Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Adoption Story: Corbin and Alyssa

Corbin and Alyssa's story starts with great loss. Today I'm incredibly thankful for Alyssa's voice to share her raw, painful, and beautiful story of how they grew their family. The story of their two daughter's: one in Heaven and one in their arms...

We have always had a heart for adoption. When Corbin and I were dating, we would often discuss how many children we would have, and adoption would always come up. When we got married in October 2012, we decided that we would wait a few years to start a family. Our “plan” was to have two biological children, and then we would pursue adoption for our 3rd child if God led us to do so.

In September of 2014 I started to have minor health complications. I didn’t think much of it, but made a doctors appointment with my OB/GYN just to be safe. A couple of weeks later, I was diagnosed with PCOS. My doctor informed Corbin and I that it was wise to go ahead and start trying for a family, as it may be difficult for us to conceive.

In December of 2014, I had my first miscarriage at 6 weeks. We were devastated, but also very excited that we were able to get pregnant quickly. Since the miscarriage was so early and in the first trimester, our doctor told us that it is very common and not to worry – “The chances of it happening again is rare” she said. 

In April of 2016, we found out we were pregnant again, and that we were due on New Years Day! We were over the moon excited and had very high hopes. As I reached week 12 (the “safe” zone), we decided we would announce our pregnancy to our friends and family! While watching fireworks with my family on the 4th of July, at almost 15 weeks, I knew something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t describe it – but explained to Corbin how I wanted to get checked out just to be safe. The next day at a doctor’s appointment, as I was lying on the sonogram table, I saw our sweet baby girl without a heartbeat. On July 8th, I delivered our beautiful breathless daughter, Lael Noelle. After we said our goodbyes, she was immediately sent to pathology. After waiting months to receive the results, my worst fear came true. “Everything came back normal – your daughter was normal and growing as she should have been. You had a 3% chance of having a fetal demise” said my doctor. It felt like my heart dropped to the floor as I realized my body was responsible for her death. As my doctor went over my blood work results, she told us that we possibly could have biological children, but pregnancy would be a high risk.

As days, weeks, and months went on, Corbin and I kept praying for answers. I went through stages of feeling very angry, guilty, and hopeless. Not sure of where to turn or what to do, the same bible verse kept coming to my mind day after day. “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord” Isaiah 66:9. I knew God had a plan. I knew God wanted Corbin and I to use Lael’s short life for His glory.

As Corbin and I started discussing the possibility of pursing adoption, we both decided to take our time and lean on prayer. We didn’t want to rush such a big decision and wanted God to lead our way. After praying God would give us peace of mind on one Saturday in February, we decided that we wanted to go to The Village Church in Flower Mound that next morning. We had heard wonderful things about the lead pastor Matt Chandler, and wanted to see how we liked it. As the sermon started, we realized that this Sunday was going to be different than most. It was dedication Sunday, where the newborn babies and baptisms were being recognized. As we watched each baby picture come up on the large screen, Corbin and I looked at each other with grief in our eyes. Then something began to happen. Adoption story after adoption story after adoption story was shown on the large screen! As tears began to fill my eyes, I knew being at The Village Church that day wasn’t an accident. We asked God to speak to us, and He did!

After a lot of research, we decided to sign on with Christian Adoption Consultants! After we were Home Study approved in July, we applied to six different agencies in multiple states. Shortly after we applied, we received an email one afternoon regarding a birth mother from our agency. Corbin and I immediately loved her profile, and decided we wanted to present our family book to her. A few days later we received the phone call that she had chosen us to raise her baby girl! We were so excited and couldn’t wait to meet her, as her due date was a short five weeks away!

When the time came to head to Florida, we were able to meet and have lunch with our sweet birth mom before our beautiful baby girl arrived. As we greeted one another, there was an instant and immediate connection that we couldn’t deny – we had been praying for her specifically since that day in February at church, and we knew, undoubtedly, that God’s hand was at work. 

