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Family Planning

Family Planning

Adoption is a journey of faith.

by

After six years of hoping for a second child, my husband and I embarked on an adoption search. The next four years became a journey of faith as our ideas of what our family should be clashed with the plan God had the wisdom to design for us.

Searching for an adopted child always seemed to me a taller order than simply praying to conceive. It seemed presumptious to me -- like saying, "Hey, Master of the Universe -- I know you're busy, but... could you arrange to send me a baby, even though I can't grow one myself?" It was a process even learning how to pray humbly for such an enormous gift.

Along the way, we learned how completely God knew our innermost wishes. Prayers we didn't even dare speak would be answered in the end.

I was driven in my adoption search by a strong feeling that God meant for me to have more than one child. I always imagined they'd be just a few years apart, like my sister and I had been.

While I knew I already had so much to be thankful for -- one healthy son already, when so many had none! -- I was still miserable.

But as my birth son Evan got older and older, it became increasingly evident that our family's size and shape would not match these fantasies. Evan was the one all the younger kids loved, a natural older brother, and it was heartbreaking to see him an only child. I felt my life was a train that had gone hurtling off the rails and I couldn't figure out how to get back on track.

I'd like to say that I remained upbeat and joyful during this difficult time, but I'd be lying. While I knew I already had so much to be thankful for -- one healthy son already, when so many had none! -- I was still miserable.

Going to any public place became torture. Why couldn't my local Target store just make an announcement: "Attention parents! Please exit the store for an hour so that Carol can shop!" The sight of so many families with their matched pairs and trios and more of obviously biologically related kids - their parents seemingly oblivious to their good fortune -- was like daggers stabbing my eyes.

Chain of Miracles

To speed our adoption search, we decided to look in two directions at once, in the foster-care system for older children -- statistically the most likely option for domestic adoption -- and privately for a birthmother about to deliver.

For the most part, I put my dreams of a newborn to the back of my mind, knowing it was a long shot. Then we met a birthmother through an ad we placed in the local pennysaver. Despite advertising across 14 states, she was less than an hour away. We met, and a chain of miracles began that left us convinced God was at work.

We tried not to get too excited, knowing she could change her mind, knowing that for every eight couples seeking a newborn, adoption experts say one will take a baby home. But it was hard to ignore our birth mother's name: Sarah. Mother of the Jewish people!? I felt surely, this was our match.

So began a three-month rollercoaster ride as we waited and wondered whether this was our baby. I felt the need to pray every day for the child my heart knew was missing from our family to be found. I'd heard the saying that if you pray for something every day for 40 days in a row, it will come true. Interestingly, we had met Sarah just about three months before her due date... plenty of time to put my plan into action.

Over the weeks, the personal part of my prayer boiled down to this: "Help me be worthy of the child I trust you are sending my way, whether it's this one or another. Help me be patient and calm as I wait. And help me be ready for whatever is going to happen when Sarah's baby comes."

My 40 days came and went, and I kept on praying. I felt I needed to keep this daily prayer going to remain sane and balanced as the waiting days ticked by.

At 6:30 a.m. one morning, the phone rang, and off we sped to the hospital.

The four days that followed presented many challenges. We were confronted with numerous relatives of Sarah's, many of them unseen by us until that moment. Each had their own agenda -- they were angry or confused, they wanted to adopt Eylian themselves, or wanted Sarah to keep the baby. And three times a day, as the hospital's shifts changed, a new head nurse would come in to try to convince Sarah to keep her baby.

Inside my brain was screaming, "Get away from my baby!" But the prayer reserve I had built up sustained me. I was able to smile at everyone and show nothing but joy, and go with the flow. And it wasn't an act -- I felt calm, deep inside.

The long-lost, missing baby we named Eylian Natan -- Hebrew for "God answered me with a gift" -- was ours. He was born on my father's 70th birthday, in case we needed any more signs that he was meant for us.

The Missing Girl

We now had two boys, and in my mind my family was complete. But I buried another secret sadness when we brought Eyli home -- we had hoped we would have a girl in our family, and now it appeared we would not. We had decided to take any match we were offered, regardless of sex. And Evan was so happy that his new sibling was a brother; it all seemed right.

My husband also seemed to have prayers he kept to himself. When we were cleaning out the garage to make a charity donation, I said he should take the baby carseat. He responded by making a sad face, sticking out his lower lip.

"Are you crazy? Aren't we done with babies?" We weren't.

"Are you crazy?" I said. "Aren't we done with babies?"

We weren't. When Eyli was two, we got a call from Sarah. She had had another baby -- a girl -- just 15 months after Eyli was born. Though she had hoped to raise her, the little girl had gone straight into foster care. If she couldn't regain custody, would we take her?

The moment she spoke, I saw at last God's whole plan for my family laid out in front of me. In my darkest days, I had asked God to grant my fondest wish -- and now, God wanted something in return. This was the reason Eyli had been ours -- because he had a sister coming too, and God needed a family who would raise them together.

The missing second child had been found, and now, the missing girl. God had answered all our dreams -- for a newborn, and for a girl -- just not in the way we had expected. Instead, we were doubly blessed with two new children instead of one.

