“Adoption was something that my husband and I talked about early on in our marriage; a lot of times in the same conversations that involved deciding how many children we wanted, where we wanted our forever home to be, and all of our hopes and dreams. In March of 2008 (6 months before our wedding), we were in a serious motorcycle accident together. I had never lost consciousness, and I remember my first thought as I was laying on the road waiting for first responders to arrive being, ‘We can always adopt. We will have children someday no matter what.’ We have always heard people say they felt called to adopt, and we wanted to make sure that was the case for us. We wanted to wait on God’s timing and for His plan to unravel. Looking back over the past 10 years now – it all makes sense.
We got married in September 2008; fast forward 7 years and four little boys later, and we began to feel God nudging us towards our adoption journey. Watching close friends journey through foster care and domestic adoption – our hearts were being tugged at it more and more. The simple facts that we had a family, a home, and a lot of love to share kept us pressing forward. We were very aware the adoption process could take a very long time – even years – so we knew if it was something we were going to seriously start considering, than this might actually be the time.
I was ready to dive in before my husband was. I talked about adoption all the time. I followed so many families on social media who had adopted, and read all of the blogs I came across. I got to the point where I felt like I was nagging my husband at times, and often wondered, ‘God, why are you calling me to something so huge, but not my husband?!’ My heart was so heavy, for months on end. I decided to lay low for a while and to just completely drop the topic – to just pray. So for a few months, that’s what I did. I still talked to friends all the time as my heart was aching and the calling felt so strong.
Then one day in October of 2017, I was helping my oldest son’s class on a service project. We were at a park, and I was watching a father and his daughter (who was adopted) walk together. I jokingly texted my husband and said, ‘I feel like I’m seeing our future.’ He wrote back with, ‘Ok, I guess it’s time. At least start the process.’ I was shocked, but a little confused at the same time. I wanted to make sure he was feeling called to adoption, and not just saying ‘yes’ so I would stop talking about it. We agreed to take time to fast and to hopefully see some clarity that would put us both on the same page – no matter the outcome. Family and friends also joined us in the fasting and more praying. When the day of fasting was over, my husband said, ‘I really think we should start this process.’ I felt excitement, nervousness, and anxiety all at once, but I couldn’t wait to start making some phone calls.
After plenty of research, I called Christian Adoption Consultants and spoke with one of their consultants, who we ended up working with and is now a close friend. We were totally new to the process, and needed someone to hold our hand and guide us along the way. After our home study was complete near the end of January 2018, we signed on with CAC. The same week we became active, we received our first situation. While working with an adoption consultant, we were using a multi-agency approach. We were given situations to look over as they come to the agencies that we had applied with. We had the opportunity to put our ‘yes’ on the table with each situation and present our profile book to the expectant mother. She then chooses the family or couple to be the future parents of her baby. We presented to 4 situations in the first 6 weeks of becoming active. Each situation was unique, and we are grateful to be given the chance to pray for these woman and their babies during that time. We were so excited to give our ‘yes’ for the first time, but knew very well not to expect things to happen right away. We were told by many to expect a longer wait, because we have biological children. Over the next month, we said ‘yes’ to 3 more situations. Every ‘no’ felt more like a ‘not yet’ to us. There were times when we doubted, and my husband often wondered, ‘What if we never get chosen?’ Time and time again we heard God telling us just to trust Him. And so we did.
Near the end of March we presented to another situation we were given from one of our agencies. Our 5th ‘yes’ we put on the table in the past 7 weeks. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. The next day, as I was building a snowman with the boys outside during a wild March snowstorm, my cell phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. But by the area code, I figured it was the agency calling to tell us the expectant mother chose to move forward with another family. I began shaking, shocked when she explained to us we were chosen. It was us – this was really happening! The social worker said, ‘There is just something about this sweet little girl having four older brothers to protect her that made you stand out.’ Derek pulled in from work just a few minutes later and I ran outside (barefoot and all) onto the ice and snow, still with shaky hands and a quivery voice and said, ‘The agency just called. We’re matched! She chose US!’ His response was very similar to when I told him I was pregnant with our boys, ‘Really? Are you sure? Now what?’ It was exciting, but nerve wracking all at once. We had a few months until the expectant mother’s due date.
