Thursday, April 28, 2016

adoption story: chad and jennifer

Chad and Jennifer began with Christian Adoption Consultants early last year. It took them several months for their home study to be completed and by early summer they were ready to begin to see possible situations. 


The next few months were full of receiving situations: expectant mothers making adoption plans and looking for an adoptive family. Expectant mothers are never looking for a perfect couple, but they're searching for an adoptive family that's a good fit, the perfect match for them.

That mother found Chad and Jennifer in March. Less than a week later their daughter was born.

Jennifer sent me this: We talked with the birth mother yesterday after placement. She said that she had 13 profiles to choose from and stayed up all night. She said she felt like God told her to pick ours. She said she couldn't explain it but He did. I just started crying, I couldn't believe she said that. I am thankful she shared that. We have loved getting to know the birth mother and was able to spend quite a bit of time with her. God has been with us this whole time. 


It's amazing to watch God bring birth mothers and adoptive families together. He makes a perfect match and knows exactly what He's doing when He creates families. Congrats on your beautiful daughter, Chad and Jennifer!



Monday, April 25, 2016

in their own words: what openness in adoption means to me

You've met Stacey here before. They have two beautiful children through adoption. Both of their adoptions happen to be local and they share an open relationship with their children's birth mothers. I've watched as they have worked to honor these women and the important role they have in their family, created healthy boundaries, and loved them well. Today Stacey is kind enough to share more about the relationships they have built within their adoptions.


Every now and then someone will ask us, "Do you ever see their parents?" And I'll say, "Well good golly, I see myself in the mirror every day!" Buuut not really. I know they are referring to their birth parents, so I'll actually say, "Yes! We text and email, and get together regularly! Just like any other family." And I get it, when they look surprised. That's not the way things used to be, and it's not the way things were done even just one generation ago (although that is a good thing). Open adoption sounds a little scary to some people. I get it.

Before we even began our adoption process, I followed several blogs written by adoptive parents. Two of them in particular had very open adoptions and I loved reading about their families. It helped open my eyes to how wonderful and positive open adoption can be, and I wanted something like that! In early 2012 we were "matched" with an expectant mama who wanted a semi-open adoption - she did not want to know our last name, where we lived, and did not want to see us again unless the baby was older and asked to do so.

Then we met for the first time.

She told us, "I don't want to be an intrusion on your lives." We said,

"You will never be an intrusion on our lives. We want to know you, in whatever capacity you are comfortable with."

She was still confident that she only wanted to know basic information about us, and to only communicate going forward with a dedicated email address. We soaked up every minute we had together, wanting to remember every detail of these amazing people we had fallen in love with. In the end, she decided to parent her son. Today, we have reconnected via Facebook and she is an amazing mother and a brave, strong woman.

Today we have two beautiful children born from two absolutely beautiful women - their birth mothers. How can I not love this person like crazy? Two open adoptions, two birth families, and two unique relationships. We email, text often, Facebook, and regularly get together. We live across town from each other, but still no more than a thirty minute drive. We have been to their houses. They have been to ours, and sat on our couch and stayed late and joined us for dinner at our dining room table.

They are our good friends, and they are our family.

The thing about open adoption is this: our children (and your children, if you have adopted) come from a family of origin. They were adopted into our family, their forever family. These two realities coexist together - it is not an either/or situation, but a both/and situation. I love my children fiercely, and because I love them, I love all of them - and this includes where they came from. We hope to raise our kids to not feel like they have to choose, to feel whole, and to have access to the full picture of their identity. We want our daughter to know that she wrinkles her nose like her birth mom, and our son to know that his blue eyes match his birth grandma's. One day when they have hard questions about their birth, and about why adoption was chosen for them - I want them to have access to the source, to the person who loves them so much that she made that difficult decision.

I want them to not have to wonder, "Did my birth mom love me?" because what do you know! They just saw their birth mom last month and she gave them a big hug and told them that she loves them, in person!

Open adoption has blessed me so much.

I'm aware that our situation might be a bit unique. Even at its very best, just like any other relationship, it takes work. Sometimes there's conflict. It isn't co-parenting, and there are boundaries - just like any other relationship. Your situation may involve addiction, or violence, or criminal activity, and less openness might be the very best thing for your child and family in that case. In those situations, something that I have found helpful is to imagine the same situation but with a different individual - for example, let's say that it's your cousin who is known to be using drugs. Would you completely cut off this relationship? Would you establish clear boundaries - like, they cannot come around while they are currently using - and do what you can to communicate in other healthy ways?

The fact is (and studies have confirmed) that some degree of openness is best for the most important person involved in this scenario - the child! Like I said before, our love for our children is fierce, isn't it? Because of that, I can work through some of my own fears, insecurities, and discomfort if needed.

There's no such thing as too many people to love a child. This is what openness in adoption means to me.

For Stacey's original post and more on their adoptions, you can find their blog at The Starks Adopt.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

adoption story: brad and corinne

Yesterday I shared the beginning of Brad and Corinne's story. If you missed it, it's worth going back to read the days and weeks leading up to the birth of their son. Today I get to share the continued story when they watched as a brave birth mama brought a son into the world. It's a hard thing to put into words something this significant. Something this life-changing. Something this beautiful and bittersweet and hard. Read Corinne's words as she continues to chronicle the end of her son's birth story...and the beginning of their family.

*Please note when Brad and Corinne note "our mom" here they are referring to their expectant mother (now their son's birth mother).



February 16th

Hello Friends,

Adoption is full of all kinds of emotions all at the same time, incredibly joy and incredible heartache. It is a hard thing to gain something so beautiful at the sacrifice and loss of someone else. I will do my best to put into words what the past couple days  have looked like for us.

