Friday, January 15, 2010

The Dream

The dream began before we even laid eyes on one another. Mike and I have always had a desire to adopt a child. When we got married in the summer of 1999, we talked about how we'd like to adopt one day. We wanted to wait 5-7 years to have kids, however, we decided ahead of time that if we had any trouble getting pregnant, we'd adopt rather than going thru fertility treatments.

August 14, 2006 - Brody was born (yes...a week past our 7th wedding anniversary). Thoughts of adoption were put on the backburner as we adjusted to life with a newborn baby. We loved being parents and we loved our new little boy. Mike told me that he'd be happy with just Brody. I convinced him that we didn't want to have an only child and that it'd be fun to have siblings for our son. We planned to wait until Brody was 3 years old before trying for another baby.

April 13, 2007 - My period is late and 4 pregnancy tests confirm that I am pregnant. Yikes! Not exactly the 3 years we were hoping for. (Brody was only 8 months old!) I cried at first. Mike laughed. We were shocked, but very excited about another baby. We waited to tell our families in person and everyone joined in our shock and excitement. We were sad beyond words when over a month later (when I was 8 weeks pregnant) our little baby died. I had a very rough miscarriage which ended in a blood transfusion. Losing Baby K was the hardest thing either of us had ever suffered thru. We grieved together and, thru our faith in Christ, we grew closer as a couple and a family.

October 27, 2007 - Surprise...again! After the second surprise, we decided that it must not be God's plan for us to wait until Brody's 3 years old to try for another baby. Barrett was born on June 27, 2008 and has added so much joy to our lives. He's now at the age where he and Brody enjoy playing together. I love watching our boys interact with one another and look forward to all the years ahead where they will be not only brothers, but friends.

July, August, September 2009 - I start talking to Mike about the possibility of another baby. I was, after all, already pregnant with Barrett when Brody was Barrett's age. I was beginning to get that itch. Mike told me that he'd been praying about this for some time now and did not feel like God was leading us to have another baby. I was very disappointed to hear this. I would love to have a little girl (not that another baby would guarantee a girl...but at least it'd give me a chance at one!) After many discussions, Mike mentioned (in passing) that he was afraid that if we had another biological child we'd never adopt. There it was again. The idea of adoption. I put that idea aside. That wasn't what I wanted! I wanted to be pregnant again. To feel a child that was part of both of us moving inside my belly. I set to work to change Mike's mind...thru the power of prayer. I prayed that God would show Mike that he wanted us to have another baby. I just knew that it would work out my way in the end. I'd pray and then I'd work my charm on my husband and he'd give in to my desires. I forgot about one little piece of the puzzle...the Holy Spirit.

Talk with God

September 20, 2009 - I surprised Mike with a birthday trip to Grapevine complete with steak dinner and a night in a hotel. On Sunday, Tyler and Ann had us and Morgon & Lauren over for breakfast and then we went to church together at The Village Church. Their preacher, Matt Chandler, is a gifted speaker and really has a way of making God's word clear and easy to understand. You can listen to his sermon from that day by clicking on this link (download the MP3 or the transcript for the 9/20/09 sermon). The worship service at The Village was amazing. I loved to just close my eyes and worship God as we sang together.

I sat there soaking in every word that Matt spoke that day. The sermon was very convicting. He talked about how we, as believers, should be growing more and more like Christ. It was an awesome message (from what I hear, every sermon he preaches is amazing. He can really use our prayers as he is now suffering from cancer.) Anyways, he got to a part in his message where he told us a story that went something like this:

"I'm what you'd call tight. I don't like to spend money. My wife and I save up our money before we purchase something so that we don't have to take a loan. We had been saving for several years to buy new floors for our home. When we had just about saved all the money we needed, I began to feel like God was wanting me to use the money for something else. I didn't really know how he wanted me to use it yet, so my first inclination was to tell my wife and kids, 'Get in the car! We need to go to the flooring store NOW and buy this flooring before God shows me how he's really wanting me to use this money!'"

Matt when on to talk about how he realized that wasn't the right attitude to have. He repented of the sinfulness of his heart, turned to God and asked God how it was that he wanted to use him. Matt talked about how wicked his heart was in that moment...when he could only focus on his desires rather than the desires or will of God.

Now I know that this sermon had nothing to do with adoption and you may wonder where I'm going with this....but in that moment it was like God was sitting next to me in church and speaking directly to me. This was how the conversation (in my head) went.

God - I may have spoken to Matt Chandler by telling him to use his money to help spread the gospel...but I'm asking something different of you. I want you to adopt.

Me - Well, that's not what I want.

God - I didn't ask if that's what you want. I've been telling you for some time that I want you to adopt, and like Matt wanting to rush out to buy the flooring, you've been ignoring me!

Me - But, I want to have another baby that looks like me and Mike.

God - Do you look like me?

Me - No. No matter how hard I try, I still fail in that area.

God - Didn't I adopt you into my family?

Me - Yes. And I'm forever grateful.

God - Then why does it matter if this child doesn’t look like you? You don't look like me and I love you so much that I sacrificed my Son for you.

Me - But, adoption is so expensive.

God - I will provide.

Me - But, our insurance is so good. It wouldn't cost that much to have another baby. It would cost thousands of dollars to adopt a baby!

God - I will provide. There is a child that I want to be a part of your family. This child needs a loving home. A home that will teach this child about my Son.

Me - It's still not what I want to do.

God - I love you. I know the plans I have prepared for you. I want you to adopt.

Me - *insert whiny voice* I don't want to!!!

God - I want you to adopt.



Of course, no one around me had any clue I was having this conversation with God. My wonderful husband sat next to me holding my hand, listening to the sermon...thinking I was doing the same. By the time we left The Village Church, it was like the Holy Spirit was burning my heart with one thought, "I want you to adopt!" Tyler & Ann, Morgon & Lauren, and Mike & I parted ways after church (agreeing to meet back up for the Cowboys game that night). You might think that I shared my thoughts with Mike as soon as we were're WRONG!

I kept these thoughts hidden. I think that I was assuming that if I kept talking to God, I'd be able to convince him that he didn't really want us to adopt. For the next week I argued my case before God like I'd been to law school. I thought I made some pretty good points; however, the God of the universe wouldn't budge. The Holy Spirit was still burning that same thought into my heart and mind, "I want you to adopt!"

The Saturday after we were at The Village, Mike and I took our boys to the Pecan Festival (our hometown fall festival). There were numerous vendors there along with lots of food and games. Mike and I are pretty practiced at walking past vendors in our own world (meaning not giving in to their sales tactics). We tend to focus on where we’re going and avoid sales people. It was ironic when we both heard a voice thru the crowd say, “Are you interested in foster care or adoption?” Instead of continuing walking (and acting like we didn’t hear), we both stopped, turned, and answered, “Yes”. We talked with the agency rep for a little while and then continued on our way. We didn’t talk about it anymore…just continued on with our day.

Wouldn't you know, that very weekend God sent a social worker to spend 6 days at our house (my sister-in-law, Angela). Angela works for Covenant Kids (a Christian foster care and adoption agency). Numerous times during her visit Angela and I talked about adoption. In talking with her, my heart began to soften a little towards the idea.


The week after Angela left, I finally decided to broach the subject with Mike. I think, in a way, I was hoping that he wouldn’t feel the same way as me and then I’d have an easy out. It wasn’t like I would try to force my husband to adopt a child against his will! It was a Tuesday evening (just after Mike got home from work). The boys were still taking naps so the house was quiet. I told Mike the story I told you (about my experience while at The Village and about the burning of the Holy Spirit in my heart). I was also honest with him and told him that this still wasn’t something that I was 100% wanting to do…but that I felt it was what God wanted us to do. I was surprised when he quickly agreed and told me that he’d been feeling the same way.

After talking with Mike, it was like I finally was able to tell God, “Ok! I’m ready to obey now.” Over the matter of a week or two my heart and thoughts completely changed. I went from resisting the idea of adoption…to wholeheartedly desiring adopting a child. The only explanation for this change is God working in me. There was actually one moment in time that I will never forget…the moment where I knew for a fact that God’s desire had become my own.

