March 17, 2013
Fast forward to March 2013. I was in Texas for my youngest sister's wedding on the 8th. I was able to stay for a few days after the wedding and after the family left town, which was so nice to spend with just my mom and me. Tuesday the 12th, we had lunch at a sushi restaurant. I was expressing my discouragements about adoption and I know that my mother felt for me as she truly saw me for what I was in that moment; a mother mourning while searching for her child. My phone starts to buzz, it’s my caseworker calling. I take the call outside; she is telling me of a girl named (to respect her privacy, I’ll refer to her as ‘S’ on my blog, which is ‘Sent from heaven') who is considering Steve and me as parents for her child. I am thrilled, astounded, overwhelmed with gratitude. She first tells me that S is due in June- Wow, just 3 months away! Then as she is looking through her paperwork, she corrects herself "Wait, sorry, she's actually due on May 24th." In this moment I am taken back to the feeling I had of our little one joining us on the date of our anniversary. I get a few more details and we set a tentative date to possibly meet with this girl who could grant us our biggest wish.
Once we arrive back at my parents' house and after sharing the news with Steve and our families, I fall to my knees at my bedside. I am brought to tears by the ‘coincidence’ of everything, knowing that it wasn’t coincidence at all. Just as my mother was showing her empathy, my Heavenly Father also heard my words and felt my heartache. He orchestrated my caseworker to call me that very instant; I believe He did this to remind me that He is in control of all things, that I hadn’t been forgotten.
Maybe this is our child, maybe it isn’t. Either way, I will forever be thankful for this tender mercy that was shown to me last week. The Lord knows my heart. I know that as Steve and I continue to be faithful, we will be blessed with our child in the Lord's time. We pray daily for S that she will have the comfort and courage needed in order to make the decision that is in line with God's will.
The Lord is in control of all our lives if we just stop fighting and let Him do his work on us. Sometimes we feel abandoned, forgotten, or maybe even punished. Perhaps in these times we are stretching, developing, and growing. After all, no growth is without growing pains. I think of my most favorite parable of the Currant bush and the Gardener. This is such a beautiful video:
“I’m the Gardener here; I know what I want you to be. If I let you go the way you want to go, you’ll never amount to anything. Someday when you are ripened in life, you’re going to shout back across time and say ‘Thank you Mr. Gardner for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”
April 9, 2013
I've always thought that this baby was a girl. When we told our families the news of S and how excited we were to meet with her, nobody had a firm idea about the gender of the baby except Steve's mom who thought it was a boy, and Steve's sister Val who thought it was a girl. A week before we met S, I had a dream that this baby was a boy and that he had come way early. I mentioned the dream to Steve and we didn’t think too much of it. Since I had that dream, I kept thinking about the possibility of a boy and wasn’t so sure that it was a girl anymore. The next day, we got a text message from Val (Steve’s sister) that said "So I had a dream last night that you went to meet with S and she just had the baby right there and gave it to you, and it was a boy!!"
