Wednesday, March 30, 2016

adoption story: scott and amy

Today I am so honored to share Scott and Amy's story on the blog. Amy so beautifully shares her journey to motherhood. It includes an abusive marriage, remarriage, the gift of step children, and the long road she and Scott took together to become parents. After a crushing diagnosis and failed IVF and surrogacy, eventually they were led to adoption with Christian Adoption Consultants.


My story began when I was 3 years old. That’s when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. And my answer? A mommy. And that has been my dream ever since. And, most importantly, my prayer. It has never changed, never faltered. All I’ve ever wanted to be was a mommy. And now, after 37 years of hoping, wishing, and praying, I finally am. It wasn’t easy to get to where I am.  It was something I took for granted for many, many years. I thought I’d grow up, get married, and have babies. Simple as that. Until I found out that it wasn’t going to happen that way at all. That wasn’t God’s plan for me. I did grow up and got married, but the babies didn’t come. At that time we didn’t know why, but as my first marriage slowly fell apart, I knew that God had been watching out for me. It was an abusive relationship, one I simply could not stay in. I had to start over.
Soon after my divorce, my doctor diagnosed me with endometriosis. Each year, he encouraged me to get pregnant as soon as possible, because the endometriosis was getting worse. He suggested IVF since I wasn’t married, but that simply was not an option. It wasn’t part of my plan of getting married first and then having babies. Although I respect single mothers greatly, it wasn’t something I was going to embark on, on purpose. I knew that wasn’t His plan for me. I wanted a father for my children.  What I didn’t realize was that he wouldn’t come along for another 12 years.

Our story. By the time Scott and I met, my endometriosis was at stage 4. It was the worst news I ever received. Scott was my rock. He already had 2 kids, and together, we decided that that was the family we were going to have. I grew to love his kids deeply, and convinced myself that they were enough. My doctor gave us the news that I would have to have a hysterectomy to end my constant pain, and sadly, we agreed.


We were happy, and we were blessed. Our new family was doing well, but I was getting restless. I started losing sleep, developed extreme anxiety, and depression set in. That dream I’d had of being a mommy was stirring in my soul, and I pleaded with God to make it go away.  That longing was so strong. I felt guilty because I felt that my stepkids should have been enough for me. But they primarily lived with their mother, with us having them only on the weekends. Those 2 days were great, but the rest of the week I was alone, and lonely, and I started dreaming again of having a child of my own. I once again pleaded with God, to show me a way to make my dreams come true.


That was when my sister volunteered to be a surrogate for us. With my sister willing to carry the baby for me, my dreams starting coming alive again. Scott and I prayed about it, and after feeling this was God’s answer to our prayers, we embarked on a journey of IVF and surrogacy. I had my egg retrieval, 6 eggs were retrieved, and 5 eggs were fertilized. By day 2, one embryo had been misplaced by the lab, but the other 4 were thriving. Day 3—the lab called and said that 2 embryos stopped growing. Day 4—they called again and said we lost another one. Day 5—the last embryo died as well. We were devastated. We didn’t know if we had the strength to try again, but my sister encouraged us to try one last time. But, it wasn’t to be. My sister fell ill, and wasn’t going to be able to carry our baby after all. This was it. It was over. A biological child wasn’t going to happen for us.

We prayed for God to ease our pain, our suffering. We prayed and prayed and then felt one last urging from the Lord to not give up. Deep in my soul, I felt God calling us to adopt, but I knew our finances were drained from the IVF, so I kept it to myself. God however, had other plans. One day Scott completely surprised me by saying that he thought we should adopt! I agreed whole-heartedly, but was worried about our financial situation. Would we be able to afford it? We decided that if this was God’s plan for us, then He would provide. And He did. It was a few months prior that Scott retired from the US Air Force, and as a veteran, he was to receive extra income each month for injuries sustained during his years in the service. This was enough.  God had provided.


