Shooting Stars

It was a crisp, clear night along the shores of Saint Lawrence Gap in Barbados. We were right at that sweet spot in a vacation when you have been away from the stresses of everyday life for long enough to gorget them, and yet you’re still far away from thoughts of going home again. After some nice drinks, laying in a cabana, watching the sunset, we stowed away to a little table by the waves for dinner. It was a peaceful night, and our conversations drifted from family matters to scuba diving stories to the delicious food. Underlying the night — no, the whole week — was this expectancy and hope, and a little hesitancy of the unknown.

My parents, Arundel and I had travelled 4,284 miles for this momentous week. I had been taking pills and tests and injections for weeks. We had been praying and anticipating and dreaming of what would take place on this beautiful island. And, now that we were actually there, it felt a lot like we were still dreaming. This night, in particular, felt especially fairy-tale like because while we were sitting there, enjoying yummy seafood as we sat by the waves in the balmy evening breeze, God sent shooting stars to light up the sky. Two of them, in fact. They were so bright that it caught my gaze and made me turn — and made the waitress come to ask us if we had seen lightning. But no — it was a shooting star! The waitress said they never see shooting stars there. It was as if God had sent them just for us. We were amazed at the display in the sky — there for a just a few seconds but burned in my mind in it’s bright eruption of splendor. We know that God has used rainbows as a sign of promise, but it felt like that night He was using those shooting stars as one.

Three days later, we were sitting in the clinic waiting room, looking out the window to the view of the turquoise Carribbean ocean. I had just been through 45 minutes of relaxing acupuncture, and now it was time for the transfer. The doctor came to tell us that they had thawed the first two of three embryos that we had adopted. One of them was looking very healthy, the other was not growing. Unfortunately, it had not survived the thaw and was not viable. They waited as long as they could to make sure what they were seeing was correct — it would not make it. As we had discussed with them earlier, they moved on to the third embryo we had adopted and thawed that one. While we waited 30 minutes for the third embryo to thaw, Arundel and I talked and processed and grieved for that little life that didn’t make it. It was hard to process the excitement of the two growing embryos and the death of one all at once. But as we sat there and tried to be present in that circumstance, we felt the overwhelming peace of God with us. It was clear that it was His grace that it had happened this way. If the embryo that didn’t make it had been the third one, we would have not known that it wasn’t viable and would have gone through this entire process again in a few years, only to find out that that little one didn’t make it through the thaw, and come home empty-handed. But the Lord allowed it to happen this way, which was a lot easier to walk through.

The embryologist came back a few minutes later to tell us that the third embryo had thawed successfully and was looking beautiful. We were very excited! Arundel and I went to the back room, changed into scrubs, and were taken into the “theater” to have the transfer done. This was the moment that we had been waiting for — another moment in time where we were faced with a choice. We could either choose to believe that this was a defining moment in the history of our family that would change our lives forever, or we could step forward in fear and not put our hearts too far into it. Believe me, the latter sounded a lot more comfortable.

But, God has been so faithful to us all the way through this rough journey to keep reminding us of His ways and His thoughts and His goodness. So with His strength we stood in faith that this moment was going to change our family forever. As we watched the nurse transfer the embryos to my uterus, the little flicker on the ultrasound screen was all it took — we saw that little speck and we were in love. Our two little babies were home. We prayed for them and together asked the Lord to allow them to stay. Within minutes, we were out of the clinic and walking along the beach, white sand between our toes and lunch being ordered.

And just like that, our family was changed forever.

You see, we always have a choice. No matter how many valleys you are taken through, no matter how many roadblocks you encounter, you have the choice as to how you are going to respond to them. We cannot control when and if God answers the cries of our hearts. But we can control who we choose to believe and how we choose to see Him while we are crying out.

From the moment those embryos were in my womb, we chose to believe that they were ours, and they would stay ours.

For the next week, we stood in faith. Every day and every night, we prayed for and sang over and stood in faith for the babies to implant deep into my uterine wall. It was out of our hands, but it was in God’s. Arundel laid hands on my stomach every day, talking to them and praying for their growth and safety. Our hearts were all-in, head over heels, given to this process. It was scary. It did not come easy, and I was constantly battling the fear and negativity that was wanting to creep into those unknown days of waiting. But that was not who God had called us to be — He has called us his children, full of faith and His Spirit, whom He loves. When I reminded myself of whose I was, I was able to stand stronger in who I was made to be.

We were supposed to wait until Wednesday, 12 days after the transfer, to take our first test.

There was no way we could wait that long.

We decided that we would take an at-home test for the first time 7 days after the transfer. We knew that it might be too early to get a good result, but we decided that if we got a negative, we would just ignore it and be patient for a few more days. But, if we got a positive — well, that’s a positive!

We woke up Friday morning, opened the curtains, and all we saw were huge snowflakes falling all around us. It was not supposed to snow that morning, but here they were, reminding us of the two little “snowflake babies” we had put into my womb 7 days prior. This made us even more excited to take a test!

With Arundel by my side, I took the test and set it down on the bathroom counter. We covered it up while we waited the mandatory three minutes until it was ready to be read. We prayed, held each other, and bounced around with nervousness. After the three minutes, we took off the cover and looked at the test.

TWO. PINK. LINES.

TWO. LINES.

I immediately saw it and knew what it meant — we were pregnant! I started laughing and jumping up and down and hyperventilating — not really knowing how to respond! Arundel just had to stare at it for a few more seconds, completely in shock that it was actually positive!

After five and a half years of waiting for this moment, it was finally here. It felt so full of joy and life and happiness — as if everything we had walked through with the Lord had been for this moment.

We were ecstatic, and still are. We spent the next few days continuing to take at-home pregnancy tests, and continuing to see a positive result. We shared the news with our parents, close family and friends over the next week. We tried to get in touch with everyone that has been praying for us, standing with us, and supporting us over the last five years. We were celebrating with them all, one by one, as we recounted the amazing testament of God’s goodness and faithfulness to us. Each one of them — each one of you — are a part of that story, which is something we are so grateful for.

