Thursday, December 29, 2016

adoption story: mike and helen

I knew the moment I first talked to Helen she had a sweet spirit. Her family has an amazing story and they had a beautiful daughter who was adopted from Ethiopia. I knew even then the story of how their second baby would come to them would be just as amazing and beautiful. Walking with Helen and Mike, I was often in awe of their strength and their faith. And no less astonished at their perseverance and commitment to the process of continuing to grow their family through adoption... 

When we adopted our daughter 3 years ago from Ethiopia, we were positive that we will adopt from Africa again. We felt that this is a way to maintain a connection to where we come from. We are both originally from Africa and came to the US for education and career advancement (yeah, long story). Adopting domestically was not in our radar. That changed when I met my dear friend JJ. We started to meet for coffee often. We discussed all things adoption and I shared with her our desire to adopt. She shared her adoption story with me and her positive experience with Susan. I was very ambivalent with going domestic. However, international adoption from most African countries was not going well. The agency we almost signed on with was closing its doors. When I heard this, I called JJ again and we sat for a long time for coffee. This time, I was all ears. By the time our coffee date was done, I was all in. 


After we signed on with Susan, she started emailing situations to us. One evening, Susan called us about a birth mom who was a week from delivery and was specifically interested in a black family. We asked to be presented. 2 days later, Susan called us to let us know she had chosen us and that meant we had to be in Las Vegas as soon as possible. We did exactly that and we were on cloud nine when we met the birth family. We could tell they liked us and the feeling was mutual. 

We were there when the baby was born. He was beautiful baby boy. We were crying tears of joy. The next day, it seemed the birth family were ambivalent regarding the adoption plan. However, the birth mom told us there was no way she was going to change her mind. She was just having difficulty processing her feelings but was set on the plan. That changed on the next day when they decided to parent. Though we knew it was a bittersweet moment, we were devastated. Our 3-year-old was crying. We felt defeated. We felt hopeless. However, many people sent us messages of support as soon as they learned of what happened. Many prayed for us. Susan called and supported us along the way. We started reflecting more on the pain of birth parents. In some ways, I could see the pain of what it feels like. Adoption is indeed bittersweet. 

Slowly, our hearts were getting better. This is the season when we learned to truly trust in God. Even though we had so much support, we felt somehow alienated. I remember one evening telling my husband that I was so happy the mom had decided to parent, yet I had tears in my eyes on my own sadness. My husband reminded me that is the reality of adoption. We started wondering if we will adopt again. If it falls through again, will we survive? Will our daughter survive? 

The next day we got a call from the same agency of a little boy who was already born; would we consider parenting him? We told the agency we would get back with them at the end of the day. We wrestled with the decision. We felt like it was too soon to take a leap of faith. But somehow, I felt something inside my heart. I talked to my husband. That evening we said yes. The next day we were in Las Vegas, the same city we had vowed never to return to. By the time Thanksgiving came, we had been with our baby for 2 days and we were bonding and falling in love with him. When we met his birth mom, we were extremely nervous. In my heart, I had a mix of many emotions. I felt her pain and the scene of what had happened two weeks prior came replaying in my head. Secretly, I started questioning if we were deserving of this perfect child. 


As we sat across from each other in a Mexican restaurant and over fajitas, I decided to tell her how I felt. She smiled at my eyes and assured me she was sure this is the plan she wants and she is happy that we are the people to raise her son. Somehow, it was as if the weight in my heart had been lifted. She was at peace. We were at peace. Yet a little lingering sadness was in the air.

As I look at my son now at a month old, I am amazed with the journey that took us to him. I feel an incredible connection to him, so strong that I can't explain. I don't feel lucky. I feel blessed. I think of his birth mom almost every day. I am sure she thinks of him too. We are incredibly blessed to be his parents. Our almost four year old is so in love with him. Just yesterday, as I watched her giving him a bottle (with their father closely supervising!) I was overwhelmed with all the feelings. The story of God's redemptive love. My daughter looked my way and said, "Daddy, Mommy is happy crying again!"