God beautifully answered each of our prayers for our induction day. We woke up around 3:45am and felt full of peace from the moment we opened our eyes. The entire day felt and still does feel surreal. We picked up our Mom at 5:30 Monday morning and arrived at the hospital at 6 for induction. The Lord truly surrounded us with kind, compassionate, amazing nurses and doctors the entirety of the day. They were so kind to her and accommodating of her birth plan, especially with our case worker out of town. She didn’t want to see the baby so they got a team together to wheel the baby out to a room they set aside for Brad and me across the hall. One of her main nurses pulled me outside to tell me the plan and had tears in her eyes and shared with me that her daughter gave up a baby for adoption when she was  in high school and that what we were doing was beautiful and that we were navigating everything really well. 

One of our prayers had been that our Mom’s labor and delivery would be swift and trouble free for our Mom, especially since her last induction took 3 days. So they started her on pitocin (labor inducing drug) around 7:30 and she got her epidural around 11. She took a nice long nap after her epidural kicked in and I sat in the room and watched her sleep. I couldn’t help but think of how brave, beautiful, and sacrificial she was. She woke up about 2 and started feeling pressure so they checked her and she had dilated from a 3 to a 10 in 3 hours, which was insanely fast. So the doctor and team came into the room to get ready to push. I held one of her legs and 5 minutes later  at 3:02 pm sweet baby boy was here 6 pounds, 9 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long. 

I cried like a baby, shocked that he was finally here, so proud of our Mom, so grateful for her generosity towards me in allowing me to be apart of the entire process, and so humbled at Jesus faithfulness towards us. So they wheeled the baby off to Brad and I stayed and held our sweet Moms hand while I was a blubbering mess as they got her all cleaned up. Her doctor was AMAZING. He came to her bed and said, “I know what a difficult road this has been for you, but you have walked it beautifully, I am really proud of you this is the right thing.” Some doctors are incredibly insensitive to scenarios like this. It was beautiful to see God surround our Mom too with people believing in her, supporting her, and loving on her since this is the opposite of how her life is right now. So I hugged her (yup still crying), and thanked her for being so kind in allowing me to be in the room and that she was a labor rockstar.  

I then went across the hall to get a first look at our boy, Brad and I could not stop smiling. That was probably the most out of body experience I have ever had. Sweet Baby has big feet and huge hands, looks like He will grow to be a big tall boy. He was just perfect. The hard part of this is that our sweet Mom literally has no one supporting her and had no visitors even to sit with her while she was here. I am so grateful the Lord helped me be aware of her in the midst of our excitement and joy with the baby. It didn’t seem right to me that this sweet Mama who just did the most sacrificial thing ever would be left alone, by herself, in a scenario that I am sure feels nothing but lonely. So I peeked my head in and checked on her a few times. She and I had been excited to watch this Dog show on TV  so I went and sat with her for 3 hours and had a great time. She was happy and chatty and very much herself. They then moved her upstairs and I helped her move her bags and got her all set up. Right before I left  I told her how much our family and friends love her and not just because of sweet baby. That she will always be family to us. So I got to our room about 12:30 or so and did some skin on skin with our boy and by this point I had been up for about 22 hours or so and was feeling pretty spent. 

Overall the day could not have gone smoother, truly the Lord was in each and every detail. So much of what we have heard was the hospital is usually completely crazy and our day was filled with peace and joy. And then our first night of parenting (aka not a lot of sleep), but Baby boy did amazing and Brad has been a rock. As if my heart couldn’t explode anymore, watching him become a Dad and love this sweet baby with so much patience, grace, and care has expanded my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible towards him. Baby boy is sleeping and eating great. Brad took the first shift if you will and I took the second. This morning we were exhausted in every way but so grateful and in love with this precious precious boy. Seriously, he is absolutely beautiful. 


So yesterday morning our social worker can to visit us and told us that our Mom had decided to name the baby which was a big surprise to us since we had tried to include her in the naming process and she didn’t seem to care. So this means his “legal name” will be what she decided until 6 months at placement but of course we can call him what we would like.  The case worker was also saying that she was going back and forth on seeing the baby before signing. We began feeling nervous after hearing this as we had 48 hours to go until signing. She had told the social worker that she had wanted me to visit so I got dressed and went over to visit with her. She was her beautiful happy self and we hung out for a few hours and watched “Bizarre Foods” on the travel channel. We had a great time; I told her about baby boy's big feet and big hands and how I was welcomed into being a boy mom by being peed all over by baby boy this morning. 


She really does feel like family to us. We have spent so much of our time with her and her daughter over the past couple weeks in a way its odd to be holding this baby with our her her. The caseworker came to discharge her and our Mom decided she wanted to go see baby boy. So we walked down to our room and she saw her boy. Brad was feeding him. We asked her if she wanted to hold him and she said no; she was fighting back tears. So we chatted with her for a bit and just stood and watched this precious baby, who by the way looks so much like his sister and his beautiful Mom. 

Once she got outside of her room she lost it and I hugged her and we both cried for a while. Our Mom has been so stoic and unemotional so seeing her hurt so bad  ripped my heart out. The caseworker told her she is doing a brave and incredibly loving thing for this baby I asked her if she wanted me to walk down with her. She said yes, so they wheeled her out in a wheelchair and I rubbed her back and we both cried the whole way down. As we waited for her car I grabbed her face and told her how much we love her, how grateful we are for her, and how brave and loving she is. I told her I was so sorry this hurt so badly, I wish I could take that away. I told her that we would take good care of her boy. 

My heart breaks for her. She has no support and no one rooting for her in her life. She just did the most sacrificial thing for her child at the loss of herself and we gain from this. It is hard to navigate and process all of these various emotions its hard to grieve and rejoice at the same time. Its hard to not feel like we are a part of what is causing her so much pain. Our Mom texted me once she got home and said, “Thanks for letting me see baby boy and I know I made the right decision by picking you guys. Thank you so much for everything and for taking good care of him.” She texted me this morning for some pictures of sweet baby and we have been chatting. The caseworker told us she told her that we have a special bond and that baby boy will know all about her and will be taken good care of. 

