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A Family’s Journey

When we met V, via Skype, a couple of weeks after she had chosen us as the family for her unborn baby, we were both excited and nervous. We had just recently had another match fall through, after waiting 10 weeks for the baby to be born. We were very excited that we had been chosen again so soon, but also nervous about whether this one was truly going to be our baby this time. It had been very disappointing for my husband Derrick and I, but it had been especially hard for our son, Levi, age 5, also adopted through ASC. He wanted a sibling so badly, and had been praying for one for two years, months before we even started this adoption. As soon as he turned 3 he had asked, “When is my baby sister going to come?” It took us off guard at first, as at that point, there were no plans for a baby sister, or brother, and we had never said anything to him to put him on that path of thinking. But he kept asking, and by the time he was 3.5 it had grown in both our hearts, that perhaps our family was not complete yet. I asked Levi where he thought this little brother or sister would come from. He replied without missing a beat, “Well, from Florida of course! Our babies come from Florida! And it will be a sister, Mommy.”

So here we were, 19 months after beginning the adoption process, waiting anxiously to talk to an expectant Mom named V. The match that had just fallen through had ended up being for a baby boy. We didn’t care either way, but it had taken Levi a long time to warm up to the idea of having a brother, after being so sure he was getting a sister all along. He had gotten excited about it though, and had a very hard time when it didn’t work out. But now, V had requested that Levi be a part of the Skype conversation because she now knew the gender of the baby and she wanted to tell us all herself. From the moment V started talking, we relaxed. She was so friendly, and so easy to talk to. But when she said to Levi, “Levi, you are going to have a sister!” I could hardly believe my ears. I had been fine with the idea of having two boys, but now we were going to have a daughter! How perfect it sounded to have a boy and a girl, and I couldn’t wait to start turning the baby boy room into a baby girl room, and going shopping for some tiny, adorable baby girl clothes! We were SO excited! We chatted with V for about an hour, and by the end of the conversation, we were feeling very at peace that this really was going to be our baby. Now all we had to do was wait for about another 7 weeks for our baby girl to make her appearance! Levi’s response to the situation was very matter of fact. He said, “I knew Jesus would send me a baby sister. I just knew it. She is going to be so cute!” From then on his prayers changed to “And please dear Jesus, be with my baby sister and her birthmom and help them both to be healthy and strong, and help my baby sister to come soon!” 

Well, God heard those prayers and answered in an unexpected way when only 3 weeks after the Skype call we got an urgent call from Florida that our baby was coming NOW and we better get down there! We had planned to be at the birth, as V had requested, and we had gotten quite excited about that. However, our baby girl had other plans and decided she would like to see the world earlier than planned.  Within the first 2 hours after her birth I had the privilege of talking to V, who once again, was completely strong and unwavering. She told me that we had a beautiful, tiny, but healthy baby girl, and to please get there as soon as possible. Within 3 hours of the initial phone call that our baby was being born, we were on the road to drive 6 hours to catch a midnight flight. It was close, but God was with us and we made it. 18 hours after our baby was born, we landed in Fort Lauderdale, and with assistance from V over the phone, found our way to the hospital. 

When we walked into V’s hospital room we were once again filled with excitement and nervousness, and once again, just as she did during the Skype call, V greeted us with warmth and enthusiasm and we instantly felt at ease. She told us that the baby had been taken to NICU during the night to start a round of antibiotics as a preventative measure for a possible infection, but was doing well otherwise. We sat in V’s room and chatted with her for a couple of hours, enjoying every minute, and then V took us one at a time, (since she was allowed only one other person with her in NICU) to meet our daughter.

The moment I saw her, my heart melted. She was so tiny, but so perfect. It was a very special moment to meet my little girl, with her incredible birthmom right there, smiling warmly at me, encouraging me, and sharing with me in our mutual awe and love for this new, gorgeous, tiny girl. We stayed there together for about an hour, and then I reluctantly left so that V could bring Derrick, the proud new daddy, in to see her. I thought his visit would be shorter than mine, as I stood in the hallway outside the NICU. But he was also in there for about an hour and at that point I knew for sure that he was as smitten as I was.

