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Friday, April 18, 2014

Josiah’s Adoption Story, Part 1

Our son, Josiah, turns 16 on Sunday. As we celebrate Jesus giving His life for our salvation, I would like to celebrate the unselfish love of one very special mom.

Josiah after getting his driving learner's permit in April, 2014
               For as long as I can remember, my dream had been to marry, to live on a farm, and to have six children. I had the greatest husband on the planet, we were living on a beautiful ranch, and we had five children. It was the fall of 1997, and life had calmed down at the Newman home. Rachel was 8, Nathan was 7, David was 3, Miriam 2, and Leah 1. Most people would look at those ages and think our lives were probably anything but calm. You just have to remember that life with children these ages appears to be calm when you have previously experienced life with children ages 7, 5, 1, 1, and a newborn.
Christmas, 1997
          I attribute this calmness to two things. First, I’d given up trying to go places. We only ventured out as a group if Syd was with us. I became queen of the late night grocery shoppers, on a first name basis with the night stockers at Wal-Mart. Secondly, when Leah joined the family, Syd asked me if I would like some help with the housekeeping. You can imagine that I had to ponder this offer for less than 30 seconds before agreeing to have a neighbor come in and clean once every two weeks. It was a lifesaver knowing that if I only succeeded in getting everyone fed and dressed, my house would be clean at least twice a month. I still did the laundry, cooking, picking up, and I tried to clean house on the weeks Ramona didn’t come. I was a militant user of cloth diapers, and with three diaper-clad children, I kept the Maytag running and running and running.

          So, in the midst of all this calmness, we decided to submit our paperwork to the adoption agency, asking to adopt another baby. We began the process of attending meetings, multiple interviews and training sessions, and praying God would bless us with another child. By this time, the agency staff had almost completely changed, and open adoption was the only option. We submitted a photo collage of our family and a written profile. The caseworkers gathered several profiles of families which they believed were good matches for a birthmother. They presented them to her, and she would pick her top two or three. If we were in that group, our caseworker called and confirmed that we were willing to talk to the birthmom by phone. If we did, she was given our number and we were told to expect a call.

          On a Friday in March, our caseworker called and said Carrie was interested in our family. We should expect a call from her during the weekend. We were cautiously optimistic, but also well aware that and a young birthmom might not be so keen on placing her baby with a 38 year-old couple with 5 children. On Saturday, the three little ones were napping, and Syd and I were in the backyard playing with Nathan and Rachel. The phone rang, and when I answered, there was a pause, and then Carrie introduced herself. I was shaking as our conversation began, but soon we were talking like we were old friends. The answers to her questions came easily, and I felt an instant connection. On Monday, our caseworker called and said Carrie wanted to meet us in person – the next step in the selection process.

Spring, 1998
         Early in April, Carrie and her mom made the trip to our home. Syd’s mom was there for the weekend, and after the children had a chance to meet Carrie, she took them to the playground so we could have some uninterrupted time together. It was one of the sweetest times in my life. The connection between Carrie and I was strong, and I instantly loved her mom, Priscilla. There were no awkward silences or strained conversations, no feeling like we needed to be guarded. Here we were, four people who very much loved one soon-to-be-born baby boy. In those few hours, we made life-changing decisions. We formulated how we would handle our relationship, what the placement would be like, and even chose his name together. We agreed that no one ever suffered from having too many people love him, and our goal was to love each other and love Josiah with all our hearts. Every decision we made was for his benefit. As they prepared to go home, we held each other tightly. Priscilla and Syd’s mom hugged, and I was moved to tears as Priscilla asked Vangie to love Josiah for her. It was such a bittersweet moment.       
Less than three weeks later, we received “the call.” Carrie was in labor. Throughout the day I prayed for her and for Josiah. I prayed for her parents. Josiah arrived a little after 6 p.m. Carrie had asked for 24 hours alone with him, so we didn’t see him until Tuesday evening. We arrived at the hospital when Josiah was 24 hours and 5 minutes old. We planned to have a placement ceremony in the hospital chapel on Wednesday afternoon.
At the hospital with Josiah, age 2 days

It was a little awkward at the hospital. In a way, I felt like a vulture, waiting for our baby. I saw how much Carrie loved him, and how difficult this time was for her. I’d never felt such conflicting emotions. I was so happy and excited about this sweet baby, but because I loved Carrie so much, my heart was breaking for her.

To be continued…

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