We had a daughter. Then we didn’t. Then we did. Happy Birthday Stori…I wish we knew.

Today I ….want….to…..

Throw a chair against a wall.

Scream until it hurts.

Hit a glass wall with a baseball bat.

Throw all the paperwork in the world up into the air and watch it fall back down in unorganized heaps.

Peel back the layers of “stupid” in bureaucratic processes by exposing those bureaucrats to the consequences of their own actions.

Pound a table until someone hears me.

Sweat my anger out until it’s gone.

Roll the memories around in my mind until I think they will go away but they don’t. 

THAT…. is… what I’d like to have done today.  

I did not…except for the last one.

Happy 6th Birthday Stori Noelle…Today you are celebrating with your adoptive family in Guatemala. For that I am eternally grateful. Yes grateful…that the daughter we “lost” is with another family.

I am GRATEFUL you are NOT in an ORPHANAGE.

But, I am CONFUSED as to WHY WE are not your adoptive family.

You were to be ours. 

You WERE ours. 

We were SO cussin’ close sweetie.  

So close to a cuddle.  To a giggle. To happy memories. 

 So.Close.

But, after having you in our hearts, our souls, our conversation, your picture on our walls, on our Christmas card, after a baby shower was held in your honor, after you were ‘the baby sister that would soon be home from Guatemala’ …. after months of this…

You were taken away by bad paperwork. 

By a bureaucratic process that is difficult for birth parents to navigate. By a process that shoots a birth mom who is trying to do the right thing in the freakin’ foot.

Yes, your birth mom messed up your paperwork. Which messed up our lives. Which then brought us Aven.

I don’t understand the circle of life there. 

I do not understand how it all worked out. 

I do know it was painful, shocking….did I say painful? 

Yes, painful…like a bullet…to receive the phone call we did on March 26, 2007 that you would never be ours. 

And then to have to go forward immediately with another child or risk being yanked out of the Guatemalan adoption process. 

To move forward even though it felt as if we were the most disloyal, confused, horrible people to accept another baby after the one we loved was not “here” anymore. 

We did move forward. (thanks to Jim’s decisiveness…which I am forever grateful for. His words, “We are not going out like this Andrea. We are doing this.”)

We wanted a daughter. We wanted you, Stori. But we did not get you. 

We got Aven. 

And when I held her I was over-the-moon, heart bursting, eyes boggled in love with her instantly. As fast as an arrow pierces a heart…she had me. 

She had me with that first whiff of her little neck…that instant when I finally felt the weight of this “second” baby girl in my arms and my entire being could exhale because I knew God had done something miraculous. 

God healed me….yet He won’t let me forget and I am open to that. I NEVER will forget or, truly, understand any of this Stori. But I know Providence helped us.

And AVEN is our daughter. SHE is our heartbeat. SHE is your replacement? 

No, never. But she has sucked all the possible milliliters of “good” that could POSSIBLY have come out of the March 26th phone call.  Out of the botched paperwork. Out of the pain. Out of the tears…Aven pulled joy out of it all. (I believe God was pushing too…)

I look at Aven and I am FILLED with love. OVERFLOWING with it actually. I look into her almond-shaped, deep as the forest brown eyes and am mesmerized. I feel like she was carved out of me. 

Would I have felt that way about your Stori? I will never know. 

But my LINGERING attachment to you…which is surely spiritual and will forever be even though the ‘world’ surely rolls their eyes at this severe and unshakeable “thing” I hold for you…makes me think we would have had “it” too. 

I would have been honored to have been your Mom to Stori Noelle. 

However..I am not.

Though, I am SURE the Momma who was privileged enough to take you into her arms, to have her heart healed (maybe?) by YOU, to fall-on-the-floor in love with you on April 17th, 2007 as HER new daughter… is laughing and celebrating with you today. I always wonder what kind of cake and pinata you enjoyed on your birthday.

 Every year…I wonder.

I PRAY … know…I have to say I KNOW because if I don’t I cannot sleep.  I KNOW you are well-loved, warm at night, safe at school, with food at your fingertips. Please God. Let that be. 

How could it not be? A Guatemalan couple that adopts is an anomaly for many reasons but it does indicate severe devotion and love…regards of financial status…I can only assume they would give you all of that and way more given who they must be. 

They…I KNOW…are amazing people.  Please God.

I do not think I will ever “get over” losing you Stori. 

Even if people tell me too. Even if people are sick of hearing about you. Even if people in my life forget you (though Aunt Ruth has your picture up in her house….amazing). 

