Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Adoption Story: Ryan and Nancy

Ryan and Nancy's adoption story reads a lot like a novel. There were plot twists, unexpected characters, and surprise conflicts. 

Read all the way to the end, theirs is a story worthy to tell.
It seems like this has been an extremely long journey for us. While three years isn’t so long in the entirety of life, we have been through a lot in the three years we have been on our adoption journey. God has taught us so many things along the way but I think the most consistent message has been to wait for the Lord and trust in His timing. 
Everything started out moving very quickly. One thing I didn’t anticipate when Ryan and I realized that the Lord was calling us to adopt, was the immense amount of paperwork that would have to be completed. But, I was able to work consistently and diligently for 2-3 weeks and get everything completed. We then waited a month or so before we had our first home study visit and within the same week that we were home study approved, we received the life changing news that we had been matched. 
Our first match was with the very first expectant mother to whom we were ever presented. We were on cloud nine and our baby was expected to be due about two months from the time we were matched. We immediately started preparing our hearts and our home for the baby we longed for so desperately. 
The relationship that I, in particular, had with the first woman we were matched with was extremely open. She and I texted back and forth all day everyday, we talked on the phone several times a week, and when we were told that she was having contractions we got in the car, drove to her apartment and spent the weekend with her.
Unfortunately, the match failed and, as it turns out, the woman we were matched with was never actually pregnant. It was an extremely traumatic time for us. While we were matched with her, I felt like everything was falling into place just right and I thought it was a sign that this was right where God wanted us to be. Looking back now I can see all the red flags. I do believe that was an experience that we needed to have, I don’t know why yet but I know it was not for nothing. 
We prayed and prayed and knew that God intended to use adoption to not just grow our family, but to continue to impact our lives. So, when our hearts were ready, we let go of all of our fears and began presenting to expectant moms again. And right in the midst of this I found out we were pregnant! This time we presented to a few women before we received the news that we had been matched again.  This match was a little longer. The baby was due four months from the time we were matched. We had an open relationship with our second expectant mother as well but she was not near as communicative. She and I texted once or twice a week and we talked on the phone once a month or so. Ryan and I took a trip out to meet her and then right before her due date, we went back to her home town in hopes to spend some more time with her in the days before the baby was due. 
That is when I started to get nervous. She was responding to all of my texts but was not willing to see us. We spent ten days away from home before receiving the news that the expctant mom we were matched with had delivered her baby girl and had chosen to parent. Shoved right back into the depths of complete sadness and despair and hopelessness, we began our ten hour drive home with an empty car seat buckled in the back. The devastation was overwhelming. But, again we laid our feelings at the feet of our Lord and allowed Him to heal our hearts. 
A few months later I delivered a biological daughter and we spent the next year focussing on her. So excited to finally be parents and soaking up every bit of our little girl that we could. We always knew that our adoption journey wasn’t over but we needed to take a time out and enjoy finally being parents. 
Right around our daughter’s first birthday, we decided that we were ready to get back into the adoption process. She was young enough that we were prepared to wait for a situation that seemed just right for us. We felt we could only consider short term matches in an effort to guard our hearts so we knew it might take a little while. 
We reviewed and prayed about many expectant moms. We presented to a few but none were the right fit for us. Then, I received an email about a woman who was pregnant but not due for five months. As I always did, I read through her information and prayed over her and her baby. This woman was everything we could have ever hoped for in a birth mom, but since she wasn’t due for so long, I decided this wasn’t the right situation for us. I did continue to think about her throughout that day so I sent the email about her to Ryan. He and I talked and prayed about this situation extensively but ended up decided that we couldn’t handle being vulnerable to another birth mom for such a long time. 
Two weeks later I received another email about the same birth mom saying that they hadn’t found a match for this woman yet and were still looking for a potential adoptive family for her child. 

Hello God! 
Is that you? 
Tapping me on the shoulder saying ... Hey you dummies! 
Get it together! 
This is your baby! 

We talked about her again, contacted Susan and talked through our concerns with her, talked to the case worker who was working with this expectant mom and eventually decided that we wanted to present and hopefully be matched with this mom. A few days later we received the news that we had been chosen. This was going to be our baby. Praise God!

