Looking back on this, it seems so simple; something that Adoption just isn’t these days. But with God at the driver seat, it can indeed be simple, fast, and remarkable.
In December my family (Jeremiah, Kelley and Jack Cathcart) began attending NSB on Sundays. I, Kelley, had been attending the Tuesday Morning Bible Study and before that I have served with the Stephen Ministry here while attending First Baptist of Kirkland. Due to some needs we had for Jack we decided to try NSB.
Our adoption of Jack had been a long, expensive and emotionally draining experience, one my husband and family were not exactly thrilled to begin again, and we had no idea where the money would come from. Our friend Becky and our son were totally worth it but it was exhausting. There was no way an agency was an option this time. I had a few ideas, but nothing was jumping out at me as what God had in mind for us. So when we began attending NSB, I noticed the cards in the bulletin had a large section for prayer requests. I figured, if NSB was willing to pray, I was willing to request.
My simple prayer was this: “Baby #2 where are you?” It was a prayer that I had also lifted up at Bible Study and a Women’s retreat in Early 2012. Just keeping it on God’s list I guess. In 2012 I wasn’t feeling that thing that women feel when it’s time for a baby, but I was looking for options. I know how our family grows, and it takes time, a different kind of time than it does for people with a working reproductive system. So I kept praying, and requesting (Sorry, Pastor Gary!)
Two weeks after I’d put the “Where are you?” request in the bag, Shari Langley, a dear friend from my Stephen Ministry days approached me in the foyer and asked me about my request. And then the words I will never forget fell from her lips and touched my heart with a ring I knew from past experience as the movement of the Holy Spirit. “We received a request from another NSB attender who knows someone who has a friend with an unexpected pregnancy, would it be alright with you if I got the two of you in touch?” I blinked, maybe a few times, and asked, “Shari, are you telling me you have a baby for me?” She answered with a hopeful yet realistic “Maybe!”
So a few days later I called the number of a woman I’d never met, Allicia Wenzeck who was friends with a woman on Whidbey Island, who had a friend that was pregnant, and was not planning to parent, and expecting in early summer. We chatted easily. At the time I wasn’t aware that Alicia had considered this child as her own for a few weeks. Maybe even months? But after careful and prayerful consideration with her husband, they decided that this was not the right situation for them. I need to take a moment and say how amazingly brave, and strong she is in her faith by passing this on to me. There is no situation in the world that is similar to what she did. Only this child’s birthmother was more courageous than Alicia. She said no to the desire of her heart to do what she thought was right for him. And I am grateful that Alexander had Alicia to be excited about him and love him with her gentle and sweet thoughts. Her heartbreak over him is so precious to me, and she is one of Alexander’s three Godmothers. (surprise!)
Only a week later, we found out that the expectant mother was due March 5th. Six weeks from that day! I wasn’t even sure that the update to our homestudy could be done in that short amount of time. And it was a Saturday night, there was no one to call. I had to wait until Monday to call the lawyer and try to find a social worker, and I hadn’t yet actually spoken to the expectant mother myself. What was I to do? What was faithfulness and what was me working on my own strength? So, I prayed. I looked at it logically, we would be adopting again, the desire had been whetted and it would not be put down. So calling the lawyer and getting things rolling wouldn’t hurt. I looked at my journal and I’d unconsciously written “March 5!!!! YES!!!! LORD!!!” I asked Jeremiah later if something this awesome could really happen this quickly for US, the couple doomed to wait months and years before our first child made his grand entrance into our family. He said, “It would be cool if it did!” Can you hear the ring of heartbreak in his voice? I did. I think it was then that the Holy Spirit cemented the certainty of this happening in my heart. I’d not even spoken to Her yet.
