Tuesday, May 26, 2015

adoption story: zach and danielle

This, my friends, is a story I've been waiting to tell for over a year. A story that has taken a long time to write. A story of redemption that took a long time to unfold. Because of that this one will be a longer story to tell, but I promise you it's worth the read...


I met Zach and Danielle in the absolute worst circumstances. They had started several months before with Christian Adoption Consultants. Over that time I had numerous conversations with Danielle about family and adoption. But our long conversations about their adoption journey almost always evolved into faith and the gospel and how that was the only thing that made sense when working out all of the details. In those long conversations, we didn't know how true that would be to their story of adoption.

It was about this time last year. The very beginning of summer. They had been matched with a beautiful birth mama local to Kansas City. We were all eagerly anticipating the baby's birth and the chance to actually meet in person; celebrating new life and their adoption. 

The meeting came, but not in the way we anticipated. We learned that the baby had unexpectedly and tragically died at a routine OB appointment just days before his due date. Zach and Danielle left a family vacation and drove hours through the night so they could labor with their birth mother. A woman they had created a strong relationship with and shared Jesus with. A woman they held hands with as they welcomed the son they shared into the world and said goodbye to, all in the same moment.

I met Zach and Danielle in a hospital room as they lost their son. I don't remember much of our specific conversation throughout that day. But I do remember Danielle saying, "I'm so thankful we could be here to tell her what an amazing mama she was for as long as her son was on earth. His adoption just came early and was straight into the Kingdom." We sat and wept together and I remember the conversation evolved into the way it always had: the gospel is the only thing that makes sense... That statement had never seemed quite that true than it was at that moment.

You can imagine the loss and the heartache that followed. In all my years in adoption, this was a first. But watching Zach and Danielle wrestle with God, wrestle with heartbreak, and wrestle with loss so transparently and sincerely was a gift. 

And the crazy thing is that it didn't stop there. Last fall they had walked with another expectant mother. They traveled hours for a delivery. But for reasons unknown, she decided not to make an adoption plan. They left a second hospital with empty arms. 

One baby in heaven. One baby lost.

And we were back to what had become our mantra: Only the gospel makes sense. God was still good. He is faithful. He will complete what he has called you to. I saw Zach and Danielle cling to those truths with steadfastness, leaning their full weight into Jesus and trusting him to write the rest of the story.

I'll let Danielle tell the rest. 

... I sense a great responsibility to let you know the rest of the story. You can assume the silent months were full of lessons – what they are I have yet to comprehend completely. I likely never will. Life can be like that sometimes. I’ll sum it up with this: it got really dark after...our second failed adoption. Grief, pain, sickness, “no” after “no” after “no” – the suffering seemed to have settled upon us. But somewhere along the way, there was hope. I know we aren’t the only ones with a hard story. I know others have hurt deeply and maybe some are even reading this blog in the midst of difficulty. Hear this: GOD IS GOOD. He is faithful. He is worthy of our trust. And He loves us. I know that more deeply than ever. And if nothing else I have learned I can do nothing, no nothing without His help. With that in mind here’s the [rest] of our story…

April 8th we got an email saying that a baby was being born in Florida in an hour and would we like to present our family? I immediately said yes, called Zach to say, “we said yes,” and went about sending the necessary paperwork and our profile electronically. As I was talking to this agency over the phone (we heard of the situation from our consultant, Susan) the social worker said she was having a hard time printing our profile. And then she said she thought the birth mother was looking for a family with no kids or maybe one kid. “Oh, we’re out,” I said. “I don’t want to overwhelm her and I want to respect her wishes, you could just take our profile out.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to keep you in,” the social worker said. “You never know.” They were going to present profiles that night and let us know how it went the next day. The trouble with printing our profile persisted and I asked where in Florida their agency was located. They happened to be in the same county as another agency who DID have a profile of ours. I have no idea how God orchestrated getting those books in the right hands, I just know He did.

The whole next day I kept thinking of the story of Moses and the Israelites in front of the Red Sea and prayed, as many times before, that God would fight for us while we kept silent. And you know what? He DID. And this time it meant that SHE CHOSE US. I was in the middle of the Gap outlet wondering around not really looking at anything when my phone rang. It was our amazing consultant, Susan, calling to say “she chose your family/" Unbelief, utter amazement, and thanksgiving. I crumpled to the floor and began to weep. That’s where my sister found me, alarmed and a bit worried until I choked out, “It’s a yes! She said yes!”

