Like a blind date (Part 2: Savannah Grace)

I flew into Orlando on Tuesday, Jordynn’s due date. I had asked her if she would like to meet me face to face. (She could meet Brian when he drove out from Colorado that weekend.) She liked the idea. We picked a Denny’s near the airport.

I arrived a few minutes early and picked a table where I could watch for a very pregnant young woman to walk up to the door. I twiddled my thumbs. I ordered water. I brushed my fingers through my hair.  I thought about the five other times we’d talked with birth moms and the feeling of nervous anticipation that went with each one. Sometimes it was face to face, sometimes it was over e-mail, but each time I’d wanted to put my best foot forward.

Smile. Share my heart.

Sound wise and disciplined, but fun and hip all at the same time.

Communicate youth and vigor.

Illustrate age and understanding.

Be transparent.

Be kind.

Be everything she would hope for in a mom.

It’s a lot of pressure, really.

The first five situations hadn’t ended up with a baby in our arms. Three moms chose to parent, one chose a closer family so she could have interaction and one broke our hearts by choosing us and then changing her mind and choosing a family she’d never met – on the day the baby was born.

The potential for rejection hung there. It could happen again.

So there I sat. Heart in my throat. Wondering what would happen next.

Fifteen minutes passed. Twenty. Thirty.

She changed her mind.

I talked with Brian on the phone. Talked with Sam. Texted my mom. Anything to keep my mind occupied. Everyone was praying, everyone was with us in thought.

A car pulled up and I just knew it was her. She and her friend stepped out of the car and came up to the door. She was very pregnant and very beautiful.

I ran my fingers through my hair. Smiled big. Hoped she would like me.

She walked into the restaurant and spotted me right away. I got up and wrapped my arms around her in a big hug. Probably too much. Probably shouldn’t have done that. But I couldn’t help it. I felt such love for her already.

She sat down. Lovely blond hair, pretty blue eyes. Immediately I felt a connection to her. We began to chat. She told me about her life. I told her about ours. I told her she could ask any question she wanted and I would do my best to answer.

We talked about all kinds of things, but there was one message I wanted to make very clear: She would always be a heroine in our home. Always.

With little family support, she’d chosen life. Then she’d thought long and hard about adoption. She wanted a good life for her daughter, a family, a home. She was courageous and brave and strong. When she found her way to Florida, she’d connected with a wonderful family who had helped support her through the emotions. One member of that family sat beside her and encouraged her through our whole conversation.

It was an amazing picture of grace and kindness.

Jordynn was articulate and wise beyond her years, and it was my joy to meet her. Our conversation cemented our connection and we both felt good about moving forward.

It was better than any blind date.

This was me, Savannah, Jordynn and a dear friend meeting for the very first time to begin a relationship that would end with Savannah in our arms.

It’s still mind-boggling to me. To us.

It’s still miraculous and beautiful that a meal at Denny’s changed our lives.

It makes me smile. And I wonder if the heavenly realms were hanging out around Denny’s that day. Seeing something of God unfold and smiling and nudging each other with delight.

I like to think that was the case.

Watch a miracle. Order a cheeseburger.

Now that’s a good day.

Welcome: Savannah Grace Colopy

We would like to introduce you to the newest member of the Colopy family:

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Savannah Grace Colopy turned two weeks old yesterday.

Oh friends, what a month this has been! We’ve been bursting to tell you about it, but we wanted to wait until some final papers were signed. But now… now we can tell you the story of Savannah Grace and how she came into our world.

Here’s part one (the rest will come over the coming days):

It all started with a text.

“Call me. Important :)”

It was my mom. She lives in Florida and when I called, she told me of an e-mail that someone had sent to her church’s office. A young pregnant woman was looking for parents for her baby – did they know of anyone who might be interested? The secretary at the church knew our story and sent the information to my mom.

My mom called on Thursday afternoon, February 7th. The baby was due Tuesday, February 12th – only five days later. In Orlando.

Hmmm. What are the odds? I was already scheduled to fly into Orlando for a speaking engagement. On her due date. On the 12th.

I talked to Brian. We stared at one another. Grinned a goofy grin. Could it be?

I called the number my mom had given me. I thought I was going to talk with a friend of the birth mom, but instead I ended up with the birth mom herself. We’ll call her Jordynn.

I wasn’t expecting to talk to her directly and was less than eloquent. I felt like I stumbled all over myself as I shared some of our journey, about our boys in Haiti, about our lives.  I asked about her world and she was articulate, kind and gracious. She wanted the best for her child and didn’t have the means to care for or provide for her.