The very next day, our baby girl was born - Audyn Jade - 6 pounds, 13 ounces, and 18 ½ inches long! We are eternally grateful that we were able to share those special moments with Audyn’s birth mother, and we will cherish the memories for a lifetime. And in details that only God could have orchestrated, we later found out that Audyn's conception date was Lael's (our biological daughter's) due date.

When we lost Lael we couldn’t understand why, but God has shown us that His plan for our family was much bigger than our own. Even on the hardest days when we couldn’t understand our path, or how God was working, He was faithful, and we couldn’t be more in love with our Audyn Jade! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Adoption Story: Jeremy and Katie

One day, one phone call, can change everything...

Jeremy and Katie got a call on a chilly day last November and their world stopped. And then, unexpectedly, God showed up and changed EVERYTHING with another call...

For Jeremy and Katie, that second call happened just seven months later. Read the crazy and beautiful ways God turned their darkest nights into dancing as Katie shares their adoption story...

Our adoption story. It feels so surreal to say those words.

When we got married, we lived in this fairy tale, blissful, naive bubble where we believed we were actually in control. In control of our own lives, and especially in control of when/how/where we would have children. We even planned out that we would have a couple biologically and then go on adopt. And that's how it would happen - because we had planned it that way.

One November day, after a year of trying to conceive, our fairy tale bubble was burst. One phone call from the doctor assured us that our plans were not going to happen. We sank into a darkness and sadness that we didn't even know existed.

Why us?

What had we done wrong?

How can our hearts be hurting this deep?

But in that darkness we heard the Lord's beautiful whisper "now it's time for MY plan."

In one fell swoop our God took back everything the enemy had taken from us. Our hope. Our joy. Our future.

Little did we know that walking alongside friends who had adopted through Christian Adoption Consultants year prior would be preparing us for our own adoption journey. We were immediately in contact with Susan and were soon running full speed ahead.

Throughout the entire adoption process we had to make the conscious decision to trust in the Lord and speak out against the darkness and it's lies.

You'll never get matched.

You'll never be able to afford this.

You aren't good enough to be parents.

June 22. We will never forget this day as long as we live.

"Birth mother says you are PERFECT."

And with those six words, our lives were forever changed.

Our son, Jackson, was born four weeks later. He arrived seven weeks early and we spent the next 29 days in the NICU out of state.

Once again, our plans were thrown to the side to allow the Lord's story to unfold. You see, adoption isn't just about waiting parents getting a child. It is a physical representation of the Gospel that changes the course of all future generations.

We are still processing every detail of Jackson coming into our lives and I'm sure we will for years to come. But we know this for sure: even in our darkest moments the Lord is making beauty from ashes. And His plans will always exceed anything we could ever possibly imagine.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." - Ephesians 3:20

Because the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy our hope and joy; but our God comes, not just to give life, but give it to the full.

Jackson is the full we didn't even imagine to pray for. 

And for that, we are thankful the Lord doesn't follow our plans.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Adoption Story: Will and Megan (again!)

Will and Megan adopted their sweet daughter three years ago (it's a beautiful story!) and knew they weren't done growing their family. When things didn't go as smoothly as the first time around, it would have been easy to quit. Easy to give up. Easy to assume it "just wasn't God's plan."

But sometimes, just when things are the hardest, it means you have to show up and keep pushing through with all of the faith you have. And in adoption, remembering there's another family on the other side of everything, struggling with the hard pieces of adoption as well...

When you've gone through it once, you feel like an old pro, right? Wrong! No two adoption stories are alike and our family quickly found that out when we decided to adopt once again. When our first daughter (also adopted) turned 2, we decided to get our home study updated and start this whole adoption journey once again. The paperwork and home study went swimmingly. Doing that once, you DO become an old pro! But from there, our journey decided to take it's own path, rather than follow the lines of our previous adoption.  

