It appears that I blundered by posting an ambiguous status update on my Facebook account a few days back. And while I didn't mean to stir the pot, it appeared as though I was sending some sort of veiled message about an upcoming announcement to my friends. Knowing me like most of you do, you probably guessed what I was thinking about when I wrote that status update. So let me address the question at hand: Are we planning on adding to our family?
The answer? Yes. Always. Whenever someone asks if were planning on adopting again, the answer is always an unhesitating "yes". But that's where the specifics tend to get hazy. Since we've brought Kristina home, three different children have come to our attention. Each time we considered and prayed about pursuing their adoptions. The last one was this past March; a little special needs girl who opened our heart to bringing a child with unique needs into our family. But a strange thing happened all three times, after we had chosen to move forward God provided a family for each of these children. Our hearts were bewildered and a little torn. There was a part of us confused about the outcome of events and a part joyful that three children would no longer be called orphans.
So in order to address the question at hand, I need to give you some background on how the Landum Family came to be. If you want a direct answer to the question, "Are you adopting? And if so, who and when?", chances are you'll have to tune in in a few days when I finish the background info. Don't feel compelled to stay. I'll get to it eventually. So lets start at the beginning. . .
Almost sixteen years ago during premarital counseling, our pastor asked us about our family plans. We both said we had discussed the issue and were on the same page: we both wanted children. Case closed, next item of business. But he probed further and asked us to truly examine our "family plans". After much prayer and talking, we made a decision that didn't receive a lot of support from friends and family. We would allow God to plan our family.
Our friends said we needed time for just the two of us, to get to know one another and grow as a couple. Three months into the marriage, I learned I was pregnant. A month later I learned it was twins. We were juniors in college - ecstatic and a little scarred. I figured that would be the end of my college pursuits, but I knew God's plans were perfect. I went into labor right before Christmas during exam week and for fear that it was false labor, I brought my Hebrew exegesis work with me to the hospital. If I wasn't having a baby (babies!), I was going to have to show up for that Hebrew language exam. The labor was real enough and later that night I gave birth to Samuel and Nathanael. Samuel ("Asked of God") because we had prayed that God would give us a child in His time and Nathanael ("Gift of God")- because we asked for one and God gave us another. :)
The boys arrived 8 days shy of our one year anniversary. By the time we were released from the hospital, Christmas break had commenced and we began the adjustment to being a family of 4 over the holiday break. During that time, I contemplated what our life would look like now that we had these precious boys. I couldn't possibly return to school with this new responsibility, so I resolved to put college off until much later when the children had begun school. When school commenced in January, Robert and I returned to campus to introduce the newest Landrums to the faculty and our friends and to drop all of my classes.
One of the offices we stopped at that morning was the office of the academic dean Dr. Larry Braidfoot. Robert and I had both been students in Dr Braidfoot's Intro to Christian Theology class. Holding one of the boys, he questioned me about my college plans. I stumbled a little at the line of questioning. Of course I would be dropping out of school. The boys were a priority and I couldn't be both a full time student and a full time mother. But Dr. Braidfoot saw something in me that I didn't, he said I didn't have to choose. "Follow me," he said as he locked his office door and headed out of the administration building. We followed him across the street to the School of Religion building and down one of the hallways to another office door. He unlocked the room and swung the door open to reveal a wood paneled office with desk, chair, and bookshelves from floor to ceiling. He walked about in the small space, scratching his chin and moving things about. "Do you have one of those portable play cribs?" he inquired. I nodded, confused about the direction he was going. "I can bring a lamp in to cut down on the glare of the fluorescent overhead lights and I have a rocking chair. The crib can fit over here," he said moving some boxes aside. Robert and I were stunned at his proposal. Rather than quit school, he was suggesting that we all come. Robert, me, and the boys. It was unorthodox. It was unconventional. And it was totally God.
So for the first year of the boys' lives, that little unused office of Dr Braidfoot's became our sanctuary. Robert and I managed to schedule classes opposite of each other so one of us was always in the office with the boys. They were good babies, rarely crying. I can still see Robert sitting at that heavy wooden desk under the glow of a lamp, a book in one hand, a sleeping baby over one shoulder, and another sleeping baby rocking gently in the baby carrier at his feet. And so this was the melody of our life for that first year. It wasn't without its challenges. During exam week, we took shifts sleeping, studying, and tending to the children. But the majority of our memories are of the peaceful sanctuary of that room, "Grandbecky" the secretary to the department chair who adopted all of us, the "thump, thump, thump" that echoed down the deserted corridors in the religion building as the boys crawled across the historic wooden floors, and the squeals of delight as they later clung to the wainscoting of those halls and took their first steps. I managed to take a full course load, maintain a 4.0, and be a full time mom. And it was all by the grace of God. It seemed that trusting God to plan our family had paid off.
And then when the boys were just 8 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. . .