I woke up this morning. That was a start. I thought I’d be ready. I thought I’d have the strength and the resolve to go to work. I got my uniform on, got all the gear ready on my duty belt, went outside, and fired up the police motorcycle at 8:30. These morning routines are much like your morning routines: rote, mindless, almost able to be done with our eyes closed. Today, however, was different. I was acutely aware of each button clasp, each zipper pull, each step out to the garage, each pre-ride safety check to ensure the motorcycle was ready to ride. See, this morning, I’m suffering through Part II of a story that I was almost certain, and prayerfully hopeful, would not be a series (you can read Part I here if you’re not familiar).
After a two-hour attempt, I pulled back into my driveway at 10:30. I tried for a couple hours to get back into the swing of things, but even the 45 mile per hour winds created by driving my motorcycle around town could not dry my tears fast enough. Every turn, every radio call, every traffic stop reminded me that I was supposed to be on paternity leave today.
Last Monday, my wife and I were advised that a birth mother had chosen us to adopt her then four-day-old son. She had viewed our profile online and said she felt an instant connection, and wanted to meet with us on Tuesday. We were, of course, ecstatic, and went to meet her Tuesday afternoon. Normally, these meetings are awkward and tense. They are like blind dates, except the future life of a tiny bearer of God’s image is on the line. We met with birth mom, and instantly fell in love with her. A sweet young lady who turned 20 on the day of our meeting, she had met and had a sexual encounter with Navy guy, who has since been stationed in California. She found out she was pregnant from that encounter, and thankfully chose life for her little boy. She had already set up an adoption plan with another woman, though when the woman arrived at the hospital, she acted strangely, and wanted to change the previously-agreed-upon semi-open adoption (where there is some contact between birth moms and adoptive families – updated photos, emails, etc.) to a completely closed adoption (where there would be no further contact between birth mom and adoptive family after the child was placed). Birth mom changed her mind, and began perusing online profiles of potential adoptive families.
She told us she decided on us almost instantly after stumbling upon on our profile, and during our “blind-date” meeting, she decided to place her little boy with us. She told the two adoption workers in the meeting with us that she wanted to send her little boy home with us that very day. Usually, this process would entail the baby going into interim care with a volunteer from the adoption agency until the paperwork was complete, and possibly throughout the seven-day revocation period, during which birth mom can revoke the adoption and take the child back. Birth mom wanted no part of this. She stated that she loved us so much, and felt such a connection, that she wanted her baby boy to go home with us that very day. Having grown up in foster care herself, she did not want her little boy being “bounced around”.
During this meeting, we also learned that she had already named her baby. “Owen,” she said. Owen was born on January 30, 2020 a day that was marked by another adoption being revoked, two years ago, literally in the last hour (again, see Part I). We had named that beautiful baby girl “Owynn”. Now, we don’t believe in numbers or signs or any of that nonsense, but, “What a kindness of God,” we thought. A day which had been marked by such a horrible memory is now being redeemed, and by a beautiful baby boy with the same name!
So, the meeting came and went, and we went home with baby Owen. We spent Tuesday night, all day Wednesday, overnight Wednesday night, and into Thursday morning loving on Owen, playing with him, cuddling him, feeding him, changing his tiny diapers. We got some things set up in the nursery, we got his bassinet set up near our bed, our dear friend came over and brought formula, diapers, and baby clothes from when her little boy was born. It was all so surreal; after ten years of battling infertility, and four years of dealing with this adoption process, our lives had now been completely flipped upside down, inside of about 12 hours.
Then our lives were completely flipped upside down yet again. Thursday morning, we got the call that we dreaded. We honestly weren’t expecting this call. We were so sure after meeting and speaking with the birth mom that this was a done deal. Even the adoption workers who sat in on the meeting and had followup conversations with her stated that she seemed so certain, so sure of her decision, and that she had come to this decision after careful consideration and of sound mind. But, there we were, about 36 hours after bringing little Owen home, we were advised that he had to be returned.
Two years ago, some idolatry was exposed, almost immediately, by the failed adoption placement. You can read about that in Part I. Right now, I’m not sure what’s happening. I don’t feel like I have been idolizing parenthood. I don’t believe I’ve been seeking the gift above the Giver. I have come to learn how to be content in Christ, rather than my circumstances, so I’m struggling to find God’s purpose in this, especially since I recognized my idolatry so quickly two years ago.
It’s been four days since we had to return little Owen. My wife and I escaped to the mountains of Virginia with our dogs for the weekend and just spent time together, cried together, read together, prayed together. I thought that getaway would help me process this a little easier. I thought a few days away would help me to regroup, and be ready to get back to the day-to-day that was sure to come today. I guess I was wrong. As I mentioned earlier, I tried to go to work, but I found myself crying more than I wasn’t. Just a simple, “Hey, how are ya?” from a coworker caused me to break down in the middle of the office. So here I sit, back at my home, typing out a blog post in hopes that it will bring me some closure, or at least encourage you, saint, to pray for us.
In this life, we are fooled by lie after lie from fallen man. If we find ourselves relying on man to fulfill us, we will end up emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. So, amidst this circumstantial devastation, I find myself repeating the question, “What’s still true?” I think this is an important question that we must continually answer for ourselves so that we stay grounded. 2020 has been a painful year so far, and we’re only six weeks in. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so defeated and far from God. So, I need to return to this question again and again:
After my grandmother died on January 8th, and my family suffered the loss of such a dear, sweet woman, what’s still true?
After a violent felon murdered my coworker on January 23rd as she attempted to to detain him, what’s still true?
After one of the two guys who taught me how to be a police motorcycle officer died of cancer on February 2nd, what’s still true?
After beautiful little Owen was taken from us on February 6th, what’s still true?
Well, thankfully, I can answer all those questions with one verse: John 16:33, in which Jesus promises to us, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” I believe this, though I’m mainly telling you that I believe this so that I can convince myself again that I believe this.
Fellow saints, will you please pray for my wife and I? We are weak. We are in pain. Unbelief creeps in at the strangest of times. Please pray that this story would not become a trilogy; we don’t want a Part III. Please pray that the Lord would bless us with a little one to raise. Please pray that the Lord would be near to us in this time of grief. Please pray that we would grieve, but not as those who have no hope. Please pray that we would grieve rightly, not giving into the temptation to grumble and complain about our circumstances, for that only tells an unbelieving world that God is not good. Please pray that God would be glorified, even through our pain. Please pray that we would live out what we confess, and that the Holy Spirit would comfort us in our loss, convict of us of our sin, remind of us the beautiful Gospel, and cause us to rejoice that the Lord Jesus Christ has, in fact, overcome the world.
May He receive all glory.