When we finally “went public” with the news of our adoption on August 11th, we stood before our church and did just that. We told our story, briefly, and just felt that God wanted us to share where we were being faithful, both to garner prayers for our journey and to take another step out on a limb. This way, we had a whole building full of accountability during the entire process. It wasn’t too excruciating, and I did most (all?) of the talking – surprise, surprise. Jaclyn just stood looking gorgeous and dabbed her eyes as the emotional mother-to-be should.
The bittersweet irony came when our friends, Dan and Stacy DeHaan took the stage just before us to thank the church for supporting them in recent days. For those of you who don’t know the DeHaans, just a week before that Sunday, they lost their precious three-year old daughter, Lydia, and buried her three days later. Lydia was born with a host of medical issues (that I won’t pretend to know the names of) and was only given a couple of years, at best, to live – by the best doctors in the south. We all loved her just the same and she proved stubborn by milking it past her third birthday, almost to her fourth.
So, on the same day, for our church family, we learned the truth of Job’s prayer: “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21
Jaclyn’s family learned that hard truth again this past weekend. Jaclyn’s family, the Pembertons, are actually pretty well known in rodeo circles by name as trick riding acts for the past 20+ years. But, that’s another story in itself (and one waiting until I figure out how to upload videos of 10-12 year-old Jaclyn in tights off the Beta machine). But, regardless of the name recognition, they are horse people. Jaclyn’s father traces his love for horses back to his maternal grandfather – one that we found in the past couple of weeks using an online site that does such a thing (along with some questionable characters in the lineage of both of our families – also a story for another day).
Even before I got to know Jaclyn – I knew the Pembertons meant horses. Her dad not only has always kept several on their property in Milan, but has bred horses for his own use (not a professional breeder) as well. Usually no issues, since the Lord takes care of that. All one needs is a mare or two (or four) and a young stud horse. A few days in the same fenced-in area and I think we can keep this blog G-rated from there if you’ll fill in the blanks. Approximately 11 months later, and you have a new tenant on the property.
They’ve done it time and again, so you can imagine the excitement Saturday morning when Jaclyn talked to her mom and found out that a new colt had arrived overnight and was prancing around the arena already. As soon as they could gulp down breakfast and put their boots on, the kids were begging to go see and meet him, even on a snowy Saturday morning. They did and made an immediate evaluation from top to bottom. Even started the process of gentling him up and running a screen so the mother wouldn’t trample them in the process. What a great time on the farm, and with at least one (and maybe two) more mares expecting as well, it would be a fun spring to come.
Fast forward one day, same phone call, with a little different result. Another new colt was found, this time a female. But, this time cold, wet, and scared in the corner of the stall. Laying nearby was its mother, the strongest mare on the property, and probably Mr. Jackie’s favorite – One Sock. Turns out, One Sock was pregnant alright – with twins – and she died in the middle of trying to deliver the second one. Since it also happened overnight, the twin didn’t make it either, leaving one scared little lady to tend to. Sadness and mourning, no doubt, but also with a duty – to keep the colt alive. Round-the-clock feedings have already taken place and the little mare has already taken to nourishment from a bottle. Only time will tell, but if things are still going well in a few days, she’ll probably make it just fine.
So where do these two stories collide? Surely, the loss of a human daughter doesn’t compare with a horse, and I’m not suggesting otherwise. I know that in both (as in all of us), death is imminent, even though in one it came as more of a surprise than the other. I know that both contain sadness, but both also resulted in joy as well. In One Sock, a new colt to nourish, protect, and probably spoil. In Lydia, a brand new body in heaven, one that she can actually use – which is a new experience for her.
Compare now to our time here on Earth. Bogging down with frivolous things like how to juggle kids’ birthday parties and ball practices, or how much money we are saving versus spending on non-essentials. Worrying that our house isn’t as clean as we would like, or that we would like a bigger house, nicer car, or a better vacation. What if tomorrow were it? Or this year? Would it affect the decisions you make today? Will there be joy left in your wake because of the lives you impacted here, even though there will always be sadness in physical separation? Or just sadness and uncertainty?
We know that the day is coming, and we are ever hopeful that it is sooner than later, that a similar story will play out in two lives. On one hand, we will take into our possession our new baby – to name, to love, to comfort, to protect, and to raise. But, whether we leave in a car or on a plane, we will leave behind a mother with sadness and separation. Even though the decision she is making may be in the best interest of the child, her heart will have an emptiness for a long time and maybe never go away.
This week, we continued forward with our Arizona situation, narrowing our choices down to two birth mother situations. One in particular, we are encouraged by and even drawn to for some reason. We want to get really excited, but do so cautiously, waiting for more information and the clearance to take the next step. But, we didn’t get told “no” yet, and haven’t moved back to square one, as in times’ past. So, pray that we continue on, if this is truly our child, and that we have a peace knowing that it is not if we don’t get to. But, also pray for these mothers and the thousands like them that make this decision, regardless of the motivation.
In all things – “blessed be the name of the Lord.”
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:21