You’ve been on my mind a lot. Some days, I forget you’re gone. I’ll be driving down the road, think of something, and reach for my phone to call you. Then I remember.
I’ve remembered a lot this week.
It’s now been two years since you died, and it still breaks my heart. It was just too soon. I wasn’t ready for you not to be in my life.
I’m a mama now, and you were supposed to be here for that. You were supposed to be the one I called every day to report how tired I was or how many times Asher smiled. (The report would have been, “I’m very tired, and I lost count of how many times he smiled, so I don’t care that I’m tired.”) You were supposed to give me advice on how to take care of Asher. Most of it would have probably gone against half of what the pediatrician said, but you would have told me that it worked for your babies and your grandbabies, so it will work for my baby. You were supposed to be here on my hardest days as a mama to tell me you’re proud of me and everything would be OK.
Sometimes, I feel sad for Asher because he doesn’t get to grow up with you in his life. You made my life so much better, and I want that for him as well. Then, I hear your voice from long ago.
I was an awkward teenager. In a world filled with beautiful people (my own mother was literally a model), I felt ugly. Then, I got contacts. Green ones. People complimented me regularly on my bright green eyes, and they made me feel just a little bit pretty.
You didn’t like them. You didn’t think I needed them. For years, you asked me to go back to clear contacts. Finally, you told me why: “You have my eyes.”
When we learned about genetics in high school, I mourned (dramatically) the fact that I didn’t have brown eyes like my parents (after I was confused about genetics and for about 10 minutes thought I was adopted or switched at birth). You replied, “I’ve always liked that you have my eyes.”
Any time I would say, “I wish I looked like so and so,” you would say, “But you have my eyes, and I like that.”
I like that, too.
I hope when Asher looks into my eyes, he’ll be able to see you.
When I peel an apple for him and hand it to him with a smile, I hope he’ll see you.
When we bake a cake together and I hand him chocolate covered spoons, I hope he’ll see you.
When he’s angry and ready to stomp off and I blow raspberries at him to make him laugh, I hope he’ll see you.
When he’s sad and comes to me for comfort, I hope he’ll see you.
When he earns a good grade at school and looks to me for affirmation, I hope he’ll see you.
When he seeks me out to share in his joy, I hope he’ll see you.
When he looks at me with his big, goofy grin and I can’t help but smile back at him, I hope he’ll see you.
And when he sees you in me, I hope he also sees Christ, because that’s who you taught me to see when I looked at you.
Thank you for pointing me to Him. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me your eyes.
When I met you, I was a little rough around the edges. Once a fairly cheerful and optimistic person, I was jaded, skeptical, and calloused. I had left a situation a few months prior that frightens me when I look back on it.
Out of near desperation for friendship and strengthening my relationship with the Lord, I entered a room filled with singles (or at least not-married-yets) who gathered a couple of times a month to discuss the sermon and encourage one another. I was nervous and self-conscious. Extremely self-conscious. Extremely nervous. I don’t remember meeting you, but I don’t really remember meeting anyone. I remember surviving and thinking I would be OK returning in a couple of weeks.
Seven years have passed, and I almost don’t remember how we transitioned from that first meeting to falling in love. I think it was like a snowball. We started slowly and ramped up pretty quickly. You were smart and goofy and fun and didn’t seem to mind my rough exterior. In fact, you chipped away slowly at that exterior and brought me back to life.
You showed me Christ. You helped me have fun again. You became my best friend and the man with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. You did it one laugh at a time.
You modeled servanthood to me, always putting others before yourself. You were patient with me. You waited a whole four months to propose to me! (A month in, I would have happily run off into the sunset with you.)
You’ve loved me well these last seven years, better than I’ve loved you. You’ve helped me learn the power of forgiveness, and you don’t hold grudges against me (thank you for that!!). You work HARD to provide for our family, and I admire and respect you so much.
Watching you become a daddy, I feel like I’m meeting you and falling in love with you all over again. You are selfless, always saying Asher’s needs are more important than your own (Philippians 2:4). You wash all the bottles, and you don’t grumble when I can’t seem to wake up in the middle of the night to feed Asher. You can’t wait to come home to see us every day.
You are a man of integrity, a man I can admire, a man I love to point to and say, “He’s my husband!” You bring joy and laughter into my life. You’re the best at telling dad jokes.
I’m so thankful I met you seven years ago today. I’m grateful God wrote us into his story, and I can’t wait to continue watching it unfold. I love you!
The other day, we took Asher in for his two month well check. We stripped him down to his diaper and cheered when we found out he weighs almost 15 pounds. He’s an adorably chunky baby!
His pediatrician came in, and we collectively gushed over his sweetness and the milestones he’s reaching. She assured us we’re doing a great job, and she even said it’s both perfectly NORMAL and even EXPECTED that Asher isn’t sleeping through the night. Mentally, I scratched that off my list of things I fear I’m doing wrong as a parent. (All mamas have that list, right?)