She wanted to know more about us, so I referred her to our adoption blog to see our pictures and read our story, and then encouraged her to Google my name to find out more about us.

I figured it would take a very special young woman to look at our lives, our adoption of two active boys from Haiti, our wrinkles, our wacky sense of humor – and find it appealing to place her daughter in our care. Then I Googled my name to see what came up first and what she might think. It was my book: Pure Love, Pure Life – the purity book for teens.

Great, I imagined her thinking. She’s one of those people.

Relax, Elsa. Just breathe.

We waited several more hours and then Jordynn called us back. “I would be honored and delighted if you and Brian would raise my daughter,” she said.

I nearly fell over. Brian’s jaw dropped.

Really, God? Would it happen like this??

Oh friends, the next weeks would bring tremendous highs and gut-wrenching lows. Over the next few blogs I’ll share the story – but for now, will you celebrate with us? Savannah Grace Colopy is ours. Daughter to Brian and Elsa, Little sister to Sean, Jessica, Cassie, Samantha, Lovence and Laurentz. We are a family of seven and we couldn’t be happier.

Never doubt for a second that God is the giver of good gifts, unexpected surprises and the author of the most delightful twists and turns!

Oh, how we love him!

Thank you!

We are filled with gratitude, filled with hope, filled with joy!

Our young mom signed the papers allowing us to start the process of adopting Laurentz. What an unbelievable mix of emotions! Our hearts ache for all she must be feeling, even as we rejoice at this privilege. Please keep her in your prayers. May God wrap his arms around her!!

I will write more soon on next steps, I just had to share and thank you for your prayers – please keep praying for her. Thank you, friends!

Don’t stop!

I’ve been wanting to update you for a few days now, but we’ve been waiting… and we are still waiting. We will have to get really good at waiting over the coming weeks and months!

I do want to ask for your continued prayer for our young mom. She has not signed the papers yet, but we received word that she has made a decision to do so…

Pray for her heart. Pray for both boys. Pray for us.

We will update as soon as we learn more!

 

How do you say goodbye?

She was young when she birthed him – barely a teenager really. And now she’s getting ready to sign papers to release her little boy for adoption.

I can only imagine the emotions welling up in her heart. Sadness, fear, loneliness, shame, uncertainty…

So I am asking you to pray. Please pray for Laurentz’s mom. She is supposed to meet with an official of the court, along with a pastor and the orphanage director tomorrow. Please pray for this young mom, that she would come to the meeting, that God would touch her heart, that He would bring her peace and that she would know, deep down, that her boy will be loved and cared for well.

Brian and I already love him like our own and would give our lives for him in a heartbeat.

Pray that this young woman would know that truth. Pray for God’s comfort and strength.

I feel such a profound sense of gratitude to her… and deep compassion for all that she must be feeling. As much as it is within our power, Laurentz will know her as the courageous and valiant woman that she is…

It’s my hope that her goodbye will not be forever, that one day Laurentz will meet her again – a godly man who will fold her into his embrace, kiss her on the forehead and express deep gratitude for her sacrifice.

Oh Lord, may it be so.

Love is a risk

I don’t want to love them too much.

I don’t want to hold on too tight.

I mean, it was amazing when I was in Haiti – when two little boys with big smiles fell into my lap, when one fell asleep on my shoulder and I didn’t dare move so I could enjoy the sleepy weight of him, when I coaxed out deep belly laughter that rang like music in my ears. In those moments, my heart expanded with love so deep and rich and big, that I could hardly contain it.

But then I got home and they’re far away.

And we got word that the mom of one of our boys didn’t sign the paperwork that needs to be signed, and we can’t take a single step forward until she does.

So a voice in my head says, Guard your heart! Hold on Loosely! Don’t love so much because this will hurt way too much if it doesn’t go through.

Love is a risk.

But here’s the truth: Love is always a risk.

It’s a risk to love my husband. We never know what tomorrow will bring. A dear friend recently lost her husband in a matter of months. Her heart is utterly broken, her family devastated.

It’s a risk to love our friends. Life is transient and unfair and harsh sometimes. Friends move or fall away.

It’s a risk to love, period.

So the more I try to figure out how to guard my heart and still fight for our boys… I realize it can’t be done. It just wont work to hold on loosely when our boys need us to pray, hold tight, love deep.

When Brian and I were in Haiti, I snapped this picture of Brian with Laurentz.

Brian and Laurentz

A father’s love

The hand of a protective father holding his baby boy, Brian’s strong hand is planted right over his heart.

I look at that picture and my heart melts.

I realize that’s how we will love our boys, in spite of the risk. I realize that’s how we can allow the expanding of our hearts as we hold them, pray for them, fight for them.

