Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Adoption Story: Josh and Autumn

So often we want to rush to the end of the story. The one with the happy ending with full hearts and full hands. But sometimes what God does in the midst of the wait is every bit as important as the outcome.

Josh and Autumn found that to be true in their own story. The story began hearing they would never have children...

When Josh and I were planning our life together, we knew it would be a difficult road to having children. He was told long before we were married he wasnʼt able to have kids. We dreamed of our wedding, life together, and adoption from the very beginning. However, this was our first experience that Godʼs plan is never what we have pictured. I remember everything about the day that I found out I was pregnant with our very first baby. I was shocked and instantly in love with this tiny baby in a way I never knew could be possible. We were fortunate again with our second. We were quite content with our one boy and one girl family for so long. 

Then one day, our kids started talking about a “baby brother or sister.” This got me thinking about babies as well! We tried for a third, but this time it wasnʼt happening as easily as before. Then our doctor started suggesting medicines as time passed. We went home and knew that we already came to love the idea of adoption long ago. So we decided to start fostering. I had been having strong feelings to foster and seemed to be meeting so many people with ties to foster care. We were certified to foster to adopt in February of 2017. We had three short placements but nothing long term had worked out. In our county the system tries to keep the kids in their community of origin which meant that unless we were closer to the city, we werenʼt likely to be chosen for long term placements.

We then found Susan with Christian Adoption Consultants in July of 2018 and decided to go down the path of infant domestic adoption. She was so helpful in guiding us through our adoption process. I was so grateful for her knowledge and her perspective in all of our experiences. Our profile book also came out just perfect because of all the work she put into it. We were home study ready in two months. (We had been through a rigorous home study with foster care which allowed us to expedite the process a bit.) We saw our first “situation” in late September; an expectant mom looking for an adoptive family for her baby. We finally saw a situation that felt right in November and decided to present our profile. We were nervous for days and I remember praying and hoping this would be our baby. This happened several times that we heard "not yet" and I found myself praying for one of the stories of “we matched and had a baby in three weeks with CAC!” This was the second time we learned of Godʼs plans not being as we pictured. I thought for sure weʼd be holding our baby girl by Christmas. The wait was so hard during the holidays and I prayed often to have a baby sometime through the holiday season.

In late October we got a call from our foster agency. They had two baby girls that needed a home; ages one year and two months. It was another short term placement and would only be for the weekend. I said yes and didnʼt think much more about it since we had calls often asking about our availability but often didn't end up as a placement in our home. This time, to my surprise, we got a call back that they would be to our house in twenty minutes. I sent my husband out for all the things that baby girls would need for the few short days they would be with us. It turns out they were a part of our family for nine months. We fell in love with these sweet babies as we continued to pursue domestic infant adoption. It was during this time that we experienced two failed adoptions, but being able to love on and care for these beautiful girls was a gift in the midst of it all. In March we received the news that they would be going home with their biological family in June. 

It was Spring now, and we had been on the journey to grow our family through adoption for two years. First through fostering, then through domestic adoption but we seemed to be at a dead end. But an unexpected email in late May changed everything.

An agency through CAC contacted us about a baby boy, born just three days earlier. It was a complete surprise since we hadn't heard from this agency for months and were focused on getting the girls back home soon. After much prayer, we decided to present and held our breath, wondering about God's plan for our family. We didnʼt hear anything that evening and we expected they wanted to get someone out to him fast since he had been all alone. I went to bed thinking that it was just another “not yet.” But the next day, to my surprise, we got the call that we had been chosen. 

From that moment everything seemed to fall into place. We rushed to pick up this little baby who would become our son. It all seemed surreal and seeing him for the first time felt so right. This little boy we had been praying for for years, not just as a couple but as a family, was finally here. It's hard to explain the moment you hold your child for the first time and realize all of the hard things leading up to it were worth it.

Not only did everything fall into place, but everything seemed to make sense. Becoming a foster family two years ago. Signing up with Christian Adoption Consultants. Providing a home for those precious girls in the midst of it. Looking back we could see all of the steps it took for us to get to this moment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Adoption Story: Travis and Angela (again!)

