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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Adoption Story: Marty and Blair

God can do a lot in ten months. When Marty and Blair started with Christian Adoption Consultants last Fall, their plans had already been rerouted from the impact of the pandemic. Add to that concerns about what openness could hold and the fear of not being chosen, and it was hard to know what the future held.

Today Blair shares how they started their adoption process, worked through their fears, and how God worked through the adoption of their daughter.

Our adoption journey has taken many twists and turns, but we are so thankful to God for where He led us and for bringing our precious daughter into our lives. We started our journey in Fall 2019 and initially pursued international adoption. However, as COVID-19 hit, borders closed, and all international adoptions to China were halted, we were at a standstill and seeking God for how to proceed. It was around this time that the Lord began softening our hearts toward domestic adoption. In all honesty, we had been concerned about open adoptions, how a relationship with a birth mother would work, and the process of being "picked." A wonderful couple from our church had just adopted a baby boy from Florida, and had worked with Susan and CAC. We respected this couple tremendously and knew that if they trusted Susan with their adoption journey that we could, too. 

In Fall 2020, we made the decision to change our path toward domestic adoption, and began working with Susan and the fabulous CAC team. Susan was/is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, kindness, empathy, and encouragement. We trusted her at every turn and appreciated her presence every step of the way. As we applied to every agency that was recommended to us, and began receiving much education about domestic adoption, the Lord began to put His heart for these precious birth mothers in our hearts, and we were both filled with a passion for these women. Rather than being nervous and hesitant about an open adoption and a relationship with a birth mother, we found ourselves eager and excited to foster a relationship with a birth mother, invest in her, and welcome her into our lives. We knew this transformation in our hearts could only come from the Holy Spirit, and we even found ourselves excited to share and educate our family and friends about the importance of open adoption! 

We started receiving cases/situations beginning January 2021. After several "not yets," we received a call June 2021 from an agency in Florida that an expectant mother had chosen us! We immediately wept, as there is simply no greater honor than to be selected to parent someone's child. After matching, and trying desperately to remain cautiously hopeful, we prepared our hearts and home to welcome our baby girl. Her birth mother met us on a Skype call, and gave me (Blair) the greatest gift of inviting me to join her in the delivery room so that I can one day be able to  tell our daughter I was there. I was blown away at her courage, generosity, and selflessness throughout this process! So, I was able to be present for the birth of our daughter, and even cut her umbilical cord and feed her her first bottle! 

God has exceeded our expectations at every turn, and we are so grateful for His kindness and favor! Our daughter's birth mother has thankfully chosen an open adoption, and we are thrilled and grateful for this choice. We know this will be a win-win-win for all of us, and we are so eager for her to be in our daughter's life forever. There are simply no words to express how grateful we are for where God led us on our journey, how He transformed our hearts, and how our path took an unexpected turn, but gave us the gift of our precious daughter, our "immeasurably more!"

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Adoption Story: Scott and Jess

Scott and Jess started working with Christian Adoption Consultants last year. Unknown to them, at almost the exact time their home study and profile was ready and when they began their official wait, a baby was conceived across the country. So while they were hearing multiple "not yets," God was knitting a baby perfectly in a mother's womb that would someday be their son. Seven months later, coming earlier than anticipated to everyone, this little boy joined the world. Today I'm honored to have Scott share their story of how they welcomed their son into their family through adoption.

Jessica and I were married in 2014. One of the things we did early on in our marriage was dream about our family, even down to the names of the twins we dreamed of having. Part of our dream was growing our family through adoption. We had talked about this while we were dating and knew it would always be part of our lives. We started trying to conceive, and after 4 years of trying, we received the diagnosis that so many others are given - "Unexplained Infertility." We had always discussed if we should adopt or try to have kids first, but the diagnosis seemed to answer this question for us. As we began talking with Susan in June of 2020, she was able to answer our questions and helped us begin moving forward with the adoption process.

Fast forward to August, we were completely ready and received our first situation. She was a beautiful little girl that was already born and just needed parents to care for her. We saw her and thought we knew she was ours, so we presented to the birth family for the first time. The period of waiting after you present always seems like time moves drastically slower. The days seem like weeks, and the weeks seem like years. Until you finally get your answer on if you were matched. For us, this little girl was a no. We were devastated.

Susan always told us that if you present to an expectant family, you have to be all in, but you also have to protect your heart. You have to be willing to take that baby in at a moment’s notice - to love the child as your own. To advocate for them, protect them, and ensure that they have everything that they need. But for us, we seemed to miss the part about protecting your heart. The no received from this little girl seemed to hurt so much more than we anticipated. Our community mourned with us, and encouraged us to continue forward. 

