Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Adoption Story: Josh and Autumn

So often we want to rush to the end of the story. The one with the happy ending with full hearts and full hands. But sometimes what God does in the midst of the wait is every bit as important as the outcome.

Josh and Autumn found that to be true in their own story. The story began hearing they would never have children...

When Josh and I were planning our life together, we knew it would be a difficult road to having children. He was told long before we were married he wasnʼt able to have kids. We dreamed of our wedding, life together, and adoption from the very beginning. However, this was our first experience that Godʼs plan is never what we have pictured. I remember everything about the day that I found out I was pregnant with our very first baby. I was shocked and instantly in love with this tiny baby in a way I never knew could be possible. We were fortunate again with our second. We were quite content with our one boy and one girl family for so long. 

Then one day, our kids started talking about a “baby brother or sister.” This got me thinking about babies as well! We tried for a third, but this time it wasnʼt happening as easily as before. Then our doctor started suggesting medicines as time passed. We went home and knew that we already came to love the idea of adoption long ago. So we decided to start fostering. I had been having strong feelings to foster and seemed to be meeting so many people with ties to foster care. We were certified to foster to adopt in February of 2017. We had three short placements but nothing long term had worked out. In our county the system tries to keep the kids in their community of origin which meant that unless we were closer to the city, we werenʼt likely to be chosen for long term placements.

We then found Susan with Christian Adoption Consultants in July of 2018 and decided to go down the path of infant domestic adoption. She was so helpful in guiding us through our adoption process. I was so grateful for her knowledge and her perspective in all of our experiences. Our profile book also came out just perfect because of all the work she put into it. We were home study ready in two months. (We had been through a rigorous home study with foster care which allowed us to expedite the process a bit.) We saw our first “situation” in late September; an expectant mom looking for an adoptive family for her baby. We finally saw a situation that felt right in November and decided to present our profile. We were nervous for days and I remember praying and hoping this would be our baby. This happened several times that we heard "not yet" and I found myself praying for one of the stories of “we matched and had a baby in three weeks with CAC!” This was the second time we learned of Godʼs plans not being as we pictured. I thought for sure weʼd be holding our baby girl by Christmas. The wait was so hard during the holidays and I prayed often to have a baby sometime through the holiday season.

In late October we got a call from our foster agency. They had two baby girls that needed a home; ages one year and two months. It was another short term placement and would only be for the weekend. I said yes and didnʼt think much more about it since we had calls often asking about our availability but often didn't end up as a placement in our home. This time, to my surprise, we got a call back that they would be to our house in twenty minutes. I sent my husband out for all the things that baby girls would need for the few short days they would be with us. It turns out they were a part of our family for nine months. We fell in love with these sweet babies as we continued to pursue domestic infant adoption. It was during this time that we experienced two failed adoptions, but being able to love on and care for these beautiful girls was a gift in the midst of it all. In March we received the news that they would be going home with their biological family in June. 

It was Spring now, and we had been on the journey to grow our family through adoption for two years. First through fostering, then through domestic adoption but we seemed to be at a dead end. But an unexpected email in late May changed everything.

An agency through CAC contacted us about a baby boy, born just three days earlier. It was a complete surprise since we hadn't heard from this agency for months and were focused on getting the girls back home soon. After much prayer, we decided to present and held our breath, wondering about God's plan for our family. We didnʼt hear anything that evening and we expected they wanted to get someone out to him fast since he had been all alone. I went to bed thinking that it was just another “not yet.” But the next day, to my surprise, we got the call that we had been chosen. 

From that moment everything seemed to fall into place. We rushed to pick up this little baby who would become our son. It all seemed surreal and seeing him for the first time felt so right. This little boy we had been praying for for years, not just as a couple but as a family, was finally here. It's hard to explain the moment you hold your child for the first time and realize all of the hard things leading up to it were worth it.

Not only did everything fall into place, but everything seemed to make sense. Becoming a foster family two years ago. Signing up with Christian Adoption Consultants. Providing a home for those precious girls in the midst of it. Looking back we could see all of the steps it took for us to get to this moment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Adoption Story: Travis and Angela (again!)

I first met Travis and Angela in 2016. We were in the back of a little coffee shop when they told me their dreams of having children. It was just a few months later when they welcomed their first son home. And today, Angela shares the story of how they doubled their joy, and their love, as they welcomed a second son into their family.

In January, 2018, we started discussing growing our family and pursuing our second adoption. Renewing our home study went lightning quick and things started so fast at the very beginning. During our first adoption, we matched within just three months of being home study complete. We took a different route this time and Susan updated our profile. We were praying to be able to adopt from the same group as our first adoption since we had such an amazing experience.

This time around, the wait was much longer and we had to remind ourselves over and over it was all in God's perfect timing. There was even a time when an expectant mother was deciding between us and another family. She chose the other children and it was the hardest “not yet” we had gone through. At this point a full year had come and gone but we trusted that God knew exactly what He was doing.

In January, we knew we needed to renew our home study so we started that process. The day we met with our social worker we heard about a baby boy who had just been born. As we read about him and all of the information, our hearts were so drawn to this little boy already. But there were so many unknowns that terrified us as well. He was born prematurely and there was a lot of medical records to pore over; most of which we didn't understand in the beginning.

As we talked with our social worker, reviewing the information and anxious about all of the unknowns, she helped us think through all of the details. As one point she looked at me and pointedly asked, "What is stopping you in this situation? What is your deal breaker?" At that point we certainly didn't understand all of the overwhelming medical records and didn't know what the future held for this little boy. Could we go the distance...what if we lost him right away...are some of these issues so significant that they could be terminal...?  We reached our to our pediatrician in an effort to better understand all of the possibilities.

