Thursday, December 19, 2019

Adoption Story: Josh and Laura

"We tried again and lost a fourth baby over Christmas..." Josh and Laura had dreams of building a family, but could't imagine what was in store for them when they got married. Today Laura shares how faithfully and powerfully God showed up, right in the midst of their brokenness, and invited them into new dreams.

Before we got married, Josh told me that he wanted kids from all over the world - with multiple skin colors to be in our family; just like Heaven will be. I’d never really thought much about adoption, but I didn’t have anything against it. But what I really wanted were kids who “had their daddy’s smile” or “their momma’s eyes.” 

Several years into our marriage, we started trying to have kids and within a year and a half, lost three babies in early miscarriage. One was ectopic and I almost lost my life as well. Those years were hard. Friends having babies. Going to baby showers. Begging God for “our turn.” Trying to figure out what He was trying to teach us. 

After the third miscarriage, we learned of some genetic factors that were likely playing into my body not carrying the babies. We found an awesome doctor and went to work making big lifestyle changes to get healthy so that we could reach our dream of having kids. Two years later, we tried again and lost our fourth baby over Christmas. At that point, we were both done. We were angry. We were confused. And we were in desperate need of healing. 

God used the loss of our last baby to finally stop me in my tracks of trying to achieve my dream of having kids, and I was finally coming to Him broken asking, “God, what do you want to show me?” Josh didn’t realize it, but he’d built a wall between himself and God and felt like God had really messed things up. Josh felt like he had to step in and fix the mess. God, in His kindness, knew that the wall needed to come down. 

We didn’t know how to get there, but we knew we needed healing. I was begging God for it.

God used multiple people in our lives that year to bring that healing to our hearts. Showing us that our four babies in Heaven had a purpose even though they’d never taken a breath. Showing us that even though He allows us to experience deep pain, it’s pain that He knows. And He meets us there in deep ways where we experience the sweetness of His presence. It doesn’t make it easy, but it gives meaning to the pain and shows you the great worth of Jesus. 

The Fall after our last miscarriage, we knew we wanted to adopt, but life was really busy. I decided to ask God to show us when it was time to start the process by having someone give us money. We weren’t fundraising at that point, and I didn’t care what the amount was; $10 would have sufficed! But I knew we needed direction from Him. 

That December, God blew our minds. In a matter of two days, we were given $7,000. Talk about a sign! There were so many happy tears! And we knew that it was clearly time for us to sign up with Christian Adoption Consultants. So, we contacted Susan and began the paperwork journey. In April, we started receiving situations and said yes to multiple expectant moms. That was such an emotional rollercoaster. In August, after waiting two weeks for an expectant mama to decide and then hearing that she chose another family, I began asking God to have our “yes” come soon. I wasn’t sure my heart could take more “not yets.” 

September 12 was the day our lives changed. We were meeting with a mortgage broker getting the paperwork in order to buy a home when we got a call from Susan. Our meeting was close to being finished, so we didn’t answer. But we knew something was up after we both had missed calls and texts from her. I called as soon as we were in the car and she told us that the last agency we had applied with had done something unusual. They had decided to keep our family profile and had shown it to an expectant mama without telling us. She had fallen in love with our family, was currently in labor in Dallas, and wanted us to be there to cut the cord. Could we go? I was balling on the phone with Susan asking her to tell me what we needed to do next. Of course we would go! 

Josh works at our church, so we stopped by to get his computer on our way home. Our pastor booked flights for us to leave that evening, and so many others went into action to help us as well. It was so surreal. We got the first picture of our baby girl as we were walking through security at the airport. We made it to Dallas and found a hotel by 2am. The next morning we got to meet this sweet birth mama and baby girl. We had prayed for an open relationship with the birth mom, and we had such a good time connecting with her that day. We had picked out names on the plane ride once we knew it was a girl, but we couldn’t decide on Rae or Quinn for her middle name. Her birth mama didn’t have a name picked out, so we chose her name, Anora Rae with her. She liked both Rae and Quinn, so we all decided on Anora Rae as her first name and Quinn as her middle. It was really special to get to decide on her name together. 

Our first few months with Anora Rae felt like a whirlwind. But she’s been such a sweet blessing. Fifteen months later we still can’t believe how good a gift she is! God has been so faithful to answer prayer… from little things like a baby who likes to cuddle to huge things like how He’s provided financially. He has been abundantly faithful and shown us over and over again that He is a tender, loving Father who is worth following. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Adoption Story: Kyle and Abby

Kyle and Abby started working with me through Christian Adoption Consultants last November. It was the end of January when their home study was ready, and then, almost nine months to the day later, their son was born. Sweet Boaz was a very welcome addition, making their family of four a family of five. Today Abby shares their journey, and specifically those that came alongside in unexpected ways.

