To the One Who Made Me a Mom

“And then my soul saw you and it kind of went, “Oh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you…”

— Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You

It’s okay. You can scroll back up and look at those captivating eyes one more time, if you’d like. I know I would. [I may be biases, but I think they are some of the best…]

I remember the first time I saw those eyes. The first time we met her. The day floods back with perfect memory, and it still leaves me breathless to recall such confidence and certainty in moments where little should have been.

This is just our story. Her story. And I’m sure yours will be entirely different. But I’ve been in a season of remembrance lately, and it’s been so, so good. [When I say “good”, I really mean wonderful, terrible, messy, chaotic, amazing, overwhelming, painful, traumatic, dramatic…good.] Yet in it all, one thing I have learned is this: He is faithful in the waiting, my friends, and wherever you’re at today, I am believing the same for you, too.

When my husband and I decided we were ready to grow our family, we pressed in to what direction the Lord might have us go first. If you read my earlier post, you know we felt like adoption was written into our DNA, but making it our first step felt scary.

We already felt different and kind of alone, would adoption only increase the gap? It was atypical, and our families didn’t necessarily understand. “Maybe we’re supposed to have bio kids first,” I thought. But I never wanted our adopted kids to feel like a Plan B. I wrestled with the complexities of all we felt called to, almost stunted by the fear of messing up. Really what I wanted was a narrow answer. I wanted to hear Him say, “Foster Care.” “Adopt.” “Get Pregnant.” Anything but what He gave us. Still His voice came back, “Throw your nets wide…”

So we did. We signed up for foster care classes, pursued a home study for domestic adoption, and attempted to conceive. I remember being crushed at the end of every month – with both an empty crib and an empty womb. It was a revolving door of broken expectation and anxious hope that I’m not sure I could even begin to put into words. Still, I trusted Him to be faithful.

“No Longer Slaves” was the song on repeat at this time in 2015, and I vividly remember many moments of ‘singing my way into the truth’.

You split the sea so I could walk right throw it. You drowned my fear in perfect love. You rescued me so I could stand and sing, I am a child of God. I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.

Bethel Music

Much weeping proceeded the moments ahead (and if I’m honest, the moments after), but I believe the Lord answered that prayer – the one I belted out loudly for nearly 500 days as I waited for Him to come through for me.

I didn’t know if I would ever really believe the words I was singing, but from the very first moment we met our Diamond, I truly began to live them.

He split the sea, and we walked right through it. Fear was drowned in perfect love. What can I say except He fights for us. She is a child of God.

It was a Saturday. February 27th. A sunny day amidst a week of snow. A foster mama we barely knew knocked on our front door and introduced herself as she carried in a carseat with a baby girl hiding behind a pink blanket.

My husband had taken a call a few days earlier, agreeing to do respite for a four-month old with a feeding tube alongside an array of other minor medical needs – details he conveniently “forgot” to share with his easily anxious wife. We had no idea what we were doing, but we wanted to be doing something. And this was just respite! It was like dipping our toes in the ocean; the tidal wave came quicker than we imagined.

Her foster mama folded down the blanket that covered the carseat and introduced us to this new little one. “Oh, she’s beautiful!” was the first thing her one-day daddy said, and her foster mom nodded in agreement. And in that moment, I knew.

I knew.

I knew I was hers, and she was mine.

I knew she was the one the Lord had us waiting for.

I just knew.

Except I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. But I did.

If those last words felt too messy, great. You’re tracking.

I remember a confidence that shouldn’t have existed with a baby that had no predicted future of being in our home.

I remember motherhood instantly being a part of me, like I can only assume one feels after delivery when the newborn is laid on his or her mama’s bare chest.

I remember the first time we cuddled, so perfect I thought I might never move…and the first time she cried, so hard I thought I might puke.

I remember feeding her through that tube and crossing off her meds on a detailed schedule and wondering about her story.

I remember sitting in the rocking chair as she fell asleep, crying big tears knowing the next day she would leave.

I remember going back to that rocking chair the first night she was gone and falling limp on the floor, curled into a weeping ball as my husband tried to comfort me, but cried just the same.

I remember knowing with a certainty I cannot explain that I would love this little girl fiercely and forever, and that she would grow up in our home but having no idea how the my hope and the reality would ever collide.

How can motherhood feel so real before it actually exists?

I remember my husband calling her social worker the very next day and mumbling through imperfect words. “I don’t know if this is appropriate,” he said, “but if that little girl’s case is ever leaning towards adoption, we would really love for you to keep us in mind…”

“Great!” she replied. “We have court tomorrow.”

It would be another 18 months before Diamond officially became a Kuipers, but He never ceased to split those seas.

For the next five months, we jumped through the hoops of the system. Her time was split between our home and her foster family as DHS “waited to be certain”. The wait was painful and long, but every moment with our girl was a gift.

I remember the first Mother’s Day that she was alive. We didn’t get to spend it together. I’ll never forget that feeling – knowing my daughter was out there, not with me, but with another woman. In some small way, I believe the Lord was preparing me for the birth mamas + first mamas I’d one day walk alongside one day in the future. My heart longed for her in a way I have never longed for anything before.

She has always been worth fighting for.

She finally came home on July 1st of 2016.

I’m not sure any other day has ever felt quite as complete. I won’t paint a picture that it all has been easy; she has revealed every insufficiency there is inside of me, but I can’t think of a moment that I haven’t been ravished by her smile.

An entire year passed before we sat in court and confirmed what was already true in our hearts – we would love her and be loyal to her, provide for her and protect her, give her access and grant her inheritance, as if she was biologically born to be our own.

Yup, I wept that day, too.

She was everything we needed and nothing we knew to hope for. And the truth is, I could keep writing about her forever, but eventually I have to stop.

She is tender and kind, but oh is she fierce. She is a fighter with victory written on her heart. “The resurrected King is resurrecting me” were the first lyrics she ever raised her hands in worship to, and they have become a testimony for her life.

A life that doctors believed would be plagued by the effects of choices made so early in her days. This is the last thing “I’ll remember”…

I remember the first doctor’s appointment we were asked to go to. “We have to tell you everything,” they said. “If there is a chance you might adopt her, we want you to have the full picture…”

“Her eyes and her ears might be damaged,” they said.

“She may never walk,” they said

“She may never talk,” they said.

“She might struggle to learn,” they said.

“She might not ever eat or drink on her own,” they said.

“This is nothing,” her Jesus said.

He’s been faithful to that promise.

We celebrated our Diamond girl’s adoption, her dedication, and her golden birthday nearly two years after that first day we met, and I’m still remembering today like I did on that one.

There’s so much celebration and grief on this messy road. So much more I didn’t even touch on. I know adoption isn’t perfect. I even know it’s not the Lord’s first choice. But the privilege He has invited us into is almost more than I can bear…

This little girl…she made me a mom, but she has made me a lot more than that, too. She has made me stronger and weaker and more humble before the Lord. She has given a face to the idea of redemption. She has shown me what it looks like for the lion to lay with lamb. She challenges me to love Jesus recklessly and fight for a song in my heart. She has healed me as He has healed her, and given me a thousand reasons to dance.

I can only hope and pray that I will be able to give half as much back to her.

Jesus, thank you that you’ve always known my little girl. That for ever day I wasn’t there I can be confident in this: You were.

You delivered her safely from her mother’s womb. You are the one who cared for ever since she was a baby. Since the day she was born, she’s been placed in your custody. You cradled her throughout her nights and her days. Don’t leave her now; stay close in whatever might come. (Psalm 22)

I love you, my Diamond girl. May you always live into the name your birth mama gave you.

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