Monday, January 11, 2021

Adoption Story: Justin and Stephanie

One night Stephanie texted me a voice recording of one of her sweet boys praying for a baby sister. It was at a point in their journey that they weren't sure how, or even if, God would answer their prayers. Today Stephanie shares the details of how God brought a daughter (and a little sister) into their family. And how it was nothing short of miraculous.

Our family truly believes in God has a plan for us and we just have to keep praying and have faith! 

When I was finishing college, I had to have a new and rare procedure done that came with a lot of unknowns of long-term outcomes. When I met my husband, Justin, we had the conversation early on that if we were unable to have children of our own, we would adopt. After we were married, we met with my medical team and the high risk OBGYN's, discussed the option of pregnancy, and decided to move forward. We were able to get pregnant, and after a fairly rough pregnancy, we welcomed our son Cameron five weeks early unexpectedly when my placenta detached. Wanting more than one child, we asked about trying again. With our medical teams support and another rough pregnancy, we welcomed our second son Ethan three weeks early.  

We were advised that trying again would not be good for my health, but we still felt our family wasn't complete. Justin and I talked about adopting from time to time after that, and occasionally Cameron would ask when he was going to get a baby sister. We started looking into state agencies in May of 2019, but they didn't feel like the right fit. We were referred to Christian Adoption Consultants in January of 2020.  We reached out and were connected with Susan and she helped us start the process of getting our profile built and our home study completed.  We were home study approved by mid-March!  

We had talked to the boys about our plans to adopt and they joined us in praying for a baby to join our family. They started every night praying the sweetest prayer: "Dear God, please send us baby sister. We will love her, take care of her, and play with her.  Amen!" We went through the Spring and Summer with only a few situations that we presented to and were not selected. But our boys kept praying that same prayer every night - they wouldn't let us forget! We kept praying...

Tuesday, September 8th at 2:00pm everything changed. I received an email from an attorney with details about a mama who wanted to make an adoption plan for her seven week old baby girl. Just 24 hours later, we found ourselves on a phone call that would change our lives. After introductions and some important questions, this mama said "I want you guys to have her, can you come pick her up tonight?" I remember just sitting there in disbelief and clenching my husband's hand as we said "yes if we can!"  What followed was like a whirlwind as arrangements were made and within an hour we were on the road in the dark and rain to drive an hour and pick up this baby who would become our daughter later that night.

That evening began a beautiful relationship with our daughter's birth mom. We've been told the events that led up to our daughter's adoption are incredibly rare, and we have no doubt God was in so many details. We're sure He put us on the path for Aspen to join our family!  

She is the perfect addition to our family! She is such a good baby and her brothers are in love with her. We captured the boys on video coming down the stairs the morning after we brought her home and their smiles and pure joy was amazing. Our oldest said, "We prayed for you!" as he kissed her and patted her head. Truer words have never been spoken!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Adoption Story: Ryan and Jenny

When my phone lights up with a text from Jenny, I know I'm about to see the sweetest baby face and an update with how things are going. Just today I got a video filled with baby giggles, adoring siblings, and a family who grew from five to six in seven months. 

Jenny shares today about their adoption and specifically their experience working with Christian Adoption Consultants.

When the Lord spoke, we moved. Quite literally we moved into a home that would accommodate a family of six. Our yes to the Lord had to couple with some very practical next steps - like moving. The second step we took was to pick up the phone and call Susan. One of our dear friends recommended Susan after she walked with her through two adoptions. Because I trusted Amanda, I trusted Susan. Beyond the network of vetted, ethical agencies that Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC) connected us with, which of course was an asset, it has been Susan's calm, wise counsel through each step that has been invaluable. 

As I sat with a lump in my throat, staring at a blinking cursor trying to find the words to write my first letter to an expectant momma, it was Susan I called. When I was felt disheartened by yet another "not yet" after presenting to a situation, it was Susan I called. She has continually brought the voice of the Lord to our journey, as unique as it has turned out to be. Her wisdom from years of serving in the world of adoption was an anchor and compass through some of the hardest days. She would relentlessly tell me, "God is orchestrating this. You will not miss the baby He wants to entrust to you." It became a declaration through the matching phase that was much more emotionally costly than I expected. 