By the grace of God alone, I write our story (one handed) while nursing our now six week old son, Boaz. Seven weeks ago our family was where perhaps many of you reading are today. We were presenting to so many expectant mamas we had sort of lost track of how many it had been, receiving so many ‘not yets’ that it felt like no one would ever say ‘yes,’ questioning if God really had adoption for our family or if it was just a pipe dream, a desire that we might have to give up. 

It was a Thursday morning we were notified that we matched, and the baby was due the following Tuesday. I cannot even articulate the emotions…it was something along the lines of the best Christmas morning of our lives meets a car crash. We told our family and friends and we were so hopeful, yet scared to invest our whole hearts yet. What if the expectant mom changed her mind? On Monday we received notification that the baby had been born on Saturday and the birth mom would be discharged that day. We rushed to buy plane tickets, throw together our suitcases, kiss our older two kids goodbye and head to the airport. That Monday night at about 11:30, we were led into the hospital nursery. When we turned the corner, we saw a nurse holding a beautiful baby with a full head of dark, curly hair and I just knew that one was ours. She smiled, said “Congratulations!” handed him to me, and I immediately had all these thoughts… is he really, truly ours? Can I really give my whole heart to him like I long to do? And he was ours and he is ours, but in the moment all felt so uncertain and new. We cuddled our Boaz in the dark, back corner of the baby nursery, surrounded by mounds of formula and diapers for hours. That’s where we met our son. 

The next morning our lawyer came to the hospital and we signed papers over coffee, and he told us things that will make him special to our family for the rest of our lives, even if he doesn’t know it. We soaked up every word that both the nurses and the lawyer told us about Boaz’s birth parents, tucking it all away to share with him as he grows.  Honestly, this was the sweetest of times - holding our son while trying to glean what we could about where he came from, even though it was from people who only sort of knew. 

We spent much of our ICPC wait on the beach (no regrets there) but the best part of our wait was the church that we visited while we were there. You see, we longed for the body of Christ in the midst of this major life event, and our local body was states and states away. When we walked in that Sunday morning, we were struck by the shear amount of multiracial families, many of them by adoption. Upon arrival, we were immediately spotted and loved by these people, and they just knew. They knew we were alone there in Florida and needing to hear the Word preached and partake in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The sermon was on the final verse of 2 Corinthians, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” and in God’s sweet providence, He ordained that many of the words that pastor spoke were the very things I had been meditating on as we drove to church, and I just cried at the sweet gifts both around us and in our arms. Many stayed long after the service ended to talk with us and love us, and we received not one, but two invitations to dinner while we were in town. This is the body of Christ.

Since we have been home, we have been completely and totally overwhelmed by the amount of love and support from our families, church family, and friends. What a joy it is to do life with these people who tell us that we don’t have to do it all alone – and then they back it up with action! We are in the family of God and these people will and have already helped us raise not just Boaz, but Flora and Leo as well. That’s where you find us now, tired, happy, a little bit of a mess, thankful, and surrounded by the love of God through His people. 

As you, dear reader, may be one of those still waiting to hear that coveted ‘yes,’ we urge you, rest continually in our Sovereign Savior King. He will work out your story according to His good pleasure. There will be trials and there will be joys, but His story is infinitely better than any you or I could ever write. 

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Adoption Story: Marc and Sarah

If you've ever wanted a detailed, honest, and raw glimpse into the road to adoption; this is a beautiful one. Today Sarah is graciously sharing their family's journey of becoming a family of five. It includes honest, heartfelt prayers, questions from little boys wanting to become big brothers, candid insight into the effects of the wait on marriage, and what it looks like to have a relationship with a birth family. Sarah unpacks the holy and hard spaces of adoption, the wonder and often anxiety-producing wait for a child, and the beauty of learning that God is the author of good stories...

For years we waited, believing another was meant to be part of our happy, sometimes chaotic, always loving family. Until Ella Grace’s first parents chose us! We are humbled by their sacrificial decision made out of love – a gift we couldn’t repay in a hundred lifetimes. This is our story…

Until God opens the next door, praise him in the hallway.

They were years of hard: pregnancies with unending nausea, difficult deliveries ending in c-sections, a heartbreaking miscarriage, and then we lost our three-year battle with secondary infertility. Our fertility efforts stopped with I was matched to be a potential donor with a national marrow donor program. Agreeing to the donation process required me to not be pregnant and not get pregnant. How’s that for timing? We were asked to potentially save a stranger’s life. But, it required us to cease trying to create life – desperately wanted life.

All this was followed by an arduous adoption journey that started as a small glimmer years earlier. In April of 2016 a friend agreed to meet with me to discuss her family’s adoption journey – she told me about Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC). In February 2017, we met with Susan with CAC, and came away with reassurance on moving forward. Although, it still took us a little more time. Leaps of faith are hard.

