Thursday, March 22, 2007

Madeleine

Gianna was eighteen months old when we began the adoption process for a new baby. She was a mature one-and-a-half year old, which was apparent not only from her speech and activity, but from her curly locks and her long stature, ranking her in the 98th percentile for height.

In October of 2004 we phoned our adoption agency with hope and excitement at the prospect of bringing a new child into our family. This time, however, we would be taking a fairly substantial risk due to the fact that we we were moving out of state and had about ten months from the start of the process to bringing a baby home. In reality though, we only had eight months from the time we were placed on the waiting list. Knowing that many couples wait two or more years for an infant, we were taking a rather large "leap of faith".

I was not afraid. I had already suffered a failed adoption once before, and mindful of the abundant graces obtained from that loss I knew God would provide, whether we successfully adopted in that short time or not. But I truly believed we would be blessed with a new baby and a sibling for our Gianna, who possessed that abundant happiness and love, so universal to young children, which beckoned someone else to share it with.

I will never forget the day we received that promising phone call from our agency. I was in my kitchen in the late afternoon, bright sun rays beaming through our dining room window. I remember the smell of roasted rosemary-garlic chicken in the house and the quiet of the afternoon while Gianna was napping upstairs. I remember feeling as though I had just walked through the gates of heaven, not quite seeing the face of God yet because I could not remain calm or still, but I stood in hope-filled, excited anticipation of something glorious about to happen.

After hanging up the telephone I knew a dozen things - about the birth parents and their reasons for choosing us, about the pregnancy and health of the baby, that the baby was due in less than a month and that we would be having another girl. "A girl?" I asked, and the caseworker responded "Yes, a girl." My heart was thrilled. Images of sisters twirling around in their dresses, playing with dolls, sharing a bedroom, and sitting on their Daddy's lap in pig tails while having fairy tales read to them- this is what passed through my mind. I savor the memory like it was yesterday.

During the weeks before our Madeleine was born, we were able to attend prenatal appointments with the birth parents, taking Gianna with us. Having had no experience with sonograms, infant heartbeats or the joys that accompany such events, I was so grateful to be present during these visits. I had no idea the sound of a baby's eight month old life could be so overwhelmingly beautiful. My husband also treasured these moments and was amazed by the miracle of it all. Gianna simply thought it was funny that she could hear her sister in someone else's belly!

And then came our big due date. And then passed our big due date. (I know how you mothers feel now - the anxiety is almost unbearable!) After a few more weeks passed, the doctor finally ordered an induction. He scheduled it for 8:00 pm on the eve of the Feast of the Visitation. It seemed perfect. The day celebrating Mary's greeting of Elizabeth, two women coming together, each expecting a baby of their own. And now two more women would be coming together, but these two mothers would be expecting one child, who would be loved and treasured by both.

The night of Madeleine's birth was a miraculous whirlwind. We arrived at the hospital a little before eight o'clock and met with Danielle and Gabriel in the parking lot. We all walked in together. After the routine check-in, transfer to our room, etc., the doctor arrived and checked Danielle. She was dilated only one centimeter when the prostaglandin tablet was inserted, and the doctor asked us to remain in the waiting room until the next examination. Around midnight we were informed that Danielle was still at one centimeter, and the doctor insisted we drive home and get a good night's sleep. He said he was certain she would not go into labor until sometime the following afternoon, and that it would be best for us to get some rest. We were nervous about leaving, but he again insisted we go home and that he would call us should there be any progress.

We arrived at home about thirty minutes later and went to bed. (Don't ask me how we could sleep soundly, I have no idea!) After an hour of rest the phone rang and both of us jolted out of bed. The nurse informed us that Danielle was beginning to have contractions and encouraged us to come back to the hospital. I remember the feeling of stirring nerves and the pulse of restless heart palpitations. I wondered whether we would make it back in time for the birth of our baby.

When we returned to the hospital room, Danielle was at three centimeters but quite relaxed and her contractions did not seem to bother her. We returned to the waiting area, only to have the nurse open the door violently a few minutes later shouting, "It's time! Hurry up!"

I don't think my feet touched the ground along that corridor. But when we approached Danielle in her room, in her sweet, quiet voice she announced, "This is it. Are you ready?" Madeleine's head was visible, but the doctor asked her to wait a few more seconds while he made his preparations. I remember this beautiful, bluish, somewhat alien-like creature surfacing, her head first, then those sweet little shoulders one-at-a-time, that round belly and those adorable feet. The doctor handed me the scissors and I cut the umbilical cord. How beautifully symbolic that moment was, an event that made an enduring impression on my soul.

Being present at Madeleine's birth was something I never thought I would desire. But it was one of the most miraculous, awe-filled moments of my life. It is indeed the closest thing to participating in the Divine I can think of.

The nurses asked Danielle who she wanted to have hold the baby first, and without hesitation, she insisted that I take Madeleine into my own arms. I cried. As we held our Rose from heaven and marveled at all her tiny features, Danielle looked up at us ever so sweetly, smiled, and congratulated us. SHE is a miracle!

The rest of the hospital stay was all about holding, kissing, gazing at and cuddling with our new infant, and thanking God for every minute we had with her. Gianna visited her new sister the very day she was born, and our photographs and video footage of the encounter are precious. She was so tender with this little babe - her gentle kisses and caresses, so lovingly executed, were enough to make a new mother's heart melt.

