The days following we finally got back home and settled, Pax got newborn pictures taken by a dear friend and we met Lesa for lunch. We had the typical doctors appointments and were adjusting to life without consistent sleep.
Having in Paxton in our lives made everything more right. As if was suppose to be here with us all a long. In random moments, Ben and myself would be brought to tears by how good God was. We would make up night time songs to sing to him and embrace him on our skin while watching television.
Our relationship with Lesa blossomed into a beautiful friendship. Her and I would attend women’s church functions together and randomly text throughout the week just to check up on each other. God was shaping her heart. She was disconnecting from him while at the same time loving him. She has never overstepped or requested to see him - it’s always been fluid. We would hang out with or without him, snag coffee and talk about Jesus, church and life.
Our family feels complete in this season and I know the Lord has more for us, we are content. We still are graced with God’s provision with the entire adoption. Some of the most monumental moments we encouraged Lesa’s presence. Some she was able to attend, some she was out of town and wasn’t able to attend. We didn’t have the normal time allotted to prepare mentally and physically for a baby but it was always as though it was just right and Pax was meant for us.
Paxton was dedicated to the Lord at three weeks old. Our Pastor, the same one that brought us to the front to be prayed over by the church, was now holding our little chicken, much like Simba in the Lion King on display to the church as a testament of God’s goodness.
We had one post-placement homestudy visit and began tying up legal loose ends. Our first court hearing was the beginning of July. Pax was five months. In the beginning our hope was hope to have him legally ours by our 5 year anniversary, as it takes 6 months, and we were planning to have the court hearing when he was a couple weeks old. We has some hiccups, but the Lord was faithful and showed much grace. Without going into detail, I felt it was important to share so that others may be encouraged when going to adopt and in the process. Yes, God provided us with Paxton but it didn’t come without some hiccups - as anything of value does. Which comes working with people and the legal system. However, had they not happened we wouldn’t been able to have the memorable, favored first hearing as we did have. As believers, you will find on your journey - sometimes God wants to take you the long way around - allowing you the privilege of relationships and special moments made in the wait. This hearing we would attend, if all was presented correctly, would begin our six month mandatory placement assessment. All to say we wouldn’t finalize our adoption until January 2012.
Our hearing was early in the morning at the children’s court. When we came in with Pax, there were many other families there. Some finalizing there adoption, some beginning the process, and some in foster care. There were two sets of young families there - who through some observation were adopting siblings. These two couples did not know each other until their adoption journey had started and now on was adopting the brother and one the sister, the kids ranging about a year apart and being about two and the other three or four. They were finalizing their adoptions today and they, with there families there to share, were celebrating each others families. Though the thought may sadden some that these two little chickens were going to be separated, they looked loved and adored by their new families, clinging to their mommies, unaware of the other. The most beautiful thing was the two sets of parents - swapping information and planning times throughout the year to get the two babies together. These mothers were glowing and holding their children as though holding their purpose in life.
That was one gem of that day. The other was the Judge facilitating our hearing. He is a bigger man with the most friendly face. As we entered, sat down and began, Pax was entertaining the bailiff and a woman who assisted the logistics of the courtroom. He got them laughing, throughout the hearing. Lesa’s lawyer - that we provided for her, Pax’s state issued attorney along with our representative, our uncle, and us sat on display for the Judge. The attorneys and Judge Jones did their thing as I sat to the right of Ben, with Pax on my lap. Pax flashed some entertaining smiles to the Judge who would pause in the middle of his sentences to acknowledge Pax’s gestures. This meant so much to me, as a mother, and as a woman in an uncertain environment. I mean, court is for criminals and justice, it made me a nervous wreck. In the midst of there discussions, the Judge had mentioned reviewing our case the night before and mentioned his intrigue with it. He had also noticed that the new law, issued the beginning of the year was not being applied to our situation. The law basically states if the mother specifically waves her rights to a set of parents it kicks in the start of the six month mandatory placement. So what that meant for our situation is legally Pax could be ours in August, as we had planned but had lost all hope for. Our uncle, Ben and I began to shift on our seats, as the judge wasn’t talking directly to us but rather in the direction of Lesa’s and Pax’s lawyers. That’s when I felt Him. An army of heavenly hosts were in that room. Call me crazy but I felt it. I knew that I knew, God was indeed orchestrating His favor and will in that room. I was honored and overwhelmed that He cared and it was all the more confirmation that the Lord had greatness planned for this little boy in my lap. I looked to my left only to find that Ben and our uncle were baffled and could also, being believers, felt and knew God was doing something. As they continued to talk, our uncle began to shuffle papers - the way the judge was talking we were gonna get this baby today. Ben and I panicked, we can’t get him today, our mother’s would kill us that they weren’t there. Then understanding was restored and the judge turned to Ben and I. He began to share his intrigue with our situation and then looked us straight in the eye, with a pause and states that seventeen years ago - his wife and him sat were we sat - and that he already sees Paxton as ours and that he was going to do everything in his power to make this the easiest thing to finalize. He then turned to the court secretary to rearrange his adoption hearing times (as he only does three a year - January, July and December). He was insuring us a spot to finalize our adoption December 20th. That is favor! He wanted to make sure we qualified for the adoption tax credit and to just make all things official. What he did, he didn’t have to - but it moved us that he wanted to.