In November 2017 we were finally ready. Or as ready as we were going to be. We signed papers with CAC and began our home study. Thank goodness for a very kind and understanding home study provider, because our first visit began with our son Hudson (age 6) asking how babies are made and ended with our son Beau (age 5) stating his favorite thing to do is “go potty outside.” Well, that went well. 

We were home study approved in December 2017. By the Spring, our family profile book was ready and we started applying with agencies. Even after we got started in earnest on our adoption journey, the wait was over a year. God has been trying to teach me patience for a very long time. 

Every situation we saw, I devoured in detail and carefully considered. When one felt right, I would discuss it with Marc to see if it felt right to him too. Our rule was that if we were to present, we both had to be all in. Throughout this process, I was very purposeful, but also very analytical. Regardless, how we got to the adoption agency we ultimately matched through – well, that can only be described as God stuff. More to come on that.

One night I laid in a tiny twin bed snuggling my 5-year old as he not-so-quickly-or-easily drifted off to sleep. As I so often did with both my boys, we talked about another baby in our hearts and also in our home someday. We talk about all the things big brothers would need to teach to a little sibling, what we would name him or her (Bacon was thrown out as an option, but didn’t make the cut), and how happy we would be. In a nudging I can only explain as God talking to me, my heart knew there would be another baby and that baby would come from “up north.” That didn’t make sense since every agency we were registered with was south of us. 

And that brings us back to how we found our adoption agency. One day on the way to a fertility appointment in an area I know well, I inexplicably took a wrong turn. I stopped to check my phone for directions and looked up to see I was parked in front of an adoption agency. What are the chances? It’s not like you see those on every corner. Oh, and as I redirected and pulled into the fertility clinic parking lot that day “Tomorrow” from Annie started playing. Huh. Anyway, although a small local agency, it’s name kept coming up in conversations. I felt a strong pull to it. And, hey, it was up north, if only a few miles north. Applying was a more laborious process than it was with the other agencies we were with, including an interview and being presented to their board. 

And then, we were declined. Because of their size, they did not feel they could meet our needs in the timeframe we desired. The rejection stung. I was confused. *Meanwhile, that very week, a little soul was conceived somewhere much farther north.* The little local agency recommended another agency, and so we applied. 

Through all of our agencies, we saw 138 situations total. I know this because I “controlled” something by tracking each of the situations in a spreadsheet. We tried to present on three situations, that for various reasons never happened. We actually presented on ten situations with no match. We weren’t being chosen. And all you get is something along the lines of “another family was chosen.” Why not us though? Is it because we already have two kids? Because they are bio kids? Are we too old? Too professional? Too Midwestern? Too boring? Did I not let our imperfections show enough? Too much? Too something? …Yep, it's definitely the too old thing. 

Things got hard in our marriage. We struggled. We wanted it all to bring us closer together. But, yet again, it was hard. Marc was so grateful for our two beautiful, healthy children that he felt guilty asking God for another. For me, this child was as real as our two boys. With much angst, Marc and I agreed that if we hadn’t matched by year end, we would have to be done with this process. One of our boys asked if we were ever going to “get a baby,” and for the first time, I responded that I wasn’t sure we were. 

I cried to my sister that I had another child out there and just couldn’t get to him/her. I leaned heavily on my family, our neighborhood of dear friends, and my Building Better Moms group at church. We are so grateful for the other moms and dads, who we now count as friends, who came into our lives and were willing to shine a light as we traveled this adoption path they themselves have traveled. I had hard things to work through and they never judged, but only supported and lifted up.

We loved you before we ever met you.

And then, on our eleventh presentation, we got a call…..

The call caught me completely off guard. This was the very first situation we had seen through this new agency. I called Marc and couldn’t get the words out fast enough. And then, later that night, a call with the biological mom and dad, Faith and Matt. Faith and Matt of Montana (way up north) were expecting a baby girl! They already have one little girl together, Athena, who would be only eleven months old when this baby would arrive. They selflessly wanted the best lives for both their daughters, and knew they weren’t in a place to parent a second child. They were so open during our call, so brave, and so awesome. By the end of the call it was clear: They chose us! Marc and I stared at each other in awe, unable to form words. And then we stayed up half the night talking through every detail, unable to contain our pure joy. Marc’s family has two generations of all boys. Adding a girl was literally our wildest dream. 

For the next six weeks, we had regular calls. Sometimes Marc and I would get anxious between calls. But Faith and Matt were always steadfast and resolute in their decision, which was incredibly gracious and provided us so much comfort. They told us they wanted us to be in the room for the delivery, they wanted us to be the first to hold her, and they asked us to name her so they could start calling her by her name. We named her Mary Ella Grace. 