Then, something unexpected happened. I hugged Asher close to me and started crying in the exam room, and I revealed my biggest fear to our pediatrician: “Asher is doing great now, but I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m watching him, looking for signs that something’s wrong. Waiting for him to break.”
Our pediatrician sat on the exam table, looked into my eyes, and spoke truth to my soul. While we must be practical and responsible, looking into the future and watching for certain things, we cannot live in fear. We must rest in the comfort that God is in control, and we must live in and enjoy the present. I nodded that she was right, and I inhaled the sweet smell of my baby as I felt the quiet rhythm of his breathing.
A verse drifted into my mind, one that a sweet friend shared with me recently: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a, ESV).
If I’m loving my son well today, I won’t fear for his future. I will rest in the comfort that God is sovereign and has a better future for Asher than I could ever imagine.
How do I love my son well? I look to the One who loves the best.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, ESV).
Jesus is the only one who has ever loved me perfectly, and he didn’t fear laying down his life in order to perfect that love.
If I look to the example of Christ and lay down my life daily for my son, I won’t have to fear. I’ll lay my life down for him when he’s healthy, and I’ll lay my life down for him if we face challenges down the road.
Where are you today? Are you fearful in a certain situation or even in a relationship? Look to the One who made you, the One who laid down his life for you. Rest in his perfect love as it casts out fear.
This weekend, I attended the Created for Care conference, a weekend for adoptive and foster mamas. Going in, I anticipated being encouraged and leaving with practical knowledge on bringing up our sweet boy. I left with something a little different, something I wasn’t expecting.
The first breakout session was on Friday afternoon. I attended a Creative Quiet Time class, a little unsure of what to expect. I sat down at a table with shiny gold and silver paper, a couple of tablets, and sample stars. Hmmm. I suppose I could get behind connecting with God while making a shiny star. I chit chatted with the ladies at the table regarding the genius idea to use cute Kraft style wrapping paper as a table cloth, and we waited for the session to begin.
The session leader, Virginia, asked us all to come to the front for a few minutes before we began our time with the Lord. I tried not to sigh as I gave into her request, remembering days gone by when I LOVED sitting in the front of the room as I soaked up information. Now, I would much prefer to hide in the back of the room.
Virginia shared that the theme of the weekend was Shine, and she asked us to think of people who shine. What made them so shiny? No, it wasn’t oily skin or sequin-covered dresses. Joy, contentment, positive attitudes, and time with the Lord were all shouted out, even the fact that most shiny people are thinkers and dreamers who are moving forward in life.
After we reflected on things that make people shine, Virginia shared with us reasons that people lose their shine. Discontentment, unconfessed sin, disobedience, not spending time in the Word or prayer, etc.
That one caught my attention. She said most of us, as we grow older, stop dreaming. That’s me. I’ve had dreams of writing, teaching, and speaking for years, but I stopped doing much about those dreams.
Virginia guided us through a time of prayer. She asked that we would each hear from the Lord. I felt a bit skeptical, but I asked God to help me be open to hearing from him.
And I did.
I sensed God reminding me that I am his, and because I am his, I can dream. I sensed him encouraging me to be confident in who I am in Christ, to trust that he will enable me to pursue the dreams he has placed within me.
After we prayed together, I decided to spend my time with the Lord doodling in my journal rather than going to one of the stations. As I doodled, I reflected on the dreams he’s given me, and I asked him to show me the hindrances within me to achieving those dreams.
Many of those hindrances were because I was focusing on my “don’ts” rather than my “dos”, a trap Virginia said leads to discontentment and not pursuing our dreams.
I don’t have a mentor pouring into my life and teaching me how to achieve my dreams.
I don’t have lots of connections.
I don’t have a large reading audience for my blog.
I don’t have teaching or speaking opportunities.
I don’t have enough material.
On and on.
It’s time to focus on the dos!
I do have a Savior who empowers and equips me to do all that he has called me to do.
I do have a loving and supportive husband who wants me to pursue the dreams God has given me.
I do have a great community of faith who can pray for and encourage me along the way.
I do have a blog, and it doesn’t matter how many people do or don’t read it at this point.
I do have the entire Bible and 34 years on this planet, which sounds like plenty of material to me!
So, this year, I’m going to take steps to making progress toward those dreams. I don’t know what that’s going to look like at this point, but I’m going to start by writing with more intentionality on my blog (this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Sometimes, that will be about adoption related topics, like many of my posts in 2015. Other times, I’ll be writing about passages in Scripture, with possible teaching recordings to accompany those posts. Even if I don’t have opportunities to speak in front of other women, I can create opportunities to teach. Will you pray with me as I pursue these dreams?
What about you? What dreams have you had? Have you pursued those dreams? If not, what’s stopping you? I’m praying God will give you the courage to pursue the dreams he’s given you. After all, you’re his, and because you’re his, you can dream with him.
One of the most frequently asked questions since Asher was born has been, “Where did you get his name?”