Two failed matches later, we sure felt defeated. Never once did God fail us however. With lots of hesitation but lots of prayer, we pushed on. We were matched for a third time and though it felt right, there were so many signs that could have pushed us away. Luckily, we trusted in God's plan for us. On October 7th, our sweet Miles Steven was born. We weren't given the chance to meet our birth family prior to the birth and our nerves were on edge with two failed matches freshly under our belt that once they met us, they may change their minds. (The most awful things rush through your head during these times. It's up to you whether you listen to them or trust your heart to God.) With God's help, we walked into that meeting room confidently and confirmed to those parents that we would be the family they wanted for their child.  

The thing is, I felt God telling us that though this is hard for us to let our guard down, to give ourselves completely to this family after what we've been through, we have an obligation to them, to us, to our son, to give them all of us. It's hard remembering that there are scared and timid individuals on the other side of the table with the same hesitation and the same uncertainty, when you're lost in your selfish misfortune. I knew as we walked in that room to meet them that no matter the outcome, we needed to show them our true selves and offer our whole heart to them and their child. Without God's steadfast love, I'm not sure I could have done that.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Adoption Story: Cris and Claudia

Cris and Claudia thought maybe it was too late. With two older boys, I remember the first time they asked me if they had waited too long to add to their family through adoption. They wondered if an expectant mom would choose them. Ultimately, they wondered if they had missed the opportunity for God to make their family of four a family of five. I'm thrilled today as Claudia shares how instead of being too late, God worked things out in his perfect timing for their family...

I guess we are not your typical adoptive parents; our biological kids are older, and consequently, we are older too. We have dreamed of adopting for over 20 years. And I confess, some times during those years, I thought it was never going to happen. I thought I missed my timing. During that time, God was working something beautiful in our family. The desire to adopt started in my heart; since I was a child I always knew it. Over the years, I can see how that desire in my husband’s heart grew bigger and bigger. Until he got to a point where he could not even start talking about adopting our little girl without getting all teary eyed. When we first shared our dream with our families – 20 years ago – the reaction wasn’t positive. Most of it wasn’t negative either. Adoption was such a foreign concept to our families, that I think they didn’t really know how to react. We have watched them over the past year, as they became totally on board. Totally supportive. God had been doing something in their hearts as well. We realized, our adoption journey was not only our own. Our relatives, and our close friends were also on this journey with us. 

We kept waiting for the right time to officially begin pursuing our adoption. But it was never the right time. There was always something that prevented us from getting started; the kids, a job, an illness, the house, a move, lack of finances – all good valid reasons to postpone an adoption. Then one day in 2016, my husband said to me, “you know, I’m not getting any younger. We either try to adopt now, or we don’t do it at all.” Wow! Those were the words I had been waiting to hear for decades!  It required a leap of faith. It required the understanding that the right time, in our eyes, the convenient time, was never going to happen. We had to have faith and know that God was on our side.

A friend had recommended a homestudy agency in our town as the first step. They recommended that we start with an adoption consultant – they gave us CAC’s contact information. And that is how we became connected with Susan VanSyckle and Christian Adoption Consultants. I can not begin to express how grateful we are for Susan! She always had such a positive attitude, it was uplifting!  Every time we met with her, or spoke over the phone, we came away from those experiences feeling secure in our decision, and feeling like we were being guided by someone who genuinely cared and prayed about our situation. 

We began our home study process. Here is my journal entry for that day:

August 7, 2016
PILES. I see over there – a pile. It’s a pile of paper. This is not just another pile in the house. Right now, I have piles everywhere. In the kitchen, there is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I have a growing pile of clothes in the laundry. The office desk is filling with piles of bills and other to-do’s. All of my piles are crying out for my attention. They all need me. They all belong to a cycle of repetition. The house work never ends. Therefore, sometimes the piles just get ignored for a little while. It’s a Sunday afternoon. I am resting in bed, and once again I see the pile of paper on top of my credenza. This pile is different. It’s not just another pile – this one will change everything. This one will bring an addition to our family. I like this pile. The thought of going through this pile is both exciting and scary at the same time. But God is God. And I know adoption is part of what He planned for our family. So courageous faith is required at this moment. It seems like this first step is the hardest, but I pray for courage to arise within us. We can do this. God has “got our back.” So let the home study begin!

