Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Our First Miracle

Following the loss of our first baby through an adoption failure, though I experienced a beautiful joy in that suffering it was certainly accompanied by great sorrow. One of the most difficult parts for me was to have to return to work. I had never felt called to the career life. From the beginning of my years as a married woman my desire was in motherhood, and living the life of a wage earning wife never seemed to fulfill a calling I would continuously hear during those years without babies.

But before I returned to work, needing time to grieve, to pray and to elevate my spirits, I indulged myself in a week off. At that time my mother flew in from out of town to be with me, as she was already scheduled to visit the new baby we would have brought home. The time with her was very special, and memories were made that I will treasure the rest of my life. We made the best of the visit with shopping, having lunches together, and relishing the heart to heart talks that only occur between a mother and her daughter. But the most significant part of that week was the day we visited the local Catholic book store, a wonderful shop the local patrons could always count on for excellent spiritual material. It was here I found a book that would change my life forever, Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla's biography. I had never heard of the then-beatified woman before. As I flipped through the pages, I was instantly drawn to the book and to her. The photographs of a stylishly dressed Italian woman with her beautiful children and of she and her husband in a tender embrace on their scenic honeymoon, coupled with the knowledge that she was Beatified and therefore must have led a holy, devout life, compelled me to make the purchse.

My mother and I read the book together, and when finished we resolved that we, mother and daughter, would pray to Blessed Gianna for a baby. Not just any baby, we would pray for a girl, and should those prayers be fulfilled, I would name her "Gianna".

When I returned to work, the cards, flowers and prayers came flooding in. Sitting at my desk one afternoon, not able to concentrate on office matters, I received this:


This beautiful arrangement of roses was not only a floral bouquet, but also a spiritual bouquet. Each ribbon tied to a rose represented the prayers being said by friends and family on our behalf. It contained hundreds of prayers, rosaries, masses and adorations offered up for our loss. The roses lived for weeks, and at that time having something living and growing in my home after having been deprived of the living baby I had expected was, well......adored. I have no doubt that those prayers were instrumental in the miracles soon-to-follow.

On a dreary, gray afternoon after having returned to the office, I had just finished some work on the computer when my phone rang. A woman announced that she was a case worker from our adoption agency. I immediately sat down in my chair and listened while she told me the news: there was a baby for us. A little girl. She had been born six days before, and we were chosen to be her mother and father. The social worker filled me in on all the happy details, how many pounds she was at birth, her hair color, her sweet smell and how beautiful she was. I couldn't believe it. We arranged for Patrick and I to meet our little girl for the first time, and after the conversation ended I wept with joy. I knew this was the baby for us. I knew instantly who interceded on our behalf. I immediately told my husband the news, as well as everyone around me, that our "Gianna" was born!

We visited her for the first time at her host family's home (similar to a foster home, but these families only host babies during the waiting period from birth until finalization in court). The first moment I saw Gianna I was in love. Her sweet, beautiful heart-shaped face and rosy cheeks combined with her innocence and utter dependence seemed like a portion of Heaven itself. Then I got to hold her for the first time, then feed her for the first time, and gaze on her new father cradling her for the first time. It was sublime. I remember being nervous, wondering, "Am I holding her right? Is she comfortable? Is my sweater bothering her skin? Does she know how much I love her?" But I treasured each and every second with her for that two hour visit. It was painful to leave that afternoon, but we scheduled to see her again in two days, and having been very pleased with her host family, we were at peace.

We visited Gianna as often as possible, spending afternoons with her for the next nine days at her host home until the day the birth mother was scheduled to go to court for finalization. That day couldn't come soon enough. It seemed like months. But it did come, and not just on any random day of the year. The finalization date, upon which we would bring our child home for the first time, fell on March 19th, The Feast of Saint Joseph. God could not have chosen a more perfect day for us, as Saint Joseph had been the "patron saint of our family", securing jobs and homes for us and blessing us with countless material needs and spiritual gifts since the beginning of our marriage. And so it seemed perfectly fitting, Blessed Gianna whom Pope John Paul II had just named "Mother of the Family", and Saint Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, the patron saint of fathers and our own spiritual father, would work together to bring us our first child.

Unlike our previous car ride back home bearing an empty car seat and enough tears to fill a well, this long drive was filled with love, joy, a tiny miracle beside me and the start of a family. The happiness Gianna has brought me since that glorious Feast of Saint Joseph is beyond comprehension, though perhaps not beyond the understanding of a mother who has longed for a child. Every moment of my mothering her has been miraculous to me, and I have thanked God for her every day since that first meeting. I only hope that I will be a good mother to her for as long as God will allow, and that she will understand when I fail.


Gianna at her host home, 8 days old

29 comments:

Cheryl said...

Oh Kristen, such a beautiful story! And such a beautiful little girl! :)

Love2Learn Mom said...

What a wonderful story and a beautiful gift!

My sister had a similar adoption story involving St. Joseph. She wasn't even planning on adopting after losing her first child who was born prematurely and died after 7 weeks in the hospital. She started saying a 30 day novena to St. Joseph and got a surprise call from a priest friend wondering if they wanted to adopt. By the time the Novena ended, they had already brought their little girl home with them and had her baptized. :)

helene said...

Simply gorgeous post! Gorgeous baby! And a happy ending (or rather beginning)to this story!

Blair said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It brings me back to when my own little brother was adopted when I was 6 years old. Such joy and excitement!

E Caughron said...