We have never felt more needy, more vulnerable, or more in debt to the community around us more than the lowest moments on this journey to finding our children. We have also never felt more supported, loved, and cared for than the times when we have opened up to those in our lives. Each and every one of you have been the hands and feet and mouthpieces of Jesus to hold us up when we didn’t think we could go any further. This has been the most difficult thing we have walked through in life so far, and yet we have come out of it closer to Jesus and closer to each other than ever before. There are some things you just can’t learn from any old book. For this, we are so thankful.

It was not any of our efforts or spirituality that have allowed us to stay close to God during this long trial. If it had been up to what we could do, we would have fallen far away long ago. It has and will continue to be His pure, unbridled grace towards us to always show His faithfulness when we look to Him. If you feel like you can’t find His faithfulness or grace in the midst of trials great or small, know that all you have to do is look to Him and give your heart room to trust Him. He will not let you down.

We are still in the very early days of pregnancy — the ones that everyone gets scared of. We don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks, but we know that as of tomorrow, I am five weeks pregnant. For this, we celebrate, and we stand in faith that we will continue to see growth and health in these babies.

We will find out in two weeks whether we have one or two little ones growing inside me — and will be eternally grateful to God for whatever He has given us!

Let it be known that God is good and faithful and true.

Jane

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A ‘Random’ Wednesday in August

I (Arundel) am in the middle of reading through Rick Warren’s, ‘Purpose Driven Life’, a great 40-day devotional if you haven’t read it yet! Yesterday’s reading was discussing how God puts us through trials, difficulties, ups-and-downs and pain for a reason. When things are going well we are so happy to let everyone know, so willing to share the stories, but how do we act when the going gets tough?

Warren writes, “But the very experiences that you have resented or regretted most in life – the ones you’ve wanted to hide and forget – are the experiences God wants to use to help others.” It has been an enormous privilege reading the comments from people who have stumbled across our blog, friends who are in this with us, and those who are supporting us through it. While this time is not an easy one, we are honored that our story, our God-story, is able to be a blessing to others. A God-story, a testimony, a praise report is not always a completed story. It’s a story that can be in the beginning, middle or end stages; and ours is just that. Hopefully we are somewhere in the middle, but what do we know?

What we do know, we want to share with you today.

In August, having not heard anything from the embryo adoption agency about a potential match for several months, we decided to take action ourselves. Jane created a simple image for Facebook detailing our interest in the possibility of adopting embryo(s) from any couples who had undergone IVF, and with one simple click on the ‘Post’ button on a random Wednesday  in August, it went out to the world. Well in truth, it went out to our 400 Facebook followers. This crew of supporters in turn shared it to their own pages, commented and liked. The power of social media — of which so many of us are not fans — for one moment was used for good. In 48 hours, 9,000 people had viewed this image, including one couple in Colorado.

We’ll call them John and Leila. They underwent IVF in November 2015 and created 5 precious embryos. Two of which were immediately transferred to Leila’s uterus, and in August 2016, two baby boys were born. Wow! Shortly after their birth, on a random Wednesday in August, John and Leila sat down on their sofa, and discussed what they wanted to do with the remaining 3 embryos at the clinic. Discard them, donate them to science or transfer them to Leila’s womb in the hopes of another pregnancy. They felt as though there really should be a fourth option — surely there is a way of giving these embryos to a couple who can’t have their own biological children? They hadn’t ever heard of it, nor knew if it was a viable option, but what they did know was that their family was complete with their twin boys, and they wanted these 3 remaining embryos to have life.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the mountainous state of Colorado, one of Jane’s friends clicked ‘Share’ on the image that popped up on her feed from our adoption Facebook group. This prompted one of her friends to comment on it that she had just gone through embryo adoption and was praying for us. That comment meant it also popped up on Leila’s news feed. And right there, a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, who had just asked her husband if there was any such thing, was looking at an image of Jane and I, asking if anyone knew of a family who had embryos that they would donate. Miracle?

Leila reached out to Jane, asking if we would even want them, if we were still looking… You know how those Facebook campaigns go, you see them and have no idea if it was posted five years ago and is now completely irrelevant. Well this wasn’t that. This was very relevant!

Leila and Jane spoke on the phone, and with a simple phone call their mind was made up. The three remaining embryos were to be transferred into our name. We asked if they wanted more information, our profile book, to meet us, a phone call the four of us, our home study, references whatever it might be. Nothing. Sometimes, ‘the peace of God which transcends all understanding’ can fall on a situation. And that it did on this August day.

Thankfully our embryo adoption agency was willing to work with us even though it wasn’t quite the traditional route that they normally take. Within a few weeks, contracts were signed and medical forms submitted. And with a stamp of the notary, our family had just grown by three more, and we were so excited!

I may have forgotten to mention one small detail. These baby embryos aren’t in Colorado, nor are they in Seattle. In fact, they’re not even in the USA. Just off the coast of South America, in one of the most highly rated fertility clinics worldwide, on the tiny island of Barbados, they await. The clinic, operated by an Irish doctor, with English, Canadian, American and Barbadian medical and administrative staff is one of the reasons Barbados is in the top fertility tourism destinations in the world.

What do we now then? Well, the cost to ship the embryos from Barbados to our clinic in Seattle, WA was the same price as flights and an all-inclusive resort on the shores of the white sandy beaches of Barbados. What do you think we would do then? Instead of putting our frozen embryos on a flight to Seattle, we have decided to jump on a plane with Jane’s parents in January 2017 to find them and to get some much needed rest and relaxation before and after the transfer.

Jane will update you further on the medical and emotional preparations in a blog to come soon. For now though, I better keep on reading my book, ‘The Expectant Father’, because this time it’s working; this time we’re getting pregnant. 👍🏼

Making Eye Contact With Jesus

It’s been three months since we transferred a little embryo to my uterus, hoping and praying and believing Jesus that He would give life to that baby.

I’ll be honest with you — the last three months have held some incredibly hard moments. I personally have been going through a lot of questions in my mind, most of which I already know the answers to, but my heart doesn’t understand.

What’s left for us? 

It’s really difficult to be at a dead end. It’s really difficult to not have a timeline of when things will progress, and it’s really difficult to look back on how much time we have spent pursuing adoption so far, and how little we have to show for it.