Our adoption journey, home study to placement, took 11 months. I have never felt God closer to us than in those 11 months. It was the scariest thing we have ever done as a family, but we could feel God so close to us every step of the way.

The pain of not being selected after presenting a profile was one of the things I was not emotionally prepared for. But God spoke to us even in those times.  Here is my journal entry after one of times that felt like a rejection.

June 6, 2017
I hear Him say, “Trust me.” And I wonder if He sees me here, knee deep in sinking sand. Slowly being pulled down. I remind Him, “This is too overwhelming for me, my heart can not take it. The rejection is too painful. I don’t want to read another adoption success story. I don’t want to fill out another form. I don’t want to overnight another profile package. This is too painful and too hard.” And He replies, “Trust me.” (A little over one month later, we met our little angel).

Today, we hold our precious little girl in our arms. We are so grateful for everything that God has done. We are humbled by God’s goodness to our family. It was fun to watch our family as they met our little girl for the first time. My mother held her in her arms and cried, realizing how miraculously God has brought her to us. My mother in law recently visited from Brazil to meet her new grand daughter. I watched her hold our little girl and whisper in her ear, “You are the best thing that has ever happened to our family, little girl.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Adoption Story: Seth and Vanessa

God writes the best stories. We say this around here a lot. Mostly because it's true. But often because when you're in the trenches and the chapters are still being written, it might not always seem that way and you need the reminder. Seth and Vanessa know that feeling well. The feeling of walking through hard and dark times, wondering how the story would end. Today Vanessa shares how they walked through their story and the faith that got them through.

It has taken us a long time to write this story – 8 months to be exact. Our journey to our son was not easy. We had to place our full faith and trust in God, and sometimes we questioned if He was still with us and what story He was writing for our family. Looking back, we can see that He was there all along, sometimes just in ways we didn’t expect.

We talked about adoption even before we were married. We had a nice little plan – have two children of our own, and then adopt a third. And everything was going according to plan, until it wasn’t. Not long after we decided to grow our family from one child to two, we learned that it would be difficult for us to conceive on our own. But in our hearts, we knew our daughter was not meant to be an only child. We began researching options for adoption, and found Christian Adoption Consultants and Susan. She answered all of our questions and before we knew it, we had signed with her, began the home study process, and found ourselves buried in a mountain of paperwork. We were overwhelmed. Little did we know that this would be the easy part.

Soon, we began presenting to and praying for expectant moms who were considering adoption for their unborn baby. When our son’s birth mom’s situation came to our email, we immediately felt a calling to present to her, and God worked out the details to allow us to do so. About a week later, we received the phone call we had been waiting for – we had been chosen by this expectant mom, and the baby boy was due in February! After a few days of bliss and anticipation, we received word that things may not go according to plan and were even given the option to walk away. But we couldn’t do it. We could not walk away from this expectant mom and her baby boy. And thus began the most trying few weeks of our lives.

One Wednesday night, Vanessa’s phone lit up with 3 pictures of a baby boy who had been born the night before– a big baby boy with a full head of hair! We anxiously waited to see what would happen next, as his birth mom was still unsure of her decision. We cried and prayed and begged for God to intervene for this baby and his mama – whatever that may look like. We went to church on one of those nights, and the message was all about trusting God and never doubting because he always has a plan for us. We both wept as we realized, even more, that things were not in our control, and God had a plan for our family.

It was 5 days after his birth that our son’s courageous, loving birth mom would make the heart-wrenching decision to place her son with us. Her pain and loss was also her amazing gift to us. When we first saw him, our hearts swelled with love for him and his birth mom. This child was given to us in the most loving, heart-breaking of ways. And he is now ours to love forever.

The rest of our journey was filled with twists and turns and moments that left us gasping for air. Even when we felt that our world was spinning out of control, God was there to bring us back. He showed His love in big ways, sometimes in the darkest times. 

Last week, we finalized Weston’s adoption. He is the perfect addition to our family and our daughter could not be a prouder big sister. Our faith was tested and there were times of doubt. But God knew all along how our story would end. He truly writes the best stories. 

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