The Doppler Next Door

About 4 years after Mike and I got married, I was ready to start having kids. Mike, on the other hand, needed another 3 years before he’d decide he was ready. That time in my life was very difficult emotionally. Looking back…I’m sooooo glad that we waited…but at the time it was hard. Every time I’d see a pregnant woman or a new little baby, I’d feel jealousy rising up in me. It was a nasty feeling, but one that was very hard to overcome. Last summer those feeling begin to resurface again. I was ready for another baby and when I saw a pregnant woman, I knew the joy she was experiencing and I was a little jealous. It wasn’t all consuming and it wasn’t something I thought about all the time, but it was there when I had visual reminders.

Back to when I knew that God’s desire had become my own…
I was sitting in the patient room of my midwife’s office waiting for my yearly exam. I could hear people in the room next to me and suddenly I heard it… “thump thump …thump thump”. It was the sound of a baby’s heartbeat thru a Doppler machine. What a glorious sound! I waited for it…for the feelings of jealousy to wash over me. For the thoughts of, “I wish that was my belly that was producing that sound.” I waited…and waited…and waited. Instead, all I felt was immense joy! I felt so much joy for the people in the room next to me! Tears were streaming down my face as I sat there and listened to the miracle of life thru the thin walls of a doctor’s office. I immediately began praising God and right then and there I began praying for the woman that will carry our child. My heart was overflowing with love and joy and I struggled to hold myself together and make small talk with the midwife when she came in for my exam.

I left my midwife’s office with my shoulders high and a heart overflowing with joy. I called Mike and he was just as overjoyed about my experience. Later that day we began talking with agencies and friends trying to find out where we needed to start our journey. After talking with Angela and a caseworker at Covenant Kids, we knew that CK was the right fit for us.

Answering Why

We received information from Covenant Kids that we poured over and prayed over. By October 15, 2009 we submitted our first application to become adoptive parents.

At this point we began to tell our friends and family about our dream. Everyone is excited for us; however, almost all of them have asked the question, “Why?” They want to know why we would adopt when we could have more biological children. What an absolute joy it has been to be able to tell people about how God has worked in our lives to bring us to this point in time. Not only will we be adding a new member to our family, but just the beginning process of adoption has allowed us to share our faith with friends, family, and even total strangers!

Barrett is still a little young to understand, however, Brody is super excited. He prays for our new little baby on a daily basis (multiple times). He asks if the baby will be in my tummy and I tell him “no” and then we talk about the process of adoption. He currently insists that he wants a baby sister (but a month ago he was insistent on another brother). We explain to him that we don’t know what sex of child God will bless us with, but the baby God gives us will be a special baby that was meant to be a part of our family. At least once a week he asks me when Mike and I will be going to the hospital to get our new baby. It’s fun to see the excitement that I feel in my heart on display in my 3-year-old son.

I marvel at each new change I see in myself as a result of simply saying “yes” to God. I find myself burdened on a daily basis to pray for a woman out there who will make an incredibly hard choice…to parent or not to parent? Mike and I want to be able to show our child’s birth mom and dad how much God loves them and in turn how much we love them.


On December 7, 2009 we had our orientation meeting at Covenant Kids. Some of our questions were answered…and we were given many more papers to fill out and obligations to meet. We've had background checks, TB tests (yes, for the boys too), and our FBI fingerprints are scheduled to be taken today. We had to get a statement from our physician saying we're physically and mentally capable to be verified as an adopted parent. Our doctor wrote the following on my physician's statement form, "Well developed, well nourished female free of communicable diseases." LOL!!! Should I take offense to the "well nourished" part? When I hear someone say that a person is well fed, it usually means they have some extra fat on their bones! We've also had to make copies of every legal document that we own (or so it seems) and fill out several pages of thought provoking essay questions.

January 21, 2010 (yesterday) we had a Fire Safety Inspection of our house. We passed with flying colors (whew!) and the nice didn't cost a penny! Thank you to our wonderful "little" city. When the fireman left our house Brody said, "Did he say yes?" I asked what he meant and he said, "Did the fireman say we can adopt a baby?!?" I told him "yes" and he proceeded to jump up and down with his arms in the air saying "yes! yes!" He's excited! The Health Safety Inspection is still to come and will be a part of the home study that CK conducts.

On January 23, 2010 (the day before I turn the big 3-0) we will go to Covenant Kids for a day of training. At that point we will turn in all of the paperwork that we’ve been gathering and (hopefully) after our training day we’ll be ready for our home study!

I think I’ve now caught you up to date on our adoption journey. I hope that you will join us in praying. Pray for the birth mom and dad. Pray for the precious child that will join our family. Pray for our family as we wait and prepare. Pray that God will use this journey for His glory and in ways that we can’t even imagine!

Don't worry...this is only the beginning. There will be many more editions of "Answering His Call". I'm sure I'll have lots to blog about after training tomorrow.



January 23, 2010 - This morning we got up at 6:15 am to finish proofing our adoption application and make copies of everything for us to keep. By 8:30 we were in the car headed towards Covenant Kids.

There were 3 other couples who attended the training class with us. CK limits the number of verified, waiting adoptive parents to 12 couples. I guess that means that 1/3 of their couples were at our training session.

The day was spent (9 am - 5 pm) talking about CK's adoption process, challenges we might face in raising an adoptive child, openness with the birth parents, and various other things. We also received encouragement and advice from the social workers that will be helping us thru this journey.

We learned of a few things we need to do before our home study. The main modifications to our home include getting a gun safe, building a fence around the pool pump so that we can have it under lock and key (CPS standards), and putting locks on the cabinets that house our medicine. Some of these things seem a little silly (like the fence around the pool pump...not sure what they're afraid of there?!?)...but if we have to jump thru a few hoops...then that's what we'll do. We know that it'll be worth it in the end.

The social workers will be reviewing our application and contacting us within the next few weeks to conduct our home study. In the meantime, I'm going to start working on our profile book. This is the book that we'll give CK for them to show to potential birth parents. I'm a little overwhelmed with the importance of this book. For a person that had over 300 pictures from just Christmas day...I have a lot of pictures to narrow down!

Continue to pray for the birth family and for us as we prepare for the home study.


March 10, 2010

Has it really been over a month since I've posted about our adoption journey? Sorry! Things have been progressing VERY slowly. The adoption director quit in January and they have been in the process of transitioning a new director over from the foster care side of the agency. This meant that our home study has been delayed, and delayed, and delayed! We were originally told that we'd be verified in 3's been 5 months! I expected to wait months (or years) for placement, but it's been a little frustrating to sit here waiting on the agency when there are still things we could be doing.

We've been very busy while waiting. Mike built a fence around our pool pump (one of the home study requirements) and has moved all stuff from the garage to the new shed out back (we can actually park a car in the garage now!)

I've been busy working on our profile book. This is the book that the agency will show prospective birthparents. As soon as Mike and I figure out the wording for the last page of the book it'll be ready to print! I'm hoping to do a couple of posts soon that will talk about writing a "dear birthmom" letter and putting together a profile book. I'll also post pictures of our book on here for y'all to see (just have to get that last page done).

Brody is still asking about the baby almost daily. I guess I've talked about the profile book a lot (and showed him pictures that we're putting in there) because he's now starting to say things like, "Will you take a picture of this to show the birth mommy?" lol

Another project we have up our sleeve is a garage sale to raise money for the adoption. The weather is finally getting warm enough for garage sale weather! (Mike is very excited about the garage sale because after the sale we might actually be able to park both cars in the garage!) If anyone has stuff you want to donate to help us raise money for the adoption, just let us know.

I guess that's all the updates I have for now. I'll be sure and let you know about the home study (whenever it finally happens).

Waiting on References

March 15, 2010

I talked with the new adoption director, Kristin, on Friday. She said that our file is still with Lorie who is processing and double checking all our application stuff. She said once that process is complete then Lorie will pass our file off to Kristin and she can schedule the home study.

Today we got an email from Lorie saying that she had everything she needs from us and she's just waiting on our references to come back. Once those come back she'll pass the file off to Kristin! Yay! One step closer!

Adoption Profile Book (version 1)

March 23, 2010

Alright. Here it is. The Adoption Profile Book! Some of you have already looked at it and given us some ideas of things that you liked and things we needed to change. I think (unless you, my blog readers, come up with things I need to change) this is the book that will go to print! We'll going to have it printed on 12x12 pages and then we'll put it in a scrapbook. Any scrappers out there that know where I should have them printed (good quality...but not $$$$), I'd love the input!

