A letter to your mother

Sweet baby J, it’s been a month since you left our home. The time has moved too quickly. I had to return some of the clothes you wore and so I was forced to wash and sort through your wardrobe. Your scent is no longer here and it makes my heart sad. Terence is sad, I am sad. We miss you more than you’ll ever understand. Some may wonder why I write to you here on this blog. I do so for a few reasons. Firstly, because I believe my words to you are echoed in the hearts of many women experiencing loss; secondly, because I believe your story can teach us things I don’t yet fully understand, and thirdly, because I serve an awesome God who can perform miracles if He chooses and I pray that somehow when you’re older you will stumble across this blog and know in your heart that I’m talking about you. Children who are adopted often wonder about their early days. Were they loved? Were they cuddled? Did they like to sleep on their side or on your chest? Were they sung to? Baby J, I want you to know that you were loved and cherished and that your space in my heart will always be there. Eventually the hurt may pass, but you will never be forgotten.

Today I want to honour the first woman who truly loved you. I have never met her and yet I know me previous sentence is true. Here is my letter to her.

To Baby J’s mother

We have never met. I am not even sure if you were ever told my name. When your daughter left the hospital she came to stay with me. It was the biggest privilege of my life.

Since the moment I found out about her, I thought about you. I have never given birth and I have never had to make the sacrifice you made, so I won’t pretend to know what you went through. However,there are some common threads in our stories and so I feel a strange connection to you.

I wish I could invite you over for tea.

Experience has taught me that tea is a powerful thing. We would sit on my couch and I would let you talk.

I would listen to you, because I wonder how many times someone has just listened without judging you first. I would probably struggle not to ask you a million questions and if I got ahead of myself, I would pray that you knew it was coming from a caring place.

I would tell you about your daughter and ask you if you wanted to see photographs of her first weeks. I would tell you the story of how your daughter gave me a mother’s heart and showed me things women aren’t supposed to be privy to before they become mothers. I would tell you that your daughter made me love my husband even more than I already did, and that looking into her eyes each day filled my heart with praise for God and His creation of her beautiful little life. I would tell you that I knew you were beautiful even though I hadn’t seen you, because only a beautiful woman could have brought such a lovely daughter into this world.

Perhaps we would share our dreams for ‘J’. Perhaps we would cry together. Perhaps I would muster the courage to tell you that my hearts’ desire was, and still is, to mother your daughter and that when she left I experienced my darkest day. How does one ask to parent another’s child? Sometimes I wish I had the opportunity to meet you in those early weeks of ‘J’s life, when Terence and I dreamed of our family with her and thought it might be possible. Would I have had the nerve to ask you if we could keep her? Would you have deemed us good enough to be your daughter’s parents? Would you even like me?

I know you requested photographs of your daughter. All I have now are photos too, and I wonder if we are ever both looking down at that beautiful face at the same time and wondering what could have been.

I know you love your daughter. My heart broke when I saw the special clothes you had chosen for her and the beautiful name you had given her. I really love her name. It suits her very well. I want you to know that you have broken my heart for birth mothers and that because of you, I will do my best to never allow judgement to pass my lips or my heart, no matter what stories I hear.

I want you to know that we pray for your daughter every day and that our experience with her has made us rely on our heavenly father to protect her and show her His character and His love and His plan for her life. I pray the same things for you.

I want you to know that I miss her everyday and I can only imagine that you miss her too. Missing her is something that connects me to you. I want to assure you that my experience with her hasn’t made me bitter, despite the flaws in the ‘system’. She has reminded me why we do what we do, and what a privilege it is to have share any part of  a child’s life.

Your daughter has already touched so many peoples lives.

I pray that your heart will be soothed and that you know you are loved and thought of often.

And if we ever meet in person, I’d be happy to tell you all these things again.

All my love,

Julie

Waiting for Isaac

I want to start this post by thanking everyone who has supported Terence and I over the past two weeks. We have felt so loved and uplifted by our family and friends and it has been like a balm for our weary hearts. I am so grateful to be a part of such a fantastic Christian community.

It has taken me a while to sit down and write this post, but I believe the hesitation is linked to a very important lesson God wanted to teach me today.