I first met Travis and Angela in 2016. We were in the back of a little coffee shop when they told me their dreams of having children. It was just a few months later when they welcomed their first son home. And today, Angela shares the story of how they doubled their joy, and their love, as they welcomed a second son into their family.

In January, 2018, we started discussing growing our family and pursuing our second adoption. Renewing our home study went lightning quick and things started so fast at the very beginning. During our first adoption, we matched within just three months of being home study complete. We took a different route this time and Susan updated our profile. We were praying to be able to adopt from the same group as our first adoption since we had such an amazing experience.

This time around, the wait was much longer and we had to remind ourselves over and over it was all in God's perfect timing. There was even a time when an expectant mother was deciding between us and another family. She chose the other children and it was the hardest “not yet” we had gone through. At this point a full year had come and gone but we trusted that God knew exactly what He was doing.

In January, we knew we needed to renew our home study so we started that process. The day we met with our social worker we heard about a baby boy who had just been born. As we read about him and all of the information, our hearts were so drawn to this little boy already. But there were so many unknowns that terrified us as well. He was born prematurely and there was a lot of medical records to pore over; most of which we didn't understand in the beginning.

As we talked with our social worker, reviewing the information and anxious about all of the unknowns, she helped us think through all of the details. As one point she looked at me and pointedly asked, "What is stopping you in this situation? What is your deal breaker?" At that point we certainly didn't understand all of the overwhelming medical records and didn't know what the future held for this little boy. Could we go the distance...what if we lost him right away...are some of these issues so significant that they could be terminal...?  We reached our to our pediatrician in an effort to better understand all of the possibilities.

Through tears we knew our answer. We knew that even with all of the unknowns that we needed to say "yes" to this baby. On January 22, we found out that we were chosen to parent this precious little boy. When we made it to the hospital where our son was waiting for us. In the coming days we saw miracles unfold. With the help of a wonderful nursing team, speech pathologist, and occupational and physical therapy, what was supposed to be weeks in the hospital turned out to be ten days. God’s perfect timing and a healthy little boy. 

Throughout our entire journey, we could see God’s hands everywhere. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Brokenness in Adoption

So often we talk about the beauty in adoption. And I often use the hashtag #adoptionisbeautiful. I believe God's heart and the message of the Gospel is on display in adoption. I'm also convinced adoption is an incredible and brave choice that both a birth and adoptive family can step into when they believe it's the best option available for a child. But too often, we ONLY talk about the beauty in adoption and completely miss the other side of the story. And it's an important one.

Adoption always begins with brokenness. If things were as they should be, all parents would be able to raise their children. Families would always stay together and fathers would always be actively engaged. In a perfect world people wouldn't struggle with addiction, there wouldn't be interpersonal violence, and parents would always have the financial and emotional resources they need. Every pregnancy would be planned and every addition to the family eagerly anticipated.

Often the brokenness isn't just experienced by the birth family. I work with adoptive families who have lived through their own brokenness. Infertility, miscarriage, child loss....many families step into adoption because of their own loss. They want to grow their family but have been heartbreakingly unable to do so biologically. Stories of childhood cancer, secondary infertility, attempt after attempt at fertility treatments, miscarriage, and the death of a child are all results of a fallen world and brokenness for hopeful adoptive families as well.

We also live within a broken system. Too often, it's easier for a woman to obtain an abortion to deal with an unexpected pregnancy than it is to find practical support and assistance to parent her child. With differences in state laws and little federal oversight, there are people, even professionals who take advantage of everyone in the adoption triad for their own benefit. Racism and classism impacts adoption and ethical issues can be found in the domestic, foster care, and international adoption arenas.

And, perhaps most importantly, is the loss an adoptee experiences. Too often the child at the center of an adoption story and their brokenness is overlooked. They have lost their opportunity to be raised by their birth family. They have lost an important connection and issues like identity, belonging, and  abandonment are commonly wrestled through. The fact that many adoptive parents may not recognize these issues or be willing to have these conversations with their child can add to the loss and grief an adoptee experiences.