Our adoption journey has been a bumpy road. We began our home study process and got that rolling. Then we signed up with a consultant group that we had been referred to by a friend. Everything was going ok with them, until we felt God telling us not to present to a certain expectant mom. There were many red flags with this one, but our consultant thought we should present anyway. Following God’s lead, we declined to present, and our consultant soon afterward told us that her group could not work with us anymore if we were not going to present to every situation they gave us.  So, we were back to square one. We needed to find a new consultant.  And BAM!  God dropped CAC into our laps and Susan was available to be our consultant. This was very reassuring to us. We knew we had found the right organization and person to help us through this adoption journey at last.

We applied to a few agencies and started seeing situations from Susan right away, but none of them seemed right for us. And then it happened. Scott lost his job. We had to put on adoption on hold in order to conserve funds in case he didn’t find a new one right away. And he didn’t. It was 4 months of agony waiting for a new position and waiting to pick up our adoption journey. Then finally, he was given a great position and we could start the adoption process again.  


Shortly thereafter, we received a situation that was perfect for us. We were over the moon excited and nervous wrecks. We presented and had to wait a week before hearing back from the agency. The expectant mom had chosen a different family. We were devastated. My heart was broken, as I was sure that this was our baby. But God had other plans and soon after we applied to some new agencies. Then we got a situation from Susan. A good one. Could this be it? We presented to this situation too, but were not selected for this one either.

Then it happened. One of the new agencies we had just applied with, called. They had a perfect situation for us. They hadn’t even gotten all the way through our application yet, but the baby was going to be half Filipino, and Scott is half Filipino, so they wanted us to look over the situation and let them know right away if we wanted to present. We reviewed it, and it was perfect. We presented 2 days later, and this time, expectant mom chose us!

God is so good, friends. To God be the glory! But the excitement was short-lived. After only a week, our expectant mom changed her mind. We were devastated. It was hard. But we put our trust in God, and started presenting again after a short while.We presented 3 more times and got 3 more no’s. Then, we got another yes! I’d love to say we were over the moon, but fear of another failed adoption was very real. Still, we held out hope that this was the one, the baby God intended for us.  And, she was.


Isabella Grace was born on March 5, 2016 at 4:14 pm, weighing 7lbs 7oz and 20 in long. And she is perfect! This is such a miracle friends, and has God written all over it. There is no better way to describe it. She is a gift from God, hand selected by Him just for us. We couldn’t have written this story…no, God wrote every word of it. Have faith, and you shall receive.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

adoption story: phillip and colleen


If you've followed this blog, you know there are dozens and dozens of adoption stories. Stories I've recounted  (a quick count is over 150 so far). But my favorites are the one's when an adoptive mama shares in her own words their path to adoption. Today Colleen shares the faith it took for them to start, the patience it took for them to continue, and the joy it brought when God answered their prayers.

I have been trying to sit down and our story about this past month for several days now. Each time I thought about writing, I just did not know where to begin. I guess I was still processing and adjusting to all that has been going on. Here is a little bit of what has been on my mind as of late...


In September of 2014, Phillip and I made a phone call that would change our lives as we knew it. After heavy discussion and prayer, we decided to take a leap of faith and pursue adoption; 16 months later, this is God's answer to those prayers.

First and foremost, I want to publicly and unashamedly give ALL the glory and praise to the one true God for this little life! He orchestrated every detail of this adoption journey and looking back, I can see that more clearly than I ever could before!

Now, I know there are some of you out there that would say to me..."Colleen, that's great and all, but I just don't believe in God." I would say to you, let me tell you the story of Adeline and how she came to be in our family. Let me share the details with you (it's too much to do here). Let me share with you how the timing was unbelievably perfect and how her sweet birth mother had the strength and courage to do what she did. Let me tell you what was said, and events that took place. There is no other explanation but GOD!

I have been an emotional wreck for a couple of weeks now; I have experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God these past months and not just in receiving this baby, but in the lessons learned along the way. Having to trust, having to be patient, having to be without fear and worry are hard things to overcome. Did I do that perfectly? No, but by God's grace He gave me the ability to do each of those when I needed to, which in turn, only enhanced my worship of Him! His presence was felt and known by both Phillip and myself. We even saw glimpses of His work through interaction with Adeline's birth parents. I often found myself saying "this just doesn't happen naturally." 

