Thursday, November 21, 2013

Flicker


“I don’t want you to think this is weird, Anna, but I know of a baby who needs a home. Is that something you and Tim would be interested in doing? my friend Brenda asks. “My sister was in the shower praying about a family for a baby that will be born in March and needs a home, and your family kept coming to mind. She called me first to see if it would be too freaky to ask you.”

My two best friends from childhood sit on the couch in the living room. It has been just one year since we lost Jack. They both look at me, wondering if they have crossed into forbidden grieving mom territory by mentioning a new baby. After all, they know that suggesting that Jack can somehow be replaced is ludicrous.

I answer immediately, “Of course we’re interested!” I talk to Tim the next day as we walk down the sidewalk, Margaret a few steps ahead of us, “Absolutely.” He says, without hesitation. Considering it takes us longer to by a new humidifier than it takes some people we know to marry, divorce, and remarry, it’s astounding that he and I are immediately on the same page.

“What are you two whispering about?  I know you’re talking about me!” Margaret interrupts, turning around. I say, “Actually, there’s a teenager who is pregnant and is not married. We’re talking about possibly adopting her baby. Is that something you think our family should consider?” “Consider? Let’s do it!” she answers.

Tim and I always assumed we’d have more than two kids. We are each the youngest of three, so if our moms had stopped at two, well, where would this world be? But then life and babyhood came around it was a lot harder and more tiring than it seemed like it would be. Tim worked long hours first in graduate school and then at work and only saw the kids on weekends for the first few years. When he was home, he was absolutely “on” as a daddy, but he wasn’t home all that often. I didn’t have a mom around to help me make it through the weeds or give me a break. Even at the time I knew I was on holy ground, pouring myself into Jack and Margaret day after day, but it was so hard to imagine being able to add one more to the mix.

So they grew. And things got so much easier. And it got increasingly more difficult to want to disrupt the tender dynamic our family formed. One thing Tim and I noticed was that kids do not necessarily add strength to a marriage. At least not ours. They were huge balls of need in baby and toddler packages. They accentuated our already big differences, they sucked our extra money away, and they robbed us of any precious sleep that could serve as a balm for misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

We would come close. Once, during a period of rampant baby discussion, we took a trip to the beach with friends. “What are you guys talking about?” Tim asked as he approached my two friends and me. “Well, I was explaining how Baby Fever has hit our house yet again,” I replied. “Baby Fever? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” was his response. I was pissed and embarrassed. I didn’t like the implication that I was just making stuff up to entertain my friends.

Later, in our bedroom, I told Tim how hurt and unsupported I felt when he denied knowing what I was talking about. “Oh, you mean how we’ve been talking about having a baby? I was thrown off by the words ‘Baby Fever.”  Sheesh. He’s analyzing my words? Any desire I had to procreate with him shriveled up on the spot. I didn’t care if we were in a nice rented beach house with a king sized bed!

And so it went for years. First it was the lack of time together. Then the weeds of baby and toddlerhood. Then we had a glimpse of freedom as Jack and Margaret became more independent. We just never had another.

Jack would ask during snuggle time, “When are you having another baby? Please. Please. Please.” “Jack, I think I’m too old.” “You aren’t too old, mom!” Just think. You thought you were too old when you were 35. If’ you had had one then, you could have a 2 year old by now. Don’t make the same mistake again.”

Then,“Mom, what if you had had one when you were 38?”

And, “Mom, what if you had had one when you were 40?”

On and on it went. The last time Jack asked me I had just turned 41, and he wasn’t with us much longer after that.

I wasn’t sure what my big issue was. I’d ask myself, if we accidentally became pregnant would I be happy? Yes. Always yes. But we couldn’t seem to take the plunge. Standing in the bathroom of a Florida bar, celebrating the 40th birthdays of my college girlfriends, I tried to explain how I felt to my friend Kathy as we washed our hands. “I’ve always wanted another one, Kathy.” My eyes got teary. “I guess I’m just afraid. Afraid that I’m asking too much.” Jack and Margaret were such a blessing, and I was afraid that maybe I’d hit my limit on blessings.
Maybe another child would either be the straw that would break the back of our marriage, or would break me of the patience and love I’d been able to give my kids for more than a decade. Or maybe we'd be given a baby with needs so great that it would be too much for me. I didn't feel strong enough. It just felt like asking for one more was pushing things. I think, as I had done my whole life, I was trying to stay under the radar. Not flying too high.  Not asking for too much. Hoping that I could somehow get the life I wanted by being agreeable and not making a fuss.

