I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been witness to something as God-ordained as this little one’s life. We have sat back and watched, over the past almost 13 months, as facet after facet of his journey unfolded. I can’t possibly begin to recount them all. I am just so grateful to have been part of his story.
In 2012, Jared asked me if we were done adopting. I said of course we were, then joked, “Why? Do you know of an extra baby somewhere?” Turns out, he did. It was one of those moments in life that becomes a kind of freeze-frame. Whenever I think back to that day, I can still see myself sitting on the couch as Jared poked his head into the room and asked me that question. He said that a co-worker’s mother was raising her grandson, Isaiah, who was about 10 months old. She was realizing that he needed a family, and was considering placing him for adoption. A difficult decision, for sure. Jared’s co-worker told her mom that she would ask him if he knew of anyone who was interested in adopting. Her words were something like, “Jared and Debbie are good people. I’m sure they know other good people who might be interested.” I don’t know about that “good people” label, but we did find out that a family we knew had been praying about adopting. That’s a story for Isaiah’s family to tell, but it made us start to think that maybe we did have room in our family for one more. We prayed that if God had a child in mind for us, that He’d make it clear to us.
A friend from work had a son late in life. He was in his mid 40’s. I went to the hospital to congratulate him. I actually got to hold his new baby boy. I don’t want to say that the experience got my juices flowing. I’m not a woman you know. But, it was really sweet to see my friend and his wife and their precious little bundle. I also admit to liking the smell of newborn baby on me as I left the hospital. Several months later, I saw the baby again. My friend looked exhausted. Yep. I could have called that one. I’m tired just getting up in the morning. I’m tired right now. I’m pretty much tired all the time. I couldn’t imagine going through that again. So I asked him, expecting a certain response; “So, what’s it like being a dad at your age?” I was surprised at this response. He said, “It is better than the first time.” “What? Are you serious? You’re just saying that because your wife is standing there.” “No, really”, he said. “I’m much more patient with him.” He said a lot of other things like not rushing him to the doctor every time he coughs and having fun. But I just kept hearing, “I’m much more patient with him.” That struck a cord with me. Seeing my friend standing there exhausted but happy, a thought crossed my mind that took me completely by surprise; I wouldn’t mind doing that. Did I just think that? I’ve said my family is complete and we are done many, many, many times. Now I’m thinking about having another kid?
I pushed the thought to the back of my mind as long as I could. I didn’t want to tell Debbie. I just knew she would immediately insist that we go adopt another child right then and there. I didn’t want to get her hopes up. I didn’t want to start something I couldn’t stop. But, Debbie and I have that rare type of relationship in which we really do tell each other everything. I remember the day I told her what I was thinking. Another surprise. She was pretty quick to say, no. She had the same exhausted look on her face that my friend did. And our kids were older. We decided to put it in God’s hands, and trust that if He had another child in mind for us, that He would make it clear. And did He ever make it clear!
In the summer of 2012, we learned that Isaiah’s biological mother was pregnant again. Because she was in jail at the time, I began to pray that God would protect the baby. I specifically prayed that she would not abort the child. I don’t know if that was ever even on her radar, but I prayed anyway. That was another freeze-frame moment. I remember exactly where I was standing in church that Sunday morning when I felt the overwhelming urge to pray for protection for that child, and that his mother would not abort him or her. Months went by, and we didn’t hear anything. Sometime in January of 2013, I started thinking about and praying for the baby again. I thought, if it was a boy and if we got him, we should name him Jeremiah, mostly because his biological brother’s name is Isaiah and it seemed logical. But I also believed that he would live out my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11 … I knew that God had plans for him, plans to give him a hope and a future. A few days later, I asked Jared whatever happened with that baby … had it been born yet? He told me he’d find out. He said that he’d been thinking: if it was a boy, and if we got him, that we should name him Jeremiah. I asked him if I’d told him that was what I’d been thinking, too, and he said that I hadn’t. We’d independently come up with the same name … we were certainly on the same page.