I know this update is long an probably scattered and confusing, but with all this we ask you to pray for our sweet Mom. Pray that the Lord would surround her with His love and people to love her well as she grieves. For wisdom for us to know how to continue to support and serve her while we are here. Pray that those she is living with will be kind and gracious to her during this difficult time. For patience and endurance for the next 30 hours until our Mom signs that we would trust God’s sovereignty.

Another huge blessing is that the hospital we are at are the only one in the valley that allows adoptive families a room with the baby during the waiting period. We had heard we may need to discharge baby to cradle care (a family's home who watches babies between signing) which would give us limited visitation hours. But the hospital and pediatrician has been wonderful and they have made a way for us to stay here until discharge and are figuring out a way to make us not have to pay for it. We are eager to be home and for all of you to meet this precious miracle baby of ours that we have been dreaming of for so long. He is more than we could have ever dreamed of, and not to mention has a TON of curly hair.

Adoption is complicated. Adoption is hard. Adoption is exhausting. Adoption is beautiful and redeeming.

We love you all,
Brad and Corinne


February 18th

Dear Friends,

It is with GREAT JOY that we would like to officially introduce to you OUR SON:

Floyd Bradley Lawrence 


Each part of his name carries a lot of significance for us. Floyd (who we call Papa) is my Grandfather, someone who has been very special to me my entire life. At nearly 90 He continues to be the most faithful & godly man I have ever met.  He gave me away at our wedding and Brad asked his blessing to marry me before proposing. He holds a special place in both Brad's and my heart. Ever since we began talking about having a family many years ago it has been our hope to name a son, if God were to bless us with one, after Papa. Bradley is an obvious choice, and I get to brag here: Brad has been one of the greatest blessing in my life. I have been so fortunate to marry someone who is so gracious, kind, patient, a good friend, and a lover of the truth. Once we had been matched with our Mom we had chatted with her many times if there was a name she would like for the baby that we could incorporate, and she said she didn’t have any preferences. However, we learned these past few weeks that Lawrence is a name significant to our birth mom; it also happens to be Brad’s Dad’s first name. So we chose to include Lawrence in our boy’s name. Brad’s dad has been nothing short of a blessing to me as a Father in Law and he loves and trusts Jesus unwaveringly. He is an incredible Dad; I have been directly impacted in my marriage by his faithfulness in raising such amazing boys who love and serve their families so well. So our sweet boy is named after three amazing men and his brave brave Mom. We wanted to pass down a family legacy of faithful men who love the Lord and love their families and those around them well. We also wanted to forever honor his Brave Mom who gave Floyd life and sacrificed so much to allow us to be parents. Our prayer for sweet Floyd is that the Lord would bless him with character and a love for Jesus like those he is named after.


Saying thank you will never adequately express how grateful we are for the constant prayer, support, and encouragement you have given our little family. God has used each of you to bless us in more ways than you probably realize. The Lord has truly given us a front row seat to His Faithfulness. He truly writes the best stories, always better than we could imagine for ourselves. 


Sweet Floyd, you were absolutely without a shadow of a doubt worth the wait. 

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

in their own words: an adoptive family chronicles their journey

I've been excited to share Brad and Corinne's story for awhile. I began working with Brad and Corrine when they started with Christian Adoption Consultants early last year. In August they were home study ready and just six weeks later they were matched with a beautiful expectant mama. They became parents when their son arrived in February. 

It was a gift walking with them on their journey. From the beginning they were filled with joy, hope, and faith. They were also honest when things were hard and unanticipated and rocky. As I prayed about how to share their story, Corinne graciously offered the updates they wrote to me and dear family and friends in the last leg of journey to share here. It's lengthy but so worth sharing. These were emails outlining the logistics, details, and hearts of a mother and father on the road to meet their son. You'll hear their prayers in the weeks leading up to their son's birth. You'll see clearly their love for his birth mama. And you'll get a glimpse of the amazing way God cared for them...


*Please note when Brad and Corinne note "our mom" here they are referring to their expectant mother (now their son's birth mother).

January 25th 

Hi All, 

Greetings from the NoVA igloo. As many of you know, we are getting close to our birth mother's due date. She's officially due Feb. 19, but we got word last week that at least one doctor wants to induce her a week earlier. We are trying to get everything lined up, but as you can imagine there is just so much out of our control. We appreciate your prayers.

If you could pray with us that God's will be done and that if possible, this would be the baby he wants us to parent, we would greatly appreciate it. Also pray for our birth mom that she would be confident in her decision, that she would feel family support for her decision, and that she would know God's love for her through us. And please pray for the logistics of our trip and for our sanity. We love you guys and appreciate you. 

Love,
Brad & Corinne


January 28th

Hi friends,

Thanks to you all for the kind words in response to our last update earlier this week. We really appreciate your support. Yesterday our birth mom had an appointment with her regular doctor, and the social worker called us with the update. The doctor thinks our mom will actually have the baby next week or the following week. We had asked our social worker to ask our birth mom if our birth mom would like us to come into town a little before the baby comes so that she can spend some time with us, and she would like that. So as of right now we are preparing to fly out to Vegas next Wednesday. Our birth mom has another doctor's appointment Tuesday, and they will give us an update Tuesday afternoon as to whether they think next week is the week. We are booked on flights with Southwest, so we can change them without penalty if we need. And I think we have details worked out on places to stay while there. It's been cool to see all these details come together. We can definitely see God's hand.