I read several different blogs and guidelines online about creating an adoption profile book. The only parameters we were give by Covenant Kids was "your book can be about 20 pages". Yep. That's it. I found tips here and there online, but mainly I just started looking through our pictures. Most of you know that I take way more pictures than is this was a difficult task. There's no way we could've included as many pictures as we did if I had tried to scrap them (in the traditional scrapbooking method)...not to mention it would've taken me 5 years to finish 20 scrapbook pages! I used Picasa to make the photo collages and well...I guess I'll let you decided if it's worthy to be shown to a birthparent.

{Be sure to click on the images to see them full screen...and to be able to read the text.}

Garage Sale Ad

March 31, 2010

It's finally here! We've been collecting stuff from friends/family for the past month or so. This weekend is the garage sale fundraiser for our adoption!!! Our garage is packed FULL of stuff! It's a little overwhelming to me to think about trying to get this mess organized...but we should have lots of help. Some family and friends are coming over tomorrow evening to help get it all ready. We may be up all night long...but by Friday morning we'll be ready for a massive garage sale!

Please stop by this Friday & Saturday (April 2nd & 3rd) for some great deals for a good cause! Leave your email address in the comment section if you need me to email you our address.

Here's the "before" picture. I'm hoping that after tomorrow night we'll actually be able to tell what everything is that's in our garage! lol

Can you see the door to our house over the pile of stuff???

This is the beginning of organizing all the clothes. I haven't even gotten to the baby clothes yet and there are still at least 4 more giant trash bags full of adult/teen clothes!

Hope to see you this weekend (and please bring some friends! We want to be able to see our garage floor after this sale is over!!)

Overwhelming Success!

April 5, 2010
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!" Ephesians 3:20

This weekend we saw God do "immeasurably more than all we asked or imagined"! The garage sale raising money for our adoption was a HUGE success! Even though we had to pull in early on Friday because of the rain (we pulled in at 9:45 am), we made more than we had even dared to dream! We want to thank each and every one of you for praying for us and supporting us in what seemed like an overwhelming endeavor.

Some of our friends and family went above and beyond. On Thursday night Robyn, Angela, Ann, Namaw, Caleb, & Audria all came over to help us organize (as best as we could) the massive mound in our garage. We also made signs....

and fought over some of the donated clothes! (Lol. We didn't really fight over them, but I think most of the girls found at least a few things to keep for themselves.)

Friday was SOOOO hectic. There was never a break in the crowd. We had shoppers from 6:30 am until we pulled in at many shoppers that we didn't get to sit down until after we'd closed for the day! Caleb, Audria, & Angela spent all morning helping me and Mike with the sale. Robyn and my cousin, Cindy, also showed up to help for a while. Jason and Julie showed up just as we were pulling they helped us hurry to get stuff inside before it was ruined from the rain. Daddy Steve was a HUGE help by playing with the boys. At one point they were playing on a mattress out front and a little girl walked up to them and said, "Is this the daycare?" Needless to say, she played with them until her mom was ready to go. From what I hear, Brody tried to get the girl's number! He wanted her to come back over and play!

I don't think that anyone stopped to take a picture of the sale on Friday, but here's what it looked like when it was starting to wind down on Saturday. Caleb, Audria, Daddy Steve, and Namaw all came over to help us on Saturday. Joseph and Anna showed up just before we started boxing things up, so we put them to work too.

Besides the fact that we made so much money to help pay for our adoption, here's the other VERY exciting result of the garage sale....
As soon as we take the empty boxes to my parents' house (for them to use in their move) and the tables back to church...we'll be able to park BOTH cars in the garage! That'll be a first since we've moved to this house. Very exciting!
There's no way to express our gratitude for everyone who volunteered their time & energy and donated their "junk". We couldn't have done it without your help! God blessed us more than we ever imagined and we are excited that this sale helps bring us one step closer towards bringing our little baby home! To God be the glory!


Home Study Scheduled

April 12, 2010
I forgot to post about the fact that our home study has finally been scheduled! It's this Friday! We ordered the profile book pages the other day, so we should have everything done on our end by the end of the day Friday. Then it will be time to wait...

I'll be sure and let y'all know how the home study goes!

Home Study

April 17, 2010
It's over! Yesterday was the big day...our Home Study. We spent Thursday night and Friday morning making sure that everything was in compliance with CPS standards. That included locking up everything from diaper rash cream to mousse for my hair to prescription drugs. On Friday I cleaned house, did laundry, and made dinner. I wanted to have dinner made ahead of time so we could just reheat and feed the kids during the home study.

Kristin arrived at 2:30 pm on the dot. She started with the home inspection (even after our attempts to comply there were still a few things we have to change and send her pictures to prove the change. Did you know even toy bows and arrows have to be locked up?!?) After the home inspection she spent time interviewing us as a family, individually (Mike, Brody, & me...she attempted to interview Barrett...but he wasn't up to talking with a stranger), and as a couple. We didn't realize that she would need to talk to us without the kids present. Since Barrett has been running a fever, he hasn't wanted us to put him down and we knew there was no way he'd let us lock him out of the room for us to talk with Kristin alone! So...we called in reinforcements. Namaw to the rescue! I lured her to our house with the promise of homemade meatballs, cream corn, mashed potatoes, rolls, brownies, and ice cream! I think just coming to play with the kids would've been enough...but I threw in the food too ;) lol

{As Mike and I were playing with Barrett in the media room during Brody's one-on-one interview, I walked down the hall to get a toy and overheard one of the questions she asked him. "What are some of the rules in your house?" He answered, "Don't touch the safe without Daddy or Mommy." "Are there any other rules?" "They tell me not to pee in the closet." lol!!!! True statement, but sounds very strange out of context! One day I was picking up some of Brody's toys and noticed that his closet floor was wet. When I smelled of it, it smelled like urine! I asked him if he peed in his closet and he said, "Yes. I didn't want to go to the bathroom so I just went in my closet." Let's just say that Mike and I weren't very happy about that! He had almost all the quarters taken off of his reward chart and had to start over working towards his new arrows. I never thought we'd have to make a rule "Don't pee in the closet"...but no one every said that parenting is logical! I wonder what Mrs. Kristin thought when he told her that rule? I wish we could've heard the other questions and his responses!}

Namaw arrived when it was my turn for the one-on-one interview. She fed the kids and then took them on a walk while Mike and I talked with Kristin. She said they went to their new house and played with some of the neighborhood kids. She was giving them a bath when we finished our interview.

A little over 5 hours after she arrived, Kristin announced that our home study was complete. We turned in background checks for our immediate extended family, our profile books, and a nice check. She said in the next 30 days she'll let us know that our home study has been read and then we'll be verified. At that point we'll owe Covenant Kids another hefty check...and then we'll be to the waiting stage!

We had a sigh of relief when Kristin left our house...and then we finally sat down to eat dinner. There wasn't a whole lot of talking. Even though I like to talk...talking for almost 5 hours straight (and not just "how's the weather" type conversation) wears a person out! We were in bed before 10 pm.

Thanks for all the prayers that you've offered on our behalf! Please keep praying with us for the birth family and baby that God will place in our lives.



June 16, 2010
On Monday, Kristin (the adoption director with Covenant Kids) called to tell us that we are officially verified!  This means that all our paperwork and home study have been approved and all training and other requirements have been fulfilled.  It took much longer than anticipated (8 months rather than the 3-5 they projected), but we're finally there. 

So what does this mean now?  It means now we can just pray and wait.  It could be tomorrow or it could be 2 years from now, but (hopefully) one day we'll get the call telling us that a birth parent has picked our family to be their child's forever family.


You will notice that there is an almost 2 year gap between postings about our adoption.  Below you will see some of the reasons why.  We had times were it looked like we were going to have a placement...coupled with times where there was absolutely nothing happening except for updating our file with the agency (like sending them current copies of our home owners insurance).  We were busy with the boys, so even though I thought about and prayed about adoption became something that was on the back burner.  Sometimes months would go by without hearing anything from Covenant Kids.  I would finally email or call and ask if they had any activity.  Most times I would hear that they had placed a child, but the adoptive family had come to the agency with a placement already in the works.  Since CK was so new in the private adoption arena, their name wasn't at the top of people's radar.  The flow of birthmoms was basically non existent.  I would want to sit down and post about our adoption process (many of our friends probably thought we had quit since they hadn't heard any updates in years)...but I just didn't have anything to write about.  One day I hit a breaking point and felt the need to write it all down. 