Even if rolling the memories of the months we ‘thought’ we had you and the reasons we were positive you were to be ours (there were many….) hurt when I think about them. 

Even if Aven looks at your picture in our home and says, “Let’s pray for Stori Mom” and I want to both swing her in the air with “happy”  that she’s so sensitive…

…. and then cry that the two of you will never meet, as I have a feeling you two would have made amazing sisters…though I would never have known Aven if you had stayed with us.

Even if I will NEVER understand that. 

Even if.

Even if every November 26th of every year for the rest of my years I cry, feel out of loop, feel waves of anger that were held at bay the other 364 days, take time away from the family I have within my reach to ponder and pray for you…

Even if ALL of that…

I always will.

I will ALWAYS have you in my heart. You are etched there regardless of how odd that may seem to someone who has never fallen in love with their child if only through a picture….

Always.

You have a set of praying parents…and a praying sister…in Indiana. 

We will all probably never meet…but we are bound by the Arms of Providence in ways that I will never understand but am somehow grateful for? (Aven…)

Aven….You were and are my heart’s glue. Thank you for pulling me through my sweetest daughter who carries my mended heart inside her eyes. 

I adore you and thank you for understanding “Stori” as much as you already do. I find that miraculous. 

All of my love girls…..Always.

8 thoughts on “We had a daughter. Then we didn’t. Then we did. Happy Birthday Stori…I wish we knew.

  1. What a beautiful post. I’m blessed to know you and blessed to know you love your kids and your not kids. As foster parents I have some “kids what were mine and then weren’t” stories, some kids I wonder where they are and think of them on their birthdays and look at the their pictures and wonder.

  2. Knowing how hard today is for you every year makes this even more incredible to read. I KNOW this is helping someone out there process and deal with their loss…and I’m sure it’s even encouraging someone to pursue the risky path that adoption brings. We’ve learned that good can always come from evil, but it doesn’t seem to make it hurt any less on the anniversary of our loss. I’m proud of you Andrea – you are amazing and I stand by you no matter what.

    Jim

  3. Sweet. Beautiful. Heart wrenching. I don’t know you Andrea but my heart aches for you. Feels your pain – even though I’ve never lived it – you make me feel it. Tonight, I’m praying for Stori also. And saying a praise of thanksgiving that you were given Aven. Thank you for your post. I’m praying for your strength too.

  4. FTR: “botched paperwork” has NOTHING to do with the adoption agency that we used. It was on the Guatemalan side of things.

    Our agency director went beyond and above what anyone else would have done to help us through this. To the point of setting up meetings, in Guatemala, for us to confirm that Stori has, in fact, been adopted and for me to actually SEE the wrong paperwork and to understand, per Guatemalan law, why Stori would never get on an airplane with me and go “home”.

    Thanks for your comments here and on FB….. It makes me feel “not so weird” :) But, dang..November 26th is difficult. I always ‘try’ to prepare and try to ‘decide to be okay’ that day. Never happens.

    Andrea

  5. I didn’t know about Stori, and while reading this I cried. I can totally understand your feelings and love for her. I often think about the baby that I lost. I was young and scared, and terrified how I would explain “it” to my parents, but when losing he/she I still feel a deep sense of loss, sadness and guilt. You don’t have to hold a child internally or externally to fall in love with the thought of them. I love you, and am praying for you today. Xoxo

  6. Andrea, My heart goes out to you tonight. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been, and I cannot imagine how hard it was to keep going.

    God had a plan for you and Aven. You won’t know His plan until you’re in heaven, but little Aven needed you desperately. I’m sure, however that Stori did also. I am so sorry that you couldn’t have brought them both into your loving home.

    You are one of the strongest women I have ever had the privileged to know Andrea, and to be able to share your hurts and pain with others is such a gift. You help so many others as you talk about your experiences… your pain and your joy!

    Thank you so much! Love, Nancy

  7. Wow! I had no idea this is how you came to adopt Aven. I guess in this sense – ALL things to work for a good…

    Such a beautiful “Stori”! (Pun intended – hehe).

  8. Andrea I can feel your pain in this post as I hadn’t heard you share before about having had a baby shower for Stori and having her on your Christmas card. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been and still be to have suffered that loss. And yet to know how God then used this terrible situation to bring Aven into your family amazes me and to see how a part of your family she is and SO loved is very special.
    As I write this I pray for Stori that wherever she is she will know that she is loved and be loved by her adoptive parents, and that God may guide, protect and keep her in His care always.
    Xx Anna

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