Today is January 30, 2018. After spending almost a decade battling infertility, my wife and I were ecstatic to hear that we had been chosen by a birth mother on January 12th to raise her child, who was due to be born on January 26th. Little Owynn Eliana, as we were to name her, arrived almost a week early on January 20th. Following what seemed like the longest 24 hours in our lives, we got to meet her on January 21st. We fell in love. We were fortunate to be able to spend the night Sunday, January 21st into Monday, January 22nd with her in the hospital. We held her, fed her, changed her. We were absolutely head over heels for her. I remember telling Owynn as I held her and wept tears of joy, “I’ve waited so long for you, and,” I exclaimed, suddenly realizing the elusive joy of finally being a father, “I would’ve done this a million times over!”
What were the longest 24 hours of my life soon turned in to the longest 240 hours of my life. In most states, including my own, the birth mother has ten days to revoke the adoption. This typically happens within the first 48 hours, so as we cleared day after day, we felt more and more at ease. We spent ten days tackling an early Spring cleaning, clearing out what was our office and slowly but surely transforming the room into a beautiful nursery.
This past Friday, the girls at our church threw my wife an incredible shower, and the guys took me out for dinner, blessing us with an uncountable number of toys, diapers, bibs, bows, formula, and adorable little outfits. Then my family threw us another shower on Sunday during which we were showered with even more little, tiny, pink love.
We spent most of Monday trying to recover from our reenactment of the final scene of It’s a Wonderful Life, unpacking everything, getting it all in its place, recovering a rocking chair cushion to match the decor, washing, drying, and folding little clothes, filling the dresser and closet with little Owynn accessories, making sure she came home to the most incredible nursery she had ever… well, never mind. It was just beautiful. Tuesday morning, I went and traded my wife’s heavily-used 2010 sedan in for a new SUV with lots of bells and whistles to make sure she and Owynn were cruising the town in style and safety.
We were all set. It was the tenth and final day. The pregnancy counselor hadn’t heard a peep from birth mom, and our adoption worker was optimistic that things would go smoothly since the typical revocation scenarios happen within the first two days. The nursery was ready. Owynn’s enormous, yet tiny, wardrobe was clean, dry, and ready to be flaunted. Her second-hand crib and changing table had been wiped down and shined to a sparkle, a brand new navy blue sheet tying in the navy, pink, and gold theme my wife had envisaged. Signs welcoming little Owynn hung on the wall. A beautiful, handmade, cross-stitched piece of artwork bearing the name of “Owynn Eliana”, complete with “The Lord has answered me” stitched across the bottom, lay on the dresser, awaiting its frame. A shiny new chariot with the latest safety features was parked outside, awaiting its moment to escort a tiny, beautiful princess to her castle.
I was actually outside filling Owynn’s chariot with various accessories when I glanced down and saw an incoming call from our adoption worker. She was due to call us at 5:01pm, after the revocation period had expired. It was only 3:24. I reluctantly answered, managing to barely squeeze a, “Hello?” through the lump in my throat.
Her tone gave her away. I knew the news before she even began to tell me. She asked to be put on speaker so that she could talk with both my wife and I. Dragging my feet, I trudged inside, climbed the stairs, and stood in the bedroom with my wife – a wife who I love more deeply than these words on this page could ever express, a wife who is a blessing from the Lord, a wife who represents the exact opposite of the hell I deserve, a wife who has been so strong and steadfast through over 100 months of the crushing reminder that she was not with child, a wife who longs to be a mother more than anyone I’ve ever met, a wife who was preparing to be told in 90 minutes that she was the legal, official mother of little Owynn Eliana, a wife who I want to protect, defend, and insulate from the sinful world around us – I stood with her as I placed our adoption worker on speaker, and she, with sorrow and grief in her voice, told us that birth mom had revoked, and that baby girl was being placed back into her care.
As I type this, that phone call happened two hours ago. My heart is in pieces. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to pray. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to comfort my wife. I don’t know how to not be angry. I don’t know how to deal with my unbelief. I was about to be a father 120 short minutes ago. Now, I’m still just a 40 year old childless, sinful wreck who is literally, this second, as I type this sentence, coming to the realization that I have once again sinfully placed my hope and faith in the gift, and not the Giver. I am drowning in my grief and hypocrisy.
“Once I have a kid, THEN I’ll be complete. Once I can raise a child, THEN I’ll be whole. Once I have someone looking up to Daddy, THEN I’ll have meaning.” I would’ve never said that out loud because I profess something different – and that would make me a hypocrite! But here I sit, a hypocrite trying to cope with this news by pouring my heart out, keystroke by painful keystroke. And if I’m candid, that is exactly how I have felt for years. I am such a hypocrite.
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
It is so difficult, here in my grief, to profess that I know this situation is being used by God to conform me to the image of Christ. It is difficult to remind myself that God wasn’t the least bit surprised by this sudden turn of events, but that He, in fact, ordained it. It is difficult to understand why I can’t just be a daddy already.
Yet, even through my grief, I am suddenly acutely aware of a strange, supernatural comfort. There is a peace and a hope that is going to battle with my anger and faithlessness. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I am reminded of Psalm 115, in which we are told that our God, our Creator, the author and finisher of our faith, is in the heavens, and that He does whatever He pleases. I am also reminded that whatever He pleases to do, He works together for the good of His children and for His glory according to Romans 8:28. He ordained this emotional roller coaster before He even created Adam. He decreed, before He laid the world’s foundation, that I would be walking in the clouds with incredible news on January 12, 2018, and that I would be overcome with grief on January 30, 2018. And He did so for his glory. He will receive glory in this because I am no longer a slave to sin; instead I have been bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. God will sustain me because He has “blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose me in Him before the foundation of the world, that I should be holy and blameless before him. In love, He predestined me for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which he has blessed me in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1: 3 – 6).
Where is your hope, Christian? Is it in being a parent? Is it in climbing the corporate ladder? Is it in money? Notoriety? Oh, brothers and sisters, may it never be!
Saints! Hear me! The. Things. Of. This. Earth. Are. Rot!
Let us instead look to Christ! Let us instead fix our eyes on the One who has redeemed us from that which we deserve: eternal, conscious torment; suffering for all eternity under the wrath and vengeance of a holy God! Let us instead rest in Him who pulled our rotten corpses from the ocean floor and breathed new life into us, replacing our wicked, cold, God-hating, sin-loving, stony hearts with warm, softened hearts that beat with new desires, new affections! Affections for Him who, while we were yet sinners – while we were yet blaspheming his very name – died to ransom our souls from the just wrath of the Father!
Are you weary? Saint, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:29). Yes, Christian, you who “waits for the LORD shall renew your strength; you shall mount up with wings like eagles; you shall run and not be weary; you shall walk and not faint.”(Isaiah 40:31)
Is your heart in pieces? Saint, “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit!” (Psalms 34: 17-18), Yes, Christian, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”(Psalms 147:3)
Are you discouraged by life’s circumstances? Saint, “the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe!” (Proverbs 18:10) Yes, Christian, “in [Christ] you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; [He has] overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
Are you feeling faithless? Saint, you have been “crucified with Christ. It is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you. And the life you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave himself for you!” (Galatians 2:20) Yes, Christian, “[Christ is] the bread of life; whoever comes to [Him] shall not hunger, and whoever believes in [Him] shall never thirst!” (John 6:35)