I also fell more in love with my husband over the past month! He is absolutely the man I need to walk this life with! It's difficult to describe how much of a blessing He was to me during the trying time we had at the end of this journey. All the emotion, traveling, lack of sleep, and new responsibilities wore me down and I ended up getting sick the day we brought her home with us. Phillip stepped up and took on 90% of daily life that first week so I could rest. He stayed up for late feedings, ran errands, made sure we were fed and had everything we needed. He was and is my rock. I am eternally grateful for this man! We spent 9 days in Nevada by ourselves before bringing Adeline home to Georgia. We only had each other. That was one of the toughest weeks of our life, but also one of great joy at the same time. God used that time to bring us closer together as a couple and as a family!


As I wrap our story with my sweet little daughter wrapped to my chest, I want to share one final thought with you all. Many people told me that adoption is beautiful in that it represents the gospel. It is a tangible picture of how God adopts undeserving, sinful and selfish people into His family. Adoption is that and I know first hand the love I immediately felt for this child when she was placed into my arms. I get a glimpse of the love my Jesus has for me as His child and a member of His family. What I did not expect is the love that I have for her birth parents, especially Adeline's birth mother. Despite what choices she makes, or how she lives her life, I have been given an undeniable love and heart for her! I have been given another glimpse of how God could love an undeserving and selfish sinner such as I, despite how many times I fall and fail! What an awesome God we have!

If you are interested to hear the details of Adeline's story, I'd love to grab coffee and fill you in on the tiny details that point back to the amazing God I serve! If you are interested in adoption, come talk to us. We can help point you in the direction to get started. And do not let finances be your excuse... Let me be cliche for a sec - If there is a will, there is a way! What a testimony to God's goodness our adoption it has been.

Was adoption easy? Heck no! But was it worth it? absolutely!


To connect with Colleen or to see follow more of their story, you can read their blog over at Expecting the Unexpected.


Monday, March 21, 2016

adoption story: tyler and kate

So often when you're in the middle of your story, it doesn't make sense. It's only when you're at the end that the twists and turns begin to come together and you can see God's goodness and faithfulness throughout the whole journey. 


That's what happened to Tyler and Kate. They started with Christian Adoption Consultants last July and were matched less than two months later. But things unraveled in October and their match failed. Tyler and Kate were heartbroken and struggled understanding God's plan for their adoption.

But just a few months later, they know exactly why that baby wasn't meant to be theirs. There was a little boy born on a Monday and the birth mother wanted to make an adoption plan. They learned about him the next morning and were chosen to be his parents that night. By Wednesday they met their son.

Our failure in October was so hard for us and at the time it didn't make sense....but now holding Luke just three and a half months later, God's plan panned out perfectly and we know why that little baby didn't come home with us last fall.


All along, this was the son God had for them. 




Thursday, March 17, 2016

adoption story: jason and crystal

Our plans for the future are simple: we want to make many happy memories as a family and enjoy the blessings we’re given every day.


These were Jason and Crystal's words written to the expectant mothers who would read their story in their profile book when choosing a family to raise their little one. They wrote them back in September after they started with Christian Adoption Consultants.

In November, just before Thanksgiving, a young mother read those words and chose Jason and Crystal to raise her son. And that choice began a relationship between an expectant mama and the couple she chose. They would go to doctor's appointments and ultrasounds together.

And in February, they welcomed their son into the world.


This sweet boy joined their family and I'm sure he will be a huge part to their dreams for happy memories and daily blessings...


Photo credit Tara Hailey Photography

Monday, March 14, 2016

adoption story: david and lisa

From the very beginning of our marriage, we were believing in God to form and complete our family...


David and Lisa started with Christian Adoption Consultants last June. By the end of August their home study was complete and in January they were matched with an expectant mom. The next few weeks were full of expectation, unknowns, and even heartbreak when they realized their adoption might not happen. But their belief that God had good plans for their family proved true.

As the years passed with various health issues it seemed harder to trust that there even was a plan for our family to expand, maybe we had misunderstood the desire God had placed in our hearts. Now obvious to us, our hearts and eyes were opened to the idea of adoption, the most obvious to us was that God had provided support to help us pursue this avenue for our family. Moving forward we completed our home study and were ready to put our hearts in a vulnerable place again as we knew if we were able to expand our family, it would be worth it all.  

