Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What I'll Remember from So Many Near-Matches

Adoption is a breathtakingly beautiful thing, but it is also a roller coaster.  Having a baby biologically is no walk in the park, to be sure, but it is a known quantity: the baby is a combination of yourself and your life partner, prenatal care is totally in your hands, and the arrival date is usually known to within a few days.

With adoption, there are so many unknowns to the matching process.  For one, there's only so much information you can get about the birthmother and oftentimes little to no info on the birthfather.  And then there's the uncertainty of if and when: if and when you will get matched with a birthmother, if and when she will feel a strong enough connection with you to choose you, and if and when she will follow through rather than going dark or changing her mind.

I would like to be discreet with some details, but I do want to share some remembrances about various near-matches we experienced during this two-year process of hoping and then giving up.  I do so to honor those babies who we thought might become cherished members of our family and who are now in the world and we will never meet them.  And I do so to honor a God who adopted us into His family, and who has promised us all of the benefits of full sonship and daughtership including loving us through many trials into His heavenly kingdom.

* Tennessee - The first near-match was by far the closest one.  It was so emotionally tumultuous to get all the way to the airport, find out the birthmother was likely to change her mind, and then have her go back and forth over the course of a weekend (with all of the attendant anticipation of great joy and bracing for great heartache).  I will forever remember the feeling of sudden finality when I got the call that she had definitively decided to keep the baby.  Amy and I went for a walk through Woodland Cemetery to process the swirl of emotions we were feeling and to say goodbye to this child in our hearts.  That was helpful for closure, as was the thought that this birthmother had gotten to a place of peace about giving parenting this little baby girl a go.  We will dearly miss having her in our lives but are confident she will be loved and have a good life.

* Georgia - Not long after this oh-so-close match, we got a note from our adoption agency.  For birthmother situations that are particularly complex, the agency shares information and then asks expectant adoptive families to affirmatively agree to have their profiles shown.  That way, the birthmother knows that anyone she looks at will in fact consider being matched.  So not long after we had our near-match in Tennessee, we got info about a birthmother in Georgia whose situation was almost certain to mean significant health issues for the baby.  So close to the pain of our previous near-match, we were cautious about this situation.  But I recall us lying in bed mulling it over and asking God to give us guidance, and I remember a feeling all through my body as if God's love was coursing through me.  The next morning we put our name in.  We were never contacted back, but I will always remember from that that we are but vessels of God's love to others, and if He puts hard-to-love people in our lives He also gives us the capacity to love them.

* Maryland - Later that summer, we were matched with a birthmother whose situation with the birthfather was complicated.  She was ready to match with us, but in the state of Maryland the birthfather has the right to veto an adoption and it became clear that we were not going to get his approval so we walked away.  This is probably the child I will think of the most in terms of wondering if she will be OK, will she be loved and cared for as she deserves to be.  It is so sad for me to think about for too long even now, a child whose parents didn't want her, who we wanted but couldn't have.

* Florida - Later that calendar year, we got far along enough with a birthmother to engage an in-state lawyer to begin the paperwork.  After taking our case on, that lawyer uncovered a couple of red flags, which cast significant uncertainty upon this situation, enough so that given all our near-matches made us uncomfortable continuing on.  So, with regrets but also feeling sure we were doing the right thing, we walked away.  But I think this was also the point where we began to think, "y'know, maybe this isn't going to happen ever."

* Arkansas - Early on this calendar year, we were matched with a birthmother and set about finding a lawyer in state to handle matters.  Still reeling from all of the tumult from the previous year, we were pretty numb by now, neither getting too high about the anticipation of getting a baby nor worried too much about getting hurt again.  And so when that birthmother effectively disappeared off the face of the earth and we resigned ourselves to giving up, we were too spent to be devastated.  But it was still sad, knowing we were running out of time and options and realizing we would have to give up on this situation.

There were other initial conversations and possible matches, but those are the ones that got far along enough to develop some sort of connection and feel some sort of emotion.  You know that we were going to name the baby from Tennessee Jordan, and we ended up with two other baby names (one boy, one girl) for two of the other near-matches, which I'm not ready to share publicly but which we will always hold in our hearts as part of our remembrance of these babies who could've been in our family and are now out there in the world apart from us.

It is an empty feeling to make room in your lives to love a little one and then never get to meet them.  Here and there, we will wonder about each of these babies, and sometimes their absence will hurt.  But the emptiness and sadness is a good prod to enjoy every moment with the three babies we do have, who fill our lives with great joy and for whom we are increasingly grateful to know and love every day.  We will carry the remembrance of all these nearly-matched babies in our hearts all our lives, each day with a little less sadness, and in the meantime we rejoice in every day we have with our three kids.  How fortunate and rich we are, that God brought Jada, Aaron, Asher into our lives to let us love and care for and watch grow.
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