And then I wonder. Was Jack’s begging for another sibling his way of trying to make sure that Margaret would not be alone? I don’t know.

But I do know that Tim, Margaret, and I each answered without a second’s hesitation, that we would gladly adopt a baby who needed a home. And this baby was practically falling in our laps! I was surprised it felt so good to think about this baby. To reach outside of our grief.

A week later we got the phone call. The girl’s family had picked someone else, before they had even heard of our family. We were very, very disappointed but not devastated. There was something so positive in the “Yes” -- in the opening ourselves up to the future. To having enough confidence in ourselves as a family, despite the shame and horror of losing Jack, to think that even in our depleted state we could make a difference in someone else’s life. There was hope there.

 

62 comments:

Julie Austin said...

This just has me in tears....such tender hope. Such an honest perspective on the joys and challenges of being parents. A beautiful and honest look at the costs - and the rewards.

You are such an eloquent writer, such a wonderful soul.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am sorry this time it didn't work out. I think you should pursue it in the future.

Hetrick family said...

I don't know what to say, but I want you to know that I read (in PA) and I cried for you, not in sadness, but in awe of your hope.

Mim said...

I was born when my mother was 42. I'm glad she didn't decide she was too old!

Molly said...

What a wonderful post. When I read it I just kept thinking - yes, yes, YES! I know it won't replace Jack but after reading this it seems like you really do want to give love to a baby in need. You would be doing an amazing job and although you didn't end up with this baby I don't think you should close this door.

Erin Margolin said...

I'm all choked up now, Anna. You have a way of doing that to me with your words. I love your words, your truths, your candor. Thank you for letting us in with glimpses such as these. xo

Erin Margolin said...

I'm all choked up now, Anna. You have a way of doing that to me with your words. I love your words, your truths, your candor. Thank you for letting us in with glimpses such as these. xo

Anonymous said...

God bless you all! Just saying "yes" like Abraham opens you up to God's plan...perhaps He'll give you an inheritance as great as the stars. And yet, as I type that, I think He has... in a way... those that find Christ as a result of Jack's love for our Lord are a part of your family! Keep sharing where you are on this journey because there is power in prayer and I'm praying if your quiver isn't full you'll know this and find a new little one in your midst! Love you! Karen

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry that fell through for you. If you decide to try adoption again can I offer a piece of advice? (Unsolicited advice is THE WORST, I know, but this just is a little to important not to voice.) It's quite common for a woman to feel that she has no choice but to give up a child in the moment -- and then bitterly regrets it later. Especially if they are very young. And then she grieves and grieves and grieves for years to come. NOT ALWAYS! But it's more common than adoptive parents think. Just do everything in your power to make sure the mother absolutely wants it and is not being unduly pressured by parents, church group or poverty. Sorry for the intrusion. I won't mind if you don't post this. I have been on the adoption path for a couple years and I've had to reject two opportunities because I could tell, meeting the birthmothers, she didn't really want this. It would have killed me to take the child from her. Just killed me. Even with an open adoption.

Anonymous said...

I have chills. Perhaps this new baby was not meant to be your family's....but a seed has been planted. Jack must have known something, somehow. What an old soul he was.

love,
jbhat

Anonymous said...

This piece is a an accurate description of the delicate balance of family relationships. Thank you for sharing! Our beautiful children add depth and richness to our lives, while making them endlessly complex. I, too, feel like my marriage and my sanity are often on a precipice. Would another baby bring joy and love into my life? Absolutely. Could I handle the stress of adding to my already full load? I'm not sure.

One crazed mommy said...

