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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Joy and Grief


This is Hudson Isaiah Hendrick. He will come home today. My dear friends, the Hendricks, are adopting for the first time, Hendrick boy #4, and God is bringing them home today! I love this little guy so much already! I need to see more than this one picture!!!
I couldn't be more excited! God has done a beautiful thing, and brought them through one of the most sanctifying experiences of our lives, ADOPTION.
The joy of bringing this baby home will fill our lives and church for some time. There will be much rejoicing. There will be signs, balloons, showers, brand-new genius baby gadgets that have been magically invented since her last baby, birth announcements, proud, show-him-off moments in the sling at church, walking and bouncing, sleeping and snuggling, and as I set up their baby stuff in their house last night, those teeny-tiny newborn diapers just got to me!
Hudson has been pursued, as God pursues us, and brought into the family God always knew He would be in, just as their other children. Let the celebration begin!
However, when you adopt a baby and love him this much, you also fall deeply in love with the woman whose womb he slept peacefully in. You love his birthmom for giving you the hands-down best earthly gift you will ever receive. You love her for her selfless act, that I, even being a believer, think I am still to selfish to make. You love her for all her unique qualities that you will see mirrored in your child.
And there is grief for her today.
Adoption, particularly semi-open adoption as New Life does it (that I so strongly believe in, obviously) is a strange thing. You feel joy, and you feel grief for her at the same time. It's hard to know how to sort through that, where to put all those emotions.
Heather's blog has been eerily quiet this past week, when it normally spills out well-written words faster than I can read them. It may even take her some time to sift through all that's going on inside her and write. It's overwhelming.
Not only do we have two children we have adopted through New Life, and two birthmoms to love, but we have also experienced this from the other side when we housed birthmoms and became what they call a "Shepherding Home" for women who needed a place to stay and give birth. I wrote this article for the New Life newsletter about my life-changing experience from the "other side" a couple of years ago. Read this excerpt from it, and please, please, please pray for Hudson's birthmom and family today, as they desperately miss Hudson and grieve the loss.
Read about our experience with Robin, a birth mom we fell in love with.
*For those of you who don't know about New Life adoption, Hudson will always have contact with his birth family, and they will receive tons of pictures, letters, and will even visit soon. New Life does NOT let you forget your birthmom, or stop loving her for a moment!

The “Other Side”
I am Cindy Seay’s daughter. Her life work of ministering to pregnant women and placing babies for adoption in loving, Christian homes, has permeated my whole family‘s life. After my husband, Rusty, and I had two biological children, we heard a clear call from the Lord to grow our family again through adoption. Working with my Mom in the adoption of our sweet baby boy, Justus, over a year ago was amazing! Getting to see firsthand what New Life means to pregnant women, their families, and to adoptive families touched Rusty and I so much. Rusty, who is a medical doctor, became the medical director for New Life. We wonder how anyone who has experienced the miracle of adoption could remove themselves from this ministry? God’s hand is truly in it.
When my Mom mentioned she was unsuccessfully looking for a Shepherding Home for a pregnant woman, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear “Why not you?” I had to answer that question, why not me? We have plenty to share, and the scriptures are clear, what we’ve done for those in need, we have done, or NOT done for Christ himself. Rusty and I took a few hours to pray about it. You see, this woman had just been released the day before from the State Jail. This seems like quite a risk to take with three small children in the house. But despite the risk, we felt like God was saying “This is your chance to live your faith, not just talk about it.” So we told my Mom that day that we would take her in. I am so glad we were listening to Him that day! What a life-changing experience this has been for my family! Robin came to live with us almost two months ago, and she has forever changed the lens through which I see life. I have experienced adoption from the “other side”, and every adoptive family should! Robin has become like a member of our family. She has been delivered from her past mistakes by accepting Christ as her Savior. I was able to pray with her for salvation, and spend time in the Word with her almost everyday. I have the privelege of watching her grow in her faith and knowledge of Christ week by week. As a stay-home-Mom, it is ideal. I can’t get out to do many types of ministry outside of the home, but she came to me, where I live in the day-to-day, and by walking together, I am able to minister to her and serve her. I have seen everything through her eyes now, and it has changed me. I was in the birthing room with her, holding her hand, when her beautiful boy Jacob was born. It was a bittersweet moment. What a precious moment, when we lay eyes on the little one who’s been in the warm, hiding place of the womb. But our joy was with quiet tears, knowing that we would only have him for two short days before he joined his sweet family. I empathetically, felt the love and agony of a birth mom in the moment Jacob was born. I also had the joy of announcing his birth to two very proud adoptive parents, and seeing them hold him for the first time with tears in their eyes. I remembered living it from their side, but I was on the “other side” this time, and my heart was full of joy, but heavy at the same time for Robin. I spent those last hours with her holding Jacob for the last time before the placement. I cried with Robin as she signed the papers, and as she handed him to his parents. The finality of it weighed on me, and the peace and sorrow that co-exist in that moment can hardly be described in words. Making an adoption plan for Jacob was undoubtedly the right thing for her to do. Before then, I could only imagine how hard it was. Now I know. I drove her home from the hospital without a baby. We sobbed all the way home. She recovered and needed all the aftercare a woman needs after delivering a baby...but without a baby. There's a constant reminder of what's missing. That’s the reality of adoption from the other side.
My love and respect for our birthmother has only intensified. Some of you may not be sure you want to experience the “other side”. It scares us to feel the emotions of the birthmother too much. I promise you I was scared. But I assure you, as adoptive parents, it will only enrich and deepen the spiritual experience of adoption for you and your family. What New Life has tried to teach us is that you cannot love your child, and not love his/ her birth mother. Having the opportunity to wholeheartedly love and serve Robin has been a gift to our family. She will be staying with us for two more months as she re-builds her life. It is our joy to be used by God to His purpose in her life, and we are humbled by this experience. We have so much to share, and to give. Why not us? Maybe He’s asking you, Why not you?

5 comments:

Marcus and Meg Asby said...

Oh, Jenn, I'm crying. I can't imagine what it would be like to give up my child. You're right; it's incredibly selfless.

Feldman Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feldman Family said...

i could write a whole page on the love of a birth mom...they are amazing selfless women! their sacrifice isn't just for one decision or one day, it is for a lifetime. they love their children so much!

praying for jasmine,kacie,kathleen, lynda...so many more!

praying Psalm 34:18 for them..

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Landreneau Family said...

Jenn,

Thank you so much for sharing this. It is a blessing to know more specifically how to pray for the Hendricks. Your words are beautiful.

Aimee Landreneau

Jon & Sally said...

Jenn!
Oh thank you for sharing this! It's so real just now as I'm about to deliver...
I will cherish this article. We'll see what God has in store for us!!
Thanks for the perspective!!
Sally
(for the record. i had two contractions while reading your blog. :0)