This post originally appeared as “Nine Years of Grace” on Heartfully Present in January 2019.
I promised I would be present today. Fully present, for Grace.
I also promised myself I would write about it.
So after all the dishes were cleaned and wrapping paper collected, kisses given and little bodies tucked into bed, here I am in the recliner in the dark, rocking my sleeping baby, poking one letter at a time into my phone. Such is this full life – I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Today was a sweetly simple girly birthday, full of all the things she loves and nothing she doesn’t. (which is pretty easy – she loves everything.)
I’m always super mushy on Grace’s birthday, mostly because even after all this time I still can’t believe she’s real. I have to pinch myself to remember her story is the most extraordinary surprise of my life, and from it, infinite good continues to flow.
As beautiful as Grace’s adoption is in hindsight, is as scary as it was in the moment of its happening.
Adoption is complicated. Your heart… your heart. It takes a beating.
Grow. Strengthen. Hurt. Break. Mend. Learn. Heal.
We didn’t have the waiting game to contend with as so many foster and adoptive families do. Our family found us, in the strangest call to action ever. We were less than three months removed from our son’s death and still trying to find our footing. Most days we walked around hollowed shells of ourselves, if we ever even left the house, going through motions and just checking boxes. What was the point of any of it?
When we got the news about Grace, it seemed too good to be true. Or maybe a cruel joke. It was all I could do to put my shoes on, much less rally to accept a newborn into our home. What would our families say? What about all these other people who were actually in the adoption process – surely this would seem unfair.
God is not about the business of fair. (He and I are going to have a gloves-off chat about that someday, anyone want to join me?)
But God is in the business of working all things together for good, for His grand masterpiece. See Romans 8:28
I don’t believe he caused our son to die. I do believe he allowed it. And I believe it broke his heart, the same way it broke his heart when he allowed his own son to die.
I think he knew it would create a fracture in me… in Jack… in our marriage… that ONLY HE could fix.
Even in our grief, we knew a new baby would never be a replacement for the precious life we lost.
But it felt so scary.
So I went to talk to LJ in the Garden. I needed his blessing I guess, strange as that sounds.
When I go, I collect and keep all the petals from flowers people leave, including the gorgeous white roses Jack’s mom left on a regular basis. (Grief and loss do weird things to a person. I can’t stand to watch flowers die anymore.)
As I walked into the Garden that day to tell LJ about Grace, I noticed that, for the first time ever, the beautiful blooming rose in his corner… was pink.
Sign after sign after sweet sign continued to affirm that we were making the right decision. Even still, nine years later; those little winks are encouragement to just keep going, no matter how small and ill-equipped I feel.
The adoption process was hard. Paperwork, questions, interviews, visits, decisions that felt impossible in the wake of a death. Especially crammed into the 3-week timetable we had. Angels in human skin were there at every turn, providing help and encouragement where we felt out of our league. We stayed the course, kept the faith, clung to belief in the miraculous outcome we knew was coming.
And then she was here. 9 pounds of grace that washed over every bleeding wound and ugly scar I’ve ever had.
The plan seems so screwed up sometimes. But His promises do not fail.
We. Me. You. More loved than we can understand.
So as I look into the face of this amazing tiny human, all I can muster is gratitude. For her life, the simple breath in her lungs that brought me back to life too. Her story is my favorite and if you’d like to know more you can find it here.
She’s only ours for a little while. I feel such overwhelming responsibility – even more so than with my biological children – to love and guide her well. Because not only was she divinely entrusted to us, she was given to us as a heart-aching gift of an earthly family.
This humbles me every day.
I am far from perfect. And anything I know is because of the amazing strong women in my life who teach me to love and lead with my arms wide open and my eyes looking UP. As long as the mistakes are made right, and we stumble through all this mess with belief in the One who sets us free, it’s all going to turn out just fine.
For our village who has loved and prayed for Grace from the moment you knew her, thank you. Her life – our family’s life – is abundant in blessings because of it. Tonight all our people gathered to eat and celebrate. We are so lucky you’re all here. Thank you for embracing our girl’s love for spaghetti and meatballs, a half-paint-prepped Bora Bora Blue big girl room, enthusiastic piano plunking, and more dollies and unicorns than you’d ever care to see again. There were children and big people everywhere, all loving and helping each other and I never once worried where the baby was. I hope you love being here as much as we love having you here.
Arms wide open means there’s room to wrap everyone up inside. That’s what grace – Grace – has taught me more than anything. I am never alone, even in my deepest despair. And when I can get out of the way just enough for God to take the lead, he will surprise me time and again with something better than I ever would have imagined.
For my girl,
There’s more like this over in the “Family” and “Faith” tabs – try Grace-filled Adoption – and be sure to subscribe to our community to receive some occasional “the world really is gonna be alright” goodness in your inbox.
Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have 4 children, LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and brand new baby Elisha.