“How old is she?” a typical question on a typical day of motherhood.
“3 months,” I responded as I gleamed at what I found to be the sweetest thing to ever walk the planet, my daughter.
“What!” the woman responded in shock. Her eyes doing a quick elevator swoop, taking in my small frame of a body. “Darling, you most certainly don’t look like you had a baby.” A kind thing to say to most people, but our story wasn’t like most and what would normally be taken as a compliment hit me with an unexpected hurt, for I would have given anything for my body to have carried the little girl that gave me the name Momma.
My friend, who was with me, sensed my uncomfortable state and instinctively grabbed my hand to relieve me from the conversation, but before she could wisp me away I blurted out, “Well, we adopted.”
“Oh, how nice.” A typical response on a typical day of a not-so-typical mother.
The woman walked away and my friend began to comfort me, “You don’t owe anyone anything. It’s your story; you don’t have to tell everyone if you don’t want to.”
This is a moment I come back to often. My friend was right. I didn’t owe that woman any kind of explanation for her confused state. It’s our story to tell or not to tell.
I think there is a part of me that keeps hoping if I just say it enough, tell enough people, re-live it enough times then the hurt will eventually go away. The tears will eventually dry up and it will just become a distant memory of a chapter once upon a time. But I’ve realized somewhere along the way the pain isn’t going anywhere. And maybe that’s the whole point. For nothing has taught us (my husband and I) more about the Gospel than adoption! The suffering we endured is nothing in comparison to the cross, but the pain we feel and the brokenness we steward brings us back to our Savior over and over again.
I find myself wondering if the pain has purpose. If it lingers to help us never forget the magnitude of what Jesus did for us the day He made a way for us to be adopted into His family. The family of God.
I don’t owe our story to anyone, but Jesus didn’t owe us the cross either. In our brokenness we actually deserve nothing, but in His love He gave us everything! So I can’t not tell our story! Not because of us, or even Norah, but because of Him.
It all started with a dream on January 5th, 2017. A dream I woke up knowing was very different than most dreams.
In the dream we were on the back porch of my childhood home in Louisville, KY. It was night time. A woman appeared and handed us a baby. As soon as I held the baby girl in my arms I instantly knew her name was Norah. Norah, with an h.
“Patrick wake up,” I spoke breaking the silence of the morning, “I had a dream and in the dream we had baby and her name was Norah, with an h.”
I explained to Patrick how odd that the baby’s name was Norah with an h, for I had always wanted our first daughter to be named Nora, but after my great grandmother who spelt it N-O-R-A.
“I don’t think I’ll spell it with an h,” I added. As soon as I said it, I am not kidding, it was like my spirit got mad at me. I told Patrick what I was feeling.
“Well do you know what it means when God add’s an h to someone’s name in Hebrew,” Patrick began to explain, “it means He is breathing life into them and expressing a covenant, a promise kept.”
“Well I guess we are getting pregnant and having a daughter and her name will be Norah, N-O-R-A-H,” I said with confidence.
We had been praying for months about growing our family. We had prayerfully considered all of the options and eventually landed on getting pregnant. After that dream I assumed God was affirming our decision and I was to be pregnant with a little girl.
I began praying for our Norah everyday. I prayed God would bring her to us soon and I prayed for a pregnancy. What I didn’t realize then that I do now, is God answered both of those prayers, but it wasn’t my pregnancy I was praying for.
Several months of countless ovulation tests and negative pregnancy sticks passed. With each passing day my heart longed even more for my daughter, and with each passing month of one line, not two, I began to lose hope in our promise kept.
It was May 5th. Patrick, my husband, was in a wedding and I was flying solo for the day. We spent most of the day apart as Patrick tended to his Best Man duties.
The evening was full of the typical wedding feels and as the reception came I was ready to dance the night away with my guy. All day long I had been noticing this couple. They looked just like us, Patrick and me, and they had this little baby with them. It was clear by the race of the couple and the child, that they were living a story of adoption. As the hours passed I couldn’t stop glancing over at them. Every time I got this feeling of joy.
At the reception my eyes continued to shift their way, and one time I stared in their direction and couldn’t look away. In that moment I felt God tell me that was going to be us.
Ummm I don’t think so God, I immediately began to argue with God, Remember you promised me a pregnancy. Adoption is a maybe later plan, but not right now. The plan is to get pregnant.
