Jason and Teri seem like ordinary parents waiting in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit waiting room. Jason lies exhausted on Teri’s lap as Teri throws her head backward over the chair’s back.
Jason and Teri are worried because their newborn son’s kidneys sit together displaced on one side of his body and they now await test results that will tell them if the displacement will be a serious problem or a simple quirk of nature.
Now they are in the wait mode. They are awaiting not only medical tests, but they are waiting for a call from their lawyer. The lawyer is bringing the critical papers they need to adopt this baby.
But that is not they only thing they wait for. They are waiting to hear from Jason’s oncologist. Jason has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and he is awaiting a call that will schedule him for his next phase of treatment.
Adoption is a challenging choice at any stage of life, but why, I asked, would the couple opt for this choice in the middle of the biggest battle of their lives. Why would they seek adoption here and now?
They didn’t exactly seek adoption. It sought them. It began six years ago when a woman walked into the medical office where Teri worked holding a secret. She was eight months pregnant and seeking someone who would be willing to adopt her baby.
Teri had been able to birth one girl who was then twelve. Unable birth more children, Jason and Teri had been discussing adoption. The decision came quick and certain – in much the same way their decision to marry twelve years previously when Teri was only eighteen and six months pregnant.
‘Yes, absolutely yes!” was the answer they gave the mother.
Five happy years passed after the first baby came home until the marriage Jason’s grandmother had predicted would only last six months was coming into its eighteenth year.
But, one day Jason got a fever. The fever wouldn’t go away and a visit to Jason’s doctor told him that his prior years in the oil fires of Iraq combined with some poor health choices in earlier years brought an ominous payday – cancer.
Now in the middle of the cancer treatments, a call came from Teri’s former employer. The birthmother had returned – again pregnant with a secret.
“I know you guys have a lot on your plate,” the doctor said, “but would you consider adopting the half-sibling of your adoptive child? The answer came a little slower this time. This choice had some possibly frightful ramifications.
“Why now, God?” they asked. “Why in the middle of this terrifying time would you put such a choice in our path? How far will God stretch us?”
Jason was apprehensive. There were a lot of tears after that phone call. With the birth mother opting not to be involved, Jason knew Teri would have to do everything alone.
“How will you do it?” Jason asked Teri. “You will have to do it alone. I’m Mr. Chemo Brain and I’m going to forget things. You will have to take care of both of us. I won’t be able to get up in the middle of the night. How far can you stretch?”
“I’ll have the help of our family, friends and church,” she said. I’ll have God’s help. This is the right thing,” she declared. “Our baby boy will have a place where he is safe, healthy, and loved!”
With that, however precariously, the decision was made, and after only two weeks of waiting, the phone call came that brought them into our waiting room.
Now, as we sat waiting, the doctor stuck his head into the room. “He’s fine! You can take him home today! Kidney’s are working normally. He’s just packed a little differently, that’s all.”
“I warned you,” Jason said with a wry smile, “Boys are different! The girls didn’t give us this kind of beginning. Boys are just different!”
Teri removed a pillow from the hospital couch, gently hit Jason on the head and said, “We’ll do fine. Don’t sweat the small stuff, Mr. Chemo Brain!”