With a look of both relief and wonderment, my husband, Patrick, stood on the landing in our hallway and remarked with a sigh,
“You know what? I think this is the first time in a long time that we have had all of the bedroom doors open.”
I knew then that he was right. This was the first time since last April, when Ezra and Leo died, that the nursery door was not ominously closed. Instead, the door was swung open, giving the room an air of excited anticipation.
“I think that says something. I think it means that we are ready.“
An empty nursery – no other image can quite capture the feeling of when a dream dies more poignantly or painfully than this.
In any other circumstance, a nursery is a symbol of hope. A baby’s nursery is pure, unadulterated, forward-thinking, future-planning hope. Every pastel-colored blanket or bright, flashing toy, every hard-covered baby book or soft stuffed animal (elephants for Ezra… lions for Leo…) becomes a tangible dream for the life to come.
Yet, when a baby dies before he ever has the chance to live, all of those dreams also seem to die with him. Each object from then on becomes tainted with an inexplicable grief. The once beautiful blanket transforms into a brutally painful reminder of the baby that will now never be bundled within it. The toy will go unplayed with, the story unread, the stuffed animal never snuggled – each hope-filled memento, once so innocent and lovely, now becomes an almost tortuous relic of all that was lost.
Before I was discharged from the hospital after our baby boys died, my mother graciously offered to go through our home before us. There, before we would see them, she placed nearly every artifact from Ezra and Leo’s short but beautiful lives into the nursery, and she shut the door. Suddenly, this realm of dreams became a forbidden place within our home, a place too painful for me to venture near. And that is how it remained for a very long time – a dark and forbidden place of painful memories.
Yet, perhaps like love, dreams too have the power to defy death.
New years bring new beginnings. New hope. New dreams.
As Patrick and I work our way through the mountains of bureaucratic paperwork that is required for the adoption process, we have become painfully aware that every aspect of our lives will soon be judged. Our motivations will be questioned, our finances will be scrutinized, our physical and mental health will be evaluated, our fingerprints will be taken – all in an effort to deem if we are fit to be parents to a child. And, at some point in the very near future, a social worker will walk through our home to complete our much-dreaded “home study.”
To prepare for this, we knew that our nursery could no longer be a dark and hidden shrine for our grief. We wondered, how would it look to a social worker to find whole rooms in our home that seem so ominously forbidden? Images of the East Wing in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast quickly sprang to mind!
We knew it was time. It was time to christen the nursery again as a place of dreams. Though we know that no baby can or will ever replace Ezra or Leo, there is a new dream for a new future that we just could not have envisioned before.
So, Patrick spent the days after Christmas cleaning and setting up the nursery for the baby that is yet to come. Bravely, he sorted through each blanket, each onesie, and each toy, and he separated out those that are just too painfully beautiful to ever be used again. These he tucked away in a safe space for us to always remember Ezra and Leo. In a safe space, they are memorials now, and no longer simply tortuous relics.
But then, we added new objects for the new hope that we have now found in adoption. For instance, there is a bookcase now filled with empowering books about adoption and race. Each book embodies a new excitement for a new journey – a new dream.
Once we have completed the home study, our profile will be placed “in the books” for a birth mother to peruse and possibly choose us to be the parents for her baby. This decision is not determined by a list or a first-come first-served basis. Instead, the birth mother is empowered to make that incredible choice. Because of this, there is no defined timeframe for when we may bring home a child. It could happen years after our profile is finished, or it could be days – there is no way to know. Our agency is unique in that approximately 50% of their adoptions are “emergency placements,” meaning that the baby is already born and is waiting in the hospital. In these cases, we could get a call out of the blue stating,
“There is a baby born in Pennsylvania. Can you be here tomorrow?”
We have to be ready.
And so, the nursery still stands empty. Yet, now the door is almost always swung open. It is empty, but with a new air of excited anticipation, our nursery stands at the ready.
New years bring new beginnings. And I have big, new dreams at the beginning of this new year!
As we start the next step in this journey to create our family, we are facing new challenges. We anticipate that the adoption process will cost somewhere around $40,000. Though our adoption agency is a nonprofit organization, these costs go to pay for the legal expenses, the counseling that the agency provides for the birth mother and her family, some of the birth mother’s medical bills and living expenses, etc.
If you would like to help us offset some of these costs, you can support our adoption journey here –