That being said, it's still going to be a nerve-racking time, and we covet your prayers. It's such a confusing thing to be wishing for a mom to give up the child she's carried for 9+ months, and it's hard to process. We want to parent this baby, but we also feel for the mom. Anyway, we know that God is in control and that his plan is good. We appreciate all your support and are excited for all of you to meet baby boy, should it be God's will that he comes home with us. 

Love,
Brad & Corinne



January 31st

Hello Friends from LAS VEGAS!

It has been a whirlwind 24 hours for us. Last night we got word that our birth mom had been sick all day throwing up and in a ton of pain, so they took her to the hospital  to see what was going on. She was having contractions 3-4 minutes apart but only was 1 cm dilated. So they gave her some anti-nausea medication and sent her home. We felt super conflicted in knowing what to do, do we just fly out first thing in the morning? What if we are in Vegas for a month? After praying about it we decided to ask our birth mom if it would make her feel better if we flew out tomorrow morning and she said yes, so at 11pm last night we booked out tickets finished packing and flew out this morning are now are in Vegas. We do know that she wants time with us before the birth so we thought it would probably be best to make the effort to get time with her, even if that means baby boy doesn’t make his arrival this week.  We have been talking with our birth mom since we have gotten here and she is no longer having contractions and is feeling a bit better. So we are waiting. She has to move tomorrow so we are planning to help her move in the morning. If our Mom doesn’t go by Tuesday we would most likely go to her doctor's appointment with her Tuesday morning and will hopefully have more information.  

Brad and I both feel like zombies at this point, it is all just a lot. We are emotionally spent already, and things have yet to really get started. So much of this entire thing we feel so completely in the dark which has been really tough. But when we are weak He is strong, so we are clinging to that. Here are some bullet points for prayer requests:

  1. Supernatural wisdom to know how to love and support our birth mama during this emotional time for all of us, especially since our mom is so quiet and reserved really tough to get a read on her. 
  2. That Baby Boy is born this week, a quick and safe delivery and labor for our birth mom and baby boy. 
  3. For confidence and support for our birth mom to go through with her intention in trusting us to adopt her baby.
  4. Patience and endurance in the waiting.

My mom gave us very wise advice last week and reminded us that God has asked us to walk this path and that is all we need to know. He has the details, He knows what is best. We just have to continue to put one foot in front of the other. 

As we were getting on the plane this morning the flight attendance asked where the baby was (we were checking out carseat) and I told her, “we are going to go pick our baby up.” (insert ugly cry) The past 24 hours have seriously the most out of body experience I have ever had. In all the uncertainty and anxiousness the Lord has been really kind in giving us moments like this to remind us that He is doing this, He is orchestrating our family. It has been SUPER humbling being loved so well by you all in the midst of all this crazy. Truly friends, you have most certainly been Jesus to us in such profound ways. Each of you have played a significant role in our journey over the past 4 years and we can’t help but see each of your faces as we think about all that God has done to get us here. 

And hey, becoming parents is SO STINKING EMOTIONAL!! So next time I see you I might just cry the whole time, but is that new? I mean I’m having crazy thoughts like, “our birth mom is probably just not going to have her baby.” Poor Brad, I am loosing my mind.

I realize this is a bit scattered. My sister sent us this verse this morning “It is the Lord who goes before you, He will be with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8. I am reading this over and over and over again. 

Love you all! Thank you for praying!

Corinne & Brad


February 1st

Hello Dear Friends,

What a difference a day makes. We are taking advantage of the time difference and “sleeping in” aka waking up at 5:30/6am PST 8:30/9 EST which has been a huge blessing. We were able to have a nice quiet morning, and as I was reading my Bible this morning the Lord reminded me to take my eyes off of myself, our circumstances and the unknowns of the next couple weeks and fix my gaze on Him. He is the one who holds the details and holds what is best. He is kind. He is good. He is always loving.

We had a really great day! We spent 6 hours moving Our Mama out of her apartment. She had our picture in her bathroom which was really sweet. It was really humbling to see where she lived and how they live. She seemed really comfortable with us which was encouraging.  She invited us to her doctor appointments tomorrow morning so we are looking forward to that. Thank you so much for praying for us, today has certainly been a new day. "His mercies are new every morning.”

After today Brad and I both feel at peace and are grateful that we flew out early, God is certainly in the details. 

Love you all!

XO,
Corinne & Brad


February 3rd

Hello Friends,

Sorry I am just writing this now; Brad and I went to dinner after a full day yesterday, and I went straight to sleep when we got back. We want to first thank you for praying over our day yesterday; we absolutely are feeling every prayer and encouragement being sent our way. Yesterday was another full day with our Mama. We went to three doctors appointments with her. First was the High Risk Doctor. They said that the baby looked great but that our Mama had low fluid levels. They want her to come back for another check up Friday. If the fluid level is any lower, they want to schedule an induction. Again, they said the baby looked great and that she could have the baby at any time because she is considered full term. We then we to her regular doctor but were seen instead by another doctor in the practice, which was unfortunate. The case worker, me, and her daughter went into this appointment, and this other doctor was incredibly rude. He spoke somewhat disrespectfully and unprofessionally to her and the rest of us. He wanted to know what our “situation was," and when we told him, he responded very poorly which broke my heart for her. He basically said she should be on bed rest and needs drink a ton of water to try to increase her fluids. She asked if she could be induced now, and he said no. He said she is dilated at 1-2 cm, and the baby is still high. It's tough being told different things by different doctors. I think she is pretty determined to have this baby soon, so I doubt she is going to try to be on bedrest, mostly because she has a 16 month old who is in to everything. I wouldn’t doubt if she is out walking in her neighborhood a lot. 

