From Kodi: Like any parent, my husband and I had dreams about what our future family would look like. But we were first blessed with a medically fragile child. It was very unexpected, and our family unit didn’t look like anything we had dreamed about. There were certainly times we wondered what God’s plan for us was supposed to look like. Then when we faced infertility and miscarriage. There were times wondered what our family unit should look like. But we were sure that if God meant for our family journey to end, we did feel like he would take the desire for parenthood from us – and that desire never left us. So we kept praying about our journey, and adoption became something we were considering.
As the mother, my body had gone through the loss of miscarriage and I had been the one who faced much of the struggle. I didn’t fully take care of myself and avoided cold medicines in case we did get pregnant. This was difficult after two years of infertility and the losses. I think after the second miscarriage I felt like God meant something different for us. I was already a research nerd about my son’s condition. And even though we had done about 13 rounds of genetic testing, where nothing was revealed genetically about a cause for his condition – from all the unpublished research I could see some markers in my family line. So pair that knowledge with the loss, I wasn’t sure what the next step for us should be.
My father had passed away, and I traveled home for his funeral. We had been estranged for years because of his lifestyle of alcoholism and other things. Yet his passing opened the door for a lot of reflection on who I am as a person and a parent. I had decided years ago that I would be a different kind parent than my father. And walking through the airport on my way back home, there were these big easels with stories of teenagers who wanted to find forever homes. It wrecked me. My husband and I had spent years working with young people at the university, and I thought, “I could give a teenager a home for a few years to prepare them for the world, it’s what we do every day at work! And we could be their place of refuge and they would always have someone to call for advice, and a place to come for the holidays.”
So I come home and share my experience with my husband. I really felt like God was calling us to adopt – either teenagers or babies. I’ll say that he didn’t feel the same way. But maybe for the first time ever, I didn’t try to “sell” him on the idea. I became a warrior in my prayer life, and asked for God to move him to this place to be ready for adoption. I asked God to lay on his heart what he had placed on mine. When my husband said he felt moved to adoption, he was like ready that day. So we set out to learn what we could about the process.
We always felt that God would put people in our lives to help us on our journey to adoption! We had several friends who had adopted from Russia, and so we felt that these friends would help us. Since we were headed home soon for the holidays, we decided to wait to tell them in person about what we felt God was calling us to do. We announced to them that we would be adopting, and we would be probably bringing a child home from Russia!
Literally two days later, the national news announces that all Russian adoptions to the United States would immediately be shut down. OK. Well, Lord, I guess you have another plan for us, because you have emphatically shut this door!!
Luckily, we knew our church would be soon hosting classes for state foster and adoption certification classes. We decided to let the journey lead our hearts, instead of make up our minds about what we thought we should be doing, because clearly our Lord had a plan for us and didn’t need our help! The classes were incredibly informative, and definitely helped us see that as much as we wanted to foster too, it just wasn’t a good fit for us. And in the end we decided to pursue domestic adoption.
But of course, the decisions didn’t stop there. Would we use an adoption consultant? Could we afford one? How do we feel about using an adoption placement agency? Would choosing to just use an attorney yield the results we were looking for? Oh the choices! So we began to pray.
We chose a scripture verse to hold onto throughout our journey. We had already chosen the word “BELIEVE” when it came to our journey with our son. We found it also appropriate to hold onto this word for our adoption journey. We landed on embracing 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” We had definitely endured much in love as parents, and we were hopeful to believe for a new addition. We believed that God would add to our family through adoption.
We thank God for multiplying our family by adoption and birth. Our children know both are miracles from Him! :)
Do you have a question about adoption or foster care? We would love to hear it! You may go to our Ask a Question page and submit to us.
"Set the table and I'll place the child at the table." This was the word my husband Cody and I received over and over from the Lord when pursuing our second adoption. Well, our table was set... I just didn't realize how fast the Lord was about to bless us! His will is PERFECT and His timing is PERFECT.
Easter Sunday, 2014, I received the name and number of a lady in Texas whose cousin was expecting a baby any day. After gaining some insight on the situation, we told them we were interested but would need more information. At the time, we were on vacation in Gatlinburg, TN. Well, some things happened in the birth mother's immediate family and we never heard back from them. I didn't worry at all. I knew if it was meant to be it would be. We continued to pray for our next child. Friday, May 2, 2014, I was in the classroom reading a story to my 3rd graders getting ready to send them to recess. I noticed my phone was blinking non-stop. After the kids left the room and I looked down at my phone, this is what I saw,
"Baby is coming now."
"It's a boy."
"Here is a picture."
"Are you guys still interested?"
