Mar 16, 2011

The first time I held him

I had high hopes.  But reality doesn't always match. 

I intended to write out the events that led us to Manny .... and all that happened one year ago.  First saw him March 11.  By March 26 he lived with us.  And I was going to write about what transpired during those 15 days. 

But as many times as I've sat to write it, I just can't do it.  Last year we couldn't tell about what was going on because he was in the foster system and they have specific rules about what can/not be shared.  So we were very careful.  And now that I have the freedom to tell the story, I just can't bring myself to do it.


I realized just how private this journey was.  Intense.  Miraculous.  Full of ups and downs.  In depth soul searching. 

We weren't heroes for adopting him as some see us. 
We weren't the poster family for faith.
We weren't the "we can handle all that comes our way" kind of people.

We are flawed human beings.
We had doubts.
We still question if we can handle all that comes our way. 

Maybe someday I'll be able to share the story of his journey into our lives.  I'd love to have it captured somewhere.  I'd love people to see all that God did to move our hearts towards him. 

And here's a peek about one year ago today.  I held him for the first time.  I'd been praying, just the day before that there would be a way for me to do that but I knew it would not be possible since that's not the way the foster system works usually.  But for the other kids, we held them.  I'd held some very cute kids but knew they weren't "mine".  And I knew the ones that were.  I prayed for the luxury of doing that with him. 

I told no one of this prayer request, not even Dan.  And wouldn't you know it?  The opportunity was offered to me.  Megan (the social worker) asked if coming and holding him would help us decide.  I cried knowing how God had worked that out. 

I got in the car, the whole time wondering what the heck I was doing.  I prayed the whole way there.  I met Megan for the first time.  (Such a Godly, loving woman!)  And I went into his hospital room.  He'd contracted a virus while there and so we all had to put on gloves, gowns, etc just to walk into the room.  He was asleep when I got there and didn't want to disturb him.  But I also knew that this would be my only chance to hold him.  I only had a little while before I had to get back and get the kids from school. 

I picked him up.  And it was extremely, EXTREMELY hard to hold him.  Have you ever held a bag of ice that melted?  Think about a 16 pound bag of water like that.  His arms, legs and head all went in different directions.  I remember his head was wet with sweat.  He had a slight fever.  And there was an odd smell on him.  And of course all the wires everywhere. 

I sat in a rocking chair.  All the people left me alone so I could just "be" with him.  And we sat and rocked.  He slept.  And I KNEW he could be mine.  My heart knew it.  But I also had the logic part kicking in saying how hard this would be to take a baby with such HUGE "unknowns". 

Even while sleeping I could feel how sweet and calm and kind his spirit was.  I prayed for him, for his perfect family.  I prayed for his healing. 

Eventually he woke up and we talked a bit.  I'd never seen a baby this hypotonic ("floppy").  Megan came in and we chatted in the darkened room.  We shared.  We cried.  I told her we would have to pray about it. 

I remember leaving that room wondering if I'd ever see him again.  The thought of taking him as overwhelming.  The thought of not taking him was devastating. 

I drove home and cried the whole way.  I drafted an email in my head of what I'd tell Megan.  I still have the exact email but the gist was this: 

I have doubts.  His "real" mother shouldn't have doubts.  Therefore I must not be his real mother.  I wanted to step to the side and allow her to come forward.  I didn't want to be an OK family for him when the perfect family might be out there for him.  I didn't want to stand in the way between him and his real mother. 

And yes, the irony hit me, even while drafting it in my head.  That's how King Solomon in the Bible knew who the "real" mother was ... the one willing to let the baby go to let him have life. 

When I got home and put that email together, I bawled my eyes out.  I felt like I was letting him down.  It was horrible.  I let him slip through my fingers.  But I knew that if the right family came forward, it would be worth it. 

...  So as you can see .... the journey after Manny came home has been full of ups and downs.  But the road TO him was too!  And I can't believe how much emotion is still there, still so raw, a year later. 

And in this year, I've learned a lot.  I shudder to think how many times I said, "No" to adopting Manny.  And how many times God gently pushed with "Yes".  I am so thankful He did.  One of the biggest blessings of my life is sitting next to me playing with Legos as I type this.  He's singing. 

And now he's asking me to blow bubbles.  Blogging will have to wait, I have a play date with a miracle. 


  1. Beautiful story. Very moving. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I stumbled into your blog a month or so ago and have been reading ever since. Manny is amazing. The child that everyone thought would never make any progress is racking up miracle after miracle. Singing? Playing Legos? Who would have believed it? I honestly believe he will continue to astound the doctors, and that what they learn from him will help other children blossom too. How exciting to watch this all unfold!