My heart still melts today when I see the two of them playing, fighting, laughing, embracing or just sitting together. I once said that I am grateful for their moments of discontentment and temper tantrums, because the very sound of fussiness reminds me that I am not childless. My two girls bring me more joy than I could have ever imagined. I hope through grace I might return that happiness by giving them the love of Christ, to guide them on this earth and prepare their entrance into the gates of Everlasting Joy.

One of the most beautiful lessons I have learned from my sweet Madeleine is that sometimes, a "leap of faith" is all we need.

Madeleine Rose, 2 days old

26 comments:

Upi said...

I known two children that have been adopted by my friends.
I have wrote about one of them in particular here: http://unapersonaintorno.splinder.com/post/6065295/Est%C3%A0+llegando+un+dia+feliz.. (but it's in italian language! In fact excuse me for my English!)

Greetings
Upi

Diane said...

Oh Kristen, this is precious, so tender and loving. What a blessing to be there for Madeleine's very first moment of life! And what an amazing and selfless woman Danielle must be.

May God bless all of you.

Michelle Halpin said...

What a lovely story...thank you so much for sharing it! Very faith-filled and hopeful.

Cheryl M. said...

Oh, I've been waiting for this story and now I'm sitting here with tear filled eyes - such a beautiful story! I also am touched by Danielle's kindness and selflessness. Kristen, you are one lucky mommy!! :)

Mom of boys said...

I also am amazed at Danielle's selflessness and generosity! WOW!

Alice said...

Kristen, this is the most beautiful story. I am overwhelmed by it and cannot thank you enough for sharing your miracle baby with us.

What a tremendously beautiful account. I will never forget it.

scmom said...

What a gorgeous story. Thank you for sharing. You have beautiful daughters. You are indeed a lucky mama.

Ouiz said...

Your story is amazing. I am so thrilled that you have your two precious daughters... and I am just so struck by Danielle's courage and selflessness. May God bless her abundantly!

Anonymous said...

A beautiful post, once again! Thank you for sharing such special memories and for reminding me that life involves a "leap of faith". Your daughters are precious! I need to go for a tissue now...

Julie

Anonymous said...

tissues needed here in IL. I am really enjoying getting to know your family via your blog. I think the joy of being at a birth must be the closest thing to knowing how God feels when he helps to create the life!
Marcia

Donna Marie said...

This is such a beautiful story Kristen! Thank you so much for sharing it..I am in tears...it is so moving. Bless you!

Mimi said...

What a beautiful post! I have tears.

Blair said...

Beautiful story. Beautiful girls. Beautiful family. Thank you for sharing them all with us!

Kristen Laurence said...

Thank you for your generosity, dear friends. And thank you for your kind words and blessings for Danielle. She never once thought of herself through the adoption, but truly desired a happy life for her daughter and for us.

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Oh that is so beautiful.

I have tears of joy for you all! That Danielle is truly amazing for her selflessness!

Christine said...

May God bless Danielle for wanting what was best for Madeleine! May God bless you for opening your heart and home!

faithemmanuel said...

Praise God!!!!
-Faith

Beth said...

What a beautiful adoption story. And God bless Danielle!

divinagrace said...

Thank you for sharing this story - wonderful!

Divina

Jamie said...

I had to print this story up, as it is too late and I have not time to read it tonite, and because I gave you bloggers up for lent, I can't come here and read it tomorrow! Kristin, I am sure I will be crying through the whole thing though. When we were first married, we could not conceive for almost 3 years and we ended up with a failed adoption, then a priest blessed my womb, and here I am 4 birth babies and one in heaven later. (the failed adoption was very hard) You are in my prayers...I can't wait to read! God Bless you!

Suzanne said...

Kristin ~ what a beautiful story! May God bless your family abundantly, and may God bless Danielle for her selflessness!
Hugs,
Suzanne

Karen E. said...

What a tender, precious, and beautiful post! Thank you, a million times, for sharing this.

Ladybug said...

Kristen,

My friend sent me your website today and I am so grateful she did.

Your story is very similar to my own and the descriptions of your experiences have brought me to tears more then once.

We too have been blessed in this life through the gift of adoption. Our first baby girl was called back to God when I was 6 months pregnant. After 6 years of infertility and treatments it was a huge loss and I was numb with pain and doubtful I would ever be a mother. I now know that I would not have had the chance to be the mother I am today had she lived. We were blessed a year later to be chosen by a birth mother to love, treasure and adore her baby girl and now 3 years later another blessing has entered our live with the adoption of our second daughter.

This long ramble was to say Thank-You for sharing your story of loss and blessings. I admire your strength in your faith as I have faltered in mine but have been able with time to come back to God and after reading your strength and trust in God through adversity I am more committed then ever.

To our birth mothers, words of thanks seem so inadequate for what we experience with our girls every day. The fact that Danielle could have you there at the birth of Madeline is truly wonderful and to have the strength to let you hold her first and acknowledge you as her Mother has me crying yet again.

Blessings to you and your family!

~m2~ said...

this was so incredible (i read all of your *birth* stories, all equally as amazing - you are truly filled with grace).

the birth mom was incredibly brave. how precious is she in God's sight, as are you all.

thank you for your stories.

Ruth said...

This is absolutely beautiful, Kristen. Thank you for sharing your story. You're so very blessed.

Mary said...

I am just now reading these and of course crying (happy tears!) for you!!! how beautiful!!!