It’s really difficult to have no plans in place; no industry professionals telling us they’re moving things forward on our behalf. To have no ‘next step’ to conquer, and nothing to hide our hope behind.

It’s really difficult to once again have to hang all we have on the hope we find when staring into the eyes of Jesus. The same Jesus that, in his infinite wisdom, chose this heartache for us.

My natural tendency is to not make eye contact when I am upset with someone. When I have been hurt, let down, or rejected, the last thing I want to do is make eye contact with the one who is in that mess with me. It’s not a conscious decision — if you think about it, you probably do it, too. That’s because eye contact creates intimacy. It breaks down the invisible walls we try to erect to protect ourselves from more pain. Eye contact invites the other person in, says to them, “I’m focused on you, ready to receive whatever you’re about to throw at me.”

I realized recently that I’ve been avoiding ‘eye contact’ with Jesus. I’ve been doing everything I can do to avert my eyes from His, because in that looking there is longing and intimacy. In that gaze is where I have to decide whether I am going to believe that what His word says is true; that there is ‘more’ for us. And I don’t want to do that, because ‘more’ is scary. More what? More heartache, more disappointment? More waiting? More promises? More empty rooms and womb and hearts?

But He calls me. And His Spirit draws me in.

And I’m reminded that we are told to look into His gaze — not to see a reflection of our brokenness, but to see His redemption working in our hearts; His example of endurance and faithfulness.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” — Hebrews 12:1-3

When we make eye contact with the living God, He pioneers and perfects new faith in our hearts. When we set our faces like flint towards Him, He fills us with faith for the impossible, because He has already accomplished the impossible in us.

That’s the ‘more’ He has waiting for me. More promises, more comfort, more hope. More of Himself.

So I will look to Him. I will make eye contact with Him. I won’t be perfect in my pursuit, but I will continue to fix my eyes on Him, because I cannot hide my faith behind tangible steps in this adoption process that make me feel good or give me temporary assurance.

When there is nothing tangible to hold onto, I won’t be caught looking somewhere else to find hope. I’ll be locked into His gaze, which transforms and strengthens me.

I will not grow weary and lose heart, because I’m fixed on Him.

Jane

________

(I made a quick ‘fix your eyes’ wallpaper for my phone, to serve as a constant reminder for myself. If you’d like to have it, too, you can download it here.)

The 9-Day Wait

We arrived at the fertility clinic on the shores of Lake Union in Seattle. A number of friends and family had turned up for the big event, to pray over us and support us in this exciting step in our story. We took the elevator up and entered the surgery office. The embryo had started thawing just 2 hours previously, and we still didn’t know whether the thaw had been successful.

I was obviously praying that the entire transfer would be successful, but what I really had hoped for was that the thaw would be successful, that Jane would have the opportunity to carry this precious life even if it was to be just for a few days. We approached the reception desk still not sure what the news was and were shown to Transfer Room 1, which gave us hope that the embryo had survived! A few minutes later the nurse came in and started prepping Jane for the transfer, she offered to pose for a fun photograph which helped lighten the mood. Then the embryologists entered and confirmed the embryo thaw had been successful! “YES” I thought to myself! My prayer had been answered. This precious life was going to have an opportunity to come home and be loved and prayed for.

The doctor came in soon after and presented us with an incredible gift. A picture of our precious snowflake. Our baby at just 5 days old, approximately 20-30 cells. The TV flashed on, a quick ultrasound of Jane’s uterus confirmed this was the perfect go time for the transfer. The screen flickered over to a live image of the laboratory in the adjacent room through the sliding doors. We were now seeing our embryo through a microscope in a petri dish. The details were confirmed, and the embryo was brought into the catheter. With quick movements by the medical staff, the transfer was complete in just a matter of seconds. Jane was now pregnant. Wow! Once the medical team left the room, they gave us time to just relax, and we had our first opportunity to pray over this amazing life.

We headed home shortly afterwards and turned the TV on at home for some comedy shows. Having read dozens and dozens of websites and recommendations, I had confirmed all the things to do, and not to do while in the days after a transfer. The freezer was stocked with the best of Trader Joe’s frozen meals, all of Jane’s favorite snacks bedside and days of comedy TV on Netflix ready to keep Jane as happy as possible!

The 9 day wait commenced. We tried not to think about it, we tried to focus on other things, yet it was impossible to ignore that a huge life changing moment was in the works, all inside of Jane – unbelievable! We waited, and waited. Dozens of people had been praying for us throughout the transfer, and while we waited we had the opportunity to read through all of their encouraging emails, text messages and Facebook posts. This was really happening.

After a few days of waiting, it started. Jane was eating like a horse. Waking up in the middle of the night, with a huge desire to eat. Eating three breakfasts. Eating more dinner than me. This along with numerous other signs was fueling our hope! It seemed as though Jane’s body was reacting to this embryo and displaying all the relevant signs.

Thursday, May 26th. Jane’s blood test – 8am. I had taken the day off work, it was going to be too much to try and work while knowing Jane was home waiting for the phone call. We had heard we would find out around lunchtime if the embryo transfer had worked. Lunchtime came and went. The afternoon dragged by. And at 3pm we decided to call them. The lady at the other end of the phone asked for our name, looked at her list, and with a sudden burst of joy, said “Oh yes! You will be getting a phone call very soon!” We both noticed the change in her voice when she found us on the list, and the hope grew even more.

A few minutes later, the phone rang. I turned the camera on to record. This was it.

“Is this Jane?”

“Yes!”

“I’m very sorry to let you know, the blood test showed you aren’t pregnant.”

What?! Are you serious? But this was it. All of Jane’s ultrasounds had been way beyond perfect. She’d meticulously taken her daily injections, tablets, patches. Everything had been done exactly right. She’d rested. Watched funny shows. Eaten pineapple core. Exercised lightly. She’d even been eating like crazy, and what about the lady on the phone who sounded so happy when she saw us on the call list? This doesn’t make any sense!

But it was the fact. “The blood test showed you aren’t pregnant.” We were shattered again. We finished the phone call, and broke down. We thought we’d hit our quota for failed attempts. We thought this was it. We were convinced. But no. We were as far along now as we had been on day 1.