Our community was our saving grace time and time again throughout the adoption process. While we did not share everything with them about the birth family and adoptive child, they never stopped praying for the families that we were presenting to, and neither did we. Jessica and I started a list of all of the birth mom’s names and prayed for them, their babies, and whoever the adoptive family would be, regardless if that was us or someone else. We prayed for their safety, their health, and that they would be surrounded with people who are loving and supportive and can speak truth to them in a time of so many unknowns.

As our journey continued, it seemed we were presenting to a new family every two to three weeks. We received no after no. The "not yets" never seem to get easier, but we knew our child was out there, and we would be matched with the perfect child for us. 

In April of 2021, we received an email from an agency letting us know there was a child they would like us to consider adopting, and if we said yes, then we would be matched. It almost seemed too good to be true. But it was, in-fact, very true. We were notified that the mother was being induced 24-hours after we were matched. Essentially, our case worker just told us to get there, so we drove 15 hours and over 1,000 miles. 

When Jessica and I were dreaming of the twins back in 2014, one of the names we selected would be given to our son--Malachi, meaning “messenger of God.” We shared the name with our case worker, and offered to let her share it with the mom if it was appropriate. Shortly after, as we were walking through a store gathering items that we forgot to pack in our last minute scramble across the country, we learned that the expectant mother’s oldest son was also named Malachi. I immediately started bawling in the middle of the store, and I’m sure that everyone around me thought I was a crazy person as I walked around the store with tears rolling down my face. My son - Malachi. He was being knit together so much earlier than either Jessica or I could have ever realized until that moment. 

Malachi was born the next morning at 2lbs 8oz, five days after we were matched. He was intubated and immediately taken into the NICU. We received periodic updates from our case worker, but we were not allowed to meet him until his birth mother was discharged from the hospital. It was three days, but it was the longest three days of our lives, waiting to be able to hold this tiny child - our child- in our arms for the first time. And when we did, it was magical. No words could describe how it felt to hold my son for the very first time; all two-and-a-half pounds of him with more tubes and wires on him than I thought were possible.

We spent the next two months living over one-thousand miles away from home. We saw Malachi every day and held him, sang to him, and read him books. Anything we could to help him know that we were there, he is loved, and he belongs. The medical team that supported Malachi was nothing but miraculous. He is now four months old, almost 11 pounds, and seems to have opinions about everything. He’s a fighter and he lets everyone around him know that’s who he is. He was discharged from the NICU just before his gestational birthdate healthy, happy, and so ready to go meet all of the people who loved him before they knew him, and who never stopped praying for him.

I won’t pretend to be anything sort of an adoption expert (that’s what CAC is here for), but if there is one piece of advice that I can offer you, regardless of where you are in your adoption process, is to never stop praying. Prayer changes things. I watched Malachi grow day after day and experienced tiny miracles and large unexplained miracles right before my eyes. Lean in and pray for the birth family. Pray for the child. Pray for the medical team and social workers who will help you in the hospital. Pray for your spouse. Things can be stressful and hard, but prayer keeps you connected to God.

May you find grace and peace on the journey to adoption and know that God is always for you.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Adoption Story: John and Kim

One day, when their son is old enough to hear the whole story about how he became a part of his family, John and Kim have an incredible one to tell him. It's a story that actually begins long before his parents met him, and took some wild and unexpected twists and turns. But looking back, John and Kim can see God's hand in all of it.

Today Kim is graciously sharing parts of their story here in an effort to encourage other families experiencing unexpected detours on their adoption journey.

It took us almost two and a half years to adopt. Some of that time came from the fact that we are a military family and had to move a couple times before we could even start or to resume the process. To everyone reading our story, we hope this brings you a little hope to your journey. To say this journey felt more like a roller coaster is the understatement of the year. With ups and downs, broken hearts several times, living off nothing but faith, feeling like giving up, questioning if we heard God right, every emotion came up. As we looked for others to relate to with us on this journey, it felt like no one faced as many hiccups as we did, but that’s not true. Many of us just don’t talk about what it can really be like. Out of respect for our son's story and the amazing families we walked with along the way, we won’t get into too many details, but we will try to give you hope if you're also facing a hard time. 

We can’t thank Susan enough from Christian Adoption Consultants for all that she has done for us. She became our shining light to guide our path along the way. We didn’t know where to begin, what to do, or who to talk to; everything was just so confusing from start to finish. She gave us invaluable information on the adoption process as a whole that we will never forget if God calls us again to adopt. She became an amazing friend who never gave up on our dreams and gave us wisdom and encouragement when we struggled with hope and faith. 