Having time to prepare was good, but it wasn’t always easy. It was difficult waiting in the unknown and we still struggled with doubt sometimes. Our faith was tested almost daily, but God continued to show up. He showed up during our fundraisers -helping us cram in two huge events in that time frame. He showed up with our community – with the support and love and prayers we felt all the time. He was faithful and He provided for us in so many ways. We now had four months to quickly prepare for a new baby, to come up with the remaining agency fees needed, and to love on the expectant Mother we had been matched with. We knew fully a match is never a legal binding agreement, and until paperwork was signed, this baby was hers – and she had every right to decide to parent if she chose. Adoption was clearly her plan B. Parenting would have been her plan A – yet we are honored to be a part of her choice. Her plan – Her decision to choose life for her sweet baby girl.
When my husband and I discovered the expectant mother wanted me with her in the delivery room, we thought it would be best if I headed out west a week early to be sure I could be there in time. My husband would plan on coming later. My heart was so torn with the thought of being away from the boys for an unknown period of time, but at the same time I could not pass up the opportunity to be present for the birth of our daughter. My mom graciously traveled out there early with me. A few days after our arrival, by total surprise, we were asked to meet up with baby’s first Mama in person to have lunch with her and her family. When we first met, she greeted me with the biggest hug and I said, ‘It’s so good to meet you in person!’ It was if we had been long lost friends. We also met her parents that day, who were extremely supportive and made my mom and I feel like we were family. We chatted for 2 hours at a local restaurant, and the conversations were light. We talked about our favorite foods, places we like to visit, etc. Every now and then she would glance down at her growing belly with a little smile. It just felt so right.
Saturday morning my mom left and headed back home to take care of our boys. I was in the unfamiliar city alone and continued waiting to get the call that the baby was on her way. Monday night before bed I specifically remember crying out to God as so many emotions came over me that night as I lay in bed. I had been away from home for 8 days already, and an unknown timeframe stood ahead of me.
Many prayers from family, friends, and even complete strangers were answered that night. Around midnight, my cell phone rang, and it was time! After receiving confirmation in the middle of the night the expectant mother was admitted into the hospital, I called my husband and said, ‘It’s time! Get your bags together, your flight leaves in a couple of hours.’ I then jumped in an Uber and anxiously rode over to the hospital. I was completely honored that she wanted me to be in the delivery room with her. It was such a special time and one I will never forget. I held her hand and supported her as she bravely brought her daughter into the world. I didn’t know what to say throughout her labor, and I can remember repeating, ‘You’re doing so good. Just breathe. You got this.’ After the birth she reached out to me and we hugged and cried for a very long time. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.
Adoption is grief and adoption is joy – and I felt all of those emotions all at once in that moment. It will be something I forever remember. A few hours later, my husband arrived and there could have not been a sweeter reunion. I ran up behind him and we hugged, I sobbed, and I just kept saying, ‘She’s so beautiful. I can’t believe she’s here.’
Over the next few days we continued to get to know our daughter’s brave birth mama. We are so inspired by her courage and the unconditional love she has for her little girl. My husband and I, along with her birth mother, named our daughter, Selah Nakora. Selah means ‘to pause and reflect,’ or another interpretation says ‘to praise.’ We couldn’t think of a more fitting name for our baby. Nakora was chosen by her birth mother as a combination of her birth parents’ first names, and Kora.
As soon as we brought Selah home our boys were so smitten with her and have stepped into the ‘big brother’ role so well. Our daughter is such a miracle baby in so many ways and we are so blessed to be her mom and dad.
Navigating an open adoption over the past 8 months has been complex, but it’s something we continue to learn and grow with. I love when I get a text from her birth family, ‘How are the kids doing? Selah and the boys?’ They not only care about Selah, but our family as a whole.
God has shown us He can take broken circumstances, and make them beautiful. He has shown us He can take hurt and sadness, and turn it into joy. Adoption is complex, and sometimes a bit messy, but God can use it to bring beauty from the ashes in our fallen world. A world where families cannot always stay together. We are incredibly grateful, and forever humbled by this journey.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shannon Martin of Newmanstown, Pennsylvania. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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