Beatufitul post - I'm bleary eyed now! I'm sorry you didn't get the baby, but the hope is what is so wonderful! I can relate so much to what you wrote about - I've always wanted 3...but I'm at 2, and will turn 40 next month. I just feel like I'm too old to add another to the mx - and the financial burden (hospital bills, formula, daycare) and emotional...yes...I can relate to your saying no all those years. I also have a huge fear if one of mine loses the other. I know I've posted before, but I can relate so much to Margaret, as I lost my only, older brother, in a car accident when I was 14. There have been so many times I wish I had a sibling to call, or cousins for my kids to play with. There is no easy answer - we just do what we think is right at the time, and hope we make the right decisions. But, still, all in all - life is good, and hope lives.

Joyce said...

Beautiful! It brought tears and goose bumps!

Jim said...

Anna - Always enjoy reading your posts. You continue to inspire. This one struck a chord. To wonder if you are too old. To have, then not have. Hope all is well. Jim

Jim said...

Anna - I always enjoy your posts and you continue to inspire. This one, in particular, struck a chord. To wonder if you are too old. Then to have. Or not. And wonder. Hope all is well - Jim

Anonymous said...

This is so thoughtful, I'm not sure there's much that I could add. I hear you really facing all of the thoughts and feelings you had over the years with honesty and courage.

You found hope and strength in your spontaneous, unified "yes."

The only thing that doesn't quite sit well with me is the word "shame," because, and this is just my opinion, but you haven't done anything to be ashamed of. I would rather you not add to your pain by feeling a shame that you don't deserve.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I love that you all said "yes" without a doubt. That is beautiful and speaks so much for the love you all have. It is a beautiful lesson from God giving hope when I didn't think there would be any. Thank you for sharing this precious story.
((HUGS))

Molly the Librarian said...

I'm a longtime lurker on this blog (and a local to the DC/VA/MD area), but I've been wanting to comment for a long time. Your writing always touches my soul and I feel like I know Jack personally from your words.

I'm trying to become an adoptive mother myself and this entry was just amazing to read. I hope that if you decide to pursue adoption in the future, it will bring good things to your family and help fulfill that dream of Jack's.

Whatever you decide, best of luck!

Steph said...

That you all answered "yes" immediately is a beautiful testament to your family. Thank you for your beautiful writing that is so honest and powerful. Wishing you much love and peace.

Stumbling Towards Perfect said...

You answered the call. That is what God wants to know. Whether or not you will answer His Call. And you did. :) He is so pleased with you! And, I believe this is going to lead to something amazing! (In His time, of course, but bigger than you can ever imagine.)

Anonymous said...

I have one adopted sibling (younger). I am so grateful to my parents for going through everything it takes to adopt a child, and thankful for his birth mom for giving us the gift of "him"! My brother was a handful for sure, but I can't imagine life without him - he brought noise and messes, and life and fun to our family, especially to me. God bless you in your willingness to take a chance on loving another child! Maybe a seed was planted for you, and another birth mom will water it. Peace in Christ to you Anna.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

I am in tears, too. I know I told you about my neighbors who lost 2 of their 4 girls in a tragic fire, last january 31. they unexpectedly became pregnant and just welcomed their first baby boy into the world. things happen when they are suppose to, i suppose. thinking of you and happy for the flicker of hope nd happy for the strength of your family.

Noah's Mom said...

Oh, Anna, I was just thinking about that...when I was thinking of you the other day! My husband & I jumped through hoops (almost literally) to have our son...I was 41 (he is 14 now & I am 56). I still feel great and have enough energy for taking care of him, even though it turned out that he has autism. But that is ok, and it was NOT because of my age! We have grown children & grandchildren & we have absolutely NO regrets about having him in our "old age." He is my 'Buddy' and goes everywhere with us. Jack is present in every aspect of your life and seems to have a part in your future life plan! Continued blessings & hugs to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I could not wait until the end of the post to find out. I felt my heart leaping out of my chest - scrolled all the way to the bottom. And yet, my heart did not break bc you have hope! I wish I knew you in real life!!!

Dawn said...

Well, I don't know you personally but have followed your blog since you lost Jack, and I have to say I have always secretly hoped and hoped you would adopt or foster. Because you're just THAT amazing, someone else should get a piece of it. :)

Dina Ochs said...

