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

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