The Fingerprints of God
This is the story of how our precious twin daughters Abigail and Emily were brought into our family. In this version, we have changed some of the names, and left the locations unnamed, to protect the privacy of all involved. This story is told mostly from Lise's viewpoint, but Byron chimes in occasionally.
On June 1, 1998, after many workshops, interviews and what seemed like endless reams of forms to fill out, we received notification that our home study for adoption was complete. According to our agency, we were cleared to adopt a newborn through 2 year old, but we were hoping for a newborn. At the final interview, the adoption coordinator asked us if we were open to a sibling group. The question took us by surprise a little bit, as we were thinking more in terms of a newborn. Byron asked for clarification, and the coordinator said that in those cases "sibling group" could refer to multiples. Byron nonchalantly replied "Sure - twins, triplets, whatever," at the same time thinking "it could never happen."
We started spreading the word to friends and family. Time passed and we waited.... and waited.... and prayed.... and waited some more. In July of 1999, our patience was wearing thin, so we started pursuing additional avenues to adoption, such as facilitators. We prepared a profile of ourselves and contacted a few attorneys and facilitators.
In the meantime, unknown to us, God was preparing the way for us to meet our daughters. Byron and I now live about 550 miles from where we grew up. We were married there, and lived in a wonderful town for a little more than a year before moving to our current home. The town we lived in was a small town, where you were just as likely to meet a friend at the grocery store as at church, and town activities were a time for greeting old friends not seen for a while.
In the fall of 1998, Byron's mom spoke to "Mary," a longtime acquaintance of the family, at the dedication of a new church/school building in this little town. In the course of the conversation, Mary asked about Byron and was told that Byron and I were hoping to adopt. She filed the information away and didn't give it another thought. God's plan was working already.
During the week of September 12, 1999, there was to be a community event in the center of this little town. The event was scheduled for noon. Mary wanted to attend, as she is a homeschooler and thought it would be a good activity for her children. However, the day of the event, she forgot about it until a friend called and asked her to come. It was well after noon and Mary wondered how she might attend but her friend assured her that this event had been delayed until 2:00 PM so she would have plenty of time.
While she was there, Mary saw, from across the town commons, friends who were pushing a double stroller with two babies in it. Now Mary is a twin herself, and her curiosity got the best of her. She crossed the commons to investigate. She spoke to "Faith" and "Mark," who explained that they were babysitting the twins for their birth mother while she was looking for adoptive parents. The Lord brought our names to Mary's mind and she told Faith and Mark about us wanting to adopt. Faith and Mark also knew Byron; Faith was in high school about the same time as Byron and they were part of the same church. Faith and Mark went home and called Byron's parents to find out how we could be reached.
On Saturday, September 18, we received a call in the morning from Byron's Mom and Dad, saying that they knew someone who was interested in placing their 13-month old twin girls for adoption. They gave us the information they had and told us to contact Faith and Mark. Byron knew Faith fairly well, so it was not too difficult to give her a call and find out more about the girls and what we needed to do.
First thing Monday morning, September 20, I made a call to our lawyer. We had just put her on retainer the previous week in the event that we would someday need an adoption attorney. She told me that we would need an attorney in the state where the twins were, and gave us the name of an attorney who is a member of the American Association of Adoption Attorneys. This attorney's office just happens to be located in this same little town where the twins were staying.
I called her office and was told that she was on vacation, but she would be given the message. I got a call later that day from this attorney (from her vacation!) saying that she knew the birth mom, she knew the babies and she knew the other attorney involved in the case and would be happy to help us. She had previously represented a couple who had been interested in adopting the twins, but they had backed out because of concerns about medical issues. We spoke many times during the week, and on Thursday, she asked if we could be in town Saturday morning to meet with the birth mom to discuss the situation. We agreed that we would be there; we were expecting to meet just the birth mother.
