December 7, 2007 was a day like most Fridays - a day of running errands followed by our Friday "date night". On this particular Friday we had several errands to run, including shipping a package, returning books to the library, dropping off a job application (me), and a visit to the eye doctor. The eye appointment was first, then we'd take care of the other items and eventually end up at Barnes & Noble where we could relax with a stack of books in some comfy chairs while sipping a chai (me, not Eric - he's not into those foofoo tea/coffee drinks).
After seeing the doctor, who gave me a light prescription for reading and computer work (yes, I'm getting to "that" age - but I think they make me look especially intelligent!), we decided to take in a bite to eat at Arby's. Doc had dilated my eyes to do some tests, so getting some lunch was a good way to kill some time before running our errands and dropping off my job application (I didn't feel like speaking to a potential employer with dilated eyes - he might get the, ah, 'wrong impression'...).
So anyway... We're in Arby's munching on sandwiches and chatting. I've got my dark sunglasses on, lookin' really cool. We're discussing plans for the rest of the day, and my mind drifts to an e-mail I had received the day before from our adoption agency. An e-mail I wished I had never seen...
Now let me pause in the story to give you some background information. America World, our adoption agency, sent our completed paperwork in to China in September 2006, and we were officially logged in to their system in October 2006. Our 'Wait' had officially begun. Then this past April, Eric and I prayerfully decided to apply to our agency's special needs program. Every 3 or 4 months our agency receives a batch of 30 or so special needs referrals (information and pictures about a particular adoptable child) from China. We knew God was preparing a daughter for us; we just didn't know if she would come from the standard route or from the special needs program. So we wanted to leave all doors open.
We were approved for the special needs program and settled back into life and "The Wait". We felt hopeful that our daughter would come to us through the special needs program, but after going through two referral "batches" and not receiving a call, I had had enough of the emotional roller coaster. I knew God was in charge of choosing our daughter and He had the timing under control, but I was struggling to handle the days of anticipation followed by days of discouragement whenever we didn't get called for a referral. I decided the best course of action was to stay off our agency message boards indefinitely and switch all agency e-mail notices to Eric's e-mail account. This way I would be ignorant of all referral activity and would no longer ride the Emotion Express. Eric said "great" and set up a new account just for this particular purpose. Then...I got busy. Getting into the Thanksgiving season and entering December, my mind was on the hectic holidays ahead of us. I forgot to tell our agency to switch all e-mail notices to Eric. Oops. BIG oops!
Here I am, going about my life, blissfully ignorant of all things adoption related (I did stay off those message boards by the way, and hadn't heard a peep from our agency), and that's when it happened. On Thursday December 6th, I saw an e-mail in my inbox I wish I had never seen. It was from America World and the subject line read "Special Needs Referrals!" I knew EXACTLY what that meant.
I had been doing so well - really feeling at peace about things - knowing that God was working behind the scenes to prepare us and our daughter for the day we would become a family. I had even genuinely felt okay with having to wait a whole additional year to go to China to get our daughter. Traveling to China at Christmas-time to adopt our Noelle would be a pretty awesome thing! But now this e-mail. Suddenly my emotions threatened to take charge. I placed a quick call to Eric and then my parents, asking them to pray for me to hold on to God's promises and rest in the peace He had given me about waiting. Then that was that. Or so I thought...
Back to Arby's - As I'm thinking about that e-mail, I say to Eric "I just wish I didn't know that America World is making referral calls today. I know we won't be getting a call, but it still would be easier not knowing anything about it." Eric agreed and we continued to eat and visit. Then about 5 minutes later, my cell phone rings. We both stop in mid sentence, and I look at the number. The area code looks oddly familier...
"Hello, this is Jennifer--"
"Hi Jennifer. It's Melissa from America World. How are you today?" (the last time we spoke on the phone was when Eric and I first applied to the adoption agency; otherwise we communicate via e-mail)
"I'm fine. How are you?" (my breathing is beginning to become impaired at this point)
"I'm great! I wondered if you had a moment to talk."
(Oh, no, I don't think so. I'm eating lunch right now. I don't have time to talk to our agency family coordinator who just happened to call on THIS particular day...EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!)
"For you, Melissa," I say, "I have as many minutes as you want!" (Eric knows by now that something very big is going down)
"I have a little girl I'd like to tell you about..."
At this point I began to weep, right there in Arby's. For several seconds I could do nothing but cry my eyes out as Melissa shared information with me about our daughter. My daughter. MY DAUGHTER!!! Thank you, Jesus, for this most amazing and precious gift! I am completely overwhelmed by your love and goodness. Thank you thank you thank you!!!
This phone call was followed by mushy stuff - like Eric (who had, of course, quickly figured out what all the boohooin' was about) and me kissing and embracing for all of Arby's patrons to see, followed by pinching ourselves in amazement, followed by more crying from me. Needless to say, many of our errands were left undone that day as we rushed home to see the pictures of our beautiful daughter that were awaiting us in a new e-mail from Melissa. :)
(If you are interested in knowing more about our daughter Noelle and the specifics of 'The Call', please read "The Call That Changed Everything - Part 2" .)