An Adoption Story (with a Flourish)

January 29, 2018

Today at precisely 4:35, I wished that I had some chicken tetrazzini. My fibromyalgia has been bad, and chicken tetrazzini is a favorite comfort food. (My daughters will tell you that I ate it three meals a day for three weeks the year I had the flu.) At 6:45 tonight–without calling first–my friend Patricia knocked on our door bringing what I thought was her trademark five-star coffee cake. But, no, for the first time ever, she handed me chicken tetrazzini.

Patricia said she had been making some for her family and just suddenly thought of us.

Friends, I don’t know why we can’t get a long run of good health or a big financial miracle, but God CONSISTENTLY shows me that he cares VERY MUCH for me through all these little things. So many little things. 


Within 48 hours of that post, Greg was diagnosed with cancer #3–and our family would once again fight off a quick descent into fear and heartbreak. The fact that God fed me beforehand–that He clearly showed me, “I hear you,” was not lost on me. He has always shown his faithfulness, certainly–and He has also done so with a flourish.


50806980_404095350363625_3774106716409430016_nTwenty-five years ago today, we lived in Statesboro, Georgia. Greg, who was 28 and healthy, had gone to Atlanta for an early birthday celebration, and I was planning to attend an out-of-town Christian women’s conference with my friend Marcia who, like me, was a foster parent. My bags were packed and I was ready to go–until the phone rang.

It was DFCS with an emergency placement. There was a four-year-old, Morgan*, who needed a place to stay, probably only temporarily.

We were new foster parents previously having only hosted one child, a middle-schooler. A four-year-old seemed infinitely more fun. But I had paid for the conference. Greg wasn’t home. Marcia was about to come and get me.

I told the director to give me a minute to figure things out.

I called Marcia, who, like most people, has always seen things clearer than I do. She said, “It comes down to this: do you want a four-year-old or not?”

Yes. I did.


I was twenty-four, suddenly “mom” to a four-year-old. Morgan, who was apparently from a perfectly stable and happy home, yammered away in the back seat about how wonderful life was with mom and dad and auntie. About dogs and cats and balloons. About cotton candy and Chuck E. Cheese and daycare.

The child did not hush.

Morgan, who had evidently been convincingly reassured by a custodial parent that this was nothing more than a fun weekend away, was happy to be with me. And I, too, was thrilled.

We played with my dogs, threw rocks in our pond, ate french fries at McDonald’s, bought pajamas and a toothbrush at K-mart. We made a fort out of sofa cushions and watched Barney and ate ice cream. We did so much.

I, at least, was worn out–but at bedtime, Morgan was having none of it. It was Time to Talk.

Exhausted, I brought the sofa cushions into my bedroom, made Morgan a pallet and turned off the lights. I lie still and listened to Morgan talking in the twilight, a soft voice happily telling me things, going on and on and on into the night.


Morgan was with us only that weekend–on Monday afternoon the judge sent Morgan back to an obviously happy home.

I’d missed a conference and a whole lot of sleep, but I’d had a great time with a little kid.

That was all. (So I thought.)


A year later, I was teaching in Millen, Georgia, when I was called to the office to speak to DFCS. We’d just come off a rough placement of a large sibling group who fought constantly and, as Greg dryly put it, “Conveniently wrote graffiti about us on our own living room walls.” I felt like God had told me to hang on, to keep them no matter what, and we had. But the months had been long, and awful.

I sat down at the vice principal’s desk and picked up the phone, prepared to say no to whomever we were offered.

Totally unprepared for the words toddler and girl. 

The director said the girl had just turned one. Her name? April Roe.

I said yes instantly, without calling Greg. I left him a message at work, headed home, put fresh sheets on the crib and waited for our baby. 51251520_2424644140944156_4486274893234569216_n


April came to us that February night, a Valentine in her hand. We were her home number three. She was mute, traumatized.

She clung to that Valentine until bedtime, when Greg politely asked for it, bending her fingers away one by one, making her let go.


Years later, I was cleaning out my DFCS notebook, where all ninety-three foster children’s paperwork was neatly cataloged, when I noticed a date: January 28, 1994. I recognized that date: April’s birthday.

It was also the date that sweet, chatty Morgan had come to us, keeping me up for almost twenty-four hours, chattering away, making sure–as only a four-year-old could–that I would forever recall every moment of my adopted daughter’s birthday.

That, although I was not in the delivery room in Hudson, New York . . . although I was a thousand miles South and a different kind of weary, I would recall every instant of the day April Roe, my daughter, was born. God made sure of this. He didn’t have to let me know where I was every second twenty-five years ago today, but He did. Out of His faithfulness. Out of His love.


Her name? April Roe? That her birth mother gave her?

It means, literally, “New life, deer.”

(What a flourish.)

 

 

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