After that night, my mind kept coming back to adoption. I would pray and somehow God would lead me to adoption. I would talk to a friend and one way or another adoption would come up. At our Bible Study someone randomly asked if I wanted to read a book on adoption. Over and over again, God would bring me to it and over and over again I would, out of fear, push it away.
Until one day I prayed, Okay God, if you want us to adopt You are going to have to hit me over the head with it because I am unsure I can, but if You really want us to then I will.
Right after that prayer I was writing a Bible Study for Lane of Roses. A Bible Study that had nothing to do with adoption. I had gotten to a part where Jesus mentions a soldier being Roman 3 times. I began to wonder why Jesus would reiterate it so many times. Which led me to think, well maybe he wants to communicate that He came for all people. So I began to look up Scripture on how Jesus came for all to be adopted into the family of God.
Five minutes into my research my spirit paused my foraging of Scripture to remind me of what I had just prayed in the car on my way to write. I looked up to find the tabs on my computer screen displaying adopt, adopt, adopt, adopt, adopt. And I lost it. Right in the middle of the cafe I broke down and sobbed, for now I knew, so clearly, what the dream on January 5th really meant. For we were given a baby and her name was to be Norah, a promise kept.
While God was confirming all of this in my own heart, He was also doing so in my husband’s. That evening we revealed to one another all we felt God was leading us into as a family. Tears fell from our eyes once again as we realized somewhere out there was our daughter. Our Norah. We didn’t know where she was or how we would get to her, but we knew we already loved her and love always finds a way!
The next 5 months were full of adoption preparations...also known as paperwork. Mounds and mounds of paperwork. The law kept us from adopting until we had been married for two years, so we would turn in our documents on September 25th, exactly.
September 25th passed and there was nothing left to do but wait to be matched. I quickly discovered having mounds of paperwork to do was far better than having nothing to do. The season of waiting was short lived for us, maybe because God knew waiting wasn’t my strongest attribute.
October 28th we were officially matched. October 31st we got a phone call the birth mom was in labor so we packed up and headed to Columbus, Ohio.
We were told that statistically 50% of adoptions fail or experience an interruption, as they so eloquently state it in the adoption world. But, I told myself that wasn’t going to be us. The plan was to bring a baby home.
We spent the next 3 weeks in Columbus waiting on a baby that simply wasn’t meant to be ours. Unfortunately for us, the birth mother was not honest with us from the beginning. The weeks in Columbus were full of lots of false hopes, unpredictable communication, and lies.
It was at the hospital we finally put all the pieces together. The birth mom had made it clear through more deception that we would not be bringing this baby home.
We headed back to Kentucky with an empty car seat and hearts shattered.
But in the depths of our brokenness I felt so much peace. In our suffering I felt more hope than I had since the morning of the dream. I walked into our empty nursery upon our return and where sorrow should have overtaken me, joy filled me to the brim. For I knew how this story ended. It ended with a baby in my arms. And her name would be Norah Lee Perryman. A promise kept.
. . .
Mid December I received a phone call in the middle of a Christmas party. Normally I wouldn’t have picked up, but it was from a sorority sister I hadn’t talked to in years and I felt an urgency to answer.
What I thought to potentially be a butt-dial led to another match. She had found a baby. To be born New Year’s Day. The family knew they did not have the means to raise the child and were looking for adoptive parents.
We met them the next Friday. Found out they were having a little girl and knew this was it. This was our daughter. Our Norah.
Norah didn’t come on January 1st. God had one more sweet surprise for this story.
Norah made her debut January 5th, 2018. A year to the date of the dream God gave me.
. . .
Sometimes all I have to do is look at her and it hits me. One glance at her sweet grin and the memories run like an old-fashioned slideshow inside of my mind. With each snap a familiar emotion strikes and I’m left in a trance of the story we lived. The story of us. The story of her. The story of Norah Lee Perryman.
Nothing has taught me more about the cross. About the suffering Jesus endured so we could be adopted into His family. The suffering we experience this side of Heaven we can count as joy because it helps us better understand the love of our Father.
Norah is my constant reminder of God’s love for me. His love for the world. For He humbled himself to death, even death on a cross to have us. To have you and me. That’s how bad He wanted us!
Beautifully broken. That’s how I describe adoption. Beautifully broken. That’s the story of us.
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