In the end, someone walks out of the hospital with empty arms and broken hearts. And that heartache doesn't just last for several weeks postpartum. The brokenness in adoption is a reality for everyone in the adoption triad for a lifetime.

So where does that leave us? It would be easy to throw our hands up in frustration and decide not to step into something so broken. We could ignore the mess that's inevitable in adoption. We could whitewash and try to cover it up; only talking about the "pretty" parts. But glossing over hard things in life is never the answer. Just like everything else in this world, sin has impacted the way things were intended and this side of Heaven we have to decide how to engage with it. 

How do we step into the brokenness of adoption with the hope of the Gospel, knowing God has the power to redeem and restore? Surely it's no easy task, but there are practical ways we can acknowledge the bittersweet of adoption.

We can tell the truth about adoption, sharing the good and the hard. We can work to ensure we don't gloss over the beauty that can be found in adoption and make less of the grief and loss that's involved. We can make space for adoptees (children and adults alike) to share the love they have for their adoptive and birth families and the complex emotions they uniquely wrestle with. We can ensure birth families are honored, cared for, and have resources for the long haul. And we can advocate for change; calling for ethics in adoption, holistic care for expectant and birth families, and work for biological families to stay together whenever possible. We can hold the celebration and the grief that comes with adoption as equally important and valid. Let's roll up our sleeves together because hard things, and especially the people involved, are worth it.

The reality is adoption is beautiful. And hard. And amazing. And broken. Like the rest of life, it's a complex mix of realities. Ultimately brokenness pushes us to a Healer. It gives us hope that one day God will fully restore all things. And until then, it provides a desperate dependance on His ability to guide us through the beautiful brokenness of it all.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Adoption Story: Jon and Beth

I remember talking to Beth for the first time. They had been told, several times over, that since they already had three children they didn't have much chance of an expectant family choosing them. I'm so thankful Jon and Beth didn't let some previous initial phone calls stop what God had called their family to. Today Beth shares their journey to their daughter; how God turned mourning into dancing, how the long wait turned out to be His perfect timing, and how tragedy turned into their biggest blessing...

God works in mysterious ways. I have always heard this phrase, but now it has its own special meaning for our family. About a year and a half after we had our third biological son we were ready to try for our last baby and complete our family. I had my annual check up and discussed our plan with my OB.  Just a couple days after that appointment I got a call from her that would turn our world upside down. She told me I had cervical cancer and soon thereafter I would learn it would require a radical hysterectomy to treat/cure; there would be no fourth baby. At least not biologically. My husband and I immediately started talking about adoption and I was surprised to know that he was as open to it as I was. We started talking to local agencies and honestly were hitting a lot of road blocks. Most told us that our odds of adopting wouldn't be great with three biological children.  We were devastated to hear that and thought maybe a fourth just wasn't in the cards for us. Then I heard about Christian Adoption Consultants and I reached out. Susan responded and let us know that we, of course, were candidates for adoption and that since birth parents come in all shapes and sizes you can't predict who will be chosen, when, or why.  And so our journey began.  

We presented and weren't chosen multiple times over a year and a half and we were getting ready to close the door in a few months as our contract with CAC would soon be expiring. Again, we thought maybe it just wasn't mean to be. Again, we were wrong. Just a week before Thanksgiving, we got the call that we were matched with a baby that would be born in Arizona in March. There would be a fourth baby after all! To say we were excited would be an understatement. But we were also terrified that we would have our hearts broken in the case of a failure at any point in time. We decided to take a trip out to Arizona at the end of January to meet the expectant parents. It was a great visit and we felt so good about everything after meeting them. We waited a couple more long months and then we received a call from the social worker that they were going to induce in a couple days. We hopped on a flight and we were blessed to be there for the delivery of our baby girl, Eloise Jaclyn. Everything could not have gone more perfectly. (Except the interstate paperwork which took what seemed like forever since we were missing our boys who were back at home so much!)  The birthparents chose to let us have Eloise in our room immediately after birth in the hospital, her birth mom signed as soon as she was legally able to, and before we knew it we were on the road back home.  