This picture was taken after the birth momma signed. It was the first time we saw his face. A sweet baby boy in Florida, his brave mother and plans too complex for us to understand.
IMG_2932
The baby was in the NICU due to a meconium aspiration but it wasn’t until we arrived in Florida that we realized how sick he was. We assumed he’d be in the hospital for 7 days and then we’d wait out ICPC (paperwork to cross state lines) and then we’d finally get to bring our son home. I’m glad we didn’t know what was in store. It was six weeks, 2 different NICU’s, 3 trips to and from Florida, dozens of nurses and doctors, I lost count of the chest x-rays, SO many hours of praying, fretting, praying and more fretting. It was ridiculously hard. And all the while fear was crouching near and whispering threats. “This isn’t really your baby. I know the risks are small but you’ve seen what happens with small risks. At the last second God is going to take him away from you as He’s done the previous two, just wait.” I hate to admit how fragile I was…er…am. But it was there ALL the time.  If not for family and friends praying for us I’m convinced we wouldn’t have been able to hold on. Again, I know our NICU stay wasn’t so bad in comparison. 6 weeks by some standards isn’t really that long. But that just tells you how weak we were.

Seeing him for the first time was unbelievable. Even now that he has been in my home for a total of 71 hours  – I am in awe. Shocked, almost. I think we’re deliriously happy. Well, we’re delirious for sure. Exhausted and thankful. I couldn’t possibly put into words what we’re feeling. But every now and then Zach and I will catch each others eyes and just stare at each other. It happened. It really happened. A son. A son. We have a son! He is still healing from the insult the meconium took on his body and I am daily trying not to stress about his heavy breathing and occasional wheeze. But he is here. When I read the word “adopted” from the bible my heart won’t hurt because our baby isn’t with us, it will hurt because his is! Because of his birth mothers selfless decision we gained a new child to our family. I will never get over that. The rest of my days I will contemplate the breadth of that incredible decision. It wasn’t easy for her. When we met her she cried tears of joy and worried that he might not understand her choice. We hugged her hard. “He will know you love him,” we assured her, “because we’re going to tell him.”

God met us in so many ways during this last part of our journey – just as He had in the other parts. Buddy passes, all of them but two, from the same generous person who was rooting for us the whole time. A hotel across the street from the first hospital that gave us an amazing rate and when I came back by myself gave me a night for free, because the manager was adopted. Our first nurse didn’t waste any time before she said, “I just love adoption, it’s such a picture of God’s love for us.” I can’t make this stuff up. Of the nurses we had one was adopted, two had adopted children, and another had a family member going through the process. After the transfer to a different NICU there was a Ronald McDonald house where I stayed for free. Every bit God gave I hungrily took and begged for more. I pouted and threw fits, I clung to truths like Psalm 40 and Isaiah 25. I shared every fear with God and wondered even up till minutes before he was released to go home with us if they’d let him leave. But he did! And the redemption that we prayed for? It came in so many ways. We slept in a hospital bed in the room next to our beautiful birth mother for our first baby who was stillborn last June. We slept in one with this baby, too, but life was next door. As a matter of fact, this baby was being knit together as we grieved the first son we lost. Familiar places we visited and stayed for our bleak trip to Florida last October had much different meanings this time. We finally got to use the car seat, the clothes, the diapers that we’d been collecting. The name we’d been saving for years? It means “God Redeems.” That, my friends, is God’s amazing grace.

Ladies and Gentleman, meet Isaiah Wade.


He’s even more beautiful in person, I assure you.
IMG_3136
...We are so excited to celebrate his arrival with you over the coming months, but even more, the God who provided it.

“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for you have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”

Isaiah 25:1

More to come, but for now you can just bask in how gracious God is.


Did you catch that? Danielle called me the other day and we had a chance to rehearse together God's faithfulness in their amazing journey to meet Isaiah. One of the dozens of ways God was in this? When Danielle was reviewing medical records she saw a date that made her catch her breath. The same day they lost their son last summer? That same day was Isaiah's conception date. 

Even when all seemed lost, God was writing a beautiful redemption story.

But how could they do it? How could one family endure so much on the road to their son?

Because Danielle was adopted herself.