After applying to multiple agencies, we felt led to apply to another one that we hadn’t considered initially. We appreciated the phone consultation they required, it felt like they were interested in who we are instead of just what our profile book said. Months later after being presented and not chosen several times, we were contacted by this agency informing us on an opportunity. The expectant mom had not received any prenatal care, so we were unaware of the condition of health and gender when requesting to be presented. Like any pregnancy or adoption we were believing that God had his hand upon this little baby and if there was a concern that he would provide the resources for us to provide the best care possible. We received word that the expectant mom had accepted us to be the baby’s parents. We were so excited, but to be honest we were still cautious with our hearts, there was so much unknown, even the due date was a speculated date. About two weeks later, the agency let us know they had tried every means possible to reach the birth mother and were unsuccessful. Our hearts dropped as we didn’t know how things were going to turn out.  


Just after the weekend we were losing hope on Monday morning as I was headed out the door to work, my husband received a phone call. He proceeded to frantically wave for me to come back in the house. When he hung up the phone, he told me it was the agency calling to say, “it’s a boy,” the baby was born last night and the birth mother is going through with her adoption plan. We frantically made all of our arrangements to get to the hospital to see him as soon as we could. All of the months of planning for any adoption situation and travel check lists at this point couldn’t prepare me enough for this surreal moment. We arrived to meet our son at the hospital and we were instantly in love.  All the different names we had come up with, when we looked at him, he was definitely our Franklin Michael. All of the background checks, references, etc. all made sense for this moment alone, because with no hesitation they handed him to us and the rest is history.  


We are so honored that God would allow us to love and care for Franklin. He has brought so much joy to our lives already, it’s hard to even describe. His arrival also restored hope to some of our friends on the same journey trying to grow their families. When we arrived home there was almost an entire room filled with boxes of gifts for baby Franklin. We were overwhelmed by the love and support of our family and friends. Franklin is the first grandchild on one side of the family and the first grandson on the other. We love the different expressions Franklin randomly gives on his face, we are looking forward to seeing his little personality form. We are going to have so much fun living life with this little one God has blessed us with.  


God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working with us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Ephesians 3:20-21, The Message)


Special thanks to Meg White Photography for some of the beautiful pictures.



Saturday, March 12, 2016

adoption story: loren and natalie

You've met Natalie here before when she shared her thoughts about adoption and pregnancy. But last fall even Natalie was unprepared for the great adventure God would call them to.  Loren and Natalie had a crazy adoption journey. Heartbreak, infertility, loss, surprise pregnancy, and an unexpected move to a new state all in a matter of months. And then God asked them to step into what looked like an impossible situation with a little guy who needed a family. Read as Natalie shares what became the beginning of their family's story...

We knew that adoption would be a part of the story God had for us, since before marriage - it was one of those non-negotiables we both had for our marriage and future family. Since our first paychecks together as the Brenner Family, we set aside whatever we could in small savings account praying it would grow and help fund an adoption someday. When? We didn't know. Our "plan" was to start our family biologically and then begin the adoption process by year five of our marriage. Even while trying to conceive those first few years, we sought out and met with a local pregnancy counselor who talked very highly of open adoption and we were freaked out.  The idea of "someone else" coming in and disturbing our little life and family, post adoption, sounded uncomfortable and weird. 


After a few failed minor fertility treatments, we decided to look into what it would look like to begin our pursuit of adoption earlier rather than later. In January of 2015 we scoured the internet about various avenues of adoption and were overwhelmed. The legal inner-workings, home studies, and family/heart preparation seemed like so much. Natalie was antsy and excited, Loren needed time to process. We stumbled upon Christian Adoption Consultants, specifically Susan's blog, and loved how personal she was as well as how great of a reputation CAC had. We emailed Susan asking her all sorts of questions, feeling ignorant and lost, but also feeling the stir of adoption in our hearts more than ever. Natalie remembers very vividly reading the countless stories on Susan's site and thinking, "I want to be on here. I want a story bigger than us. I want God to move wildly and I want to read our story on A Grace-Filled Mess."