Through tears we knew our answer. We knew that even with all of the unknowns that we needed to say "yes" to this baby. On January 22, we found out that we were chosen to parent this precious little boy. When we made it to the hospital where our son was waiting for us. In the coming days we saw miracles unfold. With the help of a wonderful nursing team, speech pathologist, and occupational and physical therapy, what was supposed to be weeks in the hospital turned out to be ten days. God’s perfect timing and a healthy little boy. 

Throughout our entire journey, we could see God’s hands everywhere. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Brokenness in Adoption

So often we talk about the beauty in adoption. And I often use the hashtag #adoptionisbeautiful. I believe God's heart and the message of the Gospel is on display in adoption. I'm also convinced adoption is an incredible and brave choice that both a birth and adoptive family can step into when they believe it's the best option available for a child. But too often, we ONLY talk about the beauty in adoption and completely miss the other side of the story. And it's an important one.

Adoption always begins with brokenness. If things were as they should be, all parents would be able to raise their children. Families would always stay together and fathers would always be actively engaged. In a perfect world people wouldn't struggle with addiction, there wouldn't be interpersonal violence, and parents would always have the financial and emotional resources they need. Every pregnancy would be planned and every addition to the family eagerly anticipated.

Often the brokenness isn't just experienced by the birth family. I work with adoptive families who have lived through their own brokenness. Infertility, miscarriage, child loss....many families step into adoption because of their own loss. They want to grow their family but have been heartbreakingly unable to do so biologically. Stories of childhood cancer, secondary infertility, attempt after attempt at fertility treatments, miscarriage, and the death of a child are all results of a fallen world and brokenness for hopeful adoptive families as well.

We also live within a broken system. Too often, it's easier for a woman to obtain an abortion to deal with an unexpected pregnancy than it is to find practical support and assistance to parent her child. With differences in state laws and little federal oversight, there are people, even professionals who take advantage of everyone in the adoption triad for their own benefit. Racism and classism impacts adoption and ethical issues can be found in the domestic, foster care, and international adoption arenas.

And, perhaps most importantly, is the loss an adoptee experiences. Too often the child at the center of an adoption story and their brokenness is overlooked. They have lost their opportunity to be raised by their birth family. They have lost an important connection and issues like identity, belonging, and  abandonment are commonly wrestled through. The fact that many adoptive parents may not recognize these issues or be willing to have these conversations with their child can add to the loss and grief an adoptee experiences.

In the end, someone walks out of the hospital with empty arms and broken hearts. And that heartache doesn't just last for several weeks postpartum. The brokenness in adoption is a reality for everyone in the adoption triad for a lifetime.

So where does that leave us? It would be easy to throw our hands up in frustration and decide not to step into something so broken. We could ignore the mess that's inevitable in adoption. We could whitewash and try to cover it up; only talking about the "pretty" parts. But glossing over hard things in life is never the answer. Just like everything else in this world, sin has impacted the way things were intended and this side of Heaven we have to decide how to engage with it. 

How do we step into the brokenness of adoption with the hope of the Gospel, knowing God has the power to redeem and restore? Surely it's no easy task, but there are practical ways we can acknowledge the bittersweet of adoption.

We can tell the truth about adoption, sharing the good and the hard. We can work to ensure we don't gloss over the beauty that can be found in adoption and make less of the grief and loss that's involved. We can make space for adoptees (children and adults alike) to share the love they have for their adoptive and birth families and the complex emotions they uniquely wrestle with. We can ensure birth families are honored, cared for, and have resources for the long haul. And we can advocate for change; calling for ethics in adoption, holistic care for expectant and birth families, and work for biological families to stay together whenever possible. We can hold the celebration and the grief that comes with adoption as equally important and valid. Let's roll up our sleeves together because hard things, and especially the people involved, are worth it.

The reality is adoption is beautiful. And hard. And amazing. And broken. Like the rest of life, it's a complex mix of realities. Ultimately brokenness pushes us to a Healer. It gives us hope that one day God will fully restore all things. And until then, it provides a desperate dependance on His ability to guide us through the beautiful brokenness of it all.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Adoption Story: Jon and Beth

I remember talking to Beth for the first time. They had been told, several times over, that since they already had three children they didn't have much chance of an expectant family choosing them. I'm so thankful Jon and Beth didn't let some previous initial phone calls stop what God had called their family to. Today Beth shares their journey to their daughter; how God turned mourning into dancing, how the long wait turned out to be His perfect timing, and how tragedy turned into their biggest blessing...

God works in mysterious ways. I have always heard this phrase, but now it has its own special meaning for our family. About a year and a half after we had our third biological son we were ready to try for our last baby and complete our family. I had my annual check up and discussed our plan with my OB.  Just a couple days after that appointment I got a call from her that would turn our world upside down. She told me I had cervical cancer and soon thereafter I would learn it would require a radical hysterectomy to treat/cure; there would be no fourth baby. At least not biologically. My husband and I immediately started talking about adoption and I was surprised to know that he was as open to it as I was. We started talking to local agencies and honestly were hitting a lot of road blocks. Most told us that our odds of adopting wouldn't be great with three biological children.  We were devastated to hear that and thought maybe a fourth just wasn't in the cards for us. Then I heard about Christian Adoption Consultants and I reached out. Susan responded and let us know that we, of course, were candidates for adoption and that since birth parents come in all shapes and sizes you can't predict who will be chosen, when, or why.  And so our journey began.  