Wow! This took quite a few minutes to process. I immediately forwarded the texts to Cody. He was just as shocked as I was. The birth mother's cousin needed to know if we were still interested in adopting this beautiful baby boy. A few minutes later I sent her a text back that we were definitely interested but needed to talk with our lawyer in Louisiana and, of course, we needed to PRAY! I prayed that if this baby wasn't for our family, God would slam the door shut and let it be known quickly. I prayed that red flags would appear everywhere and we would know this was not our baby. I also prayed that if this was indeed our baby God would open every single door and lead the way. Not knowing how this was going to work out being in another state we immediately contacted our lawyer and social worker. Well, God opened another door! Our lawyer in Louisiana works with a lawyer in Texas! He told us not to worry he'd get on the phone with him now and let him know what was going on. Praise Jesus! In the meantime, I'm getting steady texts from the birth mother's cousin.
"What do you want to name the baby?"
"When can you guys get here?"
"Can you send me pictures of your family?"
Everything was moving SO fast! About 8 hours later and SEVERAL phone calls later Brody (who was almost 2 at the time) and our puppies were being picked up by my parents and we were packing bags to head to Texas. God had opened MANY doors in a few short hours. On the ride to meet our son we decided on his name... Berkley Wilton. We arrived around 3:30am. I was nervous and scared as we approached our son. I had never actually experienced time in a NICU and had only heard stories from my mother-in-law who is a neonatal nurse practitioner. I knew it could be a scary place but, at the same time, the best place for sick babies. Berkley was so tiny but absolutely beautiful! He was doing great and the nurses had already taken him off CPAP when we arrived. That was great news! Berkley's only issue was regulating his body temperature and getting the hang of bottle feeding. We were told he looked to be 2 weeks premature but nothing was exact because the birth mother had absolutely no prenatal care. We also found out at this time that his birth mother was in ICU with possible heart failure. We were praying! That's all we could do.
Berkley ended up being in the hospital for 6 days. After being discharged from the hospital, we had to wait for ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) clearance which took another week. What a glorious day when we were headed back home to Louisiana with our son! Berkley's birth mother ended up staying in the hospital a little longer but was eventually released. She chose not to see Berkley, but in the hospital we did have a chance to meet his birth grandmother and her sister. It was a very beautiful moment we will cherish forever. When Berkley was about 6 months old, his birth mother was ready to start seeing pictures of him. We now send pictures monthly.
We are forever grateful to Berkley's birth mother for giving us the most selfless gift a mother can give... a child. Berkley is now 2.5 years old and is such an amazing blessing to our family.
God's plans are always the BEST and PERFECT plans!
The Lewis Family
As with any adoption story, there are no two adoptions that are the same. We would love to hear your adoption story from a Christian perspective. Some families choose open and semi-open adoption like the Lewis' above and some families choose closed adoption. If you have adopted and would like us to feature your adoption story on Adoption Story Wednesday, please go to our Share Your Story page to submit to Adoption Strong.
Some of you may find yourself in a situation like me, ready for motherhood in every single way but missing the baby. You have the love and desire of a mother in your heart, you are emotionally and financially ready for a baby, maybe you even have baby items in your home already. We are the “moms in waiting”. Sometimes it’s a strange place to find yourself in, but I am excited we can share this journey together.
My Husband and I have been trying to grow our family since 2014. For a year and a half we endured fertility treatment after fertility treatment, all which would go on to fail. We made the decision to change our path in the Fall of 2016. We are home study ready and currently awaiting our forever baby. I have been a “mom in waiting” for three years now.
I’ll be honest; sometimes it’s hard to stay positive. Especially when you see everyone around you expanding their families. It’s easy to feel left out and forgotten. But today, I want to encourage you to keep going. Your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. He understands all your pain and grief. If you find yourself in a situation like me, I would love to pass along some advice. Use this time of waiting to grow closer to God. Find a daily devotional that speaks to you, journal your feelings, and pray your heart out. Since we are adopting I already have our nursery set up and ready. One of my favorite things to do is just to sit in the glider and pray. God hears you, and He is working out your story better than you could ever imagine.
I am excited to be able to share my adoption journey with you from the beginning. Please know that we are here for you and we care about your journey as well.
If you are a Mom in waiting, how can we be of encouragement for you? I would love to hear from you in the comment section.
Adoption Book Resource
When you are adopting, there can be an overwhelming tendency to waste your wait. To be so fixated on what – more accurately, who – is missing that you miss the moments God’s given you. Moments you can use intentionally. Moments He knows you need at the onset of the wildest, hardest, most beautiful adventure you will ever take.
In this book, you will discover ways you can make the most of every moment. Whether you are pursuing a domestic infant, international, or foster care adoption, this book will offer solidarity and hope for the journey!
Written by a mom of six, who has adopted twice through the foster care system, this book gives practical ways you can actively engage in - and embrace - the journey of bringing your child home! With honesty and humor, Naomi addresses both the beautiful and hard aspects of this important first piece of every adoption adventure - the wait. Pre-order book on Amazon.
The Imperfect Mom by Jeanne McCollister McNeil
Today I feel kind of down but how when I am so blessed?
How does that mom make it look so easy?
Are my kids getting the best they deserve?
Will I ever get some quiet time away from all the noise?
