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24 hours into this…

Being the week of the twins’ first birthday, I’m telling the twins’ adoption story in series format. Follow these links to find parts one and two .

The twins’ birth mom had asked if we could meet with her as soon as possible, so the alarm went off early. It took a few minutes to orient ourselves. Where were we? Why were we here? Oh yea. That.

Rushing to get ready, our hearts were split tracking – thinking of the twin girls in the hospital as well as our four children at home who were processing all of this as much as we were, without the additional benefit of walking it out on the ground. It was an adrenalin factory, but at least we were able to keep busy traveling and planning. The kids were experiencing the same shot of adrenalin, minus the outlet.

Screen shot 2009-09-16 at 8.48.54 AM

Grabbing coffee, we drove to the hospital. Having attended meetings in Pensacola back in the days of the Pensacola Revival, we had a rough idea of the layout of the city. It was funny to be back in town so many years later and see some of the same sites. We parked near the entrance marked ‘Birth’ and walked toward the doors.

Signs led us through the customary labyrinth of doors and hallways until we stood outside a hospital room knowing that on the other side of the door was a birth mom who was about to make the most important decision of two little girls’ lives.

We knocked gently and heard a voice say “Come in.” We found her sitting on the edge of the bed, a bit groggy. A small duffle bag sat on the edge of the bed. On the nightstand was a cell phone and a half empty hard pack of Marlboro Red.

“We’re the Bohlender’s…” I stammered. Always best to lead with the obvious I guess.

“Yes, hello.” She replied quietly. “Thanks for coming. Please sit down….”.

The next thirty minutes consisted of a quiet exchange between nervous parents and a woman who desperately wanted to feel like she had some sort of influence in a decision. In reality, she did – she could choose to place the girls with us or choose not too, but choosing not to meant the state of Florida would take them that afternoon. To the rational mind, this wasn’t a hard decision. To her troubled mind, though, it was very important that she think it through fully…and we wanted to make sure to allow her that dignity.

She asked only a few questions. What do you do for a living? How many children do you have? Where do you live? Then she got to the one that seemed the biggest for her. How do you feel about them being of mixed race?

As her sister had told us, she was half Japanese and half Thai. The birth mom told us that the father was “White Christian Redneck.” I’m not sure that’s technically a race, but it sure gave me a mental picture. Her sister had also told us that the birth mom had always felt like the odd one out – she was half sister, and her Thai side made her darker than her siblings.

We explained that our family had crossed that imaginary threshold two years earlier when we adopted Zoe. Not only did it not matter, we hadn’t thought to ask before we left to meet her. A visible wave of relief swept across her face. My heart jumped as I allowed myself to move from obedience (God said “go get them”) to a nervous hope.

After a few moments of awkward silence, she asked “Would you like to meet the girls?” We quickly said yes…and with that, she put on her slippers and we were headed down the hallway. She went to the nurses desk and announced “I’d like to see my girls. These are the people who will be adopting them.”

The nursery worker looked at us for a moment and quietly went behind a door, returning in a moment with two tiny girls in clear, acrylic bassinets. Kelsey and I couldn’t take our eyes off them as they rolled down the hall to a small room designed for one on one patient consultations with nurses or doctors.

We all crowded in – the birth mom, the two bassinets, Kelsey and I – and turned to face each other. Gently, the birth mom lifted each girl out of the bassinets and handed one to Kelsey and another to me. She introduced them by the names she’d given them but said “You’ll probably want to pick your own names, and that’s ok with me….”.

Ten minutes passed with us making small talk when she said “I’m tired. I think I’m going back to rest.” She kissed each of the girls and walked out of the room. Kelsey and I sat there – twenty seven hours into the adventure – holding two perfect little girls in our arms and hope in our hearts that they could be ours.

After a season of tears and laughter, there was a sharp knock at the door. “Come in…” I said.

A nurse we’d never seen before walked in. She looked at us and abruptly asked “Who are you?” I was suddenly aware that we appeared to be hiding in a side room with newborn twins. Neither Kelsey or I had so much as a hospital visitor pass, let alone the required wrist band.

“We’re the parents!” I said with false confidence.

“Who?” She asked Kelsey did not appear to have just given birth.

“We’re adopting the girls.” I explained. “We will be the parents. Soon.”

She smiled. “That’s great. But for right now, you should not have been left alone with these girls. I need to take them back to the nursery.”

We agreed and followed the little darlings back to the nursery where they were parked safely behind glass. We then walked back to their birth mom’s room, where we found her resting quietly.

We went out to the lobby to figure out the next step…there were lawyers to be called, friends to be notified, papers to file, and a lot of coffee to drink. Sitting down in the hard plastic chair, it dawned on my that we were about to be parents to six children. Grabbing my Blackberry, I pecked out this genius comment.

Screen shot 2009-09-16 at 9.31.52 AM

For some reason, that thought struck us both as ridiculously funny. We sat in the hospital waiting room and laughed until we cried. Little did we know these twins would be marked by their almost supernatural ability to evoke laughter. There was a lot of laughter to come….but first we had to make sure the legal issues were taken care of.

More to come.


14 Responses

  1. Thank you for writing this series!!!!! Is there any way I can help the Zoe foundation from Virginia?

  2. Oh, I’m crying… this is good stuff.

  3. AWWW the fingers and toes. I’m so loving reliving this experience with you!!

  4. I am loving following this. I remember last year in class when Gray was relating the story as he understood it.

  5. I think I have the record. I made it through 2 and a half posts before crying.

  6. Beautiful story. Thanks so much for posting.

  7. I don’t know you personally, but I’ve been following your blog every now and then since I’ve been to IHOP the first time in ’06 and I just love your craziness! Keep running the race…it’s an awesome encouragement to me seeing you people go for God’s plans on earth with all it takes. Even with all the craziness it takes;-)) God bless!!

  8. I’m still crying as I read these but you also made me laugh. I was in a quiet room with people reading this one, and saw “‘White Christian Redneck.’ I’m not sure that’s technically a race, but it sure gave me a mental picture” and made people look at me when I started laughing 🙂

    Seriously, you are living proof of what the “family of God” phrase means. If I told you how much that meant to me, I would cry so hard the screen would run; it’s beautiful.

  9. weeping. . . as i wait for our testimony and adventure. thanks for the encouragement-

  10. This is absolutely the most beautiful God rewarding story I’ve read in a long time. Thank you so much for sharing this heart warming story with us. Have you thought about writing a book Randy??!! 🙂 It would surely be a seller.

  11. i was referred to your blog by a friend of mine. thank you so much for sharing your stories and personal journey. i am so blessed by just reading it and not even knowing you. thank you.

  12. Your adoption story is amazing and I am so encouraged by reading it. I am with Matt (first comment) and would like to know what we in Virginia can do to help TZF?

  13. As I read the last 3 of these, I can’t help but see God’s perfect beauty in the twins life and the situation. So excited to read the next one. Your family is marked with such a forerunner spirit, in the truest sense of the phrase. Amazing. I hope to have some wild and crazy adoption stories myself, sometime!! Blessings. Oh, also just wanted to tell you that my whole moms group out here in Redding, CA is fascinated by your blog. We love it!

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