As I mentioned in a previous post, we recently traveled to Pennsylvania for a visit with friends. At that time, we had also planned a visit with someone very special: Isabel's birthmother, along with her husband, sister and parents.
Rewind the clock to the early months of the year 2002, when we received the phone call that would change our family dynamic forever - when we learned that we were being offered the incredible privilege of adopting a precious baby girl due in just a few short months! Our excitement was tempered by the fear of the unknown, specifically the fear of having an open adoption relationship (because we had attended the same church and known Isabel's birthfamily for several years prior to our moving out of state and her subsequent birth.)
Our fear did not dissipate overnight, nor did our open adoption relationship take off immediately upon Isabel's arrival. I guess I would liken it to the very gradual blossoming of a beautiful flower, opening one petal at a time, one step at a time. Initially, though we sent monthly letters and lots and lots of pictures, we did not anticipate visits being a part of our relationship. But when at six months old Isabel's adoption was to be finalized back in the state of her birth, I felt a gentle nudging in my heart to speak to her birthfamily about a visit. We had a wonderful time, yet even then we did not anticipate future visits. But the next time we realized we'd be passing through the area, we visited again. And then again the next time.
We did not live close by, so often six months or even a year would go by between visits. Then in 2005, we received a very special invitation from Isabel's birthmom: Would we be willing to allow Isabel and our older daughter Eva to be flower girls in her wedding? We gladly said yes, and were blessed to create another unforgettable memory together.
Last month's visit was our first visit since then, and with it we marked a number of significant "firsts" in our relationship: our first visit since Isabel has begun to understand who her birthmother is; our first visit to the new home purchased by Isabel's birthmom and her husband and our first opportunity to really get to know him; our first visit that lasted more than just one day; our first time attending church all together since we had moved out of state the year before Isabel was born.
Going to church together was an especially moving experience for me. Though there were many new faces that surely knew nothing of our story, there were also many others who had walked through the entire experience of Isabel's birth and placement along with her birthfamily and also holding us in their prayers. For them to be able to see all of us together five years later, is truly a testament to God's goodness in all of our lives!
But what moved me to tears was standing alongside my husband, Isabel's birthmom and her husband, and singing together the words to "Blessed Be Your Name" ... Blessed be your name, On the road marked with suffering, Though there's pain in the offering, Blessed be your name ... You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say Lord, Blessed be your name ...
To think of all that she and I had gone through individually as women, as mothers, to come to the place where we could stand side by side and sing those words - my losses through infertility, failed adoptions and miscarriage ... her loss through the tremendous sacrifice of placing Isabel for adoption at a time in her life when that was the most selfless gift she could offer her ... And yet here we are today, stronger and more confident of the Father's love and grace because of it and blessed to have this relationship with one another.
Yes, it was indeed a special visit ... and a visit with someone special.