Apr 15, 2018

Sending Baby J Home

He was worth the wait!
I have been putting off writing this blog not because I don’t want to share the beauty of saying goodbye to Jack or because I am trying to hold my cards close to my chest but because in writing this story down it somehow makes the goodbye real. I believe in my heart that this goodbye is just a goodbye for now, as you will hear, I have been beyond spoiled in the connection I have been gifted with Jack’s parents. Due to the unique set up of his adoption I can have as much contact with his Forever Family as they desire and thankfully they are happy to let me still be a part of their son’s life. I have been the grateful recipient of messages, pictures, videos and have even been able to video message with them several times since they have been home! I am overjoyed that he is now beautifully settling into his new family, his new name, his new life and have been ecstatic to see bits and pieces of the beauty through the contact we’ve had. My grief has been tempered with peace, comfort and joy with the confidence that seeing Jack so settled and happy within the arms of his new family. But the grief has been unlike anything I have experienced before… and that is why I have been dragging my feet in sharing this bit of his beautiful story with you. It is going to hurt but prayerfully in pushing the open wound into the bright light of day will usher in deeper healing and less scaring over time.


Whenever I start telling people about what I get to do I am almost always asked, “Do you have children of your own?” or most often, “How many of your own kids do you have?”. I think it is obvious that I love my babies and it is inconceivable to most people that I don’t have any of my “own”. It is a strange calling; to love babies that are sure to leave you with true and ardent love despite the impending, inevitable goodbye. I have never been pregnant but there are parts of this experience that mirror what being pregnant must feel like. As Aunties we daydream about who will come next: a boy? A girl? Twins? How old will they be when they arrive? Will they be healthy or easy; sick or loud? We hope and dream and wait. As I have shared previously, long before I met Jack I dreamed of loving him, or someone like him. For some God ordained reason, I always wanted to have a baby with Down Syndrome and when I scooped Jack up for the very first time my heart almost burst. It is a divine joy to be able to hold and name and kiss the hope differed that has finally arrived. There is always joy and wonder when we receive any new baby; beautiful, redemptive hope wrapped up in a little stranger but holding Jack was different because I had been pregnant with the hope of him for years.


I think the first time I cried at the thought of saying goodbye to Jack within the first 24 hours of meeting him. I’ve cried that way over a handful of littles and their inevitable goodbyes before. A hazard of the job, I guess, but my heart has figured out that the grief of goodbye is best doled out over time rather than sitting unexpressed until the actual day of departure. My current screensaver is a quote by Brian Andreas that says, “She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.” I feel like that is something I would say. Somehow the beautiful disaster of this calling has turned me into weeper. Those of you who know me well know how much I used to, and sometimes still do, hate to cry in front of other people. Even those closest to me. Mostly because my voice gets two octaves too high and I can’t clearly communicate why I am crying and often when I cry once I can’t stop crying over everything for the rest of the day. I am also sure my prideful spirit and desire to seem put together must have something to do with it as well. I wanted to keep Jack for my very own more than any of the precious babies I’ve loved on before. Partly because I waited for him, partly because of the trauma we experienced when he first arrived but mainly because he is just so special! Everyone who meets him loves him. After I shared his arrival story I had many people from all over the world inquire about how he was doing and if they could be the family to take him home. All the Aunties mooned over him and I think were secretly glad when I was out of the house for any extended time so they could have him all to themselves. I wrestled with my desires knowing that there really was no easy way for Jack to stay with me. People who loved me and could see how much I loved him asked if I would try and keep him, despite the obstacles and impossibilities in the way. For months, I pushed away the thoughts and comments until one day I put them before the Lord and in His mercy, He made the answer incredibly clear. Fighting to keep Jack would be selfish and thinking that I could love him best was incorrect and worse, incredibly prideful. Not all the Father’s words to our hearts feel good but they are all true. I am beyond thankful He spoke clearly to me that day; He knows my wayward heart and exactly what I needed to hear and rehear even today.


