This last month has been quite the whirlwind, and I figure it's about time to update everyone. What do you think?
So, just about a month ago exactly, on Friday, June 25, I was feverishly trying to finish the final chapter of our To Save a Life sequel novel. My brain had hit the wall several days before, but Friday night was our absolute deadline, because then we were leaving for Haiti early Sunday morning, and it had to be in to the editors before then. It was around 2:30 in the afternoon, and I was struggling with about 1 1/2 pages to go. The finish line was in sight, but the words just weren't coming. Agh! The agony...
And then my phone rang. It was Jim. He asked if I was ready for some exciting news. I said "yes", but little did I know...
He had just stopped by his church office between meetings, to change his voicemail greeting to an "Out of Office" response, since we'd be gone for the next 2 weeks in Haiti. Most people just call his cell phone, anyways, but you never know. He hadn't even checked his office voicemail for days, but realized he should probably do that first. And there he heard the fateful message from A.G.--left earlier that afternoon. She said something about having a baby that was adoptable, and that started the wheels moving. The next hour was a game of phone tag, each message providing us with a few more details...
I can't share all of them, but the basics are that A.G.'s relative had a baby but couldn't keep it. There are some pretty remarkable circumstances surrounding the baby's birth, and bottom line, it's pretty remarkable that it turned out so healthy and strong. It was taken into foster custody, and A.G. and her family were contacted, as they had already adopted a previous sibling. They had kept this new baby for the past week, but just felt that one more kid was too much, and that there was another family out there who would be blessed by this child. In her mind, she couldn't shake the image of a guy named Jim Britts and his wife who had been in their adoption CPR class back in January. She remembered that he was a youth pastor at a local church and that he'd made a movie...Meanwhile, at her community pool, she talked to various people about her indecision on keeping this baby, and 2 of the women happened to go to our church and said, "Oh, our youth pastor, Jim Britts, and his wife really want to adopt!" She couldn't escape him! :o)
So finally, Friday morning, she knew she had to make the call. She first called her social worker, to see if picking a family for the baby was even possible, and the social worker indicated that while it wasn't normal, she could make it happen.
And so, A.G. called us.
After a flurry of phone calls to our own social worker, etc. (keep in mind, it is now right before closing on a summer Friday afternoon), we were given no assurances, but the thought that they could probably make it work...So we drove over to meet the little guy!
On the drive over, I remember thinking, I know all babies are "cute" in their own way, but there are definitely some that are less cute. What if I don't find this kid attractive? It was a silly prayer, but I figured God could help in this area.
We tentatively walked into the house, and met this tiny 17-day old baby boy...and it was love at first sight. Instantaneously, I looked at this perfect little creation, and everything within me jumped out and wanted to be his mommy. I don't know how the bonding process works during a pregnancy, but I didn't need 9 months to feel a bond toward him. I can't speak for him, but I was attached!
We hung out for about an hour. Fed him, changed him. Having never dealt with an infant so young, Jim and I both were pretty timid and overwhelmed. But we were hooked. And A.G. was so great! We made plans to hang out with him again the next day. Before we left, A.G. asked if we had any ideas for names. Well, I've made lists of names over the past 2 years, but we'd never really talked about them much (besides Jim claiming whoever the latest Sacramento Kings star happened to be...last year was Tyreke, and their new draft pick-up is Demarcus. I put my foot down!)...After a nearly sleepless night (Oh yeah, I finally just finished the novel at like 1am, never getting inspired, but just getting sick of it and typing up something. I mean, who cares about a book when there's an adorable baby waiting?! :o)), Jim and I went for a run early Saturday morning...and talked about names. We wanted something with meaning and significance, preferably out of the Bible. I've always liked Daniel (what a stud, who changed his society for God!) and David. These two names happen to be those of our dads, so I thought that was cool. But Jim wasn't a big fan of calling his son by his dad's name--too weird. So we talked about Daniel as a middle name. We threw out some other Bible guys, but nothing was sticking. And then I just tossed out a name I'd read somewhere--Jaden. It meant something like God has answered, which I thought was appropriate for our situation. Jim loved it. We got home, jumped on the computer and discovered that it actually means "God has heard"--same cool significance...He has truly heard all our prayers, and everyone else's!--or "thankful"--which again pretty much hits the nail on the head! And, not only is it a cool name, but it IS in the Bible--a very obscure reference in the book of Nehemiah (my favorite book of the Bible!). JadOn was a non-Israelite who helped rebuild Jerusalem's wall, which is really cool--he came from the outside to get involved in God's work. That holds so much significance for us! And that's why we decided to spell it with an "0"--JADON--to follow the guy in the Bible. Oh, and we also found out that Daniel is the name his mother would have chosen for him, but she decided not to. So that's a perfect middle name!