When we started applying to situations, we were really very open. When we kept reading articles about things going quicker when you’re very open, we wondered why it wasn’t for us. We got stuck in this thought process that we weren’t being chosen because we were a family of five and often times thought no one would pick us because our family is considered “large” to a lot of people. 

It wasn't long before a mother reached out to us once we were finally ready. We were so excited! We talked with her a lot, she showed us pictures of herself, her ultrasound, everything seemed perfect. After a brief season we discovered the woman was being dishonest and wasn't looking to make an adoption plan. After some time to reflect, feeling so betrayed and heartbroken, we wanted to jump on board again. We showed our profiles so many times we lost track and prayed our hearts out. We wanted God to take the lead on our adoption and the only way to do that was to be as open as possible to people and their situations and pray that God would only let us be chosen by the family we were meant to be chosen by. So a few months went by and we were chosen again! Again, we were overjoyed. 

We were convinced that this was the child God had meant for us, everything felt right, we felt this had to be it. We matched, continued to build our relationship, and ten weeks later got the call that it was time for us to come. Unfortunately, once we got there a few days later everything started to unravel. Question after question engulfed us: Where was God? Why didn’t he protect us? Why would he call us to do this and then allow for this to happen? Do we even have the right to feel this pain, considering the amount of pain the birth parents must be in making these decisions? Some of those answers we may never know but we’ve made peace with it now. God doesn’t make mistakes. There was a purpose for our family and the mother to go through that. Maybe it was meant to build our faith or other people’s. All we knew is we were heartbroken and everything we saved for was gone. How were we going to rebuild and move forward? In time, we found this child wasn’t what God intended for us and it was time to go home.

We got home and continued to show our profile again asking for God to only choose the family that was meant for us and for all of us to be protected, especially because our kids were going through this with us. We asked for God to direct our paths, for his will to be done, and to please protect us again because emotionally and financially, we didn’t know how we could continue towards God’s will for our lives if we faced another disruption. Also, how would our kids handle this again? How do we navigate getting our children’s hearts ready for adoption and keep them from having their hearts broken too? We tried our best but could only do so much.


After continuing down the path of adoption and praying our hearts out for God’s will to be done (even if that meant we were never really meant to adopt all along), we were chosen again! We were matched for a little over half of her pregnancy; it was another baby girl! This has to be it, God knows we can’t go through another disruption and we already have everything ready for her. We continued to pray over this mom and her baby. Everything was going really well...until it didn't. We prayed hard again and wondered how we could ever do what we think God was calling us to, even though we felt so strongly that this was God’s will for our lives. Not knowing how we’d pay for everything, we felt God calling us to just keep the faith and that God would provide. 

At one critical point during our adoption journey, a Bible verse popped up on our phone and it read, “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” (John 20:21). For whatever reason, we kept meditating on that verse. Every time we wanted to doubt if we heard God right, we remembered that this is God’s path, not ours. We continued to pray for strength and for him to answer us. We prayed for him to move in BIG ways, to do a miracle, to make it clear to us what we are supposed to do. We felt so lost and even people around us started to doubt our commitment to adopt. Honestly, it was hard not to get discouraged, but God had made it VERY clear to us that adoption was what we were made to do. We also knew that these families were going through really tough times and were truly and genuinely struggling with their decisions. 

Then we received an email from one of our agencies: “We know you just went through another disruption but one of the babies born that we had told you about still is looking for the right family and to please read over it in case we still wanted to present to them.” So much stirred in our heads and hearts. Should we even apply? Is it right to apply when we literally came out here to adopt one child and it disrupted and then so quickly to try again? Was this God’s plan for us all along? Did he know that this was really the child we were meant to have and everything else happened for reasons we didn’t understand? As we were praying God immediately reminded us of that Bible verse, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” We felt like we at least had to try. 

So we prayed again for God to protect us, the birth family, our finances, and all of the other families and children we met along the way. We went from being so heartbroken, lost, wanting to give it all up, to having hope once more. We prayed our hearts out like crazy. We asked the agency to show our profile and we were chosen! Within hours we had borrowed a car and drove all night to get to this precious baby boy and to meet his amazing family. We finally understood why God allowed all of these hiccups along our route. THIS was the child God meant for us. THIS family was the one that was meant to be a part of our family. 

When we met our precious son, we had immense love for him immediately. And the miracles didn't stop coming. We watched our very sick son be healed in the NICU and God provided financially over and over and over. Everything all just came together and we still have no understanding how. It was all God; he's the only explanation. All of our family, friends, and other people that know our story are just blown away. It was clear to us that God put us on our journey to do a lot more than just bless us and stretch our faith. He used us to strengthen other people’s faith and so that others could see Christ show up.