My toe was broken. It was silly. I kicked a table leg while walking in the dark in a hotel room. I sat at the clinic waiting for my turn to see the doctor. A little boy and his mother caught my attention. I engaged him in conversation even though he was barely old enough to talk. I couldn’t understand most of what he said. But he was enthusiastic. I did keep hearing the name, “Miah” with a raised voice at the end, like he was asking me a question. His mother, surprisingly Ok with the fact that a stranger was talking to her little boy, explained that he was trying to tell me about his older brother, Jeremiah. Days and weeks later, that little voice saying, “Miah?” kept running through my head for some reason. It was like getting a song stuck in your head. “Miah?” Just last week, we realized that Isaiah has learned to say Jeremiah’s name … only he pronounces it “Miah.”
On February 15, I was sitting in my car at the Sanford airport waiting for my friend Lisa, when our friend Thomas called and said that the baby had been born early that morning; that it was a boy; and that the state had removed him from his mother because both she and he had tested positive for cocaine. His grandmother had decided not to be involved this time, so after some time in NICU to detox, he would be going to a foster home in another county. We continued to pray for him, and a few days later, I went shopping for him. It had been years since I’d been in the baby aisle, and I teared up a bit as I planned my purchases. My heart broke for this little one who was all alone in NICU, coming off drugs that were not his choice, facing a very uncertain future. He had nothing – no arms to hold him, no “coming-home” outfit … he didn’t even have a name. He was just Baby Boy. How destitute, to not even own a name! So first, I picked out the softest blanket I could find. If he didn’t have arms wrapped around him, at least maybe someone would wrap this blanket around him. Then I picked out an outfit for him to wear home from the hospital. Finally, I found a sweet stuffed lamb, because I wanted him to have something unnecessary … something extra, to spoil him a little. I found a gift bag and a card, and in the card, I wrote this verse:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. — Psalm 139:14-16
I didn’t know how, but I was hoping I’d find a way to get the gift bag to the foster family. I wanted this little baby to be able to look back and know that someone loved him from the very beginning. His future looked so rocky … I wanted him to remember that he was not an accident. Then we heard that his grandmother was going to visit him in the hospital, so we left his gift on her porch.
When he was five days old, the baby was set to be discharged from the hospital and sent to the foster home. His sweet grandmother, at the last minute, went to the hospital to bring him home. That afternoon, she called us and asked us if we wanted to come to her house and meet him. She wanted us to adopt him.
On the way to her house, we told Ben and Emma that we would like to name him Jeremiah. I went on to tell them that my life verse has been Jeremiah 29:11, and we talked about how appropriate that is for this baby, because the Lord does have plans for him … plans to prosper him and not to harm him. We found grandma’s house and parked on the street. I got out of the car and looked up at the house and realized that her house number was 2911. As in, Jeremiah 29:11. Huh! It was looking more and more like “Jeremiah” was the perfect name for him. It was at that first meeting that I saw that he had received the gift bag. He still sleeps with that blanket every night, and my heart trips a little whenever I see him dragging it around the house when he’s tired.
JEREMIAH (BY WAY OF HIS GRANDMA):
I came home from the hospital to my Granny’s house on 2-20-13 at around 3:30. When I got home, I had a gift for me on the porch. It was a blanket, outfit, and stuffed animal. It came from my new family that I haven’t met yet, but I’m going to meet them real soon. This man and woman and two kids came to see me later that day, and I knew that they loved me because they hugged me and loved me and they all gave me my name: Jeremiah. They took pictures of me and they told me they loved me.
