Friday, November 5, 2010

How It Happened

While my son has been in his special pre-K program for three hours a day, I have been spending my time alone at my desk, editing a musicology book for an academic publisher, taking breaks only to drag my reluctant self to the piano to practice for a very demanding gig that I have next month.  A couple of weeks ago, I subscribed to the feed of a blog that I discovered through the process of clicking through links on other blogs, and I no longer remember what the source of the link was, or exactly how or why or from where I started the clicking process.  The blog's author is an orthodox Catholic woman who was at the same stage in the adoption process that our family was: her home study had just been approved, and she was waiting for a placement.

I had begun a novena to St. Jude in advance of his feast day, asking, among other things, that he would petition God to add more children to our family.  Two days before his feast day, on October 26, I was working on the book when an email came in from the Catholic adoption blog.  A new post was up, feauturing a picture of a gorgeous, smiling baby boy, and the news that he desperately needed a home.  I emailed the blog author with my phone number, and she called me back within seconds -- from a Bronx exchange.  It turns out that she lives about a mile away from my old home in the Bronx, that we have certain salient things in common, and that our husbands are both close friends of a particular Irish priest, a very wonderful man with whom my husband gets together whenever he goes back to New York.  The blog author had dearly wanted to adopt the little boy in the picture, but was unable to.  She had started the process, and had had a medical specialist examine his file, but, when her plans unraveled, she decided, out of love for him, to find him a good Catholic home.

She sent me his entire file by email.  I showed it to my husband, who said, "Aren't there any abandoned children closer to home?" and, then, "You know we'll have to go to China to get him," and then, "What about the money?"  As it turns out, because the boy is special-needs, the cost of adopting him will be roughly the same as it would be to adopt locally, as we had planned.  I told my husband that, if God wants us to do this, the money will be there (and, in fact, I'm waiting to get paid for the editing job, and hoping the check will come very soon so that I can turn some of it over to the adoption agency).  We started praying for the baby boy and for God's will in the matter.  My son was especially touched by the fact that little Jude (as it only makes sense to call him) doesn't have a mother or father.

From a purely rational standpoint, our local adoption process can only succeed if a birth mother chooses us to be her child's family, which theoretically might never happen.  Here is a baby who came to us in the most unusual way, who needs a family; it just doesn't make sense to turn him away.

He will need at least one surgery, perhaps more, for a condition that's not life-threatening, but which may or may not be quite complicated.  By the grace of God, we have access to excellent medical care, including a world-class hospital about a hundred miles away which treats a lot of special-needs adopted children.

I phoned the adoption agency to tell them we wanted to adopt Jude.  The coordinator told me another family was considering him, and, because they were already signed up with the agency, she would have to tell them first and give them first priority.  I got off the phone, cried, said a decade of the rosary, and emailed my new friend about it.  I immediately got a phone call from the Bronx:  "You call them right back and tell them that the person who makes the commitment is the one who gets first priority, not the person who's already signed!"  So I did that.  The coordinator said, "Um, hang on a second," put me on hold, and came back on a moment later, saying, "Congratulations."  So now I'm sifting through more paperwork.  And I have to enclose a sizable check.  Please pray that I'll get paid for my editing job soon!

In considering little Jude's medical problems, I had to reflect on the sense I have of my life: that I'm called to love people not in spite of their imperfections, but because of them.  Of course, I have to pray every day for the courage, wisdom, patience, and humility to fulfill this calling.

And it's also true that every gift comes with the cross.  Nonetheless, it would be silly to expect a perfect baby when I'm so far short of perfect myself.

Thank you, friends, for your prayers. I will keep you updated.

24 comments:

Rebekka said...

Love this. I really wanted to adopt but we were rejected because my husband has a chronic illness. I will be praying for your family and little Jude.

Pentimento said...

Thank you, Rebekka. I'm so sorry that your adoption plans were turned down. I wonder if it might not work out somehow. I will pray for you too.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

It is a beautiful story, Pentimento. I will pray that you will soon have your new son in your home.

Rodak said...

This just keeps getting better.

Pentimento said...

OK, here's the punchline. The day I got the call from the woman in the Bronx, I had a dream that Jude was being baptized and she and her husband were the godparents. I told her about it recently, and she told me that a year ago she had a dream that she and her husband were going to adopt a little boy but couldn't, and a friend adopted him instead.

And here I've been so angry that God hasn't seemed to be answering my prayers for a real friend . . .

Enbrethiliel pointed out in a private conversation that the internet has been a channel of grace in my life, and I have to agree.

Pentimento said...

I thought you'd appreciate the Bronx connection, Rodak. :)

The Cottage Child said...

