“I will never forget the day adoption was placed on my heart. I had an 18-month-old son at the time and was scrolling Facebook when I saw photos taken by a member of our church family during a visit to an orphanage in Ukraine. A little boy was dancing in the photo and he reminded me of my son. This simple photo was instantly etched on my heart, even though it would be over 5 years later until we’d begin our adoption journey. My husband and I went on to have two more biological children. We both agreed we felt like four was ‘our number’ and planned to start trying to get pregnant with our fourth baby when God put adoption on my heart again. I was attending a school program at my oldest daughter’s preschool when I started talking to the parents of one of her classmates. Somehow the topic turned to adoption and they told me their story, how they walked the journey of adoption with their son.
The memory of that little boy’s picture I’d seen years ago instantly came back to the forefront of my mind and I felt a calling like I’d never felt before. I took the time to pray. To wait. To have patience and let the Lord continue to show me His plan for our family.
My husband and I are very well-planned people. We both always have been focused on the big picture when it comes to our lives and family. We had our kids’ names planned and decided before we were even engaged! Having such a HUGE change of heart on our ‘set in stone’ plan for our family was a difficult thing to share with my husband. I told him what I felt the Lord was calling for us to do and he took the time to spend in prayer as well. I was very mindful to give him space while he let God guide him too. I never wanted to push something SO important. I never wanted him to feel forced or to have any sort of resentment or regret.
We spent about six months in prayer while we patiently let God reveal His plans. Countless times during this six-month wait, we had chance meetings with families touched by adoption. We felt certain this was the path for us in order to complete our family. We chose to announce our adoption plans very early in the process, even prior to our home study. We wanted to include our children in the entire journey. We wanted others to be able to be in prayer along with us throughout each step in the process and we wanted to allow God to use our journey to hopefully help lead others who may feel called to adopt as well.
Our adoption journey was a time in my life where I felt such peace because I truly just trusted God. I trusted that He would lead us through the experience and lead us to the baby that was meant to join our family. Our motto for our adoption was ‘step out in faith.’ I reminded myself of that over and over. We were walking in faith, even when the wait got hard, even when we heard no after no from birth moms who we presented to. We kept our focus on God and trusted Him in it all!
One of the most difficult parts of our adoption journey was when my husband started having concerning medical symptoms. Here we were in the middle of adopting, just weeks after being home study approved, and our world was rocked with unknowns. Why was my husband having these unexplained vision issues? Why were we being referred to a neurologist? The weeks of waiting for his health results, while not knowing how they may impact our lives as well as our adoption journey, were so hard.
When you’re told that literally thousands of medical issues could be at play, you don’t expect to have a doctor tell you that your news is the worst-case scenario. What we assumed was most likely just stress ended with us in a small room at a doctor’s office being told that my healthy 32-year-old husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He was so strong. When we heard the diagnosis, he stayed calm. He said, ‘Okay then, what’s the game plan?’ We had a problem; we’d focus on the solution. That night as the reality set in, I told him we’d need to let our social worker for the home study know his change in medical status. That moment was the only time in the many weeks of our concerns about his health that he broke down.
That moment is when I knew, without a doubt, he felt equally called to adoption.
He cried out of fear our adoption journey would be altered due to his health. He cried thinking that his health would change our family and our ability to add to our family unit. We are so thankful to learn his prognosis is very positive. What Satan put in our lives to cause us fear and doubt, God used for good. Whenever someone finds out my husband has multiple sclerosis the first thing we say is ‘we’re blessed.’ Because we are. Blessed we caught it so early. Blessed we live so close to an incredible multiple sclerosis center. Blessed medicine came on the market at just the right time. Blessed he’s had excellent results with his infusions. Blessed to live a healthy, full life!
Our focus was able to return back to our adoption and the focus of presenting our profile book to potential birth mothers. We presented seven times. Seven no’s. And the hardest part was being told so many of those ‘no’s’ were from birth mothers choosing a couple who didn’t have any biological children. Having three biological children meant a longer wait for a situation that would be the right fit.
We had three tough ‘no’s’ in a row and I felt very discouraged and down. So much so that when another situation came through from our adoption consultant, I barely read over all the details. We decided to present and I remember when I went to the UPS Store to mail off our packet saying, ‘I’m sure I’ll be back again next week after this is a no!’ Turns out the next time I went back into that UPS Store, it was to ship all of our adoption paperwork… because our 8th time presenting was our YES!
