Monday, January 21, 2013

in her own words: an adoptive mama shares her journey


Joshua and Shayla consulted with me last year and have an incredible story to share. They began in October of 2011 and their sweet baby was born last March just a few months later.  Many of the families I work with are referred by a previous client. This was the case with Joshua and Shayla who are dear friends of Scott and Elizabeth. I was honored to walk a part of their journey with them and am privileged to share their story here today. Here's Shayla's story in her own words...

It took years of loss to get us to the place we are today. Our journey to take this family picture has been one of great heartache and great joy. This picture was never one I could have dreamed of...

Joshua and Shayla with their kids: JT, Emmersan, Zola, and Piper
(Devine, currently in Nigera not pictured)

Our journey to grow our family took a sudden and unexpected turn in July of 2009 when I was four months pregnant. At a routine OB appointment we found our our baby had no heartbeat. Three months later we were pregnant again and the same four month appointment we again found there was no heartbeat.  As you can imagine, we were devastated.

At that point, I was done trying to have biological children. I had gone through every test possible and everything seemed to be fine, but I wasn't going to take the pain of losing another baby. It was such a lonely pain. While most of my friends were complaining of their babies getting colds or not sleeping through the night, I was just begging God to bring me a LIVING child. I was taunted by words of well-meaning friends saying it “just wasn't God’s timing,” or “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” (Those words were completely uncomforting so please don’t say them to anyone…ever.) 

We started looking into adoption and soon felt God's clear leading to grow our family this way. After many phone calls to large agencies, I was discouraged. I was told it could take at least 2 years to adopt, yet I kept hearing there we so many babies that needed homes. Where were all of these babies? I couldn't wrap my head around waiting in line with dozens of well-meaning, good Christian families basically “fighting” for the same babies. 

We felt a calling to look into adopting an orphan internationally. We became aware of a 4 year old girl named Devine in an orphanage in Nigeria and began to pursue a private adoption with her.  We knew it would be a long and uphill battle, but we knew in our hearts she was our daughter.  

We still felt called to adopt domestically so we continued that process as well. One day I heard about the great need for families to adopt minority children and it broke my heart. At that moment I knew we were going to adopt an African-American baby.  

At the same time, my wonderful sister-in-law offered to be a surrogate and carry a baby for us. But we had no idea if this would be successful. By this time we were tempering our hopes of having a larger family with the realities of loss and the faith that God would write our story the way He wanted.

It was very difficult trying to call and find agencies all on my own. I would spend hours on the internet and blindly calling agencies. Oftentimes I would hang up in tears because I just felt like a number when I would call. Since we didn't know how to choose a quality agency and had no professional giving us wise counsel, during this time were matched three times and had three adoptions fall through.

In the waiting period, we unexpectedly got pregnant again and lost another baby at that fateful four month mark. I didn't know if the surrogacy would work, our business was hurting, our adoptions had failed, some of my family didn't support us adopting an older child from Africa, and I had lost three babies. I had hit a low point and didn't feel we had a clear direction for our domestic adoption.

In the midst of all of this, I met a friend that was adopting and was working with Susan. I decided to enlist Susan’s help as well.  She taught me about the multi-agency approach and I began filling my days applying to numerous agencies instead of just waiting on one. She would also send me situations of babies needing  a family and educated us on the process of adoption. Most of all, she was a friend. I called her one night bawling; struggling with the emotions of all we had been through. I was just having a meltdown and I don’t even remember what all I said. It was THAT bad. Susan comforted me and listened. She was there for me and encouraged me. She never judged me for that night and she never brought it up again.  


About a month later, I got a phone call that would change my life. We were told of a little girl born in Florida: 4 pounds, 13 oz. and beautiful. She was our daughter. She didn't look like me, or my husband, or my two older biological children; however the experience of adding her to our lives was just as exciting as it was delivering my birth children. My heart melted the second I met her. Today, Zola is a perfectly happy, healthy, and a crazy-energetic 10 month old!  


Just six months after that, I was blessed with another daughter, Piper, via my sister-in-law through surrogacy. And as I write, my husband is in Nigeria trying to bring Devine home. It’s been a rough road but we anticipate her finally being able to come home to join the rest of the family soon.  


We lost three sweet babies to Heaven in the last three years. And God, in His goodness, has blessed us with three sweet children in less that a year. Our story isn't over yet. I will never be the same person I was before I endured all of my losses. I have been sweetly broken. There are two things I've learned through this heartbreaking and incredible journey. God is still good even in the midst of crisis, when I felt my world was falling apart.  And I'm so glad our heartache led us to adoption.  


I encourage you to open your heart to a child that maybe you never thought would fit into your family, because every child deserves a mommy and a daddy.  

Shayla

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