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

adoption story: jeff and heather

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


So many times during our journey I read this verse. Sometimes it was with deep hurt wanting to know why this was happening to us, why didn’t we deserve to be parents. I would pray that if we weren’t meant to be a parents then to take the desire away from my heart.  The desire never left and adoption gave us new hope for our future. We are finally a family of three.



We wanted to have a child, but after six fruitless years of trying and several gristmill years of infertility treatments (drugs, inseminations, in vitro). We buried the monthly hope that our bodies would bring forth children and we accepted the fact that we are infertile. Biology had been quietly put to rest, but the desire to become parents did not. We always saw having a family as the next great adventure. So, we turned toward adoption, and as our hearts and spirits began to thaw, adoption filled us with new hope, a sense of possibility we thought still frozen and extinct. We were looked forward to being Mommy and Daddy soon.

We started researching adoption two years ago. This was very overwhelming, there are so many options and we had no idea where to begin. From domestic, international, private, all the different agencies large/small, and the cost of it all was significantly more that we had anticipated. We prayed about it and something just didn’t feel like it was time for us, and my heart really wanted to give my husband a child. We choose to try to fertility treatments one more time which lead to a long a grueling year. We were not only emotionally and financially drained, my body was tired. I struggled with this decision of moving on to adoption much more than Jeff did. I thought I was letting him down not being able to give my husband what a wife was supposed to unable to bare his children. After lots of prayer and Jeff reassuring me that God had a plan, we knew we were done and God was telling us it was time to look back into adoption. We continued to pray about our journey and possibilities of adoption. 

During this time I came across this blog of Susan’s with Christian Adoption Consultants which I followed and fell in love. This gave us new hope an encouragement. I found myself looking at it all the time and reading every post with how she helped everyone through God and adoption. I knew we had to set up a meeting with her.   

We signed with CAC right after Thanksgiving, with the holidays we were home study approved end of February, and start applying to agencies, becoming agency approved in March, and then the situations started coming our way. As we would read the situation and pray over each one deciding if it was the one for us. We were presented 10+ times (I tried not to keep track). It was more of an emotional roller coaster than we had anticipated. With the several “no’s” we heard, we couldn't help by wonder what was wrong with us, why we were not being chosen. Finally were matched July 6. The road to our baby was bumpy and mess with lots of unknowns, but the moment we saw him we melted and finally had a sense of peace and reassurance of God's plan for us.


As we are in the Holiday season, I know several people around us still waiting; struggling with infertility, and loss.  I ask everyone to do something for that person around them (no matter how small).  It will mean so much to them just knowing you are praying and thinking of them during their wait or time of feeling loss. Those of you still waiting: never give up hope, the reward will be so worth the wait! 

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12   


Professional pictures by Kenny Felt Photography
Personalized hat by Knots LLC
Personalized blanket by Highway 3


Friday, December 23, 2016

#200


This text came last night. A text like so many others of a family rushing to the hospital to make it for the birth of their child.


And then, in the wee hours of the morning, the follow up that he had arrived. "He's perfect. Born at 11:46. 7lbs, 13oz" and beautiful pictures of the new family of three.

This text marks number 200. 200 babies welcomed to families through adoption. 200 adoptions I've been honored to be a part of as I walk beside families as an Adoption Consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants.

It seems silly that I know that number. But I know it because it's so much more than a number. Each of these 200 babies represents a story. Each one a way God moved in miraculous and redemptive ways. Each with their own bittersweet details of two families coming together to choose what they believe is the best for their baby.

200 babies
200 birth families who have made brave and selfless decisions
200 times a couple has said “yes” to the scary unknowns of adoption
200 extended families with grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings have welcomed a little one
200 ways a family has opened their hearts and homes
200 families changed forever


I've shared before why I have the best job in the world. But truly, I can't imagine anything more rewarding for me than watching daily as families, both birth and adoptive, say "yes" to all of this. To the hard, good, redemptive, bittersweet, amazing stuff that adoption is made of. 