We presented and weren't chosen multiple times over a year and a half and we were getting ready to close the door in a few months as our contract with CAC would soon be expiring. Again, we thought maybe it just wasn't mean to be. Again, we were wrong. Just a week before Thanksgiving, we got the call that we were matched with a baby that would be born in Arizona in March. There would be a fourth baby after all! To say we were excited would be an understatement. But we were also terrified that we would have our hearts broken in the case of a failure at any point in time. We decided to take a trip out to Arizona at the end of January to meet the expectant parents. It was a great visit and we felt so good about everything after meeting them. We waited a couple more long months and then we received a call from the social worker that they were going to induce in a couple days. We hopped on a flight and we were blessed to be there for the delivery of our baby girl, Eloise Jaclyn. Everything could not have gone more perfectly. (Except the interstate paperwork which took what seemed like forever since we were missing our boys who were back at home so much!)  The birthparents chose to let us have Eloise in our room immediately after birth in the hospital, her birth mom signed as soon as she was legally able to, and before we knew it we were on the road back home.  

Eloise has been home for a couple months now and she is as adored by her big brothers today as she was on the first day they met her. I personally, haven't had a bad day since. I just can't get over the amazing gift we have been given. I truly believe God carefully chose Eloise's birth parents to bring her to us. I will never be able to repay them for the gift they have given us. We have kept in close contact and they are enjoying seeing Eloise grow through pictures and videos. I think most of all they are happy to see how loved she is and I hope that gives them peace of mind that they made the perfect choice for their daughter.  

The biggest tragedy in our lives to date turned into the BIGGEST blessing. I hope I can hold on to that faith as I face future hardships. 

Thank you, Christian Adoption Consultants, for giving us a chance. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Adoption Story: Chad and Meredith

What happens when a husband and wife are on different pages when it comes to adoption? What happens when God's time frame is different than yours? And what happens when you say "yes" to stepping into the brokenness of adoption? Today Meredith shares their story and how God answered all of those questions for their family.

Our adoption journey started a few years ago...

I knew God had placed a longing in my heart to adopt, but my husband had not yet felt that same longing. Our life had been busy raising our two kids, growing a business, going back to college and the conversations about adoption began to fade into the background. 

Then one day when I least expected it, my husband sent me a text message that changed everything. He shared he felt like the Lord was stirring a desire to adopt in him. I was thrilled and began researching, calling local agencies, and attending adoption information meetings. The following Sunday we sat in church and our pastor’s sermon was all about being adopted into God’s family. I knew the Lord was speaking to us. I was ready to begin the process right away but God was still doing a work in my husband’s heart. His timing is not always our timing, and that was really hard for me! I am a planner by nature and when he told me this wonderful news I was ready to start planning out our adoption journey. 

I realized quickly that this journey to bringing home our baby was going to require a lot of patience and placing my time schedule in God's hands. Fast forward two years to April of 2018. We began talking again about our desire to grow our family through adoption, and we both felt like God said now is the time. We reached out to friends of ours who had recently adopted their son, and they recommended calling Christian Adoption Consultants. We called and Susan helped us get started on our journey. We were home study approved by the beginning of July and our family profile was completed shortly after that. 

We were prayerful as we begin receiving situations of expectant moms and dads looking for loving families, but each time we read someone’s story our hearts broke for them. There are so many people hurting, having to make the very selfless decision to place their baby for adoption. To this day we continue to pray for the families whose stories touched our hearts and are forever etched in our memories. 

In November, we presented to a young mom in Florida who was specifically looking for a family who believed in God and had older children because she wanted her son to grow up with siblings. Several details about her story stood out to us and we felt like God was speaking to our hearts to present our profile. After we sent our profile in we waited and prayed. Two weeks went by before we got a call from our attorney saying this precious mom had chosen our family. We were shocked, humbled, and just overjoyed! We couldn’t believe it! 

A few months later, on March 28th, our son was born. We received a call on the morning of the 29th letting us know our sweet boy was here and that he was a month early! We grabbed our bags, dropped off our older children with grandparents, and jumped on a flight a few hours later. We got to Florida as fast as possible! 

After five weeks in the NICU, we were finally able to bring our baby home. Looking back on those hard weeks in the hospital, God truly had His hand on our son and carried us through. We couldn’t be more thankful for this beautiful life God has entrusted us with. The journey has had its ups and downs, moments of tears and pure joy! Through it all God has shown His faithfulness, stretched our faith, and given us a deeper understanding of His love for His children. 

This journey to our son has changed us forever. We've learned that when God places a desire in your heart and you're obedient to His voice, He will be faithful to move mountains to see you through.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Adoption Story: Cody and Becca

When it comes to adoption, a lot of people talk about "perfect timing." The idea of waiting on God's timing and having the faith to trust in His sovereignty. But reading about waiting on God is so much different than experiencing it personally. Today Becca shares their story and how it felt to wait on God's timing bringing this sweet boy into their family.

Trust in God’s timing – always. This seems like a simple concept when you see it in writing, but the complexity that comes from putting this faith into action can at times feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle against yourself. As Christians, we rely on this statement as a foundation of our faith, but what happens when God’s timing is so drastically different from our own expectations? How do we continue to trust in his timeline when our imperfect and broken human hearts and emotions saturate our brains with questions and doubts?

As we went through the adoption process, Cody and I wrestled with these questions and doubts, but it
was also through this process that we witnessed such a beautiful display of God’s providence and perfect timing in our lives. Adoption is a story of love, but it’s also a story of God’s carefully crafted timing.

