I would say that our adoption journey officially started on May 7, 2014, but really, I believe it began long before then. I can look back and see so many ways that our lives had been touched by adoption and I realized it was in all those little ways that He was leading and guiding us to this journey. Adam and I have always talked about adoption. Early in our marriage, when we weren’t sure how God would choose to grow our family, we knew that adoption was something we both felt very strongly about. The Lord has been very gracious to us, by way of children, and we do not take that for granted. We understand fully how blessed we are that God so graciously and swiftly answered our prayers for children. Even so, we have always felt the “tug” of adoption in our hearts. This decision was not made lightly, it was discussed and prayed about for years. Taking that first step was huge for us and when we finally began the process, we truly felt it was what God was calling us to do. We decided that we would only tell our immediate family (Parents and Siblings) and a small handful of close friends, of our call to adopt. We could count the number of people who knew on our hands. We made this decision mostly to guard the hearts of our kids. Honestly, we didn’t know how it was all going to play out, we didn’t know how long it would take, and we didn’t want our kids to walk through the disappointing, hard side of the process if they didn’t have to. We knew we’d be asked a lot of “well meant” questions like, “Have you been matched yet?” “How long has it been?” “Do you want a boy or girl?” “Why adopt, you already have kids?” “How much longer?” “Any word yet?” “How much does it cost?” …etc. We didn’t want the kids to get caught in the middle of those conversations. In the end, it was the best decision for us.
We talked with our kids openly about adoption. We told them it was something we were praying about and trusting God with, waiting on Him to open the door. Our oldest two were very excited and open to bringing another child into the family. Our younger two where still quite young, and didn’t fully understand the process, even so, they were excited at the idea of a new baby.
So, on May 7, 2014 we started the paperwork process. It was a lot of paper and a lot of work…it’s intense. There’s a lot of self-examination, we had to answer a lot of deep, personal questions about ourselves and each other. We were interviewed both together and separately. We had to get fingerprinted and have background checks done. We needed physicals and had to be cleared by a physician as both mentally and physically healthy and capable of caring for a child. Our 4 biological children each had to be seen by their pediatrician and be deemed healthy, normal functioning children. Our social worker had a very informal interview with our oldest two kids. We had to fill out extensive financial reports. Adam had to have a letter written from his employer. We had to have 3 to 5 letters of reference written. We had to have a couple home visits, and then there was the home study, which honestly, wasn’t that bad. We had to purchase a few fire extinguishers, get a few child safety locks for some cabinets, and make sure all of Adams guns and things were locked up securely. But, for the most part, it wasn’t as scary as I was expecting. We also had to create a family book to be shown to potential birth moms. This was a way to give the birth moms a little insight into our lives. A way for them to, sort of get to know us, without actually meeting us. The paperwork process took a little longer than we expected. We got sidetracked a few times, so it was November by the time everything was finished, and the home study was complete. Now the adoption agency could officially start showing our book to potential birth moms. We were told it could take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to be matched. The Holiday season was in full force and that kept our minds occupied. So, in early January, when we got our first call about a potential birth mom, we were surprised.
Our book was shown a few times to a mom and she had finally narrowed it down to us and one other couple. For several different reasons, the odds seemed to be greatly in our favor and we were ecstatic. In our minds this really was the best timing. All our kids are two years or less apart in age, and our youngest had just turned two. If we were matched to this mom and baby, it would flow right in with the ages of our other children. It seemed it would be a perfect fit! In the end, the birth mom decided to go with the other couple. We were so disappointed. Just two months into the showing process, we got our first taste of the heartbreak and disappointment that comes along with the adoption journey. That day we entered into a very long season of “No”.