So this morning, when I got this text, you can understand how overwhelmed I was. It was another chance to be in awe of a God who writes the best stories. And I've had a front row seat to at least 200 beautiful ones...


Thursday, December 22, 2016

repost: the ache of the wait in the holidays

You've met Amy before. A sweet adoptive mama and client turned dear friend. We met over coffee to talk about adoption and the last time I saw her, her family of three was gathered in my living room with our crew. I love her thoughts on adoption, the hard wait, and the holiday season...

For our family this Christmas season will be our most memorable. It is our first Christmas as a family of three. Our home is overflowing with love, magic and new beginnings. This year we get to celebrate Christmas with our son. We spent hours Christmas shopping (and lets be honest, baby B is not even gonna know what's goin' on this year!), we have dreamt of the traditions we hope to start to make the season full of magic. We had no idea just how emotional this Christmas would be for our family. This is a dream I wasn't sure would ever come true. But, one thing I can say for sure?

I would go through all of the heartache and sadness again to get to my son. 


To all of you who have babies growing in your hearts right now, I promise you, this holiday season will soon be filled with love, joy and overwhelming thankfulness. Right now, I know your hearts are dreading spending another holiday without your child. I know your hearts ache watching families celebrate the magic of Christmas with little ones. I know you dream of the day when you get hang up that stocking that says "Baby's First Christmas." I know you can't wait for the day when you get to wrap gifts to put under the treat for your most treasured gift.

Please don't lose hope.

Last year, I was walking with you. I remember being curled up by our fireplace holding tightly to the book I had bought for a baby I had hoped to be holding in my arms.

I remember each tear that fell down my face. 

I remember each silent prayer I whispered to God, begging Him to give me strength. 

You're. Not. Alone. 

Please don't give up hope. Please don't lose your faith.

This season, I'm praying for you hearts to be full of hope for what is to come.

It is worth the wait. 


It's worth every single tear. It's worth every silent prayer. 

Please know you are in my heart this season.

Amy



For more on Amy, her beautiful family, and their adoption journey, you can head to her blog, Glimpses of Hope.



Monday, December 19, 2016

adoption story: joe and jessica (baby #2!)

The holidays are especially sweet for Joe and Jessica. Just two years ago in November, they welcomed their first son, Micah through adoption. You can read that amazing story here. But they knew their family was not yet complete and started with Christian Adoption Consultants again this September. (As a side, some of my favorite calls to get are families I get to work with a second or third time!)


It was just a month later they were matched with an expectant mama. And a month after that, Emmitt was born. This Thanksgiving the family spent it as a brand new family of four.



Below are some of Jessica's thoughts on going through adoption a second time...

Going through the adoption process the second time was so different than the first. We were much more at peace with knowing and trusting in God’s plan for our family. It made the "no’s" much easier to take and the waiting was easier.  But it was also harder this time because we knew that our happiest moment was going to come at the price of another woman’s worst moment. We love Micah’s birth mom so much, and have such a great relationship with her. I worried that we wouldn’t have that same connection with our second child’s birth family. Those worries melted away quickly though when we met Emmitt’s birth family. I feel so lucky to have two sons, but I also feel incredibly blessed to have added these two birth mothers in our lives. It’s a bond that you just can’t understand unless you’ve experienced it.  I’m so glad that God chose this for our family. 





Tuesday, December 13, 2016

adoption story: jon and ruthie (a video journal)


Tuesday, November 8, 2016. There was a lot going on that day. But the text I got from Ruthie that afternoon would be historic for their family in other ways.

Just four days before Jon and Ruthie had received news that the expectant mother they had developed a relationship with for months had chosen to parent. The days had been filled of bittersweet: happy that a mother had decided she could parent her daughter but also grieving over the loss of that adoption. What unfolded in the next few days was nothing short of a miracle. God brought redemption to their family and turned their mourning into dancing. Psalm 30:11-12 became their song...
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 

that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.


