The time had come for my husband and me to make a momentous decision that would change our lives forever. Both of us had grown up in big families; Mike had five siblings, and I had six. We both knew the joys and happiness of being part of a large family, and we wanted to have the same kind of family – with at least three children
We had moved into our four bedroom home about eight years before, but the rooms were empty and the silence was deafening. We wanted to hear the sound of children padding down the hallway in their slippers. We wanted to say goodnight prayers with them before they went to sleep. We wanted to be good parents and encourage and comfort our children as needed. This was our wish, but no matter how hard we tried, our wish would not come true.
Actually, I had been pregnant once. It was right before we moved into our house. During this time, we were so excited and happy. We thought it was the perfect time to have a baby. Naturally, I wanted to share our happiness so I called my mother, all my sisters and my brother and told them the good news. Mike did the same with his side of the family. At that time, life seemed so perfect.
Then it happened. Two days after my pregnancy was confirmed, I suffered a miscarriage and our perfect dream was ruined.
I will never forget that tragic day. I was so depressed and so unhappy. What if I could never give birth to a child? What would we do then? We had tried so many times to get pregnant and when we finally did, I miscarried. Our hopes and dreams of a big family soon grew dim.
Three more years passed by and still no baby. We went to fertility specialists and had all sorts of tests and procedures done. Nothing happened. No matter what we tried, I still did not become pregnant.
It was around this time I decided I needed a change of pace.The plan was for me to go to nursing school, and when I graduated I could work in the operating room. I had two sisters who worked in the operating room and it sounded like the perfect job for me. My husband supported me in this decision, as he always did.
I started nursing school. I had a very hectic schedule. I would go to work in the morning, still working my full-time hours, and when I finished working for the day, I went to nursing school. Then I would get home around 10:00, eat something for dinner, and shortly after that I would retire to my bed.The next morning, I woke up and started all over again. My weekends were filled with studying and doing clinicals. These were the hours we spent at the hospital working as student nurses. It was valuable experience.
But no matter how hard I worked, whether it be at my job or in school, I knew there was still a hole in our lives. I also knew that the only thing that would fill this hole would be a baby. I talked with Mike about this and after many such discussions we decided that we would go ahead and adopt a child. After all, any child was God’s child, and we would be honored to raise one of God’s children.
We decided to go through Catholic Charities and begin the process of adoption. We wanted a newborn baby, and Mike wanted a son. So after all the paperwork and red tape, it was finally just a matter of waiting for the baby. They informed us that it would be about three years for the adoption to occur. This meant that I would have plenty of time to graduate from nursing school and find a job working as a nurse before our baby came.
As the days passed by, we redecorated one of the bedrooms and made it into the nursery. We painted it blue because blue is Mike’s favorite color. I made curtains for the windows and a matching quilt for the crib. The theme for the nursery was “Care Bears”. . Care Bears were all over the room; in the curtains, in the quilt, in the pictures on the wall, and there were even Care Bear toys in the crib.
Next came the moment to hang a plaque on the wall which matched our sentiments exactly: On the plaque were these words:
Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute;
You didn’t grow under my heart
But in it.
As a final touch, we hung a cross on the wall; a symbol that our baby was loved by the Lord.
We were finished. All we had to do now was wait for our son to be born. We had already decided on a name. We would name him Joseph Michael – Joseph after my husband’s father, and Michael after my husband.
Life continued with me working every day and going to school every night. Another year passed, and then it happened. I was home studying for a big exam that we were having that evening. As I was sitting in the kitchen, surrounded by all my books and notebooks, the telephone rang. It was my husband Mike.
“What are you doing?” he asked nonchalantly.
“I’m studying for the test – what do you think I ‘m doing?” Because of the difficulty of the upcoming exam, I was under a lot of pressure, and therefore I was a little grumpy.
“Are you sitting down?”
“That is the standard position used to study for a test; of course I am sitting down!” I kept thinking that we were wasting valuable time on the phone when I could be studying for the exam.
“Then I have something to tell you.”
“Okay, what is it?” I answered hoping the conversation was almost over. I wished he would just hurry up and get it over with so I could get back to studying.
I could hardly believe it. When Mike said “She called,” I knew exactly who he was referring to. I don’t know how I knew it, but I did
“Really? Oh my gosh, really? This isn’t one of your pranks, is it? Did she really call?” He had finally gotten my attention and a shiver of excitement ran through me.
“Yes, dear, she did call. I wouldn’t fool around about something like that. Anyway, she said that tomorrow we can come and pick up our son”.
Now this was too much. When Michael said we could pick up our son, I lost it. There was a huge lump in my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes. Before I knew it, there I was, crying like a baby.
“What’s the matter, Cindy? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine; I’m just so happy, that’s all, and it’s happening a lot earlier than we thought, so I’m surprised, too!” It was a minute or two before I gained my composure back, and then I started to ask questions.
“How big is he? When was he born? Is he eating cereal yet?” I questioned, as I gave Mike the third degree about our new son.