The only hard part was that Levi was not allowed to see her. He had waited so long for this baby sister, and prayed so hard for her, and now he was left out. Fortunately my cousin had flown from California to be there to help us by caring for Levi, and she was a great blessing. But still, Levi did not understand why he was not allowed to see his baby sister. He loved the pictures that we brought to show him though, and staring at those helped to get him through that hard time.

During the 2 days that V was still in the hospital after we got there, we spent many wonderful hours chatting with her, sharing stories, and learning more about our baby girl’s wonderful birth family. I had thought that the time before V signed the adoption papers would be scary and stressful, but V made the whole experience special, and her courage and peace in the situation put us at ease and allowed us to fully experience the joy of the moment. She was just so strong, and so at peace. We were thrilled when we found out that V had put the name we had chosen right on the original birth certificate. We named our sweet little angel, MylaShanae. Myla means “merciful,” and Shanae means, “God is gracious.” God has been so merciful and gracious so us, as has V, and we hope that Myla will grow to be merciful and gracious to others, just like her birthmom. My first moments of sadness came when V was discharged from the hospital. As happy as I was for her to go home to her family, I instantly started missing her. Our time together had been so special and the hospital seemed strangely empty without her there.

I spent my days in the NICU holding precious Myla, and gained a new appreciation for NICU nurses. What a wonderful bunch of people they are! V emailed me almost daily for updates on Myla, and I loved that she was so ready and willing to communicate. We planned to get together when Myla was out of the hospital, with the whole family. When Myla was 9 days old she was discharged. Aside from when I met Myla for the first time, that was the next best day ever, as finally Levi got to meet his baby sister, and our family was complete. Levi was instantly in love with Myla, and held her right away, playing gently with her hands and feet, admiring her, and whispering to her. Every day since then I hear him at some point during the day, bend over her, and whisper, “I love you so much Myla. I prayed for you for a long time, and I waited for you for a long time. But you were worth the wait.” He is the proudest big brother in the world, I’m quite sure.

Myla’s birth family are truly the most amazing people we know. The evening after Myla was discharged from the hospital we received a special visit at our hotel from Myla’s birth grandparents. They wanted to meet with all of us before we left town, to talk with us, and most of all, to pray with us. They welcomed us in as part of their family and made us feel so loved and accepted. The next afternoon we got to spend a couple of hours with the rest of Myla’s birth family and what a special afternoon that was. The hard part, was saying goodbye. But even then, V was a pillar of courage. Instead of me comforting her, she was the one saying to me, “It’s OK. It’s not goodbye forever. It’s just goodbye for now. We will see each other again.” What she did next though is what really got me choked up. She called Levi over to her, hugged him and said, “Levi, I need to talk to you. I need you to do something for me. You are Myla’s big brother. Will you watch over her for me, love her and protect her?” Levi said, “yes” and while some might think a 5 year old would not realize the significance of that conversation, I know he did. He is Myla’s fiercest protector already, and loves her with a sweet and intense love that many days brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

V and the rest of her family have changed our lives forever, not only by giving us the most precious gift in the world, but by allowing us to interact with them and love them. V is the most courageous and unselfish person we know. We already tell Myla regularly about her wonderful family in Florida, who will forever be our family too. We know that V was right when we said goodbye that day. That goodbye was not forever and we look forward to the day when we will someday be together again.

Myla’s whole adoption has reminded me of a verse in the Bible.Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (NIV) This whole adoption experience has been so immeasurably better than we could have ever asked for or imagined. God brought us two absolutely amazing children and our family is complete. Our hearts are filled with gratitude, to God, to V, to Adoption by Shepherd Care, and to so many others who helped us along this journey. We pray each day that our family will shine the light of God’s love to others, and beam encouragement to those who are still on the journey to their children. Some days the wait may seem like it will go on forever, but it won’t. Your time will come. And it will definitely have been worth the wait. God truly does make everything beautiful, in His time.

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