Never did I think the Lord would write the story He did for us. 5 weeks later, looking at my sleeping son next to me, I still have to ask myself, "Did that really happen?" In November 2012 the Lord called us to adoption on Orphan Sunday. We were visiting our friend's church because the church story team followed them on their adoption journey and I can still picture our friends meeting their son Jacob in the hospital for the first time in their video. The pastor preached on our own spiritual adoption into God's family and after that sermon we looked at each other and said, "Yes, adoption.". Fast forward 3 years and 2 beautiful biological babies later, God continued to show us that adoption is what He had for us. We started asking people we knew who had adopted for advice and recommendations and where to start. A good friend of mine, also an adoptive mama, told me about this company she knew of called Christian Adoption Consultants. A few weeks later I was on Pinterest looking up adoption family profile books and came across Susan's blog. I ended up reading every single post she'd written and emailing her that evening. It was God's providence, I had no idea she worked for CAC and I knew we were meant to use her. 


We were home study approved in February 2016 and sent our profile book to 5 different agencies and were so excited to see expectant mama situations coming in right away. Fast forward again to June 2016 and we received an email from Susan about a birth mom in Las Vegas, due with a baby girl in November. Side note...we hadn't ever sent our profile book to this agency in Las Vegas which is crazy but God will make what He wants happen, am I right? We waited over a week on pins and needles wondering if we would be chosen. We'd presented a few times before and although those "No's" were hard to hear, we knew that meant it was a "Yes" for another family and that our baby was out there. July 5th, 2016 we received a call that we were MATCHED and our baby girl was due on November 10th, 2016. We spent the next four months cultivating a wonderful relationship with both the expectant mother and birth father... Skyping, texting, sending pictures and cards. It was a relationship that was unlike any other relationship I had experienced and one that was so precious and sacred. I got to pray with that birth mom, M, and boy did we love her so so much. We felt like we had hit the jackpot with birth moms, we had even planned on spending baby girl's birthdays together. November 4th, 2016 we got the devastating call that baby girl was born healthy the day before but M could not place her for adoption and chose to parent. We were heartbroken, shocked, and confused. I knew there was such thing as a failed adoption but that was never something that crossed my mind with our perfect relationship with our expectant mom. As much devastation and heartbreak as we experienced, we felt joy for this baby girl who would stay with her mom and have biological siblings. I have so much love and grace for M, we talked many times after the baby was born and it was so beautiful and healing. The next few days the Lord did a lot of healing in our hearts. We had friends and family come cry with us, pray with us, and bring us casseroles and chocolate. I know that each person I saw I told "Man I just want to get a call that a baby has been born and because God has a sense of humor, I am sure it will be a boy." 


Tuesday November 8th, 2016, 2:30pm, we get a call from the social worker we had been working with in Las Vegas. I start pouring my heart out about what a hard weekend it was but also a healing one. The Lord was doing a great work and I felt His presence more than ever before. After I finally stopped talking it was silent and she said, "Ruthie there was a baby born last night, it is a boy. Are you interested?" My heart leapt and I burst into tears. God had been healing our broken hearts so quickly to prepare us for our son. What a kind God He is, four days after losing what we thought was our daughter. Wednesday night we Skyped with the birth mom, R, Thursday she officially chose us, she signed relinquishment papers on Friday, and that evening we jumped on an airplane to Las Vegas to meet our baby boy. In those four days between the loss and the call of about our baby boy, the Lord showed me through three different people the story of Gideon so when we found out we had a son, we knew his name was Gideon. A strong and mighty warrior. 

Because I can so vividly (and emotionally) remember our friend's adoption story and video, I knew I wanted to chronicle this crazy story through video and you can view it below. God didn't have to give us Gideon, but He did. He is so kind, so personal, and so generous. We know that Gideon's life is already touching so many and pray that this story will forever glorify our Heavenly Father and His great works for His children. 