“Whoa, hang on honey. I didn’t ask her all those questions, but I knew you would, so she gave me her telephone number and said you could call any time and she’d give you all the details.”
So Mike gave me the telephone number and now I wanted to hang up so I could call the social worker.
“Well,” I said, “you’re probably pretty busy at work and I suppose I should let you go.”
Mike laughed. “Okay, okay, I get the hint. You want me to get off the line so you can call the social worker. It’s okay. I understand. Go ahead and call her and then we’ll talk before you go to class tonight. I think we have some planning to do.”
“You’re right about that. I’ll be waiting.”
When I put the receiver down my mind was spinning out of control. All I kept thinking about was the baby. What does he look like? How big is he? Does he have a family history of any medical problems? What day was he born on?
So it went on like that and after a few minutes, when I had calmed down, I picked up the receiver and started to dial the number Mike had given to me. My hands were shaking as I punched in each number, and the first time I dialed a wrong number. So I tried it again and this time I dialed the right number. After two rings it was picked up, and a friendly voice answered.
“Catholic Social Services. How may I help you?”
“I would like to speak to Lisa, please.”
“Of course, please hold and I will transfer you”.
As I was put on hold there was music playing softly on the line. I recognized the tune as Pachelbel’s Canon in D, one of my favorites. The melody was coming to an end when finally a voice caused the music to stop.
“This is Lisa., How may I help you?”
“Hi Lisa. This is Cindy. I believe you spoke with my husband a little while ago?”
“Yes I did. Tomorrow’s the big day! How are you feeling? Are you excited?”
“Oh my goodness, I am so happy and excited! \Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel. We are so excited, but we didn’t expect the baby for at least another year, so you have really taken us by surprise. Today we’ll have to go out and get diapers and formula and whatever else he may need. We do have the nursery completed, thank goodness.”
“That’s wonderful. Now tell me – do you have any questions?”
“Oh my, I have so many questions. How big is he?”
“He weighs 8 lbs, 9 oz. He is a big boy.”
“How old is he now?” I asked.
“Let’s see – here it is – he is eight weeks old”.
“Wow, he is young. What is his birth date?”
“Ok, let’s see – where did I find that before? Here it is. His birth date is listed as November 22nd.”
I could not believe my ears. November 22nd! My hands started to shake and I couldn’t hold back the tears that filled my eyes. Soon I was crying so hard that it seemed as though I would never be able to stop.
“Cindy – are you okay? What’s wrong? Did I say something to upset you?” Lisa asked as I was sobbing.
I tried to stop crying and gain my composure once again. After a minute or two I was able to speak again.
“I’m sorry about that. You just took me by surprise, that’s all.”
“Took you by surprise about what?”
“Okay.” I took a big breath. “You see, a few years back I was pregnant. We were moving into our new house and it seemed the perfect time to have a baby. We told all our family and friends about our good news and then two days later I had a miscarriage, but after that couldn’t become pregnant again. That’s why we decided to adopt a baby. But the reason I was crying is because when I was pregnant, the baby’s due date was November 22nd, the same birth date as our new son. I can hardly believe it.”
At first there was silence on the other end of the line. Then after a moment Lisa spoke very softy.
“Oh Cindy, you just gave me goosebumps. This is wonderful. I truly believe this little boy is meant to be your son. Congratulations!”
“Thank you Lisa. What time may we come tomorrow to pick up our little Joey?” I inquired.
“Ten o’clock. And bring an outfit for him to wear when he meets his new mommy and daddy..”
After my exam that night, we rushed to Target to buy essentials for our new son – bottles, formula, diapers, and an outfit for him to wear for his homecoming. When we arrived home, I placed everything where it should be. I also thought we should clean our house; after all, we were sure to have visitors over the weekend. We worked for a couple hours and then we settled into bed. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but for some reason the minute my head hit the pillow, I fell into a deep and peaceful slumber.
In the morning, we were both in happy moods as we showered and dressed for the big day. Finally 9:30 arrived and we left for Catholic Charities. We made sure we had the car seat for the baby buckled up tight in the back seat. I also brought a couple of extra blankets since it was January and the wind chill was 20 degrees below 0. When we arrived at Catholic Charities, we told the receptionist who we were and soon enough, Lisa came and greeted us.
“Let’s go upstairs,” she said.
We walked up the huge staircase to the second floor. She showed us into a little room where we could sit and wait. I gave to her the clothing I had brought for our new son. She left the room and gently closed the door. Not a word passed between me and my husband. We just sat there, holding hands, waiting for our new son to appear.
It was not very long before the door opened. Lisa came into the room carrying our new son. There he was – our baby, our son – our little Joey. I tried to hold back the tears on this happy occasion. Lisa said to us, “Mom and Dad — meet your new son.” I held out my arms and she gently placed him into them. He was awake and alert and he didn’t seem to mind being handed over to me. When I looked up, Lisa was gone. My husband and I were alone with out new little bundle of joy.
As I looked into the face of our sweet little baby, I felt unconditional love for him flow through me.
It was then I knew – this little boy resting in my arms truly was meant to be our son, our little Joey.