After the second appointment we went to lunch with the case worker and the girls, which was really nice, and then we took our Mom and her daughter to her daughter's one year pediatrician appointment. I went in with the girls and it was a sweet time just chatting with our Mom. I held her daughter for her 6 shots and blood sample, SO SAD!  I’m going to be a mess when we have to do that for our boy. We then went to the house she is now living, and she showed us the dog who has become a good buddy of hers. She also told us about this awesome place in Fremont, which is the old Vegas, that sells fried Oreos, so we may to take her to get some today. I am seriously excited:) We also got a recordable book of “Goodnight Moon” we are planning on giving her today for her to record herself reading. That way baby boy can hear his Tummy Mama read to him.

The Lord continues to expand our hearts more and more for her. She is truly COMPLETELY on her own. It feels a lot like she is in survival mode each moment. It's tough because it seems that she has raised herself while her family is local and not really helping at all. Sometimes we wish we could adopt her and her daughter too. The Lord is really blessing our time here. It can be emotionally exhausting but we are finding it to be an honor to enter into her story.

Our friend Tara sent us this song this week and it has become my prayer for our time here. 

Sorry for the novel of an update, big day yesterday! Thank you again for praying for us.

Love,
Corinne & Brad


February 7th
Happy Sunday Friends,

We can’t believe a week ago we were on a plan on our way here, time is going quickly. Even though it has been an emotionally draining week we have been able to rest. We know Jesus is carrying us each day and using your prayers to do so. Thank you. We met a couple locals since we have been here and one of them told us of a restaurant called The Pasta Shop in town, the main cook used to cook pasta for Frank Sinatra so we decided to have a date there Friday evening which was lovely and DELICIOUS. After a busy week we decided to give our Mama a break from being with us all day every day and we took a road trip to Utah to Zion National Park. It was unbelievable there. I can’t imagine how stunning it is when everything is in bloom. We have been lucky with warmer weather this past weekend which I have loved:) We hiked and explored for a bit and then came back to town to grab the girls to walk the mall and have dinner. This mall had a ton of shoe stores ( Brad was so happy) so we had a night of shoe browsing. There was a kids play area in the mall so we sat and watched our Moms little one play for a bit. I have been asking the Lord to give me opportunities to encourage our Mom and last night I was able to tell her while we were watching her daughter play that her little one is a sweet kid and that she is doing a great job. She smiled and said she is a handful. Her little one is a sassy little girl (which I kind of love). Our Mom really has no men in her life,  it has been sweet to see her begin to feel comfortable chatting with Brad. When we first met her she never even made eye contact with Brad and now they chat with ease and even joke around with each other.  It is amazing to see how far the Lord has brought us from when we first met in November.  Our Moms grandmother is in town today so she is going to watch the Superbowl at her Moms house so we have the day off. I’m sure we will find a fun place to watch the game and relax. This week is full of doctors appointments and hopefully baby boys arrival. 

Thank you for praying for us. Pray for our sweet Mom that the Lord would send people who live here who love Him to love her well after we have gone. It is still tough to know how she is doing emotionally with all of this, I can’t imagine how painful the next few weeks and months will be for her. She doesn’t really seem to have anyone who she talks openly to. Pray that the Lord would comfort her in this season and show us how to sensitively come alongside her in this. Our Mom’s birthday is on Tuesday so we are hoping to do something fun with her for that. Pray that whatever we do would be seen as loving and honoring to her.

A couple years ago when we were in the thick of infertility I came across this song called, “We Dance” by Steffany Gretzinger.  After hearing this song I felt it was written for me. Over the past few years this song has been a reminder to me that He sees us, He hasn’t abandoned us, He is here. He has walked each step we have and will step to bring us our son, He already knows how the pieces will fit. In fact He has made the journey that has been full of tears and heartache into something beautiful. So as you can imagine this song has been on repeat all week.  

Ashleigh reminded me of this verse this week, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.” Isaiah 26:3

Pray that no matter what the next days hold that our eyes would be fixed on Jesus. He is constant no matter how deep the waters we will be walking in will be. 

Love,
Corinne & Brad



February 9th

Hello Friends,

Our Mom had an appointment with the High Risk Doctor today to check her fluid levels, they are back down to a 7 so they suggested her asking her normal doctor on Wednesday (that is her next appointment) what they plan on doing about induction since her fluid levels are lower. So hopefully by Wednesday we will have more info about how dilated she is and what the plan is going forward. Brad and I are most likely not seeing our Mom today since she has family in town but we know we will be taking her to her doctor's appointment on Wednesday. 

For someone who is a planner and probably an over communicator it has been stretching for me to learn how to graciously navigate our Mom who is the complete opposite of myself. The Lord is showing me how much I really do need Him to love our Mama well. Jesus is a master at this, He enters our story, looks in our eyes and still chooses to love no matter how much of a mess we are. I so desire to have this same attitude and heart. So I covet your prayers that the Lord would fill me with tremendous grace and patience in the waiting. I want the position of my heart to be that of service and love towards our Mama and not frustration that she is not handling or communicating in a way I would. What a humbling process this is. 

Other than that not a ton going on here. Our days are filled with working, praying our faces off, catching up on Downton Abbey (well that is mostly me), resting, and working out (you probably won’t recognize us when we get home we are so buff now…not ha!) I told Brad he would probably look like Ray Lewis by the end of this #dreamsdocometrue. 

We love you and are so grateful for walking this out with us!

Love,
Corinne & Brad


February 11th

Hello Friends!

