Adoption

A dedication ceremony

I walked like an automaton down the hospital’s gray tile hallway. “Oh God, I’m hurting more than I thought possible!” I said silently. I felt as though I were teetering on the edge of a precipice. Keeping a smile on my face when I felt like screaming was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My husband, Ken, walked beside me, pushing our daughter in her wheelchair toward a private room provided by the hospital staff. As I opened the door, I noticed the gray walls. “Is everything gray?” I wondered.

Our little threesome—Dad, Mom, and our daughter, Wendy—were the first to arrive for the dedication ceremony, which Wendy had planned after her baby’s birth. As the door shut behind us, we looked around in silence. “I can’t believe it, Daddy,” she said.  “I’m giving away my baby!”

Soon, our pastor and the adoptive family arrived. We greeted each other and stood in a circle together, awaiting our newborn granddaughter’s arrival. My heart was pounding and my body was shaking. “How am I going to get through this hour, Lord?” I asked Him in silence. Then I sent up silent prayers.

Soon, the door opened, and the maternity ward nurse wheeled in little Kailee in a cart and placed her in our daughter’s lap. She was wrapped in a soft lavender blanket I had tearfully created. Her adoptive mother reached for her facial tissue, and I thought about the past few weeks.

A bittersweet good-bye

After a lot of prayer, Wendy, then almost 18 years old, had decided to place her baby for adoption. Once we chose a Christian adoption agency, we received over 30 family profiles. Sitting around the dining room table one evening, we decided to review them one by one. We enjoyed reading aloud some of the potential parents’ stories and wishes. Then we each prayed about which family we should choose. The next morning, we found we had all made the same choice. I knew then it was a “God-thing”!

Now, as we said our good-byes, my husband walked around the room with Kailee. This was his last talk with his granddaughter. He held her close and prayed. When he handed her to me, my arms were shaking. I wasn’t sure I could hold her, but I did. And I felt the stinging pain of loss, since I knew I might never see this child again. While tears fell from my eyes, I prayed,

Dear Lord, please stay close to this little girl. Help her to grow up knowing You and living a life that is God-centered. Help her to know that she can come to You during the hard times of her life. May she connect with us someday. Guide her and direct her in Your love. Thank You, Jesus, for this moment.

After kissing Kailee’s rosy little cheek, I placed her in her mother’s arms, and my tears flowed again. As my daughter held her newborn infant, she smiled and began to sing her a song. Then she handed her to our pastor. He gently picked her up and rocked her in his arms, and prayed as he dedicated her to the Lord. When he dipped his finger into the oil and touched her little forehead, I knew God was blessing this ceremony. Who would have thought this could happen—that the adoptive family would be standing here with us?

As soon as he finished praying, he handed Kailee to her new parents. Her adoptive mother held her and looked at Wendy. “Honey,” she said, “we will be good parents to your little angel! We will raise her with tender loving care. She will be raised in a godly home.”

Then Kailee left with her new family. As they walked down the hall with our pastor, we watched in silence. As we headed back to Wendy’s room, I realized how empty I felt. I never dreamed that something could hurt so much that I felt almost as if I were breaking apart. We entered the room, filled with flowers and balloons, and said nothing except “I love you” to each other. That was enough for the moment.

God makes a way

In the months that followed, I became aware I had internalized everything that led to my daughter’s unplanned pregnancy. While I was working with an outreach to street youth, we took into our home a young man who was my client, to help him out. He stayed with us for almost a year, and he was Kailee’s birth father. I had spent months blaming myself for this situation.

One morning when I was home alone, a few weeks after our granddaughter’s birth, I walked to the sliding glass doors that looked out onto our backyard. I knew I needed to lay all my feelings in God’s hands. I had tried to do this, but I was still harboring blame. I couldn’t communicate these feelings to my family, and I couldn’t let them go.

As I stood there, I placed my hands on the glass and cried my heart out. Unable to pray, I felt God’s hand on my heart. It was as if He were saying, “Don’t worry. I’ll pray for you!” I suddenly felt that a huge burden had been lifted from me. And just as suddenly, I noticed the blue sky, the cotton-candy clouds, and the bright yellow sunshine. Best of all, my mind relaxed as I gave up my worries and emotional struggles.

I finally realized that throughout my daughter’s pregnancy, I’d been unable to see her needs. In fact, the fog of my own problems had blinded me to the reality that the whole family needed me. But this wasn’t about me. This was about Wendy’s life, her relationship with God, and ultimately, our family’s survival. And as I recalled the dedication ceremony, I was filled with gratitude for my daughter’s strength at that time. I should have realized then that God was in control.

When we reunited with Kailee 18 years later in our little house in the mountains, I knew that God had orchestrated the whole scene. We hugged, shared, and looked forward to a wonderful future together—and we talked about the dedication ceremony.

Wendy then stood up in the middle of our front room and, once again, sang a song to her daughter. It was gospel singer Janet Paschal’s song titled “God Will Make a Way.” And once again, our two families shared tears. But this time, for all of us, they were tears of joy. I listened to the words as she sang them. That’s what our story was all about. God had, indeed, made a way!

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About the author

Shirley A. Reynolds

Shirley A. Reynolds lives amidst the beauty of a mountain paradise, where she loves to ride her all-terrain vehicle through the backwoods. She writes personal-experience stories for magazines, devotional publications, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. She is involved with her local church, teaches a children’s Sunday school class, and speaks at women’s retreats.