Wednesday, December 11, 2013.
We had just received our approval letter from our adoption agency which put us on the official waiting list for a baby. Our home study was scheduled to start in January. I was in the elevator at church, making my way to the third floor chapel for Wednesday night women’s Bible study. I was a facilitator, helping lead my table of ladies in discussion on the study’s message. The elevator dinged, I stepped off and my phone rang. It was Aaron.
At the time, he was a banker who worked at a very large bank. He always got off work a little after six so I figured this was just his normal after-work-I’m-off phone call to check in with me.
I answered. “Hey babe, how was work.”
Silence. Something was wrong. I could tell. He was sniffling. I could hear his fake smile as his voice cracked and I could tell he was trying to find words.
I was scared. “Is everything okay?”
“I…I…I just got fired.”
My heart dropped. Nausea set in. I started seeing stars. I found a wall to lean on.
My first thought? Screw them. He was with that company for five years with a perfect record and was caught completely off guard by his termination. My second thought? My poor husband. I was ready to put on my boxing gloves to get in the ring for him. I wanted to fight.
Then that third thought hit. The thought that obliterated my spirit in one swoop.…
”Oh my God, they’ll never let us adopt a baby!”
I most certainly didn’t say that to him, I just thought it. He was crying and saying how sorry he was that he let me down. I could never feel like he let me down. In fact, I was proud of him. I held back my tears as I told him I was leaving church and coming straight home. I hung up, the tears came as I asked them to find someone to take my place and I rushed home to be with my husband.
My husband is a strong man of faith. He’s strong emotionally. He’s strong spiritually. When I got home he melted in sobs into my arms as I reassured him that everything was going to be okay because God had a plan. Inside, I was scared. Inside, I couldn’t see a resolution. Inside, I was bitter at his employer. Inside, I wanted to punch a wall and cry too. But it wasn’t the time. My husband was broken, defeated, his provider identity disintegrated. And he needed a wife wearing a #1 foam finger and Aaron Bunker jersey.
Even though I was feeling all those human things on the inside, my gut felt peace. Strange. And that peace was what spoke the words for me, telling him and BELIEVING, “Everything. WILL. Be. Okay.”
The next day he gave himself room to grieve, to be mad, to curse as he went through the contents of what we now call the “fire box” – the box of stuff from his desk that he brought home that day. Then the day after that, we chose to pick up the pieces and move forward. After all, he had a masters degree, is a counseling professional, had a small client base, was only a year away from his license, and still had his (very) part time job at the counseling center. The bank was what paid the bills – counseling is his passion. The prospects gleamed faintly in the distance. That gave us hope. At least we had something. We saw this as a fresh (and scary) opportunity to get a job in his field. We decided that we would give him until we started our home study in January to find a new full-time job before we told our agency about this big life change.
However, in the job search, we found out that a counseling intern in Texas rarely has a chance at finding a full-time counseling position. Nearly all full time counseling positions have to be fully licensed. So we came to the realization and decision that Aaron was going to be contract and self-employed at least until he earned his full license at the end of 2014. This meant that he was at the mercy of a supervisor and what they set in pay and that a weekly paycheck was not guaranteed if he wasn’t getting enough appointments.
But with that realization came a revelation. A revelation given to Aaron where he heard God say “You are not the provider of your family, I AM!” Psalms 118:9 hit us hard: It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes (i.e.: The Man). Our job isn’t our provider; Our job is the vessel for The Lord to provide. The Lord is the one who matches an answer to even our most basic needs for provision. Pride no longer had room to puff its chest. Humility was the only choice. We were broken. Aaron was broken. We were brought to our knees and to a place of peace accepting the fact that we weren’t in control – we could do what was in our power, but ultimately The Lord is our provider.
Five days after Aaron’s termination my phone rang and our social worker told us there were two babies waiting for us.
Standing in our bathroom listening to Mandy tell me the details of these kids, I knew in my gut of guts that these were our babies.
I hung up the phone, in shock. I went into the living room where Aaron was sitting on the couch.
“That was Mandy. We’ve been matched. I have an hour to write our Dear Birthmother letter. We have to fast track our home study for this week in case she picks us.” I grabbed my laptop to pull together pictures and start writing our Dear Birthmother letter.
“WHAT?!?!?!” Aaron replied. “But…what about…my job?”
And my heart sank.
I thought, “WHY?! Why did this beautiful moment have to happen now? In the darkest moment we’ve seen? Why did it have to come during the inconvenience of losing a job? Why couldn’t it come when everything was figured out and we were comfortable?”
Apparently, God likes to work in the uncomfortable.
We were still in the thick of figuring out how and where Aaron would be contracted to work and how much money he would make. We knew he could make the same amount he was making at the bank (and once he was licensed at the end of 2014 – well beyond that amount). But at that moment of that phone call, there were still so many uncertainties and we were afraid those uncertainties would cost us our children.
The range of my disappointment was in the depths of sorrow at that moment. Oh, my heart hurt. So bad. It was dark. So dark. I knew we had to tell our agency that our financials had changed. We had to. I felt like we were lying if we didn’t. And we assumed the worst…We had been matched with these babies but the threat of them being taken away was imminent to us because Aaron lost his job.
I started thinking of how I could refund everyone’s money from the fundraising we had done only a month before. I thought of coming to terms that I would never be a mom.