If there is something that God reminded us on our adoption journey, it’s that God doesn’t send out his light to the lit places. He sends us out often times to some very dark places so we can shine our lights brightly. Also when it’s God’s time for you to adopt, it will happen and there is nothing you can do to speed that up or slow it down. None of it is according to our plan or timeline. All you can do is hold on tight and ride the wave until the end. Some days you just have to wake up and ask God for strength to see another day because the enemy will say anything and everything to deceive you and make you feel like it will never happen. Some days you’ll feel like you heard God wrong, like you’re being punished for something, you start to believe the lies that you’ve heard from people trying to talk you out of adoption. We’re here to tell you one thing: stay faithful. 

Let us encourage you: your story may go smoothly, your story may be up and down, your story may be heart-wrenching and filled with heartbreak. But don’t lose hope. For whatever reason, God called you to do this and whatever journey you have ahead of you, don’t give up. God can and will do more than you ever imagined! 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Adoption Story: Stacey and Jené

One of my favorite parts of family's adoption journeys is the chance to look back at all of the ways God was working behind the scenes when we couldn't see it in the midst of the wait. 

When Stacey and Jené were home study approved, they had no idea that just days later their son would be born. They didn't learn of him for several weeks, but God did a lot of work in their hearts while they waited for this little guy who would soon be their son. 

Today Jené shares the details of their adoption and the ways they were challenged to rest and trust in God's perfect timing.

I've had a hard time knowing what to say about our adoption journey and have also felt a little guilty because our journey was quicker and smoother than many and was just about as ideal a situation as we could get. We started the process knowing and believing God already knew what our adoption journey would be, the expecting family with whom we would be matched, and the baby that would be our son or daughter. God has shown us many times that His timing is perfect, and we knew that was true for adoption too. My brother passed away from cancer in 2014; he never asked God "Why?" but would tell our family "God's got a plan." This is something that continues to speak to us. We kept our hearts open and trusted that God had a plan, and He would match us with the family and baby meant to be and in His timing. Our faith gave us comfort and peace but was also tested, especially during those times when doubt and questioning started to creep. 

Once we became active with agencies, there would be weeks we would get several situations. Then, we would go weeks without any. We prayerfully considered each situation and listened to our hearts and gut. When we presented to an expecting family, that was our "yes" and full commitment to that family and that baby. Not something we took lightly. I would question if we were finding reasons to not present to expecting families or being too "picky." Then, we would go weeks without getting a situation, and we started to question and get nervous about when we would get the opportunity to present to a family. God's timing is perfect, and He has a plan. 

We received our son's situation when we had two dear friends over for dinner; one of those friends is an adoptee who has been open and supportive from the first time we talked about our desire to adopt. From this moment, we felt God working. Our son was three weeks old and in cradle care (15 minutes from where we live) when we received the situation. We didn't have a lot of information, but we knew he was a healthy baby boy. We presented to his birth mother, and a few days later, Stacey woke me up at 12:30 AM and said, "I guess I can start calling you 'Mom.'" We got an email at midnight to let us know our son's birth mom chose us. Neither of us slept the rest of the night. 

The following four weeks felt like four months! This was probably the most challenging time with the widest range of emotions! Meetings with our son's birth mom were canceled and rescheduled three times and finally happened via Zoom. The appointment for our son's birth mom to sign papers was canceled and rescheduled four times (which would have been five times if not for her lawyer going above and beyond). Each time, our anticipation would grow as it got closer to the time she was going to sign, and then, we would get a text to let us know the appointment was canceled but our son's birth mom still wanted to continue with the adoption plan and with us. Although, we should have continued to feel hopeful when we were told she wanted to continue with the plan, we would feel discouraged, angry, fearful, which also only grew after each cancelation. Honestly, almost each time, I said "I just want to cuss and cry." Our son was well loved and cared for in cradle care, but I also didn't think it was fair for this baby to be waiting for his family, whether that was us, his birth mom, or another family. We had to refocus our thoughts and hearts, pray, and remember what was true. We would refocus our thoughts and prayers on our son's birth mom, which wasn't always easy, either. But we know what she was doing and going through was way harder than we can ever imagine and way more than what we were feeling. Stacey didn't waver in his belief that this baby would be our son. I thought he would be our son too, but I was guarded and didn't want to get our hopes up. It was an internal struggle to know the truths of our faith but to also feel like I needed to guard my heart and be prepared if this was a failed match. Within three days of our son's birth mom signing papers, he was placed with us. All of the frustration, doubt, fear we felt melted away when we got to hold our son. 