In our story, the concept of timing started long before the word adoption was ever a part of our daily vocabulary. A few years ago, we decided that it was the right time for us to start a family. And while the timing seemed right to us, what started out as God saying no month after month turned into him saying no year after year. In hopes of growing our family, we naturally questioned what to do next. It was at this point that we both realized that God had placed the idea of adoption on both of our hearts as the means to starting our family.

In August 2018 we signed up with Christian Adoption Consultants. Susan was our consultant and was a constant source of support and guidance along the way. As we worked through the process and the seemingly endless paperwork, we felt so at peace that we were on the path God had intended for us to start our family.

By the end of December, we were officially an active waiting family and had applied to several agencies. The anxiousness set in as we waited to hear if we were matched. While we knew an adoption could take well over a year, feelings of impatience started to creep into our lives rather quickly. After wanting to start a family for years, we honestly didn’t want to wait any longer. As we battled these emotions, we continued to trust in God’s timing and plan for our lives.

As we approached the end of February, we received the phone call that we had been praying for. It was our agency in Louisiana calling to inform us that we had been matched with an expectant mother who was due with a baby girl the following week. We were speechless as we sat on the phone with the agency, tears welling up in our eyes. We then learned that this mother had requested to have a phone call with us since there wouldn’t be time to meet before her due date. Over the next few days, we excitedly told family and friends our news and waited for that call, but it was the call that never came.

Just when we thought all the pieces of our story were falling into place, God was instead telling us to hold on a little while longer. And while we grieved over that call that never came, it wasn’t long before we found out why. About a week later we received another call – the call that our hearts had been waiting for. It was the call that told us we had been matched with an expectant family who would entrust us with their little baby boy as our son.

When we first received the call about our son Bryce, our hearts and emotions were much more guarded. We had already seen how quickly a situation can change, so while we were excited by this news, the reality of it hadn’t hit us yet. Our emotions were still raw from the week prior, but as we processed through everything over the next several days, it all began to sink in, and our anticipation began to grow as we quickly prepared to make the trip to Louisiana.

We had received the call from our agency late on a Friday afternoon and were told that Bryce’s birth mother was expected to deliver by c-section the following Wednesday. The few days in between were quite a whirlwind as we got ready for our trip. Wednesday came, and we woke up at 3 AM in the morning to start the 9-hour drive. While Cody remained relatively calm on the drive down, I could not contain my nerves. All the questions and uncertainty were spinning through my head, and it truly felt like the longest drive I had ever been on. We were aware that one of Bryce’s ultrasounds had showed a possible brain defect that the doctors would not be able to diagnose until after birth when they were able to run a better scan. We were obviously anxious to get those results, but I think what we were most worried about was the uncertainty of the adoption falling through again. We could not imagine making the trip home without a baby.

We were well into our drive when we received word from our agency that Bryce had been born. They sent us our first picture of him and gave us a positive report on his health issues. That moment as our tears started to flow will forever be etched into our memories. When we arrived at the hospital, it was a few hours before we were able to go back and see him. While the brain defect on the ultrasound appeared to have been a fluke, he did end up in the NICU for other unrelated medical issues. It was late afternoon when we were finally able to meet our son. It was such a surreal experience as we stared in amazement at the precious little boy God had brought into our lives.

Our agency made arrangements the following day for us to meet with Bryce’s birth parents. Talk about nerves! It wasn’t long after meeting them though that we felt at ease. We formed such a bond with them as they welcomed us with open arms. We truly have the utmost love and respect for this couple who now holds a special place in our hearts that we didn’t even know existed prior to this experience.

Out of their grief came our joy, and we will never forget the magnitude and emotional depth of this circumstance.

We would end up spending the next week with Bryce in the NICU as we learned to hold and bond with our baby as he was hooked up to all the monitors. He was a little fighter though and was discharged exactly one week after he was born. We then got to experience life with a newborn in a hotel room for a week as we waited for ICPC clearances. It was the best feeling the day we got the word we could finally go home. We packed up our hotel room in record time!

In looking back at our adoption experience, we are absolutely amazed at how God orchestrated our story. While we were hitting rough patches and times where our faith was being tested, he was still faithfully putting all the pieces into place. Adoption is like a puzzle, and it’s easy to forget that we aren’t the ones who need to put the puzzle together. God has that part taken care of. He hasn’t lost any of the pieces, and he knows how it all fits together. Trust in him and his timing – he will be with you in the wait.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Adoption Story: Nate and Michelle

The first part of Nate and Michelle's story reads like every hopeful adoptive parent's worst nightmare. Some of their greatest fears came to fruition...several times over. But what they learned and how they loved through the process made all of the difference. I had the honor of walking with them and seeing firsthand their faith in a God who answers prayers: even when the answers are so different than what we want at first. Today Michelle shares their winding journey to their daughter and the faithfulness of God at every turn.

This our story, (its messy so bare with us), but its raw, real and has the perfect ending!

In June of 2017, my husband, me, and our two year old son fearlessly started our adoption journey. A little backstory….We had easily become pregnant with our son through fertility treatments in 2015. A year later we started the process again for baby #2. Unlike our first experience, we had six failed IUI treatments and a pregnancy loss that was devastating to us. I was at my end emotionally and fertility treatments just didn’t feel right anymore. We had always planned on adopting in the future and started to feel like maybe this was the intended route to expand our family. 