Eloise has been home for a couple months now and she is as adored by her big brothers today as she was on the first day they met her. I personally, haven't had a bad day since. I just can't get over the amazing gift we have been given. I truly believe God carefully chose Eloise's birth parents to bring her to us. I will never be able to repay them for the gift they have given us. We have kept in close contact and they are enjoying seeing Eloise grow through pictures and videos. I think most of all they are happy to see how loved she is and I hope that gives them peace of mind that they made the perfect choice for their daughter.  

The biggest tragedy in our lives to date turned into the BIGGEST blessing. I hope I can hold on to that faith as I face future hardships. 

Thank you, Christian Adoption Consultants, for giving us a chance. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Adoption Story: Chad and Meredith

What happens when a husband and wife are on different pages when it comes to adoption? What happens when God's time frame is different than yours? And what happens when you say "yes" to stepping into the brokenness of adoption? Today Meredith shares their story and how God answered all of those questions for their family.

Our adoption journey started a few years ago...

I knew God had placed a longing in my heart to adopt, but my husband had not yet felt that same longing. Our life had been busy raising our two kids, growing a business, going back to college and the conversations about adoption began to fade into the background. 

Then one day when I least expected it, my husband sent me a text message that changed everything. He shared he felt like the Lord was stirring a desire to adopt in him. I was thrilled and began researching, calling local agencies, and attending adoption information meetings. The following Sunday we sat in church and our pastor’s sermon was all about being adopted into God’s family. I knew the Lord was speaking to us. I was ready to begin the process right away but God was still doing a work in my husband’s heart. His timing is not always our timing, and that was really hard for me! I am a planner by nature and when he told me this wonderful news I was ready to start planning out our adoption journey. 

I realized quickly that this journey to bringing home our baby was going to require a lot of patience and placing my time schedule in God's hands. Fast forward two years to April of 2018. We began talking again about our desire to grow our family through adoption, and we both felt like God said now is the time. We reached out to friends of ours who had recently adopted their son, and they recommended calling Christian Adoption Consultants. We called and Susan helped us get started on our journey. We were home study approved by the beginning of July and our family profile was completed shortly after that. 

We were prayerful as we begin receiving situations of expectant moms and dads looking for loving families, but each time we read someone’s story our hearts broke for them. There are so many people hurting, having to make the very selfless decision to place their baby for adoption. To this day we continue to pray for the families whose stories touched our hearts and are forever etched in our memories. 

In November, we presented to a young mom in Florida who was specifically looking for a family who believed in God and had older children because she wanted her son to grow up with siblings. Several details about her story stood out to us and we felt like God was speaking to our hearts to present our profile. After we sent our profile in we waited and prayed. Two weeks went by before we got a call from our attorney saying this precious mom had chosen our family. We were shocked, humbled, and just overjoyed! We couldn’t believe it! 

A few months later, on March 28th, our son was born. We received a call on the morning of the 29th letting us know our sweet boy was here and that he was a month early! We grabbed our bags, dropped off our older children with grandparents, and jumped on a flight a few hours later. We got to Florida as fast as possible! 

After five weeks in the NICU, we were finally able to bring our baby home. Looking back on those hard weeks in the hospital, God truly had His hand on our son and carried us through. We couldn’t be more thankful for this beautiful life God has entrusted us with. The journey has had its ups and downs, moments of tears and pure joy! Through it all God has shown His faithfulness, stretched our faith, and given us a deeper understanding of His love for His children. 

This journey to our son has changed us forever. We've learned that when God places a desire in your heart and you're obedient to His voice, He will be faithful to move mountains to see you through.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Adoption Story: Cody and Becca

When it comes to adoption, a lot of people talk about "perfect timing." The idea of waiting on God's timing and having the faith to trust in His sovereignty. But reading about waiting on God is so much different than experiencing it personally. Today Becca shares their story and how it felt to wait on God's timing bringing this sweet boy into their family.

