When the phone rang at 4 am that February morning, I knew before I picked up the line who was on the other end. "No God, we're not ready!" I cried out into the pitch black room.
It didn't matter whether we were ready or not. "My water broke," she said. There would be no putting things off, our baby was on its way.
I spent the morning rushing to make arrangements, trying to find the cheapest flight I could for Neal and I to make our way to Oklahoma. Jacob, home on a school holiday played nearby while we both waited for news of the baby's birth.
I was just sitting Jacob down to lunch when the call finally came. "It's a boy!" she told me, and even though we had waited to hear, it came as no surprise at all, the Lord had already given me his name after all. Ethan Mitchell was here!
The tired voice on the other end of the line began to share with me the list of complications, medical concerns and deformities. "Do you still want him?" she asked, the fear in her voice unmistakable.
Maybe because God had made it so clear to us that this was His plan was the reason for my lack of hesitation. It certainly wasn't more altruistic than that. Honestly, the problems were concerning, but the certainty of God's providence won out in that moment.
By then we had our flight, "I'll see you tonight," I assured her.
After our plane landed in Oklahoma City we got our rental car and began the long dark drive across the state. I prayed as Neal drove. This baby with all his challenges, I felt no personal connection to him yet. My thinker over feeler personality had a thousand different thoughts, feelings and concerns rushing through her brain.
It was after midnight when we finally arrived at the hospital. Special arrangements had been made and we were allowed onto the maternity ward to meet our son. Birth mom and her mother were watching TV while the baby slept in a bassinet at her feet.
We have our hugs and hellos before they finally placed the sleeping baby in my arms. He was an ugly, ruddy, broken little mess, the kind of baby you struggle to compliment to a new mother. I smiled, "He's beautiful," I lied.
They moved us into another private room down the hall, Neal, Ethan and me. Ethan continued to slumber through the move, no apparent interest in meeting his parents. Neal and I, exhausted, each laid down in a hospital bed, Ethan in his bassinet between us.
It wasn't long after I dozed off when I heard what sounded like the pitiful bleat of a wounded little lamb. Neal slept as I rose to pick up the crying baby. That was the moment, I picked him up in my arms and he, in return, captured my heart.
As I held the boy against my chest, soothing his cry, God busied himself with knitting our hearts together. That was the moment I became Ethan's mother.
That miraculous moment would be what carried me through many difficult days, months and years ahead before I was legally recognized as Ethan's mama. In fact it would be another three years, two months plus a day before we were official.
I had no idea in that moment that I fell in love about all the hard times and heartaches we still had to face. But God knew, and He had a plan and purpose so much greater than I could ever have wrapped my mind around that night.
But as much as I could never have comprehended the challenges and difficulties, it did not compare to my inability to fathom the mercy, grace and blessings that were mine to be through the miracle of adoption.
There is so much more to the story of our adoption and all the things God granted and taught, but it all began that fateful night in that little hospital room in Oklahoma where God forever changed my heart and my life.