The 45 minute drive down the I-40 seemed so surreal. It had started with a prayer, only a few months earlier. We never had any idea how quickly God would answer it.
"Father," we'd prayed, "if you want us to adopt, You're going to have to drop it in our laps." And then He did, more quickly than we could have ever imagined. And now as we drove across the flat empty land of Oklahoma in the dead of night, I reached over and grabbed a hold of Neal's hand as he drove.
There were almost no words exchanged. The day that began just after 4 am in Orange County had been a long one, and now it was after midnight in Oklahoma and still nowhere near its end. We weren't ready for this day to be here, none of the legalities we had to deal with had been finalized. The baby was a week early and we had hoped those final days would bring everything in order, but the baby hadn't signed on to our schedule or plan.
When the phone had rung that morning before daybreak, I prayed a quiet prayer into the dark room before answering the phone, "Please God, not yet, we aren't ready!" But her water had broken, there was no putting things off, and after a day full of flight arrangements, packing and planning childcare for our oldest we were almost to our destination.
The baby was nearly ten hours old, when we got the call about his arrival just after noon we were given a list of the complications that came with him. We told her it didn't matter-- it wouldn't have mattered if I had birthed him myself, so why would it matter now? But there were little seeds of apprehension anyway, we just had to get there and find out everything for ourselves.
We finally found the hospital in the tiny little town and parked. As we rode the elevator up to the maternity ward, I asked the Lord to prepare my heart. I asked the Lord to give me the right words, and give me the wisdom and strength I needed, not knowing fully how deep that need would be.
The bassinet was near the door, I saw two little eyes peeking out it me from inside the swaddled blanket. He was quiet. Birth mom and her mother were sitting quietly watching TV when we came into the room. They smiled when we came in, and I saw much bigger seeds of apprehension in their eyes than I felt in my own heart.
A nurse came in and welcomed us as well and told us there would be a room for Neal and I and the baby to move to and allow us to sleep there that night. It was quite a relief since the one thing we had not arranged was a hotel room.
"Can I pick him up?" I asked. With their approval I took him in my arms and began to seek out what was beneath the swaddle.
The term is "a face only a mother can love," and it's sad to say it was true. He wasn't pretty like our firstborn, he was bruised, and splotchy and a pitiful little sight. Ugly little postules covered almost every inch of his skin, and though I could not see the other defects, I knew they were there. "He's adorable," I lied.
"Are you still going to take him?" his birth mother asked finally cutting to the chase.
"Of course," I assured her as I swaddled him back up. "He's our son."
"I put his name on the birth certificate just the way you'd said. I hope I spelled it right. I was going to list Neal's name as the father, but they told me not to, so I just left that part blank," she told us.
Exhausted from the long day, we didn't wait long before we pushed the bassinet down the hall to our private room. Neal settled in one hospital bed and I in another and I set the quiet little swaddled sleeper in his bassinet between us. It didn't take long for sleep to come.
I don't think it had been more than an hour when I was awakened to what sounded like a weakly bleating lamb. It wasn't loud enough to even stir Neal. Trying to focus in the dark room I quickly came to my senses enough to realize the sound came from the little swaddle in the bassinet.
I stepped over and lifted the little crier into my arms. This little bundle, broken and bruised, this little boy who had no father to speak, he had now been placed in our hands now for his love and his care. As I stood there holding him, a little private moment just between the two of us, I felt something happen in my heart. That was the moment when I fell in love. That was the moment that the Father heart of God took root inside of me.