Trevor and Cyndi (not their real names) each saw Dana’s email to the Sacred Selections waiting families within minutes of each other. They shared the same immediate reaction, “I don’t think we’re ready yet… but this is so heartbreaking.”
Trevor called first dialing Cyndi’s cell phone, “Did you see that Sacred Selections email this morning?” “I did” she answered Trevor heard the emotion in her tone. “That is so sad. What a terrible position to be in”, she continued. Trevor paused for a minute, “What do you think?” “Babe, we’ve talked about this but as sad as this is, I don’t think we’re ready, I mean it’s just not the right time yet”, Cyndi reflected recent conversations about being ready for another adoption. Two years ago they adopted a child with help from Sacred Selections and had continued to follow and support this work. They knew and planned for another but a lot was going on in their lives at the moment. It just wasn’t quite the perfect or convenient time.
Trevor was ex-military, having served two tours in Afghanistan. He was a pretty fearless guy and had placed himself in harms way many times, mostly in support of ground troops, protecting the wounded or providing covering fire for tactical retreats. Trevor understood defensive action as well as going on the attack. Sometimes you have to step up and step into the gap to buy time or in support of some greater reason or cause. These situations happen all the time in the life of a soldier.
Somewhere in Trevor’s reflexive memories he was sensing another need to stand up and stand in the gap. “I know, you’re right” he replied, “Let’s wait and see if someone in a better position to help steps up.” They both agreed.
Just two hours prior the exchange between Trevor and Cyndi, Dana had received a call from an adoption agency. The agency called Dana, specifically because they had seen how Sacred Selections families “answered calls” and responded to dire and urgent situations just like the one that came to their attention this morning.
The agency’s social worker began, “Hey Dana, we’ve got a really interesting situation going on. Kind of weird but could be a great opportunity to save a baby.” Dana laughed as she replied, “Oh my how many of these have we already seen. What-cha’ got?” The social worker chuckled too, “Yep you’re right but this has a twist. We got a call this morning from a girl that’s about 14 weeks pregnant. She’s married but her husband is going to jail for a long time. He has to turn himself in next week – just a few days from now. They have two other kids already and he told her if she can’t find a family to adopt the new one, he’s insisting she have an abortion on Monday.”
Dana was thinking, okay that is a real call to action. “Any other details that I can share? I’ll put whatever we know and can send to our waiting families and see who’s interested in responding.” There weren’t too many more details other than the race of the parents, their location and a few health history details. The message to waiting families, the call to action went up within thirty minutes. We need a family to step up to save an unborn child in the next 48 hours. Only have a few additional details. Contact me if interested. Dana looked quickly looked over the post for spelling errors, reflected on the content, how did it sound? She hit… SEND.
The clock was ticking… 47 hours left.
Friday morning Dana and I caught a flight from Sacramento to a fundraising event back east. Thirty five hours left as the wheels of the Southwest jet lifted off the ground. As we regained cell phone reception in Phoenix two hours later. There was a text waiting on Dana’s phone from Trevor. “If no one has stepped forward on this situation please call me.” We had thirty minutes and two trips to the bathroom to call before the next leg of our flight continued. Dana found her way to a “quiet corner” at Sky Harbor International Airport to call Trevor back.
She found Trevor’s number, clicked it and waited while it rang, hoping he would be able to catch the call in this short window of time. Otherwise it would be four hours later before she could try again. That would leave 29 hours and counting. Dana was taking deep breaths, wanting to be ready to “get it all out” if or when he answered. Trevor picked up and beat her to the punch, “Dana, anyone answer this call yet?” “No! Are you and Cyndi interested?” Desperation was dripping from her tone. “Well…if no one else is, Cyndi and I just can’t stand thinking that on Monday if nobody does anything some unborn child is going to die.” “I know” Dana immediately replied, “That is the reality of the situation as we’ve been told. Are you guys really interested and willing to show your profile to the family?” Trevor answered with a calm, serious and determined tone, “Yes, we’ve both discussed this situation and we just can’t sit back, say no and know a baby will die in less than two days. It’s not exactly the best time for us and we weren’t planning to adopt again right now but we’re ready to step up.”