Asher is a twofold answer: First, there is a connection to his birth mother. His name was a small way we could honor her. Second, Asher means “happy.” If you follow me on Instagram (@shutterchelle) or we’re friends on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen our hashtag, #ashermeanshappy. In Genesis, during The Great Baby Race, after the birth of one of her sons, Leah says, “‘How happy I am! The women will call me happy.’ So she named him Asher” (30:13). I knew that would be true once God placed a baby with us. I knew I would be happy and the women in my life would know it! Also, when we met Asher’s birth parents, we all said over and over how happy we were. Asher seemed like a fitting name.
Marcus, his middle name, is after my Pop Pop. I’ve always been close with Pop Pop, and I love that we were able to honor him this way. When I first researched the meaning of Marcus, all I found was something along the lines of “the god Marcus.” Eh. That wasn’t a deal breaker for us, but it also wasn’t a “woo hoo!” for us as far as a strong meaning for our child’s name.
One day, I had a little down time while I was waiting on Joseph to install a cable box for someone, and I felt prompted to research the meaning of Marcus one more time. I found an article that said Marcus can mean “to harvest.” At that time, we were still debating if the baby’s name would be Asher Marcus or Marcus Asher (methods of determining the order including yelling the names across the house and using the names while shopping for baby items). Finding the “to harvest” meaning settled it for me. I knew our baby’s name was Asher Marcus, and I knew the Scripture we would pray over our son.
“And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'” (Luke 10:2).
We are praying that our sweet Asher wouldn’t just be a happy child (which he is!). We’re praying he would live up to his full name and be “happy to harvest.” We’re praying he would not only pray to the Lord of the harvest and ask for laborers, but that he would be an answer to that prayer.
I know Asher is only six weeks old (almost seven, eek!), but I see it in him already. His birth mother told us she felt certain Asher was created for a purpose, and she wanted him to be parented by believers who loved God’s Word and who loved serving the Lord and would pour those things into her son. In general, Asher is a happy, content, smiley baby. He lights up my life! But you should see him when we read stories of Jesus to him or when we’re just talking about Jesus. He’s different. He focuses in, looks us right in the eyes, and seems as though he’s already soaking it in.
We’re praying big things for Asher Marcus, and we KNOW we serve a big, good, faithful God who IS going to do big things through Asher. We’re humbled and honored to have a small part in God’s story, and we can’t wait to watch it unfold.
Sweet Asher, I have a story to tell you. There aren’t any dragons or princesses locked in towers, but it’s one of the best stories yet, and God started writing it a long time ago.
Years ago, long before I met your daddy, God placed a desire in my heart to adopt. I didn’t know what that would look like for me, but I knew God would one day grow my family through adoption. When your daddy and I met, he told me he wanted to adopt also. That made me love him even more, and I couldn’t wait for the day to come when we would start our family.
After we had been married for a few years, your daddy and I decided to start our family. A couple of years passed, and we still didn’t have a baby. We wondered what God had planned for us, and we prayed, asking God for children. On Christmas day of 2014, God confirmed that it was time for us to start the adoption process. Your daddy and I were overjoyed! We were officially on our journey to you.
We waited for months. Those were some of the happiest and hardest days of my life. God was stretching me and growing me and preparing me for you. He showed me lots of yucky things in my heart that I needed to surrender to Jesus, and He taught me to lean into Him and trust His perfect plan.
And, oh, what a perfect plan He had!
On October 27, 2015, we received the call that we had been matched with you! Oh, baby boy, I was over the moon excited! Was this finally happening? Was my dream coming true? Was God giving me the good gift of being a mama?
The next few weeks were a flurry of excitement and lots of to do lists! We shared our good news with friends and family, and we did all we could to prepare our home for your arrival.
And we prayed! We prayed for you. We prayed for your first family. We prayed for the lawyer and the doctors and all the people who were helping bring you to us. Lots and lots of people prayed with us. Did you know that one day, for a solid 24 hours, people prayed for you? They did! That was one of the most special days of our journey to you. We saw how much you were loved already, and our excitement grew even more.
We actually had the chance to meet your first parents a couple of weeks before you were born. Oh, Asher, I was so nervous! I knew your first mama had chosen us, but what if she didn’t like us once she met us in person? What if she thought I was awkward and laughed too much? What if I said the wrong thing? We prayed, and we asked our friends and family to pray. I prayed specifically that I could hug your first mama and that we could take a photo with her before we left the meeting.
God was gracious and kind. As soon as your first mama walked through the door, she gave me a big hug! Now, you’ll learn that I have a tendency to say awkward things. This moment was no different. The first thing I ever said to your first mama was, “Your hair smells SO good! Whatever shampoo you’re using, keep using it!” Yep. Oh, well, I think it broke the ice, because our time together was wonderful, so much more than I imagined. God filled the room with His peace, and we felt an instant connection with your first parents. Your sweet first mama even brought us gifts to share with you, including your ultrasound pictures and photos of your first family – what treasures! We left that meeting on cloud nine, and guess what we did right before we left! That’s right. We were able to take a photo with your first parents. God was so kind to answer my prayers!
