Pregnant

As I sit here, Puget Sound Energy is jackhammering and drilling through concrete about 20 feet from my couch. It is loud, incessant, and intrusive. I can’t talk to Arundel who is 2 feet away from me because of the noise. It is drowning out every other movement or whisper in our home. It is making it difficult to even think.

Welcome to my life for the last couple of weeks. No, not the drilling and loud noises, (those only came today, thankfully) but the all-consuming intenseness that comes with waiting. It is a constant thought in the back of my mind, day in, and day out. When I wake up, when I go to sleep — whether I am driving, or talking, or singing karaoke to my dogs (come on, I know you do that, too…) — it is there. It is that little thought that is always on my mind…

It could be now.

Or, now.

Or…

See, that’s the thing about waiting for your child via adoption. You have no timetable of what to expect. A lot of people refer to this waiting period as being ‘paper pregnant’. I love this term because it speaks to the expectation of pregnancy in our hearts — even though all we have to show for that pregnancy is a big stack of forms and checks. However, when a woman is pregnant, there is a very definitive beginning and end. Whether she knows early on, or a few months in, as soon as she sees a doctor, he will give her that blessed due date. And suddenly, everything in her life is focused on that date. That week. That month. It becomes a deadline — not only for her aching body to know that there will be an end to the uneasy load, but also for her mind to set herself goals and prepare for the baby, and for her heart — to grow in expectation, love, and dreams for her new child.

We are definitely doing all of that. We may not be physically pregnant right now, but our hearts are so expectant. Every baby I see jolts my imagination and sends my mind into the thoughts of possibility. Will he/she look like that? Will they be tall or short? Loud or quiet? Shy or outgoing? Will they enjoy music like Arundel? Or enjoy creativity like me? Will they know us from the time we hold them? Will we know they are ours once we find them? Will they be glad to be in our family? Will they love us? Will they have a hard time with their story?

These are the real, raw thoughts I’m having. And, yes, I know the answers, in theory. I know that God is in control and is placing the perfect children into our family, just like he does with any family. It is He who chooses, He who orchestrates, He who blesses us. And I have confidence that He will show us the right way. But, that doesn’t chase my curiosity away.

And, I’m glad. I’m glad that my heart can’t get away from the tugging, from the heaviness, and from the constant expectancy. I’m glad that even though my stomach isn’t bulging from growing life inside of me…my heart is.

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Impossible Situations Are God’s Favourite

In talking with friends and family, I’ve explained that this whole adoption process feels just like starting a new business. Having started a business, and having seen all the work, printing, advertising, long nights and conversation that goes with it — it seems to bear so many similarities. Except this is so much more valuable. A business brings in an income. An adoption brings indescribable joy.

We are in the midst of it — this process has kicked off so quickly, and moved so fast. As our adoption attorney described to us when we first sat down with him, this is the part that was guaranteed to go quick. It’s one of the benefits of an independent adoption. There’s no waiting time, no long list that you join. You can be approved quickly, and boy was it quicker than we thought! We are so glad, overwhelmed, excited, terrified and happy to be in this process of networking and advertising. We’ve been ordering postcards to distribute to everyone and anyone we meet, as well as to give to friends and family to do to the same. We’ve been compiling our book to give to expectant mothers, we’ve been writing our ‘Dear Expectant Mother’ letter, and we have commenced fundraising.

In many ways, starting the business was so much easier; the emotional pull of the adoption process can be exhausting. We visited the family lake house this past weekend, and approached the weekend absolutely exhausted, not because of any late nights, or overworking, but because of an emotional exhaustion. It’s no easy process being so readily exposed to the ups and downs of every twist and turn in the journey, but God has given us the strength to battle through it and to stand strong in every step. Just as Moses had his arms supported during battle (Exodus 17), we feel so supported and encouraged by those around us, they are raising our arms and claiming victory for us in this story.

We are in the time of hoping and searching. — Now that the majority of our networking is in place, we will begin more of the advertising side of our search. We will be looking to place adverts in newspapers, online and in other places that we discover along the way. But now that the word is out and our home study is signed, the hoping and searching begins. This has to be one of the hardest parts of the entire process, but perhaps I’ll look back on it after all is said and done and realise it wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed. Possible leads have come in and our heart races momentarily, but guarding our heart from going too far down each road is essential.