Monday morning came, and I went to the gym worked out, and then called the attorney who referred me to a Social Worker and both assured me it could be done. At 1:45 that afternoon, our dear expectant mother called me and we agreed to meet on Thursday, January 31. I had never gone on a birthmother interview without a counselor and my husband. I was on my own with the Holy Spirit there to help me. And He was. The conversation flowed easily, we spoke of common interests, the pregnancy, God’s provision, and agreed to meet again with my husband and expectant father. That meeting went well too, and when I saw how far she had dropped, I was certain that we’d be meeting this little guy soon. We’d chosen a name and were starting to use it cautiously. We’d decided we wouldn’t tell people what it was though, because in doing so, he was our little secret for just a while longer.
We “finally” got all of our paperwork back on Friday, February 22, 2013. It wasn’t without bumps. I’d accidentally faxed in two DSHS report requests for MYSELF instead of one for Jer and one for me. But because I’d prayed and had others praying over the paperwork process I was able to convince the DSHS office to do Jer’s report in one day, February 20. (Phew)
Alexander’s birthfamily currently live on Whidbey Island, where his birthfather is stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. Each drive out to Oak Harbor was like a prayer. Beautiful scenery, Deception Pass, a place we camped when Jack was 2, and we loved it. Whidbey Island in general is just one of the most beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest. (I’m going to give the expectant family names, but they’ve been changed to protect their privacy) Elizabeth and Aaron as a Navy family receive their health care from the Navy Hospital at Oak Harbor. Because of this, there were many procedural things about going on base that were really outside of my comfort zone. Having a birthfather in the picture at all was SO different than Jack’s adoption experience, and all of my training was in how to talk to birthmothers. I had no idea how a guy would be processing the experience, let alone if he’d be down with helping us get on base every time we needed to get on. And because we’re civilians we wouldn’t be allowed to stay on base overnight, nor would we be allowed to have a room assigned to us in the hospital, we’d have to do all care in the nursery/nurse’s station. I asked the prayer team to pray for softness in the hearts of the Hospital officials.
Sunday February 24th rolled around, We went to church, we went to Country Village, we had a great family afternoon, later in the day I met with Ali and Pastor Gary to talk about starting an adoption small group at NSB. Meeting Ali for the first time was really emotional for both of us. After the meeting with Gary, I had a chance to talk to her about the whole situation, and God made it pretty clear that she and the adoption small group were part of this whole story. “Have you heard anything from Elizabeth?” She asked, “Please let me know when she’s in labor so I can pray for her.” Her words of care broke my heart, it was not the first time that I wanted to hug her. I answered,”Not yet, but I’m betting on Tuesday!” I joked, “I’ll call you first thing!”
I went home and we had dinner, gave Jack a bath, got into my jammies, took out my contacts, read Jack bedtimes stories, sang him a few lullabies, said prayers and he fell asleep. I rolled off his bed and went into my room and checked my phone, I had a missed call from Elizabeth, and a voice mail. It was Aaron! And they were at the Hospital! at 8:05!! I called him back and they were in the labor and delivery!! “I’ll be there in an hour!!” I ran out to the living room and said, “JER! WE HAVE TO GO!!! IT’s NOW!”
I called my neighbor, I called my mom, and then put the ice cream in the fridge. I threw the things I needed into a bag and got dressed and Jer did the same, and we were off to the hospital. Of course we were out of gas! Once we got gas, we realized how great it was that it was 8:55pm on a Sunday. There was no traffic anywhere. All of the usual traffic problem areas were empty. I texted with Ali, and other friends, the full moon shone on the Pacific Ocean as we crossed the Deception Pass bridge for the last time as a family of three.
At the gate we called Aaron and he came out and we followed him onto the base in our car and drove to the hospital. When we got to Elizabeth’s room we chatted and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. About 45 minutes later it was time to push. We waited in the waiting room and remembered waiting for Jack. Eternity and 20 minutes later we were standing in the nursery gazing at our son. It was like lightning had struck my heart twice, I was suddenly a new mom again. The joy was exponentially growing by the moment, and I felt so humbled at the hugeness of my mistake in thinking that God had forgotten about me. An image of something I’d read, or heard about prayers came to mind. Our prayers once prayed never leave God’s attention. All those prayers begging him to fill my arms with children, with babies, were floating before him like swallows dipping and swooping and coming closer and retreating from His face. My own idea of God’s planning room is Him sitting or standing at a monitor and taking notice of people, their prayers, their hurts, their joys, and matching them with other people who can understand, relate and provide a solution for one another. This child, was God’s provision for my empty womb, and we were the family that Elizabeth and Aaron needed for him. My joy and humility were equally poignant.
