Who We Are
GOD'S TIMING IS PERFECT
My name is Nancy and my husband is Aaron. We were married 12 years ago in Seattle and both knew right away that we wanted a family. We had a passion for kids and so much love to share. Our plan was to be married a year, then start trying for kids. Well, as so often happens, things didn’t go according to OUR plan. A year came and we started trying, but… no kids. Two years turned into three, then four. Finally we discovered some mutual health problems that were preventing us from having children biologically.
We took a few years to decide if we wanted to deal with those health issues, decided against it, and around 2007 we saw the billboard campaign for Antioch Adoptions and it really struck a chord with us. We attended the very next orientation meeting and got the paperwork started.
I remember asking “About how long does the process usually take from paperwork to placement?” (Typical newbie question, right?) And I was told “Oh, it always varies, but usually 9 months to a year” and I remember thinking to myself, “That’s not so bad, sort of like being pregnant!” I would come to see the humor in those words later.
Fast forward to 2010… it felt like we’d been in the adoption process forever - about 4 years. We’d tell people, “We’re in the process of adopting a child.” “No we don’t know which one, or when.” “Yes it has been a long time, let’s change the subject please.”
We knew others from our PRIDE group had either had kids placed with them or were further in the process. We would become discouraged as the months would go by without us hearing of any potential placements. But just as soon as Aaron and I started even thinking, “I wonder if we should consider going with another agency?” within 24 hours our social worker, Bonnie Elson, would call. She would say, “We haven’t forgotten you, you haven’t slipped through the cracks, we’re praying for you often and we’re looking for your child. We just haven’t found the one who is going to be the right one for your home yet.” After the second or third time this happened, we got the message from God; we were right where we needed to be….at Antioch Adoptions. And He WOULD bring our child, but this was a walk of faith, we just needed to keep walking it out.
I will never forget when we got “the call.” It was October 2010. Our social worker said, “We have this little girl, she’s 5, super cute” and she went on to tell us more about her and there was a picture in the email we got. My first thought was, “What sad eyes on such a beautiful little girl”. But we knew that she was ours.
We got to meet Emma less than a week later at her birthday party and she was in our home about 2 weeks after that for respite care and started transitioning into our home permanently. It all moved really quickly from that point. It was like God had us do all our waiting at the start but once the ball was rolling; it went fast from placement to adoption.
The adoption announcements we sent out read “After a 4 year pregnancy (which is twice as long as an elephant by the way) and 6 months of labor, it’s a girl!”
When Emma first came to us, she was scared of everything. She was afraid of the dark, loud noises, being alone, cars going by on the street, driving on the freeway, dogs and cats, and the list goes on.
She would throw great and mighty tantrums at the slightest opposition to her will, with deafening screaming (she actually has attempted to pierce my eardrum on a few occasions by screaming directly into my ear at full volume), throwing books, shoes and toys at us, hitting and kicking, head-butting and thrashing about if she is restrained in any way during the tantrum. She had a LOT of rage.
I wish I could say that all these issues are dealt with and gone, but if you consider them on a sliding scale of 1-10 (10 being the extreme when she came to us - panic, fright and freak out) many of these issues are down to a 3 or 4. Everything takes time; it’s only been 3 years and look how far we’ve come. We had to come to the understanding that it would take time, patience, love and a LOT of one step forward, two steps back, two steps forward, one step back, but eventually, progress is made.
Emma also had nightmares. She would have sometimes between 1-6 nightmares a night every night and these went on for about 9 or 10 months. During this time I was the only one who could get up with her because she wouldn’t accept comfort from Aaron.
This was a HUGE issue that we dealt with, Emma’s almost complete dismissal of Aaron. Here we are, trying to form attachments, doing all the things the books and counselors say to do and she glares at him as though he were a bug to be squashed, shrinking away from physical contact of any kind, then she would flip the switch and go racing into his arms for a hug and want him to dance with her, or cuddle on the couch and watch TV. This constant push/pull reaction was so exhausting, so frustrating we could hardly stand it. We cried out to the Lord often, for strength for us, for healing for her, for just the courage to keep walking.
I think I had the hardest time during this situation because I could see the pain on my husbands’ face. I knew my daughter put it there with yet another rejection, but I couldn’t be too upset with her because I knew that she was operating out of a place of pain. She’s never had a dad in her life and I think she’s testing if this one is staying or if she can push him away.
My protective “Mama Bear” instincts are stirred, but I can’t protect my husband from our daughter who didn’t really mean to hurt him, nor my daughter who is in such emotional pain all the time from something that happened long before she met me. With everything in me I wish I could ease those pains for them, but I can’t. All I can do is pray to the One who can.
This treatment of Aaron went on for 12 to 15 months but I’m thrilled to say that now, when Emma sees his car pull in the driveway after work, she screams, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” jumping up and down and runs to greet him…..most days.
Looking back at the length of our adoption journey and comparing timelines, at the time we were making the decision to adopt, Emma’s birth mom was making bad choices that would ultimately lead to Emma being placed in foster care. We can see how God moved His pieces around until He had Emma in her forever family. It’s awesome that, while we couldn’t see it happening at the time, we can look back and see God’s handiwork in all of it, even in the timing. As much as we wanted Emma in our home immediately, we weren’t ready right away. We had some things we needed to go through first.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the progress being made when you’re walking through the muck and the mire of day to day life. I remember seeing my doctor for a checkup the year we got Emma. My doctor asked “How are things going with your daughter?” I said, “She didn’t want me to leave today. She threw a shoe at my head, but she missed”. A year later, I went for my next checkup and my doctor said, “Surely things are better now, it’s been a year!” I answered, “She threw a book this time, but her aim is improving, she hit me”.
But they say a picture is worth a thousand words and when I compare Emma’s kindergarten school picture with her first grade school picture (RIGHT), it’s so clear what a steady diet of God’s love, our love, security, peace, nurturing and safety have given her. Her eyes are brighter, her smile shines, her whole face glows.
Whenever I wonder if I’m really making a difference, when the books and the shoes fly, when the screaming tantrums start up again, I go to this picture and remind myself that yes, we are making a difference. As hard as it is, God’s love is truly transforming not only Emma, but us, each and every day.