We are in a season of stepping out of what is comfortable. We’ve travelled the world, lived in war torn countries, been in some very difficult situations and dealt with infertility… but this right here, this season of waiting, hoping, believing that God is bringing our children to us is so uncomfortable. While we know that God has is it all together, it’s hard to see sometimes. Unbelief and questioning whether what we are doing is right, is almost a daily occurrence. But we have to hold onto what God has done so far, and what God has said for what is coming. I’m sure I’ll look back on this post and chuckle to myself once all is said and done, but for now, for this moment in time, holding our child in my arms seems like a near impossibility. It’s a good thing, though, that impossible situations are God’s favourite.

We are in a process of taking what we’ve been told to do, and doing it. We’ve been told all the theories. We’ve been told that if you do this (x) and you do this (y) then you’ll be able to adopt a child (z). We’ve been told to purchase a phone. We’ve been told to print postcards. We’ve been told to create a website and Facebook page. We’ve been told to print the expectant mother books and so much more. The theories are all being checked, we’re working our way down the list of x’s and y’s. And now we stand in faith. Not because we have fulfilled the formula of lawyers and social workers, not because of our story nor our kids bedroom ready to be filled. But because God has promised us children to love, cherish and nurture. We believe that God is bringing us His promise, and as chaotic as the journey can be, we’re willing to walk each step.

Join us in our first fundraiser and awareness campaign! Jane has worked so hard in designing a clothing line with TeeSpring to help with this journey. Visit www.teespring.com/stores/familygrowsinmanyways. We need to reach a minimum on each item to ensure it gets printed, but help us reach our target! And they even deliver worldwide! 

Arundel

Update: Where We Are In The Process

Wow, what a week it has been! We had the pleasure of having Arundel’s Dad staying with us for a little while and we got to go out exploring around Seattle. We found some amazing places with great significance on our travels!

The biggest piece of news this week didn’t come from being tourists in our own town, or even from Arundel’s birthday on May 12th. It was the fact that exactly 40 days from the first day we met with our attorney, we got the official notice from our social worker letting us know that we have been approved as potential adoptive parents!

We knew that we were almost through the home study process, but we were still waiting for one or two more pieces to come in. Amazingly, on May 11th, the last couple things the social worker needed came in to her, and on the 12th we got confirmation that our home study has been legally approved and we have officially passed the test! Woohoo! That was a huge sigh of relief. There wasn’t a lot that we were worried about with the home study, but we were a bit nervous knowing how easy it is for a lot of components to go wrong. Amazingly, God gave us a very smooth process and in just 40 days, we are on our way to becoming parents having passed the first hurdle!

So, what’s next?

Let me explain a little bit about how we proceed from here. Arundel and I are pursuing what is called an independent domestic infant adoption. This means that we are looking to adopt an infant within the United States, by working with an independent adoption attorney rather than signing up with an agency. The difference between independent vs. agency adoption really boils down to who’s responsibility a lot of the legwork is. When you are working with an agency, they do most of the work that is needed to find expectant birth parents (those who would like to place their child for adoption). In independent adoption, however, that responsibility is left up to us. This means that we will be trying to find those expectant parents on our own. Going this route gives us a lot more work to do, but also a lot more control and flexibility.

In the State of Washington, where we live, it is illegal to advertise that you are looking for an expectant mother who is wanting to place her child for adoption until you have been legally approved through a home study process.

Now that we have been approved, we are able to start networking and advertising. This means that we are going to be reaching out to pretty much everyone we know. Our goal is to get the word out that we are looking for an expectant mother and would like to adopt a child. The way adopting couples usually get matched with an expectant mother is by knowing someone in common. This is why our friends and family play such a huge role in this process! They are the ones who we are relying on to have us on their mind whenever they hear of adoption, in any way. It could be a friend’s grandmother’s neighbor’s hairdresser’s daughter, for all we know. The important part is that our friends and family are willing to get the word out for us! That could be via social media, word of mouth, or handing them a pass-along card (kind of like a business card).

The other thing we will do is start advertising. This will be online, through parent profile websites that show the profiles of many hopeful adoptive parents, and through regional creative advertising. Many people start with a newspaper’s classified section. We will be looking at advertising more closely in the coming weeks, but for now our focus is on networking.

We have even bought a phone that will be solely devoted to taking adoption-related phone calls! This is so that if I am busy, I will be able to clearly distinguish between a phone call that can wait and one that could potentially be an expectant mother. Those calls cannot wait! It is certainly not the latest technology, but it does what we need it to do. And, it makes me feel like I’m in high school again. Haha!

This bad boy is going to be my best friend for a while. We are permanently attached. It's a good thing it has a long battery life!

This bad boy is going to be my best friend for a while. We are permanently attached. It’s a good thing it has a long battery life!