I have been wrestling with my feelings and wrestling with God. There are so many ‘unknowns’ to this story and I have struggled to trust God with the answers. I’ve asked Him repeatedly why He allowed J-bug to fit so perfectly into our family and then have her taken away from us? Why something ‘felt’ different about this precious child and yet that ‘feeling’ led to empty arms? Why He gave me a ‘mother’s heart’ and yet I feel unable to use it? I cannot adequately describe the pain I felt watching my social worker drive away with Little J. The heaviness of my heart clashed against the emptiness of my arms. The quiet that night was deafening. The little world I had created dissolved before my eyes.

We never set out to adopt this baby. I know that. She was supposed to stay with us for a short time only. We allowed ourselves to dream and fall in love and I allowed myself to play ‘mommy’ in my mind. We foolishly ‘created’ a family of three when that was never the plan. How I wish that was the plan, but evidently, despite trying everything, our princess had to move on, as she was always meant to do.

Even though I know all of this to be true, I have struggled to find any peace about the situation. When my other three babies left, I felt incredibly sad and yet I knew they were meant for other families and so my heart was at rest. This time, my heart was at war with logic and it did a real number on my emotions.

Do I believe Terence and I would have been fantastic parents to little J?

Yes.

Have I been allowing myself to dream that maybe my social worker would phone us and bring J back, or J’s birth mother would somehow find out about us and want her daughter to come and live with us?

Yes.

Do I realise that by holding on to these futile dreams, I am harming myself, upsetting my husband and trying to manipulate God?

Ashamedly, yes!

On Sunday night, Terence and I had a heart-to-heart. It was good and it was hard. I needed to hear my husband’s wise words. I realise that by fighting the process I am robbing myself of the time to properly heal and feel sad about missing J. I am allowed to be sad. I am allowed to miss her. I am allowed to cry. I am not allowed to torture myself and undermine God’s plan in this situation by refusing to acknowledge His sovereignty. I refuse to undo the wonderful thing that happened in our home, where a little girl was loved and cherished and given a good start to life, and where we were blessed abundantly by having her with us. I refuse to allow the hurt to mar this process  and prevent us from caring for other children in need. I will not let what we did be in vain.

This brings me to today’s lesson. God is showing me His grace in many ways, dear friends. The Monday after J left I started another part-time job. My boss is a Christian who has a passion for the vulnerable and the lost. God has used him to help me understand His nature better over these past few weeks and I have been very blessed by our conversations. Today I admitted to my boss that I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t be J’s mother and why, despite my gifts in this area, I am not a mother at all.

And then he said something very profound.

“Julie, you need to ask God to give you an Isaac and you need to be willing to wait for him. You cannot create a family your way. It has to be God’s way.”

boom, light bulb on.

Sarah and Abraham were desperate for a child. They doubted they would ever have a son and yet God gave them Isaac in His perfect time, despite their doubts and yet acknowledging their desire to be parents.

I realised that I tried to create a family with J in it, based on what I want and not what God wants. I have refused to trust God and have allowed myself to forget that He is good to His people. I diminish the blessings God gives me by comparing myself to others. I have been wearing clothes of entitlement, believing that I deserve a child because I’d be such a good mother (I’m embarrassed to have to type that last sentence). And I have been unfairly angry at God for not giving me the desire of my heart on my schedule.

pfft…lesson learnt, God. You are clearly a better organiser and life-planner than I am 🙂

And so I am going to pray for my ‘Isaac’.

That the Lord will bless us with a child/ children through adoption or the old fashioned way when He desires. His timeline, not mine.

That I will trust in His goodness.

That I will be patient (Julie weakness alert!)

And in the mean time, that He will draw our hearts nearer to His.

That He will allow me to expand my definition of ‘mother’ to include a role so much bigger than our nuclear family.

And expand my capacity to love people.

To be used for His glory.

And to be content.

Precious baby feet

Heartbroken

I’m not sure how to put into words what my heart is feeling as I sit at my desk tonight. The past month has been the most joy-filled and dread-filled. I have experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows and right now I’m feeling a little bit numb. I’ve been retyping and deleting my words for the last 30 minutes, unsure of whether to publish this little chapter of my life – it’s definitely a little darker than my normal posts, but it is my life right now and sometimes it’s cathartic to spill it out. Maybe this experience will be helpful or encouraging to someone reading it? I’ve been attacked on this blog before by mean-spirited comments and it was tough to accept, and while I realise that publishing on the internet invites differing opinions, I beg you to be gentle with my fragile heart just this once.