For more of this boy's incredible beginning, their adoption story, and their adventures as a family, you can follow along at Ruthie's blog, The Chronicles of Ruthie Hart.



Thursday, December 1, 2016

adoption story: jim and robin

One day, near the end of September, Jim left his family and headed on a trip out of the country. When he came home a week later, he had a son...

Read as Robin shares how God answered years of prayers in a matter of days.


Several times now I have sat down to try and put our adoption journey into words to share, and have struggled. The emotions, struggles, and blessings in this journey have been so immense. After dealing with my second second trimester miscarriage we were trying to come to peace with the reality that there may not be a baby in our future.  However, little things kept calling to me...the verse from 1 Samuel "for this child I have prayed" kept popping up everywhere I looked, this little wall hanging I kept seeing in the window of the hospital gift shop that said "Then we had you, now we have everything."  I just couldn't find peace, and then one night it happened; clarity. I sat straight up in bed and proclaimed to my husband that we were being called to adopt. I could all of a sudden feel and hear the call so loudly. He maybe wasn't quite as convinced at first, but did not take long to feel it too. 

When my husband and I first realized that our hearts were leading us to adoption, we had no idea what that meant, or how to even get started. I had family members who have adopted in various ways (foster, closed adoption), but I wasn't sure that was right for us.  I had a friend who had adopted and it was an open adoption.  Talking to her made me want to learn more about open adoption, so she set me up with Susan at Christian Adoption ConsultantsI was so worried that we wouldn't be "good candidates" for adoption, that birth parents wouldn't choose us for multiple reasons. I called her in April with a list of questions. Susan was so kind and reassuring. She carefully outlined for us the right steps to begin, and we started our journey. We moved through the home study process very quickly, as I was very focused and motivated to get things done. We were home study approved by the end of June and saw our first situation within a few days, and even though it turned out to not be a good fit for us, it raised our hope that our baby was out there somewhere. We saw a couple more potential situations over the summer, but each time as we talked and prayed about it, something didn't feel quite right to us.  

I have to admit that even though we had only been waiting a few months, I started to get frustrated and question if I had answered that "call" I had heard so loudly in the right way. My husband, Jim, is from Canada and had planned a trip to visit family and friends for two weeks at the end of September. Right before he left I joked with him that I was going to bring a baby home while he was gone. He left on a Thursday and on the following Tuesday afternoon I received a phone call saying that there was a baby born situation less than 2 hours from where we live. The baby was ready to be picked up tomorrow if we were interested; a 5 day old baby boy. That was really all of the information I had when I said "yes." I listened to the rest of the details and knew I had to call Jim in Canada and discuss it, but I knew in my heart it was yes.  


Nothing could have ever prepared me for the emotional roller coaster the next 48 hours took me on that included calling my husband and telling him "Our baby is ready to be picked up!", sharing the news with the older kids, buying all of the baby essentials we would need to bring a baby home, trying to get my husband home from Canada over a week early, and jumping through some legal hoops. Within 24 hours it started to look like we had gotten our hopes up for a situation that may not work out. I was crushed, but thankful that if it wasn't truly meant to be that we found out early. I couldn't make peace with it though because in my heart I heard loudly that this was my son, waiting for me to pick him up. My husband was driving back from Canada, and had not yet made it back, so I got in the car and drove to get him just two days after we first heard about him. All of the fear and uncertainty disappeared the moment they placed him in my arms. I knew for sure that this was the child that we had prayed for, the one who motivated us to enter this journey. The Lord had granted the desire of our hearts!  


The first photo taken of me by the social worker from the agency will always be my favorite, as it truly catches the true emotions I was feeling: a confusing mix of overwhelming joy in holding my son, shock, sadness for the grieving birth mom and for my husband missing these first moments, and mostly, totally in awe at this blue eyed boy who I felt like my heart had known forever.







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