Steve and I had our first meeting scheduled with S for Friday, March 29th at 3:00pm. We arrived with a little Easter basket filled with all the things that my mom would have filled my Easter basket with; Along with the Easter candy was a few essentials such as q-tips, soaps, lotions, toothpaste, ect. I was so excited to show her this tradition and to include her in it. We sat with Lisa (S's caseworker) for a bit at 3:00 so she could help to calm our nerves and remind us to be nothing more than ourselves. As Lisa brought S in (I'm tearing up now just reliving that moment), I fell in love with her right away. She was so cute with her capris, flip-flops and tiny baby bump. Any nervousness that we had went away as we started chatting about her love of reading, music, concerts and being outside in the sun. She was just like Steve and I in so many ways. Lisa asked S to talk about how she came to the realization that adoption was the right choice for her. S had tragic losses in her life happen so close together. She lost her two best friends and her grandmother in a matter of weeks. She wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be seriously looking at family profiles until February. We made the connection at that time that S didn’t start looking at families until the time that our profile went up; however, they didn’t know that we planned on having our profile up way before that…It was in the Lord’s plan though. (S started to talk about the baby as a 'him', and Steve and I looked at each other with excitement; my dream had totally prepared me for this news!) She wanted him to have a family, to not have to decide which parent to spend the weekends and holidays with. She knew that she would be a good mom and that she would love him, but she wanted to give him more than her current situation allowed. I couldn’t believe the selflessness of this girl. She was completely making this decision out of pure love. The hour that we had with S flew by and we loved every minute of it. ‘B’ (birth father) was the next to join us and things went just as well with him. It felt so comfortable and natural getting to know these two. B talked to us about hunting and fishing and his love of the outdoors. Again, time flew by and it was time for us to meet the families. B’s mother and sister were the first ones to walk in, followed by S’s mom and dad. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the long embrace that happened between S’s mom and me before any words were spoken. It was like I was hugging my own mom. Instantly, Steve and I felt as though we had known everyone forever. We all talked about what we wanted for this baby. I said that I wanted him to be a chivalrous gentleman, having a testimony of God, knowing how to serve those around him. Steve mentioned that he wanted to do his part in order to give this baby all the opportunities that he had as a child, including the opportunity to work for the important things in life, not just to be handed everything. B and his family talked a lot about wanting this baby to have a great relationship with his father, since this was something that B wasn’t able to have. They wanted him to know the value of hard work and what it takes to get things done. I remember S’s dad said that he would like this baby to be taught to know God, I loved that so much. S’s mom wanted him to know how beautiful his birth mother is and how much she loved him. S wanted all these things, but above all, wanted him to know how much she loves him and that she chose parents for him not because she didn’t want him, but because she loved him more than anything. It was at this point that I said that I couldn’t promise a whole lot here in the beginning of this relationship, but that was one thing that I could absolutely promise without a shadow of a doubt; this baby will know his birth mother and will know of the great amounts of love that she has for him. What Steve and I felt during this meeting was just unreal, something we’ve never felt before. I’ve never had such great amounts of love for someone that I hardly knew. The time with the family members ended, and we were able to go to dinner with S and B. Dinner was so great, we were able to get to know them a little better and learn more about their everyday lives. We could have stayed there all night, but the restaurant was closed and we were all a bit worn out from such an emotional day. Steve and I got into our car knowing that the whole day including conversations, feelings and thoughts were lead and directed by God. There is no other way to put it. The feelings and amounts of love that we felt for each of these people are unexplainable. As we drove back to Steve’s parents’ house, we called my mom and dad. I was afraid they might have already gone to bed since it was 11:30pm Texas time and they are usually in bed by 9:00. They answered on the first ring with us on speaker phone so that my dad and brother could hear us too. We told them everything about the night and how special it was and what S meant to us. They were excited, emotional & anxious to know what would happen next. As we got to Steve’s folk’s house in Pleasant Grove, everyone was still up waiting to hear how the night went. We stayed up for a couple hours sharing all the good feelings that were felt.
We scheduled another meeting with S and her family for the following Friday evening. That was the longest week of our lives. Did she like us? Did she feel the connection that we did? Did we share too much with her? Did we not share enough? Is she just meeting with us again because she wants to be polite? So many questions!!
Friday finally came! It was my mom’s birthday so I called her that morning to wish her a happy birthday. She and Dalton were on their way to Utah to stay with Aunt Jenny in Spanish Fork, she was helping him drive up to school at BYU-Idaho. She was anxious to hear about how dinner would go with S and her family. Steve told me to text S and to ask her where she wanted to eat and that if she didn’t have an opinion that he wanted to go to The Cheesecake Factory. S later texted saying that she wanted to go to The Cheesecake Factory- I thought Steve was pulling a trick on me, having her tell me that! Turns out, Steve and S were just craving the same place.
