Saturday, November 21, 2009

An (unconventional) Baby Story

I was saving this story. Holding on to it until just the right moment. Now is that moment, I think.

One year ago today, two days after her birth, I met my youngest daughter for the first time. She was round and pink and perfect. The memory of that day is so clear in my mind, I can still remember what I was wearing, not a hospital gown, but boots and a winter coat. She was lovingly placed into my arms, not by a doctor, nurse, or midwife, but by a social worker. She was still wearing her hospital bracelet, but the name on it next the word 'mother' wasn't mine. I was handed a clip board and asked to sign several papers, not birth certificate, or social security, or hospital release forms, but placement papers and case plans. I nervously drove her home, not from the hospital but from Children Services. We had waited for this child, not for nine months, but for exactly 22 hours. We had prepared for her, not with ultrasound appointments and Lamaze classes, but with fire inspections and home studies. Her arrival was announced not by the onset of labor pains, but with a phone call, one that would change our lives forever.

Exactly eight days earlier, before I even knew she existed, I was praying for her. I was walking alone in the park, praying for the child that would be ours. I didn't know if this child would be a boy or a girl, if she would be two days or two years old, whether she would join our family tomorrow or two years from now. Like any other "expectant" mother, I prayed over my "baby" and felt that unique combination of fear, nervousness, and excitement. That day I prayed for the phone call that would come and I prayed something unusually specific. I prayed that God would give us a sign. I prayed that whenever the phone call came, and we were offered placement of a child, that that child's name would be the sign that we should say yes.

Exactly six days after that day in the park I was at the grocery store with Nathan and the kids, looking for cheese danishes and soup (not to be eaten together of course). Sometime during the shopping trip Noah and Lilli had to use the rest room at the exact same moment so we split up, Nate taking Noah, and me taking Lilli. The restrooms were apparently cell phone dead zones, and Nate's phone beeped with a voice mail as he walked out the mens room door. I nonchalantly stood around while he checked it. I'll never forget the look on his face when he made eye contact with me and uttered one excited sentence: "It's CSB, they have a baby."

The next five minutes went by in hyper-speed. Nate began dialing to call them back. I grabbed Lilli and Noah and we all raced out of the grocery store, abandoning our purchases. I don't think the kids had more than one arm each in their coat sleeves. We were certain that we had missed our chance and that CSB had moved down the list to the next foster family. Fortunately, the call went through and Nate began talking to a social worker. He motioned frantically for paper and a pen. At the time I had been been proofreading a book by the fantastic local author, Scott Curtis, and I'm sorry to admit it Scott, but I ripped a page right out of the book for Nate to write on. I did my best to assess the situation based on Nate's side of the conversation and the frantic notes he was writing on the back of page 68. In Nathan's left handed scribble, words began to appear all over the page.... words like baby, jail, girl, one year, hospital, etc.... words that made no sense to me at the moment.

Except one. One word that made all the difference. One word that made all the others fade away. In that one word I could see the hand of Lord. It was the name that He Himself had given her. It was the simple, powerful word FAITH.

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