We waited with such joy for the next couple of weeks. We weren’t sure when you would arrive! Your due date was November 29th, but we were both hoping you would arrive before Thanksgiving. On Thursday, November 19th, our community group created a little baby pool and each guessed the day we thought you would arrive. I guessed the 24th, and your daddy guessed the 26th, Thanksgiving day. We were both wrong!
The next day, just before 1:00 in the afternoon, we received an unexpected call. Your first mama was being admitted to the hospital. Her water was low, and the doctor wanted to induce labor. This was it! You were on your way!
We scurried around frantically, packing our bags and letting our family and friends know the exciting news. I was thankful your bags were ready to go! We loaded the car and drove the few hours to the hospital, where your first mama had been admitted by the time we arrived.
Asher, it was so good to see her! I didn’t realize how much I had missed her until I saw her again. We hugged and laughed, both sharing in the joy of knowing we would see your face very soon!
Your first mama was gracious and kind to us. She invited us into her labor and delivery room, and she let us stay with her through the whole process. Those days in the hospital were a sweet time of getting to know one another better, which gave us all a greater sense of peace about your first parents placing you with us.
We ended up being in the hospital longer than anticipated, so I was thankful I brought along an activity to help us pass the time. Do you know what it was? Coloring! Does that sound silly to you? Adults coloring? It was wonderful! We all relaxed, even your laboring first mama! This simple activity broke down even more walls and allowed us to talk and continue building our relationship. Your first mama opened her heart to us and shared with us about her journey toward adoption. She shared her hopes and dreams for you. Sweet boy, I look forward to telling you all about those talks we had in the wee hours of the night. They were sacred.
Asher, you are so loved. I never want you to doubt that. Your first family didn’t place you with us because they didn’t want you or because they didn’t love you. It was the opposite! They loved you SO very much that they made the hardest decision imaginable and chose to give you a life they felt they couldn’t offer you. Asher, they chose life! We are eternally grateful for their decision!
I don’t want to leave out your first dad. He wasn’t at the hospital a ton, because he was doing important work. He was taking care of your older brothers! He didn’t want your first mama to be in the hospital worrying about them, so he was doing his very best to serve her well and care for his family. He was with us some, though, and we enjoyed our time with him. He is a kind and gentle man, soft spoken and careful with his words. He loves your first mama very much, and he loves you also! Just like the day we met your first parents, we were able to take a photo with them again. I hope you can tell in this photo that we were all on the same team: Team Asher! All four of us want the very best for you.
Labor started on Friday afternoon and lasted until Sunday morning. Your first mama was full of peace as the hours ticked by. She said she could feel the Spirit in the room, and she was at peace. Asher, she showed such grace and courage. We were blessed to witness her strength and her faith. She knew God was leading her to place you with us, and she was confident in her decision.
At 6:00 the morning of Sunday, November 22nd, the doctor made the decision that you needed to be delivered via c-section. We were all excited that labor was coming to an end, but I could tell your first mama was scared. She chose to pray and trust God, again putting you before herself.
Things moved quickly from that point! Your first mama, again, was kind and gracious. She invited me into the operating room with her so I could witness your birth. What a gift! A nurse brought me a hospital gown and booties and such, and a group of nurses prepped your first mama for surgery. They wheeled her back, and I waited in the recovery room until I could go in with her. I was so nervous and excited! I paced back and forth and listened to a little music and prayed to calm my nerves. I knew I was just minutes away from seeing your sweet face!
Then, it was time! A nurse walked me into the OR. The doctors and nurses were all supportive and kind, knowing there were two mamas in the room. Your first mama was nervous, so I did what I always do: I told random stories and filled the silence with my awkward laugh. You’ll get used to that.
The anesthesiologist was sweet. She asked if I wanted to see you as they pulled out your head, and then she held the curtain back so I could get a glimpse. I yelled, “He has hair!” Your first mama and I both giggled with delight. Just moments later you were out. Oh, I cried and cried the happiest tears! You were such a handsome boy, and you had a healthy set of lungs! And you had squishy cheeks from the start! Thank you for that.
You weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and you were 19 inches long. So perfectly squishy! And those lips! I loved them from the start.
The nurses cleaned you up so I could hold you and show you to your first mama. She was smitten at first sight, too! Know that there are two women who love you to the moon and back.
Before you were born, I was nervous that we wouldn’t bond quickly, that it would take me a while to fall in love with you since you didn’t grow in my tummy. Please know that the moment I laid eyes on you, I loved you so very much. It felt like my heart was exploding! I didn’t know I had the capacity to love the way I knew I loved you in that moment. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to soothe you, that it would take you a long time to get to know me. But God is gracious! While the nurses were cleaning you up, you were crying. Screaming is more accurate! I placed my hand on your chest, and you were instantly quiet. Oh, what a moment! God gave me the precious gift of knowing we would be OK. You and I were going to get along just fine!
I was able to go with you to the nursery, where they measured you, gave you your first bath, and made your footprints. You have the cutest feet! That’s also where I was able to introduce you to your daddy and have a little skin to skin time with you in the rocking chair. Your daddy loved you instantly also! You may notice in these pictures that I couldn’t stop crying. I was so happy!