Through the pain, we held onto this: God had given us this precious life to give it an opportunity to live, and we did wholeheartedly. Jane did it with every ounce of precision, beating her fear of needles even to self administer injections to prepare her uterus. This embryo was cared for, and given it’s best chance at life, but it wasn’t to be.

What an honour it had been. God’s best plan for this baby wasn’t for it to live 90 years, not even 10 years. God’s best plan was that this embryo had a chance to join our family, and oh, was it one of the most prayed for embryos ever. God’s best plan is not that we get our way, but that He who is seeing the bigger picture can layout each and every step according to His best purposes. And He did just that. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It certainly does. But it’s an incredible privilege to have been entrusted with the most valuable thing on earth – a human life in its earliest of stages.

While we were hurting, confused, disheartened and disappointed, we were inundated with love. Friends, family, flowers, chocolate, prayers and hugs. What made it all the harder was that we had to forgo visiting England for my family vacation because of the medical costs involved for what had just fallen apart, and the family vacation started the day after this heartbreak. I fell asleep that night with Jane saying to me, “Babes, you need to go to England, you can’t miss your family vacation.” Sometimes she comes up with crazy ideas. I would never leave her and told her not to think too much about that idea, I wasn’t letting her have a week off from me. 😉

I woke up the following morning to a text from my brother and family. They were buying us both tickets on that evening’s flight to London Heathrow. We were to join them on the family vacation! Oh my word. We were both amazed. The packing commenced, and off to the airport we went. And because God loves us, we were able to go in business class flat beds.

In the midst of the storms, in the midst of the heartbreak and craziness of life…it’s great to just stop. Get away. Sit and be peaceful. And that is what God amazingly allowed us to do this week. So here we are, sitting in the midst of the Lake Districts in northwestern England. There’s nothing but rocky outcropped mountains, rolling green hills and swallows darting between the slate walled cottages, and the orange sun setting on the water, glistening off the rowing boats rowlocks.

This part of our story was ending, but the next has already started. We’ll write again soon, but for this week we are living the real life Psalm 23:

“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.”

Arundel

From Dawn to Dusk

Friends, things are getting really real.

We are T-minus seven days before our little snowflake baby is transferred to my womb.

Did I actually just type that? It’s so surreal.

As I write this, I am looking out our bedroom window at the beams of light streaming in from the sunset in the west. I am reminded of God’s faithfulness throughout every day that the sun has risen and set on our marriage. (And all of time, for that matter).

Psalm 113 is so fitting:

Hallelujah!

You who serve God, praise God!

Just to speak his name is praise!

Just to remember God is a blessing—

now and tomorrow and always.

From east to west, from dawn to dusk,

keep lifting all your praises to God!

God is higher than anything and anyone,

outshining everything you can see in the skies.

Who can compare with God, our God,

so majestically enthroned,

Surveying his magnificent

heavens and earth?

He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,

rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash,

Seats them among the honored guests,

a place of honor among the brightest and best.

He gives childless couples a family,

gives them joy as the parents of children.

Hallelujah!

From east to west, from dawn to dusk, keep lifting all your praises to God! … He gives childless couples a family, gives them the joy as parents of children.

Oh, that we would continue to speak His name in praise.

Currently, I’m hopped up on hormones and drugs, doing everything I can to make sure my body is the most ready it can be to serve as a comfy home for our little snowflake.

We received word on March 24th that the little embryo was officially ours! On April 8th, I went in to the fertility clinic to see my doctor for a practice transfer and evaluation. This was when I was checked out to make sure that everything looked good and that the transfer will be possible. The doctor was encouraged and set everything in motion for the transfer. Four weeks and a bunch of medication later, Arundel and I are ready and waiting for this precious little snowflake to find its home.

We have the third and final ultrasound tomorrow morning, where they will confirm that everything is okay to continue on track for a transfer date of Tuesday, May 17th! Then, we will wait two weeks, then go in for a blood test and sit by our phone anxiously awaiting the results — whether or not I am pregnant.

So, one week from this very moment, our little embryo will be safe inside my womb, and we will be praying for its growth.

It’s a very exciting prospect. For years, Arundel and I had thought that I would never be pregnant due to infertility. It was one of the things that I really had to lay down on the altar before the Lord — to accept that I wouldn’t birth our children. And I did — God gave me the grace to embrace that fact and to enjoy the adoption process. I learned how to allow my broken heart to really heal, and not just callus over. To trust that our process would still be just as special, just as personal. To believe that God could grow our hearts to love the journey we have walked and not just endure it.

I learned all the things that I need for this current week. This week of preparing, in mind and body — this week of anticipation and excitement and joy. I have what I need to get through this week, and more importantly, the two weeks after it. I have the seed of what I will need for the rest of my life as a mother. I learned how to hold hopefulness and apprehension in both hands, and to give them both to the Lord. I learned how to receive heartache and blessing from the same faithful God. I learned how to fight — not only for the outcome we desire, but for the way in which we walk to that gift.

That’s the most crazy part of all of this…we don’t know what will happen next week. We don’t know if it will be the start of an amazing little life who will change us forever, or if it will be another stone of heartache in our path with God.

But we are confident in His faithfulness. We are filled with faith and assurance. We are speaking life over my womb and over our little one. We are believing for miracles and more miracles. We are choosing to step into that shaking place of trust where there is only one way to be: all in.

So, we are speaking truth over our lives and declaring the praises of our God.

The God who “picks up the poor from out of the dirt, rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash, seats them among the honored guests… gives childless couples a family, gives them joy as the parents of children.”

Will you believe with us?

Love,

Jane

A Snowflake Winter

Arundel and I wish that we could sit down face-to-face with each of you and share with you the story of what has been happening to us over the last few months. It is the kind of story that deserves time to mull over. The kind that makes you think, and that might change your definition of what is ‘possible’. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time, energy or proximity to be able to sit down with most of you lovely friends that have followed along this journey with us, so we’re going to do our best to explain it all here. And to keep it short enough to read in one sitting!