Byron had gone to New York City for business on Wednesday and wasn't due back until late Friday night. A trip of 550 miles is about an eleven hour drive on a good day, so we were probably going to travel overnight on Friday. Friday morning, Byron decided to bow out of his meeting and see how quickly he could get home. Thanks to USAirways, he managed to get home early enough for us to leave at 3:00 PM Friday afternoon. We arrived at Byron's parents around 2:00 AM and went straight to bed. We were fortunate that Byron's parents live in the next town over from where we needed to be, so we had a place to stay. We had a big day coming.
On Saturday morning, we were on time, 11:00 AM sharp, when the lawyer came running out of the building (we had never met her before) and said that they weren't quite ready and could we come back in a half hour....and the birth mom had brought the babies with her. That was unexpected!
Byron and I were very nervous to begin with and waiting another half an hour seemed like an eternity to us. We drove to the church we had attended when we lived in town, intending to "hide out" and wait. Our pastor from years before was there (unusual for a Saturday), and we had an opportunity to speak with him concerning why we had suddenly appeared. Just talking with him was a comfort. This was the pastor that had performed our wedding ceremony ten years prior, and he had also baptized me into the Christian faith. Byron had served as organist at the church for many years.
We returned to the attorney's office in due time. We were introduced to the birth mom and noted that she was holding one girl and her attorney was holding the other. After the introductions were made, her attorney suggested that the birth mom let us hold the babies. I held Abigail and Byron held Emily. The attorneys left for a while so that we - the birth mom, the babies, and Byron and I - could all talk in privacy.
The birth mom was very nervous (as we also were). Her questions to us were questions about our ability to provide for the girls and whether we would tell them that they were adopted. We assured her that we would take care of both of those things and she seemed comfortable with that. She shared with us that she had thought of an open adoption, but did not think she could emotionally handle it and asked if we would send pictures occasionally. Of course we agreed. She finally said that she needed to talk to her attorney and left the room, leaving us with the babies. She was gone for a good long time and during that time both babies fell asleep in our arms. Interestingly, both babies were contentedly sighing in their sleep and Byron and I thought that was so neat since I come from a family of "sighers."
There is nothing quite so amazing as having a small baby fall asleep in your arms - particularly one that you have just met. Byron hummed many hymns to Emily, including "The King of Love My Shepherd Is (St. Columba)" as well as other songs, like "Always" ("I'll be loving you, always...."). Emily and Abigail remember those tunes to this day. We had not expected even to see the girls, but there we were, holding them while they slept.
The birth mom's attorney returned and said that she was pretty confident but wanted to wait to sign any papers. We were also told that we were free to visit the babies any time we wanted to at Faith and Mark's home. The entire meeting took about an hour and a half - just an hour and a half. And now our lives would be changed forever.
Byron and I spent Sunday afternoon (the following day) with the babies. We talked long and hard about what it would mean to adopt these children. We were unsure at that point about their medical situations and whether they would ever be so-called "normal." They had a flattening to the back of their heads, they were 13 months old and could not even sit up on their own. They were behind in every standard development milestone. They both were very distant and were unable to make eye contact very much although Emily would with Byron when he sang to her.
We had been given the name of a pediatrician from the area where we now live who specializes in working with children who are adopted from overseas orphanages. I called her and spoke at length with her about the future of these children. Medical records were overnighted as soon as our attorney gave us permission to see them. Faith had arranged with the birth mom for the babies to see her (Faith's) pediatrician and they were having blood work done, chromosome and neurological testing and a CAT scan to see if the flattening had done any damage to their brains.
During this period, Byron had to return home to work as he had only a limited amount of vacation time. I remained at my in-laws and spent every afternoon and evening with the babies. On Wednesday of that following week, the plan was to have Faith, the birth mom, and I bring the babies to the pediatrician for their shots. At the last minute, the birth mom called and said she would be late. Faith and I decided that we couldn't be late for the appointment because Emily had a rash that we needed to find out about. We went to the pediatrician and the birth mom decided that since she was late that she would just go back home. This gave me an opportunity to talk to the pediatrician without feeling uncomfortable about describing the situation.
The pediatrician was encouraging but cautioned me that without the results of some of the tests she could not guarantee that the babies would develop normally. She indicated that there was a possibility of mild cerebral palsy, but that if that was the case it would definitely be a mild case. The rash turned out to be a teething rash as Emily got her third tooth on Thursday.
