Baskets In the Water

I entered the adoption process as I enter most things: optimistically. We stepped out excitedly, full of anticipation of the child God had for us, the adventure of growing our family and living the gospel story in such a practical way.

The further along we got in the process, the more tender my heart became towards this child we’d one day adopt. I didn’t know (and still don't know) a thing about him or her, but my heart found that special ferocity for this child that it only reserves for mamas towards their children.

And this ferocity is a good thing. It shows that we are on our child’s side, that there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to ensure his or her well-being, that there’s no length our love would not go.

But just as I’ve seen happen a million times with my two biological children, the flip side of ferocity is fear.

The further we went in the process and the more I learned, a dark fear crept in. I felt it settle on top of me like a thick fog every night, this strong sensation that my baby was out there, somewhere, possibly close enough that I could drive there now, and that he or she needed me. In my optimism, I had been assuming that birth moms choose adoption selflessly, because they desire the best for their child. I believe many, hopefully most, birth moms are like this. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt as generously as I can. But enough reading and training videos made me realize that this is not always the case. That even babies adopted at birth may endure the unthinkable. That I cannot control the decisions of the birth family, that I cannot control how long this process will take, that once again, I cannot control a single thing.

An obvious thing, I know, but incredibly painful when it’s no longer theoretical. If someone else had my precious Adelaide or precious Greer for a season, if they endured even a second of pain, abuse, or mistreatment, I don’t know how I could bear it. But this is the reality of adoption. From what friends have shared with me, this is the reality of foster care. The children we love, the children we consider our own, possibly enduring pain we cannot imagine, possibly in the care of people who do not care for them.

At night, my heart will scream out, “My baby needs me right now!” How desperately I want to go to my precious one, to meet every need, right now. Several mornings I’ve woken up with a headache, a physical reminder of the toil and tears endured in the throes of fear.

But one morning over coffee, a whispered reminder brought me to my knees. During a recent study of Exodus, I’d decided to watch Prince of Egypt with my kids. The movie had me a complete mess—“Ees okay, Mama!” said Adelaide as she wrapped her arms around my head, and I replied in a muffled, sniffly voice, “I know, baby. God will make it all right.” See, in order to save his life, Moses’s mother places her three-month-old baby boy in a basket, allows the current of the Nile to pull him away from her. A familiar story told with cartoon characters hit me anew, and I watched breathlessly as the basket is tossed violently through the river current, until finally, it gently floats up to the feet of a daughter of Pharaoh. Moses’s adoptive mother opens the basket, and sees her son. The son the government wanted to kill, the son of a courageous birth mother, the baby who would one day be called a friend of God. There are a million more beautiful details in the story to unpack, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that basket. In that moment and over that morning cup of coffee weeks later, God whispered to my broken heart, “I am still sovereign over baskets in the water.”

Somewhere, my baby is in a basket, and I cannot trust the waters to be calm. But I can trust the sovereign hand of God to guide that basket to my feet. I praise God for birth mothers who courageously choose life, who selflessly and painfully entrust their child to a basket. I imagine it will be hard for her to trust me as well. Dear God, give this beautiful, brave woman an extra dose of courage. An extra dose of conviction. An extra dose of comfort. In many ways, no matter what circumstances lead her to choose the basket, she is my hero.

One day, when I finally peer into the face of the baby God has sent, I will proclaim over him or her that which I have to proclaim over Adelaide and Greer almost daily: “So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord,” 1 Samuel 1:28. Our kids are never really “ours,” are they? 

Even as the unpredictable current pulls, I must remember that “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36), including all my precious children, wherever they may be, whoever may be holding them right now.