Simple Words

On May 1, 2012 we hit a huge wall in our adoption.  To help me cope, I sat down at the computer and started writing.  I entitled the document "Adoption Frustrations".  Since it's a 3 page Word document, I'll post it in small chunks. 

The other day I was in the store and overheard a conversation between 2 women in their 60’s.  One of the ladies said, “I’m so ready for grandkids and I don’t think my kids are ever gonna give me any!  Maybe I should just adopt a little kid!”
Adoption.  Such a simple word to say. 

“You can’t have any biological children?  Just adopt!”
“I know so and so who adopted a child.”
“My mother was adopted.”
“I’d like to adopt some day.”
It seems so simple when put in those sentences.  Let me tell you….it’s NOT simple!  Adoption is HARD.  It wears a person down.  I’m not talking about the stacks of paperwork and home study and home inspections and that stuff.  Yes, that took a lot of work….but at that point in the process you’re excited and hopeful that once you get all the “stuff” turned in to your agency you’ll be matched with a child!  Oh, you know that the average wait time is 2 years….but since you don’t have a gender or race preference you assume you’ll have placement faster than “average”.  You don’t understand how many variables there are and how many things can happen along the way.

Today (May 1, 2012) has been 929 days (2 years 199 days) since we began the adoption process.  In my wildest dreams I never would’ve thought that we’d still be waiting.  For the most part we have been waiting without any action at all; however, there have been a few times that we got our hopes up only to have them dashed. 

Dashed Dreams

February 2010 – I was at work when I got the call about an 8 month old baby that they were looking to place.  There was a transition in leadership taking place at our agency, so it was taking longer than expected to get our file verified.  Even though we weren’t verified, they didn’t want to leave us out of the process.  I told them I didn’t think that I could handle missing the first 8 months of my child’s life…and passed on showing our profile (without even talking to Mike).  He was a little upset that I didn’t talk with him before telling them “no”…and I have this regret in the back of my mind.  What if that was supposed to be our child and I didn’t even give it a chance!

October 2010 – Covenant Kids (our agency) called.  They wanted to show our profile to a young mother who wanted to place her baby girl for adoption.  We were told it would be a fast placement because she was due in 2 weeks.  We said yes and then began to pray.  During the time of waiting, Namaw and I went to the Just Between Friends sale (only happens twice a year).  We couldn’t help but buy a few little girl things….just in case.  Why did we do that?  I should have been guarding my heart more…but it’s hard not to hope and dream!  We got the phone call the day after the baby girl had been born.  Our family had not been chosen.  She loved our family profile….but we were told that someone in the other “final family” looked like this young mother and so she felt more comfortable placing her baby in that family.  I was devastated.  I remember laying on the floor in our bedroom sobbing.  As always, Mike (my rock) brought me back to the reality that this baby girl was obviously not the child God wanted to place in our family. 
April 2011 – It’s tax season.  One of our clients (who I’ve known since I was 5) said she wanted to put us in touch with her niece who was looking for an adoptive family for her baby boy.  I was disappointed at first because I had my heart set on a girl.  Mike was excited because he wants a house full of boys!  He left the decision up to me.  After much prayer I came to the same conclusion that he told me after the baby girl fell through…..if this was the child God wants to be in our family….it’ll happen.  So I gave her the go ahead to pass on our info.  There were phone calls and emails exchanged back and forth with our client.  In the end we found out that the niece’s father already had a family lined up to adopt the baby.  I was disappointed, but was able to take it in stride and trust God’s timing.
May 2011 – A girl who babysat for us said she had an acquaintance at school that was pregnant and looking for an adoptive family.  She told the teen (we’ll call her Jane) about us and Jane said she wanted to meet us.  She called and talked with me on the phone.  She said that her “baby daddy” (we’ll call him John) had broken up with her and said he’d sign whatever she wanted him to sign so that she could place the baby for adoption.  I met Jane and John at the mall. They could only meet at a time when Mike was already signed up to play in a golf tournament.  We tried to get them to meet with us later when he could come too, but they insisted on that morning, so I went alone. CK said that if Jane was comfortable meeting with me, that I should go alone for the initial meeting and then suggest that at our next meeting we bring along someone from our adoption agency.  It was the strangest meeting I’ve ever had with someone.  Jane & John arrived holding hands and acting as if they were in a junior high relationship.  They told me that they’d decided to parent the baby.  My first thought was, “Then why am I here meeting with you?!?” but then I thought about how wishy washy Jane had been up to this point and thought, “She’ll probably change her mind 10 times in the next few months before the baby’s born.”  She had me feel her belly for the movement from the baby (which I couldn’t ever feel) and then looked through our profile book.  When I asked about her due date her answers were confusing.  She said, “Well, 1 doctor told me August and another told me November…but I’m thinking he should come at the beginning of August so that I can finish high school.”  They didn’t seem to have a future plan…said they’d rather just think about one day at a time.  To make a loooooong story short…it was a very odd meeting.  I wasn’t too surprised when I found out that she had been lying and was never actually pregnant!  Wow.  What a rollercoaster to have to ride with someone who just needed someone to pay attention to her!

Why is my faith so weak?

February 2012 – Yes….almost year has gone by without any action on the adoption front.  Mike and I are getting frustrated.  Things in our file are beginning to expire.  We’re getting emails from CK with lists of things to update.  We don’t know what to tell them because we’re not even sure if we should continue, so I avoid their calls and don’t return emails.  Finally we get an email that says we have until Friday to respond.  We decide to call them on Friday and ask them to place us on hold. 

On Wednesday I get out of Women’s Bible Study and have a message on my phone to call CK about a potential placement.  I’m shocked when I find out that the little boy is 5 years old.  Mike is out of town on a business trip when I call with the news.  We pray about it overnight and then decide to tell CK that we’re willing to move forward, but we are hesitant because of his age.  Over the next 3 months, God gives Mike and me a peace (and excitement) about this little boy becoming part of our family. 

During this time my cousin, Ginger, emails about a potential placement.  When that doesn’t work out, we take it as more confirmation that we are on the right path by seeking to adopt this little boy.  The bio family has said they want to place him in our family and we arrange for a meeting.  Mike and I meet with the involved parties of the bio family (the maternal side) at CK.  The meeting went really well and all parties involved were comfortable with moving forward.  Mike and I started planning for all the changes that would come with adding another 5 year old to our family and we were anxious to get the transition time started and get this little boy involved in our daily life. 

Today we got a call that changed everything.  The bio dad has now stepped into the picture.  For now, the door has been closed.  The little boy that we’ve been looking at pictures of, praying for, and planning for will not become part of our family.  Today the emotions are raw.  I have invested so much emotionally into this child without ever having met him and it breaks my heart to know that I will never hold him and share my love with him! 
I have to keep telling myself that God is in control of this….and I know that with time I will be able to thank God for taking us on this journey.  Right now, however, I’m so frustrated!  Mike and I were so hesitant about this placement and prayed that if this was the direction God wanted us to go that he would give us both a peace about it.  He did!  Why?!?  Why did he lead us down this road for months only to come to another dead end?  Why are we still waiting for a child to be placed in our home after years of putting aside our desires to follow the road God has laid out for us?  Why am I questioning God’s plan? Why is my faith not strong enough to just say, “Ok Lord!  I’m ready to wait on your timing.”?  Why has God called us to adopt and given us this passion when we already have two amazing boys?  Our boys are more than enough…so why is he asking us to take in another child to be a part of our family? How long will we walk this road of waiting?  Why is adoption so hard?!?   
It may seem like such an easy thing to so many, but adoption is not easy.  It will take all the emotional and physical strength you have to make it to the end.  I have no clue how anyone makes it though the adoption process without having strength from the Lord!  I know that someday God will place a child in our family.  When he does, we will be so thankful that he made us wait.  We won’t be able to imagine our life without that child in our family.  I also know that the day that child joins our family is only the beginning of this journey simply known as adoption.