Once we are in communication with an expectant mother who would like for us to be the adoptive parents for her child, we will direct her to our attorney who will then assess her situation to see if it is a good match for our family.

It is still a big road ahead with a lot of unknowns, but we are happy and thankful that each step so far has gone smoothly and quickly. We are praying that in all of these late nights as we build websites and Facebook pages and email addresses, clicking away at our computers, that God would be aligning us for His best plan for this season. Whether we have a long waiting period ahead of us, or whether we will be parents next week — it’s not for us to know. Our job is to trust and pray and do everything we can on a practical level. And, to remember that God is the one who has walked us through every step,to this very point in our lives and in this process.

And He is faithful, trustworthy, and GOOD.

Jane

What’s A Tree Got To Do With This?

Yesterday as we ventured out to the islands in the Puget Sound with my Dad, we didn’t have too many plans except to visit a new place. We arrived in Kingston, WA and went for a coffee in the quaint local cafe. I struck up a conversation with the barista and asked where the best places were to visit on the island. She recommended Hood Canal, Port Gamble and not much else! So after a short walk around the town with coffee in hand, we headed for Hood Canal via Port Gamble.

As we pulled into Port Gamble, it appeared to be a quiet village that used to be a major mover in the logging industry. Now though, they rely mostly on tourism traveling through the area to generate revenue. We walked down the village road via a line of old houses, each with their own story and came across the village museum. We wandered the gardens reading the various boards explaining what used to take place when the logging industry was thriving on the island. I noticed a tree over to one corner of the garden with its own plaque. We headed over to it and found that it was a Camperdown Elm. Yeah – it didn’t mean much to me either. It was a striking tree though, so we took some photos of it, read the plaque about how it was the State Champion Camperdown Elm and moved on.

Today, I saw on Jane’s Facebook that she had posted the following to her timeline…

Pic copy

I suddenly realised this tree had much more meaning behind it than just being the crazy tree I had seen the day before. I find trees to be incredibly meaningful. On my training to climb Mt. Rainier, I often come across young trees that have grown around older trees using them for support. It amazes me! I love how God can speak so clearly through his creation.

So what about this Camperdown Elm? As I googled for more information on what this tree was, and how it originated, I was left stunned.

1. The Camperdown Elm is not able to reproduce from seed. Sound familiar? We are in this incredible process of adoption for the very same reason.

2. By grafting, this tree is able to grow. Unless we have a miraculous healing at some point down the road, grafting is the way God has chosen for our family to grow.

3. It is a complex, almost messy-looking tree. This process seems to be crazy, our family might even look like a crazy mix when God has His way, but wow – just look at it!

4. It is an incredibly strong tree. Mark my words, our family is going to be one strong family – just like the Camperdown Elm with its intertwined and supported branches. The process God has had us on the past few years has already strengthened us more than we could imagine.

5. It looks different from most trees, but it is beautiful. Right now, we don’t know what our family will look like, ethnically, or anything for that matter – but our family will be beautiful!

6. The Camperdown Elm provides shade and protection. Being that it is a weeping willow, it provides immense shade from the sun, protection from the wind and safety to all those under its branches.

7. Get ready for this one… The Camperdown Elm is indigenous to the British Isles and North America only. Need I say any more?

8. The final amazing element won’t be revealed yet. It’s tied to the name we have for either our baby boy or girl. But for now let’s just say it left us both stunned!

Dad took a picture of us under the Camperdown Elm, what a special place it now is!

Dad took a picture of us under the Camperdown Elm, what a special place it now is!

It didn’t take long for Jane and I to decide this tree — this obscure tree in the corner of a village museum, in a place we just happened to be passing through on our island trip yesterday — is key to our adoption. We are excited to say that we have decided on this tree to be a key symbol for our adoption process. You’ll be seeing it popping up everywhere! And when you see it, now you’ll know why. The Camperdown Elm is just another huge confirmation from God that He has got this.

 

Arundel

Happy Hearts

10:30 am. The house is sparkling clean.  The candles are lit. The dogs are groomed. The croissants just came out of the oven. The coffee is made. The rhododendrons have bloomed. The sun is shining.

Yeah, it's pretty obvious how hard we were trying. ;)

Yeah, it’s pretty obvious how hard we were trying. And she loved it! 😉

All groomed and clean!

All groomed and clean!

And I was a nervous, giggly mess. “Are you excited?!” “Are you nervous?!” “Are you ready?!” I couldn’t stop asking Arundel questions as our social worker parked outside our house. He was as steady as a rock.