On those summer evenings in 2017, we tackled mounds of paperwork at lightning speed and two months later we were home study approved. Within three weeks of presenting our profile book, we were matched for the first time. We were over the moon and felt so blessed. We knew God had called us to expand our family through adoption, but we never thought it would be this smooth. We felt comforted that we had heard right and we were indeed being obedient. That feeling quickly faded when our adoption failed two months later. We were then matched a month later for the second time. It didn’t last long and three weeks later we got the dreaded phone call that expectant mom was on a bus back to her hometown and was going to parent. Six weeks later we we got a surprise stork drop that ended the next day after flying to the hospital to meet baby. A month later we were matched for yes, the fourth time. We spent two months getting to know the expectant couple and building a relationship. Two weeks before the due date we again got the dreaded call (I was literally standing at the post office mailing them a mother's day gift). The expectant parents had family come forward to support them and had decided to parent. Within a nine month span we had a total of four failed adoptions. My heart was broken, I questioned whether adoption was right for us, and I spiraled into a depression. I completely lost myself and any sense of control in my life. We were told that our situation was unique and that a perfect baby was somewhere out there. In those dark days, those kind words were hard to believe. But there was something deep inside Nate and me that told us we couldn’t stop. I kept getting this nagging feeling that our timing was off, but victory was on the horizon. We just needed to be available. So “be available” is what we did.

While this concept was tremendously hard in the middle of the storm, I now look back and know that we were able to be a support to four women who had no idea if they could be a mom or not. We gave those woman space and the privilege to decide to parent those babies. They were never ours to begin with. We just needed to wait, pray and keep loving on these women.

“Dear Children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth.” 1 John 3:18

Fast forward to June 2018. We had presented to a brave birth mom earlier in the week and we were waiting to hear a yes or no. We got a call one night from our matching coordinator, “Michelle and Nate, I’m just wondering if you guys would be willing to drive five hours out of state and meet birth mom this weekend?’” I should also mention that baby girl was due in two weeks. We thought about for a complete two minutes and then said, “Well hey, why not.” We had already endured so much at this point, countless phone conversations with expectant moms, and a stork drop that had been disrupted after we held baby in our arms for 3 hours. We started packing bags and went into the weekend with the intention of loving on this woman and maybe have a fun weekend getaway.

We met the expectant mom at a restaurant after driving all day with our now three year old. The second she walked in the door she gave us a big smile and rushed to hug me. She was gorgeous inside and out and we instantly felt a strong connection. We talked for hours and she told us that she trusted us to raise her little girl. I felt her tummy and took pictures with a sweet girl still inside. We left that weekend feeling scared yet hopeful. A feeling we hadn’t felt in a long time.

Two weeks later got the call. “Expectant mom has decided to be induced tomorrow at 8am, can you come tonight?” We left our son with family and raced out of state. The entire drive there I prayed that baby girl would come on her own. I knew expectant mama didn’t want to be induced, but she felt it was time. 

We pulled into our hotel around midnight and hardly slept. After tossing and turning for a few hours it was time to get ready and go to the hospital. I felt sick, I couldn’t eat and I wanted to vomit. I sat in that passenger seat with a Trader Joe’s bag in my lap thinking my water and coffee was not going to settle. The thought of walking into another hospital and driving away again with an empty car seat made my head spin. I prayed and prayed and in the midst of my crazy, the phone rang. It was our case worker. “Nate and Michelle are you guys close?" (I thought to myself, here we go again, the dreaded call.) “Expectant mama went into natural labor at 5am. She’s not getting induced, she’s at the hospital and should deliver anytime. She wants both of you in the delivery room.” My heart literally skipped an entire beat. We had just pulled into the hospital parking lot thinking we would be sitting in a waiting room for hours while baby was born. We ran faster than our minds could process and made it upstairs to the delivery room just as expectant moms water was being broken. Within an hour the sweetest baby girl we had ever seen was delivered as I held her tummy mamas leg. I cut her umbilical cord and wiped sweat off her birth mamas forehead as she held her on her chest. We were asked what here name was. We had settled on Aria, Lioness of God, and then asked her tummy mama to choose the middle name. That brave woman then placed that precious baby in my arms and I instantly felt calm. After a year of stress and nerves I felt a complete peace wash over us. We had an instant love for that sweet girl and we knew she was what we waited for.

We spent the next 24 hours loving on birth mom. We made sure to leave and go get lunch and coffee so that they could have quality time. I wanted to hold Aria every second we were at the hospital, but I kept being reminded that this was their time. I watched her birth mama give her the first bath and tenderly love on her. We took a million pictures of them together. Nate and I used this time to get to know birth mom, her favorite childhood memories and foods. We wanted to be able to tell Aria about her and we knew this adoption had the potential to be open. We agreed to yearly visits and fostering a relationship between our families forever.

The next day that courageous woman made me a mama for a second time. I will never forget watching out the hospital window as she walked out of the hospital with her case worker. I was overjoyed to be chosen to raise this little girl, but also felt heartbroken for what her birth mom was going to walk through in the next months, years...forever. The mix of emotions is something I can’t explain. All we know is that we are the most blessed family in the world to have been given the great privilege to raise this woman's child. Months of heartbreak and empty car seats were suddenly okay. They brought us to our daughter, the one we were meant to raise all along.

Sometimes we get a "yes" from God, but it doesn’t necessarily mean right now. I learned that the timing was his, all we needed to do was be available and show his abounding and limitless love to others.

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Aria is the light of our lives. She has provided a sense of wholeness in our family that we all needed. She is fierce, bold and one spoiled little princess! We hope our story inspires you to step out of your comfort zone and act in love.