We had another full and busy day on Wednesday with our Mom and her daughter. Her birthday was Tuesday and poor thing everyone forgot her birthday so we made yesterday her Birthday day! If you know anything about our family birthdays are a big deal usual full of confetti (but since she lives with her friends aunt we thought maybe not confetti since its literally the gift that keeps giving…aka it can never full be cleaned up, so we decided against that). So we picked her up for her appointment with cupcakes and a birthday rap (another family tradition if you have been fortunate to be blessed with one of our raps, you are welcome ha!). We were able to see her normal doctor yesterday and he was WONDERFUL! So as of right now our Mama is dialated at a 3 and schedules for an induction at 6am this Monday the 15th! We are bringing her to an appointment this morning high risk and if her fluids are low today they will possibly induce her tomorrow. Either way she is super excited to get this show on the road and so are we. After her appointment we went and got manicures for her birthday and then went down to Freemont (Old Vegas) to do some walking. They actually have dance DJs all along Freemont and Our Mom, little one, and myself had a little dance party, SO FUN!  We are all really enjoying spending time together and laughing a lot. She really feels like part of our family. A little hiccup in this is the caseworker who has been working with Taylor and us will be out of town on Monday which Our Mom is away of but a fill in case worker will be there and we have on idea what that dynamic will be like. We know the Lord is in control and has the details worked out. So pray that the Lord would provide a caseworker who Our Mom feels comfortable with who is full of compassion. We are moving where we are staying today and talking out Mom to her appointment so sorry this is super brief. Thank you so much for praying for us! I have to go pack!

Love,
Corinne & Brad


February 12th 

Happy Weekend Friends,

We have moved to an Airbnb condo across town yesterday, to a lovely spot. We have a little outdoor patio and a playground right outside of our condo.The lady who owns this condo shared with us yesterday that she has adopted all 3 of her children and what a blessing it has been. It seems everywhere we go in Vegas the Lord is surrounded us with people who have had personal experience with adoption or a has a sweet spot for it. The lady checking me out at Whole Foods a couple nights ago asked me if I still had family in Virginia and I told her we live there and she asked why and I told her, she proceeded to come around to me kiss me on the cheek give me a hug with tears in her eyes and tell me how excited she is for us and that this is the best thing she has ever been told while working here. She asked if we would bring the baby in when we get him and then went to the other clerks and told them I was adopting. Our waiter a couple of nights ago was adopted and shared her experience with us, another lady we met shared her infertility struggle of loosing 5 babies and the joys of finally holding your baby. Even though we are so far from our amazing family and community whom we miss terribly, the Lord is surrounding us with support everywhere we turn, it is really amazing. 

My sweet friend Tracy sent me note yesterday to see how we were doing, after chatting with her for a bit she sent this:

 "Praying for your heart and tenacity in this wait. Vegas for me was like my own agony in the garden before Our Lord's death and resurrection. "Not my will, but yours be done."  Remember that suffering always precedes the glory of His triumph over death. Unite this time to Jesus on the cross. He carried Vegas like a cross for us and He is for you too. Your resurrection day awaits you very soon!  He is faithful. Ours awaits us too - just a little further off than we can see right now.”

I have read her words over many times already, what a brave soul she is. What an encouragement that Jesus doesn’t let go even when circumstances are different that we had hoped. It has been a beautiful reminder especially with Easter around the corner, that suffering is not purposeless but rather a reminder that Jesus has conquered death. Our season of waiting has purpose and the end result being greater life. 

We had another full day yesterday, took our sweet Mom to her last High Risk Appointment and her fluids were back down to a 6.3 so it is really great that she is delivering on Monday. Please pray for the caseworker we will be working with on Monday at the hospital since our normal caseworker won’t be in town until that evening. Once the baby is born is when things get tricky.  After her appointment we checked in to our new place, grabbed lunch with the girls, ran a few errands and got our walk on. There is a big outdoor outlet here in town and I got to try out one of our baby carriers with our Moms little one, getting practice anywhere I can. It has been HOT here, it was almost 80 yesterday and I definitely did not pack for warm weather but hey sweating is good right? Today we are going to grab the girls later this afternoon so we can get some work in this morning and go walk somewhere. Tomorrow we were thinking of having a little Valentines day with the girls, cooking dinner for them at our place and watching the new Grease (our Mom told us it is her favorite movie) and relaxing here. It's obvious the girls have not been loved well and so we pray in our time with them they would feel seen, loved, and accepted. 

My dear friend Susan sent me this old Hymn last week and the words have so resonated with me. It seems the Lord is sending me reminders all over the place of His greatness and His power, He doesn’t grow weary of carrying our burdens even if I am weary, we aren’t “too much” for Him. In all seasons He is enough. His grace can never run out. 

“He Giveth More Grace”
by Annie Johnson Flint

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials He multiplies His peace

When we have exhausted our store of endurance
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision
Our God ever yearns His resources to share
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure
His power no boundary known unto men
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again

We love each of you so much!
Corinne & Brad


February 14th

Happy Valentines Day Dear ones!

We can’t believe less than 24 hours from now we will be at the hospital awaiting the arrival of hopefully our son; talk about surreal. 4 years of praying, waiting, and dreaming about this moment and it is so close. So as you can imagine we are feeling all the various emotions that go along with that.  So it seems very fitting our possible last day before becoming parents lands on Valentines Day.  We had a nice day yesterday having the girls at our condo, we played on the playground for a bit, had dinner, and watched a movie. Our Mom is getting super uncomfortable which makes sense as she is in the final stretch. So today we plan on running  errands, going on one last date before baby boy, and dropping off flowers and Valentines for our birth mom and her daughter and letting her get some rest before tomorrow. Although the past 2 weeks have been exhausting really in every way we are so grateful that we came early. Our Mom is like a different girl with us from when we first came, it is totally God’s grace  that we have had this time. I can’t imagine walking into a hospital room with her tomorrow with out the time we have had. We will be taking our Mom to the Hospital tomorrow morning, she is going to be induced at 6am PST.  We can’t begin to express how grateful we are for your faithful prayers, encouragement, and support each of you have offered to us in this season, especially the past 2 weeks. It has been the most humbling  weeks of our lives. Thank you for loving us so well. 

