I started writing a post detailing how we came to adopt our son, Elijah, but it grew too long. So, I’m splitting it up into smaller posts.
Before I begin the main part of the narrative, let me give some context. In 2011, we decided to begin the process of adopting a child. It is something we both have always wanted to do because of our faith and the role adoption has played in both our families. We looked at different types of adoption and different agencies and settled on an open domestic adoption in November 2011. For the next couple of months we filled out reams of paperwork, jumped through lots of important hoops, and received all the necessary legal clearances. On February 23, 2012 we entered circulation, meaning we were available for birthparents to contact us to adopt their child. Our agency says an open adoption with them takes an average of around a year once a couple goes into circulation. We adopted our son on April 1, just five weeks after going into circulation. The speed and surprise of our experience is something we want to record. We also think it is a beautiful story of God’s love and power. So without further ado, I present the narrative of our adoption.
Two weeks ago Carey and I left for Costa Rica to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Twenty-four days earlier we had just gone into circulation with our adoption agency, meaning we had finished jumping through all the hoops and were available to adopt a child. We spoke with our social worker about the possibility of delaying circulation until after the trip because we really wanted to go on this vacation and did not want it to be shortened. She told us to go and not to worry because it was highly unlikely that we would be contacted since we had been in circulation for too short of a time. So, on March 18, we flew to San Jose to begin a two-week vacation.
The vacation proved to be wonderful. We saw beautiful flora and fauna, enjoyed Costa Rica’s adventuresome “roads,” stayed at amazing locations, and even had a serendipitous run-in with a fellow Fuller Seminary alum who was sleeping at the same hostel as we were in La Fortuna. While walking on a suspended bridge near the top of a cloud forest canopy, a troop of howler monkeys passed over, not two feet from our heads. None of the poisonous snakes that our guidebooks described in terrible detail bit us. In fact there was no injury requiring medical attention, nor any major theft, which is something of a first for us on a long trip. It was truly one of our best vacations.
Near the end of our vacation, on March 29, while we stayed in Drake Bay — a remote part of the country on the Pacific coast — Carey’s mother called our lodge. Our rooms did not have telephones, so she had to have the staff find us. We were worried that there had been a death or emergency in the family. When my wife spoke with her, we learned our adoption agency wanted to get in touch with us because there was a possible adoption opportunity. All we knew was that a baby had been born and there were “special” circumstances. After a few failed attempts to contact a social worker with our agency, we decided to give up for the night and call in the morning. We were so surprised about the call, however. We told the other guests and staff at the lodge about what was happening and they were excited for us.
The next day, we contacted the social worker and she explained the situation to us. A baby had been born in Walnut Creek and needed immediate placement. Our adoption agency has a list of prospective parents who are available for last-minute placements, but one has to be in circulation for over a year to be on it. Only a few profiles of those parents on the last-minute list matched with this special situation and the agency wanted to give the birthmom more options, so they asked us if we would allow them to send our profile along with the others. We said absolutely. Our call made it to the office just ten minutes before the social worker was going to the hospital to meet with the birth family. Because of the speed that all of this required and because it would occur on the weekend, we were told that if the birthmom did want to meet with us, the agency would e-mail us that weekend. If we were not selected, we would not likely hear until Monday. What we had hoped to be a peaceful end to our vacation and a gentle on-ramp back into work and daily life had been dramatically interrupted.