With love,
Nate, Michelle, Jonah, and Aria

Monday, April 1, 2019

Adoption Story: Erik and Sarah

I knew the moment I first talked with Erik and Sarah that they had huge hearts. Their love for each other and their son was so evident. And they were developing a love for adoption. From the very beginning, they knew they didn't just want to open their arms and hearts to a baby. They wanted to love an expectant and birth family as well. Erik and Sarah didn't know all this would mean for them as they went through their adoption journey. It would include heartbreak and hardship. But it would also include hope and an unexpected and beautiful relationship with a couple that they treasure. Sarah graciously shares their journey to parenthood and the family they couldn't have known they would find on the other side.

It has taken me 9 months to put our story on paper because, frankly, I just did not know if I could write it down. The adoption process and the wait felt both long and short. It pulled my husband and I together some days and apart other days. It brought us great sadness and great happiness, sometimes even on the same day. But now we are here, with this precious little girl and in an open adoption with her birth parents. It was all worth it. Here is our story.

I will lay out our timeline because while we were waiting I would read others’ stories and search like mad for specific details to try and figure out how much time they spent at each step. In early 2017 we went through a number of failed rounds of IVF and we were at a crossroads. I was ready to continue IVF at any and all cost, my husband, not so much. He felt he was done. He was satisfied with our family, he wanted me to be satisfied too. We had a wonderful two year old boy who was created by IVF, my husband was happy.   

A few days later my best friend was telling me about a friend-of-a-friend who had adopted two children through Susan VanSyckle. A week later I was on the phone with Jamie (thank you!), who opened her heart and story and explained so much to me.  Father’s Day, June 15th, 2017, I brought up adoption to my husband and he was willing to consider it with me. So I emailed Susan that night and we signed up with Christian Adoption Consultants that week. Three months later, mid-September, we had completed our Home Study, Profile Photo Book and Agency Applications. We started receiving profiles of expectant mothers in October.  

In November we matched with an expectant mother in Florida due in January. Two weeks later we flew to Florida to have dinner with the expectant mother. We felt we hit it off great with her. We returned to Florida for the birth of this baby boy in mid-January 2018, however, the day after the birth she decided to parent. It was the right decision for her, but it was a deep dark time for us. We returned to Virginia and we decided to take a break. Well, we really did not know what we wanted to do, we were just existing. We tried to simply get through it one day at a time. Our friends and family supported us. It was so hard, but we started to breath a little easier as the days turned into weeks. 

In March 2018, another agency emailed with me and asked if I was going to complete our application with their agency. It was an agency that I had dropped earlier because we had matched in Florida before we had a chance to complete their paperwork. I told her I would go ahead and complete it but we did not know if we were going to try for another adoption. A few days later we decided to go on a family vacation, just us and our son.  The day before we left for the vacation we received a profile of an expectant mother sent to us from that agency. We decided to submit our profile book to the expectant mother. We started to feel hopeful again. On vacation we learned the expectant mother had narrowed it down to us and another couple. The last day of vacation we found out that we were not chosen. However, two weeks later, early April, that same agency sent us another situation, of similar characteristics, because she felt it was a possibility for us. We again submitted our profile book to this new couple because we liked everything we read about them. That same evening we found out they had chosen us. A week later we found ourselves talking to them on the phone. They could not have been any sweeter, cooler or more open. We were now in our second match in approximately five months. We flew to Texas the next weekend to meet this new couple in person. Later, a c-section was scheduled for June. We waited and built our relationship via text and phone calls with this couple. Baby Victoria Alair was born on June 21, 2018. For those who are counting, our journey took exactly 1 year and 7 days from the day I emailed Susan until we were holding a baby.

We named her Victoria Alair. Victoria is after her birth mother. Her middle name is my middle name.  I intended to name her Alair Victoria, but it just didn’t feel right, her birth mother came before me, her name should reflect such.

Post-birth was bitter sweet. We now felt like her birth parents were our friends. We were in one room crazy happy. They were in another experiencing deep pain. Paperwork was signed in the hospital at the 72 hour mark. We then checked into a hotel with baby Victoria to wait out ICPC. Victoria's birth parents visited us in our hotel every night. I know it was not easy for them to show up, to see us with their baby, but they did it because they really wanted to see her and connect with her. If you have not been in this spot yet, please do not let our situation scare you away from adoption. It was only because of these two particular people that it was okay with us. Had it been under different circumstances, we would not have been as open or willing to start the openness immediately. 

ICPC took the full two weeks. We were given permission to return to Virginia on July 7th. I jumped immediately to book a flight, I was dying to reunite with our son. Baby Victoria slept that morning while Momma Victoria helped me pack. (My husband had already left Texas the prior week because he needed to return to work). Momma Victoria followed behind me in her car as I drove with baby Victoria to the airport. She drove straight, as I veered off the road towards the airport. I will never forget that moment.  

Now we have this precious bundle of joy between the four of us. We have a family consisting of birth parents and an adopted child that we never imagined in our wildest dreams. However, we also have a daughter for which we have big hopes and dreams and birth parents who we have to thank for all of it. Daily my husband says we are blessed. I returned to Texas with baby Victoria when she was three months old for a quick three day visit. I know it was not easy for them, the wounds still so raw, but they wanted to see her and I wanted them to see her. They returned the favor when she was six months old by flying to Virginia for a four day stay with us during Christmas. We plan to see them again in Texas around her first birthday.

There is definitely a lot of unknowns between now and when baby Victoria is all grown up, but I am confident we will all just try and do the best we can for her, because we all love her.  

Monday, March 18, 2019

Adoption Story: Joe and Christine

Joe and Christine started with Christian Adoption Consultants on Valentine's Day of 2018. By Memorial Day they had completed a home study and by Halloween they were matched with an expectant family. By Valentine's Day this year, they celebrated as a family of three. Read today as Christine shares their journey to their son...