Every ounce of energy we had over the last week had been preparing for this moment. We had done all we could to make our house and ourselves ready. We had amazing friends who came over and helped us landscape and cleaned with me. (Seriously, who does that?! Our friends. That’s who.)

Our amazing friends dug up LITERALLY a truck load full of plants from their garden and spent 3 hours on Tuesday morning planting them in ours. Another sweet friend came and cleaned every floor in our house. Thank you to those that are keeping us sane!

Our amazing friends dug up LITERALLY a truck load full of plants from their garden and spent 3 hours on Tuesday morning planting them in ours. Another sweet friend came and cleaned every floor in our house. Thank you to those that are keeping us sane!

And, as we stood there, jittery and jumping with nerves, we looked at each other and said, “This is it.”

It was the first time we had met our sweet social worker, Amanda, face to face. She was just as we had expected. She came into our home with the biggest smile, loved on our pups, and encouraged us — You’re doing great. You’re going to make it. You’re going to be parents.

Okay, well, maybe she didn’t say it in those exact words, but that’s what exuded from her as we sat at our dining table and shared with her about our lives, our families, our hopes, and our dreams. She had already read 22,000 words about us, so she had a pretty firm grip on what our backgrounds were and what our thoughts are on adoption. Still, she listened, she asked questions, and she connected with us. I don’t know why I had this expectation that it was going to be a very clinical, scary meeting. After all, she is here to help us find our babies. The ones we will love and treasure more than we can imagine right now. The ones we have been fighting for, praying for, and dreaming of. How could that be clinical?

She connected with us so easily in part because she shared our faith. She loves God. And we had no idea about that when we chose her. But, of course, He did. At the end of our meeting with her, she let us know that she didn’t see any need for additional interviews, and that as soon as our medical report and the last of our references come in, our home study will be APPROVED!

Seriously, you guys! Just like that!

Anyway, it’s late, and we haven’t had much sleep the last few days, so I’m going to keep this short:

Our hearts are happy. We have seen God’s hand in this process time and time again, and His leading us to Amanda was no different. She is perfect for us, and we are just thrilled to be moving forward so quickly.

These words, which carry so much meaning to us right now, are hanging on the wall in our kids' room!

These words, which carry so much meaning to us right now, are hanging on the wall in our kids’ room!

We will share more soon about what our next steps are, and what the process is for finding a birthmother from here on out.

Thank you to each one of you that has been praying for us, standing with us, and encouraging us throughout this entire process. We let Amanda know that we have lots of amazing people supporting us through this adoption, and how valuable that is to us. She agrees. 🙂

Jane

T-Minus 6 Days!

We spent many hours praying and talking together after our meeting with Alfred, the adoption attorney. We spent time reviewing the research that we had gone through, ensuring that our process had been thorough and that our decision was what God wanted for us.

We believed God was saying yes to Alfred. We called his office and let his assistant know that we would be proceeding with our adoption process with Alfred as our attorney.

The adventure had officially begun!

We were given the name of three independent social workers in the Seattle area and called each of them. The first lady we spoke with came across in her conversation with Jane as quite cold, she didn’t seem too excited about the prospect of working with us, and we didn’t feel too peaceful about it either. We called the second social worker and what a difference! Such a lovely sounding lady, who was extremely thorough in what she covered with us – we felt like she would be a good fit for us! Onto the third social worker, and that was quite interesting! Her email address sounded like a 13 year old’s… Interesting choice!

We prayed about the three options, and with very little to go by other than the three short phone calls and the paper work they had all emailed through to us, we chose number two! We had tried to find more information about them personally online, but couldn’t see anything. But we felt peaceful with our choice. She was by far the most in-depth and detailed with the forms we had to fill in, and while that was a little frightening, we loved it!

We called our social worker back — let’s call her Amanda. She was delighted that we were choosing to work with her, and she encouraged us on our way to fill in the paperwork! The forms were numerous. Five references for friends and family, and a reference for each of us to be completed by a colleague. A financial form detailing almost as much information as needed for our mortgage. A medical examination form to be completed by our doctor. Confidential disclosure forms as well as multiple background checks for FBI, State Patrol and DSHS. An application form, and the questionnaire… Oh the questionnaire!

The first miracle in our journey with Amanda was her discovering that the lengthy international background check for me, being a UK citizen, would not be necessary. The UK doesn’t have an exact background check for the specific type of information needed, so the additional two-month wait we thought we would have to endure was instantly cleared!

Amanda encouraged us to get on with our background check paperwork, which included our FBI Fingerprints. So, off we went to our scheduled fingerprint examination. Our first expense towards our adoption and we loved every minute of it!

