Deciding to begin the adoption process was a family decision. Our girls, then ages 8 and 10, wanted a little brother or sister as much as their parents. Family thought we were a bit crazy to "start all over" when the girls were already so much older. But we knew adding to our family through adoption was God's plan. So in August of 2010 we began our home study and signed up with Christian Adoption Consultants. We also began praying for the birthmom and child that would one day join our family. I can remember trying to picture them and wondering if the baby was already born.
I designed our profile while we waited for our amazing social worker to complete our home study so we could officially apply to a few agencies. This is our last family picture before we became a family of five. We were looking towards the future and excited for the adoption adventure God would take us on.
In October 2010, our home study was finished and we sent out our applications. We also launched our fundraising with a Chili Cook-Off. Friends from church, old and new, packed out the little place we reserved for the event. We filled the kitchen with well over a dozen different pots of chili made by friends. It was a friendly competition with the attendees voting on their favorite chili by placing money in a boot sitting next to the pot. Prizes were awarded, fun was had, and money was raised.
In December 2010 we were matched with a local birth mom due in early February. God's hand was all through every meeting and conversation including the unexpected call from the birth father to my cell phone. We had an immediate connection with the birth mom and her family and even discovered some common friendships. We were honored to have the birth father tell us he couldn't imagine a more perfect family for his baby. We couldn't believe it was happening so quickly. The birth mom went into labor three weeks early and decided she didn't want us at the hospital until time for the baby to go home. We arrived at the hospital on the appointed day, but ended up leaving empty-handed because she had decided to parent. Our hearts were broken, but our greatest desire was to let her know we loved her and understood. We still pray for that little boy and his family.
As every adoptive parent knows who has walked out a failed adoption, it takes a bit to get back on your feet. We grieved and healed and prayed for the little one God had for us.
On May 4, 2010, we received a call asking if we would be interested in an 18 month old boy. Our home study was approved for children up to two years old, but since domestic adoption of older children wasn't terribly common in the agencies we had applied to we expected an infant. They told us they only had two families who were approved for older children. They had chosen us because our application to them was dated October 14...his exact birthday!
Our family gathered and prayed and looked at his sweet smile on a picture sent by text. Yes, yes, yes! was the only possible answer. "How quickly can you get here?" the agency responded.
What followed was a whirlwind of packing, making sandwiches and then a marathon overnight drive from Missouri to Florida. We arrived May 5 planning to check into a hotel and rest so we could meet our son the next day. When we hit the Florida border the agency told us the foster family had to go out of town the next day so we could either pick up our little guy that evening or wait until Saturday. That was a no brainer...we'll get him tonight, thank you!
We met Christian just a few short hours later when he jumped out of his car seat and into my youngest daugher, Jessica's, arms. We asked all the questions our tired brains could think of and watched this very large 18 month old run full force all around the agency inside and out. In that moment with the foster family and agency watching, it hit me just how long it had been since I had parented a toddler. Doubts assailed me. I looked at him with awe because he was so beautiful and he was OURS. I looked at him and asked God if He really thought we could do this.
The first weeks and months were as you would expect when you take a strong-willed 18 month old from the only home he has known. We surrounded Christian with love, consistency, and prayer. Days were challenging, going out with him was impossible, and nights were like having a brand new infant waking every couple hours. He was plagued with nightmares and angry to wake up and see the wrong people beside his crib. We had MANY wonderful times during these months. Every time he graced us with a smile, asked to be in our arms, and gave us strong hugs we were strengthened to walk out the hard times. He loved discovering the world around him with us and our favorite time was rocking before bed.
Slowly, he relaxed into our family, slept better and threw tantrums less and less. The week he joined our family was mother's day. He spent most of that day screaming and kicking at me. The next mother's day he and dad brought me a special treat in bed. As they left the room so I could snuggle down a few more minutes, Christian yelled through the door, "I love you, mama!"
My heart melted. Such a difference from the previous year and all I could do was cry and praise God.
I thank my heavenly Father every day for my son. I thank Him for the privilege to raise our little man. We have regular conversations about his adoption story, his birth family, and how we will be his parents forever. He has a birth sister still with his birth mom that spends time with our family. He has a birth brother adopted by another family that he gets to spend time with. His story is not 'normal' and is not easy but it is good and filled with God's love and care.