A few months after we got married, Ted and I were visiting his brother and family in Klamath Falls, Oregon for Christmas. My sister-in-law is an expert thrift-shore shopper who finds the best deals of anyone I know, so I was excited to go with her to dig through the bins at Goodwill (she's the one who sent us that beautiful sweater Abe's wearing in the "Calling Your Name" post--a garage sale find). On this shopping trip, Ted added to our pile of stuff a little pair of size four baby boots. I was touched that he picked something out for a child that we hoped to have one day. The boots hung in my shoe rack in Los Angeles through the first couple of years of our marriage, and after a painful loss and many dashed hopes, I had to move them out of sight. These boots were a reminder to me that I wasn't the only one longing to be a parent. Someone else had picked them out, someone who would be an excellent father and seeing these little boots made me feel like a failure, that I was somehow letting down the most important person in my life...and that's a difficult pill to swallow.
When we moved to Oregon, Ted put the boots in his office, and I'd see them occasionally on the shelf to the left of his desk, amidst the boxes and disheveled papers (and bow-ties, tennis balls, fake teeth and paperclips: Ted's particular brand of off-beat clutter). I just kept them there, relieved to know that someone else was the keeper of the baby boots.
After many long months of waiting for a child to fill those boots and then for that child with tiny feet to grow enough to fit into them, I pulled out the boots on Saturday and put Abe's feet into them. He wasn't sure what to think of them at first, as he'd never worn hard-soled shoes before. He stood up slowly and thoughtfully rocked back and forth a few times from heel to toe. And then he took off. They're a perfect fit.
One of my dearest friends I've made through this world of adoption had for her facebook profile picture during a difficult waiting time a photo of a small pair of tennis shoes resting on a chair. And this afternoon, I talked on the phone with another very sweet friend who is feeling impatient with the wait, despite her best efforts of being realistic about the length. I know the feeling. And I guess I'm writing this now for all the people out there who are longing to fill those shoes. As diligently as you prepare yourself mentally and spiritually for the long wait, bad days are going to come. You're going to feel impatient at times, and that's alright. Feel it and give it up to God.
Just hold on. Sooner or later, you're gonna see that shoe, filled with sweet and surprisingly stinky feet, dangling casually off the side of the stroller, like that's where it's meant to be. With you always. A perfect fit.