We got there and had another amazing visit- this time not so much pressure, more of just visiting and getting to know one another. After we ate, we stayed to visit. S’s parents & brother all got up and left the table which was a little strange, but I thought that maybe they all had to use the restroom at the same time. We continued to talk with S, and a few moments later, S’s family returned to our table holding blue baby balloons and a huge basket. We were so shocked, looked at S and asked if this meant that she had chosen us to parent her child. She was all smiles and told us that she couldn’t describe how she knew, but she just knew that we were the ones. That moment, next to being sealed to Steve on our wedding day, was the absolute best moment of my life. I couldn’t believe that it was real. She and her mom wanted to watch us open the basket, and we were so happy to see what was inside. Adorable onesies, socks and outfits, pacifiers, wipes, baby lotions & soaps were included in the basket. Our most favorite items that were in the basket were a little U of U pajama that S got because she saw that all the Shumways were BYU fans, this showed us that she has a spicy side which we totally love! And most loved were the children’s books Where the Wild Things Are, Love You Forever & The Napping House. She had written a little note inside each book to the baby. This was so precious, the best ‘shower’ gift I could ever receive. I asked S how she knew that she wanted to meet us after seeing our profile. She said that she and her mom were visiting with Lisa (S’s case worker); she asked S and her mom how they would feel if we were put on hold by another birth mother. S said that she and her mom were scared that Lisa was trying to tell them that we had been picked by another expectant mother, which made them upset. Luckily that wasn’t the case, but that’s when she knew that she wanted to meet us. How lucky are we that Lisa did that! We can’t imagine going through this experience with anyone else but S. S’s dad said that after meeting us the first time, he asked S how she found us through 800 other couples. I’ll always remember how that made me feel and what it made me think, “I didn’t know that we were anybody to be found.” S asked us if we had thought of any names yet, and we told her that we love the name Sawyer. Sawyer has been our boy name for so many years; we are so excited to finally be able to use it! S and her parents were so thrilled for us to become parents, almost like they have been in our family and had experienced all our pains with us though out these past 7 years. Words cannot express the feelings that we have about that night. How could we possibly thank someone for experiencing the most painful loss in their life so that we can experience the most joyful moment in ours?? There aren’t words for that. Yet somehow, because S is amazing, she smiles through it and has genuine excitement for us. She is our angel forever.
After we said our goodbyes, we went and met Steve’s family at the airport to see Steve’s cousin as she arrived home from her mission. We didn’t want to wait till we got home to tell the family the good news, and we knew that once we saw them they would start asking questions about how dinner went. We decided to surprise them the same way that S’s family surprised us. We had the balloons and basket in our hands in the airport parking lot as Steve’s family drove up. They saw the balloons right away and thought that we had gotten them for Steve’s cousin who was coming off the plane. As they drove closer, Steve’s sister Val said “No! Those are BABY BOY balloons!!” The car hadn’t come to a stop before Steve’s mom was jumping out and yelling for us! His sisters, brother and dad all came running up to us, hugging, crying and screaming for joy! It was such a fun way to surprise them; everyone couldn’t have been happier.
Although it was my mom’s birthday and she would have loved to hear the happy news on that day, I really wanted to wait till she drove in to Spanish Fork the next morning so that I could tell her in person. We drove down at 8:00 the next morning and got there just after Mom and Dalton had gotten to the house. We walked in the house with the balloons and basket of gifts. My mom thought that we had brought her balloons for her birthday and was a little confused as to why they were baby balloons! We had to tell her “These are from S!! To us!” She started jumping up and down with my aunts, squealing with happiness and excitement! She had one of my sisters on the phone at the time and my sister was yelling “Take pictures!!! Take pictures of everything and text them to me so I can feel part of it!!” It was so fun! They loved all the cute clothes and sweet notes in the books. Since my dad wasn’t there, I had to call him right away. I started to tell him that we had been chosen and how the night had gone. All I could hear was sobs. I’ve heard my dad cry plenty of times, but never like this. This was different. I shared with him that it feels as though the Lord has carried us though this entire journey. I shared with him all the neat ‘coincidences’ and how I’ve never in my life had anything move as smoothly, I’ve never been more sure of anything, and I’ve never seen a more clear picture of God’s work in my life. That was such a special moment I’ll never forget.
That weekend was also conference weekend. Steve’s family has lots of traditions at conference time, one of which is a meeting after the priesthood session with all the men and women for the men to each talk about something that they learned or felt during the session. I love this, it makes the women feel a part of the priesthood session and the spirit is always so strong. When Steve’s dad got up to speak, he said that he is so excited for Sawyer to come to Priesthood in 12 years. That will always stick with me; it made our dream of a weekend a little more real.