I did something an emergency mother is not supposed to do…

I fell in love with the baby placed in my care. Not in the ‘oh she’s a cute baby’ way, but in the deep ‘I want to be your forever mommy’ way. Within days of meeting this precious baby girl I felt a connection so strong that it literally brought me to my knees. And for the first time, Terence felt it too. Baby J is our 4th baby, and whilst I’ve loved each baby dearly, I always knew they belonged to other parents and it was my joy to prepare them for their forever families. This time felt different. I’m not sure if it’s because she looks like our baby, or if it’s because we are moving towards a different space in our lives and little J felt like the perfect fit for our little family. She came to us at the craziest time. We had weddings and bridal showers and family commitments. I almost told my social worker that we wouldn’t be able to take her, but I also knew she had no where else to go as all the other emergency moms had babies. Terence and I spoke at length, we worked out our finances, we spoke to our family, we prayed and as each puzzle piece seemingly fell into place, we believed it to affirmation that little J could be ours.

And then we approached our social worker…

And soon our ‘perfectly organised plan’ started crumbling. We were told it would not be possible for us to adopt little J. We were crushed. We pleaded with the Lord to work a miracle and we asked our friends and family to pray to. We sought advice from other social workers and pleaded with ours and yet the doors continued to close. I’d like to point out that we love our social worker very much, and a lot of what she says makes sense, but when you’re looking down into those sweet blue eyes, all you want to do is scream at the policies and procedures that are taking this child away from you.

And so we are here – the night before our little J-bug goes to a new home – bracing ourselves for the inevitable  pain coming tomorrow and also trying to make the most of every cuddle, kiss and precious moment we have with our little gift. That is what this month has been for us. An unexpected, undeserved gift and privilege to have cared for this baby girl straight from the hospital. Through my grief I know that God continues to work for the good of those who love Him. I love Him dearly, even though I feel so out of control and so uncertain of His plan for our lives, I know that He loves Terence and I and that He loves our little J and has a perfect plan for her life.

I’ve been thinking about some of the things that God may be trying to teach me through this process – things I wouldn’t have learnt if I hadn’t said yes to taking little J. I have learnt that children are a blessing from the Lord; a true, undeserved gift. One that truly belongs to the Giver. It is so easy to feel like we own our children and can choose to care for them as we see fit. Being an emergency mom has helped me to keep focused on who these babies really belong to. Not me, not the social worker or even the biological or adoptive parents, but God. I wish I could fully understand why God has not chosen to give little J to us, but I have been forced to acknowledge that she belongs to Him and He is good, all the time.

I have also grown in empathy for birth mothers. It is so easy to judge a woman for giving up her child and I have been guilty of doing this in the past. I don’t know who little J’s birth mother is, but I know that she loved her daughter, enough to do what she felt is the best for her despite the cost to herself. I have been humbled by her sacrifice as I look at this baby and face her leaving me too.

I have learnt that I love being a mother and am amazed at the incredible joy children can bring to ones life. By nature I am a box-ticker. I thought I could only be a mother when Terence and I had a house with a garden and a fancy car and a cushy life. I believed that would bring me joy, and yet I was content being a mom in my little flat with no garden and a car with no 5th gear. I have learnt that if I link motherhood to material wealth I may be missing out on motherhood for all the wrong reasons and for a very long time.

I have learnt that my husband is going to make an incredible, God-fearing father and this warms my heart more than you can imagine. Very few women have the opportunity to have a glimps into their husband’s character as a father before he actually is one. If you know my husband, you’ll know he’s not the baby-crazy type, but I have seen his heart soften towards this baby and a protectiveness develop that has made me fall more in love with him. I know that if little J had stayed with us she would have been the luckiest girl to have a daddy like him. I feel honoured to call him my husband and so excited to have a family with him one day. This last month has been a confirmation that God has chosen the perfect partner for me.

I have been reminded of why I love adoption. God redeems, dear friends. From trauma He brings restoration to the children He loves so dearly. Adoption is such a beautiful picture of our adoption into God’s family. My prayer is that more people would pray about adoption as a way to add to their families. It is hard, but it is good. I hope to add to our family through adoption in the future.

