*The names in this part have been changed to protect the privacy of certain people*
We had two weeks to prepare! We scrambled to get the necessity items, pull the crib out of the attic, and prepare the nursery. We finally made the announcement to all our friends and family and so many jumped at the opportunity to love, support, and help us get ready for our little girl! Gods faithfulness and provision was overwhelming. Everything was falling into place, and we were thrilled. Thankfully, we had time to get everything we needed to survive those first few weeks. Then we just anxiously waited for the phone to ring…
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – I remember we had gotten to bed late that night. It felt like my eyes had barely been closed when the phone rang. It was 12:30AM. My heart skipped a beat and I scrambled for the phone. I saw the caller ID and answered immediately. I gave Adam the look of, “This is it!” as I listened to the familiar voice on the other line, “Hey Leslie, it’s happening. Lynn’s water just broke and she’s on her way to the hospital now.” “I’m on my way!” I said. I hung up the phone, threw some things in a bag and called my mom. Adam and I prayed together before I jumped in the van to start the 3-hour drive to the hospital. We already had a plan in place for this, in case she was to go into labor in the middle of the night, I would leave immediately to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Adam would stay, get the kids up and dressed, meet up with my mom, who would keep the kids, so he could get to the hospital as quickly after as possible.
I remember being in constant conversation with God as I drove. Like, literally out-loud talking to Him the entire way. Prayers of praise and thanksgiving, prayers for the health and safety of Lynn and baby, prayers for safe travels for me as well as Adam and the kids and my mom, prayers that I could get there in time for the delivery. You name it, I was praying it, but mostly I just remember thinking how much everything was about to change, in just a matter of hours, and I just wanted Him to be in the center of it all.
My cell phone rang around 2:30AM, it was Kala, one of our social workers, calling to let me know that our beautiful baby girl had been delivered and everything went very smoothly. I still had about 30 minutes left in the drive and I was pretty heartbroken that I didn’t get there in time for the actual delivery. From the time Lynn left for the hospital, to the time of delivery, was less than 2 hours. Our little girl was eager to get here, and I was desperate to get there to meet her! God gave me the grace and patience I needed to make it to the hospital, finally, around 3:00AM. I remember pulling into the parking lot, so full of emotions. Nervous, shaking with excitement, but filled with uncertainty of how things were going to play out. I check in at the front desk and was then directed to the waiting room. They informed me that both Baby and Birth mom are being taken care of. They were running tests on baby and I couldn’t go back quite yet. I sat there, studying the walls of the waiting room for what seemed like the longest 30 -40 minutes of my life. Kala came through the doors, finally, she was so sweet and encouraging. As we walked down the long white hallways of the hospital, she told me all about the delivery and how well things went. She explained that she was taking me to a small holding room where a nurse would be with the baby and that’s where we would meet her, stay with her and have our bonding time. Hopefully, depending on availability, we would be put in a regular room for the remainder of our stay in the hospital.
I didn’t know how I would feel in those first few moments. What would it be like to walk into a room and meet your child for the first time? I had played the scene out in my mind so many times, but nothing can compare to the actual moment. I remember rounding the corner and seeing the doorway to the room she was in, I remember the nurse standing there, smiling. I remember pausing to catch my breath before I stepped through the doorway. I remember seeing the little portable crib with this tiny little bundle inside, swaddled up snugly. I remember it feeling like slow motion as the nurse picked that tiny bundle up, handed her to me, and said, “Here she is.” I instantly cried. It was a familiar cry, a type of cry that I had known before. It was that instant relief, momma cry, that pours out of you when you hear your newborn baby’s cry for the first time. When your tense, aching body can finally relax because, she’s here….she’s here. My first response was, “She’s so beautiful.” because she was, she was perfection, wrapped in a blanket, with a little red birthmark above her nose. I remember putting her face to mine, her sweet, tiny face, and saying, “Hello baby girl, I’m your mommy. I love you so, so much!”
Adam arrived soon after. They brought him into the room with us and I got to watch him meet his baby girl for the first time. The instant love and joy on his face was indescribable. I got to sit back and watch him hold her, feed her, and bond with her. It was a time that is forever etched into my heart. God had been so faithful, through such a hard season and long journey. As Adam and I sat there in that tiny little room holding our precious baby, that God had handpicked just for our family, time stood still.