I grew up in a family who loved me and taught me the story of Jesus from a young age but I didn’t quite get it until I was 13. And then again (for real) at 18. I saw that, although I had an incredible earthly family, I also had a Father in heaven who loved me from before I was born. He knew my story before it was written. He moved heaven and earth to send His Son into this twisted world to redeem it. He had to dip down into the creation He’d perfectly made and get the mess all over Himself and His Boy to save us from destruction because He knew without it we’d be condemned forever. He loved us enough to do that. To live, to die, to live again. He loves us still. Enough to invite us into His forever family regardless of our past or race or social status or demeanor or looks or…anything. He gave everything to make us belong – to make us His sons and daughters.

You see, I can’t get over this story. I can’t get over that it’s mine. That God loved me enough to come into my world – messy and broken – to rescue me. Every day it moves me to be more, do more, love more – even though if I didn’t He’d love me still. It’s this gospel love that compelled Zach and I to adopt. Whenever someone says something about our adoption like, “I can’t believe you’re doing that” or “wow, that’s so good of you”, I feel sheepish. It wasn’t my idea. Adoption is GOD’s idea. We truly want to adopt because we know what it’s like to be adopted ourselves.

The more we go on waiting, hoping, the more I learn about God’s redeeming love.

Adoption. Is. Messy. There is brokenness and loss and sadness. There’s a great expense of money, time, energy, emotions. There’s the waiting, holding your breath as you wonder if the next situation will be “it." Oftentimes I’ve looked at situations and thought, what would it really be like to bring that baby home? To meet that mother? It has in it the power to change not only us but the birth mom, her child, her family. The closer we get to adoption the more I’m forced to rely on Jesus. Either that or sink into the abyss.

He knowingly stepped into the mess to adopt us. He counted the cost and it was immeasurable, but He did it anyway.

The hope for a baby isn’t compelling us.
The desire to add to our family isn’t the real reason.
That we are “good” certainly isn’t it.
It’s the gospel, plain and simple.

I love this child. I love him enough to give, to trust, to obey, to get messy. I love him without ever seeing that he’ll love me back or appreciate everything we’ve done to bring him home. I love him with a “Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”

Because that’s how He loves me.

And really, after all of this, it's true. The gospel is the only thing that truly makes sense.


Photo credit to LoK Photography.  


Thursday, May 21, 2015

adoption story: shawn and chysanthi

Shawn and Chrysanthi had a long wait to become parents. And a hard road. But the challenges they faced only strengthened their marriage, their faith, and their commitment to growing their family through adoption.


When Shawn and Chrysanthi started with Christian Adoption Consultants, they could never have anticipated the twists and turns their story would take. For months, their story was filled with waiting, and heartbreak, and then even more waiting. 


Like so many couples before them, they started to wonder if adoption was for them. If they could take much more heartbreak, and if they had the ability to continue on the journey. And, like so many couple before them, they discovered that the hope they had for their family was stronger than the disappointment they had weathered. 

It seems only fitting that their sweet daughter was born the week of Mother's Day. This year, for the first time, Mother's Day held celebration rather than mourning. More sweet than bitter. More joy than loss.


For Shawn and Chrysanthi, this year, they were parents. Chysanthi was welcomed into motherhood through the miracle of adoption. The courage and bravery of a birth mother. And the fulfillment of her hopes and dreams to become a mama.

Monday, May 18, 2015

adoption stress and your marriage

There's no doubt the adoption process can add stress to a marriage. The high emotions, the hard work, and the wait of the adoption process can easily take a toll on your relationship.

So how do you nurture your relationship with your spouse while on the adoption journey? 



Do things outside of adoption 

Admit it. Much of your time has been spent focusing entirely on prepping for the baby. You've spent hours filling out paperwork and meeting with a social worker. You've registered for baby items, painted the nursery, and put together the crib. You've talked through birth parents and openness and discipline strategies. But there's a need to put everything adoption aside and enjoy things that bring you joy outside of your plans to add to your family.


Extend grace to each other

Adoption is hard; it can be emotionally and spiritually exhausting. When you're drained it's easy to be short with each other. Not to mention that most couples experience different emotions at different times. Fear, anxiety, and stress can hit us differently. Extending grace and kindness during these times will be critical to your home during this time.


Take care of yourself and each other

Self care is critical when you're on the road to adoption. Make sure you're doing what you need to to take care of yourself and pour into your marriage. Take long baths, read a good book, take a long run. As a couple plan date nights, take on a new hobby together, and maybe even take a babymoon before your little one arrives.