This is the picture we texted to our family and closest friends to announce you had arrived. You looked like a burrito swaddled up tightly in hospital blankets. I should have asked that nurse for some swaddling pointers. Sorry about that. :O)
You were pricked and prodded a little before you left the nursery. You were not a fan, but you held onto my finger and showed us how brave you can be. I think you get that from your first mama. She was brave to let you spend all of those first moments with us. She wanted you to bond with us first and start getting to know us before we took you home.
Once the doctor was all finished with your first mama and she was in the recovery room, a nurse walked you and me over to see her. She was so excited to see you! We took turns passing you back and forth, giving you lots of hugs and kisses.
You were in the hospital until Tuesday, and we all spent as much time with you as we could. We oohed and ahhed over every little noise you made, every little facial expression. Those days were filled with joy and peace, true grace from the Lord.
We passed you around, each getting time to snuggle you and feed you.
Tuesday was the big day, the day you would be placed with us and we could take you home! I was nervous all morning. We spent some time with you and your first mama. While she was still at peace, I could tell how hard this was going to be for her. Placing you with us was going to require tremendous strength, strength we knew could only come from the Lord. So, I prayed.
While your first parents were signing the paperwork to say you could come live with us, I felt like I was holding my breath. Things were taking longer than we anticipated. Had they changed their minds? To ease my fears, I pulled out my Bible. I was a couple of days behind on my Bible reading, and that felt like the perfect moment to catch up! I read Mark 14, and I was challenged by the words of Jesus, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (v. 36). In that moment, I surrendered you up to Jesus. No matter what happened, you were His.
Just moments later, there was a quiet knock on our door. Your first parents were standing there holding you, ready to place you with us. They placed you with us with gentle confidence and humility, an act of true love.
As they walked away, I cried and held you tightly to my chest. Next to Jesus giving Himself for me, you are the most precious gift anyone has given me. Know that and treasure it in your heart, baby boy. From the moment I heard about you, my love for you started growing in my heart, and it hasn’t stopped. When I look at you, my heart swells. I’ve only known about you for a little over a month, and I’ve only been able to hold you in my arms for 10 days, but you’ve changed me.
Asher, you’ve changed all of us. Your first parents shared with us how much they’ve grown in their faith since they began this journey with you. Your daddy and I feel the same. You may only be 10 days old, but you’re already a world changer. I’m praying big things for you, little man. I’m praying God draws you to saving faith at a young age. I want you to know Him and love Him fiercely. I want you to know how much He loves you and then serve Him and others in response to that love.
For now, know this about our great God: He “is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). We’ve seen it in your story, which is just a little piece of God’s big story of grace, and we trust we’ll continue seeing Him do abundantly more as we watch you grow.
With all my love,
Please note: We have an open adoption. While we were in the hospital, we talked with our birth parents, and we all agreed we were OK with sharing pictures of each other, but not names. They’re a big part of Asher’s life, so they’re going to be in our lives! If you know their names, we ask that you not post them on social media. Thank you!
Tuesday, October 27th was cloudy and chilly. I rushed out of the door that morning, running a few minutes behind for my babysitting job for the day. Yogurt splatter, baby giggles, and a game of Peek-a-boo lifted my spirits. A warm blanket invited me to curl up on the couch during nap time and spend time in the Word. The morning felt like any other morning with my sweet little friend.
But it wasn’t.
At 10:50 AM, I received a phone call. Even though it was a local number, having been fooled before, I assumed it was a telemarketer, and I ignored the call. A voice mail notification vibrated my phone. Still thinking it was a telemarketer, I clicked “play” and waited for an automated recording. Only, I didn’t hear an automated recording. I heard a warm, sweet, Southern voice telling me, “I have news! You’re going to want to call me back!”
That may have been the fastest I have EVER returned a phone call! Our adoption counselor answered right away and said she needed to conference in the lawyer and would call me right back. After hanging up, I sent Joseph a calm, lady like text.
It was one of my finest moments.
The actual call with our lawyer and our adoption counselor is a bit of a blur now. I think I heard about half of what they told me. Things went down like this:
“something, something, something … An expectant mother chose you!”
“something, something, something … She really liked your book!”
“something, something, something … medical history.”
“something, something, something … Let’s schedule a detailed call for tomorrow.”
“OK! Thank you!”
There were so many words, and all I remember saying was “thank you” and “OK” … a lot.
Shaking, I called Joseph, who had been trying to reach me. “Babe, that was it. We just got the call. We’re going to have a baby.” Then I cried and tried to recall all the “something, something, something” words. I pretty much just remembered the due date and the fact that she liked our book.
And that she chose us.
That was one of the most sacred moments of my life – and not because “holy crap” was in all caps when I texted Joseph.
Not since God chose me to be one of His own adopted ones (see Ephesians 1:3-5) or since Joseph chose me to be his bride has a choice delighted my soul and ignited my spirit more.