Over the past year, there have been lots of ups and downs. That’s true of any adoption, I think. Unlike our first two adoptions, though, I didn’t really stress about them. It seemed so obvious that this was God’s doing … I trusted Him to work out the details. Adopting through the state is quite different from the private adoptions we’ve been through, though. We attended all the state-required foster/adoption classes. We’ve had monthly home visits from a social worker. We’ve completed our adoption home study. We’ve worked with a guardian ad litem. We’ve been to a full-disclosure staffing and a couple of court hearings. All this time, though, we’ve been able to spend lots of time with Jeremiah. Even before we were awarded custody by the court, grandma made sure we got to see him regularly. I’ve been able to pray over him, and hold him, and give him as much love as I could each time I saw him. I felt as if that was my mission: to love him as much as I could for as long as I might have. Isn’t that true for any parent, though? We aren’t guaranteed 18+ years with our kids. We have today, right now.
I was 41 when he was born, and I admit I was a little concerned about becoming a mom again at my “advanced age.” But honestly, I think I’m enjoying it more this time around. Maybe I’m just too old and tired to get stressed out about the little things. 🙂 From the beginning, I’ve felt as though I had a connection with this little man. Maybe it’s because I’ve been praying for him for so long. I just feel as though I can read his mind sometimes.
And he is such a delight. You may have seen the pictures. He is almost always smiling, and when he smiles, his whole face lights up. He adores Ben and Emma, and they have fallen in love with him, as well. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen Ben play with someone before … really get down on the floor and play … but he does that with Jeremiah. At nine months, Jeremiah took his first steps, and he’s walking all over the place now. He loves to play with cars and balls, and is a real people person. He is a happy, healthy little guy. It would appear that the Lord heard my prayers and protected that little boy while he was still in his mother’s womb.
We recently learned that it was a judge who gave him a name to be used on his legal paperwork, since he entered the system as Baby Boy. At his adoption hearing today, we gave him his new name: Jeremiah Houston Daniel. We took Houston from Jared’s grandfather’s name, but there’s kind of a dual significance … those who grew up in Glasgow in the 1980’s may remember the WOVO DJ named Jay Houston. Jared was Jay Houston. He also took his radio name from his grandfather. From time to time, we find ourselves calling Jeremiah “Jay Houston,” and it inevitably brings a smile to my face. (And once in a while, when we discover a blowout, we might say “Jay Houston, we have a problem.”)
From the moment I started praying for him, while he was still cooking in the womb, I have fervently believed that the verses from Psalm 139 applied to this child. But I had no idea that “all the days ordained for him” were also ordained for our family. Our family of five, now. But our family has grown even beyond that, as Jeremiah’s grandmother is now “Granny” to all three of our kids. And Isaiah’s family has become like family to us, as we all make sure the boys spend birthdays and holidays and just fun days together. Only a God like ours could have orchestrated something like this. And I haven’t even mentioned the three who have come to know and trust The Lord because of what He has been doing in our little man’s short life!
One parting thought: James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” There are orphans just like Jeremiah who need a home and a family, all over the world … almost certainly in your town and mine. Most Christians agree that abortion is wrong, but at what point does it stop being a talking point? We demand that children have a right to life. At what point do we look at our own lives and our families and choose to do something that may not fit into our plans? When do we really become part of the solution? When will we begin to give “religion” a good name, by being the hands and feet of Jesus instead of just his mouth? We didn’t see this coming, this third child. We thought we were cruising into retirement in about eight years, as we watched Ben and Emma head toward middle school and high school. We were settled. But oh! What a joy Jeremiah is! I promise you, we have been much more blessed by him than he has been by us. I often just sit back and marvel at his life, and all that has happened to show that God truly does have a plan for him. He is most definitely here for a reason. Will he grow up to change the world? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. But I tell you this: he has certainly changed mine.
Not long ago, I came across this blog: http://momsprobablywrite.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/baby-ive-got-your-number/. The author says, “I understand that not everyone can (or even should) adopt. But we can all do something. God tells us in His Word that pure religion is to care for orphans and widows. If you aren’t called to adopt, please know, that as a believer, you are commissioned to DO SOMETHING.” Please, take a minute and read through the 15 ideas she offers, and consider what you can do for the Jeremiahs around you. It will change your world.