I am forever grateful for the way CAC led, served, and continues to celebrate alongside our family as we started our adoption journey last November and now - just a year later - are just weeks away from finalization. Our arms are full, our hearts expanded, and our family complete. God has done more than words can aptly express and I'm still trying to find the right ones to share more. But for now, I can say with the deepest appreciation that Susan and the team at CAC have been an invaluable partner in the journey to welcome home our little one and I am forever grateful for their role in what God has been orchestrating in our family. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Adoption Story: Seth and Brittany

Sometimes when God asks for your "yes," he only gives you the very next step. 

For Seth and Brittany, they took the next right step the entire time, even when they didn't know exactly where they were headed. Home study, done. Find Christian Adoption Consultants, done. Begin seeing situations...present to expectant families...raise finances for the next phase...

Every step a new challenge. And every step a new space to trust God with their future and their family. Today I'm so thankful for Brittany who shares the details of their story in such a way to encourage other families who might feel hesitant taking the next step God is calling them to take.

Seth and I always knew we’d adopt one day. It was a desire God placed on my heart as an elementary student. While dating, Seth and I discussed what our future might look like and adoption was placed on his heart as well. We wanted to have two biological children and then adopt our third. And that’s exactly what we did. 

We started the adoption process on October 16, 2018 with $0 saved for the adoption. We were going to fundraise our way through the process. God blew us away with how quickly we raised the funds for the home study and CAC’s fee. We were home study ready by December 2018. We signed on with Susan at CAC on Jan 2, 2019. We can’t tell you how much having Susan in our corner meant to us. The personal  prayers, monthly updates, resources, and private support group were invaluable. We started getting a few situations here and there about the end of February/early March. We had a lot more preferences to start out with, but God quickly opened our hearts to more and more. We weren’t financially ready to present to any situations until June. 

In total, we saw almost 70 situations. We had 16 “not yets” before we finally got the call! I’ll be honest, they were not viewed as "not yets," but flat out "nos" up until we were finally chosen. We waited almost eighteen months on the dot to be chosen. It was the longest wait of my life! We never imagined it taking that long. We thought we would have our daughter home in 2019. Then, on April 17, 2020, we got a phone call that would change our families lives forever. The instant I heard “Congratulations, Jessica has chosen you!” it ALL made complete sense! All of the heartbreaks, the “they chose another family” emails, the perceived roadblocks; they were all part of the plan to bring us to Jessica and our daughter. 

We now had a four month match ahead of us as baby girl wasn’t due until August 12th! So we continued to fundraise, pray, and get to know the expectant momma we were matched with. We saw first hand Ephesians 3:20 come to life, “Now to HIM who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us.” By July, we were 100% FULLY funded! We raised just under $50,000! 

We knew Momma J would deliver August 7th. It was planned and we were ready to travel the fifteen hours down to Florida, with our boys in tow, on August 4th. We didn’t expect the roller coaster of almost having to rush down there early a few times because she was admitted to the ER several times with bad contractions and had to have a shot to stop labor. We are thankful that she was able to make it to her scheduled c-section so I could be there for the delivery. Because of COVID, Momma J could only have one support person with her the entire delivery and hospital stay. And she chose me! So we traveled down a few days early. The trip taking us nineteen hours straight! We were able to meet up with Momma J for lunch the day before delivery and then meet her and her family again that evening at a splash pad. 

On August 7
th at 1:57 pm, Adyson Kathleen was born. She had a very traumatic delivery, and there was a brief period that I wasn’t sure she was going to make it. But she’s strong, like her birth momma and quickly came around. Baby cries never sounded so sweet. I roomed in with Momma J and Adyson the entire time until they were discharged on August 10th. I’ve never felt so many mixed and complex emotions like I did during that hospital stay (and the several weeks that followed). It’s hard knowing your place before placement, what to say and what not to say, knowing she’s grieving and you’re celebrating, consoling and caring for someone you just met the day before in such an intimate way. Wanting this child to be yours, yet knowing she isn’t and keeping your heart guarded “just in case.” Ensuring her that it is ok to change her mind and that we would support that decision. No book can prepare you for this journey. If I could go back, I’d love deeper and harder. 