One thing I love about adoption is that in its very nature we see God’s redemptive story and how He chose us to be His children. He gave us the right to be called sons and daughters and through Christ we now have access to the Father and all the benefits of being His children. Adoption also depicts the pain of the Gospel; a Son surrendered, a Father who turned away the good of all humanity, sacrifice that in the end brought victory and eternal joy. As our children journey towards their Forever Families there is pain, sacrifice and surrender that marks the way. The mystery of pain that Jack’s birth mother must feel when she allows herself to think of him. The sacrifice of the Aunties who loved and cared for him for his first year and miss him even now. The surrender of a baby you love knowing that you are not the best or only thing he needs to become the man he was made to be. I eternally thankful that the Father and the Son loved us enough to see the joy that lay beyond the cross. I pray that with their help I will willingly embrace not only the joy of adoption but the pain as well; knowing that beauty lives in both.


As we received word of Jack’s match to his delightful Forever Family and began to wait for a court date it became clear that my prearranged trip home for Christmas in California was going to set me back in South Africa a day after his Forever Family landed in South Africa. The last thing I wanted to do the few weeks before Jack left us was to be 10,000 miles away! Now that I think about it, God also had to use a trip home to kick Jack out of my room two and half months after we got him. If not for that trip, I probably would have found some excuse to keep him in my bed until he got adopted! I see now how God arranged this all perfectly; not just for my heart but for Jack’s as well. I was able to say my goodbye weeks before his family was to arrive; not because he left me but because I left him to fly to America. God used our time away to prepare both our hearts for the arrival of his parents. My main prayer was that I would be able to make the placement about Jack and his new family, not about me and my grief. God used my few weeks back home to process enough so that when we were together for his placement my prayers could be answered. We had the joy of being able to host his parents, Jake and Rachel, on site for 10 whole days before they left for Cape Town to sort out all the legal parts of the adoption. We spent those days slowly introducing and transitioning Jack into his new family. I only cried in front of them once as we prayed on the day he officially left our house to move to the guest flat on the other side of the property. Jake and Rachel were kind and humble enough to honor our bond and invited me to spend time with him almost every day after he left our home. They invited me to come to the court date where he officially became their son. We enjoyed a celebratory dinner together, did a fun photo shoot with my friend Antoinette and graciously, humbly accepted that Jack still reached for me when we were together. When they were in Cape Town they sent me pictures and videos and added me to their private “Bringing Baby J Home” Facebook page. It is hard to explain how, but somehow when I saw those pictures and videos God miraculously allowed my heart to see this precious boy I loved like my own as their son. I could close my eyes feel his chubby hands on my cheeks, feel when his tiny newborn head tucked perfectly under my chin but when I opened them and saw him in the arms of his new mom and dad he no longer looked or felt like mine. It was the craziest and kindest gift, joy and sorrow wrapped up beauty. Just like my whole year with Jack; a gorgeously refining miracle straight from heaven.


I still miss Jack, now beautifully named Jaren Parker. I still cry when I talk about him and his miraculous story. I am sobbing now. There are days when I feel perfectly well adjusted, grateful for this chaotic calling and other days when the grief is so real I feel like my heart is breaking all over again. I am working to wade through the waters of grief being as honest as I can. Doing my very best to be vulnerable and admit when I am having a sad moment and reminding myself of truths previously revealed. God has brought me new babies to love, new adoptions to walk through and placed within my heart a desire for another baby with Down Syndrome. Maybe a girl this time? Actually, I have repeatedly told all my people that I want ALL the babies with Down Syndrome who need a home on their journey to their Forever Family. I happily pour over and shamelessly share every new picture, video and story Jaren’s family shares; rejoicing over every new accomplishment, praying over every challenge. Just like I do over all my biological nieces and nephews; happy to be an Auntie to someone so special. I love being an Auntie, it’s one of the best, hardest things I’ll ever do!


Thank you for your faithful prayers and love for me and Jack while he was in our home! I appreciate the way God uses your love, prayers and support to uphold me and all our babies. All my love!!!


  1. Nicole you are so brave writing this story down, and also very inspirational. What you have given Jack is a year of love which has literaly been hard wired into his brain as the foundation of what a loving relationship consits of. All his future relationships will be built on the wonderful experience you have allowed him to have by allowing yourself to love and be loved even though you knew you would be incredibly sad yourself. You are the best and you have given him your best. Well done!! mandy

    1. Thank you for reading and for the encouraging words! It is always good to be reminded! Love will always reap a harvest! Thanks for reminding me today :)


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