For many years I’ve had a white-knuckle grip on my plans. Until my son was taken away from me and our happy family of four became a grieving family of three, did I realize how tightly I had been clinging to the picture-perfect idea I had for our family.
I always assumed Adam and I would adopt. That *was* part of my plan, and God in His wisdom and kindness saw fit to allow us to adopt Jayda. When we began praying for a second child, and my womb continued to be empty, it only made sense to foster-to-adopt again. We crossed our T’s and dotted our I’s and made sure the powers-that-be for the state of Connecticut knew we only wanted to be placed with a child who likely needed an adoptive family. “Not too much risk”, we said.
When we received the call about Zay only one month later, and only an hour after specifically praying for a “teeny tiny baby”, we knew God’s hand was in this.
“I’m 90% certain Zay will need you as an adoptive family.”
“We chose your family because this case seems like a sure-road to adoption.”
“There is *no way* Zay’s mom will ever be able to parent.”
Case workers and attorneys, “professionals” who had been doing this for much longer than ourselves, gave us the assurance we longed for and we moved ahead saying “yes!” to that sweet baby Zay. Sure, we knew there were no guarantees, but this case seemed even more like a slam-dunk than Jaydas was….we just needed to ride out the formal process to adoption, or so we were told.
We became a family of four on a hot September day in 2015, and we immediately fell in love with that teeny-tiny prayed-for-baby named Zay Zay.
I had plans to be a boy mom ever since I was in high school. I now had two precious little dudes who didn’t grow in my womb, but I couldn’t imagine loving them any differently than if they did. I dreamed about Jayda and Zay growing up together, running around the backyard, fighting over toys, cheering for the Steelers, and wrestling in the living room with Adam. I frequently had to remind Jayda to be patient with his baby brother who wasn’t big enough to play with him yet (or even stay awake and watch him play, for that matter). I was certain one day my dreams would become a reality.
When Zay left he was 22 months old, to the day. He was just getting to the age where him and Jayda could play together. Not only was my heart breaking because I lost my son, but it broke even more as I watched Jayda lose his best friend, playmate, and baby brother.
Watching my son, who has experienced more pain and loss than most adults I know, lose another person he was deeply attached to was crushing. It still crushes me daily when he tells me all he wants for Christmas is his baby brother back, or I find him playing quietly with LEGOS in Zay’s room with tears streaming down his cheeks.
Mingled with my sadness is anger. The same case workers who sought to protect Jayda almost four years ago when they brought him to our family have heaped more trauma and loss on my precious little boy when they unjustly removed his baby brother. By God’s grace I will continue moving forward towards forgiving the ones who have caused our family harm, but I can’t imagine it taking a little time.
My plans didn’t include losing a child after having loved and parented him for two years. The lowest point of my life was putting Zay in the car seat of a state worker’s car and watching her drive away with him, never to hear from her again. Everything about it felt wrong.
My version of how the story should have gone looks like one I would make my profile picture on Facebook, or print on a Christmas card to send to acquaintances near and far. My version has two perfectly smiling little boys in their coordinating outfits, and their happy mom and dad holding them tight, right where they belong. My version included Zay hanging up his Christmas ornaments this year, and walking around the tree farm by my side instead of in the Boba carrier.
My version of the story isn’t a bad one, but it isn’t the version God has scripted for our family. Instead, I’ve had to write “loss” over many of my own plans, spoken and unspoken.
Whether I’m willing to acknowledge it or not, my foundation during this season of immense grief is that God is going to work all things together for my good, according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I would be lying if I said I didn’t pushback against that verse sometimes though. My sadness and disappointment over losing my baby is so intense at times that this verse can sometimes bristle my broken heart. “Couldn’t God fulfill his purpose for me *with* Zay still here?” Sure. He certainly could, but He has chosen not to for reasons I cannot see right now.
Time does not heal, but it does give perspective. I’ve been slowing down my pace recently, drinking tea, prayer-walking up and down my driveway, and reading books by authors who can write about the wisdom of God in such a way that it feels like balm to my heart. I’ve received a glimpse here and there that God’s version of my story is so much richer than my own, and has a purpose beyond my understanding.
Advent begins in three days, and it feels different this year. Great loss brings great perspective, at least it has for me. I’m not in a season of waiting like I have been in past years. Waiting for marriage. Waiting for children. Waiting for the adoption to finalize. Waiting to find out if my son will stay or leave. This year I’m waiting to see how God will redeem and restore the broken hearts of my precious family. Submitting to God’s plan, instead of running after my own, is something I need to do regularly now. It is with quietness, yet full of deep sorrow, that I once again lay down my plan and follow Him.