When you bring a baby home from the hospital, it's totally natural for everyone in your life to want to know everything about that baby. They want to be connected with you in your newly unfolding story and they are ready to celebrate your new joy with you In our case, our friends and family, most importantly both sets of our parents, had been with us on a VERY wild and VERY tragic ride through the foster-to-adopt process. The week before Hayden was born our second foster-adopt baby (the younger brother in the sibling set) had been sent back to the family that had tried to kill him through starvation (he had been placed with us after being admitted to the hospital at 4 1/2 months old and weighing only 9lbs). He turned one year old the day Hayden was born. To say we had conflicting emotions and were a bit jumbled doesn't even BEGIN to describe our pysches at the time. But God knew. God knew what we needed and He began speaking into the hearts of friends and strangers even before we brought him and his oxygen tubing home from the hospital.
As I began telling close friends about the possibility of bringing home another baby, another foster-to-adopt baby, I did so with no small amount of trepedation. No one in our circle of friends was an adoptive family. There wasn't adoption on either side of our families that we knew of. We were breaking new ground and just because we knew this was the path that was going to lead us to build our family (I got "the call" to adopt when I was 16 and knew it like I knew my own name that I wanted only to adopt my children. It was my first choice and my only choice; the "calling"on my life), it didn't mean we could count on our close friends and families to share that conviction, especially after having recently watched two innocent children get completely run over by the so-called "child welfare system". Would they understand after losing a baby just days before, how we could bring home another one, and not just a "regular" baby, this one already had a label that meant "broken", "disabled", "special needs"?. So many questions came home from the hospital with us.
Enter another "thought bubble", this one appeared again as Jeff and I were walking across the hospital parking lot to visit Hayden during his seven day stay at Club Newborn Nursery. The bubble read, "There are no guarantees", and I turned to Jeff and said, "Ya know, there are NO guarantees with ANY baby. Babies who are born perfectly healthy sometimes develop horrible diseases, some kids die in accidents, some grow into adulthood and make LOUSY choices for their lives (hence the penal system). What's the difference with THIS child?" He paused for a minute and said, "Ya, you're right. It's no different for this one". And the issue was settled. For us.
Some time during that week as I was going back and forth from the hospital, I talked with my ballet teacher on the phone. For years she had been a sounding board for me, a mentor, a compassionate shoulder on which I had leaned many times, especially during the previous year when we had entered the very murky waters of the foster-to-adopt process. She had been praying over us that week, but at this point she didn't know what the baby's name was. But she said over and over in her mind she kept seeing the name "Jacob", a baby named Jacob and he was going to come home with us. Shivers sped up and down my spine. The first confirmation.
After being home from the hospital for a week or so, a friend and I went to a women's conference in Denver. We had purchased the tickets long before my life had erupted and long before we could even fathom bringing home a newborn baby WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. My friend had a new baby too, having given birth in early July, so there we were; my friend and her new baby (this was my friend's 5th baby so nothing phased her at this point), Hayden, his portable oxygen tanks and enough tubing to go to the moon and back three times, and me, who wanted to be a mom more than anything in the world. In our short time together as a new little family we had already experienced many miracles: I hadn't strangled myself, the dogs or Hayden with the oxygen tubing that was in every room and on every level of our house, and I even managed to have the oxygen TURNED ON, (all the time I think-I gave myself gold stars everyday for this no-small-feat). Hayden was breathing and eating, so why not take the show on the road? And so we went. It was the first time I had ever been to such a huge conference, and I was more than a little intimidated, more than a little worried that I was going to trip over the oxygen tubing, drop Hayden in his carrier, or that people were going to stare at my baby WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. So quite honestly I don't remember alot about the conference, except to say it was fantastic; the teaching was amazing, the encouragement was genuine, and the spirit in the place was authentic.
At some point during the first day we broke for lunch and my friend left me to go look at the book tables. I wasn't up for lugging Hayden and all his accessories up and down the stairs with 20,000 of my closest friends, so I hung out in the seating area and stretched my legs. Before I knew what was happening, a woman was standing next to me admiring Hayden and telling me how precious and beautiful he was. I agreed (I was emotionally exhausted but not blind). Then she asked if she could pray for Hayden, and I said, "sure". I mean, who wouldn't want someone to pray over their new baby? This woman couldn't possibly know all the back-story of my wacky life and she couldn't possibly know the circumstances of how this baby came to rest in the baby carrier in my arms. So she prayed. Some of the details I've forgotten, but I remember her saying that he was a VERY SPECIAL baby and that he was going to have a life of power, a life of healing (like he was going to be the healer) and that he was already touched by God. She closed the prayer with the usual "amen", I looked up to her face.....but she was gone. Like, nowhere to be found gone. Like, as were standing there praying together, there were 15 or 20 women milling around in our section and when I looked up it was just Hayden and me within ten rows. Suddenly I needed to use the little girl's room.
I came back from the conference not remembering one detail of what had been taught, but with a new found confidence in my gut and heart.