I’ve loved rain for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the drought-struck Panhandle of Texas in a family intimately tied to agriculture (which is intimately tied to annual rainfall), rain was like our manna… necessary for our survival. Except it didn’t come every day.
One of my earliest memories is of praying. Staring out the window of our small trailer, feeling the worry and stress of the adults, I prayed for rain to fill the deep cracks splitting open the soil. I was only 3.
And, predictably, my next earliest memory is of bargaining with God.
There was a downpour the next day. The adults were thrilled but started worrying about the possibility of hail destroying the bedraggled crops. I, on the other hand, was quite pleased with myself. God had heard my prayers and had come in on a rain cloud, just as I imagined. But I had something more I wanted.
“Now that I know you’re here,” I remember saying as I watched the deluge, “please bring me a baby brother or a baby sister.”
It was only a few months and my parents got the phone call every waiting adoptive parent longs to hear. I met my little brother in an airport, upon my return from a visit to my grandparents. My mom handed him to a nun waiting in the airport to hold while she greeted me and introduced me to the answer to my prayers. I will never forget the third most vivid memory of my childhood… seeing that nun in her full habit holding a tiny baby boy, my new little brother.
“I always knew that’s what angels looked like,” I said of the nun, convinced she had materialized right then and there to answer my prayer.
Adoption has been a part of my story for as long as I can remember. It’s literally the focus of my earliest memories. As the only biological child in my family, there were times when I wished I had also been adopted. It seemed, to one not experiencing the grief and loss that comes with the territory, like such a cool way to join a family.
After college, I went to work at an adoption agency – entering the hyper-promotional stage of my adoption frenzy, convinced that every living/breathing adult needed to adopt an orphan. A few years later, my husband and I moved to China to volunteer at New Day Foster Home. Four years of hands-on orphan care taught me so much, and I came away more committed to the idea of adoption yet more fearful of it as well. I certainly no longer thought the only requirement for becoming an adoptive parent should be a pulse.
In the midst of all this, my husband and I had our first daughter. She is wild and free. A hurricane of love, determination, joy, and sheer exuberance. She is healthy, advanced, and besides a freakishly strong will, has no issues that make parenting a challenge. And yet it is. Parenting eats my lunch. I love her more than anything, but I’ve grown quite convinced that I’m in desperate need of parenting manna.
Yet here we are.
Waiting on our immigration approval. Staring at a pile of paperwork we’ve worked 5 months to assemble. Wading through a list of 190 different medical conditions trying to say yes and no to each of them. (And learning fairly quickly that Wikipedia is NOT the way to research the more obscure conditions unless you enjoy feeling terrified and overwhelmed.)
One might think that the more experience you have with adoption and exposure you have to orphans, the more equipped you would feel to become an adoptive parent yourself. I think for us, the exact opposite has been true. We don’t get to wear rose-colored glasses. Ignorance can be bliss, but we’ve seen too much to be blissful.
The other day I was speaking to my grandma and we were talking about our adoption process. She told me, “Since you were a little girl you said you would adopt a baby and maybe have one baby. At the time I would just smile and nod, but here you are! Doing just what you said you always wanted to do.”
And she’s right… This journey started way back when I was three years old and praying for rain. Jacob and I feel strongly this adoption is meant to be a part of our family’s story, but it isn’t a chapter we take lightly. We’re starting down this road filled with equal parts excitement and terror… and praying for that daily manna to get us through.