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!


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. 


 

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