It was May 6th, just over two weeks after we had found out that our dreams of adoption had been nothing but a delusion. We had been deceived. Defrauded. We had spent thousands of dollars to bring two sweet babies home.
Only those babies had never existed.
The “birth mother” was never even pregnant.
It was all a part of a deceptive scheme to rob of us not only our money, but of our pride.
We were humiliated that we had been taken advantage of, even as we were trying to help others in need. We had fallen hook, line, and sinker.
Along with the humiliation and loss of money came an incredible sense of guilt. So many people – hundreds of people – had supported us, prayed for us, and given us some of the most fabulous baby gifts known to mankind. Our church, where the “birth mother” had found us, had prayed for her in the main Sunday service for weeks on end, as they do for all expectant mothers. We had arranged for time off, asked other people to assume our responsibilities during maternity leave, and had been the recipients of one of our church’s biggest baby showers in its history.
And all of it was based on a lie.
It was a lie that we certainly believed wholeheartedly ourselves, but I was pierced with guilt for garnering the support of so many people who loved us, and the twins— the babies who never even existed.
The guilt weighed on my heart nearly as much as the grief of the loss. How could I ever go back to church and face the people who had been a victim of a scheme that we brought them into? How would they ever forgive us for our role in the deception that robbed so many?
On the evening of May 6th, my husband Ken and I snuck into the back of our church’s sanctuary for a homeschooler’s production of Peter Pan just after it had begun. Many of our church’s middle schoolers played several different roles with fun and flair. For a while, I escaped our painful reality and laughed at the antics of some of my favorite kids. They did a fabulous job of not only acting and singing, but of ushering me out of the darkness that had surrounded my heart. Escaping the reality of our grief and guilt was refreshing – even if it was only for an hour.
I managed to return to church that Sunday, thanks to some very gracious friends who walked me through the church halls to make sure that I wouldn’t have to talk about my grief with passersby. The emotions were still too raw to engage in any discussion about the events of the previous two weeks.
Finally, after the last service was over, and Ken and I stood at the front of the sanctuary talking with others, two homeschoolers, Lydia and Kailey, approached us.
“We took up a love offering for adoption at our Peter Pan play,” Lydia said, “and this is for you – for your adoption.” She handed me a ziplock bag of dollar bills and change.
I was stunned.
And then I burst into tears. I hugged both of their necks, as I’m sure they stood there confused by why I was crying, but I had no words to explain.
Rather than asking for our shower gifts back, or pretending the defrauding of all of our hearts didn’t happen, the children and their leaders had taken up an offering for us.
The money was so greatly appreciated, but the sentiment behind it was so much more: it was a gift reminding us that we have a future in adoption, that we were loved, and that we were forgiven for what we unknowingly took part in.
Later on as we were driving home, Ken remarked, “It was like Lydia handed us a bag of Grace.” We don’t deserve such love, such forgiveness, such sacrifice. Really, none of us do.
That’s what grace is all about.
I’m so thankful for the “bag of Grace” that we were given that day. It was unmerited kindness from those who owed us nothing, had already been generous, and yet chose to give more. I knew that day that our adoption story was not over, but that God was continuing, and still is continuing, to write a new chapter in our lives.
A chapter that started with a Bag of Grace.