About a month later we discovered a positive pregnancy test! What. Due in November. We decided to let Susan know that we were going to wait on starting with CAC until about August, "so our kid's age will be spread out." This makes us giggle now. We lost that baby. The following days, weeks, and months were of our darkest hour and very pain-filled. But, in May, God laid it heavily on our hearts that IT WAS TIME. Both of our hearts were still broken and hurting over our loss, but we could not ignore His very real ask of us to begin the pursuit again. We also had this conversation: "If we find ourselves pregnant again, we will keep on trucking in this adoption journey. Who knows, maybe we will be blessed with two."


We hired Susan May 11, emptying our adoption savings account, trusting that God would somehow provide the tens of thousands of dollars that we would need to complete a US Domestic agency adoption. We did a lot of different fundraisers and raised/saved about $13,000 in the first 8 months. Our home study took what seemed years, though we did our part very quickly. We were finally home study approved in September 2015. Three days after our final home study visit, those two pink lines (positive pregnancy test) made their grand appearance once again. To say there were a lot of emotions is an understatement. Both of us agreed that day: yes, we both feel we are to move forward with our adoption as well.

At signing with CAC, we agreed that we were open to a closed or semi-open adoption. The semi-open part was scary for us, but we were willing to see what that may look like. Over the course of the next few months, God really changed our hearts. Through research and story hearing and other adoptive families, we realized that a closed adoption was not what we wanted. We desired a more open adoption.

We saw many situations of expectant mamas and said "yes" to presenting to many of them, all (except one) returning us with a "no." The end of 2015 was filled with a lot of transition - we moved cities, changed careers, and Natalie was experiencing the beauty of morning sickness, all day every day. Wednesday, January 6 we saw a posting on our agency's site of a "HEALTHY BABY BOY born today at 7 am!" Our hearts leapt, but the fees were much higher than what we had in the bank. We didn't present. Natalie was 20 weeks pregnant and knew in her gut that their other baby was near. Later that evening, the agency worker ("E") called us and asked us to present to this Birth Mom who had given birth already. We explained that the fees were too high, there is no way we could come up with those funds within two days. We ended the evening around 11 pm letting "E" know that I would make phone calls in the morning to see about finding any funds somehow. We did not sleep that night. Natalie was up all night feeling like a wreck: Is this our son and were we denying him? What if we choose to present and God doesn't come through financially? What if He makes us to be fools and we have to hand this precious boy back who already has our hearts? The numbers seem impossible, much more than we had already saved plus all of the travel fees.


Thursday rolled around. Phone calls were made. Loren was at work. Before work, we looked each other in the eyes and agreed: this is scary; this seems impossible; but we need each other out here in the deep waters of the unknown; we need to be together and in unison and we need faith bigger than we have ever had. Natalie got a third call from "E" asking if we would present and for a third time, she declined. This precious Birth Mama, waiting for an adoptive family, had looked through 9 profiles and felt zero connections to anyone. "E" from the agency knew that we had a good chance of being chosen. Around 3:30 pm Natalie asked "E" if she would present us as, "This couple doesn't know if they can swing this financially...but if they could, would you choose them?" We were told that the moment this little boy's birth mama saw our photos, her entire demeanor changed and she said, "Yes! This is the family I have been looking for!" and "E" said, "There is one more thing...Natalie is 20 weeks pregnant and it is okay if that changes your mind." But this is what solidified her decision even more: a sibling close in age for her son. 

When we got the call that we were matched, our mama and daddy instincts kicked in and we knew we had to find these funds. This was the scary part. But we can tell you that over the next week, God faithfully provided every last penny - we are talking tens of thousands of dollars. Friends and family members bought our plane tickets, rental cars, and even sent us Starbucks and Target cards. People we have never heard of in places we have never been to joined us and gave in support of bringing home our little Sage. To say our minds were blown is an understatement.


Now we hold this precious boy in our hearts, home, and arms and we cannot imagine life without him. He is our sweet little man. In about ten weeks he will be a "big" brother! We give all credit to Jesus, who is the greatest Author and perfecter and provider. We could go on and on, so hop on over to our blog:www.nataliebrennerwrites.com

And Susan: we could not have done this without you either!