This may seem strange but the minute I saw the picture of the three of you, before even reading the post I thought, something is missing in this picture. Even though my sister had only one child, a daughter (and a miscarriage) because of her diabetes, I never thought they looked lonely as a family. But this picture hit me hard for some reason. And why? Then I read your post and realized that from so far away I need to keep you all in my thoughts and prayers, maybe this is going to be. Your writing is so sweet and hits to the core of me every time I read it. Looking forward to your book. Hugs from Tallahassee, Florida, Nadine Ochs

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this lovely story, Anna. Much that you said resonates.

Perhaps this experience, while disappointing in not leading to a new family member for you now, was needed to solidify your family's position on adoption and will propel you forward. In any event, I hope things work out for all of you.

Wishing you blessings,
Joan in PA

Jennifer Marshall said...

I love when you write about the things Jack said in the past and how they relate to your present. To me this all makes sense. Especially how all three of you were on the same page, without hesitation. I hope an opportunity like this might resurface for you. Because I think it would be beautiful.

Alison said...

Your family is so full of love, any child would be blessed to be part of it. xo

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Most times when I read your post I feel as if I have been kicked in the gut, then tears roll down my cheeks. Anna oh my gosh I'm excited and ache for you all at once. No words, just prayers and praise to God, hope Anna and new life, such blessings!

Niki said...

this story overflows with love.xx

dreaming is believing

Patricia said...

This is a lovely story,and something I did need to hear this morning.. Hope does spring eternal, and the 'seed has been planted' as another commenter said. God Bless you and your family....

Lisa C said...

So much hope. You have love to give and it's incredible that all 3 of you were unwavering in your answers.

<3

Eliza said...

One of my favorite posts to date... so honest and open and hopeful! Like others have said, all of your "yes's" could be the start of something really amazing. I'll keep thinking of you guys, as always! <3 hugs

HollyMarie said...

There is the sweetest little 2yr old boy in Korea listed with Dillon international who is waiting for his family. He was born at 35 weeks and was originally failure to thrive so he is considered special needs. He is living with a foster family now but if an adoptive family isn't found soon, he will be moved to an institution and will no longer be available for adoption. It is urgent that he find his family very very soon. If this pricks your heart at all, call Dillon for more info. Because of the urgency, families in all states will be considered. XO and may God bless you.

Alexandra said...

I want the promise of a new life in your home. It's not a replacement for Jack, it's a home for a baby that needs love, routine, stability, healing. I will pray for this, for you, for the baby.

Anonymous said...

PS I'm sorry this is so far off the topic of adoption, but I'm not on Facebook, and I saw that Tim & Co. had run a marathon, and also that he ran it pretty quickly, too. That's such a big accomplishment and big "yes" to life that I wanted to congratulate all of them.

Elisa @ What the Vita said...

Loved this story and I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings you and your family. I'm inspired by your hope and your thoughts and your peace. Wishing you only GOOD things!!!!! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I have often thought about this (or hoped for this) for your family. I remember watching Oprah many years ago and seeing two mothers who had lost their babies in the Oklahoma City bombing. They spoke about how they would love the babies they lost every day of their lives - no one could ever take their place. But, to have something in their lives, something positive to come out of something so negative, could be a comfort to them. I've never, ever forgotten that.

MelissaB said...

Loved this post. My currently 7 year old son keeps begging for a baby too and my almost 10 year old daughter would be thrilled, I think. I guess we will find out this weekend when we tell them they are getting their wish as I'm 12 weeks pregnant! I felt exactly the same way you did...like I really wasn't done but so scared to actually commit to another for the exact reasons you listed. Then I found myself pregnant by absolute surprise and I am no spring chicken. Couldn't be more thrilled. I say do it. Your heart knows enough love to nourish another!

Anonymous said...

Anna, thanks for being so honest about marriage. It helps.

I think of you and your family periodically, knowing you only through visits to your blog when something reminds me of your story. Or your Jack, who was a special boy indeed. My love and best wishes to you and yours, always.

Susan said...

