Over a year ago in February I received a call from my good friend, Laura that changed the course of our lives. She said that their adopted daughter’s birth mother had recently had a son in California and that little boy would be up for adoption. God had placed our family on her heart and would we want to adopt him?
Jason and I talked it over that night and the reality and gravity of what that would look like for our family sunk in. At the time we didn’t have a reliable vehicle. Our little farm house was falling down around our ears and would need a room added and significant work done to it to make it ready for another child. But as we prayed, we sensed the Spirit leading us to open up our home to this little boy.
That night I had a dream. In the dream I remember Jason saying, emphatically, “His name is Isaac!” I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote down the dream. It was so vivid and poignant. And Isaac is what I have referred to this little boy from that time on.
There is so much to this story. So many twists and turns, but shortly after we agreed to adopt him, I gave him up. There was another family wanting to adopt him very early on, who knew the maternal grandmother. This family was already certified to foster and did not have any children of their own. I read a letter that the mother wrote to Isaac’s grandmother, telling her that she and her husband wanted to adopt. And I called Jason, weeping, telling him that we needed to let Isaac go. So we acquiesced.
A few months went by and then in May of last year I received word that Isaac was still in a foster home in California waiting for adoption and this other family had since been placed with three foster sons and could no longer adopt Isaac. Oh how my heart soared with hope! We contacted my friend and told her we were all in and wanted to adopt this child. We had just recently purchased a Honda Pilot, big enough for all our children as well as this new addition. And Jason set to work planning, problem-solving and renovating our home to make room.
There was much work to be done, but little did we know just how long we would have to wait to find out if Isaac would indeed be ours.
We were finally contacted by CPS in California in the beginning of June of last year to begin the ICPC process. This stands for Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. It is the process by which a family in another state is made ready to adopt a child. We were informed at that time that there were three families wanting to adopt Isaac. Two in New York, where the paternal grandparents live and one (us) in Texas, where the maternal grandparents live. (One of the families quickly dropped out.) The biological mother had three children previously to Isaac who were adopted into different homes. Two of these siblings lived in Texas and one had been adopted by the maternal grandparents. Neither grandparents were in a position to adopt Isaac and so the process began to move forward to get these interested parties ready to adopt.
Except that we didn’t hear a thing for three months.
During this time we framed out the back porch, knocked down a wall in our bedroom to make room for an interior hallway, remade our daughter’s old bedroom into a baby room, adding a new window to it. We also dealt with head lice, hurricane Harvey and the death of our precious farm dog at the very end of the summer.
We finally received word towards the end of September that CPS was going to begin the process of a home study and that time was ticking for them to get all the paperwork in. Jason scrambled around tape and bedding the baby room and our dear neighbors carpeted Addie’s new room and helped us clean fans and AC units. We received multiple financial gifts from people we had never met. A significant one was received the very day our home study was scheduled. But it seemed we still had so much work to get done!
We went through a four-hour, extremely thorough home study, we had fingerprints done, twice! as we battled through the communication breakdown in the government concerning the correct spelling of my name (CPS had at least three different spellings for Kristin), we struggled through the correct identity of my husband, (Jason Brown being so common of a name that it pulled up another individual on the criminal background check…one with a criminal history). During the fall Isaac had his first birthday, still in California. We continued working on the rooms and finally painted them and Addie moved into her new room just in time for Christmas.
To our dismay, we realized that now that we had our kinship home study done, we were required to have yet another home study completed and this one with our fad worker from CPS here in Texas. And we would need to complete online and in person fostering classes in order for us to be licensed with the state to officially adopt. We took the classes and started work on our boys’ room, as they had been living in a room without a window and that would not pass a fostering home study. During the end of the winter, Jason also poured himself into studying for a very competitive promotional exam at the fire station. It was a crazy time and we all felt the intensity of the pressure on many fronts, but the very day that Jason took his promotional exams, we were officially licensed by the state to adopt!
It seemed as if everything was working and coming together at the last moment. And we were pretty sure that the court would rule in our favor because there were two siblings in Texas. The final court decision for Isaac’s case would be made at the end of May. The few days before court, we were painting bunk beds and the crib, painting the boys’ room and installing carpet. Then I received word from the caseworker in California that they were waiting on a third ICPC report from another family. This was very troubling. We had waited an entire year for CPS to finally make a decision. We had jumped through every hoop we were told to jump through, some multiple times. We were weary of the wait. The fact that a third party had jumped in when they did did not make it look like things would progress quickly. The boys spent their first night in their new room the day I found out this new information.
The very next day, while we were grocery shopping, I answered a phone call from the caseworker in California. He told me that they had finally made a decision concerning the placement of the child. I took a deep breath as I was told that Isaac would be placed with his paternal grandmother in New York. I was stunned! The grandmother was the third party that had come in at the last moment. I told my kids the news and we all wandered around HEB in shocked silence. My boys kept hugging me, looking at me, sure I would start crying. But I didn’t cry at first. I drove down to the Woodlands to where Jason was on shift and told him in person the news I had just received.
Grief is a funny thing. The first thing I did in my sadness was to finish Isaac’s room. I had been working towards this all year long and so the very next day after we found out that we were not adopting, I had my boys put together the crib and I set up the room. We were finally ready. But for what?
It’s been one month since we found out the news. So many emotions. So many unanswered questions. Why would we go through all we did this year and have it culminate to…nothing? I grew to love a child I did not know and to give him away twice. It’s different from fostering, different from a miscarriage. It’s its own grief. It’s the death of a vision and purpose. And when the trajectory of your life comes to a screeching halt, you find yourself lost in a way.
I have not lost hope, nor do I believe for one minute that all this was done in vain. It’s just that I can’t make sense of it all right now. I’m in the middle of the story and I do not see the resolution yet. We’ve been memorizing Romans chapter 8 as a family this year and the day after we heard that Isaac would not be coming home to us, we recited it together. And I wept throughout it. I did not realize how much of it speaks to adoption. To our longing for adoption as sons.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:22-25
What I see does not make sense. But, thankfully, the Lord has been developing in me eyes of faith this year. And I don’t believe that this story is over yet.