Ultimately, even if our hearts break, the one who fixes broken hearts is right there with us, his strong hand upon us. He is big and kind and good. And He risks more than any of us. He loves each and every one of us deeply and passionately. He longs for us to be his children. And yet so many of us never realize it, or we say no, turn aside or walk away. I can’t imagine how his heart breaks!

So if we can trust our hearts into anyone’s hands, it’s his.

And so we pray:

Please, Lord, if you would be so kind—bring our boys home. Let them be our children. Hold that mother close and help her to know how much we will love her son. Pave the way through government red tape and financial need. Expand our hearts and our world. Fill us with battle-fighting, prayer-warrior, mom and dad kind of love. And then open every door to bring these boys home, that this risk will have it’s precious reward: a family united.

And if by some painful twist of events, things don’t turn out as we expect, hold us close, wipe our tears and teach us to cling to you.

Teach us to risk as you risked for us,

Elsa and Brian

Family

Family

Downtown Port-au-Prince, riots and crying babies

When our big, burly haitian driver got scared enough to wrestle with the gear shift and squeal off down the road, I knew it was time to get worried.

But let me not get ahead of myself.

I’ve been enjoying some sweet time with my boys. Lovence playing in the pool (my how my boy loves water!), Laurentz sticking matchbox cars in a plastic cup, and then taking them out. Sticking them in, taking them out. Eating meals together.

Good mommy stuff.

Today was the not-so-fun mommy stuff. We had to take the boys to downtown Port-au-Prince to get their blood drawn for the adoption paperwork. When we first arrived at the clinic, they were closed because of a scheduled “Manifestation.”. “Manifestation?” I asked, imagining a parade, a dance or some type of street fair.

“It’s a protest,” Miriam replied, “A riot.” She went on to tell me that riots are very dangerous in Haiti. But no worries. Turned out the clinic would be happy to open up after the madness passed by. Just come back around in a bit.

Right.

Miriam had another errand to run so we headed down a few streets, around a few corners and pulled up close to a building. Miriam, Lovence, Familisse (Lovence’s nanny) and another gentleman all got out of the truck. I was left inside with our strong driver Donalso and another sweet nanny. Donalso stepped out to go grab a bite to eat, leaving the truck running. It seemed to take forever. I kept my head down and tried not to imagine someone jumping in to the driver’s seat and racing away with me, Laurentz and the other nanny. I even envisioned my escape route should something like that occur. Jump out with Laurentz. Stand there and look street savvy and really, really tough.

Touch my child and I’ll beat you.

That kind of tough.

Lots of people and cars and honking and craziness kept unfolding all around me.

Oh, Jesus. I prayed. Stay close!

Finally, Donalso climbed back into the car with his lunch from a nearby vendor. We sat there a few more moments when there was a sudden rush of commotion. A whole crowd of people started running past the truck from behind, looking anxiously over their shoulder, pushing and shoving one another.

The older nanny beside me (who I was told later never panics), panicked. “Alle, Alle! (Go! Go!)” She said, hitting Donalso on the shoulder. Donalso tossed his food to the side and had trouble getting the truck in gear. “Alle, Alle!” she said again.

Donalso finally got the gear to catch and tore into the running crowd. He quickly pulled away from them and turned down several different streets.

We left behind Miriam, Lovence, Familisse and the other gentleman.

There I was with two wonderful haitians who didn’t speak a bit of english. I didn’t speak bit of Creole. I wanted to ask what happened, what we were going to do, what next.

Instead I held on to Laurentz and prayed this would just make a cool story. A nice blog. A faint, distant memory. Nothing more.

We took the long way, but eventually worked our way back around to where Miriam and the others would come out. The crowd had thinned by that point – no running, no screaming. Finally, Miriam came out. “Boy,” she said as she climbed into the truck, “that gunshot really scared Lovence.”

Gunshot?

Oh my, gulp.

Heart still racing, we pulled in front of the clinic, which was now open, and brought the boys in. It was horrible holding Laurentz’ little arm as they stuck the needle in. He let out a few gut-wrenching wails and then tucked his face into my shoulder. It was much harder for Lovence. I found myself near tears as I listened to him cry and cry and cry. They had a tough time finding a vein. I wanted to run in, “Can’t you take mine instead?”

Sigh.

By the time we bundled them all up into the car, we’d already had a full day’s adventure. We drove back with just one quick stop to purchase a roadside rooster cage (don’t say those words often), and headed back to New Life.

On the way, Miriam turned and looked at me very seriously.

