Watching Ryan and Briana get their little boy has been an incredibly emotional experience for me.
All of the couples that have adopted their child/ren have moved me and excited me. But Ryan and Briana are on a whole different level.
I think this is for two reasons.
The first is that Briana and I have grown incredibly close during their journey. We became friends because she married my cousin and because we shared a painful reality: what it feels like to be a barren woman. And then, secondarily, their journey has been so long. We bonded deeper through so many years of waiting.
Most couples wait somewhere around nine months for a domestic newborn adoption to go through. Sometimes their wait is as long as two years. But FIVE years is nearly unheard of.
In Ryan and Briana's case it was nothing they did or didn't do personally that caused this unending wait. It was simply bad timing and location. They happened to choose an agency that was seeing no movement. They had a shortage of birth mothers and too many couples. Dozens of couples were waiting those five years with their agency and only a handful became parents.
Less than a year ago, the decision was made that they should leave that agency and try a different one. It was a decision that was met with much prayer, fear, and hesitation. We talked at length about it, and I talked at length with our Because of Isaac board members as well. Finally we decided they just had to switch despite losing some money in the process. This wait was just too painful.
That ended up being all it took. Within days (maybe a few weeks?) of making that decision, they were chosen by a birth mother through their new agency.
And the rest is history.
And that history is spelled: C-A-L-E-B.
Here's the thing I didn't know or understand or foresee ...
I had no idea that walking them through this process would stir up so many memories deep inside me. The night before their birthmother signed the papers, Bri and I talked at length on the phone. As she went over all the emotions of sitting in a hospital room watching the clock tick by, my heart was suddenly reminded of what that wait felt like. I was talking to her and I got choked up. I started crying. I haven't cried over infertility and adoption memories in a very long time. But I could remember so vividly how excruciating it was to be at the mercy of someone else -- with your only option being to wait. And wait. And wait some more.
It is hard to believe that it was in May of 2008 that our little Isaac finally emerged into the world. I won't bore you with the whole story as many of you may know it well (and if you don't, you can click here to be reminded), but I will say that there were moments of that story I hadn't thought about in a long time.
I will never forget standing outside the nursery window. Isaac was on the other side of the glass. There he was. There was our little boy. My body yearned for him, and yet the nurse was shaking her head, telling me that I couldn't go back and see him because I wasn't the mom. I remember feeling so resigned. I remember thinking: Of course I'm not the mom. I'll never be a mom.
And then suddenly Joan was arguing with the woman on my behalf and the door was opening and they were bringing him to us. And they were saying "No pictures" but Joan wasn't listening and I just couldn't bring myself to hold him first. I was just too emotional and so JB scooped him up, and it was just like this burden was lifted off my shoulders. It was like all the years of trying to have a baby sort of bubbled out of me.
Joan snapped this picture:
I didn't show anyone this picture for a long time. I'm not sure why. For some reason it just felt too personal to me. Looking at it made my heart just cry, and I kept it hidden in the back of a photo album. And then, at some point, I can't remember when or even who it was, but a friend did some snooping and found my hidden picture and she told me I had to share this with the world. That it really explained what the pain of infertility and the miracle of adoption felt like in just one quick photo.
Here's the other very cool part to this story. My friend Joia took some newborn photos of little Isaac. From what she can remember, this was the first time she took photos for anyone in a "formal" sense. Here is just one of her cute little pictures:
And here is a picture of Joia and me with the little boy who changed my life forever:
This story goes even deeper because it is Joia that just so happened to live in the same town that Ryan and Briana's birth mother was delivering. And she just happened to have a little mother-in-law apartment that they could use. And she just happened to still be taking pictures. (And man, she's always been good, but she has gotten simply ... amazing!) as you can see!
Here are a few more pictures Joia has taken. I will share more as Briana and Ryan share them. I want to give her the opportunity to present her little boy at the speed she feels lead:
I don't know exactly what Briana is feeling. Her adoption story wasn't exactly the same as mine. But I mostly know her heart right now. I know what it feels like to have that pain just filled up and bubbling over. Adoption doesn't heal infertility. Infertility pain will always be with me and always be a part of me, and I had to grieve the losses (and sometimes I still do). But my little Isaac just filled us up so full. Here are some photos that really stir my heart when I look back at them:
I'm still processing all these emotions ... I encourage you to stay along for the ride!