And then, another major development. Three days after we were matched, I found out that I was pregnant again. Due four months after our birth mom. For Ryan and I, once we decide to present to an expectant mom, and especially once we are matched, we feel like that baby is ours. Is a part of our family. Just the same as if I were pregnant. So, backing out of the adoption was never a consideration. Nervously, we contacted the adoption agency and let them know I was pregnant. We prayed and prayed as they spoke with the birth mom that she would be ok with it and would still allow us to adopt her child. Two days later we talked with the case worker for our situation. She talked us through our expectant mom’s concerns but, in the end, gave us the weight lifting news that our expectant mom was ok with it as long as we were.

Praise God! We still had the chance to adopt this precious baby! This was a closed adoption situation so it was very different for us to have absolutely no contact with our expectant mom. We spent the next five months praying and hoping and truly letting ourselves be vulnerable to this situation and excited for the baby that would be joining our family very soon.

And then the day came, I received a phone call that our expectant mom was in labor. We started making travel plans immediately and within a few hours were on a plane with our older daughter and my parents headed to meet our new addition. At just after nine o’clock that night, Ryan and I peered through the nursery window at our brand new baby daughter. The feeling was indescribable. We couldn’t go in and hold her until the next morning but it didn’t matter. Looking at her, I knew she was meant to be our daughter. 

Over the next three days, we spent hour upon hour in the nursery at the hospital snuggling our baby girl. On the last day, my nerves were high but I kept praying and felt confident that this was all going to work out. I prayed for calm in all of our hearts. I prayed for God to make sure that this perfect little girl ended up right where she was supposed to be. I prayed for our birth mom. Even though we never met her, I prayed she would somehow feel how much we love and respect and appreciate her. Her bravery and selflessness leave me in awe. She is a true hero in our lives. 

Late that night, we walked out of the hospital with the same car seat from before, except this time, it wasn’t empty. This time, our daughter was in it and we were taking her home. We didn’t get to bring her home to our house for another week since she was born in a different state but now, as I write this, we are comfortably home and she is sound asleep on my chest. It is the best feeling a mom can have. 

When we first realized that we were meant to adopt, we didn’t know where to start. There is a big agency in our hometown that we looked into working with but their wait times are very long. We looked into adoption attorneys in the area that we could use if we heard about someone who was interested in placing a child and wasn’t yet working with an agency but that seemed like a lot was going to be left up to chance and circumstance. Then, my aunt told us that a good friend of hers knew of a consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants that she could put me in contact with if I wanted her to. I looked CAC up online and just knew this was the best route for us. 
Now, having gone through everything that we did, I can’t imagine every going through adoption without a consultant. The agencies that the birth moms are working with care about the adoptive families but, in the end, their relationship is mainly with the birth mom. So having Susan in our corner was priceless. And having a professional that is always willing to answer your emails, texts and phone calls is incredible. We knew nothing about adoption when the process started and I have leaned on Susan so much for knowledge and information and support. Knowing that she is there for us, is something we cherish immensely. 

As you can tell from our story, adoption doesn’t always go perfectly smooth and easy. While no one’s story is without loss and heartache, sometimes a couple’s first match works out and sometimes the process is long and treacherous. But, I am now living God’s redemption from our previous heart breaks. Now I know that our other two matches didn’t work out because this little girl was the one who was supposed to be our daughter. It is most important to know that the call to adoption is from God and to stay faithful and strong throughout the process.

Never confuse a delay with a dead end...

When I look back at where we were and who we were when all of this started almost three years ago, it is hard to believe we survived. I don’t consider myself an emotionally strong woman. Truthfully, I am emotionally driven most of the time. But I have learned that I am much stronger than I thought. I have learned from experience that God never allows you to get yourself into anything that you won’t be able to endure with His help. Ryan and I have continued to grow closer and closer to God and each other. We are better and stronger both together and individually. Our hearts and our home are full and happy. Our family could never have been complete without the adoption of our precious baby daughter. 

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