Remember what's important

Even when you add a child to your family, you'll have to take care of yourself and your marriage. There's truth in the reality that you won't have anything to give your child if you aren't taking the time to pour into yourself individually and as a couple. And there's tremendous peace in finding contentment right where you're at. Completing the paperwork, waiting on a match, sleepless nights with a newborn, and on and on life goes. No doubt adoption isn't the first struggle you've faced in your marriage and likely won't be the last. Learning how to do hard things together, side by side, will not only get you through the adoption process, but life.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

truth to cling to in the wait

No doubt one of the hardest parts of the adoption journey is the wait. Once the paperwork is all filled out, your profile is created, and the nursery is decorated, the stillness of the wait can be agonizing.

Maybe you're not in the wait of adoption. Maybe you're waiting for a spouse, or healing in a broken relationship, or a biological child, or a career break, or a new adventure. Life is made up of waiting, in some sense, all the time.



In the wait, in the dark when the end isn't in sight and the end of the story isn't written, where do you turn? When despair and doubt can easily creep into our hearts, we need to be reminded of the truth more than ever.

I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. 
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Here's some of the verses I run to in seasons of waiting...

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall.
Psalm 145:13b-14

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8

Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Isaiah 64:4

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Let these words sink deep down, all the way to your bones. Write them on sticky notes and throw them on your bathroom mirror, the kitchen sink, and the steering wheel. In the end, we can't trust that the baby (or the healing, or the relationship, or the happy ending) will come. In the waiting, the whole time our trust can't be in the end result. We don't know the end of the story. We simply can't trust in things turning out the way we planned. 

But we can trust in a good God who is faithful. In a God who is kind. In a God who is never slow in keeping his promises. And in a God who writes much better stories that we could even dream up.

This is the truth we can cling to while we wait for the rest of the story to be written.


Monday, May 11, 2015

why CAC might be the perfect fit

Last month, Christian Adoption Consultants had 33 families grow through adoptions. 20 of our families were matched with a brave and courageous expectant mother and 13 babies were born into their adoptive families. That's over a baby a day!

Over the last nine years, hundreds of families have chosen Christian Adoption Consultants to help them on their journey to adopt. Our passionate and Christ-centered approach offers support and guidance to adoptive couples.  Here's what Amanda said about why they chose CAC:
What am I not thankful for? We initially chose to work with CAC because the average wait time for bringing home a baby seemed much shorter (and I'm not a very patient person). However, we quickly learned that working with CAC was like constantly having someone 'in our corner' fighting and advocating for us. Adoption is a complex journey to navigate by yourself and we always felt as though CAC was our GPS guiding us turn-by-turn. [Susan] walked with us and prayed with us through the difficult conversations and decisions and rejoiced and cried with us as we celebrated in welcoming our daughter home. We cannot speak highly enough of the integrity and beauty of what CAC offers.
Amanda with her husband, Jarrod with their daughter they adopted with the help of CAC

Christian Adoption Consultants wants to help your family adopt by offering a $100 discount. Any new families who sign up between May 13-15th will receive $100 off of our full service consulting packages. (This discount does not apply to our self serve consulting package, returning families, or special needs consulting packages).

Want more info on Christian Adoption Consultants?  
Click here.
What does it mean to hire an adoption consultant?  Click here.
Want to get started or get an info packet?  Click here.
What if you have more questions?  Click here.

Have friends who are thinking about adoption? Make sure you share this post! 

Email me at susan@christianadoptionconsultants.com for an application and information packet.


Friday, May 8, 2015

in their own words: mother's day

Growing up, Mother's Day always meant the mothers standing proudly in church getting a carnation, packed restaurants, and homemade cards. It honestly never occurred to me that Mother's Day could be a day of mourning for some rather than a celebration. Now as an adult I know better. This year, I have dear friends who will be grieving this year over the loss of a mother, the loss of a child, and the heartbreak of infertility. I'm thankful I haven't sat in a church that doesn't acknowledge the complexity that Mother's Day brings. Our pastor often says that every celebration this side of Heaven will be bittersweet in a broken wold. This couldn't be more true this Sunday.

But where does adoption fit into all of this? What about those mothers in the process of adoption, proudly calling themselves "paper pregnant?" What does Mother's Day look like for those on the long road to adoption? Amy is a prospective adoptive mother this year for Mother's Day, in the midst of paperwork and appointments and trainings for their adoption. Here's her thoughts this weekend...


"The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother"

Each year we get to dedicate a whole day to all of those beautiful mothers in our lives. Maybe, its your own mother, grandmother, birth mother, adoptive mother or step mother...

Whatever the case we know that these women hold some of the most precious places in our hearts. 