We met up with Momma J and her family twice before traveling back home. After waiting almost two years to hold her, we had a record breaking ICPC process of less than 3 days! We finalized her adoption on November 10th, 90 days on the dot after placement. Legally, it could not happen any sooner. We still talk with Momma J frequently with calls, letters, texts, and emails. Yearly visits are the plan too. It ebbs and flows with communication and we are all still adjusting and learning. We miss her so much and love her with a love that we don’t know how to explain. There are never going to be enough words to say or things I can do to thank her for giving me the daughter I’ve prayed for since I was a child. It’s crazy to think that if we wouldn’t have widened our initial preferences, that we wouldn’t have our Ady girl today. 

So, if you’re in the thick of it, take heart and be still. God is preparing the way and one day it will all make perfect sense!

Monday, December 21, 2020

When the story doesn't end how you thought it would

Sometimes it's easy to read adoption stories and only see happy endings. 

But the truth is, adoption is always born from brokenness. Adoption is always bittersweet and sometimes the stories don't end the way you had hoped. When Brent and Jamie began their adoption, there was no way to know what would lie ahead for their family. 

Today Jamie shares transparently what it looks like to walk through both the brokenness and the beauty of adoption. And what it looks like to find God in both places.

I’ve started to write our story many times. However it has always ended up more doom and gloom than I want. It’s been one year since we had a failed match. And while it was very quickly followed by a miraculous stork drop, it has since etched a sadness in our hearts. The joy is much much bigger, but the thing about adoption is the pain from a failed match or the birth family’s grief at the placing of a baby – that sadness doesn’t just disappear with life’s wonderful joys. But let me tell you, my happiness is overflowing and contagious right now. Our lives have been blessed by the most wonderful little girl. 

Our match process was pretty average I think. Eight ‘not yets,’ and a final yes from a couple we took a chance on. Our expectant mother was early in her pregnancy – only 15 weeks. We hadn’t been presenting to situations that early, but we were getting discouraged and we agreed the intent was to have a child, and why wouldn’t we take a leap on this baby? 

They wanted to meet in person so we flew to Las Vegas from Minneapolis for a dinner. We had already had a few phone calls that went wonderfully. Our second contact our expectant mother said “Are you ready to know what you’re having? Rosalie is getting a sister!” She asked if we were going to do a gender reveal to our families. We hadn’t planned on the pomp and circumstance since nothing is ever final in adoption, but she was excited about it, so we did. We sent bouquets of pink floral arrangements to our parents signed “It’s a girl!”. Our expectant mom loved it. We continued to develop a relationship. She shared why she was placing – she was young and didn’t have stable employment, and she grew up in a single parent home and did not want that for her baby. Few people understood the depth of our relationship. But I wanted to make sure that we established a strong connection for the child we would share. She shared videos of baby girl kicking. I sent her voice messages that she played to her stomach. We had a print of the 20 week ultrasound of baby girl on our fridge – she had such long arms and legs! - and every time I walked by it I would kiss my fingertips and touch it. 

The last few weeks before her due date I started panicking. Things were changing with our expectant mother. Red flags were popping up and I was terrified. I cried almost daily. I was so scared. I prayed and prayed. I begged God for this to be His will. Our social worker called when she went into labor, so we got on the next flight to Las Vegas. The hospital wouldn’t let us have a room and that’s when it began to feel even more rocky. We were in the waiting room for hours before we were invited in. We held precious baby Lily and kissed her, and then we gave her back. Our social worker suggested we go to our hotel, the recovery room was small and it was the middle of the night. Suddenly we weren’t sure if Lily was ours. The following day continued to be messy, but eventually our social worker sat with all of us and discussed the highs and lows of the past 24 hours. And they affirmed for us that they could not parent and they were not changing their minds. Tears streamed down my face, and I put my trust in their words. Things changed for the better and we spent the next two days caring for Lily. She latched easily when I nursed her, we admired every inch of her tiny body – she had a flat little butt, and rosy red cheeks. And the morning of the paperwork my heart ached for Lily’s parents. My husband and I both felt grief for their loss. But we were confident, and so so happy. I was praising God for His faithfulness. 

The details of how it unfolded are yucky. Both of Lily’s parents had roommates and we felt it would be difficult for them to grieve without privacy so we purchased them a few nights at a hotel. Twenty minutes before the phone call to tell us they changed their mind, Lily’s mother texted me “We still have the hotel tonight right? LOL”. I still can barely see the letters lol without a pang in my heart. And then suddenly we were hysterical in the parking lot of a Starbucks. I was on my knees outside wailing from the phone call. They had chosen to parent. It was the eve of Thanksgiving so tickets home were outrageous but we needed to be back with our daughter. The next day, we laid in bed crying – that’s how we spent the following weeks. Our daughter had a heartbreaking tantrum when we arrived home without the baby sister we had been talking about for months. She was two and we didn’t realized the devastation for her until the day after the crib came down and she was trying to kick over our ottoman and throw her floor rug – behaviors we had absolutely never seen in her. And then we discovered her little heart was broken too. 