Looking back over the last year is surreal. We counted back the months from Sage's due date (February 2) and it was exactly 9 months prior that God had put it heavily on our hearts that it was time to begin the journey of adoption, even though our hearts were hurting and very honestly grieving the loss of our first conceived child. To us, it is beautiful that God does things like this. We then prayed daily for Sage and his Birth Mama, whom we love and cherish. God is a big, big, good good Father.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

adoption story: jim and denise

Jim and Denise went into domestic adoption with their eyes wide open. They knew the risks that come with adoption. They had adopted their daughter from Russia several years ago and knew the perseverance, faith, and patience that come with the process. But they had other fears stepping into domestic adoption...would an expectant mother choose them? Would their age and the fact that they already had a child impact her decision? What about the risks of a failed adoption? Would they be able to handle all of the complexities of these issues and others? It turns out some of their greatest fears were realized. But also some of their greatest dreams. Today Denise shares their story and the amazing ways God was faithful in their second adoption...

We completed our adoption of our first daughter from Russia in October, 2010. Honestly, we both felt emotionally bruised from the experience. We were adopting during the time when another adoptive mom sent her son back to Moscow and became and international issue. The process was long and hard.  



We both felt the call to adopt again...but fear got in our way. From the time Maria could speak, she prayed for a sibling. She was so persevering.  

We no longer felt the call to adopt internationally, but did we have what it took emotionally to adopt domestically? The emotional risk to a failed adoption we both felt was just too much. And yet, the call to grow our family remained.  

So after 4 years, we decided to start the domestic adoption process with Christian Adoption Consultants and we contacted Susan...She held our hand through all of the fears we had, and we set off. When our Lord gives us a call, he tells us “Put out into the deep water and put your nets down for a catch.(Luke 5:4)” And despite the fear of having to emotionally ‘toil all night,' just like Peter did, we obeyed and let down our nets. We were allowing ourself to be open to the fear of all that comes with the adoption process.  

And the unthinkable happened, we had a failed adoption... The pain we both felt, the loss of the relationship with the expectant mom, the wonder of how the baby was fairing, was immense. We were bewildered and wondered, had we heard the call correctly?

We allowed ourselves a lot of time to ‘just be’ after our adoption loss. We both needed time to grieve and process what happened.  

Ultimately, God showed us his answer - to persevere. Despite the fear. Despite the risk. Despite the toil and emotional risk. We clung to his words, “Do not be afraid.”

Then, at the end of September, we heard about a beautiful woman who was making a plan for her son. We were worried, “were we too old?” We already had one daughter. Would we be left unchosen yet again? We heard our ‘yes’ the first week of October. And she chose us precisely because we were older and we had another child already!  


Then began the great opportunity to love this lovely, brave woman. We had a chance to love her in the purest way possible. We didn’t know a whole lot about her past- which was deeply troubled. We just saw her as a beautiful woman, who needed compassion and encouragement. We poured our prayers and our support into her!  We visited with her in her state on two occasions and spoke with her weekly by phone. It all came very naturally because she was just so lovable. We chose his name together. James would be his middle name and was deeply significant to both of us. It was a very special moment.  

Our sweet boy was due in mid January, but surprised us by coming six weeks early. We had decided not to share our match with anyone- so our families were pleasantly surprised by our early Christmas present!


The time in the hospital was absolutely full of joy but also grief. We grieved so very much for this dear woman who gave us the gift of a son. I can’t imagine the amount of courage this took. We grieved for her because of her brokenness. She began to pull away in an attempt to protect herself. We poured our love out to her.  In those last moments together, we promised our forever love to her and to her son. We heard from her for about a week after Adam was born and sadly, she has been quiet since then.  

Our hearts miss her presence, but we understand. We pray for her every single day. We pray for specifically her health and healing. Our love continues to grow for her as our sweet son has her beautiful features. And her wide, beautiful smile. We pray for specifically her health and healing. And hope someday for her to be able to see the son we share.  


A few details on God’s fidelity in the little things. Adam was discharged from the hospital on the Monday before Christmas. The agency told us to not expect to be home before New Year’s. Well, ha! We were cleared to return to our home state the day before Christmas Eve. We made it home for Christmas to celebrate as a family of four! Trust in our Lord’s dealing of all of the practical details of adoption - He does not disappoint.  


