By Natalie Brenner
I checked my inbox every hour, waiting to see emails from our adoption agency about expectant moms and parents making an adoption plan. We received about four each week; some weeks as many as seven and other weeks as few as none. These emails were sent to multiple potential adoptive families working with said agency. Included are invasive details about expectant mothers’ (and sometimes fathers’) medical history. Often times we would read about their jobs, favorite music and foods, weight and height and race, whether or not they were married. Sometimes pictures were included. We had the opportunity to take each situation and decide whether or not to present our family profile book. Presenting incited so much anticipation. When we chose to present to an expectant mom making an adoption plan, this meant she could choose us to parent her child and our family would grow an entire extension.
We were presenting to expectant parents of twins, due in February. Twins! We were unsure if this expectant mom making an adoption plan would even look at us, since we had the sticker on our profile reading, “This couple is also pregnant, but still hoping to be a family for a baby.” To us, it was always worth presenting; what if we were meant to raise virtual triplets?
“I just wanted to let you know the expectant mother narrowed down her choices to two adoptive families, and you were not chosen.” This email had come many times, along with this one: “The expectant mother has decided to parent her baby and is no longer making an adoption plan.” At this point, neither email made me cry. I trusted the best decision was made.
We had said “yes” to four different potential adoption situations: four yeses only to receive four “noes” by November of 2015. In the grand scheme, this is very few; it was a wild emotional toll, though. We continuously did our best to breathe in and out, trusting Jesus had the adoption story in His palm. He was writing the story, and we needed not worry.
Yet, saying “yes” to a situation was much more than a verbal agreement, or typing words into an email. Saying “yes” was allowing our hearts to be at stake — open and vulnerable — loving strangers we had never met face to face.
We were not only saying “yes” to potentially parenting each baby or set of babies, but we were saying “yes” to all the unknowns, the hidden baggage and tragedy inevitably accompanying adoption. We were saying “yes” to a history we had no information about.
We may have said “yes” to staying in the NICU for weeks to months, watching our baby be weaned off cocaine or meth. We may have said “yes” to risking transferring Hepatitis C from mama to baby. We may have said “yes” to an unknown father. We could have said “yes” to any unknown medical or substance histories; someone with whom we could only trust God. The fees due for any adoption would be thousands of dollars we didn’t have, but we remained confident He would provide for us perfectly.
Hearing “no” wasn’t the end of the world or our adoption journey. I found myself confident, this is the one, situation after situation. I imagined meeting expectant mamas and how in the world I would walk the tension of grief and joy.
We received such invasive details about expectant mothers making adoption plans; my heart cracked wide open to love deeper than ever before.
In crying out and praying for these parents with unplanned pregnancies, I was reminded over and over this isn’t about us. For every no we received, it meant someone else was receiving the blessing of a baby; whether that be expectant mom choosing to parent or another hopeful adoptive family. We continued saying yes to presenting, holding our hands open and clinging to His closeness in all the uncertainty.
We were not chosen to parent this precious set of twins, due in January/February. Though we were not chosen to parent those twins, due in the next three months, we hoped our “yes” would one day be responded to with another “yes.” We trusted whoever that expectant mama chose to parent her twins was exactly who her twins needed. That family will be very, very blessed to grow by 4 feet. In this truth, I rejoice and move forward. Rejoicing comes easy when I make the journey less about me and more about a bigger plan in store for us.
2015 was scraping me thin and punching me in the gut. Loren experienced it too. We were growing soul tired. And though we were soul tired, weary and thinner than thin, adoption was forcing me to rely on my spirituality in a different way than anything else ever had. During a time of complete unrest and chaos (jobless and without our community, a high-risk pregnancy), we had been given an amazing opportunity to pray for expectant families and in-utero babies. Knowing such intensely intimate details about these expectant mamas and families made this an immensely powerful journey.
Despite the continual “noes,” we continued waiting and praying. We knew we were meant to become a family with the birth of a baby. We continued saying “yes,” even at the risk of what felt like rejection. Adoption isn’t about us.
Natalie Brenner is wife to Loren and mom to two under two, living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of This Undeserved Life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. She’s addicted to honesty. You can go to church or not: she’d love to have coffee with you. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a wanna-be runner. Connect with her at NatalieBrennerWrites.com and join her popular email list. Leave a review for her book on GoodReads or Amazon anytime!
Thanks for the article. I would like to see more articles for couples that never hear anything but “no” in their attempts at adoption. We attempted to adopt via three agencies now for over ten years. We never heard the word “yes”, but we heard a great deal of the word ”No!” And increasingly we hear adoption agencies tell us that their too many childless couples chasing too few adoptable babies. So many so that most childless couples probably will not be successful in finding an adoption situation. I think more needs to be done to support these couples.