Our son's birth mom wanted an open adoption, which is what we want too. We email monthly updates and pictures. We've only heard from her one time since placement in June. We hope and pray for healing, peace, and comfort for her and that some day, we can have the open adoption we all spoke about when we met virtually. Until then, we talk to our son about his birth mom, our admiration and appreciation for her, and what she shared she wants for him. We pray for her. We talk to him about all the people who love him and have loved him from the very beginning. We pray over him that he always knows how loved he is and that he knows he was created for a plan and a purpose. 

We were blessed with our beautiful red-headed, blue-eyed boy and with a situation that was ideal for us. It wasn't without it's frustrations and tears. We were also blessed with two people who walked beside us through this journey who supported, encouraged, validated our feelings, brought us back to reality, were patient, and always available to listen and to share their wisdom and all with no judgement, Susan with Christian Adoption Consultants and our friend, Becca, who connected us to CAC and Susan in the beginning. Susan, Becca, along with the adoption agency will always have a special place in our hearts as God used each one in growing our family and bringing our son home. 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Adoption Story: Brad and Corinne (again!)

Last week I shared the beginning of Brad and Corinne's story of their second adoption with Christian Adoption Consultants. If you missed her account of how God miraculously led them on a journey to parenthood for the second time, make sure to read part one here: In Their Own Words: An Adoptive Mama Shares her Journey to Motherhood.

Today I'm honored to share the second half of the story of sweet Naomi Rae...

Photos by Sohale Photography

As Brad and I took steps towards a second adoption, we had the joy of working again with our beloved social worker, Clair, and adoption consultant, Susan, who both had helped us bring Floyd home. People in this field of work are nothing short of saints, and we honestly have been blessed with the best in the biz. Paperwork for adoption is like an endless goose chase. Time and again, you'll think you finally have everything needed, only to find out you don't. But, by the end of August 2020, we were home study ready, and we were able to see possible expectant mama scenarios as September began. 


On Monday, September 14th, we read through the second scenario we'd been sent. It looked terrific, but the scenario did not say whether the baby was a girl or a boy, and we would not know before being officially matched. I have wanted a daughter for a long time and honestly just had a little girl in my heart.  Of course, had I been able to get pregnant, I would not have been able to choose whether I was having a boy or girl. But one of the weird parts of adoption is having a choice in some of this stuff. While Brad was excited about this second expectant mama scenario and open to either a boy or a girl, I started feeling confused: Am I just running with this idea of a girl because it's what I want? Is Jesus asking us to veer in a different direction? What does He actually want us to do? I called on a few close friends to pray for peace and wisdom for us in this. There didn’t seem to be any urgency in the original scenario that required us to submit our profile in to present ASAP, so we decided to sleep on it and wait. 


That Wednesday, I received a text from our trusted consultant, Susan, saying, "Have you all decided if you will be presenting to Mariah? Her caseworker just reached out to me and said they were hoping to present Mariah with a family who was already raising a black child." We had thought we had several more days to make a decision. I remember telling Brad that I felt unsure of what to do. So we prayed, "Lord, we want to do what you want us to do. Would you give us some confirmation, a word, or something from someone we trust as to what we are to do?"  


While we were praying, the mauve chair I had ordered for the nursery (mauve obviously a perfect color for the girl-themed nursery I had envisioned) arrived at our front door by delivery. When I sent a quick text to my Bible study group and family to pray for us, I saw I had a voice text waiting for me from one of my dearest friends, Leah. Her message said, "Hey love, I was hesitant to share this with you because I am human and could totally be wrong, but since you asked me to pray Monday for you about the scenario with Mariah, the phrase, "This is Naomi, This is Naomi" keeps playing in my mind. Last night, during Bible study, I heard the phrase again, and my heart started racing. This morning I felt like it would be wrong for me to not share it with you."


As I played the text for Brad, we stared at each other, completely shocked. Brad said, "Well, if that wasn't the most direct answer to prayer of all time!" I called my Mom to tell her what had happened. Naturally, she's super protective of me and knows how deeply I desired to have a girl. She said, "Corinne, this is just another opportunity to trust the Lord. He is the one putting your family together. He knows what is in your heart." So with tears running down my face, I looked at Brad and told him that we should present. 


Brad and I talked about how there was no worst-case scenario: if this expectant mama were to choose us, it would result in a baby, a sibling for Floyd! At that moment, I realized that, more than specifically wanting a girl, I wanted what Jesus had for our family, which also made me realize how much Jesus had been healing my heart. Looking back, I see that the things He had for me all along. While they may have looked different than what I pictured, all have turned out to be far more abundant than I ever could have dreamed for myself. With fresh hope and gratitude, we sent in our profile and waited. 