When we last wrote to you, we had just had our hearts let down again after walking away from a potential adoption situation empty-handed. It was mid-November. The days were getting darker, shorter and cooler — nature was going into hibernation to shield itself from the harsh winter elements. It would have been easy for us to do so, too. We didn’t feel ready to ‘get back in the saddle’ of pursuing adoption just yet. As we prayed about what we were to do, we knew that we needed to take a step back and re-evaluate what God had called us to, why, and where to go next.

The thing we kept coming back to in the search for God’s direction was the truth that we had done exactly what He had asked of us in the so-called ‘failed’ adoption plan with Lucy. And He knew what the outcome was going to be when He called us to it. Before we knew who Lucy was and the story of that baby, God knew that our hearts would be broken by her, and we would be sitting on the other side of that situation with empty hands, once again.

So why would He do that?

Because in His eyes, it was not a failure.

There was a need that He wanted us to meet – practically, emotionally, and physically. One of his daughters was alone and confused, and she needed us to walk with her through her pregnancy — to show her how to love her baby by doing so ourselves.

And that was the success story in our heartbreak. Lucy learned to love that baby, and so did we. There was purpose and there was gold to be found in that situation. It was not a mistake or a failure. It was a piece in this messy, complicated, drawn-out, beautiful puzzle.

Once we started to evaluate the last year or so of the adoption journey through that lens, it gave us hope that we could see what God had called us to walk through and why. That’s when we turned our hearts toward what He had next for us.

We want to share with you about something that you may not have heard of before, but that is growing in its’ impact daily as people like us discover that there is actually another way of doing things.

We are adopting an embryo.

Over the course of our adoption process, we have had several dearly close friends approach us, some who have never heard about embryo adoption but have had dreams about us adopting a baby when it is just a few cells big. Others had heard about it, and immediately thought of us. All along the way, Jane was thrilled with this idea. Arundel will gladly admit his apprehensions to this concept, his uneasiness with the idea, and his concerns about jumping into a form of adoption that is so new, where the long term emotional consequences are still yet to be discovered.

The process of embryo adoption came out of two deeply felt needs each becoming the solution to the other’s problem. On the one hand, you have couples like us — unable to get pregnant, but hypothetically able to carry a child to birth. On the other hand, there are couples who have done everything they possibly could to become pregnant, including In-Vitro Fertilization, and are now not able to carry their embryos to term.

During the process of In-Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, it is normal for the doctors to create more embryos than a woman might actually be able to give birth to. Whether it is for a medical reason, or a decision they make, many couples end up having remaining frozen embryos waiting for a chance at life even after the couple is finished having kids. Most of the time, couples are sadly only given the options to either discard the remaining embryos, donate them to science, or keep them frozen forever. In embryo adoption, however, they have another option — to donate them to a family, unable to conceive, but able to carry, who will adopt the embryos, carry them in pregnancy, and raise the children in a loving home. We soon saw what an amazing opportunity this was to be a part of bringing these “snowflake babies” to life.

As we prayed about this option and heard encouragement from many different sources, we knew we needed to look into it a little further. In November, Arundel whisked me away to Couer d’Alene, Idaho for my 25th birthday. Arundel was willing to read a book recently published about embryo adoption called Souls on Ice by Maria Lancaster, which was full of amazing testimonials about different families who had both donated and adopted embryos. As we read, asked questions, and did more research, we knew it wasn’t an accident that we were finally looking into this!

Amazingly, Maria’s church-based embryo adoption agency, the only one in the world, is just a few miles from our house! Having read the book, Arundel was convinced we needed to proceed (I had been for a long time!). Our parents also read the book, and having discussed it with friends and family, we all felt a huge resounding ‘YES!’ to this next step in our adoption process.

Just before Christmas, we applied to be accepted into the embryo adoption program. We sat down and shared our story with Maria, who answered our questions and gave us a better idea of what the process would be like. She needed to know who we were, where we were from, and what we like to do. She would take not only our hobbies and interests, but also our physical attributes, and match us up with a similar family who is donating embryos. That family would be people who she not only thought would be a good fit for us, but it would be people that she prayed over and believed God had chosen for us. She also shared her heart for why embryo adoption is such a precious gift. She herself had given birth to Washington State’s very first “snowflake baby” 12 years ago, and now here she was helping other families adopt embryos! It was a really exciting meeting, and we left feeling envisioned for all the possibilities that this process could bring.

In the new year, we met with a doctor at a reproductive specialist clinic and we knew we were in good hands. Dr. Klein is consistently voted by Seattle’s largest magazine on their Best Doctors List. The way she interacted, cared about the fine details of our story, and revisited all of our previous medical information showed us why! Our doctor told us about how each embryo is frozen when they are just a few cells. They are then kept in cryogenic storage until they are ready to be implanted. I, on the other hand, have to get my body ready to accept the embryo.

Between now and then, we were told …to wait. The waiting game was back.

This time there was no networking we could do, no marketing, or getting the word out everywhere and anywhere. We just had to trust God, and pray that a donating couple would also apply to transition their remaining embryos through Maria’s adoption agency.

Then last month, we got the phone call! Having waited just one month! Maria was on the phone, and with some very exciting news. A couple who successfully had been able to conceive one child through IVF, were no longer able to conceive the remaining embryo. And a chance of life was their utmost priority for this unborn baby. They contacted Maria around a similar time to us, she has blonde hair, he has brown hair, they have English heritage, are living in our area and want this embryo to have the best chance at life, and life to its fullest.

We are matched!

Paper work has ensued, but all in a very different way. Since embryos are not seen by the government as babies, the legal paperwork is simply a transfer of property. Similar to purchasing a car, or a house, but surprisingly less paperwork than either. On Friday of this past week, that paperwork was all completed and mailed in! Once we receive the finalized contracts back, hopefully in the coming week or two, the medical process begins!

So what does this mean now? Well, in a month or two depending on Jane’s cycle – this embryo will be implanted into Jane’s uterus, and we sit tight for around 2 weeks. Waiting again. This time to see, will the embryo properly implant itself? If you believe in the power of prayer, we will be needing you in those two weeks especially. This is the miracle that we need! The success rate is somewhere around 30%, but success rates mean little to God. We are believing that if this is His will, there’s a 100% success rate.