I struggled with guilt in the days leading up to our departure for Montana. It felt unnatural. I didn’t want Faith, Matt, and Athena to suffer. I wanted Ella Grace to have her biological family. I wondered how we would all be able to do this. The day before we flew out was my hardest day. There was so much anticipation and stress, and there were lots of tears and prayers. Again, it was hard. Often, life with Jesus looks different than easy.

We met in Montana. We’re making it forever.

While Matt & Marc anxiously awaited her arrival together in the hospital waiting area, I got to be in the surgery room with Faith for the delivery. It went so fast. Faith was strong and calm. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life - watching Ella Grace enter the world. 

April 11, 2019 journal entry: Today I saw your face for the first time, and I knew. My heart knew. Baby girl, everything is going to be alright. Momma is here. Forever.

We earned ourselves forty-eight hours in the NICU with baby girl needing some extra oxygen. It was a harrowing first few hours, during which we were very close to being life-flighted to a bigger hospital. I found myself standing in the corner crying helplessly while they stuck her time and again trying to get an IV into her tiny body and start fluids without blowing a vein. She did not appreciate all this nonsense. Matt held vigil outside the NICU window, making sure she was alright. It was incredibly sweet and powerful, and still makes me tear up every time I think about it. I had to wait until late that first night to hold sweet Ella Grace. And when I did, angels sang to us. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. 

The hospital stay was such a time of bonding. Marc and I were grateful to have a room and to share with Faith and Matt those first precious days with our (all of our) little girl. I spent many hours chatting with Faith at Ella Grace’s crib side in the NICU, both of us taking turns snuggling her. Faith and Matt also had a private time of holding her and talking to her – I envision them whispering into her ear about who she is and how much they love her. 
The first time our boys met Ella Grace via video call, she was in the NICU and they spontaneously began singing her a lullaby. The second time was in the moments after Ella Grace was legally placed with us, and they ran around the room screaming with joy.

All the nurses turned out to see what Ella Grace’s amazing head of hair was going to do when she got her first bath. We had the best nurses …one named Mary, one who was the mama bear and was adopted herself, a sweet newbie in training who let me listen in and learn with her, one who took such good care of Faith, and the one who heroically saved us from that helicopter ride. And then there was our lactation consultant, who became a fast friend and gave me the best shot possible nursing this little one.

Discharge day was emotional. Marc walked Faith to her car and then came back to our room and broke down. We care so much about every one of these beautiful people that are now part of our lives. And we are in awe of Faith in all her strength.

There’s no place like home.

We thank the Lord for my mom, who took such good care of our boys while we were gone, as only their grandma could. Marc flew home after a week in Montana, while I impatiently waited out ICPC missing all my boys. And by “waited,” I mean I showed up at Montana ICPC with our beautiful newborn nestled to my chest, and pleaded with them to get me home by Easter. Meanwhile, our attorney was finessing things on the Kansas side. And it worked – (once they finally had all the paperwork) Montana and Kansas processed in an unprecedented four hours total. 

After ten days in Montana, the flight back by my (exhausted) self with a newborn was harder than I expected. Imagine lots of luggage and baby gear, and a mom with germaphobe tendencies (that’s me) with a newborn baby traversing through airports and on planes, and you get the idea. Oh, also imagine a giant blow-out from said baby.

We were home for Easter with our family. And our boys got their first long-awaited snuggles with their new little sister - this little sister for whom we had all longed and prayed. God is good.

Surprise! It’s a girl!

We didn’t tell many people during the 6-week match, and blew their minds when we announced that this sweet baby girl had joined our family. I posted to social media a sweet photo of Ella Grace with the caption “Some day she will move mountains.” A friend responded, “Pretty sure she already has..” Truer words have never been spoken.

On June 3, 2019, we made it official in a court of law. Baby girl, we are forever yours.

So crazy hard and so crazy good.

I nursed for four and a half years straight between our two boys, and it is a blessing to be able to nurse Ella Grace too. It turns out relactation is a rather daunting, and those with expertise hard to come by - shout out to the two who supported me in our journey. Women’s bodies are amazing and Ella Grace and I are doing it together. 

I walk around on a cloud all day with the peace that our family is finally complete. I can’t get enough of this precious child, and am so grateful of the incredible gift we have been given. Daddy is wrapped around Ella Grace’s little finger, and she looks at him like he is her whole world. Hudson remains steadfast in upholding his big brother duties, and is so sweet in making sure his little sister is always protected. Beau has zealously taken on his new big brother role, his heart having always known he would be one. He is even somewhat of a baby whisperer. Ella Grace can’t get enough of her brothers. She thinks they are hilarious. She is right. She also adores her two pups, Agnes & Bernice, and laughs with delight when they sneak in licks to her little baby fingers and toes. She is such a perfect baby  – we joke you have to go to Montana to get the good ones.