Adoption Profile Book (version 2)

October 1 , 2012
Kristin asked for us to give her an updated profile book (since our prior version was over 2.5 years old) and a shorter "Dear Birth Parent" letter.  If you have read this might gather that I'm not one who writes with brevity.  It was soooo hard for me to shorten our letter!  It is what is shown to a birth parent first...and what they use to decide if they are interested in seeing our profile book.  How am I supposed to tell someone everything they'd want to know about a family in order for them to want to ask us to parent their a single page?!?!? still bled over into page 2...but it's shorter than the prior version CK had on file.

Preparation for future trials?

The following thoughts were penned in October 2012

Sometimes we don’t have any desire to continue with the adoption process.  We look at our boys and see how amazing they are and how well they get along and we think “why mess with a good thing?”  Little seeds of doubt seem to be more prevalent these days.  Here’s a list of just a few of the thoughts that have been invading:
·         Traveling is so much nicer now that the boys are older.  We can actually enjoy a vacation!  Do we want to go back to traveling with a baby?  Worrying about them waking our traveling companions or hotel neighbors?

·         Can we handle diapers, middle of the night feedings, and a crying baby that can’t communicate with us along with everything else we have going on (my grad school, Mike’s demanding job, the boys’ busy schedules)?

·         If we get a placement of a baby now, the new child will be an only child for almost their last 5 years at home!  Is this fair to them?

·         We’re getting older.  The longer this adoption draws out…the longer it will be before we can retire (because it will mean putting another child through college).

When these thoughts begin to invade I think, “Is this contentment with what we have….or complacency?”  If this is God giving us contentment because He is going to tell us to change course, then I’m thankful.  If this is just complacency and we are veering from God’s true calling…I hate it!  If you have read our adoption journey, you know that there is no doubt that God called us to adoption.  When we first started the process, Mike said something that has always stuck in the back of my mind…and has always bothered me.  He said, “You need to prepare yourself for the idea that there may not be a child at the end of this journey.  God has a plan and we think we know what it is…but we can’t see the whole picture.  He may be calling us down this road for a reason we can’t see…and it may not be for a child.”  At the time, the idea seemed lubricious to me!  As the months and years have passed a voice in the back of my mind says, “What if Mike was right?” 
Recently I talked with a friend about this and she suggested that God could be preparing us for something bigger.  By obeying his calling now, he may be better able to use us in the future.  It seems kinda hard to explain this idea on paper, but it made sense to me when she said it.  It also scared me a little.  If this was an easy “can you obey me?” task….what would He be requiring of us in the future!  I’m not sure I’m ready!

Laying out the Fleece

Any time we get a request from Covenant Kids to update our file, Mike and I have the discussion about whether or not to continue.  We pray about it and beg God to show us what he wants us to do.  What does God want from us?  I wish he’d just write it down and send it to us in an email. A few months ago I told Mike I was gonna lay out the fleece.  I prayed knowing that God would answer. 
This was my prayer,

 “Dear God,  We just want to do your will.  Will you please tell us what you want us to do?!  If you are wanting us to let go of the idea of adoption, send us an advertisement in the mail for a family four pack vacation.  If you want us to continue down the road to adoption, send us something about adoption in the mail.” 
Yes.  That is what I prayed. 
Seems kinda silly to most people, but I believed God would reveal himself to us.  Well he did…but he showed his humor in the process.  The next weekend I went to the mail box.  What did I find?  I laugh just thinking about it!  In our mailbox was a flyer for a family four pack vacation to Schlitterbahn…but wait…there was also a letter from a childhood friend, Ashley, inviting us to a dinner to raise money for Covenant Kids adoption program. 
I’m dead serious.  That’s what was in the mail. 
So I kindly told God thanks for the answer....not! lol

Deadline Set (by us)

October 3, 2012
Kristin and Courtney from Covenant Kids came over to meet with us for our semi-annual appointment.  Mike and I shared with them how discouraged we have been feeling.  Kristin said that she had a birth mom she’s working with that is due in November.  The birth dad would like to parent the baby, however, he is willing to support whatever decision the birth mom makes.  Kristin said she seems set on making an adoption plan and she thinks we’d be a perfect fit.  The birth parents are both Hispanic and the birth mom thinks the baby is a girl (but hasn’t had a sonogram to determine the sex).  We told Kristin we’d talk about it and get back to her.  We were just still so unsure about how to proceed.

Mike and I talked about it for a few days and came to this decision.  Let Kristin show our profile.  If we are chosen…then this was God’s plan.  If we are not chosen or if the birth mom decides to parent, we tell Covenant Kids that we are done.  Then once the boys get older we’ll reopen the door with the idea of adopting an older child.
Well….after we met with Kristin and Courtney, they never heard from the birth mom again.  Something in me still doesn’t feel right about “quitting”.  I know we made the agreement that this was our last shot… but there’s still part of my heart that feels like God’s not done with us.  It might be while I’m driving to school, while I’m sitting in church, while I’m having quiet time with the Lord….it hits me at different times.  It’s a little voice saying, “Don’t give up.  I’m not done with you yet.  I didn’t call you to something that was easy.  I called you to something that will make a difference…and it’s not about you or your comfort!”  I have a hard time believing that God will so clearly call us to adoption….and yet he wouldn’t give us that same clarity if he wants us to step away.  Neither Mike nor I have heard God say, “You’re done.  Stop!” 
So…the plan now is to give it until the end of the year (December 31, 2012).  I pray that if that is not what God wants us to do that he will let us know.  That he will make it clear to both of us…and that he will re-light that passion in our hearts for we are growing weary.

The Call

February 12, 2013

Why do I know in my gut that the phone call I just received is different than any others?  Tonight I got call from Kristin with Covenant Kids.  She said she was looking for a placement for an African American baby girl who was born at 33 weeks on February 10th.  She said she’s perfectly healthy (at 4 lbs 10 oz)...just early.  Kristin wanted our permission to show our profile book to the birth mom.  I told her I would talk with Mike and would text her back later tonight.  She is meeting with the birth mom on Thursday and would like to show her our profile and that of another couple.

When I hung up the phone I immediately fell prostrate on the kitchen floor.  I couldn’t stop shaking.  For some reason the thought kept running through my head, “This is what you’ve been waiting for!  This is why it has taken so long…because I wanted you to parent this little girl!”  I’ve never felt this way (in the past) after one of these calls.  I was crying and praying.  I didn’t even know what to pray, so I just begged the Holy Spirit to speak on behalf of me. 

I tried to call Mike, but he was in meetings.  I texted him and told him that we needed to talk about a call I got from CK today.  When he walked in the door after work (an hour after the call) I was still shaking.  I looked at him and said through tears, “I think this is it!  I think this is what we’ve been waiting for.”  He grinned and asked why and I said, “I don’t know.  I just have a feeling.” 

Then reality sunk back in.  We began to talk about all the reasons why we had been talking about quitting.  What happened to the December 31st deadline?  Weren’t we supposed to call and quit at the end of the year?  Do we really want to ride this roller coaster again?  What if we are chosen?  Are we ready for all that entails?  What if we’re not chosen?  Can we handle the feeling of rejection again?  We gave knowing glances to each other as we ate dinner with the boys and put them to bed.  It wasn’t until we got them to bed that we sat down on the couch and really had time to talk.  After some discussion and a few tears (on my part), we decided to let her show our profile to the birth mom.  If it was God’s will that this little girl is a part of our family…who are we to say “no”?!  If it’s not His will that she is in our family, then us saying “yes” to showing our profile won’t put her here.
I have now gone from the immense high of “this is it!” to the low of “Don’t get your hopes up.  No one has chosen y’all yet. You don’t wanna get your heart broken again.”  I guess all we can do now is pray and wait.

The Waiting Game

February 13, 2013

Kristin called today while I was at Women’s Bible Study.  She requested that I re-write our “Dear Birth Parent” letter (AGAIN!).  She also gave me a little more info on the birth mom and told me that the other couple she is presenting is an African American couple.  When I heard that my heart and brain just shut down.  I thought, “Here we go again.”  We don’t care what race (or gender) the child is that we adopt…but in the past we have found that race can be important to a birth mom when she is choosing a family to parent her child.  I feel like our chance of being chosen has gone from 99% down to 5%.  Why did I feel so strongly yesterday that "this is it"?  Was I deceiving myself?  Was it just wishful thinking?  I don't know.  