I thought that having an adopted newborn showed me the limitlessness of God's wonders, seeing a baby not of my blood nurse from my breast and cling to me and call me Mommy. But then, in May 2004, our daughter came home to us after a monthlong transition process with her foster family.

Within a week of her arrival, this 16-month-old girl who learned to walk and talk and understand the world in another family was following me around with her arms outstretched, saying "Mommy," asking me to hold her. And answering to her new, Jewish name, Ariella -- our brave girl, God's lioness -- as if she'd always known it.

I don't want to give the idea that since Ariella's adoption, we have all lived happily ever after in some kind of rosy-glowing dream world. On the tough days, when these two mischeivous toddlers are leaping from the top of the bureau, dumping milk on the floor or applying permanent marker to the walls, we are stressed, we are tired, sometimes we feel like we're losing our minds!

But we're usually able to keep smiling, knowing that we are living the amazing life of a family whose wildest dreams have been surpassed. I no longer feel my life has gone off the rails. In fact, it feels exactly right.

I feel like I have it all now -- the pink princess costumes and the train sets, the close-age siblings and the older brother they dote on. I realize now that if I'd gotten the family I wanted, I would have missed so much. God's dreams for us are often bigger than our own, and I try to remember now that it often takes a long time for His grand design to be seen.

Published: December 17, 2005


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Visitor Comments: 15

(15) Anonymous, August 8, 2010 7:57 AM

Adoption article

I would like to congratulate the woman who adopted these two children. They now have a wonderful home and are still together. Shame on the people who lectured about "adoption being about the child". That is stating the obvious amd frankly very few people who adopt are thinking only of themselves.

(14) L.S., August 1, 2010 8:52 AM

Beautiful Story!

What an amazing story--I love it! You are an amazing person and the children are very lucky to have you as their new parent. To all of the other commentators making nasty comments--shame on you! adopting a child is never a selfish thing to do! The author should be lauded for her generosity and big heart not criticized by cruel statements. Your family sounds beautiful! May Hashem bless all of you!

(13) Sarah, May 16, 2006 12:00 AM

Thanks for sharing

How nice to adopt siblings! Your biological child may look like you, but these children resemble each other. I think that may be a comfort to them at a later time.
Best wishes for successful parenting. Every baby is a miracle and desrves the best parenting we can give. Your article makes me believe you will give your best to all three children.

(12) Carol Tice, April 7, 2006 12:00 AM

My response

I'd like to respond to the most recent comments to my story. I'm sorry if my essay made some people form the impression that I thought my adoption was all about me and my needs.

I sensed that I was meant to parent additional children...that there were children out there who needed a family and were meant to be part of ours...who needed us.

Our birth mother was not at a point in her life where she could parent, to make a very long story short. We came together out of a mutual desire to provide a better life for her kids.

There wasn't space in the article to go into the lasting relationship we have formed with our birth mother, despite her continued struggles with drugs and a chaotic life. But we continue to honor her role in all our lives. Pictures of our birthmother and our childrens' birth family, and our daughter's foster family as well, who we also stay in touch with, are included in their albums and always part of their story. We are all in regular contact.

We did so much for our birth mother that we had trouble getting the court to approve our assistance package as it was so out of the ordinary! I'm sorry if anyone formed the impression that I thought my adoptions were all about me or that I thought I could somehow replace their birthmother, or that our adoption didn't honor her in some way. Our birth mother continues to be an important person in all our lives. I'm hoping to stay in touch continuously so that my children won't have to adoption search to find her when they're ready.

We have sacrificed a lot to take on our unexpected third child -- we're not exactly rich. Both these children have special needs stemming from their birth mother's drug usage that will be with them throughout their lives. They are attending therapeutic preschool.

But we felt that these siblings belonged together --and so did the state of Washington -- and that with God's help we would be able to raise them to be together, because every study of adopted foster children shows that they would have a better chance of becoming healthy, successful adults if they stayed together. I was actually skeptical that we should take our daughter from her foster home, and it was the state and our birthmom who convinced us this was the right move for her, even as a 14-month-old, to join our family.

I have 5 adopted cousins I grew up with so I'm well aware of the issues adoptees face, and have tried to parent them in a way that presents them with all of the information they need to feel good about themselves.

This article was about my personal spiritual journey, of learning how what I thought was right for my family wasn't really - God's plan was. Of learning to cope with waiting -- of learning to lay your hopes in the palm of God's hand and gratefully accepting the response, even when it's different from what you expected.

Certainly, meeting our children's needs is paramount in our thoughts, from the moment we wake until the instant we (finally!) sleep. Hopefully these comments provide a more complete picture of our lives as adoptive parents.

Thanks for reading --

Carol Tice

(11) Carlos, February 19, 2006 12:00 AM

Adoption is about the Child, not the parent

This essay was disturbing in that it appears that the mother is consumed with fulfilling her "needs". There is no reference to the child, except as being there to take care of the mother's need to have a child. how will she feel when her children start searching or asking about their biological families? We ALL have a need to know who we truly are and where we came from. That need to know can't be loved away. I am an adoptee who had wonderful adoptive parents, but knowing my true identity, my heritage, has allowed me to be a completely REAL person.
Remember when your children search and ask about their true heritage and families, it isn't about you anymore, it's about THEM. And their loss.

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