Adoption is messy and risky. But it is so worth being faithful to God’s call.  It is okay to be older, or overweight, or whatever... This is part of the story he knits together. And now, we have our son. We could not be more in love!


Monday, March 7, 2016

adoption story: aaron and elyse

Aaron and Elyse called me last October after adoption had been on their hearts for years. Elyse had a friend that had worked with Christian Adoption Consultants as well and connected us. Three months later their son was born. You'll love listening to Elyse and Aaron's deep faith in God, commitment to their family, and deep love for their son's birth mother as Elyse shares their story...

Our adoption journey started when Aaron and I got married eight years ago. We both knew that adoption was a real option for us, but our path was a little different than most. We were fortunate to have two wonderful biological sons for whom we are so grateful, but my second pregnancy was pretty rocky with some health problems and we became very scared about the risks of another pregnancy. Last spring when we started talking about growing our family again, the idea of adoption started creeping up slowly into conversation. Aaron and I both have learned through experience that guidance from God comes not as a loud voice or writing on the wall, but as a quiet persistent whisper that just won’t go away. For us, adoption was that whisper that grew louder and louder over the summer, until finally last October we couldn’t ignore it anymore. We felt an urgency that we were being called to something and we weren’t sure what or when. We joined Susan with CAC and were home study approved about 8 weeks later and started applying to agencies. Only later did we find out that last spring, as the quiet whispers were building in our hearts, our child was being conceived four states away.


All through the process, we worried and stressed over the question: “Who would choose a family with two young children already?” On hard days, we doubted that we would ever match, and on good days we planned on needing to renew our home study next fall when our boys were a little older. We saw many situations and applied to a few without success. Then one night I got an email about a stork drop of a healthy baby boy. At the time, we knew even less about him and his birth mother than we usually do, but we felt strongly that this was our baby. We pulled our application together and sent it in right away. Two mornings later, I washed up our newborn clothes because of that still, quiet whisper. That afternoon, we got a call that his birth mother picked us! What undeserved grace we received that day. We were amazed and humbled.


The next 24 hours saw a frenzy of packing (or “throwing anything clean in a suitcase”), phone calls to Aaron’s co-workers, web searches for hotels, and an overnight drive to Florida. In that time, we saw God at work through seemingly endless series of grace events. My father was able to drop everything and drive 6 hours to our house so he could help with the boys in the hotel. We stumbled upon the perfect extended-stay hotel that had plenty of space and not only free breakfast, but free laundry too! Aaron called a random branch of our bank in Jacksonville and when he walked in the next day, he was greeted by the same ladies he spoke to on the phone who said “We’ve been waiting on you! We have all your paperwork set aside right here” - a process that usually takes 2 days was done in 10 minutes. Our ICPC was granted in 6 days for Florida and a matter of only hours for our home state, and we were able to come home earlier than expected. What amazing grace, so humbling and undeserved.

The greatest grace came in meeting Christopher’s birth mother. We had nervously spoken to her on the phone that night before we left home. She was shy with a gentleness to her voice, and had only a few questions for us. After placement, we met with her twice more - the first at the attorney’s office, and then at a Panera Bread on the day we left for home. We weren’t sure what to expect from an open adoption, but now we know forming this relationship is one of the greatest parts of the process. Christopher’s birth mother is a strong, courageous, hard-working woman with a level head and a kind demeanor. She took care of Christopher while he was in the hospital and her love for him was evident in her expressions and her actions as she held him both days. After each interaction, the feeling I kept having was “of course this is the woman I will be forever bonded to.” It just seemed right. The relationship we have maintained with her through texting and photos since that time has strengthened all of us, thus strengthening Christopher as well.


We will be forever grateful for the decision of love she made all those weeks ago. We will never be able to thank all the people placed in our lives at the right moments - Susan and CAC, the friend who had recently adopted and became a mountain of inspiration, family who stepped up to help us, the friends who brought meals and a hug on tired days, everyone who said a prayer for us - there are so many we cannot count. We will probably never understand why God chose this child for us, but we are so glad He did, and that is our story of grace.

Welcome to the world, Christopher Alexander…we’re so blessed to be your parents.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

adoption story: pete and sarah

Pete and Sarah adopted their son four years ago. When they decided they were ready to adopt again, they had no idea how their story would end. Read Sarah's account of how their family grew from three to four...