Within a month we went through an almost identical situation. We got the call that our book was being shown. It had been narrowed down to us and one other couple. The birth parents were leaning towards us, asking us lots of questions. Again, the odds seemed to be in our favor, but in the end the answer was no. Over the next few months we got several calls that our book was being shown to several different birth moms. It seemed to always come down to us and one other couple, and in the end the answer was always no. This scenario played well into the summer and we were trying not to lose heart. June was the beginning of a very busy, stressful time. Adam was trying to finish up a summer class for his PhD program. He was traveling a lot and I was home with our 4 kiddos. In the midst of all that, we got a call from our social worker about a birth mom and baby that was a very unique situation. The mom wanted to choose adoption by the father did not and he was causing a lot of problems in the process. She had been previously released from another adoption agency due to the birth father causing too much of a legal risk for them. Our agency wasn’t sure yet if they’d be able to take her on, but if so, would we be willing to take her on as well? There were a lot of risks and worst-case scenarios to think through, and decide if we were prepared to face them, should they come. This would definitely be a legal battle situation. Adam and I took several days to pray about it and eventually decided that, yes, we would do it. Someone had to fight for this baby. Now we just had to wait and see what the agency would decide. The following week I had a Doctor’s appointment scheduled for some health issues I’d been having. I went in on a Thursday morning, they checked me out, ran a few tests and said they’d call me with the results. I hadn’t made it home yet before they called me back. “We have some of your test results…you are pregnant. But, we need you to come back in because we have some concerns. Can you come back now?” Really? Was this for real? Completely shocked, I didn’t know if I should be excited or terrified. I called Adam to let him know what was happening, so he could pick up the kids, and I headed back to the doctor. They did an ultrasound and I was told I had three possible outcomes. 1) This was a normal pregnancy that was just “off to a rocky start”. My body would regulate itself and in 9 months we’d have a baby. 2) This is a failing pregnancy and within the next few days I would miscarry. 3) Worst case scenario, this is an Ectopic Pregnancy, I would need surgery and would likely lose my left ovary and fallopian tube. I needed to come back on Monday for another ultrasound to see how things were progressing and if they could get a clearer picture of what we were dealing with. I was advised to stay close to home in case things took a turn for the worse and I needed emergency surgery. I remember leaving there completely emotionally drained. Really? Was this the plan, God? For us to walk through this long, hard adoption process to find out we are pregnant, just to find out we are likely to lose the baby? How can this possibly be part of the plan? There was a lot of questioning and crying that day. We already had plans to travel to Memphis that weekend. My cousin was getting married and Adam was officiating the ceremony. After a lot of thought and prayer, Adam and I decided I would still make the trip. I let my doctor know, she wasn’t happy, but she reluctantly said ok. We left on Friday afternoon, it was our 11th wedding anniversary. We spent that evening and all of Saturday with family, celebrating my sweet cousins wedding. It was a great weekend and a much-needed distraction from real life. We drove home late Saturday night, to be home for church the next morning.
I lost our tiny baby on Sunday morning while getting ready for church. Adam had already left. I finished getting the kids ready as usual and we went on to church. Before the service started I saw Adam in the hallway, I pulled him aside and told him what had happened. He pulled me close and held me there as I cried, in a back hallway of our church, we mourned the loss of that little one…and just for a few minutes, time stood still.
Adam had to leave that afternoon to go to Virginia for the week for school. Real life never slows down, it just keeps going, even when we don’t want to. Monday morning I had another doctor’s appointment. I had all the kids with me, and I had to have an ultrasound, that was an interesting challenge. My Doctor confirmed that I did, in fact have an ectopic pregnancy. My body was trying to clear things out on its own, but couldn’t accomplish it completely. She wanted me to have the surgery, but that was not possible with 4 kids and my husband being in another state. We opted for another procedure that would hopefully finish what my body couldn’t do on its own. After the appointment I went home, packed some things, and the kids and I drove to Virginia to be with Adam for the week. I didn’t want to go through this at home alone with the kids, we needed to be together. We rented a cute little cottage on a farm there in Lynchburg, Virginia. I spent the days watching the kids play with the goats and chickens, exploring in the woods, and playing board games. Adam was with us in the afternoons, after class and we made it through the week together. The procedure worked, it helped my body finish what needed to be done. While we were still in Virginia, we got a call from our social worker about the potentially high-risk birth mom we had previously talked about. The agency had decided not to work with her, the legal risks were too great. And so, that was another “No” for us. I was so glad I had made the decision to go to Virginia that week. I was thankful for that little cottage and that we were all able to be together and just “check out” for a while. We came home on Friday. I had a follow-up ultrasound on Monday and was told everything looked good, that things were returning to normal. That was a tough season, in the middle of a tough season.