Along the way, I wanted to roll my eyes every time well-meaning folks would talk about God having a specific baby out there for us ...because “free will”, and all these decisions we are making, and control issues. But, this is the exact child that we were intended to love forever. I have received that message in so many ways so loud and clear. And, through adoption, our hearts and lives will be forever intertwined with Faith and Matt and Athena. We are all family now. It will probably be messy and hard at times. Although, not if they can help it, because they are pure awesome. But it will also be beautiful and good. So, so good. And so very worth it. This is our family. And that is how it came to be.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Considering Becoming a Transracial Family

As a social worker and adoption consultant who has worked with families going on twenty years, I've had hundreds of conversations with white families considering adopting a child who is not their same race and ethnicity. But even with those conversations in living rooms, coffee shops, and conferences calls, I'll be the first to say I'm no expert in this area. I'm a white woman, raising my biological children, who has never walked in the shoes of a person of color.

When we have children, we read books on child-rearing, prepare a nursery, and register for baby items. Adopting a child means additional steps of a home study and being chosen by a birth family. But families choosing to adopt transracially, and specifically the children they adopt, have to tackle head on the complexities of race, identity, and navigating all that means in today's America. Adopting across races goes far beyond hair care and celebrating Black History Month. Let's challenge ourselves to thoughtfully consider these issues for the sake of black and brown children who need parents to not only care for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but also to care well for their racial wellbeing.

At its core, adoption is complex. Yes, adoption is beautiful. But it also always begins with brokenness and can leave an adoptee struggling with their identity. Nowhere is this more true than with transracial adoptees. In transracial adoption, a child is not only severed from their birth family, but also from their race and culture. One of the worst things we can do is attempt to be "colorblind" or believe that "love is enough." These are two dangerous beliefs that diminish a person's identity and worth as well as the realities of that person's experiences.

As you think and pray through the possibility of becoming a transracial family, here are some issues to consider and a few practical steps you can take:

1. Confront your own biases

We all have them; prejudices or inclinations about others. Our biases can be explicit (conscious) or implicit (unconscious) and are a part of a broken, sinful world. As a hopeful adoptive parent considering transracial adoption, this is a necessary first step; discovering prejudices you have and choosing to actively fight them with the truth. Without doing the hard work of uncovering your own personal biases, you can't begin to do the even more important work of addressing them. How comfortable are you with people who are different than you? When you hear about racism in America, is your first inclination to listen and learn or to dismiss and deny?

2. Consider your current and future community

"Your child should not be your first black friend." Chad Goller-Sojourney shared this wisdom in his interview with NPR sharing his experience as a transracial adoptee. Make sure your adopted child isn't the first person outside of your race around your dinner table, in your home, and in your close circle. To responsibly consider adopting a child outside of your race, first take a look at your current life. Is there diversity in your neighborhood? Your church? Your local school? Your gym? Would your child see people that look like them in your community? One of your roles as a transracial adoptive parent will be to intentionally seek out racial mirrors and mentors for your child. What would it look like for you to continue to or begin to embrace another culture?  How can you provide your child with opportunities to play, grow, and learn alongside those who share their skin tone? 

3. Count the cost

If you can't identify diversity in your current circles, are you willing to make some changes? Are you willing to intentionally seek out racial mirrors for your child and invite them into your daily life? Are you open to moving into a different neighborhood or community, willing to attend a different church or school, and willing to find experiences for your child where they will not be the minority? Are you willing to find people of color who are in spaces of influence, role models, and leadership in your community: doctors, teachers, and politicians? As a multiracial family, you will come face to face with the ugliness of stereotypes, microagressions, and racism. To reflect God's own heart of justice, you will have to work to fight against these evils. There will be heartbreak and suffering as you watch your child suffer unjustly from the judgments of others. You will likely have some hard, uncomfortable conversations. Are you committed to entering spaces of discomfort for the sake of the comfort of your child? Honestly weighing these important considerations will be critical to prayerfully considering adopting a child who doesn't share your race.  

4. Decide to become a lifelong learner

One of the most important ways to continue to learn and grow in this area is to listen to the voices of  men and women of color. In particular, it is essential that we listen to transracial adoptees. We hear a lot from adoptive families and occasionally from birth families, but we need to especially lean in and listen to adoptees when they share their experience. Here's just a few adoptee voices to listen and learn from: Rhonda Roorda and her book, In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial AdoptionAngela Tucker, creator of The Adopted Life, and April Dinwoodie of Born in June, Raised in April. Another way to learn is to be a part of a community that openly discusses race, racism, and works to restore justice. Be The Bridge is an incredible online space and the educational units they offer are especially helpful as you work to learn all you can about these issues. Decide now to never quit learning.