A few weeks later it was a Sunday and my birthday. We decided to go to church for the first time. I don’t even know what happened at church, I just cried the entire time. I was so confused. There were so many little signs during our five month match that made me feel like God had ordained this. Lily was even born on National Adoption Day and when we shared that with her parents, they thought it was beautiful. I thought God was giving us signs. Later a friend told me that maybe I wasn’t wrong on reading God’s signs. Maybe He did wish for Lily to have us as parents, but He also knew that her mother wouldn’t choose that. We have free will, and even if God had placed these little blessings upon the situation, it wasn’t going to deter what would be her choice in that final moment. And then my friend told me “But He is working for your good.” And even now that is what I cling to in life. God is always working for our good. He also knew Nora’s birthmother was pregnant and not planning to parent. And when she went into labor, the hospital called our agency, and our social worker is the one who met with her… little details that I think are big signs of God’s hand in our life. 

The day after my very miserable birthday I spent the morning in bed and Brent went back to work for the first time. If I was in a bad way, he was worse. It was so painful for both of us to watch the other suffer but not have enough strength to help each other. 

That afternoon though, everything changed. I got a phone call from our agency that a baby had been born. A girl. Her mother had already heard our story and wanted us to have her baby. I called Brent. We were still grieving the loss of baby Lily, but we became hopeful. When we arrived home from Las Vegas the first time I gave my mom the matching holiday pajamas I bought for the girls and I told her to get rid of them. When I told her about this baby she said “I never got rid of those clothes. Just in case” – that was it. We had matching holiday pajamas for two little girls and it was 2 weeks until Christmas. This was meant to be. 

Three hope filled days passed until the relinquishment paperwork was complete. We left for the airport and our daughter was in our arms that night. She was in a blue onesie when we held her the first time. She had dark hair and the cutest mouth. Her wide little nose was perfect for kisses and her tiny hands wrapped around our fingers immediately. We shared our good news and it spread quickly. Before we left we had a dozen houseplants and flower arrangements and notes from family and friends sympathizing with our loss, and now we had wonderful news to bring their joy back as well. It was so thrilling to hear how so many prayer chains got the beautiful update of our miracle baby. I know several bible study groups who wept over the failed adoption, and then who wept again at how God came through. 

And now our story is about Nora. 

I have long since accepted that Lily was never our baby. She was just a child who had extra prayers because of us. I think I will always hurt for giving my heart to Lily’s parents – especially her mom who I do genuinely care for. But our story of bringing a child home ended miraculously. A Christmas miracle. God worked to make it right. He worked for our good. 

I very much wish that hadn’t happened to us. It still hurts. It always will. It’s been a whole year and the memory still weighs on my heart. I continue to process the details of those five months and what happened. But I also look back with a great sense of pride. We loved Lily’s parents well. And although it eventually hurt us, I feel in my heart that we represented the body of Christ well. And somehow, even after all that, we intend to do it again, because the gift we got out of the whole horrible deal was a beautiful, healthy daughter who is absolutely perfection.

Nora is stinking fantastic. I mean, seriously, she is the yin to her sisters yang (or whatever that phrase is). She is like me – very loud and happy, where Rosalie is definitely her dad – thoughtful and goofy. Nora smiles all the time and it’s really easy to make her laugh. She is silly. She loves to tease our dog Rupert with her pacifier – she thinks its hysterical to pretend to give it to him and then take it back. She loves to be chased & quickly flops down for tickles. She has big bouncy curls right on the top of her head like a little Cabbage Patch doll. She is marvelous.

We cocooned the first few months and we loved hoarding the snuggles. I was able to build up a full supply of milk and I continue to breastfeed her almost a year later. (I tried to get rid of my milk a few days after our fail, I was too emotional. And then suddenly I wouldn’t let myself quit, and I’m relieved I started pumping again.) Nora is definitely attached – a total mama’s girl, though more recently she can’t get enough of her daddy. Our daughter Rosalie got the baby sister she had been told about, and she loves loves being a big sister. She gives her endless nicknames (Nor Nor, Nori, Beanie, and the classic “aww hi cute baby!”) and adores sharing her bedroom, but not so much her toys. 

