Hello! My name is Shannon. I’m a believer, a wife, a mother, and someone who learned at an early age that His calls come at unexpected times and often in ways that are not well understood. I was eighteen. As a high school senior, I participated in a teacher cadet program. I learned rather quickly that I loved supporting children, but that I would best serve outside of the classroom. Mad props to all of my teacher friends! One afternoon, I shared time with a small group of third graders during recess. One particular child shared a rather tragic story with me. A story that, at the time, he did not well comprehend and one that even still brings me chills. It was during his story that the Lord first spoke to me about adoption. I didn’t know then why the Lord nudged me in this way as this child spoke. I simply knew that it was important that I later follow the call. Long before I knew what the process of adoption would entail, I shared this plan with others. Most didn’t understand and had little to say. I reconnected with my now husband in 2005 and for the first time someone didn’t brush the idea aside. A year after we married we began to explore adoption paths. There were many. Only one felt right. Daniel and I decided to pursue an adoption path through the foster care system. Fingerprints, fire marshall inspections, required classes, home study appointments ... we did them all. In December 2010, we received notice that our family was approved to be considered as an adoptive family. We were excited! Some were supportive. Some were not. Several months later, I received a phone call during my lunch break. Just a quick “We’re doing a regular file review” call. Hours later, at 4:01pm to be exact, I received a second call. A baby girl was in need of two parents and a home. We had been selected. I learned very little during that two minute phone call, but I knew instantly that I had a daughter and that she had my love. Daniel and I spent that Friday evening with several family members shopping for necessities: The sweetest floral outfit, receiving blankets, pacifiers, diapers. The next day a dear friend put car seats, a stroller, and more in our hands. On Sunday, we met our baby. On Monday, she came home.
Everything about our family and our home changed for the better. We quickly learned our girl’s noises and she recognized ours. We formed little routines and even with little sleep I felt the most joy I think I ever had. We were so in love with everything, except the closed adoption status that we were told was nonnegotiable.
A Closed Adoption
A closed adoption just means that you are not given the ability to communicate with the birth family. For many, I know that a closed adoption feels emotionally safe. Like a new chapter or even a new book to be written. Maybe for some it’s necessary for physical safety. For me, it felt like an obstacle that we might not be able to overcome.
How would we answer her questions? How could we best help her through the emotional stages that we knew would come as she grew to understand adoption on a deeper level? But also, how could I someday express my appreciation for a woman I/we would never know?
Even if the answers we asked would not be what we wanted them to be.
Even if the knowing would be hard.
My heart grieved over a lost connection to the woman who gave life to our child.
Our daughter was less than a month old, when I received another call. The agency’s placement was being contested. We likely would be losing our daughter. The agency was unable to inform us of any details or to assist us aside from telling us that we could secure an attorney. The questions I had for them would go unanswered, and for a bit, the questions I had for the Lord would go unanswered, as well. Why would He call me to this, lead us to this child, form these strong bonds, only to send her away? Honestly, I can still feel that burden as I type these words. To make an incredibly long story short, in the days that followed, the Lord intervened in big ways and we learned a lot. Through this obstacle we learned that we would see our daughter’s biological mother in court the following Thursday. We learned that the process of adoption is not without flaws and deceit. We learned that families in ministry sometimes fabricate stories in order to sway a judge’s decision. We learned that Christian attorneys sometimes are not truthful in court. We learned that we can do hard things for the people we love. We, well mainly I learned this last one, that even when I do not know the answer or have the words that the Lord will supply them.
In the waiting area of that courtroom we had the opportunity to meet our daughter’s biological mother. I recognized her instantly. She was beautiful, just like our baby. I remember her expression- a mixture of sadness, worry, nervousness, anger. I remember the questions that she asked me about this precious child that we all loved so much. I remember the picture that I put in her hands. I remember wanting to reach over to just hug this mama and to tell her that I loved her even though I didn’t know her and that every day I had prayed for her. I remember wanting to tell her everything, back to the calling I received on that playground when I was only 18. Daniel and I left that courthouse knowing that someone would soon be coming to our home to remove our baby from our home for foster placement. We weren’t sure that we would make it home in time to see her again, but we did. We called our family to allow them time to visit to say goodbye. Everyone came. No one was able to hold her, because I wouldn’t let her go.
Thursday came to an end and she was with us still. Daniel stayed home with us the next day. We cried a lot. I remember sitting with her in the floor and saying to my husband that I couldn’t do this. He replied with a gentle, “We have to” and I hated those words. Friday evening came and she was with us still. A massive God thing happened that evening, but I’ll have to share that story another day. The weekend passed and she was with us still and on Monday morning I received a call from our attorney. He let me know that something I said prior, that Friday evening, changed the trajectory of our case. The judge had not signed the order for foster care placement nor would he be doing so. The opposing attorney was consulting with the ministry family who had been seeking adoptive rights for our child just days prior. Our daughter would forever be OUR daughter, AND we would now have an opportunity to have an open adoption. A relationship with our daughter’s biological mother. One of many answered prayers! In the weeks that followed that first court appearance, we planned time for visits with our daughter’s biological mother. During one of the first visits we learned that the fear of a lost connection to her child prompted her to say what she needed to say to learn where her baby would be. I felt that. I also heard her sincerity when she apologized. My mama heart has not ever, not for a second, been upset with the truth she shared with me that day. The pains through those days brought us all something that we needed. A relationship.
Today, our daughter is nine. Abigail is a kind, silly, and fun seeking child. She loves to give and I love that about her. There really are no words to express how much she means to us or all of the ways the Lord had used her presence here to strengthen us.
So, I’ve shed tears sharing these pieces of our story with you. Thank you for following along. When you have an adoption question for our family just check in. I’d be so glad to answer it.