Joe and I struggled for about four years with the frustration, heartbreak, and emotional roller coaster of unexplained infertility. During these years, we underwent three rounds of IUI, one fresh cycle of IVF, and two frozen embryo transfers. Finally, the Lord started putting the idea of adoption in our hearts. Even though we knew this would entail more waiting, we were encouraged that it would be a different kind of waiting than what we experienced while trying to get pregnant. We felt that eventually, we would be matched with a baby through the journey of adoption and that was so refreshing and exciting. We felt as though so many burdens were lifted from our shoulders once we realized we were not in control of how our family was going to be started. We gradually learned to give up our own plans and timelines. Instead, we knew that the Lord had bigger and better plans and we only had to embrace his will for our lives. 

We signed on with Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants in February 2018 after hearing about a great experience from a college friend and her successful adoption journey. It was a smooth experience as she gave us all the information we needed for completing our home study, creating our profile, and researching agencies...we wouldn't have known where to begin on our own! From there, we had a finalized home study in May and were live with seven different agencies in the beginning of June 2018. During those next few months we had about ten situations forwarded to us, but to be honest, we felt so nervous to present and never felt ready to be matched with any of those specific moms. We knew that going forward we had to be more brave and trusting that if we were to present and get chosen then it was meant to be. We were reminded that God would not let us miss out on our baby and when the timing was right it would all fall in to place. Finally, in the beginning of October, we presented to a situation that appeared to be on the riskier side but Joe and I really felt called to all of the details (this was only the second time we presented). A few days later we heard that we were chosen by the expectant mom in Florida who was due with a baby boy on February 5, 2019! It was such a humbling feeling knowing that a complete stranger wanted to trust us and let us raise her son! 

The agency that we ended up working with likes for the prospective adoptive couple to come meet, have lunch with, and attend an ultrasound with the expectant mom shortly after having been matched. We were able to meet her for the first time in November 2018 and that was such a gift! From there, I kept in touch with the mom through text messages and sending care packages to her and her family over the holidays. Before we knew it, it was the new year and she was scheduled for a c-section on January 29, 2019. We traveled to her hometown a few days before and were able to see her and her family again the day before birth. It was all so surreal that we got to be in the waiting room during the procedure and saw this miracle of a baby in the nursery only minutes after he entered the world! The next three days seemed to last forever and go by so quickly all at the same time. I stayed with Harrison's first mom in her hospital room as she recovered for three nights. It was a blessing that we were able to develop a relationship while she became so comfortable with Joe and I and so confident in her decision. There were so many baby cuddles between the three of us in the nursery and we loved hearing about how he was similar, and different, from his siblings and birth parents. These are cherished memories that will be so special to share with Harrison someday when he is older! One of the most amazing moments was when his birth mom walked out with us upon discharge, put Harrison's car seat in the car, and kissed him goodbye as we left. She gave us such a gift and we hope we can make her as proud of us as we are of her. 

We are still praising God for this perfectly crafted story, for our blessing from above, for Harrison's birth mom and his life, and that he opened our hearts to adoption. Looking back on our story it is so beautiful to know that it was always meant to be Harrison. From the beginning of time, this specific baby was meant to be ours, and we were meant to be his parents. He is sovereign over the ups and the downs of infertility, adoption, and now, being parents and for that, we are so grateful to a faithful God! 

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy! Psalm 126:5
All glory to God who is able to do infinitely more than we might ask or think! Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Adoption Story: Brad and Meredith

Brad and Meredith know about waiting. Waiting to find each other. Then waiting through pregnancy tests, failed fertility treatments, even lost little ones through miscarriage. Then the wait of adoption: the paperwork, the presenting, the hospital stay. Today Meredith honestly shares their journey of waiting for their family of two to become three. 

As I sit here just hours after our sweet girl’s finalization hearing was complete, I am awe struck by the magic that has developed in our lives in just a little over a year. How just thirteen months ago I was tearful as my husband and I closed the fertility chapter and laid that idea of having our “own” child to rest. And today I sit here tearful with a heart full of joy after a court hearing made our sweet girl officially our child! God’s work is never done at pushing us forward and helping us see beyond ourselves to what He has in store for us. 

After Brad and I married five and a half years ago in the most perfect outdoor wedding on our ranch surrounded by family and so much love, we were so ready to start the journey to building our family. I had so many dreams that day: all our children running around - red-headed and blues eyed, with the talent to gab like their dad, and my love for playing in the dirt. The best of both of us would be provided to our babies, but soon that dream became a living nightmare of infertility, miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage, repeated fertility treatments, medication and shots daily. It was nearly four years of some type of fertility treatment or hormones before we finally called it quits after our second miscarriage. That dream of having our “own” flesh and blood gone. 

So, we picked up the broken pieces and started the adoption process. We created our profile, filled out mounds of paperwork, and went through the most personal interviews in order to complete our home study (wow you learn a lot about yourself and your partner during this and it is hard!). We learned to give each other grace and the ability to process at different time frames through all of the questions that came up during the home study. We were finally home study approved about eight weeks after signing with Christian Adoption Consultants. We were so blessed to have collaborated with CAC through this process because it opened so may doors and opportunities with multiple agencies, allowing us to see more situations and have constant feed back on each situation to make sure we were seeing the whole picture and just not jumping in with the dream to have our family.  Susan was wonderful to bounce ideas off of and to help use work through situation after situation.