For now though, we are sitting tight, waiting for the returned contracts. From there, we can go to the doctors office again, and see… yes, see(!) the embryo at just a few cells big!

Many who we have shared this story with so far have had plenty of questions, we have tried to answer most of them in this blog so far. But please feel free to leave comments, and we will make sure to get back to you! We understand and appreciate medicine on the leading edge of reproduction can produce many emotions. We know – we’ve endured those same emotions as we battled through whether this was God wanting us to do this.

We want to be as transparent about this process and share openly with each and every one of you on this journey of a life. We look forward to introducing you to our snowflake baby!

Jane & Arundel

The Rollercoaster Ride

The last few weeks have been such a roller coaster. We had been able to witness the highest, most beautiful moments in the adoption journey thus far — feeling what we thought was our future son kicking, seeing him moving, and relishing in the beauty of what was happening in our hearts and that of Lucy (the birthmother we were matched with). Only days later, we were in the throws of a painful grieving process that we were not expecting to face.

Having Lucy change her mind about us parenting her baby was the moment I had always dreaded would come. It was not an expected outcome, but always a possibility in the back of my mind, having known how uncertain all projected outcomes are in adoption. And yet, we had given ourselves — fully, completely attached our breathless hope to this growing heartbeat. We had loved big, and there was no holding back our hearts towards that little one we were waiting for. Everything in our world was preparing for his arrival. For weeks I had been dreaming up idea after idea of what we could do in his nursery. What should his crib be like, and where would we put up pictures? Where would we hang the present that his birthmother had given us — a small blue cross? How long would he sleep in our room, and what and how would we feed him? The world of babies that I had always longed to be a part of — always looked at from the outside like a kid longing after that shiny red bike in the window — I was finally stepping into.

Until it hit us, and the wind dropped out of our sails fast enough for us to sink.

But we didn’t sink for long. We cried and cried out — we questioned and we mourned, but before we could allow ourselves to sink into pity and despair, our nearest and dearest friends and family were rallying around us. The days strung together at first — a constant stream of tears, heartache and prayer. Oh, how our friends can pray. And intercede, and encourage, and rebuild, and understand, and give hope. They came around us and they held us up when we wanted to crumble. And our sweet family did, too. Our parents grieved our loss with us and yet still pushed us towards Jesus. Our siblings reached out, prayed, and loved. It is always the times of trauma and crisis that we truly see how “a friend loves at all times”. We were overwhelmed with the amount of friends and family that loved us in our brokenness.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have worshipped and thanked God for His goodness to us. We do not understand it, and we cannot see the end, but we know that He is greater than our current troubles. We know that He is faithful, and that His promises to us are true. We related to Job, when he asked, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). We decided to remind ourselves of who He is and who He has created us to be. We chose to believe and speak out truth over our hearts — the truth that He has not changed, even though our circumstances have, the truth that He accomplished exactly what He set out to accomplish in that relationship with Lucy and that baby boy, and the truth that He has not forgotten us.

That brings us to last Saturday. Just 3 days ago, Arundel and I were at my parents house celebrating Thanksgiving with them, since we won’t be able to next Thursday. It was a happy day, cooking and enjoying our first holiday in their new home together. Mom and I buzzed around the kitchen, popping in and out of conversation, interjecting with questions of recipes and timers while current events and technology were what interested our husbands. We sat down at the table with Mom and Dad and some close friends, and we spoke of thankfulness, of gratefulness, and of a heart of gratitude in the midst of trial. We talked about being thankful for what God has brought us through up to this point, and how thankfulness releases hope in our hearts. As we smiled and ate and talked, we had no idea that somewhere 40 miles down the road, there was a little boy being born that very hour.

Arundel received a phone call from one of his students — they were checking in with him because they had heard of a baby who was just born an hour ago and the birth parents were looking for an adoptive family for him. A little boy was sitting in a hospital, waiting for his parents to realize he needed them. We were shocked to get such a phone call. You see, all along, we knew that this could happen. We knew that sometimes adoptions last for months on end of waiting, and sometimes they are sprung on you last minute. This was one of those last-minute scenarios. We were given the name of an attorney to call. We got in the car and headed towards church, where our service was about to start in an hour and a half. We spoke on the phone to the attorney and let her know that we were interested in being considered as a potential adoptive family for this baby boy. She was thrilled to hear from us, and she took down our information in a hurry. She was just about to leave to drive to the hospital where the baby was to meet the birth parents and start to make a plan. We were now a part of that meeting. She let us know that she would show our pictures and a little bit about ourselves to the birth parents, along with one other family, and they would be able to choose where the little boy was placed.

Our hearts were on a loop-the-loop once again. We immediately started buzzing, dreaming, thinking and praying for this little boy. For all we knew when we woke up this morning, it was just another day. And by the time we went to bed, we could have our son in our arms. Do you know how surreal that feels?! It was insane. We were both serving at church that night, myself running powerpoint and Arundel leading the service. We both had one thing on our minds, though, and it was that little baby waiting in that hospital room.

We hadn’t yet heard from the attorney by the time church was over, so we sent her a quick text asking for an update. She let us know that she figured it was a good idea if we headed down south to where the hospital was located — she wanted us to be close by if the birth parents chose us. We left church and immediately headed to the hospital, still in disbelief as to what was happening.

Sitting outside the maternity ward, we did the only thing we knew would keep our hearts from panicking. We prayed. Not because we thought it was the ‘right thing’, or because we were asking for God to make sure it all worked out for us — but because we have learned over the years of uncertainty and emotional toll that when we don’t know what to say, God still understands us. So we prayed for that baby in the hospital, and we prayed for our future child – not knowing if they would be one in the same. Eventually, after about an hour and a half of sitting there, we got a call. Arundel answered without haste to a hesitant voice on the end of the line.

The birth parents had decided to go with the other family.

And just like that, the hopes and dreams and desires for our children in us sunk back down to the pit of our stomachs. Even though we had only known of this baby for a few hours, nothing can hit you harder than hearing another door shut on your dreams. We gathered ourselves together and met with the attorney in person for a few minutes. She was very sweet and wanted to meet us in person to get more information from us in case she came across another adoption case that might suit our family.