May 13, 2013
Since S had invited us to her appointments, we hadn't been able to make it to one yet. Last weekend I was feeling particularly guilty for that. I was really feeling so upset because I wanted to be at every one. I remember crying to my parents on the phone, so stressed out about how maybe S was feeling like I didn't care. I wanted us to have more contact than the few text messages that were exchanged a few times a week. I felt like I was in a tough place, not knowing if S wanted more contact with us, or afraid that I was already doing too much. I felt strongly that we needed to go to S's next appointment. I told Steve that we need to be at every visit that S would have during her last few weeks of pregnancy. Work, prior commitments, and the 8 hour round trip drive would no longer keep us from these appointments. I told S that we would be at her next check up, which was May 9th at 3:15pm.
As Steve and I were pulling up to the hospital, I get a text from S asking "Where are you?" I knew something was up immediately. I called her right then and told her that we were just about to pull in, and she told me "I'm having contractions 10 minutes apart." I screamed! I couldn't wrap my head around this, its 2 weeks early! The thought came to me that this could be just Braxton Hicks contractions and that there probably wasn't anything to worry about just yet. But then I remembered my dream that I had months ago telling me he was coming early, and had another thought... this could be the real deal.
We pulled in to the hospital at the same time and walked up to her doctor together. S got checked in and the 5 of us (S, S's mom, B, Steve & me) were all crammed in a tiny room waiting what seemed like FOREVER for the doctor to come in. I started to time S's contractions. They started at 7 minutes apart, 6 minutes apart, 5 minutes apart. The doctor finally came in and checked S- saw that she was only dilated to a 3. She said that she'd have us walk down to labor and delivery just to be monitored for a couple hours. If her contractions went away, she'd send S home. If her contractions increased, we were going to have a baby. My heart was beating out of my chest, I didn't know what to think!
As we get down to labor & delivery, they have us wait in the lobby till they call S back. I'm still timing her contractions; 4 minutes apart now and they are only getting more intense. At this moment, I knew she would deliver that day. They got her back in a monitoring room and Steve and I waited in the lobby with S's mom. We were all on edge, not knowing what to expect. After S's mom running back and forth to check on S and her status for 2 hours, she ran to us and said "S wants you in the delivery room, she's dilated to a 10 and its too late for an epidural!" We were all so angry that the nurses had waited so long to get S into a delivery room and that she wasn't getting her epidural! Luckily, S's mom nixed that idea and told the anesthesiologist to do it anyway. As we follow S's mom into the delivery room, I see S sitting on the bed, the look on her face was of fear and pain. Seeing her in that amount of pain just absolutely killed me. I wanted to take it from her. In rolled the anesthesiologist to give S her epidural while the nurse was warning "Do not push! Do not push this baby out!!" We stood in the corner of the room completely useless. The nurse slid her to the top of the bed and in rushed 4 or 5 medical staff and just as fast, S stared to push. Steve stood up close to S's head, while I was just in eye's shot of what the doctor was about to catch. First push... second push... and finally third push. He was here. I saw as he was first exposed to air, dark purple and then within seconds turning to pink. They pulled him up and asked who would be cutting the umbilical cord. The four of us (S, B, Steve & I) all just looked at each other not having discussed any of this prior, unsure of who should be the one to do it. The doctor responded to his own question after waiting a few seconds "Somebody needs to cut this cord!" So B & I looked at Steve and shrugged our shoulders as to motion for Steve to do it. I wish I had a picture of that...
6 lbs 2 oz
18 1/2 in
Its unreal how involved The Lord has been in this entire experience. Had I not felt that needed to be at S's next appointment, we would have missed the entire thing. From the time that S got to the hospital for her check up to the time that she delivered was just over 3 hours. We would not have made it driving from Vernal. I know that The Lord planned this so perfectly precise.
Two days after delivery, which was Saturday, was placement day. What a whirlwind of emotions. Steve and I were on edge all day, not looking forward to that night. Most would think that placement would be the happiest time for us through this whole adoption journey but in reality, it was the most painful. Steve and I have grown to love S and her parents to a degree that I don't have words for. When someone you love is in pain, it hurts.