"it would be silly to expect a perfect baby when I'm so far short of perfect myself."

They're each perfecting to us as parents, though, aren't they? You're a teacher, yet, Pentimento, God bless your journey.

Sally Thomas said...

How fabulous. Gives me chills.

God's odd coincidences really seem to show up in adoption experiences. My husband is an adoptee, as you might already have known; my mother was the social worker who placed him with his family. We didn't know this until after we were married, and it was . . . strange but kind of wonderful . . . to see my mother's signature, in her maiden name, on these papers signed a year before her marriage and two years before I was born. She had no idea she was signing her own future.

Many, many congratulations and prayers for the three of you on this side of the sea, and Jude on the other. May you be united soon.

eaucoin said...

This is wonderful, and Jude is the perfect name. I am from a large family. Each of my sisters and I have multiple children (two have six), but the largest family belongs to my sister who couldn't have her own children, but is now the mother of seven. She intended to adopt three, but they were open adoptions and birth mothers came back to the agency asking if their child could be placed with their sibling(s). Each time her and her husband prayed about it, and they never said no. She home schools them and they have a large van. They aren't perfect, but you can see God's fingerprints on the family. It turns out that when you're out of your depth, you're in God's territory.

Karen E. said...

Ohmyohmyohmy, what a beautiful story. Praying for you, Jude, and the whole plan ....

Pentimento said...

Thank you, friends. I wonder a little if this is all crazy.

This summer a social worker from a foster-to-adopt agency came over to talk to me, and, when he learned that we were open to adopting children out of foster-care, but that any new children we add to our family will have to be younger than our biological son (his life is complicated enough by his neurological issues, and most children in foster care are older), he said, "Well, why don't you just buy a baby internationally?" I was offended, though I know this man is very, very committed to helping foster kids. I just never imagined that we would be doing what appears to meet his rather scornful description.

I pray that you are right, Eaucoin, about being in God's territory when you're out of you're depth, because I'm out of it here. But nonetheless I know somehow that it's something we are supposed to do.

Pentimento said...

Sally, I did know that about your husband, but I love hearing about it. It is the absolute best story of mysterious grace.

MacBeth Derham said...

Hanging on every word here. Can't wait to hear how it all works out.

Pentimento said...

Stick around, MacBeth . . . this will take a few months at least . . .

mrsdarwin said...

Pentimento, I'm following this saga with such delight for you. Say a novena to St. Joseph -- my mother-in-law recently commented that St. Joseph was the perfect patron of lives that haven't gone quite as planned or expected...

Pentimento said...

Thank you for your good wishes, Mrs. Darwin, and great idea about St. Joseph.

ex-newyorker said...

Funny, I keep wanting to leave a comment about recent prayers to St. Jude and our little boy who was middle-named after him. Wanting to leave the comment with relevant but not excessive details. But since he's still very little, our baby kind of gets in the way of typing and editing and such. After reading MrsDarwin's comment though, I had to mention that he was unexpectedly named after St. Joseph when I found myself thinking he looked like a Joseph in spite of that not being on the list of potential names this time around. Then my husband mentioned how much he'd been praying to St. Joseph as we waited for our son to be born. We both thought independently about the middle name being Jude, too. My thought was that even if I didn't "get what I wanted," we should still honor the saint I was sure had interceded for us as requested. But my late-pregnancy novena seemed to be answered with yeses almost in a checklist fashion. I didn't even realize it immediately, as I am always reminding myself that I may very well receive "no" as the answer to my prayers.

Anyway, I'll be very happy to ask both saints to intercede for your intentions regarding this sweet little boy, and I hope our own little J.J. will serve as a good reminder to keep doing so.

Pentimento said...

I love it, Ex-Newyorker. Thank you for your prayers!

Patty said...

Yeah! Congratulations! Just saw this posted on your Bronx friend's blogspot. (I follow her as well.)

We also adopted internationally.

May God bless you on this new journey!

Pentimento said...

Thank you, Patty!

Kimberlie said...

Congratulations! I am an adoptive mother to 3 from China, all special needs, and we are about a month or maybe a little more, from traveling for #4. If you have any questions about the process, or just need a cyber-hug during a sometimes frustrating process, please email me at kimberliemeyer at cox dot net.

God bless you! I am always so excited to hear another little one has been chosen!!

Kimberlie said...

PS - feel free to scope out my blog too. I have some posts in there about the process. And of course, some pictures of my beautiful little "Dumplings."

Pentimento said...

Thank you so much, Kimberlie! I will be emailing you.

Betty Beguiles said...

Oh my goodness! I so enjoyed reading this. You all will be in my prayers.