Part of Her Story
It was a Thursday morning in August and my stomach was in knots. I hadn't slept much the night before in anticipation of what the next day would hold.
Our baby had been born 14 days prior.
I had spent the previous 13 nights lying awake, praying, crying, wondering, and questioning. I lay awake for hours on end, waking Dave several times each night with more and more questions in which he had no answers.
As the morning progressed I felt a sudden urgency. A feeling that came out of nowhere and to this day I have no explanation for it other than to say it must have been a prompting from the Holy Spirit. I needed to make a phone call. Just call and confirm. Make sure.
I ran to the kitchen and grabbed my journal of notes. I'd been on the phone day after day, hour after hour, with more people than I could keep up with so I began to take notes. Documenting who I spoke to, how I came to know I needed to speak with them, what we discussed, the date of our conversations, time of the call, and the dictation of every word spoken to me about our baby. As I flipped through the pages I came upon the name and number I needed and placed the call I'd felt the prompting to make.
There are times in this life when a feeling comes over you, an action needs to be taken, and you have no reason or understanding as to the why of it all. My advice is this...follow those prompts. Act. Just do what has been laid upon your heart. Understanding or no understanding... step out in faith and act.
As I placed the call and spoke to a woman I had had numerous conversations with in the previous two weeks I was informed that the appearance had been moved up by two hours. On top of that, she told me for the first time that there was virtually NO WAY possible that this child would be available for us to adopt by the time we got all of paperwork and training submitted. She would have gone into the system and we weren't even on the list of potential families. I also learned that the birth mother needed to be at the court appearance and the odds of that happening were not in our favor. "I don't even know if is she remembers where she's supposed to be today and what time she needs to be there. Your only hope is to find her." Good luck to me since she could not reveal any information to me about her.
I sat for a moment...stunned...afraid...confused...then I began to act. Faith in motion. Doing the only thing I knew to do...fight for her...try...not settle for the "NO WAY possible", but to believe that this child was mine. The one God was giving to me. I just knew she was the one. She was ours.
I want to make it clear that I am not a woman of super natural, amazingly strong faith. I am not a super Christian. I am not strong or brave or special in any way. I'm just a mom. A believer. One who had poured my heart out to my Father in Heaven. I can't explain it other than just knowing in my heart that the little girl lying in a hospital bed across town from me for the last 14 days was my daughter.
I called Dave. We had to go. We had to go now! So...we did. We went. With no real direction. No plan. We just went, and as I look back at the memory of that morning I now know that we were led to the places we went by Someone greater than us. Someone who could see and did know and had the path laid out before us. I do not doubt this. There are many, many things in my life that I doubt, but this part of Ashley Kate's story I have never doubted for one moment...she was meant to be our daughter and we were meant to be her parents. There is no explanation for the series of events that brought this beautiful child into our lives other than the hand of an Almighty God.
As we drove the streets of Longview, that morning we searched. We searched for a woman we had never seen. Never laid eyes on. Never met. We had three pieces of information. We knew her name. We were told she always wore a cap. We knew she walked with a limp and used a cane.
As I watched the minutes on the clock slip away my heart was sinking. We were running out of time and I didn't know what to do. We drove block after block in a part of town I never even knew existed. I was losing hope. Ashley Kate was slipping away from us and I began to cry. Then we saw her. I don't know how I knew. I just felt it was her. Sitting in this truck that had pulled up in front of a white house. The passenger was wearing a ball cap. When the door of that truck opened the first thing I saw come out was a cane. My heart was racing. I asked Dave to pull up behind the truck, to which he said, "What are you going to do?" I had no idea. I just knew I had to do something. I got of our car and I approached the young lady who was getting out of the truck. Never having seen her before, or not even knowing if she was who I was looking for I spoke her name and she looked over at me. The next thing I said to her was this, "My name is Trish, and I know about your baby. I want you to know that I love you and that I love your baby. I've been praying for you for, and I want to take care of your baby for you." It was in this minute that I was forever changed. I'll never forget it. I knew as I looked into her eyes that morning that but for the grace of God I was her and she was me. I knew it and I believed it...and I've never been the same. Humbled instantly as I stared at her face and waited for her response.
"That sweet thing. I can't. I just can't."
" I know. Its ok. I will do it for you if you will allow me to. I love her and I will take care of her."
"I'd like that", she said to me.
I asked her if she remembered the court appearance. I asked if she would go with us. I asked if she would like for me to take care of her baby for her to go with us to the court. She told me she couldn't go. She just couldn't go. I handed her a piece of paper with my name on it and I shared with her that I was going to be waiting for her at the gas station just down the street. I let her know that I would wait as long as I could. Then I got back into our car and we drove away.
I remember saying these words to Dave, "Its over. She's not ours. We are going to lose her. He closed the door." I was so sad. So broken.
Then my husband replied, " Trish , what if its not over. What if we are right there. What if God is not telling us no, but is in fact asking us how far are we willing to go? One more step? One more? Will you take one more step and go through the door and not just assume that the door is closed?" I was crying so hard by this time. My head was down, my eyes closed. Devastated at the journey we'd been on for the last two weeks and realizing that it was for not. I was so drained. Emotionally spent and invested in this child I had dreamed of night after night. I cried my eyes out in those minutes. It seemed like forever as we waited, and I cried. Forever. Then I heard Dave's voice say one word...
I opened my eyes and I could see that Ashley Kate's precious birth momma was making her way down the street toward our car.
That morning we sat in court proceedings and our hearts ached. We listened. We answered questions. We waited. There was a moment in which my amazing husband looked at me and whispered, "Trish, there is not another soul in this court room who loves this woman other than the two of us." It was one of the most painful experiences of our lives. To see, first hand, a life shattered by poor deciscions and circumstances some in and some out of her control. When I say that we loved her it is the truth. We had developed a love for this stranger whom we'd never met as we prayed over her and her baby girl day after day for the previous two weeks. We did love her. Not because of who she was or not because of who we are, but because of who Jesus is. He valued her life enough to give His up for her. That made her special. Worthy of love, and compassion, and kindness. She taught me so very much that morning. I hugged her broken body. I talked with her and saw through the hard exterior. I could feel the kindness in her eyes. The very same eyes my sweet Ashley has and the ones I look into each and every day.
I was forever changed. Forever. I see people differently since that morning than I ever did before. I will be forever grateful for the gifts she gave to us that day. One of those being our precious Ashley Kate.
Our journey with Ash was just beginning. I could have never imagined what lie ahead of us. All I knew is that I had prayed for our baby and she was finally here. Broken body, fighting for every breath, as we fought to be near her. I left the courtroom that day with papers in hand and I've never looked back. Other than to remember the way God brought us to her and her to us.
This is just part of her story. A part I've never shared here. Just a glimpse into the miracle of who she is.