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

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.

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