Trust in God’s timing – always. This seems like a simple concept when you see it in writing, but the complexity that comes from putting this faith into action can at times feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle against yourself. As Christians, we rely on this statement as a foundation of our faith, but what happens when God’s timing is so drastically different from our own expectations? How do we continue to trust in his timeline when our imperfect and broken human hearts and emotions saturate our brains with questions and doubts?

As we went through the adoption process, Cody and I wrestled with these questions and doubts, but it
was also through this process that we witnessed such a beautiful display of God’s providence and perfect timing in our lives. Adoption is a story of love, but it’s also a story of God’s carefully crafted timing.

In our story, the concept of timing started long before the word adoption was ever a part of our daily vocabulary. A few years ago, we decided that it was the right time for us to start a family. And while the timing seemed right to us, what started out as God saying no month after month turned into him saying no year after year. In hopes of growing our family, we naturally questioned what to do next. It was at this point that we both realized that God had placed the idea of adoption on both of our hearts as the means to starting our family.

In August 2018 we signed up with Christian Adoption Consultants. Susan was our consultant and was a constant source of support and guidance along the way. As we worked through the process and the seemingly endless paperwork, we felt so at peace that we were on the path God had intended for us to start our family.

By the end of December, we were officially an active waiting family and had applied to several agencies. The anxiousness set in as we waited to hear if we were matched. While we knew an adoption could take well over a year, feelings of impatience started to creep into our lives rather quickly. After wanting to start a family for years, we honestly didn’t want to wait any longer. As we battled these emotions, we continued to trust in God’s timing and plan for our lives.

As we approached the end of February, we received the phone call that we had been praying for. It was our agency in Louisiana calling to inform us that we had been matched with an expectant mother who was due with a baby girl the following week. We were speechless as we sat on the phone with the agency, tears welling up in our eyes. We then learned that this mother had requested to have a phone call with us since there wouldn’t be time to meet before her due date. Over the next few days, we excitedly told family and friends our news and waited for that call, but it was the call that never came.

Just when we thought all the pieces of our story were falling into place, God was instead telling us to hold on a little while longer. And while we grieved over that call that never came, it wasn’t long before we found out why. About a week later we received another call – the call that our hearts had been waiting for. It was the call that told us we had been matched with an expectant family who would entrust us with their little baby boy as our son.

When we first received the call about our son Bryce, our hearts and emotions were much more guarded. We had already seen how quickly a situation can change, so while we were excited by this news, the reality of it hadn’t hit us yet. Our emotions were still raw from the week prior, but as we processed through everything over the next several days, it all began to sink in, and our anticipation began to grow as we quickly prepared to make the trip to Louisiana.

We had received the call from our agency late on a Friday afternoon and were told that Bryce’s birth mother was expected to deliver by c-section the following Wednesday. The few days in between were quite a whirlwind as we got ready for our trip. Wednesday came, and we woke up at 3 AM in the morning to start the 9-hour drive. While Cody remained relatively calm on the drive down, I could not contain my nerves. All the questions and uncertainty were spinning through my head, and it truly felt like the longest drive I had ever been on. We were aware that one of Bryce’s ultrasounds had showed a possible brain defect that the doctors would not be able to diagnose until after birth when they were able to run a better scan. We were obviously anxious to get those results, but I think what we were most worried about was the uncertainty of the adoption falling through again. We could not imagine making the trip home without a baby.

We were well into our drive when we received word from our agency that Bryce had been born. They sent us our first picture of him and gave us a positive report on his health issues. That moment as our tears started to flow will forever be etched into our memories. When we arrived at the hospital, it was a few hours before we were able to go back and see him. While the brain defect on the ultrasound appeared to have been a fluke, he did end up in the NICU for other unrelated medical issues. It was late afternoon when we were finally able to meet our son. It was such a surreal experience as we stared in amazement at the precious little boy God had brought into our lives.

Our agency made arrangements the following day for us to meet with Bryce’s birth parents. Talk about nerves! It wasn’t long after meeting them though that we felt at ease. We formed such a bond with them as they welcomed us with open arms. We truly have the utmost love and respect for this couple who now holds a special place in our hearts that we didn’t even know existed prior to this experience.

Out of their grief came our joy, and we will never forget the magnitude and emotional depth of this circumstance.

We would end up spending the next week with Bryce in the NICU as we learned to hold and bond with our baby as he was hooked up to all the monitors. He was a little fighter though and was discharged exactly one week after he was born. We then got to experience life with a newborn in a hotel room for a week as we waited for ICPC clearances. It was the best feeling the day we got the word we could finally go home. We packed up our hotel room in record time!

In looking back at our adoption experience, we are absolutely amazed at how God orchestrated our story. While we were hitting rough patches and times where our faith was being tested, he was still faithfully putting all the pieces into place. Adoption is like a puzzle, and it’s easy to forget that we aren’t the ones who need to put the puzzle together. God has that part taken care of. He hasn’t lost any of the pieces, and he knows how it all fits together. Trust in him and his timing – he will be with you in the wait.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Adoption Story: Nate and Michelle

The first part of Nate and Michelle's story reads like every hopeful adoptive parent's worst nightmare. Some of their greatest fears came to fruition...several times over. But what they learned and how they loved through the process made all of the difference. I had the honor of walking with them and seeing firsthand their faith in a God who answers prayers: even when the answers are so different than what we want at first. Today Michelle shares their winding journey to their daughter and the faithfulness of God at every turn.

This our story, (its messy so bare with us), but its raw, real and has the perfect ending!

In June of 2017, my husband, me, and our two year old son fearlessly started our adoption journey. A little backstory….We had easily become pregnant with our son through fertility treatments in 2015. A year later we started the process again for baby #2. Unlike our first experience, we had six failed IUI treatments and a pregnancy loss that was devastating to us. I was at my end emotionally and fertility treatments just didn’t feel right anymore. We had always planned on adopting in the future and started to feel like maybe this was the intended route to expand our family. 

On those summer evenings in 2017, we tackled mounds of paperwork at lightning speed and two months later we were home study approved. Within three weeks of presenting our profile book, we were matched for the first time. We were over the moon and felt so blessed. We knew God had called us to expand our family through adoption, but we never thought it would be this smooth. We felt comforted that we had heard right and we were indeed being obedient. That feeling quickly faded when our adoption failed two months later. We were then matched a month later for the second time. It didn’t last long and three weeks later we got the dreaded phone call that expectant mom was on a bus back to her hometown and was going to parent. Six weeks later we we got a surprise stork drop that ended the next day after flying to the hospital to meet baby. A month later we were matched for yes, the fourth time. We spent two months getting to know the expectant couple and building a relationship. Two weeks before the due date we again got the dreaded call (I was literally standing at the post office mailing them a mother's day gift). The expectant parents had family come forward to support them and had decided to parent. Within a nine month span we had a total of four failed adoptions. My heart was broken, I questioned whether adoption was right for us, and I spiraled into a depression. I completely lost myself and any sense of control in my life. We were told that our situation was unique and that a perfect baby was somewhere out there. In those dark days, those kind words were hard to believe. But there was something deep inside Nate and me that told us we couldn’t stop. I kept getting this nagging feeling that our timing was off, but victory was on the horizon. We just needed to be available. So “be available” is what we did.

While this concept was tremendously hard in the middle of the storm, I now look back and know that we were able to be a support to four women who had no idea if they could be a mom or not. We gave those woman space and the privilege to decide to parent those babies. They were never ours to begin with. We just needed to wait, pray and keep loving on these women.

“Dear Children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth.” 1 John 3:18

Fast forward to June 2018. We had presented to a brave birth mom earlier in the week and we were waiting to hear a yes or no. We got a call one night from our matching coordinator, “Michelle and Nate, I’m just wondering if you guys would be willing to drive five hours out of state and meet birth mom this weekend?’” I should also mention that baby girl was due in two weeks. We thought about for a complete two minutes and then said, “Well hey, why not.” We had already endured so much at this point, countless phone conversations with expectant moms, and a stork drop that had been disrupted after we held baby in our arms for 3 hours. We started packing bags and went into the weekend with the intention of loving on this woman and maybe have a fun weekend getaway.

We met the expectant mom at a restaurant after driving all day with our now three year old. The second she walked in the door she gave us a big smile and rushed to hug me. She was gorgeous inside and out and we instantly felt a strong connection. We talked for hours and she told us that she trusted us to raise her little girl. I felt her tummy and took pictures with a sweet girl still inside. We left that weekend feeling scared yet hopeful. A feeling we hadn’t felt in a long time.

Two weeks later got the call. “Expectant mom has decided to be induced tomorrow at 8am, can you come tonight?” We left our son with family and raced out of state. The entire drive there I prayed that baby girl would come on her own. I knew expectant mama didn’t want to be induced, but she felt it was time. 

We pulled into our hotel around midnight and hardly slept. After tossing and turning for a few hours it was time to get ready and go to the hospital. I felt sick, I couldn’t eat and I wanted to vomit. I sat in that passenger seat with a Trader Joe’s bag in my lap thinking my water and coffee was not going to settle. The thought of walking into another hospital and driving away again with an empty car seat made my head spin. I prayed and prayed and in the midst of my crazy, the phone rang. It was our case worker. “Nate and Michelle are you guys close?" (I thought to myself, here we go again, the dreaded call.) “Expectant mama went into natural labor at 5am. She’s not getting induced, she’s at the hospital and should deliver anytime. She wants both of you in the delivery room.” My heart literally skipped an entire beat. We had just pulled into the hospital parking lot thinking we would be sitting in a waiting room for hours while baby was born. We ran faster than our minds could process and made it upstairs to the delivery room just as expectant moms water was being broken. Within an hour the sweetest baby girl we had ever seen was delivered as I held her tummy mamas leg. I cut her umbilical cord and wiped sweat off her birth mamas forehead as she held her on her chest. We were asked what here name was. We had settled on Aria, Lioness of God, and then asked her tummy mama to choose the middle name. That brave woman then placed that precious baby in my arms and I instantly felt calm. After a year of stress and nerves I felt a complete peace wash over us. We had an instant love for that sweet girl and we knew she was what we waited for.

We spent the next 24 hours loving on birth mom. We made sure to leave and go get lunch and coffee so that they could have quality time. I wanted to hold Aria every second we were at the hospital, but I kept being reminded that this was their time. I watched her birth mama give her the first bath and tenderly love on her. We took a million pictures of them together. Nate and I used this time to get to know birth mom, her favorite childhood memories and foods. We wanted to be able to tell Aria about her and we knew this adoption had the potential to be open. We agreed to yearly visits and fostering a relationship between our families forever.

The next day that courageous woman made me a mama for a second time. I will never forget watching out the hospital window as she walked out of the hospital with her case worker. I was overjoyed to be chosen to raise this little girl, but also felt heartbroken for what her birth mom was going to walk through in the next months, years...forever. The mix of emotions is something I can’t explain. All we know is that we are the most blessed family in the world to have been given the great privilege to raise this woman's child. Months of heartbreak and empty car seats were suddenly okay. They brought us to our daughter, the one we were meant to raise all along.

Sometimes we get a "yes" from God, but it doesn’t necessarily mean right now. I learned that the timing was his, all we needed to do was be available and show his abounding and limitless love to others.

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Aria is the light of our lives. She has provided a sense of wholeness in our family that we all needed. She is fierce, bold and one spoiled little princess! We hope our story inspires you to step out of your comfort zone and act in love.

With love,
Nate, Michelle, Jonah, and Aria

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