After Bible study I went home and re-wrote our letter and sent it off to Kristin.  In essence, I had cut out a lot of the letter in order to make it a 1 page letter.  If you’ve read nothing but this post…I think you can figure out that I’m not one for cutting a story short.  How in the world can we tell enough about ourselves for a person to want to entrust their child to us…on just one little piece of paper?!?
So now we’re back to the waiting game.  Kristin is showing the profiles tomorrow, but she told us that we shouldn’t expect to hear back from her until Monday.  She said many times the birth mom wants to take the profile books home to look at with other family members and take some time to make the decision.  My head is telling me it’s over and that it won’t happen…but there’s something in my heart that is keeping me hopeful.  I can’t explain it…but it’s like there’s a little voice saying, “Just wait….it’s gonna happen!” 

The hardest part for me right now is knowing that there’s a baby girl in the NICU at the hospital.  If this is going to be our daughter…I want to be there with her!!  I don’t want another minute to go by without her knowing that she is loved.  It makes my heart ache to think about her there alone…

Version 5,392 of our Dear Birthparent letter...

When Kristin asked me to update our letter (again!!) and make it even shorter I honestly thought, "What's the point?!"  I felt like I'd already cut out all I (in my head) I was basically writing a letter full of incomplete thoughts.  I edited this letter and sent it off faster than any of the others (and without near as much contemplation or concern) because I didn't really think it would matter.  Here is the letter I sent...the one she showed to the birthmom of the baby in the NICU.

Dear Birthparent,
No matter how you have arrived at this point in your life, we want you to know that we love you and have been praying specifically for you.  We don’t come to this journey through the grief of infertility, but rather through the joy of God’s calling.  We are thrilled beyond words that you have chosen life for your precious little one and pray that God will lead you to the family that will be perfect to raise your baby.  We look forward to an open adoption and to growing our family in such a special way.
Our names are Mike, Staci, Brody, and Barrett.  Family is a priority to us and God has blessed us with an amazing one!  We are very close to our parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.  We’d love to tell you about all of them when we meet you in person, so for now we’ll just tell the story of our immediate family. 
Mike works as an IT manager for an oil and gas company while Staci’s primary “job” is being a mom.  She is also blessed with the opportunity to work part-time from home for her mom as an accountant.  We love how God has provided this opportunity so that she can be there for our children all day every day!  Brody (6 yrs) is in Kindergarten and Barrett (4 yrs) goes to preschool 2 days a week.  They love playing baseball (and anything else outdoors) and are not only brothers but best friends.  They both love babies and can’t wait to have a precious little one join our family.  
God plays a vital role in our lives.  Every day we spend time in the Word and in prayer with our boys.  We strive to teach them to love and show compassion for others and to seek to imitate Christ in every aspect of their life. 
As a family, we enjoy traveling together and like for our vacations to contain some element of adventure (ie: camping, jet skiing, climbing mountains in Colorado, etc.)  When we’re at home we enjoy watching movies together, playing catch or swimming in our backyard, going for rides in our Jeep, playing Putt Putt, going to TX Rangers games, reading, playing games, or just hanging out with family. 
We’d love to meet you in person so that we can get to know you and answer any questions you have. We know that the decision you are making is one of the hardest decisions of your life and you can rest assured that your child will know about the sacrifice you made if he/she becomes a part of our family.  We plan to tell your baby the special story of how God placed him/her in our lives from the time he/she is placed in our arms.  We would love to share pictures and stories of your child with you through letters, emails, or possibly a blog.  We are also open in discussing with you plans for meetings and email exchanges.  We know that God has the perfect family for your precious baby and pray that you will find comfort in His arms and His plan during your search. 
Mike & Staci

A Valentine's Day Surprise

February 14, 2013

Today is the day Kristin showed the profiles to the birth mom.  I talked with Ann and Julie Little about what is going on….but we didn’t said anything to the rest of our family.  We didn’t want them to have to ride the roller coaster that we are on.  We didn’t expect to hear anything from Kristin today (per the conversation yesterday) and so we’ve been focused on all the fun Valentine’s Day stuff the kids have going on at school.  I picked Barrett up from school and then he was watching a video while I was talking on the phone to Julie.  While I was talking to Julie, someone else tried to call.  I looked down and saw on my phone that it was Kristin calling me.  I hurriedly told Julie I’d call her back and then switched over. 

“Hi Staci!  It’s Kristin.”
“Hi!  How are you?” I said.
“Good.  Is Mike there with you?” Kristin asked.
“Ummm…no?!  He’s at work.” (It was 3:00 pm…he didn’t take off work to wait for a phone call that we thought wouldn’t happen until Monday…and that in the past has always been an “I’m sorry” call.)
“Well….are you sitting down?  I have good news for you!”
“WHAT?!?” I replied….and the tears immediately started falling as I walked into Barrett’s room and closed the door so he wouldn’t see me.

“Yes!  The birth mom looked at y’alls profile book and didn’t even want to look at any others.  She said y’all were the perfect family for her baby …and that your boys looked like they need a little sister!”

HOLY COW!  Can we just pause life here for a second?  Did she really just tell me that I have a daughter?!?  Oh.  My.  Goodness!  I didn’t even know what to say!  Then…my watch alarm went off and I had to ask if I could call Kristin back after I picked up Brody from school (see…life wouldn’t pause for a moment even if I wanted it to! Lol)  I tried calling Mike before I left to go get Brody, but he was in a meeting (which is his day all day every day…it’s hard to get ahold of him at work).  As I rode my bike up to the elementary school (pulling Barrett in the bike trailer) I could feel the tears of joy streaming down my face from under my sunglasses.  My heart felt like it was going to bust and my adrenaline was soaring!  I wanted to shout the news to the WORLD….yet I had to talk to Mike first!  It took everything within me not to tell the other moms waiting to pick up their kids…or to tell Brody “You have a sister!” 

After I picked up Brody I called Kristin back and found out a few more details including that we would get to go to the hospital and meet the baby girl tonight.  Kristin just needed to know when we could get there.  I texted Mike and told him to call me ASAP.  When he called I said, “Have you made any plans for Valentine’s Day tonight?”  He responded in a very exhausted sounding voice, “No honey.  I’m sorry.  I’m swamped at work and haven’t even had a chance to think about it.”  I said, “Well….what about meeting me at the hospital.”  “What’s wrong?  Why am I meeting you at the hospital?” he said with a little more enthusiasm in his voice.  “So we can meet our daughter!” (that word sounds so strange! Lol) I replied. 

Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Silent Ride

“Are you there?” I asked. 

“You’re gonna have to give me a few minutes to absorb this.” He responded and then ended the call.

Now from the time I hung up the phone with Julie until now had been over 2 hours.  At this point she was starting text me and say, “What did Kristin say?!?!?”  I hadn’t wanted to call her back until I talked to Mike….so now I finally felt like I could call her.  I don’t know what I expected, but Mike’s reaction wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be.  I’m so thankful Julie talked me down and told me that I just shocked him!  An hour ago he was only focused on work…and now I’m not telling him we’re gonna have a baby…I’m telling him we DO have a baby and she’s at the hospital and we need to go see her.  She told me to give him some time to absorb it and not to jump to conclusions about his reaction.  She also said that she knew either I had either gotten really good or really bad news earlier when I didn’t call her back and that she had spent the last few hours on the floor crying and praying for me.  Wow.  How am I blessed to have a friend that loves me so much?!

Mike decided to come by the house and pick me up to go to the hospital, so I called Daddy Steve and Namaw to see if they had V-day dinner plans.  Since they didn’t, they said they’d watch the boys for a bit while I went to see “some surprise Mike had for me.”  (I’d consider a new baby quite the Valentine’s Day surprise!)

The ride to the hospital was silent.  I say “silent” in the literal sense.  We didn’t’ say a word to each other the entire drive!  We were both in shock and lost in our thoughts.  I could also tell that Mike was still trying to take in the situation and that he needed the quiet to think and pray. 