From there, we distributed our references and began working on our paperwork. It’s a good thing we’re excited about this, because we sure were motivated to work on all the forms.

Then came the questionnaire! The word count just for the questions totaled 2,500 words! That was just the questions. And next to each question it said, ‘please be thorough in your response and leave no time unaccounted for’. Jane and I took it in turns writing our entire life story from birth to present, best and worst moments, questions on our relationship, on how we view children, methods of discipline, wills, interracial adoption and so much more.

On the morning of Thursday, April 23rd, I called Amanda to ask a few questions and let her know that we would be submitting our paper work that night. Jane was out at the time dropping her parents at the airport. Amanda dropped the bomb shell on me with Jane not even home. ‘So, shall we just book your home visit in now then? Would this time next week work?’ What?! Is this a test? If I say no, will she think we’re hiding something and need to time to work on our coverup plan? That’s April 30th. The following day, Jane is leading a women’s retreat and Arundel’s Dad arrives from England. Practically speaking, Amanda, that day would be a bit of a nightmare. So I said, ‘Yes!’

Oh my goodness… The countdown clock was ticking. T-Minus 7 days until the home study visit, where Amanda will walk through every part of our home, analysing it for any possible problems that could hinder us from safely having a child in our care. She’ll drill us with questions for 3 hours, together and separately. And in that short amount of time, she will come to the decision with the authority of Washington State to approve or deny us as potential adoptive parents. Yes, that’s all happening next week… God help us.

After hours and hours of writing during the rest of that cloudy Seattle Thursday, we reached page 30 and 22,600 words of our questionnaire! Our fingers were numb. That night, we collated all of our completed documents and emailed them to Amanda. Our first round of paperwork — complete! Amanda emailed back this morning and thanked us for our very thorough responses. In fact her words were, ‘Thank you for being so thorough! I am very struck by your commitment to this process.’ Exciting!

So here we are, sitting in our home, which in the past 30 hours has undergone somewhat of a minor renovation already. A new coffee table, a potted yucca plant, a new kitchen rug, a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, shelves for the garage, a secure box for medicine, artwork for the guest room, a chair for the baby room, office chairs, and a couple of new candles to top it all off. Even the doggies are booked in for grooming the day before she comes! Perhaps we’re a little excessive. But hey, we have a home study, my Dad visiting and the biggest party we have ever hosted all in four days! Why wait any longer?

Annabelle thinks the new coffee table is a great addition!

Annabelle thinks the new coffee table is a great addition!

The to-do list is endless between now and Thursday at 10.30am. From weeding to touch up paint, hanging artwork to testing smoke alarms, printing pictures to mowing the lawns.

But God. He’s in every step of this process, and while we sit by the roaring fire on this cold night, we’re reminded that God has all of this under control. While he laughs at our small efforts to impress during the home study, he already knows where our baby is and he’s ready to call them home.

Arundel

Google Doesn’t Have All The Answers.

In this day and age, Google answers all. At least, that’s how us twenty-somethings generally think.

Once Arundel and I were on the same page in terms of wanting to pursue more information about the possibility of adoption, I went to work researching all of our options. Initially, we found an agency that was started by a church in our area. They had a great story behind how they got started — God really made a way for them. They also had an amazing heart for what God wants in the adoption process.  I got in touch with them and we signed up to go to their next orientation meeting.

It was a cold December Saturday morning and it was the first time Arundel and I had heard anyone talk about adoption that actually works in the field. It was eye-opening and heart-wrenching, for sure. As we sat there and listened to these people filled with the Father’s heart for His orphans, our hearts also stirred within us and we were feeling more and more confirmation in our spirits that Jesus was directing us towards adoption. We were passionate about this agency, and could really see ourselves working with them. However, when we spoke to them about what ages of children they generally place into adoptive families, they told us that they were only placing 5 years old and up. It would be 6 months to a year before they would work with any younger children.

And I tried to convince myself that we could handle a 5 year old. That we shouldn’t be “selfish” and want a younger child. That in order to really be doing God’s work, it had to break you (as I knew adopting a 5 year old would, at this point in life).

We went home that day and were full of mixed emotions. I was so excited that we were actually moving forward – actually talking to an agency and starting to look towards the future instead of just staying stuck in our present lack. I could also almost hear my sweet husband’s mind working on over-drive trying to process all the information we had just received, and I knew that I needed to give him space. I decided that I would wait a little while before I asked him what he thought about it. Unfortunately, 5 minutes into being home again and it had felt as if a week had gone by. “So, what do you think?” My eyes were obviously hopeful and my tone prying. You would think that after waiting 3 years, I would have gotten that whole patience thing nailed by now.

