It was Spring. All the daffodil fields were waving there ruffled heads at us as we drove through the valley to the hospital where our daughter would be born. I remember feeling oddly tuned in to all the beauty of Spring around me. Everywhere I looked I saw new life that God had created and was sustaining. Spring is the season of hope! The previous day we had received a phone call saying that our birth mom's blood pressure was high and her Doctor had decided to induce her labor early. Two weeks that we thought we had to prepare were GONE, not that there was really anything left to do but to continue to prepare our hearts for whatever the Lord had in his plan for us. We threw our overnight bags together and drove off to meet the scary future clinging to the truth that God is good.
The day of May 7th passed by in slow motion as we waited at the hospital to hear what was happening, waited to be told what to do, waited… waited… A few times, C asked us to come visit her while she labored. We colored together. We watched 27 Dresses together. We ate red jello together. I tried to keep my mind focused on ministering to her as best I knew how, supporting her and loving her, all the while battling the fear of the ‘what-if’s and maybes’ and also the rising excitement that needed to stay calm in my heart. When her labor intensified, she asked to be alone.
The electric buzz inside our hearts grew and intensified as the minutes and hours trudged along. We passed the time by walking around the charming downtown near the hospital, went out to eat, stopped by our adoption office to help prepare baby bottles for an upcoming coin-drive at local churches. Everything around us was washed in Spring colors, the sky was blue, the cherry trees were turned out in pink petticoats. Everyone around us was out casually enjoying Spring and yet I felt they could not possibly see the vibrancy of pink and green and blue, feel the briskness of the air, or sense undercurrent of hope and anticipation as I did.
The afternoon wore into evening and we were summoned back to the hospital. Labor was hard and long. At last, we heard that the doctor had decided to do a c-section. Baby’s heart rate was too low, and C had labored too long and was exhausted. At that point, everything accelerated… clammy hands, racing hearts, pounding heads. Jon and I held each other and prayed and tried to still each other’s shaking. Our adoption councilors directed us to wait outside the nursery door and soon it opened to us and a nurse asked us to come in. We held on tight to each other and held on tight to the One who knew our hearts. Minutes later a door opened and in came a nurse and C’s father holding the most tiny wrapped bundle. With tears, he walked to us and unimaginably handed us his granddaughter. I truly believe in that moment that I first held my daughter my heart burst wide open and has never repaired the same way again. I cannot even think of how to write what we felt in that moment, but it was unlike anything I had ever felt before… a ripping, painful, overwhelming love, a crushing unworthiness, a truly humble thankfulness. This baby who so intensely looked right into my eyes was God’s perfect and merciful answer to eight years of pleading and weeping. How could she be ours? That first moment with our daughter is one that surges through my memory with electrical pulse every time I think of it. Jon and I wept together at 7:45 PM, May 7th, as we held our miracle for the first time exactly 14 minutes after the princess of our hearts was born.
All too soon, our bundle was taken by the nurse to be unwrapped, poked, prodded and pricked. The kind nurse asked me if I would like to give her first bath.
Our baby was amazingly perfect at only 5 pounds, 10 ounces, and 18 3/4 inches long. We named her Sarah Grace Watson. Our princess from a gracious Lord.
Jon and I were given full access to the nursery room that Sarah would stay in and the nurses let us take responsibility for her feeding, diapering and care. It was a wonderful time of bonding with her and getting to know our precious baby. It was also a time of sharing with C as she would ask to have Sarah brought to her room for short periods and then a little later would come visit her in the nursery with us. Sarah’s birth mom was so very gracious towards us and so very tender towards the daughter that she had carried and birthed. I can’t imagine what she was going through inside, but this I know: She sacrificed herself for the good of her child because of her incredible love. I will always honor her for that.
There was still an undercurrent of tension to contend with, a legal issue in the form of a 48 hour period of time beginning at birth that allows birth parents to retract their previously signed relinquishment. In our case, since Sarah was born after 5 PM on Wednesday, our full legal custody of her did not come into effect until Monday morning at 9AM. This is a good law (Washington's adoption laws are some of the best in the country) and I don't contend that it should be different. But on our end, that was a long period of time to fall in love, dream big dreams and trust that our hearts would not be broken. The hospital had a policy to not release infants to adoptive parents until full court custody was granted, meaning they intended to keep Sarah in the hospital nursery until Monday! However, God worked on our behalf through our adoption attorney, some rushed court-signed paperwork, and an additional consent form signed by C, who very much wanted us to be able to take Sarah home. For the first time in hospital history, they released our baby on temporary orders and Friday morning we were able to take her home! It really was a miracle!
Friday morning found us preparing to leave the hospital, sharing hugs and snuggles with Sarah’s birth family. Our adoption councilors made sure to warn us again that taking a baby home before the birth parent window is closed is risky business, but we proceeded with the peace that God supplied. Driving away from the hospital with our little Sarah Grace tucked snuggly in her car seat, we felt an unspeakable joy and freedom. We also felt like we were getting away with the greatest bank robbery of all time! Sarah Grace's arrival was met with adoration from grandparents, pink balloons, bouquets of flowers, presents fit for a princess. Home had NEVER felt so wonderful.
That weekend we celebrated Mother’s Day. As I had for many Mother’s Days, I spent the day in tears… but this time, tears of unspeakable joy! Monday morning came and went without incident and just like that our sweet Sarah Grace was ours forever. Our family was born through God’s beautiful miracle of adoption and in every way and every day we are grateful.
Isn't she beautiful?