As we stood facing the hospital sliding glass doors, we were both silently crying. She was sitting in her wheelchair, waiting for the social worker to come around with the car to take her home.  I was standing close by, holding a precious newborn baby boy, sleeping in his brand-new car seat, waiting for my husband to come around with our car. As I looked down at this tiny miracle of life that she had just delivered, I hoped and prayed that he would be my son forever. I knew it wasn’t a guarantee.  He still belonged to his birthmother – she had 30 days to change her mind – but he also belonged to us.  There was a painful tension between us in that moment while waiting for our cars to drive us in separate directions.  Who does this child belong to?  I knew that no matter what, ultimately this precious child belongs only to the Lord.  I had to trust Him and surrender my plans.

Adoption has brought me the greatest joys of my life, fulfilling my dream of becoming a mother.  Adoption has also brought me the most painful and raw moments of my life.  Moments that have forced me to surrender my pride and my plans for my future.  That sweet newborn baby I described is now my eleven-year-old son Tommy.  Since that time, God has blessed us with two more children through adoption – Molly is nine and Jack is six.  Most days adoption doesn’t cross my mind.  These kids are just “mine.”  I am happily living the busy life of a soccer mom in the suburbs. Yet I will never forget the road it took to become a parent.  Five years of infertility, surgeries, and failed pregnancy tests led us to pursue adoption.  My faith was completely shaken.  My prayer was, “Why, Lord, are you saying no?”  Still, to this day, I continue to grieve the loss of ever carrying a child in my womb.  I cringe at baby showers when all the moms share pregnancy, labor, and breast-feeding stories.  I never quite fit in.  Instead of stories about labor and delivery, I have stories about adoption home studies, traveling out of state at a moment’s notice, and extended stays in the NICU with babies born addicted.  Every step of the way, I have had to trust the Lord and surrender my plans.

Most people are shocked when they hear the details and the cost of adoption. The home study paperwork and the amount of social worker visits alone are enough to scare people away.  In order to get approved, we had to share all of our medical, financial, and personal information.  We had to take parenting classes and get referrals proving our character.  It was humiliating and infuriating.  The fees were exorbitant.  This process felt like too much to bear after so many years of longing for a child.  Part of the paperwork is deciding how much contact you are willing to have with the birth family after adoption.  I really hated this question.  I thought, “So even after adopting, this child won’t really be mine?”  I wanted to be a “real” mom.  Who would this child belong to?  I wasn’t interested in co-parenting or visits or any relationship moving forward.  Yet again, I had to trust the Lord and surrender my plans.  Even though it made me very uncomfortable, I followed the advice of the social workers to be open.  Praise God it was never as bad as I thought it would be.  After hearing the stories of our children’s birth mothers and watching them deliver our babies, it was not difficult to give them visits, phone calls, or pictures.  These three women chose life and chose adoption.  I will forever honor them for their sacrifice and the gift they gave us.  The Lord used this difficult and broken road to bring us the incredible joy of being parents.

In the past three years we have also been foster parents to 8 children who have come and gone from our home.  Most of these sweet little ones have had short stays with us.  One precious baby boy spent the first 18 months of his life with us.  He was dropped off at our house as a tiny newborn who didn’t feed or sleep well.  After many exhausting months and a minor surgery, he began to thrive.  He started crawling, walking, and talking in our home.  He called me “mama” and preferred me above anyone else.  As his case progressed through the courts, we thought he might be our forever son.  After much back and forth he was reunited with his mother.  Being a foster mother has forced me to reflect on what it means to be a parent in a whole new way.  I know, in my heart, that I was a mother to that sweet boy for 18 months.  He didn’t belong to me alone; he also belonged to his birth family.  My job was to love and care for him as long as he needed me.  Isn’t that true for all parents?  Whether you are a birth parent, adoptive parent, or foster parent, your job is to love and care for your children for as long as they are in your care.  Who do these children belong to? Ultimately, they belong only to the Lord.

Gina and Troy have been married for 16 years and are blessed with 3 children through the gift of adoption.  They serve as foster parents in Rockville, Maryland.