“Once the Sacrifice, Twice the Blessing,” Tambuli, Aug.–Sept. 1985, 13
How could we have had a precious baby offered to us and not have taken him? After so many months of prayers, pleading, and hoping—how?
Yet a beautiful baby boy had come into the world, and we had decided he was not for us.
As we fought to restrain our emotions, we reflected on the experience that began with a strange telephone call in the middle of a January night one month earlier.
It had been a quiet night in the house, but all our nights were quiet. There was no cooing baby in a crib, no colorful baby toys, no diaper container hanging from the bedroom doorknob. Those happy things were found where children were.
The telephone rang late into that memorable evening. James, my husband, answered and was greeted by a vaguely familiar voice, an acquaintance.
“I understand from a mutual friend that you and your wife are interested in adopting a baby,” she queried.
“Yes,” James said, “we are very anxious to adopt a baby.” I sat up, surprised. The conversation continued, and I listened intently to his replies, wishing I could hear the voice on the other end of the line.
When James hung up the receiver, his hand was shaking, his voice nervous and tense. “That was someone I know through a friend at work,” he began. “She says she has a distant unmarried relative who is going to have a baby soon. The girl is young. She’s unemployed and unable to care for the baby when it’s born. Her family can’t help her. She wants to do what’s best for the baby and thinks she should place the child for adoption.”
That night we relived all the hope and excitement we had felt so many times before when we thought we might get a baby.
But weeks went by without word, and our anxious optimism faded. We talked in the evenings about this unborn child coming to our home. We knew the phone call had brought false hope, but we persisted with prayers and fasting.
“There are agencies that handle adoption placement,” James said. “Surely a social worker from an agency will contact her, or she will go to them. That would probably be best for the expectant mother anyway. Agencies with skilled social workers can help to find the best possible home for adopted children.”
He wasn’t saying anything we both didn’t already know. We had been working with a social worker through an adoption agency for months, and we knew that they provided a very necessary service to couples seeking children, and especially to unmarried young girls thinking about placing their babies for adoption.
The waiting took us into the snows and cold of February, and another quiet night. The ringing of the phone at 2:00 A.M. made my heart pound wildly. Startled, I got up and groped in the darkness for the receiver.
“Is James there?” asked a weary female voice.
“Yes, he’s here. He’s asleep, but I’ll wake him.” Whoever this is must need him now, or she wouldn’t call at this hour.
“Hello,” James mumbled, as he answered the phone, then listened. He was answering questions. “Yes, all right. We didn’t think she was still … Yes, I’ll call you back tomorrow.” He dropped the phone on the bed, sleep gone from his eyes. “She’s having the baby. Right now. She’s in labor and will soon deliver. And she’s expecting us to take the baby!”
We both sat silent. Stunned. Someone from somewhere had just called and said we have a baby for you. Right now! James broke the silence. “She didn’t go to an agency, and she didn’t contact a social worker. She told this relative to call us again and tell us that the baby is about to be born and she wants to have it adopted.”
Suddenly, all of the concerns we had both entertained about private adoption, but had never discussed, came flooding into a wee-morning-hour conference. We concluded that in the morning we must talk with our social worker and seek her counsel, backed by thirty years of adoption expertise. We knelt in prayer for the unknown mother in labor, for her peace of mind about the decision she was going to make. We asked our Heavenly Father to bless a baby who was about to be born. We asked him to bless us that we would be guided in our decision concerning the child.
That morning, we sat in council with a very wise, loving woman who had given years in the service of mothers and children. She listened intently to our story of the unexpected phone calls and responded thoughtfully. “I can’t, nor will I even try to make a decision for you,” she said. “I must leave that to your discretion and can only offer you my insight and understanding. I know how anxious you are to have a child, and I also know that agencies often require seemingly unbearable waiting periods for anxious couples. You have a ‘baby in the hand,’ so it seems, and I can promise you nothing. But I must tell you that I would have serious concerns about the fact that James is known by a relative of the baby’s mother.” She paused and thought before she spoke. “Years of experience have taught me that adoptive children generally do better when the identity of the natural parents remains totally anonymous.
