I can't believe I'm finally writing this story - and that I'm writing it while a baby is fast asleep on my lap. This is a story that is over 3 years in the making. It's one of heartaches and joys, sorrow and laughter, and two people who have known God had a plan from the start but have struggled while our dreams and hopes have gone unfulfilled for so long. This is the story of how a little girl changed our lives forever, and how we finally found our family.
At the beginning of June we were in the midst of a busy and wonderful season. Weddings, volunteering at church, spending time with family, upcoming travel and vacation...it was going to be one hectic summer! Nathan and I had many conversations over the past few months, and they progressed further until we realized how ok we were with life as it was - even without a baby. We both wanted a family, him even longer than me, and had dreamed of the day it would come, but we also loved the freedom of just being the two of us, and finally we decided we were fine.
And then, on June 20th, we got the call that would forever change our lives. A little girl had been born 5 days earlier, and we were chosen as the family. We had 24 hours to accept or decline and after we hung up the phone we both realized that the two of us were about to add another family member. The next day we called our social worker back and said yes to a tiny baby, less than a week old.
We were planning to leave for a family vacation that Saturday, but in a matter of days everything changed. We pulled all of our baby things out of storage, went shopping for what we needed, and anxiously prayed that all would go well since the legal proceedings were still not finalized. She was born at a hospital over 6 hours away and so, instead of vacation, we drove to meet our baby girl.
I can't explain what it was like the first time I saw her. I'm not the emotional one in our family, but since she arrived everything has flipped on its head. After an incredibly long drive we arrived at the hospital and a nurse led us into the room. There, in a little bed, was the tiniest and most beautiful little human being I had ever seen. I instantly burst into tears. I felt like I couldn't breathe. That was our baby girl, just waiting for us to come take her home.
I sat down and the nurse put her into my arms. I unashamedly wept while Nathan took pictures. It felt more like we were being reunited than meeting as strangers - this was the one meant to be in my arms, and all of us knew it. After some time with her I passed her over to daddy, and Nathan got to hold his daughter for the first time. Life changing doesn't even begin to describe it.
The next few days were a blur of sleepless nights, endless joy, and the feeling that my heart would explode from the love I had for her. We named her Willow, a name we have loved for years. There's no special meaning behind it, but we knew as soon as we saw her that she fit it perfectly. At a teeny 5lb 14oz, she seemed so fragile yet so tough. She had already been through more than most people could in a lifetime.
We spent several days with her at the hospital as she underwent a series of tests to make sure she was cleared to come home with us. She cried a lot - it was all so new to her - and I would just hold her for hours on end, in the middle of the night, hoping it all wasn't just a dream.
But it wasn't. It was so very real, as real as her sleeping face just a few inches below mine in this moment. On Thursday we made the long drive home. It took almost 11 hours, which is a story for another day, and it was one of the most stressful times I can remember due to circumstances beyond our control. Finally, after 11pm that evening, I carried Willow into our house and welcomed her home.
From there we've had to keep quiet as the legal issues have worked themselves out. Thankfully it's been incredibly peaceful and drama free, which is exactly what we were hoping. While she is technically still in the care of our adoption agency, Willow is ours and in a few months we will go to court so her birth certificate will bear our names, just like we were meant to be from the beginning.
There's so much more I could say, but I know I will continue to write about adoption, Willow, and how being a mama has rocked my world in the best possible way. All I know is that I love this little girl with all my heart, and I am truly proud to be able to raise her. This is the most beautiful end to an incredibly difficult story, and it's an end we had stopped hoping would happen. Yet...it is here.
I will close with this: many people will read this story or hear of her birth and give thanks, saying that God is good. And He is! He is so good to us, and I know He will continue to be good in the future. What I want to say, though, is that He has never been more or less good than He is now. He was no less good on the day Joel died, when we waited at the hospital for a son we would never meet. He was no less good when we were matched with two more babies, and both adoptions fell through for very different and heartbreaking reasons.
At the same time, He is no 'more good' now that we have a baby. He is no different because He answered our prayers with a 'yes' this time. 18 months ago He saw fit to bring us closer to Him by allowing suffering in our lives - and He was good. Today, He saw fit to give us the gift of a sweet little girl who is too small for newborn sizes and too dainty for words - and He is still good. Our God has been good to us on each step of our journey, not just at the end when He fulfilled our desires.
That is the story of Willow...but it is only the beginning. Today I'm giving thanks for the family we now have, in awe of what God has done.
Note: It will be several months before I can publicly post pictures of Willow's face due to legal limitations. Luckily we can take lots of pictures besides ones of just her face!