‘7 weeks ago, they adopted Aubree. 8 days ago, she gave birth to Emsley. Tears filled her eyes. There lay her two girls – both loved more than they will ever know.’

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“The last year and a half have been a whirlwind of emotions for our family. After struggling for years to get pregnant with our last child to complete our family, the doctor told us that our last round of medicine had not worked. Feeling defeat and unsure of what came next, we felt lost. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2016, we decided we were not going to do another round of medicine and we would just be content with the two beautiful daughters God had already blessed us with. Well the very next week, I took a test to be safe, and lo and behold it came back positive. To say we were shocked was an understatement! After a few early ultrasounds and some blood work, we were glad to know our sweet baby was growing and thriving!

Fast forward to March 2017…

My husband’s men’s group at church had been meeting, when a family friend came to the group and shared that he and his girlfriend were pregnant and had no idea what they were going to do. Keeping the baby was probably not an option. My husband came home and shared this with me and all I said was, ‘YES! Yes, we will help raise their baby!’ He looked at me like I was crazy. But I just knew deep down this baby was meant to be with us. Just eight months earlier, we had helped a mom get back on her feet by helping her raise her precious little boy in the beginning of his life. I was thinking we could do the same for them.

Courtesy of Crystal Kanter

They asked us to sit down and talk all this over with them. After a few meetings and hours of talking, these beautiful, strong, selfless parents asked us if we would adopt their precious baby girl. The shock, joy and blessing we felt when those words were asked to us is something we could never describe. After much prayer and many conversations, we said ‘YES! We would love to adopt your little girl.’ Mind you at this time, I am about 24 weeks pregnant with our miracle baby, which we had just found out was also a girl.

Courtesy of Crystal Kanter

The following six weeks were kind of a blur. We had to tell everyone the major life change that was about to come. We were met with some mixed reactions. A few were concerned with the challenge of being pregnant and having a newborn, but most were excited and supportive. One set of people who we were most concerned about having the support of were her paternal grandparents. They were a part of our Life Group from church that had been meeting together for over four years and had become a very important part of our lives. But a decision like this could change everything! After they found out the birth parents’ decision, we were met with a mix of reactions, the excitement of us becoming her parents and the sadness of the loss of her not being a ‘part’ of their family. After many discussions, lots of tears and much prayer, we all felt this was going to be the best decision but would need to be patient with each other as this was a new road to walk for all of us.

Before we knew it, June was here for our adopted daughter’s arrival! After an appointment the doctors had some concern and felt it was time for her to be born. On a beautiful Friday in June, I was now 30 weeks along, and our precious little girl, Aubree, made her grand entrance into the world. Birth mom demanded I be the first one to hold sweet Aubree. The whole world was quiet around me as I looked into the eyes of our daughter, who had just been placed into my arms. My heart melted.

Seven weeks later on a beautiful Monday evening in July, after a very long 12 hours and a rather scary birth, our final daughter, Emsley was born!

Courtesy of Crystal Kanter

Now the true journey began. In less than 10 months we had gone from a family of four to a family of six. We knew the path ahead of us was going to be challenging, but the reward that was to come outweighed and fears we had. God was truly laying the path before us and we trusted in Him and knew all things would work out.

Angie Englerth/Portrait Photographer

Our concerns on how our path with our Life Group and Aubree’s grandparents would go were met with some challenges in the beginning. Feelings of being uncomfortable and not knowing if we could speak openly lingered in the beginning. But after promising to share openly and honestly with each other, those fears slowly melted away. They became an even stronger presence in our lives and the lives of all four of our daughters. They loved all of our girls equally and showered them with thoughtful small gifts here and there, and all the love they gave their own grandchildren they gave equally to all the girls, never favoring Aubree over the others. This gift from God had been more than any of us had ever expected! Honey and Grandpa as my girls call them, are weekly staples in our lives and even join us for family events, like celebrating birthdays or picnics at the park.

Courtesy of Crystal Kanter

I would be lying if I said this was an easy 15 months and that this was a walk in the park, because raising two infants that are seven weeks apart has come with its challenges. But the reward of watching these two grow together and become best friends in this short amount of time has been amazing. They are both growing at their own individual rate and surprising us with new things every day. The sleepless nights and the days of double crying have made watching them learn to roll over, crawl, walk and start talking that much more precious.

Courtesy of Crystal Kanter

When people ask me why we did this, why take on another baby when you have one on the way, I tell them because God asked me too. Because God knew there was more to our story then we did. And in trusting Him we were blessed in and even bigger way, that being another part to our family. A whole other family to join with ours that can walk beside us and support us on this amazing adoption journey in our lives.

Angie Englerth/Portrait Photographer

Adoption has forever changed our lives in the most amazing way. We love this little girl with all our heart and couldn’t see our lives without both of them in it. They add a joy and excitement into our lives. They’re missing pieces we didn’t even know were missing. Their big sisters adore them and can’t wait to play with them every day. They think it’s funny when people stop and look or ask about their little sisters, saying they look like twins but they’re so different! The girls just giggle and say, ‘One’s adopted but you’d never know!’ Adoption will always be part of our story and we are proud of that. We hope others will look at this and see what a blessing adoption can be! And who knows, this may not be the end of our journey. If you would ask my husband, he’d tell you I’m crazy, but I always say, ‘I don’t know what God will ask of us to do and I’ll never say never!’”

Angie Englerth/Portrait Photographer

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Crystal Kanter of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Do you have a unique adoption story? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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