It is humbling to think of the many many times I doubted God’s faithfulness in this dream of having a family when it seemed His answer was “not now” for so long. Of course there are still many unknowns and uncertainties but God has made His faithfulness so clear to us. Our circumstances may be difficult and unstable but God’s Faithfulness and Kindness towards us doesn’t change. My friend Ruth sent me an excerpt from “Streams in the Dessert” this morning. It was a sweet reminder to me that  all of these details and what will happen over the next week are all God’s doing, not mine. He is the great orchestrator of our lives, He is in every detail, always wooing us with His love. He can even use weary and challenging seasons to do this. It is when I convince myself it is up to me that things seem to unravel and doubt and uncertainty leak in. 

Things to pray for:
  1. Kind and compassionate nurses to work with our Mom. This can go either way, some nurses are cold hearted in scenarios like this and other nurses can be incredible, this dynamic can obviously make a huge difference in what the next week looks like.
  2. Peace and comfort for our Mom, We can’t imagine how emotionally difficult the next week especially will be for her.
  3. Quick and safe delivery, she was induced at 37 weeks with her daughter and it took 3 days for her to have the baby, we know she is more dilated this time around but we are praying this goes quickly for her. 
  4. Wisdom for me especially as I will be the only other person in the room with our Mom, That I would know how to best love and support our Mom through this entire process and advocate for her since she is not one to speak up.
  5. I’m nervous about having to see our Mom grieve as she gives us the baby, For wisdom know how to navigate that. What a mixed emotion.
  6. Flexibility. As many of you know hospital plans don’t always go as planned, in fact they rarely do, so pray that we would not be discouraged by hiccups along the way.
  7. Peace in the wait. It is easy to begin to get fearful as we are getting closer to baby boy making his arrival.  Our mom will sign at 72 hours and I can only imagine those 72 hours will feel like the longest 72 hours of our lives
  8. Health and safety of baby boy in the delivery. 
  9. Our Mom has a possible job lined up - we are praying this works out for her.

This summer I remember reading another excerpt from “Streams in the Dessert” (sounds like I need to just go a buy this book) that I think perfectly paints what the Lords has been doing in our family, 

“… In the darkest night He is composing your song, in the valley He is tuning your voice. In the storm clouds He is deepening your range. The rain showers He is sweetening your melodies. In the cold He is giving your notes expression. And as you pass at times from hope to fear, He is perfecting the message of your lyrics…”

He truly has been writing the most beautiful song for our family. Thank you for being apart of it.

Love,

Corinne & Brad


Tomorrow I can't wait to share the rest of the story (now found here!); Corinne and Brad continue to write their story and tell of their brave birth mother's labor and delivery, their first moments with their son, and the day they announce that he's theirs to their family and friends. Check back - you don't want to miss how God showed up.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

in their own words: a letter to my real son

You've met Natalie before. She's chatted on here before about being pregnant AND pursuing adoption and you met their son. She blogs consistently about her parenting journey, but this one made me weep. Her letter to her real son is beyond beautiful...


My dear sweet son:


There are no words that can adequately articulate the Mama-heart you have brought out in me. And what a blessing that is, you are, to me. To your dad. To this family. You have knit us closer as a family, bringing our souls more intimacy as a unit; God put it in our hearts to be a family for children, but it seems as though He has used you much more in our lives than us in yours. We are often in awe of the unending, unconditional, ceaseless love that has been poured into us to cover you – this is something your dad and I talk about regularly. We enjoy watching you grow and develop; we are so proud of you each day for many reasons, and even when there is reason to be annoyed or irritated (example: when you are screaming and we cannot figure out why, when we suddenly need to spend 5 days in the hospital, when it takes us 3 hours to do what should take 15 minutes, or for whatever reason people get mad at newborns) we are overtaken by such wonder that you are ours, any irritation is diminished. You mean the world to us.


Your smile makes us smile. Your coos bring us overpowering delight. When your little fingers wrap around mine, my heart swoons and I stop all things to make sweet eye contact with you. We do a lot of just staring at you, even when it is 2 am and you are asleep and we should be to…you are simply our treasure. You, as a whole, add tremendous joy to our life. 

Your dad plays Murder In The City for you daily, telling you it’s our song because of this specific line: “Always remember there is nothing worth sharing, Like the love that let us share our name.” Swoon.

Sage, you are my son. My very real son. And I pray you never forget that. I pray that if you come to a place in your journey where you wonder and you doubt and you are asking hard and valid questions about your identity, that you know deep inside you are our very real son. When people say ignorant things, which they have and will because we all do, when people equate biology to the sole factor in creating “real” families I pray you know deeper than your flesh that you are our real son.

We are not just playing house over here.
Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone,   
But still miraculously my own.  
Never forget for a single minute,  
You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it.
Author: Fleur Conkling Heylinger
Yes, you grew in our hearts so-to-speak, but you also literally grew in another mommy’s tummy. Your First Mama. She is real, just as I am real. She carried you for nearly 9 months, feeling your loving pokes and prods, your wiggles and your dances. She saw you on the ultra sound screen and she delivered you to this world through her body. And then she placed you in our arms, entrusting us with her most precious gift: you. She has sacrificed an overwhelming amount for you, because Real Moms sacrifice for their Real Kids. You, my boy, have two Real Moms. I am the one who has the privilege of raising and parenting you, and I do not carry that responsibility and honor flippantly.



Sage. In the next ten to eleven weeks, you will become a visible “big brother.” Your little brother, whom you have been sitting on and being kicked by since you were 2 days old, is going to enter our home and we want to be clear: you are just as much our REAL son as he is. He is our son, you are our son, both and together you are our real boys. No matter what. Your sonship to us is irreversible, just as his is. 

