The phone disrupted the quiet peace of afternoon nap time. “We have another baby for you- a boy!”. I could hardly believe it. Not even two weeks had passed since we had turned in our paperwork. As I held the phone to my ear, Eliana’s cries from upstairs jolted me back to reality. A son. Only 19 months younger than the beautiful baby girl who was calling for me upstairs. A son- who would join our family in three short months. I had no idea how symbolic that phone call would become- chaos invading the calm.
The flurry of preparations began. All things sports and blue flooded the still empty room upstairs. Eliana followed me around picking up the tiny onesies covered in footballs chiming, “Baby. Dis for baby?”. Excitement filled all of us- the news of Nathan’s arrival had been an early Christmas present indeed.
But winter blues blasted into the joy of our growing family. Our birthmother’s behavior became erratic. Then she disappeared. Then the doctor couldn’t find Nathan’s heartbeat during her doctor visit. Our joy turned into angst, then fear. Then fear turned into reality, Nathan was going to be born quite ill. In fact, many children developing in his circumstances did not survive.
Driven to our knees with questions, doubts, fear, confusion, the days lapsed one into the other with no answers. Only the day of his birth would provide the answers we sought: would he make it? As the nurse laid him in my arms, he lay there stiffly with his brow furrowed. He opened his eyes and stared into mine for what felt like an eternity. I was in love- my son.
The hours passed, cradled in my arms our gazes locked upon one another. I wondered if he would ever fall asleep. Instead he began seizing, sweating, blood curdling cries erupting from his diminutive frame. It took every ounce of my strength to keep him from tumbling out of my arms. Succumbing to exhaustion he would sleep for one to two minutes only to repeat the nightmare all over again. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do. He just has to go through this. Keep holding him as tightly as you can and try to keep his arms from flailing or he will be immensely sore in the morning”. So I gripped him with the fierceness of a mother’s love while he screamed and seized and pushed against me trying to break free.
The morning came and he finally slept. My soul felt numb. My chest and arms throbbed. Now what? I thought of my beautiful baby girl at home. She still longed to be cradled and held. How could I mother this child effectively? It seemed too much. I cried out to God, “I can’t do this! But I can’t leave him here! I need direction, Lord! Show me what to do!”. I opened my Bible study desperately for God to speak. He led me to Psalm 142.
First in His tender way, He reminded me that He was with me.
I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before Him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way.
“I see you, child. I see Him. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am with you. Do not fear.”
Then He gave me a prayer and a promise over Nathan’s tiny life:
Free me from my prison, that I may praise your Name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
“I will free him from the prison of these drugs, child. You will see my goodness in his life. Just trust me.”
That night my husband Jonathan and I traded shifts. He came to the hospital and I traveled home to Eliana. As Eliana ran towards me with her little arms extended upward, grinning from ear to ear, gratefulness flooded my soul for her healthy, beautiful life. Around and around we spun in the kitchen giggling as I nestled my nose in her dark curls. Tears stung my eyes as I said to the Lord, “What will it mean for her to have a sick brother?”.
I prayed Jonathan would sense God’s presence with him at the hospital that night. Thankfully, my mother-in-law had graciously offered to stay by Nathan’s bedside as we walked through this storm. I knew she was exhausted and I prayed she might get some rest tonight also.
I arrived early the next morning dreading the news of the prior evening’s events. Much to my surprise both Jonathan and his mom were smiling. They sat with a nurse who was peacefully holding Nathan in her lap. His right fist wrapped tightly around her finger sucking vigilantly on his pacifier, he appeared at peace. She asked me to sit down and she began to speak. “Your son is highly intelligent. His curiosity is endless. He has a strong, fighting heart. He will require much of you, but he will be bring joy to your lives. He indeed is a gift”. I sat there dumbfounded. Who was this nurse? Did she know Nathan’s name meant “Jehovah’s gift”? She introduced herself as “Christina” explaining that she works with children like Nathan “all the time”, reiterating how special he was. Then she left.
While hearing all that Christina had taught them to care for Nathan, I held him in my arms thanking God for answering my prayers for a peaceful night. The NICU doctors came and took Nathan to run some tests and I headed down to the gift shop to purchase a thank-you card for Christina. I approached the nurses station asking them to deliver it to her.
They looked at me strangely. “We don’t have a nurse named Christina here,” the said shaking their heads. “Yes you do, she was our nurse last shift. She said she doesn’t usually work here, but she was our nurse on duty last night”. The nurse looked at me with confusion, “Your nurse last night was Susan. I have no idea who you’re talking about!”. “No!,” I insisted, “She has long gray hair, pale blue eyes, and she wore gray scrubs”. “I’m sorry, ma’am. There is no one here named Christina.”
I stood there dumbfounded. Who was Christina? Where had she come from? I still don’t know. Was she an angel? Maybe. It’s unexplainable. This I know, she was an answer to my prayers. Every word she spoke about Nathan has been true. He is endlessly curious, intelligent, brave-hearted, and difficult! But he continues to bring us endless joy.
This, “Yes!” to have a son was not how I expected God to answer. We walked through a maddening storm to come to this rainbow of promise. And we’ve walked through many storms since. But the rainbow is always there- God’s goodness and faithfulness continue to guide us in raising our little boy. Often, violent storms produce the most vibrant rainbows.
Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is often a fearful, faith-filled journey. The stories I know are always a combination of joy and tears, sprinkled with the fingerprints of God. Adoption was God’s idea from the very beginning:
For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ~ Ephesians 1:4-5.
We are all adopted if we have become part of God’s family through Jesus. He promises to set all of us free from our own prisons through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. So when God says, “Yes!” wrap your jacket tightly around you and head into the storm with Him. He is faithful. And there will always be a rainbow on the other side.