Soon after all that, I told Adam I didn’t want to know anymore, if our book was being shown, it was just too hard. If he got a call about it, I didn’t want him to tell me. I only wanted to know if we had been matched. The kids started school and we were settling into the new routine. By mid-fall we got an email that was sent out to several of the adoptive families associated with our agency. It was about 3 young children from Taiwan that had been brought over to the states for an English program. 2 boys and 1 girl. Both boys had been matched and were placed in homes, but the little girl had not been matched yet and had since gone back to Taiwan. They were wondering if anyone in their contacts list would be interested in this little girl. Adam called me from work, “Did you get that email? What do you think?” Our hearts and minds began to shift. Maybe we aren’t meant to get a baby, maybe we are meant to adopt an older child. We called our social worker in response to the email and she had all the little girl’s information emailed to us. Her full file, a complete background, health history, her full name and pictures! We had pictures of this adorable little 6-year-old girl. We were in! We were trying to come up with the money to have our domestic home study switched over to international. We were trying to figure out how in the world we could travel to Taiwan with 4 kids. We were excited! For the first time in a long time, we were excited! They sent our domestic home study over to the social worker there in Taiwan to review while we waited to have it switched over to international. Adam and I were sure, this was it, this was our girl. I had plans to re-do Karis’ bedroom to make it the “Girls Room”. I went out and bought matching bedding for them and imagined the best little sister-friends. I was envisioning what our Christmas card would look like with her cute little face added to our family. We were excited! Days went by and we didn’t hear from the Taiwan office. Days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into a month, before we finally heard something. We were told it was highly unlikely that they would place her with us, since we already had kids so close to her age. It’s hard to describe how crushing that news was. I couldn’t understand it…it just didn’t make sense. Didn’t this little girl need a family? Why does it matter that we already have kids? Who decides this stuff? We mourned another loss that day. I still see that sweet little girls face, I know her name, and I pray for her often, I hope and pray that she found her forever family.
After that we started really considering domestically adopting and older child. We checked in to foster care, but was discouraged from it, considering the young ages of our children. We inquired about a little girl from Second Chance Adoptions, but again was told it wouldn’t be a good fit, due largely to the ages of our children. This was so incredibly hard to hear over and over. Yes, we have kids, but we want to help, love, and be a family for another kid, why does that have to be so hard?
We made it through the holidays again, without the extra stocking hanging from the mantel. In January 2016 I went on a medical mission trip to Tierra Blanca Mexico, and I just wanted to bring all the kids back home with me! In February I dealt with more health issues. I had two lumps removed from my breast that, praise God, were benign. After that we walked through a pretty quiet season. We just didn’t hear much. We called our social worker often to check in. She told us our book was being shown quite a bit, but for whatever reason, the answer was always “No”.
The month of May rolled around, and my birthday marked 2 years since we had started this whole process. Two years of longing, hurt, disappointment, confusion, and “No”. Doubt began to weigh in heavily. We wondered if this was really Gods plan for us. If maybe, we had somehow misunderstood Him. Our kids were all 2 years older now, than from when we started this process. Summer had begun and were settling into a routine. We were moving into a different phase of life now, should we keep pursuing adoption or was it time to move on to the next chapter?
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
On Tuesday, July 26, 2016 we got a call from our social worker, she was meeting with a birth mom that following week and wanted to show our book to her. Adam and talked it over and prayed about it. We decided, this was either it, or this was it. If it didn’t work out, we were done. We were ready to close this chapter, and move on. So, we agreed to have our book shown, this one last time. On Thursday, August 4, we got another call. The birth mom needed more time to decide, she wanted to take the weekend to think it over. It was between us and one other family. It sounded all too familiar, and my heart braced itself for the “No”.
On Tuesday, August 9, we got another call, “She picked you! YES! The answer is YES!”
“He has made everything beautiful in His time…” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! This season had finally come to an end. We had been matched to a birth mom that was expecting a baby girl and she was due in 15 days!