It was December 2013, we were in yet another hospital room, just Christian, myself, and our little Russell.
Russell had a pretty mild virus we were fighting, and as the transplant protocol requires, we had to wait it out in the hospital.
We usually spent our time in the hospital watching TV (usually Food Network- I consequently love to cook now because of all that Food Network).
But as we settled in at this particular visit, Christian began to scroll through his Facebook feed and noticed an old acquaintance that had moved to Texas years earlier. He and his girlfriend were expecting a baby, and were seeking adoption.
I was a Facebook friend with that friend as well, and I had seen the post. I really didn’t think much, just thought through how hard that might be in their situation, being teenagers and regularly the “on again off again” couple.
Christian turned to me, he was reclined in the chair, and he says to me “so… Are we up for adoption?”
I looked at him, I threw up my arms as if to put the environment around me on display and said “what?! We are in the hospital right now? What?”
That was the beginning of our journey through adopting our son Roman.
Christian and I both had decided individually before we even knew each other that we wanted adopted children as a part of our family. We didn’t have a plan for how that would go down, but as we should have expected, God would put that timing into its perfect place.
We were definitely clueless, really didn’t have much money, and had no idea where Russell’s transplant would land us in the long run.
After that initial conversation when Christian asked me if we wanted to adopt, I had some time to pray and meditate on what that would mean. I re-learned a lesson that I had become quite familiar with in that time.
The lesson: fear is not an excuse.
What is fear? Why do we as a culture allow fear to rule us? Why can’t we see outside of comfort?
Why should we be afraid of following the voice and call of God?
Why do things like not having enough money, the right job, the perfectly timed children, etc. drive our decisions?
He takes care of even the birds in the air… He is your Loving father… He only has the best plans for you. Why would you worry?
Fear is not an excuse.
Fear of disappointment is not an excuse to give up on what you feel lead to do.
That was the attitude we took in pursuing our adoption.
We reached out to Roman’s biological parents. The dad was the connection, but we had never met the mom.
His response was incredibly enthusiastic; hers (rightfully so) was more timid. Being separated by an entire state, we set up a Face Time meeting.
That set everything in motion. She liked us, we liked her, and so we commenced. Her grandparents had adopted her, and her grandparents had adopted her mom. So they knew a lot about adoption, and advised her to use an agency local to their city. We of course agreed to their terms.
We had a few phone calls with the agency, set up a trip to Texas to meet both the parents, and the agency liaison.
I think now is a good tome to mention again that we had no idea what we were doing.
Although I believe being called to something means, “do it”, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy.
Fast forward to Valentines Day, 2014. We were very excited to head down to Texas for our first face-to-face meeting with the biological parents and the adoption agency liaison.
We were also going to find out the gender when we got there! It was going to be a great day. We left Russell with family, and headed out to Texas.
It was 9am that morning when we got the call that Russell’s transplant was ready. We were already across the border, and had to turn around.
And as you may know from my last post- that was the last day we had with our son Russell.
We not only had to process grief, but we were now faced with a new decision. Roman was due on April 24th, and it was February. We had to make some tough decisions, and we had to decide quickly.
Will we still pursue the adoption?
Will we become parents again after just losing our first child?
I honestly didn’t know what to do.
My husband, the rock that he is, usually just knows what to do. He honestly did not know.
This was to date THE hardest decision we’ve made as a couple.
On the one hand, no one would blame us for backing out. Most would even encourage us to back out. It’s what seemed easiest. we had been quoted by the adoption agency that we needed about $10,000 to use them. We had no money. Not to mention we were grieving, and the process was complicated and would take a lot of time and energy that I wasn’t sure we could muster up.
But when you feel called to something, there is this undeniable voice that reminds you that it’s God inspired. Who are we to ignore that?
But still it was just a hard call. Clearly the reasons against outweighed those for.
Decision time was approaching. If we were going to back out, we needed to let the parents know as soon as possible so they could choose another couple.