Seriously considering adoption, especially adopting transracially, means that for many families who feel called to adoption they seriously consider what it means to actively work to maintain their child's cultural and racial heritage. The process of learning how to parent a child outside of your ethnicity should begin during the home study (if not before) and continue lifelong for the sake of your child. It is hard and humbling work. It takes courage, dedication, and grit. But this is Kingdom work: when we celebrate the beauty and identity of every race, we bring some of Heaven to Earth.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Adoption Story: Chris and Sam

I remember the first time I talked to Samantha. They had just lost a son but their passion for adoption was so evident. Even after such a tremendous loss, it was clear she and Chris felt called to pursue growing their family through adoption as soon as they could. Today Samantha shares their journey to parenthood that was marked by grief, but eventually led them to two daughters who have brought incredible joy. 

We have been married for almost eight years now, and adoption has been part of our plan since we first met and started dating. We love that adoption allows us to live out the story of the Gospel in our own family while also affirming the preciousness of human life. Even though we always wanted to adopt, we also wanted to have biological children, so we decided to start there. We never anticipated that our journey to parenthood would be wrought with so much pain and loss. We suffered an early miscarriage just three months after we started trying to conceive. We were blessed with our little miracle daughter in 2016, but after she was born we lost four more sweet babies in the womb. After all of this heartache, we thought the Lord might be moving our adoption timeline up, so we applied with our local agency and went through the home study process. Our home study was approved the same day we found out we were unexpectedly pregnant again. We put the adoption on hold and started preparing for the arrival of this sweet child.  Just one week after our anatomy scan at twenty weeks where we found out we were expecting a boy, our son was stillborn due to an umbilical cord accident.

We were broken. We cried out to God with every last ounce of energy asking why he had allowed so many children to be taken from us. During that time, we decided we didn’t want to wait another minute to add a child to our family, so we dove headfirst back into the adoption process. We decided to sign on with Christian Adoption Consultants to help cut down on our wait time. Susan and CAC ended up doing much more than that. Susan was able to help us navigate the whole process so smoothly even while our eyes were clouded with grief.

In April 2019, we started prayerfully presenting to expectant families. Each “no” we received was so discouraging, but as we went along, we learned to present with open hands, trusting that the Lord would sovereignly bring us the child he had for our family. On July 1, just five days before our son’s due date, we got the best phone call we had ever received. An expectant mom and dad had chosen us to raise their baby daughter. Our daughter came five weeks early, and the Lord paved the way for us to get to Las Vegas shortly after she was born. He even placed a free place for us to stay in our laps! We now have an open adoption with our daughter’s birth parents. We were able to become fast friends with them during our time in Las Vegas, and we still talk with them several times a week. We are so thankful for this relationship, for their sacrifice and love for our daughter, and the for education we received from CAC about how to love them well.

Looking back, I can see God’s hand of faithfulness in every detail of our story. I’m reminded of the story of Lazarus. Jesus could have healed Lazarus right away, but instead, he allowed Lazarus to die and Mary and Martha to grieve so that his glory could be revealed by raising Lazarus from the dead. God could have made our path to parenthood easy, but in his sovereign love for us, he allowed us to experience trial and heartache along the way. He gave us the opportunity to cry out to him and be comforted by him. In the end we saw him faithfully care for us through it all, and his glory was revealed to us and many others who were able to walk through our story with us.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Adoption Story: Lynn and Alisa (again!)

One of the hardest parts of the adoption process for hopeful adoptive families can be knowing when to present to an expectant family. With Christian Adoption Consultants, families see possible situations often. This means they are reading through the social and medical history of an expectant family who is considering adoption for their child. Hopeful adoptive parents then have a chance to think and pray through if they would like to be presented and have the expectant family look at their profile, in hopes that the mother will choose a family she would like to raise her child. 

But how do families know when to present? When Lynn and Alisa decided they wanted to add to their family again through adoption, they wrestled with this question. (You can read about their first journey here!) Today Alisa beautifully shares how they wrestled with "knowing when," and ultimately trusted God to bring them to the right baby, at the right time, in the best way for their family.

God will never let you miss your baby. This reminder from our adoption consultant, Susan, often encouraged us when we were pouring over expectant family situations. When we started the adoption process in May of 2018, we decided to present to whatever situations came our way, trusting God to slam the door shut with a “No” if it was not the child He intended for our family. We also had to trust that He would not let us choose the “wrong” situation when we had two or more situations to consider at one time and had the difficult decision of choosing which one to present to. These ended up being the hardest decisions throughout our adoption journey. How were we to know which precious baby God had planned for our family? How were we to know if our family was the family the expectant mom was looking for? What if we presented to Situation A and the family in Situation B would have chosen us had we presented to them? We had to trust that God would direct our “Yes” even as He directed their “No”.

