Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Letter to Noah for his Birthparents' Wedding

Dear Noah,

A few weeks ago, I watched as you walked down the aisle at your birthparents’ wedding.  You were wearing a little gray suit and a navy bowtie, looking handsome and perfect, so grown up and so tiny all at once.

You walked tentatively between the flower girls, Katie’s youngest sisters.  They are a few years older than you, and you looked up at them for guidance and approval as you clutched your little brown ring box and made your way slowly down the strip of grass that had been cleared for the occasion.  You smiled contentedly, a little shyly, as you walked along, happy to be included in something that you sensed was an important moment in the lives of many people whom you love.

Then you came to sit next to me, and I wrapped my arm around you as we listened to Katie and Drew’s wedding vows. I felt peace, deep peace burning in my heart—a swelling of gratitude, of awe, of miraculous love that transforms lives.

When you heard your name mentioned in the vows, you turned toward me with wide eyes and an even wider grin—surprised, thrilled.  Drew said to Katie, “On the night Noah was born, I was amazed by your strength, and I knew that we could get through anything together.”

It felt right, somehow, hearing your name spoken in their wedding vows.  You have been a key part of their love story—perhaps the real beginning of their love story.  I can’t speak for Katie and Drew, but it seems to me that what might have been teenage infatuation before you came into the picture turned into real, deep, unconditional, painful love as soon as they discovered that you were on your way.

They had to make agonizing decisions, they had to grow up, they had to support each other.  I remember those months just before and just after you were born—and as is the case in every love story, Katie and Drew had to fight for their love.  There were times when they disappointed each other, and there were times when they clung to each other. They learned then what it means to sacrifice for love.

And at the center of it all was a tiny baby whom they loved fiercely and whom they have loved every moment since.

That baby is you, Noah.

When they first asked if you could be the ringbearer in their wedding, I wasn’t sure what to think.  Was that too much pressure for you?  Would it be hard for you someday when you understand more clearly what adoption is?  Would it be awkward for the guests in attendance at the wedding?  Are you too much a symbol of their past when that day should be more focused on their future?

And what about the fact that Katie and Drew were getting married at all?  It’s an unusual situation in the adoption world, and it does bring up questions for everyone involved. Will you feel sad that they didn’t marry younger and decide to parent you?  Will they grieve that decision as well?  How will it feel for you to know your full-blooded biological siblings, the children that Katie and Drew will have together?  Will you resent that you are in our family instead of theirs?

These are hard questions to consider, and I openly admit that I don’t know the answers.  You will probably have lots of feelings about your adoption in your lifetime, and that is okay. Whatever you feel about it at any given point is totally fine. Adoption can be complicated, just like love can be complicated.  But despite all the questions, there are a few things that I have come to know over the past four years, and I want to share them with you, so you never wonder and you never forget.

I do know that Katie and Drew made their decision to place you for adoption out of love for you.  Being as young as they were, they didn’t know yet if they would marry, and they wanted you to have a mom and a dad, stability and siblings—an eternal family.  I saw the tears that poured from their eyes when they handed you to us in that hospital room just over four years ago.  I saw their hearts breaking.  I felt the Spirit of God that enveloped all of us and testified that this incomprehensible act of love was holy.

I do know that I feel to my very core, to the depths of my soul, that you are part of me and always have been.  You are mine.  I don’t mean that in a way that is possessive or diminishes the role of your birthparents in any way.  I mean that in a way that is sacred, that comes from a knowledge that is so deep within me that it’s hard to even verbalize.

You belong, Noah.  You belong with me and Dad and Sally.  I don’t know how that works in the grand scheme of biological vs. adopted, agency vs. predestination—I don’t have all of those answers.  What I do have is a quiet, firm, unmistakable peace that washes over me anytime I start to worry about the complex situations that are involved with adoption.  A voice inside of me, a voice from our Father in Heaven, says, “I am in control, Rachel, not you.  I love you, I love Ryan, I love Noah, I love Katie, I love Drew—and I have never let any of you down.  I work things together for good.  You don’t need to worry; you just need to trust.”

Which leads to the most important knowledge that I want to share with you, Noah: I do know that God is aware of us.  He has guided every step of this journey, and He will continue to do so.  I don’t question that anymore, and that alone gives me the assurance to press forward as new situations arise in your adoption story.

There were times early on that I felt consumed with worry. When Katie was openly and understandably grieving in that first year after you were born, I felt so many emotions—devastation and heartbreak for her, defensiveness and insecurity for me, confusion and anxiety for what that meant for your future.  Many people advised me to pull away from her a little, to close the adoption somewhat, for all of our sake.  But I just didn’t feel right about that. And when I prayed, I felt like Heavenly Father told me to show more love, more openness, not less.

He was right.  He is always right.  And the most beautiful relationship has developed between us and your birthparents in the years since.  It does not feel awkward; it does not feel forced; it does not feel competitive—

It feels like a gift. It feels miraculous. It feels sacred.  It will be one of the greatest blessings of my life to have experienced this kind of love.

I want you to know, Noah, that prayers throughout my life have not always been answered so directly—in fact, in every other area of my life, I have had to learn to wait for wisdom from our Father in Heaven, which generally comes little by little over months and years.  Even before you were born, as we waded through multiple adoption opportunities that didn’t work out, I usually didn’t have clear answers—I just proceeded in patience and faith.