Check out www.projectcuddle.com, a non-profit that works to find homes for babies who would otherwise be abandoned.

Anonymous said...

I just want to add my thanks to you for sharing this. As my husband and I apply to become foster parents and hope to adopt in the future, it is always encouraging to read of others considering adoption. You are in my prayers, Laura

Amie said...

Your hope is inspiring. Your family's strength remarkable. I don't know what the future holds. But I hope and pray it hopes great things for you all.

You so eloquently put words to my feeling about why I intended to stop at one child. Thank you. But I would add, that was not God's plan. He blessed me with an amazing second child and I am in awe of His plan each day. I hope you all are similarly blessed (with #3).

I read often, comment rarely. Your writing, your sincerity bring me back day after day. Thank you.

minime0910 said...

Isaiah 66:9 -- "I will not cause you pain without allowing something new to be born." I adopted my daughter internationally a few years ago, I also know of several good, domestic agencies if that is of interest to you. ANYTIME. minime0910@hotmail.com.
Erin
hermanadoption.blogspot.com

Elizabeth R said...

My mom had her youngest at 44. I swear that sibling got all the good-looking, smart, charismatic genes. Age is merely a number. If it's right for your family then go for it.

Beth said...

This is such a beautiful post, Anna. Still reading, still thinking of you, thinking of Jack every day.

for a different kind of girl said...

I think hope can be a beautiful thing. This, too, was beautiful.

anymommy said...

I so hope there's a "yes" somewhere in your future if that's what you want. You three are too amazing to be denied to a little one who needs you. (And (absolutely no pressure),if you ever want to chat about infant foster care, I'd love to share our experience.)

Recovering Church Lady said...

This is so exciting. It opens up new possibilities because you said yes so easily! I love how this happens sometimes with God. He has used the old "Bait and switch" with me more than once. really!
Susie

Katie said...

Anna,

I have read your blog for a few years and it inspires me each time I come visit to be a better mother to the five children I have been blessed with. I'm in the exhaustion stage of parenting--my children are ages 2-13 (which is easier than a new baby, trust me), my husband is starting a business and working 75-80 hours a week, all the grandparents live across the country, etc. etc. So many days I am tired and forget to enjoy the magical blessing it is to have a house full of children. Your sweet reflections remind me of what a blessing I have, despite my exhaustion and inadequacies.

Thank you for keeping me focused on the most important things. Blessings to you and your family.

Mariah said...

I cried when I read this. It's just so hopeful. I don't know. That really makes no sense, but it settled something in my heart for you and your family.

1 Buddha's Mom said...

I like Holly Lane Designs on FB:)

Kelly Pack said...

I know it's hard, it's scary. It won't be Jack, but it will be another part of your family. I still get sad, I still miss Colum. I didn't get a replacement but... oh, sometimes I just wish we were bff's.

Alina said...

I cried reading this. Ths fact that your whole family was OK with this right away... sounds like it's meant to be. God bless, prayers are being said or you.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Obviously, I'm catching up on my reading here... I LOVE this. May be one of the most beautiful hopeful things I've read in a long time. And you know how much hope matters to me. :) LOVE you!

thejugglestruggle said...

You and your family never cease to amaze me. Such love and grace.

Thank you for that.

I continue to pray for you all...and whatever exciting things (or "someones")God has in store for you!

Nicole Yontz said...

You guys are amazing people. And that's all I have to say about that. Xoxo

Nicole Yontz said...

You guys are amazing people. And that's all I have to say about that. Xxoo

Andrea Mowery said...

This is such a tender, moving story, Anna. I love that you and Tim are on the same page, to leave the door wide open. Maybe it can still happen.

cmlam said...

Re-reading this post...can you believe it? God (and Jack) sure have a sense of humor. :). Much love and strength to you and your husband and marriage, and to your middle child Margaret, and prayers that Andrew Luke is an "easy" baby.

cmlam said...

Re-reading this tonight. God and Jack sure have a sense of humor! Much love and strength to you and your husband and marriage, to your middle Margaret as she navigates big sisterhood, and to the littlest one Andrew Luke. May he be an "easy" baby in every sense of the word!