This summer our finalization was delayed like many because of Covid. But after the judge declared Nora our natural daughter (I love that, “natural child”) we threw a safe social distance party. We hired an ice cream truck and invited all of our loved ones to a frozen treat. Nora discovered her love of ice cream which has been a problem ever since. She straight up screams when she sees us scoop a bowl. It was neat because quite a few of my friends told me that their kids had a lot of questions about adoption after the party. They were asking, “There’s a big party for Nora but it’s not her birthday…?” And it led to really neat conversations for them about where Nora came from and the different ways families are created. And that’s really what I wanted for sharing our story – a reminder to those in the process that the road to bringing a child home is different for so many families. 

Adoption is high risk and even higher reward. And the reward was so so worth it. 


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Adoption Story: Chris and Jen

Did we hear God wrong?

It's easy to second guess your adoption plans when you're in the middle of the process; in the trenches of the wait. Sometimes even easy to second guess your faith and your ability to clearly hear God's call. But I've learned that God is always at work, even when we can't see it. 

Chris and Jen had these questions and decided to give up their plans for growing their family through adoption. And that's exactly the time they received a call about their son. Today Jen shares the questions, and the answers, that led them to their family of two growing to three.

On October 6, after about ten long years of trying and considering many different options for growing our family and one failed adoption match last September in which a mama changed her mind literally at the last minute, we adopted a five month old baby boy. We’ve named him Timothy James and we call him “TJ."  


This brings not just the normal expected joy to our life that you would expect with the arrival of a new baby, but even greater joy in light of the devastating failed adoption last year. In that case, the news that the mama had changed her mind came as we were traveling from Oklahoma - Jen by air and Chris by car. Jen had just landed in Tampa when the call came. Chris was still driving and discovered he was no longer traveling to pick up a baby, but now to rescue Jen.


We were crushed and for the next year grew ever more doubtful that we would ever have a child. Nearly every profile we received was outside our comfort zone - at 51 years old for Chris and 48 for Jen, we had realized that our tolerances towards things like prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol were really low, and these were both prevalent factors with nearly every adoption profile we received. Nevertheless over the next year there were about five times that we did decide to have our profile presented to an expectant mama but we were never chosen - more loss, more discouragement, and more questions as to what God was doing. Was God ever going to give us a child? Why had God allowed us to go through a failed match - the very thing we prayed against in the first place? In our prayers we had told God we only had one shot at this in us, both emotionally and financially. Had we heard God wrong? Had God only called us to pursue adoption but never promised us a baby? But why call us to pursue adoption if He had not plans to give us a child? So many questions. 


And no answers. 


By the time we received our call, on September 29th we had reached the end of our rope. We had traveled to East Tennessee to visit family on the occasion of Chris' grandmother’s 99th birthday and we had decided that we were done; we couldn’t take it anymore. When we got back home, Jen was going to email all the adoption agencies/lawyers we were working with and tell to stop sending us situations. No more profiles. No more emails. Nothing. We were done. 


And on the way home we got a call from one of our agencies telling us that there was a healthy baby boy waiting for placement and he could be ours if we wanted him. It seemed like the perfect situation and he was meeting all developmental markers. We took a couple hours to talk and pray and jumped at the opportunity. 


A week later we were in Florida signing adoption papers. We had gone from Team Chris-n-Jen to a family of three - complete with a teething five month old who is precious in every way. His presence reminds us that God is not slow in keeping His promises but that everything comes in the fullness of His timing. 


God’s timing is so different than ours. We should have remembered this since we didn’t come to our marriage (first and only for both us) until later in life. Over the next ten years we explored many different avenues for growing our family. Each time, we were met with a closed door and disappointed hope until God answered us with a “yes” through TJ. Along the way, we learned about Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC). In 2017, we began our journey with Susan VanSyckle through CAC.  She offered resources, guidance, and support as we narrowed our focus in pursuit of adoption. Six months into our journey with CAC, we encountered some adoption obstacles that led us to pause until another time and another season. Later, we continued our contract with CAC and we entered into our 2019 adoption match that we looked forward to an open adoption with an expectant mother and welcoming a newborn into our family. Soon after the devastating news that the mother changed her mind, Susan called Jen while she was still at the airport trying to figure out what to do next. Having her support was extremely important for such a time as this. As we chose to continue cautiously taking steps toward another match, Susan encouraged us to add more agencies to our multiple agency approach.  It was during this time that we chose to apply to the agency that ultimately matched us with our son and it was such a positive experience.