We got back in our car and grabbed a bite to eat before heading back home, texting our family who had been praying for us for the last few hours.

It seemed so crazy to think that in that instant, our lives could have changed. And yet, that has become our normal. There have been so many instances — so many pregnancy tests and so many meetings, so many “almosts” when our lives could have been changed by God adding a child to our family.

But He hasn’t yet. He is still asking us to wait. Still urging us towards His gifts — the ones that are worth the struggle. He is still walking with us, and He has not forgotten. He has not overlooked us. He has not failed us. He is still good, still worthy, and still faithful. He has not changed. He continues to beckon us to His heart that is overflowing with love and comfort for our weary, tired souls. He continues to lavish His grace when we don’t understand, and His forgiveness when we don’t go His way. He will not leave us in this place. He will not deprive us of His blessings. He also will not let us settle for second best.

So, we continue to trust, and we continue to wait. And we continue to ask Him to reveal His plan to us.

Jane

Remember This Day

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

You haven’t heard from us in a while. Not for a lack of things happening, but more because we wanted to respect the privacy of someone who became very dear to us. We want to share that story now, because at no point have we wanted to walk this journey alone. Thanks for coming along with us.

It was a sunny August day and we were on our way to Chelan, WA with my brother, sister-in-law, nephews and niece all in tow. The adoption phone rang, and with haste we answered. On the other end of the line, was a teenage girl, let’s call her Lucy – she had found us online, and knew that we were the ones to raise the child growing inside of her! We were completely stunned. Just like that, everything was on – action stations, a baby is coming! Lucy was a Christian girl in a difficult situation, and had asked God what to do; God pointed her towards adoption. It was incredible! We pulled over on the winding mountain pass road, and shouted to my family in the neighbouring car, “We’re adopting in February!” Celebrations, tears and a party ensued. We couldn’t believe this was really happening!

A few days later, we had the pleasure of driving back over the pass to her hometown in northern Washington. We ended up getting to spend several hours with both Lucy, and the birth father/ex-boyfriend. We sat around the restaurant table, all four of us in tears at how God had brought us together. They, a couple who were unable to raise a child at this time, and we, a couple ready, but unable to conceive. We prayed with them, we thanked God for them unceasingly, and agreed to meet the following week.

A week later, we headed north once again, and had an amazing time with Lucy and her mom. Her mom was interested in who we were, what we believed and wanted to know that her daughters child would be in safe hands. We formed a good relationship with both of them, and were so excited to see what God was doing in this adoption story! God was truly rescuing a child from a broken situation, and promising us our first child.

A week later, we met Lucy at the hospital for a life-changing moment. The moment you get to hear your child’s heartbeat for the first time. It was strong and it was amazing! There really was a baby inside there, and it was a blessing to be with the doctor who was so supportive of the adoption, and Lucy who was so excited to have us in the room.

Another two weeks passed by and we again travelled to the hospital, this time for the ultrasound. The technician waved her wand of Lucy’s ever-growing bump, and we sat there in great anticipation with Lucy, and her mom, before we heard the news, “It looks like you’re having a baby… BOY!” We were jubilant, and so excited. Everything ‘boy’ started going through our heads, we picked up some baby boy clothes on the way home, and the planning began on the nursery. What would it look like? What would the colours be? What would the theme of it be? Let the planning commence…

That night, several friends came over for a gender reveal party. We were celebrating with friends and family both near and far. Our dream was finally coming true! The dream we had fought for several years since getting married. Here we were, celebrating God’s faithfulness to us through all of this.

We’ve built an incredible relationship with Lucy, to the point of being able to pray with her regularly, helping her enroll at college, going to all the midwife/OB appointments, and having the privilege of walking each and every step with her so closely. Our family also stepped in with us to be whatever help they could to Lucy. What a privilege. From the day we heard from her for the first time, we both knew that God wanted us to give fully to this. Reserving love was not an option in this process. If this baby were truly to be ours to raise, we would want to walk each step of the way as closely as possible. We were walking in faith with each step knowing that at any time the floor could be pulled from below us, with a simple change of her mind.

Last night was that moment.

It was a cold October night and we received a text from Lucy. At 11:30pm she had decided to move away and was keeping the baby.

And just like that, everything was lost. This boy that we had been praying for every day for the past 12 weeks was gone. It was an honour to hear the beat of his heart. It was a privilege to feel him kick. It was incredible to plan our nursery. And now we are devastated. Completely broken. All the questions that could go through your head, have been going through ours in the past 12 hours. What did we do wrong? What should we have done better? Why, God? First you tear our hearts apart with infertility, and now you tear us from the child we have grown to love.

We drove over to where she was staying, and sent her a text asking to see her, but she didn’t want to be confronted. We didn’t want to confront. We wanted to give her a hug, and say goodbye. She said that would be ok, so we went inside, and there was Lucy, in floods of tears. Jane sat down next to her, and gave her the biggest hug — how she held it together for those precious 10 minutes, I have no idea. We spoke truth over her, knowing that the situation she was walking into was not an easy one. We told her, “You are an amazing woman, you are brave, you are treasured, you are loved. Don’t let anyone tell you different. We respect you for making this hard decision and we love you. Stay safe, and look after this baby boy.” We prayed for her, and left the house.

Then we fell apart, the one thing we had been focusing our attention on and dreaming for, was gone, just like that. We drove home and stayed up late, crying and asking God, “WHY?” until around 3am. At 6am, the garbage truck came by as it does loudly every week, and I woke up instantly in floods of tears, thinking that there was a chance this was all a nightmare. At that moment, I realised just how real this was.

God has many of us in a waiting game, whether we are waiting to get married, waiting to buy a home, waiting to have kids, waiting to retire, perhaps even waiting for heaven. We can view the waiting time, like we view a waiting room at the DMV, or perhaps the Post Office. Or we can live life fully through the waiting time. It’s not an easy choice to make, especially the longer the waiting takes. But there is beauty in dancing our way through the line, no matter what it takes, or how long we are there for. Choose to dance through the wait.