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1:27
Around 7:30AM we were finally moved to a regular room and within an hour the gears shifted and our seemingly fairytale story came to a sudden halt. Kala came into our room along with a nurse and they informed us that the hospital social worker wanted to speak with us. She joined us in the room and told us that while she was meeting with Lynn that morning, she admitted to some pretty serious drug use during the pregnancy. We had been informed in the beginning, when were matched, that she admitted to some drug and alcohol use, but once she realized she was pregnant she stopped using. Now she was admitting to regular drug use throughout the pregnancy. Our hearts sank. Instantly fear crept in as the social worker went into detail of the situation. She went on to tell us that a drug test would be done on our baby, she informed us of the possibility of her being drug addicted, the risks and possible side effects, and the signs and symptoms to looks for, should she experience withdrawals. We were then told that because Lynn had not been honest with us, we did not have to follow through with this adoption plan. We had every right to walk away, and that would be ok. They wanted to give Adam and I time alone to talk it over, so they left the room.
Adam climbed into the hospital bed beside me, wrapped me in his arms and we wept. The fear and concern for the health of this baby was overwhelming. Would we be able to handle a worst-case scenario and what does that look like with four other kids at home to care for as well? But, how could we possibly walk away? That little baby girl, she was every bit our little girl. We had been knit together, woven and spun, it could not be undone.
“I’m still in…are you still in? I whispered. “Yes, I am still in…she is ours.” he replied. Then let’s start getting some people to pray! Adam called the other pastors of our church, I called my parents and some dear friends, and we just began to pray for our little girl. We prayed, believing that God had protected her in the womb, and that He would protect her even now. We prayed that He would heal her little body and free her from any chance of addiction. Our emotions were high, we were on edge with nerves and fear, we were exhausted from no sleep and we were just waiting…waiting for some definitive answers. Hours passed that felt like days. We were getting so many encouraging messages and calls from close family and friends. So many people were praying for us and our baby girl. Around 10:30AM the Pediatrician came in to see us. He told us that baby had passed her drug test, that there were no drugs in her system! He also said that her medical exam and all other tests looked great, that she was a very healthy little baby. He went on tell us that she could still experience withdrawals. He told us the things to look for in case this happened, but he had very little concern of any long-term effects from the drug use. This news was a huge answer to prayer and such an encouragement to us. We literally felt a huge weight lifted from us. From that moment on God just covered us with an overwhelming peace in our hearts. We knew He was in control and He just wanted us to trust Him.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
The hospital stay was very different from what I had originally expected. In my mind I guess I envisioned that our new little one would be in the room with us the whole time, that we would be together, bonding, and everything would be happy and perfect. The real version looks very different. As long as the birth mom is in the hospital, she is the legal mother in charge of baby. Which means, whatever decisions that need to be made on baby’s behalf, birth mom makes them. If she wants the baby to be in the room with her, then they come get her and take her to the birth moms room. We were not aware of this beforehand, and I was not prepared for how I would feel, emotionally, every time Lynn called for her. It was our first full day in the hospital and baby spent most of the day in the room with Lynn. Adam and I felt unsettled, I worried that Lynn might be changing her mind and I feared that my heart might not recover from the crush of it. Kala came in to check on us routinely throughout the day. At one point she came in to tell us that Lynn wanted us to know that she was not trying to scare us or be stingy with her time with baby. She just knew that once she left the hospital, that was it, she wouldn’t see her again, and so, she just wanted as much time as she could get, while she could get it. My heart broke…it just broke for this young Momma that I had never met. This Momma who, despite her mistakes, the drug use, and the poor decisions, she just wanted to soak in every minute that she could with her baby, to love her the best way she could in the little time that she had.
Our social worker, Kala was the mediator between us and Lynn. She asked us if we had picked out a name for baby. Adam and I had thought and prayed a lot about what her name should be. We wanted it to be special and have a significant meaning. We picked Zoe because it is the Greek word for “Life”. We were so thankful that Lynn had chosen life, and that she then chose us to care for that life. Kay is my mom’s middle name and we felt the two names just went perfectly together. When we told Lynn the name she really liked it, and said that’s what she would have them put on the birth certificate. That meant a lot to us, that Lynn liked the name we had chosen, so she used it too. From the very beginning, our baby girl has been Zoe. Lynn let her spend that second night in the room with us. It was perfect. His grace is sufficient.
Friday was a big day. It was discharge day. Adam and I had hoped we would get to meet Lynn at some point in this process. We were open to it the entire time, but she had opted not to see us thus far. She called for Zoe to be brought to her room early that morning and asked that she stay with her until time to discharge. Soon after that, Kala came to our room to let us know that Lynn had decided she did want to meet us. Just before it was time for her to leave, she wanted us to come to her room, so she could personally give Zoe to us. I’m glad we had a little bit of time to try to mentally and emotionally prepare for this, though I don’t think I could have ever fully prepared myself for what was coming.