Brad and I had submitted to our 18th situation on September 6th, 2018 and weren't chosen - I cried all the way home and told my husband I just didn’t think I could do this and we needed to place things on hold until after the holidays. It had been an especially hard season grieving the loss of a miscarriage with an unexpected pregnancy and watching those close to us welcome babies into their homes. It is so hard hearing no after no on top of having lost another baby - it is impossible not to take it personally.

Brad and I started to plan where to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas that night so we could avoid family and friends, but mostly babies. The very next morning at work and saw a number pop up on my phone. Assuming it was a telemarketer I sent the call to voicemail. Brad texted me a few minutes later, “We finally got the call, we are matched!” I immediately called him back, then the agency, and learned we had just four weeks before the baby was due! Tears of joy ran down my face! 

We quickly got the ball moving with getting our paperwork and finances in order and arranging a trip to meet the expectant parents the next week. Meeting this sweet and scared young couple completely changed the game for my husband and I; we knew that we had to completely turn this over to God and let him lead because the reality was we had no control and this could completely go the other way. Having to opportunity to meet with both of her birth parents was amazing. We had the ability to get to know them, learn about their lives, and have a better understanding of the choice they were making. All details I have tucked away to someday help explain to our daughter.

The next four weeks may have been harder than the nine months leading up to our match. Although we were in it 100% no matter what, we knew we had no control and no say in the outcome. The day before this sweet baby girl was to enter this world we headed down to Florida to be there for the birth, but baby had other plans and arrived that night. 

The next 48 hours were some of the most difficult hours for us. The mood had shifted when we arrived in Florida for the birth, and the birth mother seemed to shift from confidence in her decision to significant doubt. She had changed her mind about us being up there and having full access to the baby to allowing us one short supervised visit after we had been there for nearly a full day, she was no longer hugging us and encouraging us about the adoption like she had when we met the first time two short weeks prior. She decided to room in and care for the baby post delivery, which now I see as a blessing because it gave her that sacred time. Brad and I were crushed and scared when we left the hospital, but we knew we needed to honor this mother, whatever decision she made, and the agonizing process she needed to go through to make it.

Finally, 48 hours to the minute that our little girl came into the world, the papers were signed. When we entered that room all the joy and excitement we felt was immediately shifted to comforting and allowing our daughter's birth mother to grieve as she handed me her daughter and asked me to take care of her, saying “she is now yours”. I quickly handed her to my husband and just held her birth mother as we cried together over a child that she had chosen to give a better life to. We stood in that room together, crying, laughing, discussing what this sweet baby liked and didn’t like, and reassured each other over this life altering decision. I will always treasure that time spent together. 

Adoption is not a smooth road; it is full of pot holes and twist and turns. But for us the end result was a child that instantly became our “own” the very first time we laid eyes on her. She has brightened a world that looked dark at times, she brought our dreams back to life, and she is everything that we ever dreamed of. We turned it over to God and let him lead us to two amazing people who sought out a better life for one of God’s greatest gifts; such an incredible miracle!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Adoption Story: Stephen and Caroline

"God's timing is always perfect." This is a refrain I say and see time and time again in my work with families in adoption. Although it has the potential to sound trite or cliche, it's proved true over and over. Stephen and Caroline's story of how they brought their son home is a picture of God's amazing timing. It was five months after they completed their home study that an expectant family chose them. Four months later, their son Liam was born. A nine month journey of waiting and anticipation...

It feels like he was always ours. When I'm not with him, I'm always thinking about him. People sometimes ask "does it feel different since he's not your biological child?" We have nothing to compare it to, but the way my heart bursts when I think about him - I can't imagine that it feels different. 

Liam's birth mom, Mama S, chose us to be his parents in March of 2018. She didn't know the baby's gender yet, but we just knew it would be a boy. Mama S had three young children at home and she was married. Sadly it was a situation of homelessness and she wanted more for her baby. We always envisioned having a relationship with our baby's family, so we decided to start immediately. We had weekly calls (Friday nights) with Mama S and the kids. We flew out to meet her in May. I'm so glad we did that because it gave us the opportunity to get to know her and her children - a special story that we look forward to sharing with Liam someday. 

On Saturday, July 7th, we woke up and packed the dogs in the car to go hiking. As we were leaving our house, we got a call from our case worker - Mama S was in labor three weeks early! She said that we needed to get on the next plane ASAP (because this was her fourth baby and was progressing quickly). We got to Arizona about five hours later and had missed his birth by about an hour. Mama S wanted us to take him immediately and do skin-to-skin for bonding. We did. As the day progressed, the nurses noted that Liam refused to eat. When they tested his blood sugar, he was immediately admitted to the NICU and shortly afterwards started seizing. Mama S is a diabetic which led to some complications with Liam unable to regulate his blood sugar. He was in the NICU for seven days and although it broke my heart to see him in pain and hooked up to a multitude of lines, we learned so much during that sweet time. We became a family. We gave him his first bath. My husband learned how to change a diaper. We had sleepless nights. 

Looking back, I saw God in every step of our adoption journey. All of our tears of getting a 'no' from the situations we presented to. All of our worry during the waiting time for Mama S and her husband to sign. Living in a hotel in Arizona for two weeks in July (it was scorching hot!) away from the comforts of home and the help of family. Praying for our ICPC to be complete. So.many.tears. Would we do it again? Absolutely. We will start the process again this summer. Adoption is the gospel personified. I feel so much closer to my Savior now that he has given us his child to raise. Adoption is the hardest thing I've ever done. And I am reminded everyday how much my Savior loves me when I look at Liam. 
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