Nope.

Arundel graciously explained that he needed some time to think, and understood my excitement and curiosity. I kept my thoughts reserved for the rest of the day to try to allow him some mental space. We talked through things the next day, and Arundel said what I knew all along was true — that we both knew that God was telling us that He had a younger child for us. That adopting a 5 year old isn’t right for us right now.

This is the part where God reminded me (yet again) of how good He really is. Remember how I said that it was feeling as though in order to really be doing God’s work, it had to break you?

Well, God did break me.

He broke that wrong thinking off of me. He broke my skewed way of seeing things, and He reinforced His goodness in me. He reminded me that He isn’t walking us through this trial just to watch us suffer. He isn’t looking for a martyr. No matter what we go through, none of it ever even begins to compare to what He has already done for us. He reminded me that I need to trust Him — not just to get us through barely alive, but to bring us into His promised land.

Somehow, I had it in my mind that wanting to adopt an infant is not as worthy or as valuable as adopting an older child. I was believing that in order to fully represent Jesus to our future children, we had to put aside our dreams and just accept what was in front of us. But, God reminded me: HE put those dreams in us. And to put aside those dreams would be to put aside His promise over us.

Needless to say, a huge weight lifted off of me the moment I really took to heart what God was trying to show me — that we don’t have to settle.

Arundel and I agreed that we really loved the agency we had met with, so we should wait for their infant placement program to begin in 6-12 months.

It wasn’t until almost 3 months later that we heard from them again. We reached out to them to ask what we could be doing in the mean time to get ahead of the game. Our sweet contact at that agency replied and sadly let us know that it would realistically be longer than 12 months before they could start their infant placement program.

We were disappointed, but thankful that we were able to find out then, and not 9 months later. We decided to begin looking into other agencies and options.

So, back to Google I went. I searched page after page of adoption-related resources, and sifted through what felt like classified ads for sweet little souls across the country. We looked deeper into a few more agencies in our area, but none were right for us. Either their values didn’t line up with ours, or they weren’t accepting new families, or they simply never responded to us. Either way, we got no where.

Twenty-somethings, I have news for you:

Google doesn’t have all the answers.

And, Mama still knows best.

A couple of weeks prior, I had sat there telling my Mom about all the different agencies we were sifting through and how none of them seemed to be right. That’s when she told me, “you need to speak with our friends who have adopted before — I think you’ll like the way they did it.”

She was referring to some dear family friends who have two beautiful children that God brought to them through adoption. We reached out to them and asked for their recommendation. They immediately told us about the adoption attorney they used and how amazing he was. Isn’t it crazy how we can search for weeks and weeks on our own, and nothing will come from it? But, when we reach out and accept help from those in the community God has placed us in, He connects us right where we are supposed to be?

The following week, we had our first appointment with the attorney.

We showed up to his swanky office in a big skyscraper in Downtown. We took the elevator up to the 11th floor, realized it was the wrong floor, went back down to the lobby, then back up to the 15th floor – and waited in his lobby for what seemed like an eternity (it was probably 10 minutes). While we were waiting, we sneaked a couple of selfies in (Exhibit A – we are trying to document the whole process!), giggled about our awkwardness, and admired the art on the wall. When the attorney walked by us on the way to his office before our appointment, Arundel recognized him. He told me later that he took one look at the attorney’s wrinkle-lined face and thought, “I hope he isn’t jaded, passionless, or tired of this job. I hope he still enjoys this just as much as when he started.”

Exhibit A - These moments are worth documenting, right?

Exhibit A – These moments are worth documenting, right?

Boy, does he. Our attorney – we’ll call him Alfred – was exuberant, dedicated, and authentic. He gave us time to ask him all our questions, to hear as much knowledge from him as we could, and he really cared about where we were at in the process. He laid out the timeline of things. He showed us how it would work if we went with an agency, or if we went independently — and he did it without bias. He told us how difficult it would be, but also how rewarding it always is. He shared with us stories about families he has worked with in the past and what their experiences were like. He told us about his own family, and how much he loves his kids and grandkids.

Exhibit B - from where we sat.

Exhibit B – from where we sat.

We walked away from that meeting and I was sure of it in my heart…

We would pursue an Independent Domestic Adoption.

Jane

Third Place

The best scenario per my ‘life plan’ was that we would have biological children – our own “mini-me’s”. Adoption was a definite second place option in my mind, reserved for those unable to have children and/or those who had an inordinate amount of love for orphans. So, when the doctor flippantly revealed our results and told us the only options were a sperm donor or adoption, I had deep issues with both.