Your dad and I are in such bewilderment at the love we have for you, we are so curious how God is going to expand our hearts even more for your brother. And your future siblings.

The expansion of a parent’s heart is a mystery to me, but I am convinced He is in the business of Love.

You are real brothers. There is no fake or pretending. Your skin, hair, and eyes may be different from one another, your DNA may not match, but we know that resemblance and biology is not the only way to create a family. A real family. We are a real family, you are our real son, and you boys are real brothers. So if you hear people ask us or if people ask you if you are our “real son” or if you are “real brothers,” you can say with all of the confidence in the world “YES!” There need be no further explanation if you don’t feel like it: you have freedom to be confident and bold in your place as our real son. Our first born son.


I pray we raise you with the understanding that God’s grace and relentless love for you is far greater than biology. That He is the Father of adoption, the Creator of family, the King of redemption. He did not birth you or us, but we are each very much His real sons and daughters. He has paved the way and made “family” possible.

I love you, Sage. Forever and for always and no matter what,
Your Mama


You can find Natalie's original blog and follow along on their journey awaiting baby #2 at Natalie Brenner Writes.



Thursday, April 14, 2016

adoption story: joe and debbie

As an adoption consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants, my greatest honor is walking with a family as they navigate the path of adoption. What makes it even better? When I watch friends walk the journey.


It was a few years ago when Debbie and I met at a Starbucks and she entrusted me with with what God was stirring in her heart. As a couple they had prayed and dreamed about parenting and what adoption might look like in their family. I had watched her and Joe love my kids like their own and knew they would be amazing parents one day. Anyone who knows them knows they love big, play hard, and trust Jesus. All the makings for a beautiful family.

But there were roadblocks and heartbreak along the way as they tried to build their family. Adoption was a natural step to take since adoption had already been a part of Joe's family. They had seen firsthand the beauty of it. 

They began their home study in the fall and completed it the next spring, after Debbie obtained a master's degree in nursing. It was early fall when they were matched with an expectant mother due just before Christmas. They held loosely to their plans, but began to prepare a nursery. We were with friends and family as we gathered to celebrate their upcoming adoption with a party and prayers.

But things began to unravel in December. It was a slow fade as they watched their dreams of having a baby in their arms at Christmas dwindle into failed plans and heartbreak. 

Then came the call late December 23rd. There was a baby born that day. He needed a family. Were they interested?

Christmas Eve I got the call from Debbie. "We're on our way to meet our son!"

They didn't wait to book a flight over the holidays. They packed up the car and raced states away to meet their son.

It was Christmas morning when they walked into a hospital room and met their son. 

It's an amazing gift to be able to watch a dear friend become a mother. To watch her mama heart grow as she patiently taught my kids piano. To watch his daddy arms grow strong as he threw my kids in the air. To see the sparkle in her eyes across the table at Starbucks when we talked about motherhood and adoption and the gospel. 

And then watch as they become parents; raising a son who in incredibly loved. A little boy they didn't know existed until things seemed to fall apart and God perfectly and sovereignly put them back together, exactly as He had always planned.


Congratulations Joe and Debbie. I'm gonna love watching your boy grow up. I know you're going to be amazing parents.

Monday, April 11, 2016

adoption story: sheldon and katie

Sheldon and Katie were an incredible joy to work with. I've especially loved watching the beautiful way they have loved their birth mother and developed a relationship with her. Today Katie shares how sweet Grace came to their family and the openness and love they have for her birth mother.

It took three years of an infertility journey to prepare both of our hearts for adoption. Katie always had adoption on her heart from a young age. It took four failed IUIs and a failed IVF to finally get Sheldon on board the adoption train, knowing that adoption was our only ticket to parenthood. When we finally were homestudy ready in May, we tried matching with an expectant mom through an online website, which would have saved us thousands of dollars. However, after several situations that didn’t work out (and what we believe to have been scammers), we knew we needed to use any agency to help match us, and then help us navigate our adoption. A friend who used Christian Adoption Consultants before, recommended us to them, which is how we met Susan.  In late August, we were active with CAC. We received five no’s between September and January, before we were matched with our expectant mom in the beginning on February.  



For some, the concept of an open adoption can be very intimidating, confusing, anxiety producing and may cause worry about what the future looks like for your child. The threat of you not being enough for them always—because their birth family will be in their life, may be present. However for us, when we began our adoption journey last May, we knew we wanted to have an open relationship with our future adopted child’s birth mother and family. It was important to us for them to know that we valued them, desired a relationship and love them unconditionally for their selfless gift; we felt we could do that continuously throughout our child’s life by maintaining a relationship with them. We were matched with you young woman who desired an open relationship with us as well.  


Upon our match, we had the unique opportunity to meet with our birth mom about two weeks prior to our baby, Grace Riayn, arriving. We flew from Pennsylvania to Florida to avoid the awkwardness that could have been present by meeting on delivery day. While we visited with our expectant mom, we decided to have a photographer capture the three of us together before Gracie’s arrival. We feel blessed to have had this opportunity and that our daughter’s expectant mom wanted was excited about the photographs too. 


Our unconditional love for Gracie’s biological family has had a profound impact on her birth mom. We knew all along that she was making different choices than we would. We did not shame her birth mom for her choices that could have impacted the immediate comfort and future of our daughter.  Early on, we made the choice to love her unconditionally. We knew that by judging her, by shaming her, would not be productive for our desired life-long relationship nor would it help in Gracie’s birth mom’s recovery and coping with the circumstances surrounding the adoption.  


Our message to other adoptive parents is this: live with hope and don’t be scared of the unknown.  There were a lot of things that could have turned us off from this adoption if we lived our life out of fear but we trusted God’s plan for Gracie and for us. We are so glad we did—she is perfect for our family and has made the pain of infertility completely disappear.  





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