We had to figure out where that giant sum of money would come from. Would we take out a loan? Ask people? So many hard things to think about for two grieving parents, just 21 years old.
It was one week after Russell had died, and we were laying in bed talking about how we had no idea what to do.
We gave up talking, and decided to pray. We don’t usually give God ultimatums or timelines, but in this instance we needed a clear answer. We just needed guidance.
We prayed out loud together.
“God, if this is supposed to happen, you will make the money happen by this weekend.”
(It was a Wednesday, so we figured we’d give God a couple days I guess.)
The next day, I had an all day salon session that my family had bought me as a gift. (Oh how I love the salon). My sister was with me.
It was about 11am when I had a text on my phone from a friend who a year earlier had enrolled us in the life insurance policies he had started selling. He was asking for our address.
I figured he was sending us a “thinking of you” card or something. I asked him why he needed it.
His text back said “So I can send you the paperwork for your policy on Russell”.
I wasn’t sure what he meant, as insurance in all forms confuse the toots out of me.
He replied “you guys had coverage on Russell, and your check will come to about $10,000. We need to get the paperwork started.”
I was brought to tears.
That was when we knew for sure for sure that this was of God. We had honestly forgotten that we asked for coverage on Russell, this was truly shocking, and all the confirmation we needed to pursue our adoption.
It was exactly enough to meet the quote the agency gave us.
It was time to call them and let them know.
We hadn’t told many people about the adoption, since we hadn’t officially started the process with the agency, so it was hard to explain ourselves to those on the outside looking in.
On paper, our situation looked shady. We lost our son just months before attempting to adopt- it looked quite iffy. It appeared to those who didn’t know the whole story that we were trying to replace our son with this new baby.
Of course you know that is not what happened. And further, we had a bigger support system than most people in similar situations.
But unfortunately that wasn’t clear to the agency.
The liaison called that same day I found out about the money. The first contact we’d had since we let them know we would have to reschedule the original appointment that day we were called in for Russell’s transplant.
I let her know we had lost Russell, but after much thought and prayer had decided to pursue the adoption. She had to talk to a few people, and said she would call back.
When she did call back, she told me that looking at all the circumstances, they as an agency (specifically the social worker on the case whom I had never met or spoken with) couldn’t justify putting their stamp of approval on the adoption. I pleaded to let me have an interview with them so they could see that we were different, but the liaison said definitively that they could not take us through their system.
I was crushed. An initially difficult and complicated situation had now grown much, much harder.
I was then worried that because this obstacle seemed insurmountable, we in fact were not called to this despite the incredibly clear confirmation we received.
Ugh- fear. Such a killer.
I confided in my pastor with our back and forthery on what the right decision was. She reminded me that if it’s supposed to happen, God would make a way.
Sometimes reaching out is the only way to really hear what you need to hear.
She was right, of course.
We told the parents what had gone down, about the money, the agency, and how we felt.
They took a few days to think about it, and agreed to still have us be the parents. We would pursue a private adoption. (That means using your own lawyer/social worker instead of having an agency do that for you.)
We finally met up with them in Texas, set a plan in motion, and waited for the arrival of our son.
Roman Michael Hodgden (we got to choose his name) was born April 13th, 2014 at Hendrick Hospital in Abilene Texas. We had to wait about two weeks in Texas for all the paperwork to be signed and legal, and at last, we brought our tiny baby boy home.
I even got to nurse him, as I still had milk from Russell.
Roman, now nearly 2, is a beautiful boy, who laughs often, and truly loves life.
He did not replace Russell by any means, but he did fill our arms again.
I learned that once you become a parent, being a parent becomes a part of your identity. That is not something that goes away.
I am so grateful for how Roman entered our family. He was not only our second born son that is ours to watch grow and be great, but he is another personal evidence of God in my life. Another reason I know that I know that my God is real and is actively looking to fill my life with the best.
To end, I’d just like to say this – if you have been letting fear be your excuse for not being all that you are called to be – don’t.
Fear is not an excuse. There are great things in store for those who are bold enough to step into the unknown.
God has you.