While Jane was relatively quick to come around to the idea of adoption, it definitely took me a much longer time to process that possibility. My parents had fostered dozens of children through my teen years, and to be brutally honest, my love for those in the social service system was not overflowing. I’d had the opportunity to live with a variety of very interesting kids with some serious issues and I clearly had a wall up to the possibility of adopting a foster child, or taking on a child that was the result of an unwanted pregnancy.

Yes, I realise how bad that sounds, but it’s the truth, and I want you to see where I was, so you can see where I have come to. Not so you can give me a virtual pat on the back and say “well done!” But so that anyone who is in our situation and thinks that adoption is an absolute no-go zone might consider otherwise.

I battled with the idea of adoption the first few weeks after the doctor’s meeting. In my head, he was giving us his second and third best options. Finding a sperm donor was second best, and if not that, then adoption. I won’t go into it now, but the sperm donor wasn’t even an option in our eyes, so that left us with just number three. God had chosen us for third place. Or had he?

You see, what God began to unveil to me over those crucial weeks was more of His heart for us. Each and every Christian has been adopted — adopted into God’s family. Our birth parents could not offer what He has to offer, and so He adopted us. He rescued us. He saved us. Adoption is built into the very central core of God and who He is. I love the way that our pastor phrased it,

“As a father of five biological children, I have seen God’s father heart as I have walked through being a father to each of them, just like how God fathers us. I have learned more and more about God’s father heart in each step. BUT, to have the opportunity to adopt a child into your family. That is not just like how God fathers us, that is how God fathers us. What better way to witness God’s love for us, and witness the pride and jealous heart He has for us, than to have adopted a child just as God has adopted us.”

Through countless conversations with both those who have adopted, those who we are close with us, and through prayer, God began to slowly break down my self-built wall, and adoption began to become a possibility in my heart. Was God giving us third place, or perhaps first?

Psalm 82:3 says that we are to “defend the cause of the weak and fatherless”. After hearing story after story of how countless women in our region end up contemplating an abortion after conceiving a child of which they don’t know who the father might be, it struck me. Is third place becoming a father to one of these children? Is third place fulfilling God’s mandate to defend the fatherless? Is third place standing in the gap and saying to a fatherless newborn, “I love you, my child.”?

Now hear me out, I am in no way belittling the God given gift of having biological children — and trust me, it is a gift. What I am saying, is that this is what God has challenged me with over the past few months in the lead up to our decision to adopt. Why does our culture view adoption of children, of pets, of orphans in Africa as an “awww that is SO good of you!”?

Having been given the opportunity to step into the exorbitant blessing of possibly adopting, I have come to realise I am not settling for third place. I am choosing God’s first place plan for our life. Switching my mindset from “I’m infertile, so we’re adopting” to “God’s miraculous plan for us is adoption” took many months, but I’m there. It was a journey of deep conversations, much prayer, and overwhelmingly powerful story after story of God’s heart for adoption.

Adoption wasn’t in my life plan, it wasn’t part of my perfect life situation. But when I am handed our son or daughter, and I get to look at my Jane in the eyes, no doubt with tears streaming down my face – I will definitely be in first place.

Arundel

Turning Towards Adoption

In this life, we don’t choose our struggles. During the first 3 years of infertility that we encountered, there were times when I would feel the hopelessness weighing down on me. And, honestly, I would sometimes find my heart asking that little 3-letter word that seemed so forbidden.

“Why?”

Why us? And why now? And why does it have to take so long? Why, God? Why the pain and why the heartache?

Jesus promised us, “In this world, you will have trouble.” As Christians, it is easy for us to decide in our hearts the type of trouble we are ready to come up against. During those times when the battle between my ‘why’ and my faith raged within me, I often wondered why we had to be living this trouble. Why couldn’t we have had another? Why did it have to be the very thing that we had been waiting for, praying for, dreaming of for years? Why did God choose for us to walk through this trouble when it seemed as though He had given us everything we needed to be parents….except for children?

I truly believe that there will be a day when I hold our sweet baby in my arms, gaze at their beautiful face, and I will be able to say, “this was why.”

Because God’s story is so much better than ours. His story is more adventurous, more passionate, more thrilling. It is deeper, truer and richer than what we could ever come up with.

And His story is always about redemption.

In order for there to be redemption, there must be heartache. There must be a tearing, a loss, a death. There must be separation and pain. When you are living through that pain, it feels like a nightmare. But, amazingly, the very nature of who God is doesn’t leave us in that nightmare.

You see, the difference between a nightmare and redemption is hope.