“Trevor…I’m so proud of you and Cyndi!” Dana had tears streaming down her face. “God bless you for stepping the gap and doing the harder thing to save this child. I’ll send your profile to the agency now.” She looked at the time on her phone, there was only 10 minutes before we boarded the plane. “I’ve got to go, to get your profile off. I won’t be able to contact you until we land about four hours from now. But we will be praying for you and this situation.”
Dana hit “send” 20 minutes later as the flight attendant walked by glancing down with a stern look pointing to her phone. “Cell phone off please”. She heard the “swoosh” sound and was satisfied it was on the way. Nothing we could do or know for four more hours.
Saturday morning, the next day Dana heard again from the agency social worker. The family making this dire decision liked their profile. The father [husband] was content with his wife’s decision to place the baby with Trevor and Cyndi. He as required turned himself in to the authorities on the following Tuesday. Monday’s deadly deadline had passed.
Wednesday morning on our flight back home we had a layover in Denver. It had been an early morning flight of three hours, now 9 AM Mountain Time. There was a voicemail from the agency waiting for Dana when we got off the plane. “Hey Dana, this is Crystal from the agency. Please call me as soon as you can. Thanks.”
We had just over an hour before the next flight home. We grabbed something to drink and sat down at a table in Longhorns restaurant close to the gate for the next leg. “Hey Crystal, this is Dana. We just landed in Denver, got your message, what’s up?” Crystal, “Well…we heard from the birth mother this morning. Her husband has turned himself in but she also told us that one of her extended family members wants to adopt the baby.” I couldn’t hear the conversation but it was clear from the look on Dana’s face something disappointing was being discussed. The call was short. Crystal let Dana know the birth mother was firm in her decision and it wouldn’t be right or appropriate for us to further intervene. Crystal also expressed a great deal of gratitude and sympathy for the family that had stepped up and for the urgent work Dana had done to help and advocate for the life of the baby. This was the easy part.
Dana told me what happened. We both looked at the time. It had been a rewarding trip but we were tired and anxious to get home. We had less than an hour before we took flight again and really wanted to just “not do anything.” Dana said it first, “We’ve got to call Trevor and Cyndi.” “I know.” She continued, “They are going to be so disappointed. After all the emotional effort they took to make this happen. I so wanted this story to end with that baby in their home.” I just nodded, “Yep, would have been such a great ending.”
Dana pulled the phone out of her purse. Looked up Trevor’s number and called. He answered and Dana said, “Hey Trevor, this is Dana. Is Cyndi there with you or can you merge her in?” Trevor knew something important was happening. “Yeah she’s here, just a minute let me get her.” Cyndi joined the call and her fear was immediately audible, “Hey Dana…I’m here. What’s going on?” “Well guys…”
Dana shared the details of the call from Crystal she had just received. Trevor and Cyndi were shedding tears, disappointed that the happy ending they hoped for had just been shattered. Trevor said, “I understand but it just feels like we failed, like we went to such efforts for nothing.” It did “feel” that way, but it immediately occurred to me, “Wait this wasn’t a failure! Your decision, your courage, your willingness to step up and step into the gap saved a child’s life. Sure it appears the baby won’t be in your home but the baby will live!” What about that is a failure?
Everyone had to pause and take a step back. This was true. It wasn’t exactly the story we had already envisioned, the outcome we wanted or the return we hoped for the risk we’d taken but the fact remained…Monday’s destiny with death came and went. I doubt if in the rest of this child’s life anyone will remember or even care to recall the significance of what didn’t happen that Monday or the people who’s choice allowed that child to see Tuesday had done.
We’re sharing this story so that you might think, selflessly, courageously to step up and step into the gaps that might likewise come your way.