Paxton hit several milestones early. He crawled a littler earlier than typical and began walking at nine months. He loved to eat and was alway a chunk. He wasn’t afraid of anything. The kid is fearless. There has always been something about him that adults and kids were drawn to. We can tell already he is a naturally leader and a lover of music.
December finally approached. We were accompanied by family, friends and Lesa in the courtroom. As the judge met with us again, Ben and I in the same seats and Pax on my lap but this time desiring to be much more vocal and mobile. Anyone who has ever adopted - this is monumental. I couldn’t hold back the tears...they rested on my eyes. There was so much about this moment that touched me. Lesa was here. My parents were there. Ben’s parents were there. Some believers, some not. But all were witnessing a miracle. Ben and I lost it was the judge stated, “Let it be know that the father of Paxton Oliver Ward is noted Benjamin Allen Ward and the mother is Jamie Nichole Ward. Lost it. And with a smile and a meek look, the judge tapped his gavel as if to say - it is finished. It was a holy moment, one that will never be forgotten. My mother looking at me from my right side, had just witnessed a miracle and I felt my parent’s proud of me - all and only because of Jesus.
My little man celebrated his birthday in grand fashion with many family and friends. He was celebrated and we were honored. Lesa and her family joined the festivities and were able to meet many our family members, who themselves were never able to meet Pax till his birthday. It was magical, special and so tender.
Our family has been more supportive than we could of ever imagined. There is no question or hindrance of their love for Pax because he’s adopted. As parents, we couldn’t ask for more incredible family or friends.
Being a mommy has its challenges but its the most rewarding and weighty role I will ever play - and I have a beautiful young woman to thank.
Since then Pax has continued to hit all his benchmarks and is growing up way too fast. We see Lesa as often as we can and her and I are very close. We have some of the most real conversations I’ve ever had with anyone and I feel a strong responsibility to her to be an incredible mentor to her. Though our intentions in the very beginning was to have separate lives - our churches - our towns and such, it immediately dissolved as our relationship grew closer.
Lesa began attending my church and after a few visits began the process of becoming members. It was all by my invitation. She was desperate to find a more life-giving church and I strongly felt she would fit the body of our ever growing church. She attends the lifegroups I lead and she is always making new friends and sharing our story. We sometimes catch the same service together, where we are able to worship next to each other but it is just our normal. She’s a part of our lives and despite some of our family’s initial concern that we were becoming too close, it has become our reality.
Currently, we don’t see each other much, catching separate services and only really texting every once in awhile. When we do see each other though, its timeless and priceless.
About the time Pax was a year and a half - I was strongly considering meeting Paxton’s biological father. The only things I knew about him was what I heard from Lesa. She had incredibly compassionate feelings toward him but was also very honest about their very unhealthy relationship. I didn’t know for myself, about how he felt with the whole adoption or about him or us. My own experience of him was only that he never signed the adoption documents, therefore waiving his rights by this thirty day grace period.As Paxton grew up and started walking and getting his little personality I really wanted to know more about Lesa as a baby, as well as about him. In all my intrigue and gratitude I really really wanted to meet him and thank him. He currently was in jail for violating his parole. The same jail, Ben’s step brother was in. I considered visiting him when Ben’s mom and step dad would make a visit to see his step brother. Ben had no interest and in my suggestion he preferred I didn’t go see him.