I have three children, Caden (4), Isaiah (2), and Lane (1). In November 2016, we came home from China with our newly adoption son Isaiah. He was prayed for from his birth until we finalized the adoption two years later and I see the fruit of those prayers in his joyful spirit. Life is busy to say the least. We are in a transitional season but it is beautifully coming together, it’s changing my husband and I for the better and I am thankful for that. But I have had many days where I am overwhelmed and lacked some confidence as well. Those days I have asked myself the question ‘am I a good enough mom’… it’s there that friends have encouraged me and reminded me of the good job I am doing. So, I see the big value of the ADOPTION STRONG site. One of my favorite reminders of the importance of encouragement to each other is Exodus 17:12… when Aaron and Hur lifted Moses arms, one on each side of him. We need each other.
Who is the imperfect mom? She came to my mind the other day when I was getting dressed in the organized chaos of my bedroom with all three kids. I looked in the mirror amongst the fussing and I thought, I am the imperfect mother and I am OK WITH THAT! Basically, I sum her up as the one that knows she falls short because life is just not…well…. perfect. Who wants perfect anyway? In all actuality, perfect is exhausting since it can't be accomplished because it just doesn’t exist. I like to say my imperfect mom-hood is relatable…it is the very tool I can use to encourage others in the hard times, cheer others on through the milestones, and most of all it is what gives friends all a good laugh over coffee or lunch together. I am just a normal mom giving her best, who loves her kids, loves her husband, and loves God more than anything in the world. NO ONE IS PERFECT BUT GOD, right? RIGHT! So here I am, my desire is to root on all the imperfect moms with saying, ‘KEEP GOING, YOU’RE DOING GREAT and your imperfect is awesome! Your flaws are not what define you but what help you grow. Your story has a purpose.’ I truly love that God designed us AND despite our imperfect ways we can find our identity, wholeness, purpose, and strength ALL through HIM.
The imperfect mom:
• falls short of perfect but knows God is full of grace and favor and He can change a bad day into a good one… or at least get her through a rough one with a graceful attitude.
• knows God is resourceful and will give her the patience, grace, love, kindness, and more if she just stops and asks for it daily.
• knows how important it is to find time alone with God even if for 5 minutes daily because it is here He is honored and she can grow her relationship with Him = opportunity for Him to give her the wisdom/revelations needed to be that better mom, wife and woman she desires to be.
• knows that it’s ok to get frustrated in life and even at times with her children. Tells herself: “I AM NORMAL. I AM NORMAL. Check these feelings at the door (prayer) and keep moving. I am HUMAN.”
• knows raising KIDS is the hardest job on the planet. Just plain H-A-R-D but THE REWARDS ARE GREAT. Psalms 127:3 He tells us our children are a reward from Him, so she prays every day with a grateful heart for them and never takes advantage of the greatest gifts He has blessed her with. She seeks wisdom on how to care for these precious gifts. Not easy…but has great rewards in raising little Kingdom Builders :-)
• knows it’s ok to not get it all done in one day and to even have a messy house at times. The imperfect house is OK TOO!
• and thinks if someone judges her for her mess, then who cares. She aims to please God.
• knows she was DESIGNED BY GOD, FOR GOD.
Encouragement for 2017: I go to bed at night, praying that my children will sleep well and sleep in so I can wake up early for coffee and prayer with my husband before they wake. Those 30-45 minutes is ideal and sets the tone for my day. I am not an early riser by nature but with a willing heart and prayer, God has helped me achieve this goal so far in 2017. I encourage anyone else to try it. That morning time has really helped me in this busy season of life with my kids (Proverbs 3:6)!
I love to hear others creative ways and spiritual goals so what's your goal/challenge for 2017?
In 2 Samuel 22, David looks back and recalls how the Lord helped him during some difficult times in his life. God empowered David to face challenges without fear and run through barricades. Because David trusted Him, God made his way perfect. Because David trusted Him, God shielded him in the battle. In the strength of the Lord, David was able to be an overcomer.
Just like David, I can look back during those years and see how God strengthened me to get through some tough times. If God gave me strength before, He will surely give and be my strength today.
Lord, I need you today. I thank You for being my strength today, for empowering me to not only survive today but to thrive, to prosper and flourish today and enjoy my blessings before me. I declare that this is the day that You have made and I will rejoice in it! In Jesus' name Amen
“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” Valerie Harper
“Adoptive Mom? I am a Mom. I need no other label or prefix.”
“Time and experience have taught me a priceless lesson: Any child you take for your own becomes your own if you give of yourself to that child. I have born two children and had seven others by adoption, and they are all my children, equally beloved and precious.”
“I didn’t give you the gift of life, But in my heart I know. The love I feel is deep and real, As if it had been so. For us to have each other Is like a dream come true! No, I didn’t give you The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.” Unknown
“Not flesh of my flesh.
Not bone of my bone. But still miraculously my own.
And never forget for a minute. You were not born under my heart.
You were born in my heart.” Unknown
Adoption Story Wednesday
Guest Blog Post
Jeanne McCollister McNeil
Q & A Friday