We have deep respect for our son's birth mother and birth father. We are very thankful that God created life through them and that TJ’s birth mother chose adoption as the option she believed was best for TJ’s future. We are so very grateful for both foster families who lovingly cared for TJ during his first 5 months and 5 days of life until he was place with us.  


Adoption has changed us for the better. It has been the most difficult journey of our lives and at the same time the best decision we’ve made in our marriage. Our faith has been challenged and also strengthened in a very difficult season of life. Though our foundation was shaken, we remained firmly rooted in Christ. God is already using TJ in our lives, in our loved ones spread across the miles, and in our community where we live. We look forward to all that God has in store for the life of our son. We prayerfully wait for the finalization of our adoption and are grateful for each day with TJ. God is in control of our lives and He knows the path that He has prepared for TJ. We may never fully understand the journey we’ve traveled to where we are now, that’s okay. Our job is to remain faithful to God. May our story be lived for His glory and may others be encouraged whatever the path they are walking and no matter how hard, how much loss, or how hopeless the journey is that they’re walking. God is working through Covid and adoption and everything else that we are experiencing in this season of life.  

May God’s will be done and may He be glorified!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Adoption Story: Chris and Abigail

When a young couple talks about the idea of adoption while they're still dating, they don't know yet how God will use those stirrings to someday add a little one to their family. Today Chris shares from a father's heart the story of the adoption of their son.

Abigail and I have always had a heart for adoption. I vividly remember having conversations about our desire to adopt when we first started dating. We knew that these conversations would eventually become a reality, we just weren’t sure when. We were blessed with the birth of our first child, Emma Kate, in 2017, but then started experiencing infertility issues as we attempted to continue growing our family. Even though this time was challenging, and often marked by pain and disappointment, it ultimately allowed us to clearly see God opening the door to adopt. 
In August of 2019, we decided to trust God’s guidance and started the adoption process with the help of Christian Adoption Consultants. God continued to grant us peace that adoption was His plan for our family as we navigated the home study process, designed our profile book, and started having intentional conversations with our family and friends. Susan, along with our case workers from other partnered organizations, were absolutely invaluable as we prepared our heads, and more importantly our hearts, to go through the various steps of adoption. 
In early March we were matched with an amazing expectant mother in Arizona. Over the next five months we engaged in weekly video calls with her. Words cannot express how thankful we were for this sweet time. These calls allowed us to establish a strong relationship grounded in trust and love, and share our hopes for our son’s life and how we wanted her to be involved. 
In the beginning of July we received a call that our birth mother might be heading into early labor and the doctors were anticipating her to deliver within 48 hours. We quickly changed our travel itinerary, threw some clothing in bags, and jetted off to Arizona. It turned out to be a false alarm but allowed our family to spend two weeks praying, remaining hopeful, and resting in God’s sovereignty. An induction was scheduled a few weeks later and Abigail got to spend quality time with the birth mother through the labor process and the days that followed, strengthening their bond and learning more about her story.
Bailey (chosen by his strong birth mother) Law (a family name on both extended family sides) was born on July 28, 2020. An unexpected two week stay in the NICU for Bailey forced us to rely on God and cling to Him for strength, discernment, and peace. We were so thankful for the guidance that CAC and our agency provided to us during that difficult time. We feel honored to be chosen by God and Bailey’s birth mother to be his parents and welcome him to our family. We continue to have a close relationship with his birth mother and can’t wait to see how it will grow throughout the years.
Our hope for Bailey’s life is found in Proverbs 3:3-4 which says “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Adoption Story: Ben and Michelle

Adoption is full of waiting. Waiting to know if adoption is the way to grow your family. Waiting for the home study to be completed. Waiting to know if you were approved for grants. Waiting to see situations. Waiting to hear if you've been chosen. Waiting for a baby to be born.

But what do you do when the wait is much longer than you anticipated? What do you do if hurdle after unexpected hurdle comes up and you wonder if adoption was really the right way to grow your family? What do you do when you wonder if this was really the best path for you?