So I just prayed for direction. I prayed for an opportunity. I prayed that if it was what God wanted I was available - otherwise I would prefer He took the desire away. I prayed.
And it came, randomly.
I received a call from Lesa one day letting me know she was at a stop light and he pulled up next to her, tapped on her window from his motorcycle and asked to talk. She wanted me to know he was out of jail.
Was this the time? Was God designing an opportunity.
I didn’t know what to think.
After to talking to Lesa and talking with Ben I went ahead and looked up a relative of his online on a social networking site. She was on there as Lesa’s friend so I emailed her to ask if she was indeed his sister.
After a few hours I received an email back. We began to talk via email and decided to meet at the end of the week. Moments later I added - that if he could come I would love that. My heart thundered in my chest as I waited for her response. She said she would try her hardest to make it happen. In the mean time we made specific plans and I let her know I would be bringing a friend, since Ben would be working (and honestly had no desire to meet anyone).
I would meeting her and possibly him in less than a day.
I prayed earnestly that I would be able to meet him. I prayed that God would be there in that place so evident that everything that would be said would be uplifting and beneficial.
As the hour approached I met up with my friend, her husband and their two kids. I had Pax with me - so the plan was that he would stay with her husband that their boys and play while we met. And if by some random series of events, he would be there and I felt like it was right - I was going to let them meet Pax.
As we walked in we searched for what I knew of her to look like based off the pictures I had seen online. As we were looking she walked in. She was sweet, very kind and seemed timid. I saw a lot of me in her. Immediately I could tell she was genuine and honest. She is beautiful and showed such grace. Grateful we could me, and gentle with her words. We made introductions and then she told me...
He would be coming.
She told him to wait a few minutes to arrive so that she would have time for me to find out and digest it all.
She also wanted time to talk to me as his sister - to give me an honest take of who Chad is and where he comes from.
We ordered coffee and sat down on some couches.
She was extremely grateful to meet me and began telling me a bit about Chad. That he is the youngest of three. He has a brother 8 years older than him and a her, who was 7 years older. She explained the brother she always known - easy to talk to and would talk with anyone. A natural leader with a natural charisma. How all his nieces love being around him when he does come around but that he was pretty unreliable. As a teenager he was sent to private school and that he started getting into a lot of trouble. His parents tried with him but that they seemed to have many marital issues and in recent years had divorced. They are very family oriented. As the youngest he was pretty spoiled and got away with a lot. She told us he really was a great kid and was known to go with the flow. He was also a bit of a risk taker. He was raised to know right from wrong and from what I gathered she was a Christian believer. She was genuine and from the way she spoke - she was being extremely transparent. She spoke of her family with such honor and intergity. A woman who yearned for peace. She held the order, trying to maintain balance and family was her priority. I respected that - I admired that.
I could tell she adored her brother. I could also tell she wanted him around more. She wanted him to be reliable and she wanted so much for him.
She let me know some of the family knew and were grateful he was being raised by Christians.
She thanked me again and then looked up to notice he was here.
The enterance to the coffee shop was behind us so when I would first lay eyes on him in the flesh he would be a few feet from me.
As if in slow motion he set his bike helmet down, looked at his sister then looked at me.
And as with Lesa and the first time I met her, I was in love.
We said hello and shook hands. But I wanted to embrace him.
He sat down and asked if we wanted anything else to drink before we started talking, which was very courteous then we started talking.
It was so natural. We were so honest with each other. He began by saying how incredibly grateful he was to want to meet and even more so that we had adopted Pax. I went cold then hot. He was happy about it. To hear him say that meant worlds and planets to me. Even though I already had God’s blessing on it - to know he was more than happy about it - was the detail on the icing (of the cake I was already eating.)We talked about how we heard about him and about his birth and what he was doing as of late. We talked about the funny things he did and a little bit about his personality.
