For my husband and me, adoption and foster care has always been a consideration. The reasons are too many to list here, but I will say this: In my own life, I have experienced sickness that left my body tired, my mind weary, and my spirit broken. I have also known a depth of healing that replaced my restlessness with contentment, reconciled fractured images of myself with the truth that my value is not dictated by my circumstances, and breathed wild hope into otherwise deflated, stale dreams. Also, over the course of our marriage, Isaac and I have watched some of our dearest friends navigate foster care and adoption. We observed victories in the lives of their families that, though seemingly small, were significant and everlasting. Victories that quickly swallowed up any fear or uncertainty we held in relation to domestic adoption. Over time, we became sure that when the opportunity presented itself, we would gladly become the family for a child who had none. What we didn’t know was that when the opportunity would come, it would come without warning and straightaway.
After living in Texas for a few years, Isaac and I moved back home in the summer of 2012. Isaac is a native Texan, so those first months in Baton Rouge were a brand new experience for him and were really nostalgic for me. By February of 2013, we had established a comfortable routine. We had settled into our new lives and seemed to have found a rhythm. Then, we rolled into Wednesday- Wednesday, February 20- we found a new rhythm, and his name was Rhett.
Wednesday morning started out pretty typically until my phone rang for the first of what would be many, many phone calls throughout the day. The call was regarding a girl who I had briefly met the month before. This young lady was on her way to the hospital, in labor, and wanted to know if we would be her child’s parents. Our morning, our day, our whole lives took a sharp right turn with that phone call. All of the questions and concerns that you can imagine having in that situation are all of the questions and concerns that ran through our minds and then some. All of the open ended, unanswered questions, all of the information that we needed and didn’t have, all of the insecurity, the feelings of helplessness and urgency, all of it was underpinned by a deep peace and a steady assurance that we were to stay available, keep our minds open, take a deep breath, and follow where the day would lead.
Isaac and I were acutely aware of how fluid these situations could be. There are so many moving parts, and sometimes it feels like every part can change speed at will. We had determined that morning that we would walk forward until the road ended, regardless of what the road looked like. After all, there is a baby who needs a family and there is a birth mother who is enduring an experience counter to ours. We didn’t start the day wholly convinced that we would end the day as “mom and dad”, but we knew we would facilitate some sort of support for this family. Whatever was best for this mother and this child would be our aim. We knew that we would need to gather a lot of information, make decisions, and absorb all of the emotional risk involved in these circumstances simultaneously, at warp speed. There was also an internal tension that existed between the parts of us that were trying to prepare for the very real possibility that we may be stepping into parenthood and the parts of us that understood we could not move faster than the process.
The morning had been surreal, and it wasn’t long before we had been notified that the baby had been born. I reached the hospital that afternoon a couple of hours before Isaac. It would be a little while before we would be able to see the baby. At that point, we knew he was a boy and that he was being very well cared for in the nursery. Within the 20 minutes it had taken me to leave work and arrive at the hospital, we had chosen a pediatrician, a name, and had begun to make arrangements with my employer for maternity leave. I was anxious for Isaac to arrive, and we were both eager to meet our baby, but in the mean time, I knew that I needed to see Birth Mom. I had no idea what I would say or do, but I knew before I did anything else, I had to get to her.
Birth Mom was resting in recovery. She was a little cold, so I adjusted some of her blankets and took a seat in a chair at the foot of her bed. We sat in silence for a little while before we began to make conversation, both of us a little meek and timid. The time I spent with her and the talks we had are the kind of time and conversations that you treasure up and ponder in your heart. We are vastly different in almost every way, however; our common ground was bundled up in the nursery at 6lbs 13oz and 19 inches long. Where he is concerned, we are identical. Where he is concerned, our mild manner becomes lion-hearted, and our love for him is big.
When Isaac arrived and everything was in order, we were ushered in to meet Rhett. It was like every thought, every feeling, every decision; every bit of our long history that seemed to loudly and clumsily swirl about us all day long –everything fell silent the moment we stepped into the nursery. The nurse shut the door to our room, and like a vacuum, all the day’s noise and chaos left with her. There in the stillness, in the quiet, we held Rhett close, kissed his face, and welcomed him to the world. They were some of the first light-hearted moments of the day. We searched our baby’s face for all of his precious features, soaking up every single one. If the entire day wasn’t humbling enough, looking into a newborn’s eyes is a very special brand of intimidation…no pressure.
Isaac and I left the hospital that night hand in hand, not sure of anything, but certain of everything. Those next few days were just as fluid as the first. They were filled with meetings and documents, a few tears and so many phone calls, preparations and pep talks, sweet visits with Rhett, deep, deep gratitude, and prayers that have yet to cease. We brought our son home at twelve days old.
God is love, and love is miraculous. Families arrive at adoption in a thousand different ways. Our own story begins years and years before Rhett, and I do not pretend that adoption exists outside of pain or hurt. The wounds, on both sides of adoption, are very real. But, I can tell you from experience, including but not at all limited to Rhett’s adoption, love runs far deeper than pain. It will endure absolutely anything. It is not always easy, and things can get complicated quickly, but love is relentless. It won’t get tired. It doesn’t quit. Love quiets fear, and it’s steady in the wake of instability and insecurity. Love builds families. It mends and it heals. We are seamlessly bound to Rhett; he is ours and we are his.
God is love, and love is miraculous.
Alysia was born and raised in South Louisiana. Towards the end of her college career at LSU, she met her husband of almost seven years, Isaac. Young and in love, Isaac and Alysia married and rode off into the west Texas sunset. They returned to Baton Rouge in 2012 and before long, became parents to their blonde-haired, blue-eyed bundle of fun, Rhett. She laughs a lot, adores her family and friends, and takes great joy in the little things: a good book, a long day in the garden, anything by the water, and everything about living way down south.