When I read the email that said the birth mother had chosen us, I started sobbing immediately. The email said ‘She loved your profile. She thought your children looked similar to her children and this child will blend really well into your family.’ I still get chills re-reading that. Our children were the reason for so many of the ‘no’s’ we had received but they were also THE reason for our forever ‘YES!’
We were further blessed our matched birth mother lives only a couple of hours from us. We were able to meet her in person and she and I formed a fast friendship. She wanted me to attend doctors’ appointments with her and I loved getting to spend quality time together with her throughout her pregnancy. We were so close we even planned a family day together – all of our kids and all of hers were able to meet and play and connect. It is truly a ‘God thing,’ just how much all of our children look alike. When we met that first time, her little girl ran up to our little girl with open arms and said, ‘MY TWIN!’ And it’s true – they look like they are related! It was a beautiful day watching our children form bonds and connect. I love that we have photos of all of us together. When we left the park that day to drive home, our oldest daughter said, ‘I wish I was adopted! This baby is so lucky he gets to have two families that love him.’
My husband and I were able to be in the delivery room when our son was born. It was a heartbreakingly beautiful day. Such an incredible experience to be able to watch him enter the world and to be able to cut the cord as he breathed his first breath. But it was also so hard to see his mother clinging to him on her chest and hearing the uncontrollable sobs as he was lifted away by the medical staff.
I was blown away by the love his birth mother has for her son. To be able to love him that much to have another family raise him. To love him unselfishly and give so sacrificially. She is so brave and wise and I am in awe and forever grateful to her. Even though parental rights were not signed for a few days, the baby stayed with us in our room at the hospital. We visited some with his birth mother. She came to our room for a meal and I went to check in on her in her room and gave her the letter I wrote to her, as well as gifts for her and her children from us.
It was such a tender, delicate time. 40 hours spent with a baby I wasn’t sure I’d be taking home. Feeling the love of a mother to her child but struggling to hold back on giving my heart fully to him in fear he may not leave the hospital in our arms. It was a constant struggle for my emotions throughout those few days. I spent so much time praying and continuing to trust God’s plan for our family and this new life.
On the morning the lawyer was set to come to sign the paperwork, I asked my son’s birth mother if she’d like some alone time with him. She said yes. For an hour, he stayed with her in her hospital room. Just them. I knew that hour could change everything. She could spend that time with him and decide to parent. All of our waiting and praying and hoping could end right then. But I knew she needed that time. He needed it too. They needed time together and I wanted to make sure she’d never look back and wish she’d had that opportunity to savor her son. Soak him in. Snuggle him close. Whisper her love into his ear and memorize every detail of the baby she loves so, so much.
That was my last hour of waiting. It was the most difficult hour of all. But then the 20 months of waiting came to an end soon after. Our son came back into the room as ours. My heart broke for his birth mother, just down the hall. But it also felt so full being able to look at him and KNOW our wait was over forever.
When our older children arrived, it was the happiest moment of my life. Seeing the instant love in their eyes as they met their little brother. Knowing that every bump in the road led us exactly where God had planned for us to be. I am whole. We are complete.
It is so important for us to always honor our son’s birth family. I am so thankful for the pictures we have and the memories we’ve made together. He is now two and a half and we’ve started showing him the photos and talking with him about how he entered our family. I want him to always know how loved he is by us ALL and that just as he’s our child, he’s also just as much hers too.
We stepped out in faith and followed the calling God put on our hearts and it’s been such an incredible journey to watch the story He’s written for our family. We celebrate our son’s Finalization Day (some refer to as ‘Gotcha Day’) as a day to have some quality family time together and re-share our adoption journey as a family. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to ask questions and for us each to talk about how thankful we are for the way his birth mother blessed our family in giving us the opportunity to raise him.
Our youngest daughter is five and as we all recently talked about adoption and shared our memories and answered any questions, she just sat silently. She didn’t ask anything. She didn’t chime in. She just watched her little brother with love in her eyes and tears streaming down her cheeks. When I noticed her tears, I asked if she was okay and she simply said, ‘I just love him so much and am so thankful for him.’ Me too, sweet sister, me too.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Emily Parker from Georgia. You can follow their journey on their blog, The Journey of Parenthood, Instagram, and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories about foster care and adoption:
‘We received a little boy almost 3 years old. We didn’t have enough clothes or toys, but the joy on his face was the biggest blessing in the world.’: Mom shares important lesson about foster care, ‘When people say it takes a village, it does’
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