Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives.
By Lindsey Gad
The Jewish people are a superstitious bunch. We spit three times at good news or bad, to ward off the Evil Eye. We close books that have been left open. We don’t have baby showers or decorate nurseries prior to birth because it is considered bad luck. And we believe that things and situations are fated, meant to be, “b’sheret.”
After a long and tedious home-study process, my husband and I were finally approved to be a waiting adoptive family. I now look back at the pre-process version of myself and laugh. At our initial consultation, I naively exclaimed that we would never take the average six-seven months to complete the many hoop-jumping tasks of the home study.
As motivated as we were, we’d surely set a record and check off every box in two months flat. Flash forward almost a year, to a little place I like to call reality, and at last all our boxes were checked. It was December 23rd when our profile went live, two days before we were to leave on a Mexican cruise.
“What if we get called for a match while we’re away?” I worrisomely asked my husband. He reminded me that the average wait time for a baby was fourteen months, and we should enjoy the much-needed break. Besides, we joked, it’s not like Santa was going to bring us nice little Jews a baby for Christmas.
Before we left for our trip, my mother-in-law gave my husband a gift she’d been hanging onto for quite some time. It was a ring that his late father used to wear before he passed away. Now that we were a waiting family, she wished it might bring him good luck – a ring from his father, for the hopefully soon-to-be father. He proudly slid it on his finger, a star of sapphire shining brightly in the center.
The cruise was wonderful. While I couldn’t help but wonder who might be reading our online adoption profile while we sailed, I tried not to stress about the perusing while cruising. Instead, we distracted ourselves by dining on delicious dinners, soaking up plenty of sunshine and enjoying boating and off-roading excursions.
Aboard the ship, we attended several art auctions, to sip on champagne and pore over the paintings. One piece in particular caught my eye – something that normally wouldn’t be my style, but that spoke to me just the same. It was funky, almost like graphic street art, featuring a family of colorful owls.
My husband wound up bidding on it for me, and before I knew it we had purchased the piece. After the auction, we went up to get a closer look at our new art, and I noticed a hand-written message beneath the branch the small owls perched on. It read, “As if it was always meant to be.” My heart skipped a beat and my eyes welled up, surely this was a sign.
We returned home two days before New Year’s Eve, tan and tired. The very next day we received a call from our adoption counselor. It was the first time we’d heard from her since being listed, and when her number showed up on the caller ID a lump formed in my throat.
Surely there couldn’t be a baby this soon, it hadn’t even been fourteen days since we were listed, let alone fourteen months. My husband could see the wheels start spinning in my head, and quickly answered before my mind train derailed. He spoke calmly to our counselor, my eyes glued to him the entire time, waiting impatiently to learn of her end of the conversation.
“What did she say?” I asked intensely, before the phone had even left his ear. He laughed at my impatience, but proceeded to tell me about a little preemie girl who’d been born at the end of September, and was just now leaving the NICU for a Safe Family home.
He went on to give me more details, the medical concerns, the birth parent situation…I listened as impartially as I could, but it was too late. I was already in love with her, the mere idea of her.
This tiny little baby girl, who I had no other worldly connection to other than just learning of her existence. A miniature miracle who fought three long months to overcome undercooking in the womb – only to be released the same week we became a waiting family…I knew right then, this was my daughter.
My husband attempted to keep me grounded, the reigning rational half of our yin-yang, reminding me that we were not the only people who might be presented. We also needed to talk to a pediatrician to learn more about the possible complications from her prematurity.
And most likely we’d need to have a match meeting with the birth mother before she made a final decision. Only then could we allow ourselves to pray that she not have a change of heart and proceed with the adoption. There were still many hoops, flaming hoops, to jump through. I nodded in understanding, but in my mind, I was already decorating the nursery.
We did our due-diligence, got medical advice, considered the possibilities, and ultimately decided to go for it. What followed was the most nerve-wracking couple of weeks of my life. We knew that other prospective families were given the option of being presented to the birth mother. We had no idea how many others opted to do so, or how long it might take the birth mother to evaluate her choices.
All we could do was wait…and worry. What if she didn’t like that I was diabetic, or slightly overweight, or that we were Jewish? What if she wanted a family with other children, or with pets for the baby to play with? I felt so helpless, the ball was certainly in this stranger’s court – either she’d pass us the baby for a win, or hand her off to a completely different team.
I got the call on a Tuesday morning as I was walking up the stairs to my office. I stopped at the landing half way up and leaned against the wall with a deep breath.
“You’re matched.” My counselor said with simple satisfaction as I answered the phone.
“Shut up.” I mustered in shocked eloquence. The rest of the conversation is a blur to me now…I do remember the warm tears of joy flowing down my flushed cheeks as I slid down the wall to the floor, literally grounding myself. My heart was beating a million times a minute as I called my husband with the thrilling news. She picked us, it was happening, we were getting our baby.
At our match meeting, the birth mother told us that she could have looked at a hundred profiles, and she still would have picked us. We were the family she wished for the baby.
She chose not to name the little girl, wanting to leave that honor for her parents, but in the meantime, had taken to calling her Angel – because she was one. We loved that.
It is a Jewish custom to name a child after loved ones we’ve lost. In our case, we chose to name for my husband’s father, whose Hebrew name was Abraham. So, for our daughter’s Hebrew name, we chose Ariella, which translates to “Angel of God.” Birth Mom loved that.
Every day, we are thankful for how our stars aligned. We were beyond lucky to get matched so quickly, to become a waiting family just when our daughter was ready to find her forever home, and to uncover the right situation for us and for the birth mother.
Most of all, we are grateful to have been blessed with the child so clearly meant to be with us. I don’t mean to say the journey of adoption was without it’s bumps in the road, but no matter what it took to get to where we are now, the journey was well worthwhile.
I look at my husband play with our beautiful daughter, now a healthy, happy toddler. She looks up at him adoringly through big brown eyes, her mop of curls bouncing on her head as she giggles through a tickle attack. His long fingers gently tease her tummy, one hand wearing his wedding band and the other his father’s ring.
The sapphire it adorns just happens to be our sweet Angel’s birthstone. The painting from our cruise of the owls and their “As if it was always meant to be” message hangs above them on the nursery wall. Call me superstitious, but I can’t help but feel this was all “b’sheret” – meant to be.
Lindsey Gad is a graphic designer, artist and author residing in northwest Chicagoland. She is a proud wife and mother. You can view samples of her artwork at www.lindzdesign.com/.
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Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter.