Thursday, October 8, 2015

adoption story: jeff and debb

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

adoption story: will and kennerly

Will and Kennerly's adoption story didn't end the way they thought it would. In fact, it ended up literally half a world away from where they anticipated. When they called Christian Adoption Consultants last fall they had already been through a lot.

After struggling with infertility and experiencing a miscarriage, God blessed us with two beautiful and healthy biological children. When our daughter turned one and we started to think about growing our family, we seriously began to talk and pray about adoption. It really just started as a simple thought: “We desire to have more children. God has already blessed us with our two loves. Why not give a child who needs a family a family?” Simple, right? (I’m shaking my head at my na├»ve former self right now.) But really above all else, we truly felt like God was, and still is, calling us to adopt.  James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” This is a call for all of God’s people. It doesn’t look like adoption for all of us, but for my family it does.

In 2014, Will and Kennerly received a referral for a beautiful four month old boy in Ethiopia. But shortly after they eagerly said, "Yes! We will be his mommy and daddy!" things started to fall apart. The agency abruptly shut down and when the Ethiopian government finally agreed to move forward, the orphanage director refused to work with the new agency. After nine long months of fighting, writing letters to members of Congress, reaching out to influential Ethiopian figures, and falling to their knees in prayer – it came to an end. Noah disappeared from the orphanage and Will and Kennerly haven’t been able to locate him since.  "Noah will always be a part of our lives. He will always be in our hearts. And we are committed to praying for him, wherever he is, for the rest of our lives." 

Kennerly shared last winter: I will admit, there have been times this past year where I have thought, “I can’t do this again. I’m done. There is too much at stake, too much to lose. It’s too risky. I’m done with adoption.” But we feel this urging to press forward, to keep on going. We really truly have a desire to grow our family through adoption and God has given us a great peace about moving forward. I have been claiming this verse for some time now, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18 We don’t know the ending to the story that God is writing in our lives, but He does. All we know is that we are being obedient to a call and trusting that He will use whatever He brings our way for our good and His glory.

We have prayed for so long to see redemption in our adoption journey. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my husband shortly after everything with Noah’s case began to fall apart, tears streaming down my face, and saying, “I just want God to redeem this.” And my wise husband said, “He will. We know He will. It just might not be on this side of Heaven.” Well, our loving and gracious Heavenly Father has redeemed our story. Not because we deserve it, but because He is faithful and He saw fit to bless us in this way. He called us to adopt and allowed us to walk a painful road, but He held us the whole time. He used the trials to refine us and transform us and prepare us to the better parents for our children. He divinely orchestrated events to connect us with a beautiful, selfless, and brave expectant mother who would make an incredibly difficult decision out of her fierce love for her unborn son. And because we have seen redemption in our story, we have confidence that God will redeem Noah’s story too. He hears our prayers.
One thing that the Lord has taught me through all of this is that adoption is NOT about me. It is not about my desires and wants. It is certainly not about being comfortable. It is about so much more. It is about the child. It is about the expectant mother. The birth parents. It is about lives coming together and being bonded in such a unique and special way. It is beautiful and tragic. It is beauty from ashes. Most of all, it is about Him. We give God ALL the glory.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
I would like to introduce our SON, Isaac Connor! Born August 5, 2015 in Florida and home with us forever on August 19th, 2015. His birth mother is so very dear to us and we could never thank her enough for her brave decision. She has given us the most precious gift. We are thrilled to have an open adoption and keep up with her, not just for us and for her, but for Isaac as well. He will always know who she is and know of her great love for him. This little boy has been prayed for and is loved by many!

In honor of Isaac’s amazing birth mother – a woman who will always be a special part of our lives. I took this photo and many more the day Isaac was discharged from the hospital. We will always treasure them.
A child born to another woman calls me Mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me.  ~  Jody Landers


You can read more of Will and Kennerly's story on her photography blog, Kennerly Jordon Photography. Beautiful photos by Lorien Owens

Friday, October 2, 2015

open adoption: a story of faith, trust, and love

Yesterday I introduced you to Alex and Amy and shared how they were chosen by a brave woman to parent her son. Those next six weeks were filled not only with prepping a nursery, but more importantly with building a relationship with their birth mother. Before the birth, Alex and Amy flew out to meet her and begin their lifetime relationship sharing the important title of parents to the son they share.

I have been in awe of Alex and Amy and the genuine care, compassion, and friendship they have developed with their birth mother, Mason. The connection Amy felt immediately with her when reading her story has only grown. My phone is full of texts from Amy updating me on their adoption, asking for prayers for Mason, and telling me how amazed they are of her bravery, her perseverance, and her obvious love for her son.

I received this text from Amy over the summer: ...Susan, this girl. We cried together and I did my best to comfort her and she thanked me over and over. And I told her "No, thank you. Thank you for coming into our lives." We talked about how we are family now and that we both will need to rely on each other a lot through all of this. Susan, we seriously underestimated the amount of love we'd have for her. It's just so hard to navigate these really hard parts. It's so scary for all of us. And so beautiful for all of us too.

And because of this, because of Mason's selfless love for her son, together these two families welcomed their son into the world just a few weeks later. They have laughed together while talking about baby names, cried happy and sad tears together at the bittersweetness of adoption, and celebrated the goodness of God in knitting their hearts into a family.

In light of this, Amy and her birth mother Mason share more about the relationship they share and their open adoption...

It has been on my heart lately to share our experience and our journey so far with open adoption. Granted, we haven't been doing this long...but our experience has been one full of beauty. I think it's crucial for people to know that while open adoption is not for everyone, it doesn't make it something to be feared. Often times open adoption is filled with beauty. It teaches you a lot about extending grace and allowing yourself grace and it also taught us that we had to have an immense amount of faith to make this work.

For Alex and I we craved an open adoption. We have several friends with open adoptions and we desired to have that kind of relationship as well. I remember when we were in our season of wait; I would often ask one of those friends "What if I never find a birth mother who I just connect with? What if we never have that relationship I so badly desire?" Little did I realize then...but God heard the desires of my heart and he started weaving that into our family's story.

When our son's birth mother, Mason chose us to be Barrett's forever family it was like all of my prayers had been answered about the woman I would share motherhood with. We connected immediately. I knew from the very beginning that we would have something so special and that we would be connected on a level that I never knew existed.

Now, I know that open adoption isn't for everyone. Often times it just isn't meant to work that way...and thats ok! But, if you are desiring or even considering an open advice to you is to trust, love and be honest in every situation. Alex and I learned quickly that we had to trust Mason, we had to love her unconditionally, and that we would have to be honest in what we could give of ourselves and what we needed from her as well. This healthy communication allowed us to set up really healthy boundaries with each other. It allowed us to be able to be much more open with each other than we discussed it would be in the beginning.

I know that so many times we get to hear the adoptive parent's side of open adoption. But, what about the birth family's side? Don't we all just crave an understanding of that perspective as well? Well, our son's sweet birth mother offered to share her words with us.

My favorite part about our relationship is so simple: it's just the fact that we even have one! This hasn't been an easy event in my life by any means...but by building the relationship with Alex and Amy before Barrett was even born, and growing from that even further when we spent days in the hospital together for his birth, and even leading up to this very day, is something that I'm so glad we all put the effort into and I cherish it.  
I can feel the love that Alex and Amy have for myself, for my older son and for B. Having an open adoption has been one of my biggest priorities from the very beginning. Luckily, it has grown to be even more open than we all originally agreed upon. I know that even though I feel sad or lonely sometimes, all I have to do is text them and I can see him again. I was even able to witness his first time rolling over. I will always consider myself very lucky for that. I take comfort in knowing I will get to see things like that even if I'm not physically there. In my opinion, they key to having a successful open relationship is honesty. I even mentioned to Alex and Amy that one thing I loved about them before I chose them was that they were honest with me. I had really wanted to be able to have visits every year. They both explained that while they would love that as well, it wasn't something they could promise doing. So, we made a promise to say that we would always TRY to see each other at least once a year. They even have offered for me to come and visit them if they can't make it to me! Does it make me sad that there is a chance I may not get to see him in person one year? No, because we have talked so much about other options and I know that I will still get to see him in pictures of through video. 
I was also always honest about my past and because of that, we know it will help us to be prepared for the future.  
They say every day gets a little easier than the last. It's so true. Both Amy and Alex have helped me to feel like I can breathe again. They remind me that it's all going to be ok. They are my family and Amy and I have gotten so close...close enough that I consider her to be like a sister to me.  
They remind me that I can have comfort in my decision and I am so so grateful I was given you to parent my sweet Barrett.   
- Mason
Y'all this girl is our hero. She is more than our son's birth mother. She is our family. Each day we are so thankful God has chosen us to walk this path. We are so grateful He picked us to be Barrett's mommy and daddy.

To our sweet Barrett Alexander Mason, you are loved beyond measure sweet boy. Never forget that.


And Mason, I would love to speak for a whole tribe of us as well. From the dear friends and family of Alex and Amy, from the adoption community, and now from a slew of people who might only know your face from this blog and this story, you're our hero too. Your courageous love for your son, the selfless way you have shared your title as Mother with another woman, and the legacy you've begun for your son is nothing short of amazing. 

For more of Alex and Amy's journey, follow their blog at Glimpses of Hope.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

adoption story: alex and amy

There are some stories that are hard to put into words. All of the heartache, all of the waiting, all of the beauty, all of the love... How do you sum it all up or even attempt to write it out? This will by my poor attempt to capture just a few of the dozens of miracles God did in creating their family of three...

I met Alex and Amy over coffee last summer. Amy had worked with my husband and they were just starting to think that adoption might be the route to take to grow their family after struggling with the heartache of infertility. I immediately fell in love with their big hearts and noted their intense desire to follow God's leading for their family.

Later that fall I was thrilled they started with Christian Adoption Consultants and I had a chance to walk with them through their journey. And it was full. They started by moving out of state, selling a home and buying a new home. Beginning new jobs and working to get through their home study. While they were busy with that I worked on creating their profile. In fact, the months consumed with just trying to get through the home study with all of the changes and paperwork was challenging. Roadblocks and barriers kept coming up but Alex and Amy were determined. When their dining room table was full of stacks of paperwork to complete, we talked about how it would be worth it and the timing would someday make sense.

By the end of May their home study was finally complete and I sent Alex and Amy a few situations. They were eager to begin to have their profile presented to expectant mothers, but they were still in the midst of making sure their finances were in order. Just five days after being home study approved, they heard about a young woman they felt an immediate connection to. They heard about her life and her desire to have an open adoption. But their hearts fell when the timing didn't seem to match what they were prepared for; they had just four days to make sure all was in order. 

I love how Amy tells the story of the next few days...

As I began to read it my heart began to beat quickly. My nerves were on high alert. I knew. I knew this was a situation worth presenting to. I immediately called my husband and he too had the same exact feeling. We couldn't really pinpoint why our hearts had such a desire to present to this situation. There were many things that stood out that made us feel a connection. Yet, the feeling was so much more than a connection to the words on this email. 

It was like God was directly saying to both of us "Go for this one!"

Unfortunately though, the cost was more than we had available...and the money was due upon matching and signing a contract. We knew that it wasn't fair for us to present if we didn't have the funds in hand. If we had been picked by this woman, we would hate to have to say "no." We couldn't do that to her. We couldn't do that to ourselves. So, we put sending our home study and profile to the agency on hold. We spoke to our consultant and asked for prayer in these next few days. 

We had 4 days to make a decision. We had 4 days to come up with the funds that weren't fully there for us. 

It would be impossible.

Surely, we misunderstood God's message to our hearts. Surely, we weren't meant to present to this woman because we didn't have our funds ready. Surely, this child was meant for a different family. 

While our logical side told us that it was impossible; the rest of the weekend our hearts continued to tell us it was still worth trying for.

Monday came and we made some phone calls. We applied for an adoption loan, gathered all of our documents and we waited. Convincing ourselves that there was no way this was going to get approved. I had just quit my job as a social worker so that I could stay home with our child when the time came. I had just started watching two little kiddos for this family and so I didn't have many pay stubs. Also, this was so very last minute that there was no way that we could get an approval by the time we needed. it. 

Monday afternoon we received a call telling us "I'm sorry, we just don't have enough documentation to approve this loan. Maybe if you try sending these documents instead." So, our worried hearts did just that. 

Monday evening we received another call. This time, to hear the words "I'm sorry, we just can't approve this loan for you guys right now on your own until Amy has been working for the family for a longer period of time. We know you guys can afford the payments. We just can't make it work at this time." Our hearts sank. We had lost out yet again. And, only because of money. 

Tuesday afternoon came...Our phones rang and it was our lender. She said, "Find someone to co-sign for you. Then, we will approve it and you can present to this mother." Suddenly, our hearts were filled with hope again and we could feel God moving these mountains for us. 

We got our co-signer. We heard that we were approved

We submitted our home study, payments were wired and our profile was sent just a few hours before the deadline that it was all due. (Actually, Susan was worried we may have missed it even!)

The next day we got a phone call that they had received our things and would be taking them to the mother that day and that we would hear back within a week or so. 

We knew this wait would feel like a lifetime. 

Less than 24 hours later; at 8:00am on a Thursday morning we received the call

We heard the words "She chose you."

God had worked in our hearts when we read her story. God had moved mountains when we fell short financially. God had worked in this expectant mothers heart. God brought us all together, and we know its for such a specific reason. 

God's timing is amazing. The way God works is amazing. He may give us a scare now and then but if we continue to trust in Him and let Him continue to guide us along the path to our son we know that it will all be perfect. 

I will never tire of remembering those days leading up to our "yes." I will never tire of telling this story. I will never forget the intricate details that had to be knitted together to bring us to this mother and this baby. 

So, if you're in 'the wait' remember to stay hopeful and remember that God is writing your story too. All of the intricate details are being worked out in His perfect timing. 


Looking back - this is just one of the ways I've stood with Alex and Amy in awe of God. His perfect timing. His beautiful sovereignty. And his crazy provision. 

This was just the beginning of the story that unfolded in beautiful and miraculous ways over the next few months. Check this post for more on their sweet son's arrival and the relationship they have with his birthmother, Mason. You'll even get a chance to hear directly from Mason about her journey and her thoughts on adoption.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

about those essential oils

So we finally did it. Our family jumped on the essential oil train. 

I had heard so much about essential oils and if you want my honest initial response: I thought it was hooey. You know by know that we're far from a health conscious, natural, organic family. We use prescription medication, buy dryer sheets, and (gasp!) eat at McDonald's sometimes often. So when I first heard about essential oils I knew immediately it wasn't for our family and put it in the same category as fairy dust and unicorns.

But then I started hearing more about them, the benefits of using oils, and smart friends (who didn't believe in fairy dust) using them. To be honest, when I started I relied heavily on my intelligent friends and all of the research they did (you know how we all have those friends who read all the papers, do all the digging, and then we go to them for the Cliff notes?), it started to make sense.

I decided to learn more for myself and it was amazing what I found (less like hocus pocus and more actual scientific studies) about how essential oils have been used for thousands of years for health and wellness and even cleaning. Essential oils are simply distilled and highly concentrated plant components.  And with our skin being the largest organ of our body, applying a concentrated oil can reach body systems quickly and effectively.

So, I took the plunge and got the premium starter kit last year (because really, the kit had all of the oils I wanted, a diffuser, and was by far the best value). I decided to purchase them from Young Living because their oils some of the purest and most concentrated on the market (not like a brand you can grab from the grocery store that's watered down or has fillers).

I immediately started using them and I was surprised how quickly they became a part of our family's routine. And here's the crazy thing: we actually rely on many oils for our health and wellness around our house now. You can hear me holler at the kids to go get their oil on often and as soon as there's a hint of a stuffy nose or a ache or pain, I run straight to our cabinet where the oils are kept. 

Here's a few ways I use some of our favorites:

We love lavender for our whole crew to help with sleep. We all sleep better when we diffuse this in the bedroom or put in on the back of our neck. 
I just discovered wool laundry balls for the dryer (this paired with my homemade laundry soap now makes me a true hippie). I thought I would miss the scent of dryer sheets but I add a drop of Purification and the laundry smells glorious (and is deodorized!) and the wool balls literally cut the drying time in half. 
Peppermint and Digize do wonders for the digestive system and Digize has literally changed my life. I was suffering with issues for over a decade and have found incredible wellness through this oil. If this was the only oil I has discovered through Young Living this whole thing would be worth it. (We also love using Peppermint for an extra burst of energy and have found it helps with tension related aches.) 
I love using Frankincense and Tea Tree Oil with my facial serum for clear and smooth skin. Truly, my face has never felt so soft! (OK - maybe it felt like this when I was 10 but the appreciation was definitely not there...) 
The moment someone sniffles or complains of a sore throat, I go straight to the Thieves oil and put in on their chest and feet. I could feel the yuck coming on this past weekend and began using it immediately. Within just a few hours I felt good as new. Thieves for the win. 
And remember my broken foot last year? The one that took FOREVER and a day to heal? When I started rubbing Panaway with coconut oil on my heal daily it helped a ton with my healing and recovery.

Those are just a few of the oils we use. It's been fun to learn and discover what works for our family and empowering to think I can turn to natural products for our health and wellness. We're still learning around here, and the great thing about Young Living is there's a whole slew of people in the same boat sharing and learning together.

So, there you go. I became a hippie last year and you didn't even know it. 

And just in case you want to become a hippie too and join in the journey, you can follow these step-by-step instructions and get yourself your own starter kit:
  • Go to this Sign-Up Page
  • Please make sure you've checked Young Living wholesale member (not retail customer---you won't get wholesale prices as a customer--it's a 24% discount and I promise you're not signing up for a cult or signing up to sell anything.)
  • Double check that the Sponsor ID and Enroller ID are both showing 2341020
  • Fill out your info and make sure you include your email! I can invite you to a private FB group filled with a ton of help to get started.
  • Select your kit ($160 premium starter kit is the best value--over a $500 retail value!)
  • You can choose to sign up for Essential Rewards if you want (it means you commit to ordering $50/month and you get reduced shipping. We use this because it keeps me current on my oils, I can accrue points for free product, and it helps me try new products for our family. But you can opt out of this now or at any time.)
  • You're all set!  

Also, if you happen to be local to Kansas City, I'll be hosting a make and take Monday, November 2nd at my place. You can come learn more about the oils and even make a few things to take home. Message me if you want more info!

Friday, September 25, 2015

adoption story: bryan and jenn

A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul. 
Proverbs 13:19

Bryan and Jenn had been longing for a child. A little one to love, to care for, and to fill their home with busyness and laughter. They contacted me last year to help them on their journey and after several phone calls, they carefully considered the next steps God had for them in their journey to become parents.  They started with Christian Adoption Consultants and within a few months they had completed their home study.

The next months were full of praying over situations; expectant mothers in need of adoptive families for their little ones. And this summer, they were matched with a brave mother who chose adoption as the best for her baby.

Bryan and Jenn welcomed their son into the world on July 23rd.

We are smitten with you and so in love. It has been a journey and we have waited a long time for you. God has clearly had His hand on your life from the beginning. We adore you, our precious son.

A special thanks to The Penny Grey Photography Company for the beautiful photo.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


It's hard to ignore all the media surrounding Planned Parenthood this summer. No matter where you land in this movement, I'd venture to say the videos that have emerged are upsetting and disturbing to say the least.

This week, a new hashtag has emerged, #shoutyourabortion, encouraging women to share their positive experiences with abortion. It's heartbreaking reading each celebratory hashtag and knowing each one represents such heartache and loss.

In response, a new hashtag was born. #shoutyouradoption is being broadcasted all over social media honoring women (and men) who have bravely and courageously chose life. In a world that celebrates death and selfishness along with comfort and ease, a movement has been born celebrating selflessness and love.

Last night, my Facebook page exploded with my adoptive families proclaiming to the world that adoption is redemption. That choosing life is an amazing sacrificial gift. That littles ones are meant to be celebrated and welcomed. I walk with amazing families every day who are amazing testaments to God's grace and the fact that love makes a family.

Here's just a few of the amazing posts. Search #shoutyouradoption for yourself and celebrate life and love and see how families have stepped into the brokenness of our world and honored brave women who choose life for their little ones.

If it weren't for our incredibly brave birth mother choosing life for her baby, we wouldn't have our family. Today, I just am reflecting on how grateful we are that she blessed us with such a gift, and that she knew adoption is an option! #shoutyouradoption  - Amy

This beautiful boy is 9 months old today! There aren't words to describe the miracle he is to us! We are so in love with him and will forever be grateful for his birth mom for choosing life for him. And we will love her always for choosing us to be his parents! She made a brave, selfless, sacrificial choice! SHE. CHOSE. LIFE.#adoptionisbeautiful #shoutyouradoption  - Christa

I will forever be grateful to the woman that chose life for our daughter. Plenty of friends and family told her to "just get an abortion," and that it would be over. But she chose bravery in choosing life. She chose a future for her daughter that offered redemption. She chose to set aside her desires and choose what was best for the little girl she was carrying. She made a choice that will bless my heart for eternity. 

Tonight I'm joining in a revolution! My dear friends,#adoptionisredemption. God's plan for these babies goes further than we can even imagine! Tonight I'm joining hands with those that have been blessed by adoption and celebrating those brave women who have and will choose life! #shoutyouradoption#adoptionisbeautiful  - Amanda

While we don't have our baby in our arms yet, we pray each day for our babies birth mom. She is choosing life. She is choosing love. She is brave. She is an intricate part of our lives even in this moment. #shoutyouradoption   - Joy

Because another woman selflessly chose #life. As I look at my precious son, I am forever grateful for her sacrifice and bravery in choosing to give him a future. I love her for loving him, and I celebrate all the other women who have made the same choice. 

I'm joining many of my friends in the adoption community to #shoutyouradoption tonight. Our lives have been forever blessed by adoption and the amazing women who chose not to #shoutyourabortion#adoptionisbeautiful  - Lily

A birth mother and an adoptive mother are both mothers. So incredibly thankful for Isaac's brave and selfless birth mother who loves him fiercely and chose life for him. We love her so much and are thankful she will always be a part of our lives.  #shoutyouradoption #adoptionisbeautiful #openadoption #babyisaac  - Kennerly

I will forever be grateful for the woman who chose LIFE for this tiny miracle! God has blessed us immensely and Emery is proof that God makes beauty from ashes! There are better option than abortion and my Sirus Emerson is LIVING proof! ‪#‎shoutyouradoption‬ - Ashley

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