We stayed with Alexander “Lex” Dean Cathcart until 3am. At which point we left him in the care of the worlds most highly trained babysitters, including two Marines and Guards with HUGE GUNS at the gate. This was my only Earthly assurance of the safe night he would have. We checked into the Best Western and slept for three hours and returned to the hospital.
We met two of the most awesome gifts from the Lord when we got to the hospital that morning, we had to again wake Aaron to help us get on base. The Pediatrician, Lt. Thomas C. Miller, spoke with us about our little “Lex” and gave us the 411 on how the day would go. “I’ve put you guys in a room on the ward, so you can have some private time to bond.” He said. We looked at him and were astounded, God was again answering one of our prayers. “I’m going to try to make it so that you guys can sleep here tonight.” He continued. We were so amazed, that without even asking for some privacy, it was given to us, and he was going to try to keep us together that night. Lt. Miller is a “Jesus Follower” as it says on his Facebook, but he is also the father of two. He felt we shouldn’t have to bond with our son in front of the entire hospital. As it turned out, he wasn’t able to get us permission to sleep over that night, but we were so grateful that he’d put his service record on the line for us! He is forever part of our story!
Anita Giannaris was another Angel in human skin, as the hospital social worker she helped us get info to our Lawyer and even took over being our base sponsor so Aaron could focus on being an advocate for Elizabeth. She had hoped to be discharged that morning, but had been disappointed by the news that we would all have to be discharged together on Tuesday morning. I felt so much empathy for her, she was tired, emotional, and ready to be in her home with her own things and her dog. I wanted more than anything to be able to give her that. But all I could do was check in on her and make sure she was getting what she needed. Anita was of great help to me in that area as well.
Hanging out in the Hospital is pretty uneventful. We cuddled our baby and called my mom to make sure Jack was doing ok. He was. We had a few visitors from the Hospital Command, and the mutual friend of Aaron and Elizabeth and Ali Wenzeck came to see us as well. It was nice to have a face to go with her name. Aly and Chris, we love them too! So many good people came together in this lovely story of God’s blessing and provision. It feels like a new “Bible Story” in a way.
Tuesday dawned after a night of rest at the motel and a fantastic dinner of the best Chinese food I’d had in months! I woke at 4 and was ready to go! But instead I let Jer sleep a little. We got to the base around 8 and we conferred with Anita, and Dr. Miller about going home. Jer then drove some paperwork to Kirkland and ran a few errands there and collected my mom and Jack to come with him to pick us up. At 1:30 we walked out of the hospital with Aaron and Elizabeth and placed our son in our car and we all said goodbye and drove home. Jack was so thrilled to finally see us, and “MY BABY!” My mom realized who Elizabeth was and couldn’t keep her tears from spilling, I was having trouble keeping my own emotions under control.
The nicest part of this story is that it isn’t the end. We keep in touch, Alexander will always know who his birthfamily is, we will always be there when we’re needed, or even if we’re just wanted for family. I love how God has grown my family through my sons. Jack has his own special story that I’ve documented at Pasted Together. A blog I began years ago when we first started out on this journey of growing our family. Thank you so much Northshore Family for praying little Alexander into our family. We were not expecting this, and for our prayer team and Pastor Gary to have supported us so faithfully so early in our relationship with the church just shows how much the people Love Jesus and really are interested in making an Extraordinary Impact on our world by living the Word.
And to our other friends and family who have selflessly prayed for our family, thank you so much for always being there when we need you. It is the greatest pleasure of our lives to have you in our story. This life journey would not be the same with out you.