They led us down the hall to Lynn’s room. Both of our social workers from the adoption agency were there as well as the hospital social worker, and a couple of nurses. We entered the room and Lynn was sitting in the bed holding Zoe. She didn’t make eye contact with us at first. We walked over and stood closer to her, beside her bed. The room was silent for a moment or two. Lynn held Zoe in her arms, she pulled her close to her face, hugged her and a kissed her cheeks. She stared at her baby girls face for a minute, and then looked up at me. She said, “Thank you.” and then quickly looked back down at Zoe’s little face, “Thank you for being willing to take her and love her.” I quickly wrapped my arms around her neck and hugged her, “Thank you, for loving her and for letting us love her. Thank you for choosing us and trusting us with your little girl.” She looked up at Adam and I both and said, “Today, she is going home.” Then she handed her precious baby girl to me.
I could not begin to imagine the thoughts and emotions going through her heart and mind. The heartache and hurt, the sadness, the pain of a tragic loss. I pray she had been given a glimmer of hope. She is the strongest women I have ever met. We walked out of that room holding our little girl, a little piece of another woman’s heart.
“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” ~Jody Landers
We were overcome with emotions. So much gratitude and joy mixed with great sadness, it really is hard to describe. We were discharged from the hospital that Friday afternoon. We made the drive to my parents where our other kids had been staying. When we arrived they all got to meet their new baby sister for the first time. It was literally love at first site, they could not get enough of her! I remember Karis crying when she held her for the first time, because she had prayed so long for a little sister. And Luke boldly proclaimed that “Our baby is the cutest baby ever!” The next week was a whirlwind. Due to Zoe being born in a different state than where we lived, we had to stay in her birth state with her until we were granted legal custody, by a judge. Thankfully my parents lived in the same state Zoe was born in, Gods perfect plan, so we were able to stay with them. On Saturday morning Adam and our oldest three kids drove home, so he could be at church on Sunday and they could go back to school on Monday. Silas stayed with me and Zoe at my parents’ house. Our court date was scheduled for that following Monday morning. A dear friend came to our house early that morning to take the kids to school, so Adam could make the 3-hour drive and be there for the court appointment. We went before the judge and he granted us legal custody of Zoe. We had to wait for all the paperwork to clear before we could travel across state lines with her, so Adam made the drive back home that day, making it just in time to pick up the kids from school. Zoe had a check-up appointment at the hospital that afternoon. The Doctor said she looked great, with no signs or symptoms of withdrawals. God is faithful. For the next few days, me, Silas, and Zoe just waited…by my parent’s pool, which was nice! On Thursday evening I received word from our lawyer that we had been legally cleared to travel across state lines with Zoe. On Friday morning, September 2, we said goodbye to my parents and headed home.
It was so great for Zoe to finally be home and for all of us to be together, as a family of 7. Thankfully, things really transitioned quite smoothly. Zoe was just meant to be a part of our family. The kids quickly fell into the routine of our new normal. They loved Zoe so much and she was adjusting well to our big family. It really was amazing to see how God had perfectly woven her into our hearts and into our family. We were overwhelmed by the love and support we received once were home. Our families showed up from out of town and surprised us with a shower for Zoe. Our church family showered us as well and continues to cover us with love and support. We were incredibly blessed by Gods faithfulness and provision. On December 8, 2016 Zoe’s adoption was finalized. The courts made legal what our hearts already knew, she was officially a Lickey!
Our adoption journey was in no way, glamorous or picture perfect. It was hard. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions, disappointment, and heart ache. But, we were trusting God through it all, and believing this was His plan for us. Sometimes God calls us to do hard things in order to receive His greatest gifts. I recently read this quote from Priscilla Shirer, that really resonated with me, “Obedience is the key that unlocks all of the blessings God intends for us. It also keeps the door of communication with Him clear and continually open. We won’t always do it perfectly, but we must do it purposefully. On the other side of obedience, there’s freedom and victory.”
Obedience is never easy, and it may lead you on a journey, much harder than you ever expected, but think of the blessings that are just waiting to be unlocked! When I look at our sweet Zoe, I wouldn’t trade a second of our journey to her. If given the choice, I would walk through it all again. The gift of her made it all completely worth it and His grace was sufficient!