And now it is time for me to feed my little J her bottle and savour every second of it. Thank you for your love, prayer and support over this passed month. We have been so touched by your messages on this blog, on facebook, via sms and email. Please keep praying for little J and her future family. And if you have a spare prayer, please pray for strength for us for tomorrow and the coming days.

If you’re a mommy or a daddy, feel blessed today because you really are.

Welcome to the world, Little J!

We have had quite a weekend, my friends!

On Friday at 2pm our social worker dropped off the most precious 5-day-old princess, fresh from her royal incubator 🙂

We have fallen in love…

Little ‘J’ has the sweetest temperament and apparently the maternity nurses were very sad to see her go. I would love to show you a picture of her sweet face, but can’t due to obvious legal reasons.

So far this little madam has been on her best behaviour. She is sleeping well and her eating habits are improving with lots of encouragement from this ‘mama’. She loves being cuddled and lying in the baby sling and wrap, but she is also happy to snooze by herself in her cot (hallelujah) . I’m feeling a little sleepy this evening, but our routine is working well and I am running high on happy mommy vibes… it’s quite amazing the effect a newborn can have on a person.

I have three more Love Stories scheduled for this week and will hopefully keep you up to date on my ‘J’-bug’s antics, if I have enough energy 🙂

If you’re a ‘real-life’ friend, feel free to pop over for tea and a cuddle.

xxx

Embracing the pink…

I haven’t had the opportunity yet to tell you more about our journey as emergency care givers. Don’t worry, I plan to give you the low-down soon enough! I just thought I’d pop by to tell you that as of tomorrow afternoon Terence and I will be looking after another little baba. I don’t have many details, but I do know that it’s a little girl and she was born on Monday, so she’s pretty new and teeny-tiny.

I always feel bitter-sweet before receiving a baba. I feel sad that for whatever reason, a mother has had to make the tough decision to part with her precious new baby. I feel sad that the added trauma of separation has to be felt by one so small, and I feel sad that this is not what God intended for mothers and children. I also feel happy. Grateful that I get to be a part of this little one’s story and that she never has to see the inside of an orphanage. Honoured to be the one who cuddles and loves and bonds with this precious child. Excited, for the journey of adoption and for the special family God has in mind for this precious child.

For some reason, we’ve only ever received baby girls to take care of. This has amounted to a lot of pink!

We LOVE pink!

I try to be organised so that I’m always on standby for any baby, but I am currently doing a mad-dash of washing and sorting and sterilizing. I can’t imagine how organised I’ll be if I have 9 months to prepare for a baba as I’ve only ever had 1 week max! I love looking after little girls as I’m a bit of a girly-girl myself and totally embrace the pink! 🙂

A few friends have asked how they can help us out over the next few weeks (friends, I love you, mkay!). When we started this process I resisted ‘too much help’ as I didn’t want people to think I was unable to look after this baby on my own. I now laugh at my foolishness as all seasoned moms know, help is always a blessing…and all moms need it. I will continue working from home, leading bible studies and doing my normal thing on top of caring for a newborn. I realise I am not superwoman, mkay. This ‘mama’ appreciates help.

If you would like to help us, please know that we really appreciate your generous, servant-heart…like in a BIG way! Here are a few things that would be appreciated.

  1. Prayer. Please pray for our hearts (mine especially). In order to give this baby the best, I allow myself to love them like I imagine Id love my own one day. These babies thrive on love, but it’s always very tough when they have to go to their new families. Please also pray for this baby’s future. Knowing God is in control makes this so much easier.
  2. Nappies and formula. We are pretty well-stocked up with baby gear; however, nappies and formula are an on-going, unexpected expense that puts some strain on our already-tight budget. If you would like to gift us with either, we would be so grateful as we don’t get ‘paid’ to care for these babas as some people think. We use pampers and Nan 1 for most of our babes.
  3. Time. My days get pretty full when juggling the working mama act; however I have been so touched when friends have popped by to visit and cuddle with baba or to bring a meal. As much as I wish I could spend all day staring into the little one’s eyes, I have to work, clean, cook etc and it can get a little bit overwhelming.
I promise to write more soon, but please forgive me if I go a little quiet every now and then. Moms, you know how it goes.

Tonight I plan to enjoy my last full-night’s sleep for a while 🙂

Tomorrow someone special will be wearing this outfit 🙂