We hung out with Jadon Daniel all day Saturday, in awe of every little thing this adorable little guy did. We agonized over whether or not we should still go to Haiti, but both of us just felt like we should. We didn't know why, but it seemed like God's timing was too ironic, like he did it just before we left so there wasn't much time to change plans or find out anything concrete--but so we would have 2 weeks to mentally prepare for this gift to come. So we sadly said goodbye, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning packing (something I planned to do all day instead of hanging out with a cute kid!), and I never got my laundry finished or bathrooms clean or house generally presentable. Oh well...Life goes on, huh?! (Note: this is no easy thing for me to let go of. I'm usually quite the OCD house cleaner before leaving for a trip!)
We printed up pictures of Jadon Daniel, and looked at them and prayed over them several times a day while we were in Haiti. At the same time, my 2nd big prayer was that God would enable me to be fully present there, and not just dreaming about returning to my little boy. And He did. Haiti was AMAZING--in so many good and sad ways! (Some day, I still want to blog and post pictures of all that!)...Half way through the trip, Jim was able to text A.G. and find out what the progress was--which was none. Some social workers were even saying no, this can't be done. So we were immediately reminded that God wanted us there in Haiti--that we wouldn't even be able to be with Jadon if we had stayed home. But I started to battle anxiety, too--what if everything fell through, and I wasn't there to do anything to stop it! God promptly reminded me that I had done NOTHING up until this point to make this happen, it was totally in His control, whatever HE decided to do...That helped, and we finished our trip out strong (praying that much more fervently, though, don't you know!)...
We flew into Miami on a Thursday, and immediately got on the phone to see what we could do to make Jadon ours. A.G. said she'd been calling social workers incessantly, and now the one she needed to talk to wouldn't call her back. We called ours, and she said that she couldn't do anything until the no-call-back one called back. So we flew to L.A., again battling anxiety, and struggling to trust that God was showing that He was in control.
On Friday, we "babysat" Jadon all day, and prayed desperately for a phone call by the end of the day. But none came. What if we didn't get him, after all this?!
Ironically, Jim was scheduled to preach that weekend, of all topics, on adoption! (how God adopted us, and His heart for the orphan). When it became clear that we wouldn't be able to use Jadon as the best sermon illustration ever, instead, we used it as a plea for prayer. And so that weekend, maybe close to a thousand people were praying that we would get to bring Jadon home.
On Monday morning, we went over to "babysit" Jadon again. That afternoon, he napped while I finished up some edits on the novel (even once it's "done" it's still not done-done!). Just as I attached it to an email to send back to our editor, Jim got the phone call. The one social worker FINALLY called back. It was a go! Jadon was ours!!!
A.G. brought over Jadon's stuff to our house so that we could "babysit" him overnight before our 2:30 appointment on Tuesday that would make it official. At 2:30, the social worker came over, we signed the paperwork, and Jadon Daniel became our legal foster son. He still has about a year's worth of court dates and hearings before the adoption part is completely finalized, but it looks as if that part should go fine.
And that is the story of how God heard our prayers of the past 2 years, and answered them in His hilarious, ironic, not-always-convenient-but-totally-worth-it timing. And we are so thankful.
And totally in love with a boy named Jadon!