Don't get me wrong- adoption is a crazy adventure of ups and downs, and it is not for the faint of heart! But in the end, when you get that beautiful little baby in your arms... it is all worth it.
We first submitted our paperwork for our second adoption about 2 years ago. (to the same agency we used with Leo) But they aren't doing a lot of adoptions in our area at this time, so we weren't making any progress. We thought of going with another agency, but realized the cost would be about 20k more that with our other agency.
A few months ago I went to a "Time Out for Women" event with my dear friend Rebecca. It was a wonderful weekend, and we both felt spiritually uplifted. While there, God told me that we needed to pursue our next adoption- and quickly. He calmed my fears about the money, and told me that we should just go for it. Miracle #1.
A month later we felt prompted to sell our house. We got it ready in one week. It sold on the day we listed it... For 20k over the asking price. Miracle #2.
We didn't want to leave our neighborhood, so we found a house for rent. It is literally 2 HOUSES away from our old house. It was available exactly when we needed it. We moved in one month later. Miracle #3.
We hired a caseworker here in Virginia, and began the adoption paperwork. (mountains and mountains of paperwork, background checks, financial statements, health forms, etc etc) What normally takes 2-4 months, we got done in 1 month. Our home study was completed in November. Miracle #4.
We picked a new agency, "Act of Love" that is based in Utah. We filled out all the paperwork for them (Yes, there was more!) and got approved in December. Miracle #5.
In January our agency told us about a couple of birthmother situations. We signed off on a couple of them. One of them was for J. We had a few concerns about her situation, and didn't sign the form right away. For two days I felt the prompting "Sign the form." "Sign the form." I finally listened, and we signed the form. Miracle #6.
The next day our profile was shown to J. The case worker told us that she went through dozens and dozens of family profiles. She picked ours first- we were her number one choice! She loved that we value education, that we travel a lot, and that we love the cultural diversity in our area. She told the case worker: “This is Leo’s little sister.” Wow. It was wonderful to hear that.
The agency called to tell us the good news on January 14th. Miracle #7
A few days later I was praying and meditating about what the baby's name should be. We've liked Lucy and Lena for a very long time, and they are both names from our grandmothers... but I've been leaning towards Lena. On Tuesday night, as I was meditating, the name Mary came to me. I tried to dismiss it because it's such a common name, and we prefer more unique ones. But that is what I thought of - Mary.
The following night I asked again, if Lena was the right name. God told me to look up the meaning. The first website that came up... It said that Lena is a form of Magdalena, as in Mary Magdalene. "Oh- I love her!" I thought. Then I read this paragraph...
Mary Magdalene, a character in the New Testament, was named thus because she was from Magdala. She was cleaned of evil spirits by Jesus and then remained with him during his ministry, witnessing the crucifixion and the resurrection." I was so moved by this. I cried silent tears, as I praised God for this answer to my prayer. I then asked him about a middle name for Lena.
Five years ago I was visiting a gravesite where I noticed a woman’s middle name on the tombstone- it was “Love.” I liked it so much, and I have been thinking about it all these years. So I asked God- What about “Love” as a middle name for Lena? Is it too cheesy? Will she grow up hating it? And I heard clearly… “It’s not cheesy. It’s an affirmation. LOVE will be the affirmation for her life. She will overcome all things with Love.”
Lena Love. What a beautiful name, for our beautiful little girl. Miracle #8.
We had an appointment to meet the birth family in Utah on January 31st... So we had about a week to get prepare We got the baby room ready, dug out some baby clothes, and bought a few things. Then we flew to Utah. We met the birth family, and liked them immediately. They are so nice! J was due a week later, so we decided to stay in Utah until then. We stayed with Jack's parents and Leo enjoyed the time with Nana and Papa. They spoiled him rotten, as usual.
We got a call from J's mom that they were taking her to the hospital on Saturday night. We then waited and waited and waited. We didn't hear anything for 5 agonizing days. The hospital wouldn't tell us anything, and we weren't sure what was happening. We got more anxious as each day went by. We prayed and prayed and prayed- hoping for a miracle. Finally on Wednesday, we learned that the baby had been delivered on Sunday, via C-section. J was recovering in the hospital, and was keeping the baby with her during her 4-5 day recovery period. But she and the baby were healthy, and doing well. We were so relieved. Miracle #9.
The next day we got the call. We could pick up the baby from the hospital! We drove there as fast as we could, and practically ran into the hospital! They let us in to the nursery, and then brought her out. She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. A sweet little pink face, surrounded by thick, dark hair. She was so tiny and perfect- all bundled up in a little white blanket. I reached out and picked her up. Tears streamed down my face, and I just couldn't believe that she was finally here. Jack and I were so happy, and so grateful to finally have her in our arms. She is perfect! Miracle #10.
We spent a wonderful week together at Jack's parents house with our new baby. We all loved to cuddle her, and smother her with kisses. My parents came up from California, and she was smothered with even more love and kisses.
We had to wait a few days to get approval to go home. (ICPC law says that both states have to approve the adoption paperwork before you are able to cross state lines with a new baby) The three day weekend added a few days to the process, but we got the call on Friday morning (the 21st) that we could go home! That was a record only-4-business-days to get approval! (Leo's approval took almost 4 weeks!) We were thrilled! Miracle #11.
We were so anxious to get home, after being gone for 3 weeks, that we looked for flights immediately. We found a direct flight for that evening! We got our stuff packed in an amazing TWO HOURS... 4 suitcases, 1 box, and 2 backpacks... and made it to the airport in time to catch our flight. Five hours later we were home, happy, and sleeping in our own beds. Heaven! Miracle #12.
We had a lovely weekend at home together, as a family. It was heavenly! Pure bliss. The weather was kind of warm, so we took a walk around the neighborhood, Leo played outside a little bit, but mainly we just snuggled with our baby. She is so sweet. We love every minute with her! Our friend Karin brought over our 3-weeks-of-mail. A few friends stopped by, and the Hansens brought us dinner on Sunday. Their boys played with Leo, and we all played with the baby. So grateful to share our joy with dear friends. They have been with us through every phase of this adoption journey. Friends are such a blessing. Miracle #13.
My final miracle is this... after several sleepless nights, Jack stayed up with Lena all night- while I slept on the guest bed downstairs. I woke up at 5am this morning-- after a glorious 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I feel like a new person! That is miracle #14. (Thanks Jack-- you are the best father and husband. We love you!)
We thank God for all of the miracles in our lives. We feel so much gratitude and love for Lena's lovely birthmother. She has give us the most precious gift, and we will be forever grateful for her act of love. This adoption has been miraculous, every step of the way. We feel so blessed.