He asked me what I wanted to know and we straight shot. In the beginning he would state things like,”I’m sure you heard about me” or “I’m sure that’s what so and so said.” I need him to know I was raised and mentored to go straight to the source before I formed any solid opinions. I told him I wanted to hear from him. The real truth about him straight from the source that lived it.
He was taken back. Had he met someone who cared to know without any preconceived notions.
Yes, yes he had.
I asked him how he felt when he found out Lesa was pregnant. Saying he didn’t really think the baby was his. However, crediting that they were using drugs - reality and paranoia were a bit mixed. He talked about their relationship and how they were able to recently talk and he was proud that she was indeed very good. He stated he was happy for her and that she was always very bright and genuine.
I asked him how he felt when he heard about Paxton’s birth and adoption. And he told us he was glad it was us. He had strong feelings about the person Lesa was considering. He said Lesa had texted him when she going to the hospital to let him know he was being born. He looked me straight in the eye and said he was more than happy that Ben and I had him and stated by the looks of it (from online pictures) we were raising him well.
Then I got even more real. By this point he knew I was a straight shooter. His sister and my friend were more like spectators - imparting every once in awhile to add detail. I knew he knew that our family loved Jesus. He committed often that he was glad he would be raised in a Christian home. But I wanted him to really know what that meant for our family. I wanted him to know our reality.
I asked him how he got to where he is. And, he told me.
He was in an accident at sixteen and became addicted to pain pills. He said he’s always been reckless and stated he hoped Pax was nothing like him. He said from that he just got into the wrong crowd and began using meth. As he finished, it was silent.
I hadn’t managed tears until this point. I looked down as to not lose it. It was silent. For minutes - I looked down. And as I looked up I saw his sister wipe tears from her face. As if when he shared about who he really was - it was the first time he was honest with himself and with anyone - about who he was. My heart went out to her. I could relate to his sister.
A few weeks before - in my alone time with the Lord - He wanted me to deal with my emotions dealing with my own brother. Who also was in an accident at sixteen and became an addict to pain killers as well as many other addictions. A few weeks later, standing in front of me, was my brother 10 years later.
In my pause - in those moments of silence - it was if the Lord took my tongue.
I looked at him and he at me and I said the following (main points of what I can recall). I told him I thought Pax was indeed very much like him. That he had natural charisma and that everyone wanted to be around him. That he was reckless. I looked him square in the eye and said I was proud of that and those were my favorite things about him and that I believed he got all those qualities from him. I told him that Ben and I will raise him to use the very qualities that he saw as bad as ones that would bring honor to the Lord.
I boldly told him there was nothing wrong with the way he was wired but rather the way he used his giftings. I told him I thought it was extraordinary that he was reckless and an “all in” kind of guy and that the body of Christ needed more of them. I told him that every night when we laid Pax laid down and prayed for him that our prayers turned to him - that his life would radically be changed and that he would fall in love with the Lord, meet a godly gorgeous woman and have more incredible children like Pax. And that my prayer for him is that the next thirty four years of his life he would fall asleep on his pillow every night certain he honored God that day and that he felt fully satisfied about the life he lived.
That was Jesus. His sister began to tear up again, as he said, “Wow. No one has ever said that to me before.”
Then I began again, as a sister. I told him he his family needed him. His sister needed him. That when he said he was gonna be somewhere that makes it there. That when the family gets together, he shows up. That there is no heartbreak than that of a relative worrying sick about those they love. I told him that his decisions didn’t just effect him.
I then spoke in regards to life in Jesus. That God wants him to choose Him but He wont force him. It means more to the Lord that he intentionally chooses to love Him. I also told him He was very near. That He is waiting but that He wont always wait. That now that he has been told about the truth, it was his responsibility to make it his truth.
As bold as it was it was the truth and he appreciated it.
I told him how important to me it was that I met him, that I thanked him, but more than anything that I told him about Jesus and what He did for us when he gave us Pax. That was the most important - that the person who had a part in giving my son life knew about the very Creator of life and the cross, the very gospel of God.
I then talked to him about how I needed to meet him first before Pax ever decided to meet him when he was older. That I would have a reference point and that he would to. That he knew where Pax was coming from. I told him about our reality of Jesus in our home. I told him about our church and I told him what our son would know about the God we served. I needed to know we weren’t the norm. That we loved Jesus. We weren’t perfect and that individuality was celebrated.