The next day, we had a conference call with our adoption counselor and our lawyer. We went over the details of the adoption and gave our “YES!” We also made plans to meet our expectant mother. I’m crying just typing that. I can’t begin to express the feelings I have when I think about meeting her. They’re a jumble, and they’re woven together with a joy so pure that I know it’s a gift straight from the Father. I hope she lets me hug her, because I really want to give her a big hug. I don’t know what comes after that! (Probably tears.)
We’ll know a few more details after Tuesday, such as the delivery plan. We want to respect our sweet expectant mother during that time. Please lift her up and pray for strength and affirmation that she’s making the right decision. Pray she makes the best choice for her baby, even if that means our arms are empty a little longer.
We’ve had so much fun telling our family and friends. They’re as excited as we are, which gives me all sorts of warm fuzzies. We used this video to share on social media:
The next few weeks are sure to be a flurry of excitement and projects. The last few days have already been a frenzy of rearranging furniture in the house, registering, and preparing for baby.
Would you please join us in prayer? Pray for our hearts during this last bit of waiting. Pray for opportunities to share the love of Christ with those we meet along the way. Pray as we meet our expectant mother. Pray and ask God to provide the final $15,000 we need. Ask Him if He wants you to be a part of that. You can give at our YouCaring site.
I want to leave you with one of the sweetest parts of this story so far for me. Joseph asked our adoption counselor when our expectant mother chose us. It turns out she chose us in early September. My heart has been aching during this wait. I have cried out to God so many times, begging Him to give us the good gift of a child. During those weakest moments, I imagine God was smiling and saying, “Hang tight, little one. I’ve got a really good gift for you!”
Years ago, I spent a weekend with a whole lot of people in a 3 bedroom house. It wasn’t terrible, but it was tight. There were two bathrooms and an average size water heater. For obvious reasons, we were encouraged to keep showers brief.
When it was my turn, I closed and locked the bathroom door. Then I checked it at least ten times, because I am terribly afraid of someone walking in on me in the bathroom. Terribly afraid. I walked over to the shower, and I panicked a little. It had one of those round knobs that controls the hot and cold in one place, and it also turned the water on. You know the ones I mean. The ones that take a special college degree to control properly. I was a mere college freshman at the time, so I was baffled. (Truth: I have 30 hours toward a master’s degree, and I still ask my husband to turn the water on for me if a shower has one of these knobs.)
I probably jumped for joy a little when water started gushing out of the shower head. I was proud! Within seconds, though, I realized I had a problem. The water was VERY hot. Almost scalding hot, at least in my estimation. (I HATE hot showers, so it may not have been that bad.) I turned the shower knob every direction possible, and scalding hot water was the only result. At the tender age of eighteen, I was too embarrassed to ask for help. “Um, could someone help me, please? I don’t know how to work the shower.” Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. I braved the lava masked as water erupting from the 1960s shower head. I almost cried as I tried to wash my hair and my body without any water touching me. I winced, and I leaned, and I dodged. Finally, it was over. I turned off the water and emerged from the shower, bright red and victorious. The lava shower did not defeat me.
After my adventure in the shower, I walked into the family room. Someone asked, “How was your shower?” I chuckled and said, “That was the hottest shower I’ve EVER taken!” Before I could continue my story, explaining WHY it was the hottest shower I had ever taken, I was interrupted. “That was inconsiderate of you,” he quipped, disappointment all over his face.
I froze. I stammered. I shrugged. I didn’t tell my story. I felt defeated.
I am by no means a perfect person, and I know I wasn’t perfect 16 years ago, but I strive to be considerate of others. I thought this person knew me. If he did, he wouldn’t have doubted me in that moment, would he? Surely, he would have known there was a reason for my action. He would have thought the best of me, right?
It was a quick exchange. A blip in my life, really. But those words have haunted me for years. They’re in my sticky brain, as my sweet friend Tara calls it. This moment in my life came to mind as I was reflecting on God’s character this week.
You see, I’ve been struggling and doubting Him lately. A lot. My trust has wavered. It’s like I’ve forgotten who He is.
A lyric from one of J.J. Heller’s songs has been in my head for days. It’s there when my eyes pop open in the mornings. It’s there when I’m riding in the car. It’s in the shower. In our den as I watch way too many tear-inducing episodes of Parenthood. It’s still there when I crawl into bed at night.
“I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are.”
Over and over and over again. One line. One powerful line that stirred my heart toward repentance.
“Lord, I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are. I’m sorry for doubting You.”
As I was reading Adopted for Life by Russell Moore, the issue came up again, and that one lyric was the background track as I read. Dr. Moore shared about a moment when he questioned God’s justice upon hearing of the pregnancy of an immoral woman while his sweet, godly wife was crying over another miscarriage. “I think that moment was perhaps the worst sin I’ve ever committed. I knew far better, but I was calling into question the goodness of my God to me” (page 103).
I thought of that moment when I felt my character was being called into question. When someone doubted me. Me, a person who sins daily and still has a long way to go in the sanctification process. Me, someone who wants to be considerate of others but does, in fact, fail from time to time. That moment of someone doubting me hurt deeply.
