Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Peaceful Decision

I listened to the strange voice on the other end of the phone telling me that it was a doctor at a hospital in Arkansas and my mind went blank.  Just days before Christmas, my name and number had been with my grandmother at the time of a nasty fall, so she’d given the information to the hospital as an emergency contact. That was all it took to alert the whole family. She’d slipped on some ice. It was just a broken hip.   I’ve since learned that there is no such thing as “just” a broken hip…

My parents had to go be with her. My parents … the glue holding all the craziness together … left right before Christmas.  It was awful.  That was probably one of the worst Christmases I can remember.   We were so sad, but in some ways, for the first time in months, my sisters and I had to see each other and communicate.  So, it was painful but good all at the same time.

The original thought had been to get Grandma Poole installed back in her house post surgery and return to Chicago, but there were complications, and so, despite being back in town briefly over New Year, my parents began logging what would be a little over two months of their lives in Arkansas.   During this time, we talked almost constantly on the phone.   I’d call on my way to work in the morning, and on my way back in the evenings, and sometimes on some days (depending on the circumstances), I’d call several times in between.   Our communication was strong and my ability to stand on my own in this (by God’s grace) got better.

Two really big events occurred in my life during this separation as well.

First, after much deliberation on the part of the board and discussion between the leaders of the institution and my pastor, it was decided that the institution at which I was employed, while Christian, was not a church and could not exercise authority over this issue the same way a church potentially could and so I was told that they would be happy if I would keep my job and receive all the maternity benefits therein.  I would like to stress this point as a wonderful thing – this decision alone helped me talk to students (for the rest of my time at the college) who felt as if they were drowning in a sea of legalism – there was hope – God was at work in the hearts of many.  Having this piece in place also freed me up to finally make the decision on the potential of adoption.

Over the holiday season, I had talked to a couple adoption agencies, and though they were wonderful and encouraging, I couldn’t shake the feeling of almost nauseous unease.   Every reason for adopting (for me) ended with the phrase “get on with your life.” This felt so selfish and wrong to me.   How could I ever “get on with my life?” This was HUGE and life-changing. Besides this, the best reasons for adoption (as I listed them) were to provide a good home atmosphere with a loving family for the child – something that I had to give between my nuclear family, my extended family, and finally, my church family! At this point, I don’t feel the need to go into detail about the aspects/influence of being raised in a non-traditional or single parent family, but that was a serious concern that I definitely considered and even sought counsel on. [Please note: I would also very much like to stress that these arguments are my personal feelings on my personal situation and cannot/should not be applied to the concept of adoption in other situations without deep and prayerful consideration.]

It came down to this question for me: Was this child in need of rescuing?

Birth mother is over 21: check.

Completed college degree: check.

Gainfully employed: check.

Loving and supportive family: check.

No! I could not find a strong enough reason for the necessity of a rescue.

Now came the time for prayer: “Lord, I feel that our home would be a good atmosphere for this little girl – is that what you want for her?”

I’ll never forget the night I was sitting in bed, working on a bible study, and a verse that I was reading stood out to me with the answer. I called my parents in tears, my heart finally at peace – the burden of decision gone! This baby was my firstborn, my daughter, and she would stay with me.

God’s timing on that decision and the peace it brought was perfect and good.

I would need that peace with me in the coming weeks.

A Time Of Joy In Shifting Sand

What do I do with the baby?

The most difficult question for me … and the most often asked by others.   Some encouraged me that single motherhood could be done, others pressed pamphlets for adoption agencies into my hands during well-meaning conversations, and still more emailed or called to tell me of families they knew who were looking to adopt and might be interested in the child I carried.

Around me were women who had been blessed in single parenthood (while admitting to the difficulties of such an undertaking) and families who had been blessed in and through adoption. As I began to talk to people on both sides of the decision – the “keepers” and the “adopters” – it became increasingly clear to me that this was deeply personal and with a few very circumstantial exceptions (inappropriate home environment, no role models, no assistance – all in the case of single parenthood) there was no right or wrong decision.

I was (and am still) very thankful for my parents – during these days they were an almost constant sounding board for me. We talked through everything, and as I started to think through adoption, they were particularly encouraging and supportive. They also provided a bit of a buffer between me and my sisters.

My sisters and I have always been close and the news of my pregnancy had been an emotional and mental blow to them. …as well it should have been. In complete shock, it was taking us months to repair and rebuild our relationships and for me to regain the trust I’d lost.

So, there I stood, staring down the holiday season with major decisions weighing on me and estranged relationships to repair, my job still in jeopardy… and the actual physical pregnancy too. It was a little like trying to stay balanced on shifting sand. Everything always changing …

But then, a wonderful moment in the midst of the sandy chaos … my 20 week ultrasound.

It was a Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and I’d invited both of my parents to join me – we needed a moment of “normal”; a moment of joy.

There are moments in my memory that I pray I never forget and seeing my first baby on the ultrasound monitor is one of those times. The baby was beautiful and perfect. The tech asked if I’d like to know the gender and on hearing my affirmative, told me that the baby was a girl. At which point, my dad (a father of four daughters) snorted and said “Another girl?! Ha! Just what I need!” in such a sarcastic way that I’m sure the tech thought he was the most sexist man in the world. But he couldn’t have known … this is just my dad … he cracks inappropriate jokes … some at the worst possible moments.

And so we laughed. And it felt wonderful. Dad was cracking dumb jokes, my mom was crying happy tears at the sight of the baby, and we were all normal in that moment.

But what do I do with the baby? Knowing that it was a girl and seeing the miracle of her on the ultrasound only made the decision ahead of me that much more complicated.

And though none of us knew it on that chilly, wonderful Wednesday, my parents were about to leave town for several months …