A week later, we received an email from Mariah's caseworker, saying she really liked our family but would like to have a phone call with us that coming Sunday before deciding. The caseworker told us to come prepared with questions to help the conversation along since Mariah was soft-spoken. Given that Floyd’s birth mama was also very soft-spoken, we thought we knew what to expect. When I called Mariah that Sunday, she didn't pick up initially, rather, calling us back a couple of hours later. I picked up the phone as she said, "WHAT'S UP, YOU GUYS! I am SO excited to be talking with you! I don't even know what to ask you because I am just so excited about all of this!"

Brad and I looked at each other and were like, "Is this the right number?!" Conversation with her was so easy! She said things like, "I've always loved adoption. My mom adopted me when I was little, and I always had everything I needed because she was in my life. I know this is going to be a wonderful experience. I can't wait for you guys to come down – that's when our real relationship can begin!" 

Photo by Megan Schmitz Photography

Part of the adoption process included us making a profile book for expectant moms to look through that introduces our family (kind of like a little magazine about our family and our hopes, dreams, etc.). One of our book's photos was a shot of our feet, all of us wearing Jordans, with a pair of matching baby Jordans next to mine. Mariah said, "Those baby shoes in your book are girls' shoes, aren't they? Are you guys hoping to have a girl? Because I am having a girl!"  


Brad had to pick my jaw off the floor! We got off the phone, completely shocked! We had gone into that call hoping to put our best foot forward and ease any uncertainly Mariah might have IF she chose us. Instead, Mariah practically told us she'd already chosen us for her baby and that she was having a girl! A few days later, on September 30th, we received official confirmation from the agency that we were legally and officially matched with Mariah! I was reminded of the word Beth shared with me a few years earlier, "End of September, you will be pregnant with a baby girl." If this wasn't pregnant with a baby girl for an infertile woman like myself, I'm not sure what was.  

I'm well acquainted with disappointment, and thus have a natural propensity to be wary of God really seeing me or honestly caring about the things in my heart. It turns out –Jesus not only see’s it all, but deeply cares. My desire to have a daughter was placed in my heart by Jesus Himself to lead us to Naomi.  He has been working through every single detail. Ecclesiastes 3:11 keeps coming to mind, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

By the way, we are in our 8th year of trying to have a baby. Did you know that the number eight in Scripture signifies new beginnings? A new beginning for our family, indeed! A few weeks ago, I told the ladies at my beautiful baby shower that the places in my life that had felt dead and hopeless seem to be blooming with life. It isn't because I have brought life to them; it is because Jesus has breathed on places full of familiar despair and brought His hope and resurrecting life as only He can.


All along, God wasn't leading me through painful places to disappoint or hurt me. He was after deeper healing, one I've desperately needed and would never have fathomed possible. As much as Naomi Rae, our Beautiful Understanding, brings healing just by her arrival, she brings with her a beautiful understanding to her Mama of Jesus' unending and abiding love for her (me). God IS a good Father who IS trustworthy and kind. Naomi has given me a broader and clearer lens of who Jesus truly is. Her story has shattered the distorted lenses I've used for years to look at God.  


A few weeks ago, Brad and I were talking, and Brad shared that in his quiet time that morning, he heard God speak something specific to him. He has been praying over some specific situations that we knew only God could heal. And yet to our human understanding, some of these circumstances seemed beyond reach; we had been praying over them for years, but they still seemed so broken. In his prayer time, as Brad was praying over these situations, he heard God say, “I am good; I bring beauty from ashes.” As Brad felt the Lord say this, God also brought to mind Floyd’s adoption. Brad shared that he felt God showing him that there are few things that demonstrate his ability to bring beauty from ashes than adoption. The circumstances that a birth mom faces that lead her to place her baby for adoption are often incredibly difficult and many times even impacted by systemic issues well beyond her control. For us as adoptive parents, part of the reason we pursue adoption is because of incredible brokenness and disappointment in our own lives. And yet, the Lord uses all of this brokenness to create such a beautiful story of redemption. Personally, there is nothing we’ve ever done which has brought us greater joy than adopting Floyd. And to think that we get to walk this path again with Naomi is so incredible. 


Friends, Jesus is actually for you!  He is Faithful. He never abandons. He brings beauty from ashes. He has actually given me more, just like He said. 


"Because of the LORD's great love, we are not consumed,

for His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

I said to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.

The Lord is good to those who hope is in Him."

Lamentations 3:22-23


        “Those who sow in tears will reap shouts of joy.”