So how much more does it likely hurt my perfectly good, perfectly loving, perfectly just, sovereign, righteous, holy God when I doubt His character? I give people reasons to doubt me all the time. God? He has never given me a reason to doubt Him. He always provides. He always guides. He always comes through.
Yet, when life presses in and my circumstances don’t align with my desires, I doubt. Fiercely.
I don’t want to doubt fiercely. I want to BELIEVE fiercely. TRUST fiercely. LOVE fiercely. SERVE fiercely. PURSUE fiercely.
I don’t want our adoption journey to be defined by my doubt in God. What a waste! I want our journey to be categorized by faith in the God who provides. I want to look back at a season (no matter how long!) when God stretched us and strengthened our faith and drew us into deeper relationships with Him.
And you know what? He will stretch us and strengthen our faith and draw us into a deeper relationship with Him. That’s what He’s doing. That’s who He is.
Baby or no baby, I have no reason to doubt Him. I know who He is.
Moment by moment, day by day, as we wait I will be reminding myself of God’s character. When doubt creeps in, I will take those thoughts captive and counter them with truth. Will you help me with that? When doubt is trying to reign in my heart, will you speak truth into my life? I know I can’t walk this journey alone.
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable. …
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made. …
The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down. …
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 145: 1-3, 8-9, 14, 17-21
I don’t know what You’re doing, but I know who You are.
“It costs HOW MUCH to adopt?! That’s crazy! It seems to me if there are SO many children who need homes, it shouldn’t cost SO much to adopt. If it cost less to adopt, I bet more children would be adopted.”
That’s my paraphrase of something we hear pretty regularly. People are astounded by how much our adoption is projected to cost (in the neighborhood of $30,000).
The purpose of this post isn’t to give you a dollar breakdown of the cost of adoption. That varies a bit for every adoption. My goal is to shed a little light on some of the reasons private adoption is expensive. I am by no means an expert. I’m just a woman with a cost breakdown from our lawyer and a little bit of knowledge from conversations I’ve had with people over the last 10 months.
Before I continue, I want to talk about adopting out of foster care a little bit. According to Adopt US Kids, there are over 100,000 children legally free to be adopted RIGHT NOW. That’s a staggering number. Would you like another staggering number? $0. If you can find a lawyer to finalize your adoption for the stipend SC offers, your adoption is pretty much free (or at least really inexpensive). (I can’t speak for other states, but I bet they have something similar.) If it costs you more than $0, you can write it all off on your taxes and get the money back. So, if money is your only excuse for not adopting, I just removed that for you. Start filling out the paperwork.
We desire to adopt out of foster care at some point. For this adoption, God had different plans. Expensive plans that we’re entrusting to Him. Expensive plans that He has been providing for faithfully over the last 10 months.
So, what does that $30,000 cover? Again, I’m no expert. Every agency or lawyer will be a little different. This is just the breakdown of categories we were given.
Adoption Counselor Fee – This covers the expenses for a social worker to work directly with the birth mother/parents. In our case, a social worker will be the person who makes sure our birth mother makes it to appointments, has groceries, is living in a safe environment, etc. She is the one who will be gathering as much family history as she possibly can. She is the one who gets late night phone calls and talks with our birth mom when she needs a listening ear. While I’m grateful for our lawyer, the adoption counselor is our MVP (well, next to the birth mom, of course!), and I’m thankful for the countless hours she devotes to her clients.
Attorney Fees – If you work directly with a lawyer, these fees are higher because the lawyer is handling the adoption from beginning to end. If you work with an agency or a consultant (meaning you’ll work with an agency or lawyer eventually), there will still be attorney fees for finalizing the adoption.
Marketing Expenses – This one may seem strange at first, but it’s important. When a birth mother is in the process of making a plan for her child, she may have no idea where to turn. She may ask her doctor, who has brochures in his waiting room, or she may do an Internet search and find an agency’s website or a couple’s adoption profile. A Facebook ad may be in her newsfeed, or a billboard may catch her eye as she’s driving down the road. Maybe marketing sounds a bit tacky to discuss, but a birth mother needs to know she has options. She needs to know someone will help her connect with a family who will love and care for her child.
Expectant/Birth Mother Expenses – This is a broad category that can cover a lot of different things, from a place to live to groceries to utilities. Depending on the situation, it could also include the expectant mother’s medical expenses. This money is in no way paying her for a baby. Please know that! This money is the right thing to do. Also, this category can fluctuate quite a bit based on when in her pregnancy an expectant mother connects with an agency or lawyer and what her personal circumstances are. A woman who contacts a lawyer in the eighth month of her pregnancy and lives with her parents will have lower expenses than a woman who contacts an agency during the third month of her pregnancy and needs an apartment in a safe place away from her abusive boyfriend. There are a lot of factors that come into play in this category.