What a wonderful story Kristen! I am so glad that you decided to share it. I have known more than a handful of couples who have adopted and I am guessing those stories are just as precious (if not more so due to the sorrows which have often gone before) as the labor stories that we moms can sometimes get to swapping. Thanks again.

Michelle Halpin said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Kristen! It was so beautiful! Just another example of how there are no coincidences with God. I'm sure you've connected the threads yourself, already, but I can't help but see that perhaps God allowed that failed adoption, and the great grief that went with it, so that your mother would come to comfort you, so that you would go to that bookstore and find that book about Gianna, so that you would pray for her intercession, so that you would have your own dear Gianna!! Wow...run on sentence extraordinaire! But you get my meaning, right? :)

We had a similar circumstance...I lost my 3rd child to pPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) at 17 weeks. Graham was born too soon and died in our arms 30 minutes later. All this after 3 years of secondary infertility. At the time, I just couldn't fathom His purpose in it all; but we conceived immediately after his death, and now we have lovely baby Liam in our family. It's all in the plan...

What a blessing little Gianna is, and what a beauty! Now I want to hear Madeleine's (sp?) story!

God bless you!

M

Michelle said...

I love happy endings...or beginnings.

teresa said...

I am crying reading this post. My own Gianna was just trying to post a reply (she typed "ffff.") She, too, is a little unexpected miracle (in her own way.) And through the intercession of St. Gianna, who has become a patron of our family (my husband is a doctor, too!) our family has been transformed in love, in its own way.

We have a dvd on her life with real footage of her, and interviews from her family including Pietro. It is really worth buying. I cry every time I watch it.
Here's the link, and I think those are Canadian dollars
http://saltandlighttv.org/shopping/product_info.php?products_id=59&osCsid=2f7e1cf0979e6e7fda33dd4ace12fdf6

Sorry it is so long, I am still trying to figure out hyperlinks.

Melissa said...

What a beautiful story, Kristen. Gianna will never doubt how special she is!

Jill said...

Thanks for for sharing this beautiful story.

angela said...

Kristen, your blog has once again inspired joy, tears, and a smile. I've been enjoying your writing immensely. God bless!

Suzanne Temple said...

This is lovely, Kristen.

Beth Pack said...

I love this story Kristen! What a beautiful blessing she is.

J.C. said...

Kristen,
Gianna is lovely! Adoption is such a special vocation. My brother and sister were adopted, and my mother has helped place over a dozen children from the country in which I grew up into adoptive homes. And God's hand is so evident in many of these stories. Thanks for sharing yours!

Mimi said...

What a lovely story! And, I love the ribbons on the flowers.

And, a dumb non-Catholic question - is it G-anna or Gie-anna? Thanks.

Charlie Chautin said...

What a beautiful little girl and a lovely story! I also really love the idea of a physical and spiritual bouquet for a grieving mother. I was trying to find something apropriate to give my cousin who just lost her first child to miscarriage and this is a wonderful idea. Thank you also for your inspiring blog

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Kristen,

So beautiful!

Thank you!

Kristen Laurence said...

Thank you for your kind words, everyone. It seems we've all experienced God's hand working similarly in our lives, and I find that very inspiring! It says a lot about our Creator and the communion of saints, doesn't it?

Mimi, if I were Italian I would pronounce her name Jonna (holding the double nn a bit longer), but we pronounce it Jee-ah-na. :)

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Kristen, you are going to get tired of my telling you you're beautiful, but you are.

I sometimes wonder if God isn't calling more of us to adoption. These stories speak to my heart on many levels.

Please give that little pumpkin of yours a hug for me. She is blessed in you and you, in her.

Dear St. Gianna, pray for us.

Jamie said...

What a beautiful story, you should write a book about adoption! I teared up through the whole post! God Bless you Kristen, you are so beautiful!

Jane Ramsey said...

Kristen,
Thank you for sharing the beautiful story of how your beautiful Gianna came into your life.
She is as blessed to have you for a mom as you are to have her for your daughter!
I love St. Gianna too and was hoping to name a daughter after here (but as you know we have all boys!).
I thought you might be interested to know there is a new forum that just opened up at 4Real on adoption. I'm sure you would be a welcome addition to the conversation!
Love,
Jane

Faith said...

Just beautiful. We lost our first child through crib death and I, too had to go back to work for a time.Isn't ti interesting seeing how God works in retrospect. Thank you for sharing the pains and joys of your life with us! Your children are just too gorgeous!

Karen E. said...

Kristen,
I thought I had left a comment on this, but maybe it was on one of those days Blogger was giving me trouble. This is *such* a beautiful, beautiful story. May the intercession of Blessed Gianna, and St. Joseph, and all the saints and angels continue to shower you and your beautiful family with blessings.

FloridaWife said...

Kristen, my eyes swelled with tears when I got to the part of you holding Gianna. What beautiful blessings God has given you.

Ruth said...

What a beautiful baby!!!! Congratulations. God bless you.

linnea said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It makes me strong to hear your love and faith, and see the miracle that was brought to your life.

Catholic Mommy Brain said...

I just found your blog and am reading through the posts on your side bar. I am so moved by your honesty and the love with which you tell this story. Thank you for sharing this.

kjlayna@gmaildotcom said...

Beautiful story... I too have a sweet Gianna that came to us after suffering infertility and begging God for the chance to parent her. I know your joy... even years later!

Lisa said...

I just came across your blog via many others and am sitting here crying over this beautiful story!