When we met Kristin in the lobby and she said, “How are y’all doing?” I heard Mike speak for the first time.  He said, “I’m overwhelmed and in total shock!  It hasn’t sunk in yet!”  I had little butterflies in my stomach as we rode the elevator up to the NICU.  What if I looked at her and didn’t think she was cute?  Can I love an ugly baby?  We don’t really know a whole lot about the birth family yet.  What if there’s some big bombshell Kristin’s waiting to drop on us until after we meet the baby. 

The first time I saw your face

We checked in and then scrubbed in at the entrance to the Neonatal ICU.  The sign above the wash station said to scrub for 3 minutes.  Have you ever tried to do that?  It's harder than brushing your teeth for 2 minutes!  The clock was ticking by so slow...then I had to wait for Mike and Kristin to scrub in too!  My heart was in my throat by the time Kristin finally reached for the handle to open the door to the NICU.

I felt like we were moving in slow motion as we followed Kristin across the NICU to a little bed by the window.  She reached inside and picked up the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen!  She had tiny little features and porcelain skin.  She looked like a baby doll!  “Do you want to hold your daughter?” she asked and I reached out my arms.  I’ve never held a baby so tiny (she was weighing in at 4 lbs 4 oz today) yet she was so healthy looking.  She had a monitor attached to her chest and foot, but she didn’t have any other tubes. 

Mike started laughing while I was holding her.  I asked him what was so funny and he said, “You’ve never looked so skinny holding one of our kids as a newborn baby!”  I had to laugh too.  The pictures of me with the boys as newborns are not really ones I'd want to show off to people.  My face is blown up like a balloon and I look soooooo tired....not to mention my belly that still looks pregnant!  It was kind of surreal to be holding our new little baby and yet feel totally rested...and not at all sore!

 After I held her for a few minutes I handed her to Mike and I could see the tears in his eyes as his heart swelled with love.  That’s it.  It’s over.  She already has him wrapped around her little finger (and it’s a TINY little finger!!)  He looked up at me and said, “Well….I guess we’ll be stopping at Target on the way home and buying some pink stuff!”  It was then that I knew everything was ok.  We may have been overwhelmed by the suddenness and unexpectedness of it all…but this was God’s plan and we are overjoyed!

It was hard to leave the hospital, but Kristin needed to get home (guess we were keeping her from her big Valentine’s date with her husband! Lol).  Until the birth mom signs the official relinquishment papers (which she is supposed to do tomorrow), we have to have Kristin with us to go visit the baby.

Sister Surprise

When we left the hospital we started throwing around a few names (we’ve never had a child born that didn’t have a name yet!)  Then we talked about how to tell the family.  Since Ann and Julie already knew what was going on, I just texted them a picture of the baby and said, “This is my daughter!”  Then Mike and I stopped by Target.  We ended up buying a little pink outfit and thought that we could wrap it up for the boys for a Valentine’s Day present…and use that to tell them.  Then on the way back to Daddy Steve and Namaw’s house Mike had a better idea.

When we arrived the boys were in their jammies…eating popcorn and watching Leave it to Beaver with Daddy Steve and Namaw.  I told them I wanted to show them pictures of what Mike took me to see.  It took a little time, but I put the pics on Daddy Steve’s Picasa and then he was able to view them on his TV.  Tyler and Ann were begging me to FaceTime them into the announcement, so I called them on FaceTime just before I went downstairs and then held the phone by my side.  I told Daddy Steve to pull the pictures up and then we started to look at the pictures of us at the hospital with a baby. 

Namaw said, “Oh!  Y’all went to see someone at the hospital!”
“Yes.” I replied
“Who’s baby do you think that is?” Mike asked.

We were silent for a few minutes and Daddy Steve looked back at me (I was holding my phone up so Tyler and Ann could see the room and the reactions) and he said, “Is it yours?!???”

“Yes!” Mike and I replied.

Then the room erupted with confusion and excitement and we began to tell the story…I also took Tyler and Ann off mute. Lol

It took a little longer for us to help the boys understand that this is the baby we are going to adopt.  Brody walked right up to the TV so he could look at her closer and said, “Momma?  What color is her skin?”  I told him she is African American and he asked if she is the first African American in our family.  When I said “yes” he replied, “That’s so cool!!!”  Of course, the next question from everyone was when would they get to go see her.  Unfortunately people under 16 aren’t’ allowed in the NICU, so the boys will have to wait until she gets home to hold her.  This didn’t sit very well with the boys…but we reassured them that they’ve been waiting this long…they can wait a few more days.

It was well after 8:00 pm before we got the boys home.  As we were tucking them into bed Brody asked if he could pray.  I will never forget the precious words he said, “Dear God, Thank you for giving us this baby that we’ve prayed soooooo long for.  Thank you for answering our prayers!”  Mike and I looked up at each other with tears in our eyes.  How awesome for our boys to learn so early about the power of perseverance in prayer.  God does hear our prayers!

After we put the boys to bed I ran to get Mike and I a celebratory Braum’s shake and I called Caleb & Audria on my way.  Caleb answered and I told him that he was gonna have a niece!  They were shocked…but so happy for our family!  Archer is only 2 months old, so they will grow up together…and even go to school together at the same school!  Mike sent a web album of pictures to Angela and Grammy and it’s killing me that Grammy doesn’t have internet at Grandma Brown’s house…and said that she’ll go into town “sometime tomorrow” to check her email!  What a surprise she’ll find!

I have so many things running through my mind right now…but I have to go take a quiz before 11:00 pm for my graduate accounting class!  Yep…even school doesn’t stop for a new baby.  Does anyone have a remote that would pause life…just for a few days?




February 19, 2013
We had about 30 minutes at home with the boys and Daddy Steve & Namaw before Kristin (with Covenant Kids) arrived.  She had a huge stack of papers for us to go over and sign to make the placement official. We were able to receive background information on Bri's biological family and signed more papers than I can count.  Today starts the 6 month waiting period for finalization in court.  We are already 9 days into the 31 day legal risk period (the biological father has 31 days to come forward and register on the national paternal registry if he intends to parent).  Hopefully by the end of March we'll have the termination hearing and will no longer be in a legal risk placement.  We don't anticipate any issues...but we still have to wait out the time.

Mike has been working sooooo hard to get our home ready for Brianna.  When Kristin came to do the official placement, she also did a walk through of our home to update our home study. Thankfully we had gotten the house back in order (well...except for the boys room! lol) just in time!  She asked about our evacuation plan in case of fire and asked if the boys knew what to do if there was a fire.  We showed her the evacuation plan (that has to be posted in our home) and then she asked if we could do a mock fire drill.  The boys were playing in the other room so I walked down the hall towards them saying, "Come on boys!  We have to hurry!  There's a fire!  We're having a fire drill!  Show me what to do if there's a fire!"  Then I rushed out the front door with the boys and headed towards our designated meeting spot...the mailbox.  A few steps before I reached the mailbox...I panicked!  OH MY GOODNESS!!!  I FORGOT ABOUT THE BABY!!!  I turned around, hoping to be discrete and let out a huge sigh of relief when I saw Mike carrying Brianna out of the house!  Whew!  I couldn't believe that I had forgotten to get her!  So glad Mike's head was still on straight! lol

After we signed all the paperwork, Kristin scheduled an appointment to come back next week and then left us alone as a family of five!

Facebook Announcement

February 20, 2013
"After 1,243 days of trusting the Lord that we were following his call for adoption...we got the call! On Valentine's Day we were told we have a BABY GIRL! She was born 2/10/13 at 35 weeks and when she came home from the hospital yesterday she weighed 4 lbs 14 oz. We are so in love with our precious Brianna Faith!

I have to admit, we are still in a little bit of SHOCK! This time last week we w...ere just going through life like normal. In fact, we had talked about telling the agency we were done waiting...but neither one of us ever made the call. We didn't have 9 months to get ready...or even a few weeks! We got the call last Thursday and that night we were up at the NICU holding and caring for our little girl! (we're still trying to get used to saying "daughter"! lol)

Unfortunately we have to wait until the adoption is finalized in 6 months to post pictures of her face....but we'll try to at least post a picture of her cute feet and hands soon! Thank you for all of the prayers you have lifted up on our behalf over the past 3 1/2 years. We now know why God had us wait soooooo long! Bri is the perfect addition to our family. We are so blessed!!"