I was so mad. Mad because if I were pregnant in this same situation, there would be no one there to say whether or not I’m able to keep my child. The doctors and nurses wouldn’t go through our financials to determine whether or not my baby would be ready for delivery. This was another sting on top of four years of disappointment from infertility – several failed fertility treatments, dozens of negative pregnancy tests. This felt the same. Now, I felt as though the possibility of hearing that we might not be considered as parents to these two babies would feel like all those years of negative pregnancy tests at once. The hope of becoming a mother, ripped away by circumstances outside our control.
After sobs and sobs, I asked Aaron to call Mandy to tell her the news, sure she would say, “Never mind then” and take us off the list.
He called her. “With this match I thought it was important to let you know that I’m no longer at the bank, that I’m pursuing counseling full time. I’m contract now and it’s slow at the moment, but the money will be the same as it was at the bank.”
“Okay.” And she moved on to other non-job-related matters.
What?! That’s it?! She didn’t scratch us as a match. She didn’t ask us how we planned on making more money. She didn’t grill us on how we expected to provide for these babies if we were picked. She didn’t have us completely fill out a new financial form and reapply and pay our first payment over again…
And with that “okay” all the fear and loss and disappointment was alleviated from my heart. And we prepared ourselves to potentially become parents to those babies…
^Photo by Londyn Layne Photography
We realized the great responsibility we were taking on in becoming these babies’ parents – not only the parental responsibility, but the financial responsibility as well to take care of their needs. And I won’t lie and tell you that we had all of our ducks in a row. Our ducks had been shot out of the sky in cold murder. No, we were scared and it’s still scary at times. And that’s real talk, folks. We definitely asked ourselves, “Are we going to be able to provide for these kids?” And I constantly asked myself, “What’s the line between faith and stupidity?” Because that line seemed very faint and I never want to cross into stupidity.
Even though the answers weren’t concrete at the time the kids were placed with us, one fact was concrete – these were OUR kids. The kids God planned for our family. And we were the family God had planned for those kids. And nothing was going to stand in the way of that.
As I look back on Aaron’s job loss and our adoption match I’m so in awe of the work God has done in our family. Because no other time in my life has Romans 8:28 been so real to me…
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
In a matter of a month I saw the darkest and brightest days of my life…Aaron’s unemployment and our babies’ adoption. It’s a miracle, really, how this all played out…
At the time of our adoption placement…
1) Aaron was unemployed.
2) What savings we had, was going toward our living expenses.
3) We were matched with TWINS and needed $25,000 to pay our agency. RIGHT. THEN.
4) We had NO baby gear and no money at that moment to buy the baby gear that we needed.
But look at what happened…
1) Aaron was able to work contract and make his own schedule which one, allowed us to go through the home study process so quickly and two, make his own schedule so he could stay home with the kids while I had to work.
2) As Aaron has built his counseling reputation, he’s booked steady and we are doing well.
3) People donated financially to help cover the cost of ALL our adoption expenses and our agency was paid in full by the middle of January, only a few weeks after the twins were placed with us.
4) People GAVE us ALL the baby gear we needed and never even knew we needed. We had showers thrown for us and people continued to drop off clothes for several months. I have never had to buy one item of clothing. We were stocked with diapers and because of that I didn’t buy any diapers until the twins were five months old. Every time we ran out of formula and were planning a trip to the store to buy more, someone randomly gave us cans of formula.
And the bonus parts of this story…
1) Aaron never would have left the bank on his own to pursue his dream career because we were both too afraid to make that leap. But the leap was made for us and God has turned it into a powerful testimony of provision and greater plans.
2) He’s able to make his own schedule which allows for us to stay home with our kids instead of putting them in day care – which I ALWAYS said I never wanted to do.
4) He’s out of the bank where I was constantly afraid he was going to be robbed at gun point (I wrote in this post about how his branch was robbed at gun point while we were on vacation and I was a M.E.S.S from that point on) So God actually took care of my prayers of getting him out of (what I thought was) a dangerous job and answered Aaron’s prayers of allowing him to counsel full time.
5) He’s now working contract for a counseling mentor who has been an answer to prayer, values him as a counselor, and has his best interest at heart.
In December 2013 we were in a broken place. A desperate place. A place where the future seemed dim. Then, on top of our perceived darkness, God handed us two babies and simply said, “Trust me.”
And he sustained us while we made the only decision we could…to trust Him.
We’ve tucked this story close to our hearts only sharing it with family and our immediate circle. It’s incredibly personal, vulnerable, and even an embarrassment for Aaron to admit he was terminated from a job. It’s even still a scab that the Lord continues to heal. But I write this story, not as just another blog post to fill this internet space, but because stories are what change lives. And we feel in our hearts that if we were to keep this story tucked away for our personal memory scrapbook, that we would be doing the world a disservice not sharing the incredible miracle that has come from our circumstances. Because if telling this story encourages even one person, then that’s what it’s meant to do.
So If you’re in a similar circumstance, a similar struggle – in a that place where you feel hopeless – friend, there is always hope. Remember that. How might I pray for you right now?
And to encourage anyone who feels the strong pull of adoption and the only ONLY thing standing in your way is you telling yourself, “We’re not rich enough.”…friend, that’s not what it’s about. Our resources are limited, but God’s resources endless. Believe me, I’ve lived (am living) this story and if we keep saying “I’ll do it when (fill in the blank.)” then we’ll miss out on something great. To think I could have missed out on my kids? I can’t even go there. Don’t let money hold you back. Follow what’s on your heart, not just what’s in your bank account.