Towards the end of the week, I told Byron that even if there were any problems found, that it was too late, because I was already in love with these babies and they were going to be ours anyway. God had planned it that way.
That first weekend after we met them, their birth mom took them home to say good-bye to the rest of their family. Byron decided that since we wouldn't be able to see the babies that he would stay at home and return the following week as soon as we were given a date for the formal court proceedings for Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) for the birth mother and birth father.
We were understandably nervous as we weren't sure if the girls' weekend visit would cause the birth mom to change her mind and just decide to keep them. I must say that the weekend was a very long one. Faith arranged it so that she would drop the babies off and pick them up on Sunday afternoon. I told her that as long as I knew that they would be with her that I wouldn't worry, but to please call if any problems came up. She didn't call and first thing Monday morning I called and she said that the visit went well and the babies were back at her home. Praise the Lord!
Later that day, I got a call from the pediatric specialist saying that everything looked normal including the CAT scan, the chromosome test and the neurological testing. Again, we were singing praises to the Lord and anxiously awaiting the day when we could bring our precious daughters home. TPR was scheduled for Thursday morning, October 7. Byron planned to arrive by 11:00 AM, which meant that he needed to leave home at 1:00 AM on Thursday. I had been told that court was convening at 9:00 AM and that the attorney would call us as soon as the papers were signed and then we could go get our new daughters!
I waited, not very patiently, for Byron to arrive and for the phone to ring. Byron arrived at 10:30 AM and we still hadn't heard from the attorney. You can imagine what thoughts were running through our minds! Finally, at 11:30, the phone rang and the attorney told us we could go get our girls! We decided that we had waited this long, that we would stop at our favorite sandwich shop for a last meal before we became a family of four. We enjoyed our lunch and went to pick up Abigail and Emily around 2:00 PM. We stayed and chatted with Faith and her family and finally brought the babies out and strapped them into their brand new car seats. Then Byron and I got in and headed to his parents' home not as a family of two, but as a family of four. I became "Mommy" and Byron became "Daddy." October 7 will forever be known as "Gotcha Day".
We could not immediately return to our home due to the need for interstate agreements. We had to wait until the girls' state of origin sent the appropriate paperwork to our own state, and until someone in our own state government gave the OK. We enjoyed a whole week with the girls at Byron's parents, but the approval had not yet come, and Byron had to return to work for an important training class. Even in this God was working, because Byron was able to drive his father's van home, chock full of baby items - cribs, clothes, a rocking chair, clothes, diapers, clothes, toys, clothes, and other goodies.
Byron's last trip in October 1999 was again to his parent's house - driving Friday afternoon and evening. On Saturday, October 23, we began the long journey home as a family of four. I had spent four complete weeks with Byron's parents, and Byron had driven the 1100 mile round trip three times.
In all of this, God's actions and preparations shone through. Everything - from the "chance" meeting of Mary and Faith, to the girls' state of origin being the same state where we grew up, to the medical tests; even the little things like God's provisions for cribs - everything had been arranged by God from before there was time. In all we went through, God strengthened us and gave us grace to continue. In all we went through, we saw The Fingerprints of God.
We are now a family, and we know that there is no end to God's working in our lives, because He will always be there - part of the daily miracles of our lives.
Abigail and Emily were diagnosed with global developmental delays, due primarily to profound neglect in their first year. Through loving care, therapy, and God's provisions, they have made amazing strides, and show great potential for long term development. They still remain somewhat behind in regular developmental milestones, but they have narrowed the delay gap considerably. Abigail and Emily continue to bring us delight, amazement, joy, wonder, heartache, smiles, giggles, concern, and unbounded love. They are a true part of our family, having been adopted fully into it, as we have been adopted into God's family.
Abigail Elizabeth Frank and Emily Katherine Frank were baptized into God's covenant on Sunday, November 14, 1999.
Abigail and Emily, born August 2, 1998, became our daughters in the eyes of the State at 2:00 PM on Friday, December 17, 1999.
To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Last Updated on 3/14/2005