Post-Placement Visit

February 27, 2013
Today was our post-placement visit with Kristin from Covenant Kids.  They require a follow up visit within the first 2 weeks of placement.  I had class tonight and had to leave by she arrived a little early in order to talk with us and see how life is going with Brianna in our home. 

We talked with her for a while about how Bri's doing with her schedule and how she's fitting into our family and then Kristin asked to talk with the boys alone. We headed back to Brianna's room to change her diaper and they stayed in the living room. I couldn't help myself though...I crept back into the office to eavesdrop on their conversation.
Kristin: What do y'all think about having a little sister?
Brody: I love it!
barrett: It's fun.
K:  What do you like most about having Brianna in your family.
B: Holding her and just looking at her. She's so sweet.
K: What's different now that you have a little sister?
B:  We can't do some of the things we used to do.
K: Like what?
B: Like we used to throw a squishy ball against the wall in the living room and play catch, but now we can't do that.
K:  Why?
b: Because we might hit Brianna.
B: But we really only used to do that while we were watching Rangers' games...and they haven't started yet.
K: Anything else different?
B: Yes...we also can't shoot our nerf guns because we might hit her.
K: You have nerf guns?  You only use then while your parents are watching...right?
B:  No.  We can use them whenever we want!
K:  Where do you keep them?
B: In our room.
K:  Do you keep the darts in there too?
B:  Yes.
K:  So you keep nerf guns and darts in your room and can play with them whenever you want?
B & b:  Yes.

Oh my.  I walked back to the nursery and told Mike we were about to get a lecture about nerf guns!  He looked at me like I was crazy and I said, "Just watch!"  A side note here: We haven't given them any of the rules that they talked about with Kristin (ie. no squishy balls or nerf guns)....I guess Brody just decided they shouldn't use them and told Kristin so!  So....Kristin and the boys came back to Brianna's room and (as expected) Kristin asked to speak with me in the hall (Mike was changing Brianna's diaper).  She asked about the nerf guns and then told me that we had to put them up in the top of our closet for the next 6 months and only allow them to be used under "direct adult supervision" because "they shoot projectiles" and that even though a nerf dart may not hurt someone, "they may put a marble in the gun and shoot it at someone."  Now if you have a boys...or just nerf guns for that matter, you know that the gun won't even shoot the wrong I'm not sure how in the world she thinks it'd shoot something like a marble!!! lol!  But....we teach our kids to respect authority and we have to do the same.  It's only 6 months (this is a mantra I repeat in my head quite often these days!)

Kristin also made sure to verify at this visit that I had not been posting about Brianna on our blog and she even read our Facebook announcement to make sure it was appropriate!  Seriously?!?  I showed her how I've been making blog posts and dating them...but that they are saved as drafts and I won't hit "publish" until we have finalization.  I promised her that none of the info saved in my drafts is viewable by the public.

Thankfully Richelle (from life group) brought dinner to us tonight! I was able to scarf down a bowl of soup after Kristin left and then rush out the door to class.

Post-placement visit: CHECK! 

Mother's Day

May 12, 2013
Today was a very special Mother's Day!  This morning we dedicated Brianna to the Lord at church in front of a lot of our family and friends. 


August, 23, 2013

Full of Love

September 1, 2013
Life has been going at warp speed since Brianna joined our family.  She has been the perfect fit.  She’s a great baby (was sleeping through the night 10 pm – 8:30 am at 8 weeks) and, unless she’s cutting a tooth, is a very happy baby.  She adores all of our family…especially her big brothers.  As the third child, she gets drug along wherever we go…to pick up kids from school, church, baseball practices/games, play dates, restaurants, Texas Rangers games, parties, daily errands, vacation, etc.  It’s a busy life for a baby!
The first few months I was stopped by at least 5 random strangers a day who would say, “Oh my goodness!  That’s a real baby!  I thought you were carrying a baby doll!!”  Friends and family didn’t believe how often I heard this comment word for word until they went out in public with me.  I always thought it was funny and would laugh with the people and indulge them in part of our story….but it also made me think.  If this many people stop me to tell me that they thought I was carrying around a baby doll…how many people DIDN’T stop me…and still talk about the lady in her 30’s that they saw carrying a “baby doll” around the store like it was a real baby!  Lol!
In the beginning I felt the need to explain myself to strangers.  Carrying around a dark skinned baby with 2 blond haired, blue eyed boys in tow meant I got questioning glances everywhere I went.  If you know me…you know that I’m pretty much an open book.  I don’t feel the need to hide my story from people (the good and the bad).  I don’t know that there’s ever been a question someone asked me that I felt was too personal (although…I’m sure Mike has had plenty of times where he wished I had more of a filter! Lol). 
Anyways, I found myself telling everyone that Bri is adopted.  I don’t have a problem with people knowing that she’s adopted and she will grow up knowing she’s adopted (and hopefully will find a sense of pride in this), but I don’t want her to grow up being introduced as “the adopted child”.  At one of our home visits I brought this up with our case worker, Courtney.  She has firsthand experience as she and her husband adopted children of a different ethnicity last year.  During the home visit, Mike and Courtney helped me realize that when people say, “Is she your baby?” I can simply answer “Yes.”  If they press further…then it’s totally fine to go into our story.  It’s super hard for me to stop with a simple “yes”!  I want to share what God has done with the world…but they helped me realize that God knows that and He will use our story in the proper time (I don’t have to force it).  After months of practice, it’s now easier for me to just answer “yes”…but I still LOVE the times people ask more questions and I get to share part of our story.
The two most common questions we are asked are “where is she from?” and “is it an open adoption?”  Brianna was adopted locally through an open adoption.  We felt called to domestic adoption because of the open adoption option.  For us adoption isn’t just a way to have another child (believe me…we were plenty fertile!)…it was a way to show Christ’s love to an entire family.  We desire to know the birth family and have prayed for them as much as we have prayed for Brianna over the past 4 years.  That being said, we have yet to meet Bri’s birthmom.  I don’t know if we ever will….but we have left that door open.  We send her emails quarterly with pictures and stories and have received only one response.  We know that she loves Brianna so much and that it was very difficult to place her for adoption…but we also know that it is only because of that love and her faith that she made the choice she did. 
Speaking of love, we have loved Brianna from before we met her; however, it has taken some time for her to feel like “ours”.  With the boys, we had 9 months of planning and preparing for them and dreaming about them.  With Bri, we had hours to prepare!  I’ll never forget a moment that I shared with my little girl when she was about 5 months old.  I was standing upstairs at Daddy Steve & Namaw’s and was putting Brianna down for a nap so I could keep working.  As I sang to her before laying her down, my heart swelled with love and tears filled my eyes.  In this moment I knew that it had finally happened.  The thoughts of “this is our little girl and I can’t imagine life without her” invaded my head.  I didn’t want to lay her down…but as I did I praised the Lord for his goodness and mercy…and patience with us.  Even though we were open to adopting either a boy or girl, I had always been more honest with God than with anyone.  I desired a little girl with all my heart.  I wanted a daughter…not for the bows and dresses…but for the chance of a relationship years from now like the one I have with my own mother.  Not only did God listen to my hearts desires, but he surpassed them with more than I could’ve imagined!
It is so easy now to look back at this journey and see what God was doing at each step.  We can see how he used some circumstances (that turned out to be heartbreaking at the time) just to keep us on the journey.  I’m sure he hurt along with us as we rode the ups and downs of the rollercoaster of adoption.  I know he comforted us and dried our tears as we cried about dashed dreams and fear of the unknown…but I imagine he also had a small smile on the edge of his lips.  He could see what was coming.  He knew why we were going through all the heartache and trials.  He knew that us questioning him would only draw us closer to him and give us a stronger testimony.  He knew about this little girl named Brianna Faith that would be born 7 weeks early on February 10th.  He knew that she belonged in our family….and I’m sure he couldn’t wait to watch us meet her for the first time and bring her home to her big brothers. 
We are still a very young family.  I know that there will be many more trials in our life.  I also hope that there will be many more times that God will use us.  I hope that as we are in the midst of trials we are able to use our adoption journey as an encouragement to persevere and trust in God’s plan and God’s timing.  We desire to be used by God for his glory…even if it means heartache along the way.  We know that our God loves us with an unfailing love and we can’t wait to see what journey he has up his sleeve next!

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