaders of the institution and my pastor, it was decided that the institution at which I was employed, while Christian, was not a church and could not exercise authority over this issue the same way a church potentially could and so I was told that they would be happy if I would keep my job and receive all the maternity benefits therein. I would like to stress this point as a wonderful thing – this decision alone helped me talk to students (for the rest of my time at the college) who felt as if they were drowning in a sea of legalism – there was hope – God was at work in the hearts of many. Having this piece in place also freed me up to finally make the decision on the potential of adoption.
Over the holiday season, I had talked to a couple adoption agencies, and though they were wonderful and encouraging, I couldn’t shake the feeling of almost nauseous unease. Every reason for adopting (for me) ended with the phrase “get on with your life.” This felt so selfish and wrong to me. How could I ever “get on with my life?” This was HUGE and life-changing. Besides this, the best reasons for adoption (as I listed them) were to provide a good home atmosphere with a loving family for the child – something that I had to give between my nuclear family, my extended family, and finally, my church family! At this point, I don’t feel the need to go into detail about the aspects/influence of being raised in a non-traditional or single parent family, but that was a serious concern that I definitely considered and even sought counsel on. [Please note: I would also very much like to stress that these arguments are my personal feelings on my personal situation and cannot/should not be applied to the concept of adoption in other situations without deep and prayerful consideration.]
It came down to this question for me: Was this child in need of rescuing?
Birth mother is over 21: check.
Completed college degree: check.
Gainfully employed: check.
Loving and supportive family: check.
No! I could not find a strong enough reason for the necessity of a rescue.
Now came the time for prayer: “Lord, I feel that our home would be a good atmosphere for this little girl – is that what you want for her?” …
I’ll never forget the night I was sitting in bed, working on a bible study, and a verse that I was reading stood out to me with the answer. I called my parents in tears, my heart finally at peace – the burden of decision gone! This baby was my firstborn, my daughter, and she would stay with me.
God’s timing on that decision and the peace it brought was perfect and good.
I would need that peace with me in the coming weeks.