Today has been incredible and is the very real proof of how being so involved in community and family is such a miracle. 20+ people have come through our home today with flowers, cards but most importantly hugs. Words don’t do a whole lot right now, but just being with friends and family has been incredible. We had a number of friends join us this evening for a time of worship. I felt compelled to invite whoever was free to join us, for a time of thanking God in the midst of this storm. It was such a powerful time, and one thing that stood out to me was God saying, “Remember this day.” Remember this day when you thought all was lost, when you thought all had fallen apart. Remember this day.

This is a process, and it’s only just begun. Right now we look like a whole lot of mess, and are struggling to see God in all of this. But we wanted to let you know what has happened, even though we don’t know why.

Please pray for strength and wisdom for us, and for safety over Lucy and this precious baby boy.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21.

Remember this day.

Arundel

The Roller Coasters of Disneyland

So many of our amazing friends and family have been asking us this question over the past few weeks and so we’ve put together our top 5 points on how you can help with this part of the adoption process!

1. Pray Hard!

First of all, and quite obviously – we are praying to find a birthmother who is seeking to place her baby for adoption. This is no easy task for any person to do, but there are many out there. We need prayer that God lines up our information right in front of them and that they get in contact!

We also need prayer for our hearts during this process. The highs and the lows are incredible and incredibly difficult. We didn’t expect this journey to be quick by any means, but in this short time already, we’ve literally been unaware of any possible babies one day, one paper away from being ‘picked’ by an expectant mother, and minutes away from getting a phone call telling us to pick up a an already born baby from the hospital. And here we are, with no leads and nothing in sight!

Imagine those roller coasters at Disneyland, that is what this is like! We are riding a wild train of becoming parents in 30 minutes, to possibly becoming parents in 7 months, to not becoming parents anytime soon, to getting a phone call about a possible situation… So on and so forth. Pray for peace in our hearts, and the ability to not only endure this waiting game, but see God in the midst of it – that’s a tough one!

2. Facebook Connects the World!

You might think your Facebook page is a great way to see what friends are up to, you might think of it as a fun way to play some online games and keep in touch with friends. These are all true – but your Facebook page is even stronger and more powerful than that! We have the ability, if everyone reading this blog post shares our Facebook page on their own page, to reach over 50,000 people within days! And that in turn can grow exponentially, and lead to contacts being made with a possible birthmother. Our social worker said Facebook is now the number one way prospective parents find a birthmother!

So will you consider posting our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/andrewandkimadopt to your Facebook page along with a note of support for us? You can make an incredible difference right there in just 30 seconds! No matter where you are in the world, your Facebook page connects the world, so your posting is so helpful! Thank you to the many of you who already have posted! If you are willing to post again, that would be incredible in our efforts.

3. Share The Leaflets!

We have distributed 1,000 leaflets to friends across the USA. If you haven’t received any, and would like some, or perhaps you need more, email us at arundelandjane@gmail.com. These leaflets are designed to be left at your doctors office, your dentists office or your favorite restaurant. It’s incredible how word gets around with these leaflets! We have heard of anti-abortion clinics receiving our postcards from people we have not even heard of! Who knows where they will end up, but maybe you’ll hand the postcard to someone who is the link with our future baby!

4. Listen And Talk!

Maybe you’re at the grocery store and someone across the aisle is talking about a friend who is unexpectedly pregnant and doesn’t want to keep the baby, or your hairdresser had a client earlier that day who heard about a woman wanting to get an abortion. Who knows the situation you might find yourself in, but keep your ears open, and keep telling friends you meet.

5. Consider Giving

Adoption in the USA can prove to be very costly. Currently we are in the advertising section of the adoption process which involves paying for profiles on websites that advertise us. But once we are matched with a baby, we will be dealing with the health costs, as well as lawyer fees which run into the tens of thousands. Many have asked how you can help with this, and we so appreciate that. If you are able to donate, there are currently two pages you can consider giving to:

Our YouCaring Page
Sponsor our 7 year old nephew here as he runs 10k to raise funds for his cousin!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read, now lets get into action mode and spread the word!

Much love,

Arundel

Jeopardy Theme Song

* I named this post Jeopardy Theme Song with the intent to translate for our loved ones across the pond. ☺️ In America, the ‘Jeopardy’ game show theme song equates socially to the ‘Countdown’ game show theme song.*

Well, here we are – we have been approved to adopt for 2 months, and we’re getting to the hard part now. The excitement of approval and the beginning of this process had our hearts on cloud nine for the first 8 weeks. We were frantically getting postcards printed, our website developed, and photo books made. We were looking at hundreds of photos of our lives…writing out our dreams, hopes, and desires…putting ourselves out there for the world to see, regardless of who might be looking.

Now that we have gotten past the initial burst of excitement, we are slowing down our adoption-frenzy and stepping into pace with the waiting game. Pacing ourselves is something that has been on my mind a lot recently. Because this is such a strange and undefined process, it’s hard to get a grasp of what stage we are in. Are we still at the beginning? Are we halfway through waiting? Or will we get a call tomorrow telling us a child has been born and we are to be the parents?

All we know is that right now, God is in the business of preparing. Preparing us, our hearts, and our babies. Preparing birth parents out there who are looking for an answer. Preparing family and friends to support them in their decision. Preparing family and friends to support us in our growth. Preparing doctors and nurses and midwives who will navigate the beautiful gift of life being shared. Preparing my mind to stay the course – to tarry my longing – to wait with hope.

We have had one or two connections here and there, and have spoken to one potential birth mother, but nothing came from it. We have been so encouraged, however, by all the messages we are getting from all around the country of people who are sharing our story with their friends, family, and acquaintances. It has been so humbling and amazing to feel the love and support from so many!

Our pastor encouraged us in his sermon on Saturday evening to remember that God promises to be with us as we walk through the valley. That means that there is an end to it, another side, a new mountain top peak.

Right now, the waiting is a beautiful valley where we learn (for what feels like the 10th time) that God’s timing is perfect, and He is faithful to carry us through this.

And there will be a mountain peak on the other side.

Jane