In January 2019, we presented to a baby born situation (our 16th yes!) that we were comfortable with but didn’t really expect to match with due to expectant family preferences. A couple days later we were waiting to hear an answer back when our dream situation from another agency was sent to us:  baby was due in just three weeks (just long enough to prepare but not so long to wait and worry), travel/ICPC time with a February due date fit nicely into our farm work schedule, baby was a girl (we really weren’t gender specific, but thought, since we already had been blessed with a sweet son through adoption, a girl would round out our family), and most exciting, we fit the expectant family’s preferences very well and shared many interests! I remember thinking so this is how people feel when they see a situation and know it is the one for them! There was only one problem: we were not yet free to present since we were still waiting to hear an answer from the previous situation. Writing a letter to the expectant family in this new situation was easy; in the past, we had struggled with what to say in those letters, but this time the words just flowed from my pen. That done, we waited for our update on the current situation which was sure to come any minute. And waited…and waited…  Finally, after the deadline to present to our “dream situation” had passed, we heard from the previous situation, “I’m sorry, the parents have chosen another family.” Just in case we could slip our profile in, we checked with the other agency. Another “I’m sorry, they have already narrowed it down to a couple families…but we’ll be sending out more situations this week. Let us know if you want to present to any of them!”

True to their word, we received a couple situations the next day from that agency, in addition to one from another agency. That evening, we read through the situations, discussed them without coming to any conclusions, prayed that God would direct our decision, and hoped an answer would be clear in the morning. None seemed as “perfect” as the one we recently had to pass up, and we were weary of the emotional stress of deciding which situation to present to. We discussed just taking a break for a while, but God didn’t allow that. For reasons that we couldn’t define at the time, we presented to one of those situations which happened to have a five month match time – way longer than either of us wanted to deal with. It wasn’t an unmistakable this is it; it was more like if this is our baby, God will direct her to choose us – and we’ll deal with the long wait because this is where God wants us. That decision made, we went on with our busy day. Late that afternoon I had a strange number call my phone. I briefly considered that it might be from the agency, but thought it too soon for the expectant family to have made a decision. I answered the call…it was the match coordinator saying “Congratulations!  The expectant family has chosen you!!!”  

I’ll be honest – five months is a long time to wait and wonder if this match will end up in a sweet addition to your family! But the time wasn’t wasted. We had five months before baby was born to lift up the expectant family in prayer and learn to know them through phone visits. We had time to travel to meet the expectant mother, who had invited us to attend an ultrasound appointment with her – an amazing experience and totally unselfish of her to share that with us. We had time to prepare to be gone for an extended time during one of our busiest farming seasons. We had time to try to prepare our two year old son for the change that would be coming to our family. Slowly, the five months passed and we were blessed to spend time with expectant family again before the birth. And then…

We didn’t even try to hold back the tears as Lloyd’s birth mom, with heartbreaking love, placed her precious son in our arms, whispering to him, “Meet your Mommy and Daddy!” Our long-awaited sweet baby boy was here – a perfect addition to our family (by the way, we are so thankful that we have two boys)!

God will never let you miss your baby. Had we been free to pick and choose in our own limited understanding, we would not have been available to present to Lloyd’s birthparents. Looking back at how this journey all unfolded, we can say that God was truly directing each step with perfect timing so He could bless us with the child that was perfect for our family.  

For more information on presenting your profile, check out Knowing When To Say Yes In Adoption. Want more information on working with an adoption consultant? Click here for more!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Adoption Story: Charles and Ryan

Sometimes timing is everything. When a family starts on the adoption journey, it can sometimes feel like the they're spinning their wheels and nothing is happening. It's easy to think the home study paperwork and the wait will be never ending when you can't see all God is doing on the other side.

Charles and Ryan started with Christian Adoption Consultants on October 18, 2018. Five months later, on February 18, 2019, they were home study ready. And July 18, 2019 their son was born. Nine months to the day that they started their journey. Baby Samuel's story is a testament that God is always working His perfect timing, even when we can't see it.

Wow, we have tried to type these words so many different times, they all seem to fail us. Our family has been so deeply blessed to welcome our second son into our home. 

God has been so evident in all the details. Our sons' birth mom had decided she would like a completely closed adoption. Although we longed to have a relationship with her, we of course accepted her decision. We began praying that we could someday build a relationship with her so she would know our tremendous love for her son and for her. Unexpectedly, God provided so many opportunities for our families to bond during out time at the hospital - such an answer to prayer!