Our journey with Christian Adoption Consultants started in August of 2015, we had been working with our local adoption agency for 2 years without showing our profile once. I talked to Susan in August and instantly felt a peace and knew we should sign up with CAC.  

After our profile books were made, we thought we would be presenting to expectant moms right away but we never saw one that caught our eye.  At the end of November I read a profile and wanted to present but my husband just wasn’t on board. We prayed about it and decided to pass.

Well, the day we could have presented to that expectant mom (December 3rd), I kept thinking maybe we should have…then I got the text that would change everything.  Through the text we discovered that our son's birthmother was pregnant again...and looking to make an adoption plan! We knew immediately that we would love nothing more than to adopt this baby who was biologically related to our son. The next few hours were spent nailing down details, getting more information, and beginning to fundraise.

I talked to our birth mother and she was so excited that we were open to parenting this baby as well. Calling her was easy as I knew her. She sounded much more mature than when we met her four years ago and seemed to be trying to do better with her life. We talked for over an hour and mainly talked about our son.
     
On New Year's Eve our little princess was born! Nothing could have prepared us for when we walked into the NICU to meet our little girl for the first time. I just feel in love with her the moment I saw her and I knew God had big plans for her. I was able to hold her; it was wonderful and everything I had prayed for!  


During this process, there were plenty of hurdles to climb; birth father issues, paperwork mix ups, and a NICU stay. Even though this adoption journey for us was high stress and had every obstacle thrown at us, we know God had it all planned out ahead of time that this little girl would be ours. Never in a million years did we think we would have the opportunity to adopt Lane’s sibling; it just goes to tell you God has it all covered. The devil can throw everything at you, but you need to stand firm and try with all your heart to have the faith to believe everything happens for a reason. We believe God has big things planned for our tiny little princess and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for her life.  




Friday, March 4, 2016

night at the museum

For the past four years, I've been a part of the mamas that come together to organize, plan, and pull off Whitefield's Annual Daddy Daughter Dance.


This year we headed to The Museum at PrairieFire for a Night at the Museum. With the beautiful stained glass walls and a dinosaur in the hall, it made for a fantastic venue.

We invited everyone to dress up as historical characters and the dads really embraced it. We had Leonardo DaVinci and the Mona Lisa, the entire Flintstone family (complete with Dino), and I can't even tell you how many Abe and Mary Todd Lincolns.

Here's my Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot, Frank Hawks on their way to dinner before the dance.


Admittedly, planning the dance each year is almost as fun as throwing the party. This was my crew. We dream and plan and work all year to pull off memories for daddies and their girls on one big night. These ladies know how to party and we make a great team. Next year I might not make them wear costumes...


The night was filled with lots of dancing (including an ape and a dinosaur), daddies becoming mummies, an Egyptian dance off, streamers, and at one point all of the Abraham Lincolns doing the Chicken Dance.


But the real pay off is always watching daddies making sweet memories with their daughters. All the work leading up the the evening is worth it watching Isabelle and Jamy dance the night away, laughing and spinning on the dance floor.


Another amazing evening in the books!


Want a peek at previous years? 

There was a Hoedown complete with cowboy boots and line dancing (pre-blogging days)
There was the Sock Hop and the dance that almost didn't happen
Then the Beach Ball complete with surfboards and "Frankie and Annette"
And last year we had a Masquerade Ball that ended unexpectedly (and almost tragically)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

podcast: domestic adoption myths and realities

Today I'm over at A Mom's Mission Field Podcast talking about adoption. One of my adoptive mamas, Tiffany had me as a guest on her podcast to talk about all things adoption, specifically the most common questions regarding private domestic adoptions, common myths, and what to really expect.


If you know anything about me, you know I would much rather chat with you face to face over coffee than over the internet and have it recorded. But in case you have time, grab a good mug of your favorite hot drink and take a listen as Tiffany and I chat...


Tiffany releases new episodes every Tuesday, so if you want to make sure you don't miss one, subscribe to A Mom's Mission Field Podcast on iTunes. You can also find her on Stitcher if you have an Android device.

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