Then I asked him.
I asked him to make it right. It was his choice. But I wanted to ask him. I asked him with a please.
If he would please help me, years from now - when Pax wanted - to present Pax to a man who loved Jesus and served Him.
His choice. But I was clear I needed him to be okay. I needed him to be alive and well. Of course the reality is we only ever NEED Jesus. I just wanted him to know he had a role to play.
He then asked me something. He stated that his mother had MS and was not well at all. His sister and him explained due to her illness they decided not to tell her about Pax. He looked at his sister then at me, and asked if I would let his mom meet him. He told me I didn’t owe him anything and I explained I would have to talk to Ben. He understood.
I asked them how she would feel about it and both of them said she would be thrilled but sad at the same time. She would be grateful a Christian family was raising him but that she didn’t find out till now and would be broken about the circumstances. Her son had a baby and was not in the place in life to keep him. I assured them I would talk to Ben about it but I couldn’t promise anything.
After we talked some more he got some food. His sister leaned in, as he went to the order some food, to ask how I was able to say all I said. I told her was Jesus. That God allowed me some pretty incredible mentors to teach me the importance of every soul.
She couldn’t believe that I was able to say in an hour what she was trying to say for years. She was grateful. And I was grateful for her.
Then it was decided.
I wanted my friend’s husband to bring Pax in to meet them. I really would of preferred Ben to be there, however I knew it was what God wanted. I knew that if Ben was there, I wouldn’t of probably said what I said. Everything the past two hours was God ordained.
As he sat down, I asked him and his sister if they would like to meet Pax. They looked at each other then at me and said the obvious. Yes.
Pax came moments later and introductions were made. He was a natural with Pax. Feeding him some of his food he ordered, then ordering him a cupcake. I let them sit at a table and eat together while my friend, his sister and I talked.
As the meeting wrapped up, he asked if I wanted anything before leaving. As I was picking up after my son and throwing stuff away he followed, stopping before I headed back. He paused and then began to profusely thank me. He stated no one had ever cared enough to say anything like that to him before and he would never for get this entire day. He then said it - that Pax was indeed in the best possible hands.
A week later I took Pax to see his biological father’s mother. He also got to see his sister again and her husband, as well as, his biological father’s dad. He didn’t make it. We stayed for three hours, where Pax entertained them all and kept even at home nurses laughing. That visit blessed me. Their family is so very warm and endearing. I was very proud of where his biological father came from and the family he has. I was taken back by how welcoming they were of my son and me. They played on the floor with him and took him outside multiple times. They ate him up with such joy and love. I will always remember that visit and I'm anxious to share those memories of that first visit with Pax once he's old enough to appreciate it. My hope is that we will share other moments like that with them. It would be an honor.
That weekend - Ben began to allow the Lord to deal with him concerning the biological father. He stated he realized that I had opened my heart to Lesa, even though I could not be his birth mother and that he should do the same. Because in the end it’s not about feelings, it’s about souls. We should always be mindful of that.
Since then we have not heard from him. I hope one day Ben can meet him. Until then we continue to pray for his protection, his safety and his soul.
Pax will always know he was adopted. We read him his adoption story and write to him in a journal we made him and his future (way future) bride. He’s still too young, but Lesa would prefer, as he got older, to be much like an involved aunt. His adoption will always be celebrated and he will always know the Lord’s value and view of adoption.
“you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8: 15
“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18
In the next few months our family plans to take on the injustice of foster parenting. We’ve always talked about it and believe God is directing us to this avenue even for a season. We plan to do this in hopes to adopt from the system. All while planning our move to Africa to work with an organization called Children’s Cup. Lesa is excited for us - as we recall being asked in our first meeting if we would ever moved and explaining we would only move where Jesus leads. That’s the answer she wanted to here and it was the truth. The move and arrangements for Africa will take a couple years - so while we wait, we will foster, Lord willing. We always want to be where Jesus leads. We want our son to be raised know the value of this and experience it first hand.
Our prayer for our son is that he will love the Lord with his whole heart, soul and mind - that his life be poured out as a love sacrifice for the One who first loved him and that he will never make his mommy sad.