We are in awe of this little man and how much he has impacted us. His arrival grew our hearts more than we could have ever imagined and watching him and our first born bond has been the most incredible journey so far. We are equipping ourselves for some of the potential hard times ahead that can come with any adoption, but right now, we are resting peacefully in God's grace coming to fruition through our sweet Samuel. 

We feel so thankful to Susan and everyone at Christian Adoption Consultants for their hard work and faithfulness through this journey. God used them in huge ways to bring our family together! 

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Message to a Birthmom, On Your Daughter's Birthday

I woke up this morning to a message from a sweet adoptive mama I've worked with in the past. It's their daughter's third birthday this morning and the day is filled with plans to celebrate her. But in the midst of the celebration, Krissy shared that she has another mama on her mind. Her daughter's birth mother. She chose to have a fairly closed adoption so several times a year, Krissy faithfully shares pictures and updates with the agency which are then shared with her daughter's birth mother. But their family longs for the day their daughter's birth mom might be ready for a more open relationship.

This morning, she wrote this beautiful letter to her daughter's birth mother. On the birthday of the daughter they share. With her blessing, it's an honor to share it with you today.

To the sweet momma that gave her the gift of life:
As her birthday approaches, you are on my mind more than usual. There's hardly a time I don't think of you, but in the weeks before her birthday, I think of and pray for you even more. I think of what you must have been going through. I think of what you were thinking and dreaming of for her as you felt her kick and move. I remember the day, exactly one month before she was born, when we found out you had chosen us. Our happiness and joy overshadowed by my mommas heart almost sensing your heartbreak.
So, today, I will hold her for you. I will kiss her chubby cheeks covered in icing. I will take so many pictures with you in mind. I will probably let her get away with more than I should, because her day is more than a birthday. It is the anniversary of a monumental, life altering day. A day that you made one of the hardest decisions of your life. A day that we, as mommas, held each other and cried like babies over this precious little girl that changed our lives forever.
So, with you on my heart, I will document every detail of this oh so special day. Photos I'll send, praying that you get them and see the love surrounding our girl. Then, when the day is done, and the cake has been washed off her chubby cheeks, we will pray. We will pray for you and talk about you and read "Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born" and I'll do just that. I'll tell our sweet, brave, beautiful little girl about a sweet, brave, beautiful woman, and the monumental, life altering day that she went from your arms into mine. And then, with wet cheeks, I'll hold her and tell her just how much she's loved.
Happy birth day. You, sweet momma, are loved.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Adoption Story: Nathan and Vanessa

"Do you think a birth mom will ever choose a large family?" It's a frequent question from families who have children since it's a common myth that birth families will only choose a young couple with no children to raise their child. Nathan and Vanessa had a large family with six children when they started with Christian Adoption Consultants last September. But once they were home study approved in June, they were chosen just five weeks later by an expectant mom who knew they were the prefect family to raise her son. Today Vanessa shared how their family of eight became of family of nine!

Six years ago, God gave us a heart to adopt a child into our family.  After much prayer and waiting on God’s timing, we finally made the decision to go ahead with the adoption process.  It took awhile for us to complete all the paperwork and home study but on June 10th, we were ready to officially apply to various agencies.  Several situations came and went, but on July 8th, we were emailed a situation that we both felt very excited about and at peace with. 

This is where our story starts with God bringing Nicolas into our lives, although He was working way before we even knew. We learned about a mother seeking to make an adoption plan for her baby boy and was going to be induced on the 15th of July, only one week away! We prayed over the situation as we knew it would be very challenging for our large family to make this happen (we have six other children!). We decided to step out on faith and let God work out the many details. We notified the adoption agency that we would like to present our family to the expectant mother and were told that she would make her decision over the weekend. Saturday around 5 pm, we received a phone call from the agency saying that we had been chosen! Our evening turned into a whirlwind of excitement, packing, and planning!

We ended our evening in prayer and with tears as we knew this was going to be hard to leave our oldest four children with their grandparents as well as the big change this would be for our family. We flew out the next day in the afternoon and arrived early in the morning, the day the birth mother was to be induced.  Nicolas was born in the evening and was doing wonderful when we got to hold him for the first time.  

We were both overjoyed at this little blessing God was giving us. We had to wait almost four weeks for the legal paperwork and process to be completed. Our reunion at home was a blessed time as the older kids got to meet and hold their new baby brother for the first time!

God is good and through this journey we learned a lesson about faith.  When we step out on faith and out of our comfort zones, God works in amazing ways.  He provided so much and continued to answer prayer after prayer.  When we started to doubt or fear, His peace would come over us and comfort us.

Nicolas was worth the wait and we are humbled to be called to raise him for the Lord. We are looking forward to the many years we have ahead with him.  Welcome to our family Nicolas! We love you!
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