But ever since I held you in my arms, questions about how to navigate open adoption have been answered very directly and almost immediately.  It has been astonishing and humbling to experience, and it has reinforced how much God cares about you.  He has granted me divine inspiration in my role as your adoptive mother that He has not granted me in other areas of my life.  I am grateful beyond words for that blessing, as it has brought peace to situations that might otherwise have been difficult or sensitive.

I feel like He has granted you this kind of insight and inspiration as well, even at your young age.  A few months ago, a friend of mine was surprised to find out that you know your birthparents.  “Does he know what that means?” she asked, a little incredulous. “Well, I have explained adoption to him,” I said, “but he’s only three-years-old, so it’s hard to know what he’s really grasping.”  Then I paused and decided, “Why don’t we just ask him?”<

You were playing nearby on the floor, and I said, “Noah, what does it mean that Katie and Drew are your birthparents?”

You straightened up from your Lego train and thought for a moment, and then you said matter-of-factly, “A long time ago, Mom's body was sick. So Heavenly Father sent Katie to us, and she helped me get to my family.  And that’s called adoption.”

The room was completely silent for a moment as my friend and I absorbed your answer, stunned.  That wisdom did not come from me, Noah.  I never could’ve described adoption so well.  Ever since you were tiny, I explained it to you the best that I could, and then Heavenly Father helped you to put the pieces together in your little mind and testified to you that you are where you belong.  That Katie and Drew were a gift to us.  That this has all been one huge, inexplicable, remarkable miracle.

Heavenly Father has done what He promises—He has worked things together for good.


Noah, I want you to know that as you approached Katie and Drew with the little ring box on their wedding day, it felt so right.  All of the questions that I’d had about whether or not it was appropriate to have you as their ringbearer just faded away.  Your adoption story is one of the rare occurrences in life when it is so obvious, so visible, that love has come full circle: where one act of love has lead to another, which has lead to another, which has lead to another—and it will continue on into eternity.

There is no end to love, Noah.  And as I watched Katie and Drew take each other by the hand as husband and wife, I thought of two seventeen-year-old kids in a hospital room in the middle of the night.  I saw them cradling a newborn baby—kissing you and marveling over you, rejoicing in a new life that had been born to bless us all.

I thank God for those kids who have become adults—who showed me four years ago what true love is, and who have been showing me ever since.

Thank God for miracles, thank God for happily ever after.

And thank God for you, Noah, and all the love that you have taught us.

With gratitude and awe,

Your Mama



  1. We needed little Noah this week. We are making a video for Thaynes office and the narrator is a kid. We were trying to figure out what kid to use. Thayne mentioned Noah would be perfect. He's little, easy to understand, always a talker,cute, and hilarious. He would have been so cute with his big words coming out of his little body. Yes, he would have been perfect. Noah, we needed you. :)

  2. This was beautiful. I have been a lurker for a long time, and have been so grateful for the many insights you have shared about your adoption experience. It helped me so much as we went through ours.

    We have now had our little guy for almost six months and I totally resonate with how you said "You are mine." I sometimes worry how it comes across when I say to people that sometimes I forget that he's even adopted, because of course I don't want to--and can't--diminish the role of his birthmom. But the connection we have definitely is sacred. And though I can't predict all the emotions he will feel about his adoption down the road, I know that we were brought to each other through divine guidance.

    1. Yes I love what you said about not being able to predict his emotions! Noah is allowed to have whatever emotions he wants to have about his adoption someday. If he has his "You're not my real mom!" moments when he is a teenager, that is okay. I plan to respond with, "Well you're my real son!" ;) But whatever he feels at any point is fine. I hope he always knows that. Congratulations on your adoption! It is such a beautiful thing!!

  3. And so happy to hear the awesome news about Katie and Drew.

  4. So many tears! I love you and Noah so much, and I'm so grateful to learn from you both. This was beautiful, Rach.

  5. Oh Rachel that is beautiful. What an amazing perspective. I felt the spirit so strong. You are inspiring. Noah is one lucky boy!

  6. Perfection. So much love for all involved!!!

  7. Thank you Rachel. I love your family and the close ties from this experience. Noah has been a blessing in all our lives. I have never doubted the divine presence in how things have worked out. You were always meant to be Noah's Mother. Thanks for sharing your personal feelings with all of us.

  8. I loved this! I totally cried. You are all inspiring.

  9. Oh wow Rachel, this was so beautiful. You took such a complicated situation and made it so simple and beautiful. And Noah's description of adoption?? So perfect and profound!! Wow! God is good. xoxox, Celeste

  10. Beautiful. I love that in Noah's way, he described those deep feelings of your heart. Noah does belong with you and your family, and Katie and Drew were the sacred means by which God brought his arrival to you to pass. And Noah was also a sacred gift to them to help them realize what depth of true love they had for each other. What a special thing your collective love has created. Congrats to Katie and Drew!

  11. First off congratulations to Katie and Drew. They really did beat the odds to end up together in the end when they were ready.

    Rachel I always so love and admire you. I have watched you (through your blog for years now since you moved) and been absolutely amazed at you. I don't think I could be near as gracious, open, and loving as you are to your son's birth parents. I've watched you include then in Noah's life and wondered at how you do it. How you aren't more closed or more selfish. And truly I find I am not surprised to read that you have divine guidance on this.
    You are a fount of love. And example to me.

  12. Your story has touched my heart many times. I am very happy to hear about Katie and Drew! What a rare and happy occasion! It seems to me that your family and Katie and Drew's family are not two different families, but one. And Noah always has been right where he belongs. You can see the love between all four of you and the love you all have for Noah. It's beautiful. I do hope that one day you write a book about your story, it would lift and lighten so many. Thanks for sharing this!


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