“Have you felt the lumps on Lovence’s back?”

My eyes opened wide. “Lumps?”

“Yes, and they’re getting bigger.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” she said. “And I know what they are.”

Horrible thoughts went through my mind in a flash. Oh no!

“What?” I asked.

“Are you sure you’re able to handle it?” She asked, very seriously.

“I think so.”

She looked at me for a minute or two. “They’re wings.”

She started laughing. It took me a moment to get it before I started laughing. “Cuz he’s straight from heaven,” she added for good measure. We laughed some more, tears squeezing out of our eyes.

It was just what we needed after the madness of downtown Port-au-Prince, riots and crying babies.

A simple reminder of what it was all about.

Babies from heaven. Sprouting wings. Good, hearty laughter.

Thank you, Lord.

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Lovence in the pool!

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Eating some food all wrapped in a warm towel

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Laurentz with his plastic cup and cool cars

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A bit of Port au Prince

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These weren’t where the crowds were, but gives you an idea of the surroundings.

My first 48!

I held my boys today.

I laughed with them.

I even changed a dirty diaper.

I arrived in Haiti on Thursday and I’m drinking in time with my boys. In fact I went to go play with them after lunch – Lovence was getting ready to nap and Laurentz was sound asleep. Wake up! I thought. I want to play!

For a woman who cherishes her 10 minute power snooze every day… it’s telling.

I’ve had some great moments in the near 48 hours that I’ve been here.

Delighting in Laurentz as he slept in my arms. Studying all of his features and praying over each and every one.

Laughing outright with Lovence as we played on the swings. On his upswing, I would stop him in midair and make funny faces. (I’m hilarious when I scrunch up my nose all funky… seriously).

I also met with our adoption liason here in Haiti. I gingerly handed over a mountain of paperwork and envelopes. I hesitantly asked him how long it might take to bring our boys home, and nearly hugged him right there when he said hopefully 18 months. We’d be thrilled with 18 months, but we’re praying for even less than that. Would it be crazy to pray for next Christmas?

What do you say? Will you join us in that prayer? I know that’s only 13.5 months, but hey… what better way to start their lives in America then Christmas in Colorado! And how fun to have matchbox cars, legos and soccer balls for two little boys under that tree!

Oh Lord, please…

Okay, so here are some pics from the first few days:

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This is Lovence and his wonderful daytime nanny, Familisse (sp?)

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Here’s Lovence with Miriam when we went into the big city. Yeah, that’s another blog in itself.

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Me and Laurentz

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The first time the boys played together – and look at Lovence sharing… and Laurentz with his natural little mohawk. 🙂

Fun to share this journey with you all – thanks for taking part!!!

Easy mister, important stuff here!

I stood in the FedEx office with a firm grip on the box. All of our most important documents were in that little box and I was reluctant to hand it over.

The guy pulled.

I held fast.

He jerked it a bit and I finally let go. My heartbeat quickened. Sure, FedEx will usually get packages where they need to go, but what if mischievous hooligans hijack the truck? What if the pilot of the FedEx plane goes rogue and flies to the Bahamas for a little fun in the sun? Or what if the package arrives only for someone to spill a monster mug of coffee and ruin it all?

You see where my overactive imagination gets me…

Thankfully, praying friends and family, the package did make it to Chicago, our documents were all stamped and legalized at the Haitian consulate and were safely returned without incident. Our home study is next – winging its way to Chicago to prayerfully be returned to our agency before I head to Haiti next week.

We did not make our November 1st deadline, but it turns out that there are things to be done on the Haiti end as well. Even if we had delivered our paperwork by October 20th, we still would not have made that November 1st deadline.

So what does that mean?

Well, I will hand deliver everything November 8th. We don’t know if the adoption laws will have changed by the time our items get turned in. All we can do is hope and pray that our adoption will move forward without getting caught up in the new laws and legal wrangling.

Will you pray with us?

Not only for the adoption issues, but please also pray for my trip (I leave next Thursday). Pray for safety and please…  pray for a big heart and tons of courage. There is so much devastation left behind from Sandy, so many hungry, hurting people. Please pray that I can be part of living God’s hands and feet there.

Pray also for health for my three-week visit and for Brian’s one week visit (he will come for Thanksgiving). It isn’t really wise to visit doctors or hospitals there, so we want to stay strong and healthy.

I will update you with pics and stories as I can. We can’t wait to get to know our boys, to learn who they are – what makes them smile, what nurtures their hearts, what games they like to play. We want to immerse ourselves in their world and learn all we can. Pray that God gives us insight into their little hearts, that we will love them well in the time we have.

Thank you tons.