At the lowest moments in our journey, hope has been our anchor. Not a cheap, flaky, “I hope you feel better!” kind of hope; a raw, real, dirty hope that has been through the nastiest storms and comes out the other side in one piece. This anchor of hope has been what kept us from living a nightmare. Instead, we get to live a redemption story.

Where did that redemption come in?

Approximately 48 hours after Arundel and I sobbed our eyes out in misery at the dire news from our doctor. That was when my heart had turned. Do you ever just bawl and bawl your eyes out until it feels like something is out of your system? That’s what happened. Don’t get me wrong, the news still took a while to process emotionally and really wrap our heads around. But, the initial shock was wiped away with the buckets of tears, and I woke up 2 days later with hope in my heart, because I knew that the next step would be such a beautiful one.

I knew our next step was adoption.

It was as if someone had opened a door in my heart that I never knew was there. When that door opened, it was flung wide to reveal a place that was empty all this time and I never even knew it. God showed me that He had placed in my heart room for adoption. I hadn’t seen it before, but it was there. I am forever thankful that Jesus allowed me to immediately see how adoption was for us. I know that for most people, it is not an easy transition and not something that everyone can accept. I am in awe of the way that God prepares our hearts without us knowing it, and all while we are complaining that He isn’t doing anything about our pain.

He really is a good Father.

I didn’t have to go away and convince myself that I could love a child I didn’t carry. I didn’t have to search within myself for the guts to do it or for the courage to be vulnerable with our need. It was there, because God put it there from the very beginning. He knew we would be here. He knew I would need it. He knew that door in my heart would be opened, and He had already given me what I needed to be a Mother. I was just looking in the wrong place.

Jane

The Unveiling of God’s Story

You’d expect for the week after the doctor’s diagnosis to have been very difficult. You’d be absolutely right. It was a very hard and emotional week for both of us. For my bride, it was coming to the realisation that her dream of pregnancy, and having our very own babies wouldn’t be in our future. For me, it was knowing that I was the reason our dreams would be unfulfilled.

We could have allowed ourselves to spiral into a whirlwind of self-pity. We could have become angry towards God. Jane had every right to be furious at me.

But, none of that happened. Don’t get me wrong, we were devastated. Speaking to our family in person and to our family in England on Skype, we were in floods of tears. It seemed as though our dreams were drifting into the distance and we had no way of catching them.

Self-pity was a route we could have easily gone down, inviting everyone to feel sorry for us, becoming inward focused and and and… Unfortunately that rarely accomplishes anything decent. We’re both pretty driven people, and when someone throws a barrier up and says something is impossible, we’re the type to say, ‘absolutely not! After all with God all things are possible! Right?’

We could have gotten angry at God. We could have been mad. Torn our bibles up and thrown them out. We could have decided that God is not a good God because he took from us the one thing we had been praying for religiously every night since our wedding night. If He loved us, surely He would allow us to get pregnant and have biological babies, correct? We could have turned all our attention to being mad at God, or we could have just turned around and seen the amazing plan that God was orchestrating right behind our backs all along.

Shortly after the meeting, I began to think how mad Jane would be at me. She would see that I was the only problem in this situation. Not in my gorgeous girl’s eyes. We’re one, and so as she immediately recognized, this was not my problem to deal with. This was something that belonged to both of us, and something that we got to walk through together. It wasn’t me that had the problem with infertility, we were walking that road together. Sure, medically speaking I was the one with the issue, but spiritually speaking, this was our issue. And somehow, our amazing God was able to reveal that to her the instant we heard the words from the doctor’s mouth.

I never felt any resentment, any anger, any disappointment aimed at me. Sure, we resented the situation, we were angry at the problem, and disappointed with the reality of it. But we walked through it together, not in retaliation to each other, blaming for this or that. It was quite a beautiful journey.

The day after we found out, I was in the middle of teaching and realised there was no way I could make it through the day. We needed to be together, and to spend quality time processing this. We dropped everything headed to the family vacation house so that we could find some space to be quiet and process our thoughts.  So ensued the most amazing weekend away together. We stayed up to the early hours of the morning, at first crying, then talking, and by the end of it laughing hysterically as we began to unveil the story that God was writing for us. It was one of the most precious, valuable and beautiful moments in our marriage. We were in more unity than we had ever experienced. Isn’t it amazing how the pain that rips our hearts apart can sew us together closer than anything else can?

This is a story that we look forward to sharing with you. A story of beauty from ashes. A story of how God brought our family together from nothing. A story of a child being rescued and adopted into our new family.

Arundel