By Jennifer Avery
In my mind I can very clearly remember the days all throughout school when the teacher would make the one request that I hated the most—to work in groups. Most of the time we were given multiple-choice worksheets and were asked to complete them within the class period. Each student would take a question and begin hunting for the answer, and afterward we would share with each other the answers we presumed to be correct. I would cringe when answers were given because I hadn’t had the chance to double check their work, and I wanted to see the proof in the textbook for myself.
There were other instances in my life when I found myself wanting a second look. For example, while searching for an accountant to handle our taxes, I called five different offices. I didn’t feel like my current accountant was interpreting an IRS tax code correctly, and I was bound and determined to find someone who would converse with me and see my point of view on the matter. Am I by any means an accountant? Oh, no! But I couldn’t help but have a suspicion that I was right, and they were not.
Even just recently, I asked my husband to pick up my favorite Greek yogurt at a grocery store, and when he returned and said that it was out, I couldn’t help but give him a suspicious glaring eye. Was the store really out of my banana cream yogurt?
As I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to be more honest with myself about my character flaws and have learned to embrace what are my natural quirks. It’s amazing I never saw it before, but one of the most obvious flaws in my personality is that I’m a Doubting Thomas to the extreme. I can perfectly relate to Thomas when he asked Christ to show him his hands. Taking people at their word can be a dangerous and risky thing. While doubt has proven to be useful in finding accountants, double checking the dairy aisle, and passing assignments, it has also shown to be a hindrance to joy, revealing a deeper issue at hand.
No Peace Found
Almost three years ago my husband, Jeremy, and I started the process of a domestic, infant adoption. We had been married 5 years at the time, had one biological child who had just turned 1, and felt that it was time to get the ball rolling. After calling around to a few different agencies (in true Doubting Thomas fashion), we selected a Christian agency that we felt very comfortable with. The first few tasks involved filling out mountains of paperwork that included medical and social histories, background checks, references, and about five pages each of short-answer essays. The paperwork phase shifted to required seminars, home visits, and interviews.
When the worker came to our house, I wanted her to see what would eventually become the baby’s room. I decided that it would be a step of faith to put in a crib, glider, and dresser and to decorate the child’s room in gender neutral colors. Most nights after we put our son to bed, you could find me sitting in the glider, praying for our future family.
It seems like we waited forever to get that first call, but in reality it was only a few months. We were so excited and nervous to meet our potential child’s birth mother. We arranged to meet at the agency about a month before her due date. I couldn’t contain all of the joy that was beating in my heart, and so I did what every proud mom to be would do—I posted on Facebook. I wrote in my status that we had received “The Call!” and that we were hoping to meet our newest addition in the next month. We floated on cloud nine all the way to the agency, but quickly came back down to earth after the meeting.
Things did not go as well as we had hoped. I left that meeting unable to fully explain to Jeremy what I was feeling in my heart; it was a feeling of uneasiness, and no peace was to be found.
We ended up having two more meetings and were working on planning the third. I called my worker to find out when that date would be, and she informed me that they could not contact the birth mother. I begged God for her to just call the agency so we would know she was safe. Every method of communication was tried but worked to no avail. We waited until the baby’s due date before we allowed ourselves to move on from that hope. On that day I went into the nursery and cried.
Did I Hear You Wrong?
I began to feel resentment toward that nursery. I would go in and cry out in anger toward God and ask him why it had to be so hard. I told him how I felt like an idiot for displaying my bold hope and faith over the situation. I kept asking him, “God, did I hear you wrong? Have you changed your mind? God, is there something wrong with us?” These doubting questions revealed what I had feared to say. I obviously did not trust God with the situation, just as I did not trust my accountant with our taxes or my husband buying yogurt. All control was lost, and I was scared.
I grieved as I opened my hands and gave God my hopes and dreams. I couldn’t hold onto them anymore because they were finding ways to make me bitter. From that point on I sat in the metaphorical back seat, and allowed the journey to go where it may. Our journey would take us through one more heartbreaking disruption (the term used when an adoption fails) and to mornings of puffy eyes after staying up late crying. I would often ask Jeremy, “How many till we take a break or call it quits?” Jeremy, being the anchor that he is, would calmly assure me that we needed to be patient and wait.
I still have the scribbled piece of paper that gives basic information: “Baby Girl, May 5, Meet for dinner.” I cherish that crinkled piece of paper because it was the note written on the day I got the call about our daughter, Jessa. Jessa’s beautiful face is a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness. Having seen the blessing at the end of the long journey, I now know why God didn’t reveal all of his plan from the very beginning. It’s always intimidating standing at the base of a mountain looking up at the snowy peaks, and had I known every obstacle that we were to encounter I might have turned and walked away out of fear. Almost three years later I look back at where I was in the darkest moments and smile because I see exactly where God was at the time. He was waiting for us at a Mexican restaurant named Ricky’s where we would meet one of the most special people in our lives—Jessa’s birth mom.
Jennifer Avery is a wellness coordinator and resides in Morris, Oklahoma, with her husband, Jeremy, and children, Jake and Jessa.