A Heart for Adoption and Biracial Babies
By Jim and Becky Ulmer
Thirty years ago, when Jim and I were first married, we had it all planned. We would each work full time for at least 5 years, and then start a family. We never even considered that God might have a different plan. It did not take long to find that out.
Ten months after our wedding, I came down with what we thought was the flu. Instead, it was our first pregnancy, and we began to realize we were not in control. We were excited about the hope of a baby, and with no complications other than the normal morning sickness, nine months later our daughter Kelly was born, healthy and beautiful. We began the new stage of parenting.
When Kelly was 3 years old, we decided it was time for baby number two. We conceived easily and our plan was now on a revised track. Or so we thought. Four months into the pregnancy, everything changed. A routine doctor’s visit turned out to not be routine at all. Suddenly there was no heartbeat, and an ultrasound revealed fetal demise. There was no explanation and nothing could be done. Our hearts were broken, and we were confused. But the doctor gave us hope that we could soon try again.
Six months later we were pregnant for the third time – and 12 weeks later history repeated itself. The seemingly healthy pregnancy was ended with the familiar office visit and the absence of a heartbeat. Ultrasound revealed the same circumstances and now it was time to figure out what had gone wrong.
We visited with a fertility specialist, and after multiple tests, we learned the cause of the miscarriages – a chromosome abnormality. This was disappointing news, as nothing could be done to correct it, and there were various potential problems and abnormalities that could occur if we were to try to have another child. We thanked God for answers, and especially for the miracle of Kelly’s birth. We decided not to try again to have another child.
After healing physically from the miscarriages, surgical procedures and the battery of tests, our hearts were sad as we longed for another child. We began praying about adoption, and looked into local agencies, attorneys and support groups. We narrowed down the opportunities and did the necessary paperwork to add our names to the lists of two separate attorneys who specialized in adoptions. One was in Tampa FL, and the other was located in Boca Raton, FL. The lists were long, and we were told it may take from 2 to 3 years before we could adopt a baby. We began praying for a little boy.
Just over a year later, on a Monday morning in September of 1985, Jim was at work, Kelly was at school and I was at home. A call came, and it was the Tampa attorney. He introduced himself over the phone as if we had never met, and told me that a baby boy had been born in Tampa, was now three days old, and needed a home. I told him I knew who he was, and that we were on his list, still well down the list in fact. He explained that he had not even looked at his list in making this call – this particular baby was a biracial baby, and the people on his list were all, he assumed, waiting to adopt same-race babies. He further explained that instead of using his list, he had called another attorney he knew, to see if she might have a couple she could recommend for this baby. This other attorney was the same attorney in Boca Raton we had previously contacted! She suggested that he call us. We had no idea that these two attorneys even knew each other. Our Tampa attorney was surprised about this “coincidence” as well.
We had not thought about adopting and raising a biracial child. The attorney needed a quick reply – but how could we make this decision so fast? Our attorney encouraged us, said we could maybe visit the baby in the hospital, but that he would need an answer soon. He said he would wait for my return call with an answer after I was able to get in touch with Jim.
This was before the days of cell phones, but Jim’s office found him at a business meeting on the opposite end of town. I had no choice but to tell him everything over the phone after interrupting his meeting. Jim was excited and steady, and told me to call the attorney back and say “yes.” He would come home right away so we could talk and pray.
“How could we?” I thought, and said to Jim. This wasn’t the plan! The plan, our plan, was for a boy, but I reminded Jim we hadn’t ever considered or discussed a biracial adoption. We agreed that I would call the attorney to schedule a visit to the hospital. By the time Jim arrived home, I was literally shaking. We got on our knees and prayed for wisdom, and then Jim said something that I have never forgotten.
He told me that we could say no, and life would be easier perhaps, but that we would miss out on God’s blessing. His blessing in these circumstances, in this child, and in the family He was creating. The circumstances were not a coincidence. He said that this was the baby God had chosen to bring into our family. And he was right.
Before we even saw this sweet baby boy, our decision was made. Sixteen days later, after HRS completed the approval process, our son, Cason James Ulmer, came home.
He is now 23 years old and has greatly enriched the lives of our immediate and extended families in so many ways. God has faithfully provided all that we have needed spiritually, physically, financially and emotionally to raise our son. We have learned many lessons through our experience with adoption. We have learned anew that God does indeed have a plan for our lives. It is different than the plan we think up ourselves, and far, far better, too. He providentially guides us and shapes us through the circumstances of life.
We did not know if we could ever love a second child as much as our first, or an adopted child as much as a biological child. But God has demonstrated that same love toward us as toward His own Son Jesus Christ, and made us co-heirs with Him. We can love an adopted, biracial child because of the Father’s love for us. We thank God for enriching our lives with both Kelly and Cason.
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