Psalm 126:5


With all our love,

Corinne, Brad, Floyd, & Naomi

Thursday, February 25, 2021

In Their Own Words: An Adoptive Mama Shares her Journey to Motherhood

When Brad and Corinne connected with me last summer about adopting again I was thrilled. It was an honor walking with them when they brought their son, Floyd home. You can read more about the amazing way this sweet boy joined their family in these posts: In Their Own Words: An Adoptive Family Chronicles Their Journey and Adoption Story: Brad and Corinne.

This time around was a bit of a whirlwind. They began with Christian Adoption Consultants at the end of July, were home study ready in September, were matched just weeks later, and were holding their daughter just after Thanksgiving. But God had been doing much much more in the years leading up to those few short months...

I'll be sharing Brad and Corinne's story again in two parts. The following is the sweet letter Corinne and Brad wrote to their family and friends, announcing the birth of their sweet daughter and the miraculous ways God worked in their hearts and lives.

Photos by Sohale Photography

It is with great joy that we officially introduce you to our daughter: 

Naomi Rae 


Reflecting on the story Jesus has been writing for years to bring us to this moment - it's overwhelming! I am thrilled to be able to share it with you finally. 


While we were going through fertility treatments, Brad and I had a specific name in mind for a biological baby. When that door closed and we opened the door of adoption, the name no longer felt right. This past spring, "Naomi" kept coming to mind out of the blue, which was a bit random to me. I mean, it's a beautiful name, but one that had never made it onto our list. As it kept returning to my mind, I began wondering if God was giving me a name for our next child. 


One day, I was chatting with my Mom about it when she said, "Corinne, Naomi is a family name! Naomi was Papa Floyd's best friend." I couldn't believe I had missed this connection entirely! Brad and I continued discussing names, landing confidently on Naomi Rae. Turns out, Naomi Rae means "Beautiful Understanding" or "Beautiful Precept," which felt so descriptive of our journey!


Back in January 2018, my dear friend from college, Beth, was going through 21 days of prayer and fasting with her church to begin the new year. Without telling me, she dedicated part of her fast specifically praying for a baby for me. She knew that we were once again in a season of begging Jesus to move, begging Him to expand our family somehow. As most of you know, we had been trying since 2012 to get pregnant with no luck. The Lord saw fit to put adoption on our hearts and then blessed us with Floyd in 2015. Since then we’ve always desired for him to grow up with a sibling. 


Fast forward seven months later to July 2018: Beth called me from an airport saying, "Corinne, I've hesitated to share this with you because I could be wrong. But in January, during our church fast, I used that time to fast and pray specifically for a baby for you. I felt like the Lord spoke something to me about you, but I have been unsure if I should share it with you, and I now feel like I should. I felt like the Lord said that you would be pregnant with a baby girl at the end of September." I remember getting off the phone with tears of relief streaming down my face as I shared my conversation with Brad. September was only three months away - maybe our time of waiting would soon be over!


Less than one month after my conversation with Beth, my body began showing signs of shutting down. No matter how much I tried to believe everything was fine, I was undeniably sick. Our house's previously unknown mold issue rendered me bedridden for ten days, barely able to eat or drink anything, and led our doctor to diagnose me with a lifelong autoimmune disorder, allowing me to be particularly susceptible to the natural toxins given off by mold. Brad and I unexpectedly found ourselves having to quickly leave behind our beloved house, most of our belongings, and our charming neighborhood community of seven years to move into a new, mold-free apartment across town, all in a span of a single weekend. To say that season was traumatic would be an understatement.  


By the time September 2018 rolled around, I was in the worst physical shape of my entire life. Not only was I now grieving the loss of our home and beloved community, but also the loss of a seemingly confirmed dream that I'd be pregnant by the end of that month. My body was in no shape to carry a pregnancy, let alone a healthy one. Brad and I had previously chatted about trying fertility treatment that fall, but it was now off the table as we needed to focus solely on my healing. It felt like every time we mustered up enough strength to hope again at the possibility of expanding our family, another door slammed in our face. My heart was beyond weary. Proverbs says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick," and I can't think of a better description of that season. 

As months passed, our time in that tiny apartment proved to be the season of rest and healing that my body and our hearts truly needed. God provided a path for us to sell our beloved home and we moved to our new home in August 2019.  Just that year, Brad’s work began offering fertility treatment as part of their benefits package, which is honestly unheard of.  And thanks to a clean environment and months of intentional rest and care, my body was now healthier than it had been in years!  So in September 2019, we went back to the fertility center. I remember walking into the office, the same office we had gone to for treatment years before, and instead of familiar dread, I felt hope, possibly even joy! If you've ever been in a fertility treatment waiting room, you know how heavy it feels. Every person sitting in that room has the same desire to have a child and all come with broken stories of hope deferred. As I saw myself in those people in that waiting room, it was like Jesus whispered, "Corinne, look how much I have healed your heart in these seven years." And so, with fresh hope, we began fertility treatment again.