Home Study – The home study is the key piece of your adoption application. Someone will come to your home and interview you and your family. Sometimes, this is one meeting. Others, there may be one joint meeting and then individual meetings with each family member. The person conducting the home study is assessing if your home is a safe and warm and great place for children to live. He/she is also getting to know you as well as possible. Our home study experience was such a good one! Seriously, one of my favorite parts of this process.
Everything Else – Guys, there are so many little things included in an adoption. If you’re seriously considering adoption, make an appointment with a consultant, a lawyer, or an agency. They’ll give you breakdowns of their fees.
So, that’s a high level look at why private adoption can be expensive. I had no idea what was included when my eyes got really big and I thought, “Why is private adoption SO expensive?!” Learning these things was helpful for me, and $30,000 doesn’t sound so crazy anymore.
Now, let’s circle back around to adopting out of foster care. It IS expensive, but those costs are not passed on to the adoptive family. There are costs for caring for children in foster care. There are medical expenses. Case workers have to be paid. Legal fees are involved. Foster care is funded by the government, so someone is paying for adoption through foster care.
Fellow believers, we’re called to care for orphans. There is no way around that in Scripture. I’ll be putting together a post in the future that will give you LOTS of ideas to care for orphans. For now, take some time to noodle over how you can help children in foster care or how you could help a family with the expense of a private adoption.
If you’re considering adoption, I’d love to talk to you about our experiences thus far! I know we’re still waiting, but maybe we could at least help you get started! Also, do your research. There are many options available for families considering adoption, and not every option will be a good fit for you. A full service agency may be right for your family right now, or maybe you have the time and know-how to self-market, meaning a smaller consulting firm could be a good fit. Explore your options, and commit this journey to prayer. Dive in, and enjoy watching God’s story unfold!
Sunday in worship, we sang one of my new favorite songs, Even So Come (I’ll embed it at the end of the post). As we sang of longing for Christ’s return, I was reminded that our waiting and longing in the adoption process point to our deeper longing for Christ’s return.
(There were paragraphs here that felt forced. I tried for two days to write this post that had been swirling around in my head. Nothing was right. So, I started typing my prayer. It’s raw. It isn’t pretty. But I’m sharing it with you.)
Lord, what do You want me to write in this post? You brought the thought to mind. You reminded me that my longing for a child points to my longing for Your return. Maybe this post is difficult to write because, most days, I don’t think much about Your return. Most days, I go about my day as though I’m not adopted, as though You didn’t give Your life for me, as though You didn’t purchase me at a great price. So, maybe this wait for a child has a deeper purpose than making me a mother. Maybe this wait is more about reminding me I am a child – Your child. I am adopted – by You. I’m waiting for a baby, but I’m also waiting for You. So, how do I wait for our baby? Well, some days better than others. Some days, I’m filled with joy and excitement. I can’t wait to be a mommy! I can picture our little brown baby sitting in her crib, throwing her head back in laughter, reaching her pudgy hands up for me. I can imagine bath time and story time and dinner time. I look forward to her falling asleep on my chest, lulled by the rhythm of my heart and the quiet hum of my current favorite worship song. Other days, I feel sad. I see the brokenness of this world. I know that we’re becoming parents out of someone else’s pain. I feel the emptiness of our arms, hear the silence of our nursery. Still others, I lean more toward being angry. Lord, I hate to admit my anger. I’m embarrassed by it. But You know my heart. I can’t conceal it from You. I’m angry. You hurt my feelings. You put a longing in my heart years ago to be a mother, specifically to become a mother through adoption. You confirmed that it was time for us to adopt. Things moved quickly in the beginning. Money was coming in quickly. You affirmed over and over that we were doing the right thing. Then things slowed down. We had to change paths. The silence is deafening. We’re waiting. I know You have a plan. I know it’s the best plan. I know You’ve already written this story. I know it’s part of YOUR story. I know all the right things to say. I know how to put a smile on my face, give all the right answers, and act like I’m OK with all of this. But, God, on the worst days, I’m not OK with all of this. I want You to do something different. I want You to make me a mom NOW. If only I felt so strongly about Your return, huh? Maybe not even that. Maybe if I noticed how much other people are hurting and not just my own hurt. Maybe if I stopped and took notice of the broken people around me. Maybe if I cried out for justice and begged You to return and make all things right again. Maybe my pain, this wait, is reminding me why You had to come in the first place. Reminding me that people need You. Reminding me why You haven’t returned: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). You haven’t returned yet, because You haven’t finished adopting yet. I trust You. I believe You. I believe You will return. Deepen my longing for Your return. I want to long for Your return more than I long to be a mother, and that’s a lot. Take all of these feelings that this wait has stirred up inside of me and transform them into pure worship of You. Remind me of Your truth. I want more than being able to say all of the right things. I want to believe Your truth deep down in the marrow of my bones. That is going to happen through the trial of waiting. Waiting for our baby and waiting for Your return. So, God, will You help me wait well? I think I’ve done a kind of crummy job so far, and that makes me ever so grateful that You see Jesus when You look at me! Help me wait better. Help me get to know You better through this process. Refine me through this process. Make me more like Jesus. Even so, come.