The hallway of the maternity ward was empty. My shoes were squeaking against the waxed tile. My sister-in-law was in one of the first rooms. Her belly was round and she was calmly sitting, watching the monitor as a heartbeat jumped across it. A few minutes later another monitor located the second heartbeat. The twins were happily content to sit quiet in their mama’s belly.
It was evening, over forty weeks into the pregnancy, and we were all more than ready for the baby girls to arrive. Little did we know that it would be just two short hours before they appeared.
Before I knew it, I stood in the hallway right outside the delivery room, arms wrapped tight around myself. When Aurora was born, I was ushered in to her and she wrapped a tiny pink hand around my finger. Her face was screwed up tight and her angry newborn cry echoed. A minute later her sister’s little kitten purr came from the other side of the room.
My brother held his daughters and bent near his wife and she touched their faces with shaking fingers and we all wiped burning hot tears from our cheeks.
It was beautiful and harsh and glorious.
That night I sat beside the babies until late, my heart tightening in my chest. I had work the next morning so I finally tore myself away from their perfect toes and rosebud lips. By the time I went home, my heart felt so hard it was splintering. The next morning I folded back the pages of my journal and the words bled right onto the page.
Lord, why not me? Why does it feel like everyone else receives what my heart screams for? Why can’t I have a husband and children alongside my best friends? Why do I have to be the one sitting alone afterward?
How can I be so blissfully happy with my precious little nieces, and so heart-wrenchingly miserable at my own state? I feel like I’ve given up what I want, over and over, I’ve trusted you, and still I sit here- alone.
It was past four o’clock the next afternoon by the time I finished work and managed to get my purple neon in gear and headed to the hospital. When I arrived, my brother was sitting in the room, both babies in his arms. I could hear the shower in the bathroom. “Oh, good,” he stood up, “would you mind staying? I have some stuff I want to get done at the shop.”
I nodded and sat down, holding my arms out for the pink bundles. Once they were safely transferred, he left and I just sat there. The room was quiet except the distant sound of water running. My scratched out prayers kept dancing through my head, along with the truth that I had written only the softest echo of what my heart wanted to say. The accusations I wanted to fling toward the heavens were scraping me raw.
I was full of bitterness and jealousy and I wanted to pound my fists and demand that God tell me why. What had I done so wrong that I couldn’t be holding my own babies? Why, oh, why, was I alone?
Giselle shifted and blinked open her eyes. They were dark and soft. Tears dripped off the end of my nose. She was so perfect. Fearfully and wonderfully made. His presence seemed to fill the room.
I thought of the Israelites, how they wandered 40 years, yet, still God moved. The wilderness did not last forever. I took deep gulping breaths. I may not stay in this place forever, but I was here today.
And I knew what He was asking, this God who freed His people from slavery, only to lead them into the desert. It wasn’t to harm them but to show them who He truly was. Not a genie-in-the-sky who brought about miraculous signs when they desired them, but a loving and just God who created them for relationship with Him. He led them into the wilderness so they could learn to trust His heart. To trust that He was doing good for them.
I choked, wiping tears on my shoulder. Giselle closed her eyes again, sleep claiming.
“Okay, God,” I whispered. “I give up. I surrender. You can have this life. I’ll do it your way, accept your plans. I will trust that you know my heart, my desires, my dreams. And I will trust that you know best.”
The pressure lifted for the first time in two days. Peace settled. He was trustworthy. He was.
I rocked the warm bundles of others’-dreams-come-true and decided that I would walk the road He had for me.
I had no idea that my journey was just beginning. I had no idea that even after my husband arrived a few years later, many more years of infertility would plague me. I had no idea that I would fight my way through a depression that would try to consume me. I had no idea that I would lose all hope and be left clinging to faith by the tips of my fingernails.
And I had no idea that on that very day, 3,331 miles away, in Guatemala City, my daughter was born.
When she was eight years old, we would get the phone call and we would do paperwork and wait for court systems and we would travel to pick her up and she would snuggle tight in the pick-up truck between us. The same truck we drove on our honeymoon and laughed because God had moved mountains to bring us together. The same God who never stopped working, who knew the future when we were stumbling in the dark.
And in all the phone calls and all the paperwork, I never noticed the day. I don’t know why I didn’t, except God wanted to snatch my breath away with His goodness. We were in the truck, driving home, when she mentioned her birthday. “What day is it again?” I asked. And she told us, and I laughed. It was loud and bright and she looked at me, confused, then smiled too. “It’s a good birthday,” I told her. She nodded. Of course it was.
I told my friend that night. I told her that I remembered the day. There are hundreds of dates that I could never remember, never be able to come up with what I was doing or where I was. But I remember the day my daughter was born.
It carries the fragrance of a God-Who-Sees. A God who carefully works to redeem the brokenness left by a hurting and sinful world.
I cried into my husband’s shirt that night. My head tucked tight against his solid chest. Adoption is beautiful, but it is also sad. It is redemption, but also the acknowledgement that something is broken that needs to be redeemed.
And I am in awe of the God who is carefully knitting together the ragged edges of our lives. Who knew about the empty upstairs bedroom where dreams have been born and then died, so many times. Who knew about the little girl who would move from place to place and never have a home for keeps. Until.
And He began working the details, swooping and swirling the edges together, years before I saw Him moving. Because He’s like that. He works redemption for all, even me.
And friend, He is working now for you, even if you can’t see it. Because He’s like that. And redemption is for all, even you.