Beth always wanted to be a mom. About a decade ago she began looking into the possibility of adopting a child. She became licensed as a foster parent so she could participate in the “foster to adopt” program offered by the Indiana Department of Child Services. Though the boy she fostered was adoptable she felt rushed through the process. When she didn’t agree right away to adopt him and potentially his brother also, he was moved on.
Frustrated with that experience and longing for a baby, Beth decided the next child she brought into her home was staying forever. She was determined to be a mother.
Beth’s sister, who knew Executive Director Rebecca Bruce from church, referred Beth to Adoption Connections in 2010 and Beth became a waiting adoptive parent with the agency. At her home study she said, “I want to be the one that a kid will run to when they are hurt or scared. I want to watch them grow to a responsible adult and feel glad that I had a part of who and what they are.”
Beth’s longing for a child of her own was made even more acute by her experience as a home health nurse with IU Ball Memorial Hospital. She had already played an important part in the lives of many young children as the nurse on staff most willing to work with infants. Babies seemed to love her just as much as she loved them. She volunteered to work with infants so often she obtained the nickname “The Baby Nurse” among her coworkers.
The nickname was just further evidence of what Beth already knew about herself. She was going to be a mother. Now that she was officially a waiting adoptive parent there was just one problem.
“I’m a terrible waiter,” Beth said.
She hated all the paperwork she had to fill out. As the months went by she felt like she would never be picked because she was single, and an “old lady.” She often felt like giving up.
Beth thought the wait was over when she was matched with a baby due at Christmas of 2010. Although the birth mother seemed certain at first that she wanted to give up her baby for adoption, when the child was born 5 weeks early the birth mother changed her mind. Beth believes the birth mother just didn’t have enough time to prepare herself emotionally for letting go.
Beth describes the way she felt about the failed adoption as “an odd grief.” In addition to her deep disappointment she also felt anger, with nowhere to direct it. Through Faith Assembly she connected with an adoption support group that she says helped her cope, although she cried almost every time she went and every time she left.
Beth struggled with the vague sense that she was in competition with the other parents waiting with the agency. She felt that with every new waiting family it was less likely that she would be chosen, though when she read their profiles she discovered that she genuinely liked these people. While she was happy for them when they were placed with a child the emotion was bittersweet. It was a reminder of what she did not yet have.
So Beth, the terrible waiter, continued to wait.
Beth’s friend Tracy prayed for her on November 15th of 2011 and asked God for a Christmas baby – a Christmas gift that, this time, would not be taken away.
On December 5th, Adoption Connections called. A birth mother represented by another agency had given birth to a baby boy in Chicago, at 2:36 am on November 15th. Had the Lord already begun to answer by the time Tracy had spoken her prayer?
The baby had been born with genetic anomalies that caused visible deformities. The agency had reached out to Adoption Connections to help them locate a willing adoptive parent.
In a moment, Beth’s heart was in Chicago. To pay the fees for the other adoption agency she went to the bank to get a loan. While she was there she saw a little African-American girl the same age and skin color of the girl she had almost adopted the year before. Then on her way out she saw a Caucasian baby boy, just like Benjamin, the boy she was borrowing money to adopt now. To Beth it was a sign that she was making the right decision.
Beth sent the birth mother a CD of “All of Me” by Matt Hammitt, a song about his son with a congenital heart defect, along with a personal letter telling Benjamin’s birth mother, “He’ll have all of me.”
Beth would only have to wait a few days to hear whether the birth parents had chosen her, but those days felt like weeks. She had plenty of time to wonder, and to fear. She knew that she had been longing for a child so much that she would not have said no to any child that needed her. Ultimately she understood that she couldn’t know what was going to happen, so she prayed, “God, don’t give me anything I can’t handle.”
The birth parents sent pictures of Benjamin. Beth looked at him, at his diminutive ear and deformed arm, and she was in love. She had been waiting for Ben for so long. It had been a year and a half since she had begun to wait, and a year since her failed adoption. She had been fasting chocolate for four months in expectation of this answer to prayer. Beth was ready to call this boy her son.
The birth parents had told Beth they would make a decision by Friday, December 9th at 2 pm. 2 o’clock had come and gone. It was now Friday evening and she still had heard nothing.
Then Adoption Connections called. Beth was finally going to be a mother.
Beth, her mother and two sisters spent the weekend switching the nursery from pink to blue, left for Chicago on December 13th and met Ben the following day. It was a joyful, tearful weekend, and at her mother’s prompting Beth enjoyed some chocolate to celebrate. Beth brought Ben home on Christmas Eve. Tracy’s prayer for a Christmas baby had been answered.
Ben is now 18 months old. For the first 6 months of his life he underwent several surgeries due to aspiration and bowel obstruction issues. Once Ben’s doctor determined his difficulty with ingestion would require the use of a g-tube for feeding, Beth says he began to do much better. Today he has speech therapy, occupational and physical therapy to keep his development on track.
Though Beth says there are difficult aspects of being a mother, like missing sleep and hardly ever being able to keep up with housekeeping, she recognizes what a blessing it is to have Ben in her life. “I like everything about being his mom,” she says.
Beth may be a single mother but she is not alone. She says her sisters and mother, Judy, are very supportive. Judy is so involved with her grandson, in fact, that when John Carlson of the Muncie Star Press contacted her about doing a story on Ben when he was 6 months old she was ready to call him back and set it all up herself. Judy did, thankfully, let Beth in on it – but only after some convincing that as Ben’s mother, she should probably be the one to return the call!
Beth wants waiting families to know that the benefits of entering the adoption process far outweigh the risk of hoping for a child. Beth, the terrible waiter, ever The Baby Nurse but never a mother, found at the end of her adoption journey that the wait was absolutely worth it.
With a wondering smile as she gazes at her son, Beth says, “I look at him and I see promise granted.”
-Written by Matt Bloom