The following week was a blur. God’s plans are so strange sometimes. I never would have pictured week 1 of parenthood to look like this. We were living out of suitcases, wearing 2-week-old clothes, staying at a low-quality casino resort, surviving on take out and all you can eat buffets and making trips to the closest Laundromat that just happened to have no air conditioning. In July. In Las Vegas. We were figuring out what it looked like to parent a toddler and bond with Bella while juggling visits to see her birth family, conversations with Julie, calls from our attorneys, emails to and from Bella’s adoption agency, etc. I just wanted to enjoy our new little family, but God was asking us to take on far more than that. One morning while still in Vegas, we were rushing to get out of the hotel room to go visit with Bella’s birth mother. I was exhausted from lack of sleep and the weight of the world I was carrying. I frantically packed the diaper bag, got Bella dressed and struggled to put her hair in pig tails as she moved her head back and forth. Just as we were about to walk out the door, Bella threw up all over me. I just wanted to cry. There was no easing into parenthood. We were thrown into the deep end, without a life jacket when I barely could tread water.
Each night, after finally getting Bella to fall asleep, I would want desperately to fall into a deep sleep that my body and mind longed for, but it was then that I would connect with Julie. But I didn’t know my role anymore. She would send me photos of the baby and we would ooh and awe over him together, but our conversations was vague and confusing. Did she still want us to adopt him? Does she see me as his mom or just a good friend? I didn’t know what to let my heart feel. If he was going to be ours, then I wanted to go all in. But if he wasn’t, then I wanted to close that door so that I could be fully present for Bella. But she didn’t know what she wanted. She would say things along the lines of “I still want you to adopt him, but I’m not ready for you to come out just yet.” “I see you as his mom, but I’m not ready to let you talk to the doctors yet”. After awhile, I began to feel like I was being strung along. It was so much more than my heart could take. Plus, we still had a lot of doubts about whether she was telling us the full truth. The fact was, trust had been broken and we could no longer take her at her word. We needed answers.
With one last ditch effort, I told her that I would book a flight out that night, just as soon as I could talk to his doctors to understand all that was going on with the baby. She said she wasn’t ready for that. We took that as a sign that this was just not going to happen. If she wasn’t ready to let us talk to his doctors, she couldn’t possibly be ready to hand him over to us to raise. I had had my heart broken too many times in this journey. I couldn’t go through the pain of leaving my daughter just to step into the pain of not coming home with our son.
Julie and I had a long talk that night and we realized that we just weren’t on the same page. There had been too much damage and too much distrust. She had her own insecurities and I had mine. And while I loved this woman and this baby boy, Joe and I realized with each passing day that God was telling us to step away. No doubt, Julie was dealing with her own feelings of hurt as it was really hard on her when we left to get Bella. I don’t want to discount her feelings in this. The situation was by no means perfect and we both felt the brokenness of what started off as a beautiful thing.
Still, it was so hard to close that door. I was attacked with feelings of guilt, questioning and wondering. Even though we knew it was the right choice, it was a loss for us and for Julie. On top of that, there were so many unanswered questions that danced around in my head. I had to figure out how to grieve and process all that happened while simultaneously rejoicing in the joy of my new family. It didn’t look perfect. It was messy. Full of emotions both good and bad. At times I would get so upset that we ever met Julie because it just didn’t make sense and felt like a waste of time. We had sat in Oregon using a week of Joe’s vacation time that he could have used to spend more time with our new family. I lost sleep and energy and focus on Bella while dealing with all that was going on with Julie and the baby. Our marriage suffered because the tension of our situation caused us to take it out on each other.
It wasn’t until months later that we got to see a glimpse into why we had met Julie. While out in Oregon “wasting our time” as I would often say, we got to spend time with Joe’s dad who lived there. Joe and his dad hadn’t been particularly close, but they were actively working on growing a closer relationship. We were able to meet up for lunches and breakfasts, go for walks and enjoy his company. That was the last time we saw him, for just a few months later, in October 2013, he passed away from a sudden heart attack. God used Julie and this baby to bring us out to Oregon so that Joe could spend time with his dad before it was too late.
Even when something seems like a waste, when you can’t see any good or purpose in it, God says, “I’m doing something good here.”