We also know that those mama's hold getting to be a mother in the most precious places in their hearts too. 

Maybe, this year you added a bundle of joy to your family.

Maybe, this year is the first year you have gotten to celebrate mother's day as a mama. 

Maybe, this year is the you found out you were going to be a mama for the first time. 

Each year, I know someone who fits into each of these stories. But, I also know women who fit into another type of story...

Maybe, this year you lost a child. 

Maybe, this year you had hoped that this was the year you would have a little one creating a craft out of dried up noodles and globs of paint all filled with love for you. 

Maybe, this year you spent hours filling out adoption paperwork and finishing parenting trainings. 

Maybe, this year you spent the last of your savings on your last round of fertility treatments.

And, each year those of us who aren't yet mothers have to take a deep breath and say...

"Maybe next year..."

This mothers day. Here's to you mama's who don't get to be celebrated as a mama yet. 


Here is to the woman who's hearts desire to be a mother so badly the pain keeps you up at night. 

Here is to the woman who dies a little inside when she sees "Happy Mothers Day" posts all over Facebook for what seems like everyone but herself. 

Here is to the woman who waits and prays for the day she gets to be a mama. 

Here is to the woman who has been preparing herself for this Mother's Day all week long...so that she can seem like she has it all together when the day finally gets here. 

You are not alone. I'm right there with you.

As my husband and I embark on our second year of trying to conceive a child - and are also working to wrap up a home study for our adoption - this day hits me harder than ever because I have had to face some tough realities and a lot of bumps in the road. 

I know my body still won't give me the chance to carry life inside of me. 

I know I have a long and rocky wait ahead of me before my family is complete.

I know my child is out there somewhere - and I pray that they are being taken care of and loved and I will pray over them from this point on for the rest of their lives. 

I know that each day I have to advocate for my child in all ways. 

I know that my home still needs to be prepared for their arrival (whenever that may be).

And...I also know this...

People may not consider me to a mother in such a traditional sense.

But, let me tell you...

Doesn't a mother pray for her child? 

Doesn't a mother fight for her child in all ways?

Doesn't a mother prepare for the arrival of her baby?

That's right, they do!

I may not be a mother with a baby in her arms. 

But, I am a mother with a baby in her heart. And, I think that is worthy of honoring too. 

So, to all of you mothers who are just like me and have a baby growing in their heart instead of their womb - Happy Mothers Day. You all hold a dear place in my heart too. 

Blessings,
Amy

Follow along with Amy on her adoption journey on her blog, Glimpses of Hope.








Wednesday, May 6, 2015

adoption story: chris and christy

Chris and Christy knew they wanted to have children as soon as possible after they were married. As they describe their journey, they said, "but God had a plan that included more time and challenges." Infertility was an unexpected obstacle in their plan to grow their family, but from the beginning they felt God guiding them towards adoption. Instead of the loss and heartbreak of infertility wavering their plans to add a little one, it only reaffirmed the importance of family in their lives. They realized they were eager for their home to be filled with laughter, running feet, and even messy rooms and a biological or adopted child made no difference.


They had heard about Christian Adoption Consultants through a blog of a local news anchor, Shelley (who told her story of their adoption journey). It was especially important that they find someone to walk the journey with them with a strong Christian foundation since their faith is important to them. But when Chris and Christy started with CAC last June, they didn't realize that they would also be gaining an entire adoption community. In Iowa, where they're from, there's actually a huge pocket of families who have been knit together by adoption and Christian Adoption Consultants. And they immediately became a part of the CAC family where families walk with each other; sharing in the ups and downs adoption, cheering each other on, and encouraging each other to keep going.


Several months in, Chris and Christy experienced the joy of matching with a potential situation and the heartbreak soon afterwards when it didn't work out. I watched as Chris and Christy walked with incredible grace and strength as they faced another hurdle to parenting. I saw their fierce love for their family, their bold commitment to what God had called them to, and a faith and confidence in God that was unwavering. 

Then, less than two months later, they were matched. Just before Thanksgiving they were told that they would have a girl in the spring. As they waited with bated breath, they continued their steadfast trust that God would be faithful.


And just a few weeks ago, their precious daughter was born. She joined Chris and Christy, a very proud big sister, and an entire community who had been expecting and waiting for her for a very long time. A beautiful girl who will grow up knowing how dearly she is loved, how constant she is prayed for, and how cherished she is in her forever family.


To read more of their story, you can follow their blog at Adopting Baby Bonfig.


Photo credit: Wild Photography
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