“Adoption agencies, as you know, do extensive studies with both child and potential parents to determine which child is best suited for which family,” she continued. “This situation would not allow you that advantage, nor would you know any of the medical history of the child.”
Thoughts, professional views, fears and wisdom were covered in a two-hour exchange.
On the drive home, we were both silent. There was an undeniable tension in the air.
At home, we knelt in prayer, and I knew the answer before James told me what he was feeling. It was not the answer we had begged to receive. This child was not to come to our home. But why? A miracle, it seemed, and we were about to turn it away.
“I know this baby is not meant to come to our home, to be ours,” James said. “I don’t receive that confirmation, that peace of mind that comes with positive answers to prayer. But this mother is expecting me to find a home for the baby. The baby needs a home, a good home, and it needs one today.”
James and I talked at length about what would be best for the child. We made some telephone calls to friends and professionals who could offer the best advice. That evening, James telephoned the woman who had contacted us. He briefly told her why we could not take the child, and he gave her the name of a very experienced social worker who would work closely with the mother. She hung up and made the contact. Two days later, the baby boy, was placed in a special home where he would be loved and well cared for. We knew that somewhere the child was safe, comfortable, and in the arms of parents who desperately wanted a child. Yet we sat on the edge of the bed after receiving the news, wondering, lamenting. But even as we questioned, we knew we had been told by a loving Heavenly Father, with insight and understanding far exceeding our human limitations, that the child was not for us.
The cold winds of March found us home on quiet nights and at work during the day. About 8:00 A.M. on a Monday morning, James awoke singing. I asked him what it was that made Monday so wonderful, when it only meant going back to work after a great weekend. “I don’t know,” he laughed. “I just feel like it’s going to be a good day.”
I left for work at the usual time, and was exceptionally busy when the phone rang at 9:10. “Hello, Mary Ann, this is Carol.” Our social worker! I would have known her voice anywhere.
“Do you think they might let you off work long enough to come and pick up your baby boy?”
Everyone down the hall heard the jubilant exclamation. No one had to ask what the call was about. “A baby boy! That’s fantastic! When? Where? I’ll call James right now. We’re on our way.”
“Don’t hang up yet,” she said. “I need to give you some details and tell you something more about the baby.” I was so excited I could hardly listen, but as her conversation continued, I found it well worth the extra few minutes on the phone.
I contacted James. “Carol just called. You’re a dad! She has a baby boy for us. He’s there right now, waiting for us to pick him up and bring him home.” I was so nervous that I could hardly voice the next sentence.
“Carol told me about the baby just like I’m telling you. You see, that isn’t all, dear. There’s more. This little boy of ours has a brother.”
“What do you mean, a brother?” he asked.
“Twins,” I laughed. “You are the proud father of identical twin boys.”
A frantic drive to the agency, an apprehensive walk up the stairs to the agency’s second floor, and there, lying together in a wooden cradle with room to spare, weighing five pounds each, our beautiful baby boys!
Our twins had been born one day after the baby we had had a chance to adopt was born. On the day we had talked with our social worker, seeking her guidance, our babies were lying in the hospital’s intensive care nursery, weighing four pounds each. It was strict agency policy that prospective adoptive parents never be told about a baby until the infant was released from the hospital and made ready for placement. Carol and the other agency social workers had met and selected us as parents for the twins shortly before they were born, but we couldn’t be told until they were delivered, had gained weight, and could leave the hospital. Our boys were in the hospital, growing and waiting to meet us for seventeen days before we received the agency’s call on that glorious Monday morning.
Carter James and Jefferson Thomas were sealed to us in the temple after a six-month waiting period required by state law. The joy they have brought into our home is beyond my ability to describe. Both James and I feel so intensely that these handsome little straight-haired blonds were intended for us.
Often I look longingly, lovingly, at them and realize that had we not listened to the counsel of our Heavenly Father, they wouldn’t be in our home, and we might have forfeited one of the greatest blessings we have ever received.