Thursday, October 8, 2015

#AdoptionRocks, Part 4: Empty Nest to Triple Stroller in 10 Days

A few weeks ago, when I began to wrestle with my role in the #WorldAdoptionDay campaign, I shared my desires with several friends. I really just wanted use my blog as a platform  to share stories of encouragement from friends and strangers who live "adoption" everyday. My sweet friend Melissa, whose story I shared here to kickoff this month-long series, suggested I contact a friend of hers about submitting a post...and I'm so glad she did! 
As I read Emily's story for the first time, the tears, y'all. I cannot even imagine the roller coaster of emotions, but I don't want to give too much of the story away, so just grab a tissue (or two!) and jump into this beautiful picture of God's amazing love and perfect timing! 
In Her Own Words...
The McAnear Family
The first day we met Joey, I was at work. Joey didn't come to us the way most children come to couples. We didn't have a nine-month pregnancy to prepare for her. She came through the foster care system in our county. We had spent months in parenting classes, hours on home studies and lots of money on cleaning supplies and child locks for cabinets to make our home up-to-code by the county's standards.
I honestly don't remember the drive to the office. I just remember sitting down in the small social services office on this little couch that was clearly meant for kids to play on. We had our adoption social worker in the room as well as the matching coordinator who helped decide which family was the best fit for this little girl. They gave us some legal information and some biological information about Joey. Then, they brought her in. One word I have for this moment is "bouncy." She. Was. Bouncy. She was almost 2 (21 months to be exact.) She had curly dark brown hair that fell to her shoulders. She had brown eyes that sparkled and lashes that reached to the end of the world. She smiled easily and talked a mile a minute. For as young as she was, she had a large vocabulary already. I think we were in the social services office for 2 hours. It may have been less, but it seemed like an eternity.
When we left that office in August 2005, we were parents. It happened so fast that our heads were spinning. We hardly knew what to do next. I remember stopping at the grocery store on the way home for some necessities when parenting a toddler - things like cheerios, peanut butter, bread, milk. It's strange to think, now - after having been a parent for some 8 years or so, that there was ever a time when we didn't stock those things like they were going out of style. Joey called me "Mommy" the first night she was with us. "Daddy" took a little longer but once it came, it came strong. She has a true and distinct attachment to her daddy. 
The McAnear Crew!
Regan (7), Joey (11),  Andrew and Elijah (10)
Becoming a mom to Joey also meant becoming a mom to her biological brother. A brother she had hardly ever seen and had never shared a home with. Elijah came into our home two months or so after Joey (October 2005). He was so tiny. He was six months old when we took him but had been born about 3 months early. He had a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy due to a seizure that he had after he was born. We were scared to say the least. There was no guarantee that this tiny creature would talk, walk or be able to do anything by himself in the future. He came with physical therapy appointments, medication to ward off seizures and visits to a pediatric neurologist. Thankfully, he also came with months of a prayer covering from his sweet and Godly foster mom. Prayers that were honored and heard.
I have to believe that the foster care system tries to do the right thing by all the kids they have coming through it. I have to believe that because if I let my heart go to the left or right it takes me down a dark path of cynicism and criticism of the system. Our human attempts at doing the right thing pale in relation to Jesus, don't they?
A few short months (January 2006) after blending these beautiful babies into the family, a family member who had never met the kids asked to take them. So, out of foster care they went. Out of their beds, out of their rooms, out of our home. We thought we would never see them again. There were no plans for us to ever be a part of their lives. No human plans, that is. We pleaded with the relative to send them back if she ever had second thoughts about keeping them. We told her they would always have a place in our home, even if it was years from now. She nodded, and told us to not hold our breath.
We went home heartbroken. We were reminded of our loss every time we walked down the hall of our home. So, we tried again. Our social worker went to work on finding another child for us. 
Three weeks after we lost Joey and Elijah, our social worker called with another baby. A 9-month old boy, almost ready to finalize. Andrew came home with us a couple days later. Andrew came to us hitting every developmental milestone. This would become so important to us in coming weeks and months. My husband and I settled in to having a baby in the house and managing our grief of not having Joey or Elijah with us.
Thankfully, that grief did not last long. Only 10 days (yes, 10 days!) after taking Andrew, our social worker called. It was not a normal call. It was the kind of call that you want to be sitting down for. He called my husband at work first, which is good because I may have fallen over. He asked us if we were really willing to take Joey and Elijah back. What?! OH!
That afternoon, a car arrived in our driveway carrying Joey and Elijah. In the course of 10 days, we had gone from having no kids in our home to being the parents of three kids under three. Oh, the craziness! The diapers! The formula! The triple stroller! Yes, we went there. Elijah and Andrew are only nine days apart! Try explaining that to people when they ask! Elijah, who had been dealing with significant developmental delays, now had a brother who was not delayed. Would you believe God put those two boys together to strengthen and help each other?!
Moving day! From Cali to Houston, 2015.
We have since moved from Southern California to Houston, and I have had the privilege on a couple occasions of literally seeing the sky open up and pour down rain with all the force of the universe (Did I mention I had a flair for the dramatic?). This day, this reunification day for our family was one of metaphorical outpouring by God. He moved mountains to bring this little family together. He changed minds, changed hearts and moved people out of His way.
I have said in the past (and will continue to say) if you are not a believer before you start this process of adoption, you certainly will be by the end. There is no one to rely on but God Himself. There were many times while in the thick of the process I let the enemy tell me that God had forgotten us.  Now, looking back, I know that nothing could have been further from the truth. Every bump in the road was a step up to the plan He had. As it turned out, our family was not complete with those three. We were blessed with a biological daughter in December 2007 the same week we signed finalization paperwork for Joey and Elijah. Our little family isn't so little in most people's eyes. But if nothing else, it is blessed.

Might I leave you with a verse? Psalm 127:1a says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain." May our labor never be in vain and may Jesus never be too far from our lips.
Wow, right? I'm just in awe of the McAnear's faith in God's perfect plan and timing. I'm pretty sure if had I been the one having to "give back" those precious babies, there would have been some quick flights booked to a foreign land. Just sayin', y'all! But oh, how beautiful the story when we give Him the pen, and let Him do the writing. His love endures forever, sweet friends, even when it feels otherwise in the moment. He is always, always for us, y'all. Always.

I just received the next post today from my sweet friend, Liz, who's preparing to travel to India very soon to bring home her beautiful baby girl. I cannot wait to share her story with you in a few days!

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