First round - unsuccessful. Second round - my body began showing signs of another autoimmune shutdown response episode, so we had to cancel. Third round - we had to cancel again because of an unavoidable work trip for Brad. Around this same time, my beloved Papa Floyd's body began failing.  What was supposed to be our fourth attempt at treatment instead became our final moments with him in this life. On my final visit with Papa, the very last thing he said to me, just days before he went to be with Jesus, was, "Toots, where is your baby?  Have you had your baby yet?  Is it a girl or a boy?" I remember walking out of his room and breaking down in tears in the hall. You see, Papa had been praying daily for children for us for seven years. Last fall was saturated in grief. With heavy hearts, in December 2019, we decided to take a break from treatment again.

Photo by Megan Schmitz Photography

At this point, we considered gathering initial papers for a second adoption while pursuing one more round of fertility treatment. Hopefully, at least one door would open, right? However, when it became clear that the round had also failed, we decided to stop treatment. I simply couldn't handle trying another round; my heart was too fragile and utterly exhausted by disappointment. 

In my grieving, I remember feeling as though Jesus said to me, "I want to give you more." This honestly felt confusing. I remember coming home from church shortly after our final round had failed and sitting at my piano to try to process it all. Music has always been an important part of my life, but here's the thing – I am no songwriter or some avid piano player, just someone who used to play piano as a little girl. But as I sat at my piano that day, Jesus gave me an entire song: the lyrics, the melody, all of it. Nothing like it had ever happened to me before. This song has proven incredibly cathartic to me over this past year, as if Jesus knew I would need these words ingrained in my heart for the months to come.


Here Again


You say do not fear

'Cause You're already here

I don't have to worry


And You say that You're kind

That I can trust You here again

with my heart and all its pieces


Take off your armor

Let Me be your shield

Take off your worry

Let Me be your peace

Take off disappointment

I see you here

Take off despair

Let Me fill you again with joy

My joy


I'm not scared of your fears

I have bottled your tears

I promise

Hope won't let you go

I am binding your wounds

I am making you new

I promise

I'm not finished with you


I am turning the page

I will show you the way

Trust Me, Trust Me here again

Time has not been lost

I've counted the cost

Trust Me, Trust Me here again


So I found You here

Just like You said I would

Looking back, I see Your story


Turns out, You were kind

Trading broken dreams for joy

You've always been faithful to me

Fast forward to March 2020. Brad and I went to Disney World with Floyd, along with Brad’s parents, a trip we will always treasure. Our final day there was Disney's final day open before COVID shut everything down. As the world closed, and we returned home to quarantine, we began paperwork for a home study for adoption #2. Being stuck at home due to COVID turned out to be perfect for knocking out mountains of paperwork!  


Our church has a prayer team who regularly spend time praying and listening to what God could be saying to our congregation. We believe that God from time to time will give a person what we term a “word,” often an actual word, message, or picture, that is meant to be a message for someone else. Of course as humans, we don’t always get these messages exactly right, but in grace we share and receive them and pray that God uses them as he sees fit. In our church, leadership would often share these "words" during service, but due to COVID, they had begun including them in our pastor's weekly email to our congregation. On April 30th, I just happened to be reading through the prayer team's “words” for that week when I came across this: 


"I saw a young girl with curly red hair and freckles and a red dress. I think it is a picture from the childhood of someone that is now a grown woman. Life has been hard and seemingly unfair in so many ways. It's time for great hope and expectation!  The Lord is restoring your joy and innocence and completely washing away all guilt and shame. He calls you His Beloved Daughter and is restoring the years the locust have eaten. He will provide in very tangible and practical ways in your current situation."


I read it a few times, trying to convince myself it wasn't for me, but in my heart, I knew it was. Many of the scars I carry are related to wounds that happened when I was a little girl. People often called me Shirley Temple throughout my early childhood because I looked so much like her, and as you may remember, Shirley Temple always wore a red dress. I sent the prayer team's words to my mom and sister. Immediately, they both responded, "Corinne, this is YOU!" Little did any of us know just how incredibly accurate this word would prove itself to be as the year went on. 

Next week I'll share the second half of this amazing story with you; the answers to the questions and the prayers and how God had been working this whole time behind the scenes to do something incredible. Be sure to check back for the rest of the story!

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!

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