Today Michelle shares their long journey of waiting. How she wrestled with never having a promise from God that a baby would be at the end of the wait. And how she learned that following God and being obedient in the midst of it was exactly what her heart, and her family, needed.

Photo credit: Jen Moore Photography

As I sit down to write our adoption story, I wonder where to begin. Do I begin in third grade as my best friend of the year, Angela, told me about living in foster care? Do I begin as Ben and I sat at Cedarville University in a lounge talking about how many kids already needed homes? Or do I begin seven years ago when, after Nathanael’s birth, I had an emergency surgery that reminded me that I didn’t need to get pregnant again to have another child?

All of these are great places to begin. They are all part of our story. There are countless other moments that we considered adoption before acting on it. Ben once answered a survey saying if I were famous it would probably be for running an orphanage. Our hearts have been willing for a long time. However, I think I should start with the first adoption I really knew; being adopted by God. You see I was born into a sinful world, with a sinful family, and with a sinful heart. Jesus came and lived a perfect life and laid down his life so that I may become part of his family. He died to pay for my sins and adopted me into his family. Feeling love from someone who chose me and sacrificed for me, they are the real reason we could keep trying. If I didn’t tell you about this adoption, our perseverance wouldn’t make sense. 

We actually began the work of adoption four and a half years ago. We signed up with Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants, to help navigate the process of adoption. Four and a half years is a long time, but we didn’t get far into the process before deciding to pause it when several traumatic events happened. We needed go through some healing first before we would have time to work on the adoption. Through my own healing I decided to become a Biblical Counselor along the way. We decided to stop putting life on hold for tragedies or hardships and just pursue adoption in the midst of life.  

The next year and a half of waiting held more trauma with extended family divorce, a sibling having a stroke, a near adoption, a failed adoption, and family members’ still birth. And in the midst of it all a world wide pandemic and race protest going on in the background.  

Through all of this I had decided to try to breastfeed an adopted baby for the sake of bonding and for the best nutrition available for him or her. This itself was a hardship. My body took a while to adjust to the medicines and I had some unpleasant side effects along with other struggles. What I didn’t know was that  I began pumping the very week our daughter was being conceived. I pumped five to six times a day for the next eight months without being matched to ax expectant mom and baby.  I struggled on and off wrestling with if I was even supposed to adopt. Every time I prayed and was really down, I felt God assure me to ‘keep going.’ He never promised me a baby or assured me that the end result would be nursing, but he asked me to walk this road. Learning to walk a road without a known destination is hard.  

Finally we got a call that we thought was "the" call.  We were matched with a baby boy already born. I was so excited!  We packed in a hurry waiting to hear a final go ahead. But we never got that final go ahead. The mama had decided to parent. We prayed for her and accepted that this was yet another no or not yet.  

This is when I really had to surrender my plans. I no longer had hope we would adopt, but also did not feel released from the daily work of pumping. I cried out to God about it and once again said, "I will follow where you lead." I wanted assurance that we would adopt and that this pumping was for my baby, but I didn’t get that. I learned to do everything unto the Lord. My pumping, my paperwork, my daily task… their results were up to God. I am just called to follow and obey. We really don’t have control of the future. The Coronavirus has proven that to the world.  

We got a second call just two months later telling us “this is not a drill, pack your bags.”  The birth mom had already signed final papers and we needed to travel right away! Our baby girl was born at 35 weeks gestation, but perfectly healthy. We had our bags packed and were driving to the airport three hours later.  

We traveled during a surge Coronavirus cases in Florida, but once again it became background noise. We had a baby girl. Our three other children travelled a few days after us and joined us in Florida. We had a nice Airbnb and our seven year old even mastered swimming in Airbnb pool. We have some sweet memories in our daughter's birth state stay. All our kids adore her and they line up most mornings to hold her. 

As I finish writing this story we are mere DAYS from finalization. Our daughter is five months old and I'm unpacking the Christmas decorations.  I bought a fourth child stocking that last year and I hung it with hope. There were so many days that empty stocking caused sorrow and longing, but no longer. I get to hang a beautiful stocking for my beautiful girl.   

To those of you waiting… this is what I would remind you: God can do immeasurably more than you ask or imagine. You are not called to a destination, but a road. Walk it well.  
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