It was such an honor to walk through the adoption process with Dan and Ashley. Their journey has not been an easy one by any means, but they have trusted God every step of the way. I have been encouraged by their faith and hope in God, despite their circumstances. Dan and Ashley, it was such a privilege to walk this road with you and I know so many others will be encouraged by your story!
Adoption was never our backup plan. For as long as I can remember, I envisioned adopting a child into our family, even as a little girl. What I didn’t know as a little girl was that adoption would be the only way we could build a family.
After enjoying our marriage for a few years, Dan and I tried to conceive. We knew it could be difficult given the fact that Dan was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma when he was 17. Although he is healthy and cancer-free today (Praise God!) the treatments he received impacted his fertility. At the same time, I (Ashley) was diagnosed with PCOS, which would make it difficult for us to conceive naturally. We sought the help of a fertility specialist, and went through IVF. But our IVF cycle did not result in viable embryos. After that, we knew we had our answer: God was telling us that first we needed to grieve the loss of a biological family we always dreamed of. And second, God was leading us to adoption. This is how we would grow our family.
As we began researching ways to adopt, we became extremely overwhelmed. Mounds of questions stared us in the face. How do we select an agency? How do we know if that agency is ethical? Do we adopt in our home state, or a different state? How do we create a profile? Will we ever be chosen?
That’s when we found CAC and spoke with Kelly. We liked her immediately. She was kind, patient with us as we asked a million questions, and we could tell she had a heart for adoption. The fact that CAC vetted all of the agencies they work with to ensure they practice ethical adoption standards was huge for us. We also liked the fact that we would have an opportunity to present our profiles to expectant mothers at multiple agencies rather than being restricted to just one agency. Our hope was that we may be matched more quickly.
Kelly guided us through the process of getting set up and ready to present our profile to expectant mothers. Gathering all of the paperwork and documents that we needed to be “home study approved” was time consuming and exhausting. Then there was the wait, which is probably harder than all of the paperwork put together. Waiting to present our profile. Waiting for expectant mothers to make a decision on our profile. Hearing “I’m sorry, she chose another family.” And waiting again for the next opportunity to present. Not only did Kelly sent us encouraging texts and emails to help us in that wait, she prayed for us. She also helped educate us on positive adoption language, and was pivotal to opening our hearts and minds to open adoption.
Less than three months into our adoption journey, we got the call we’d been dreaming of, “She chose you!” We couldn’t believe it. We were chosen to parent a baby girl due in just a few short months! But those months were filled with doubt and uncertainty. I still won’t forget the day when we got a call from our agency telling us that the expectant mother had changed her mind. The baby had been born, and she decided to parent. While we understood and respected her decision, we were heartbroken that this baby girl we had spent months praying for and preparing for was not going to come home with us. We were crushed and had to grieve yet another loss. But we are firm believers that everything happens for a reason. And for whatever reason, this baby girl was not meant for us, she was meant to be raised by her biological mother, which is beautiful in itself.
For the next few months, we went back to waiting and presenting. And I changed my prayer -- I stopped praying for God to give us a child, and instead I began praying for God to bring us an expectant mother who we could build a lasting relationship with. We believed that eventually God would give us a child, in his timing. What was most important to us was an expectant mother who we could love, just as Christ loves us.
Nine months after starting our adoption journey, we were matched with another mother expecting a baby boy! From the first time we spoke with her on the phone, we felt a connection. We met in person just a couple weeks later, and our love for each other grew. This woman has a huge heart. She is beautiful both inside and out, loves fiercely and is one of the strongest women I know. We walked alongside her for the remaining months of her pregnancy. Texting almost constantly throughout the day, and seeing her again in person one more time.
This incredible women gave me the honor of being by her side during her c-section. I had the privilege of seeing her baby boy be brought into this world. It was a moment that I will never forget filled with emotions that I can’t quite describe. She even gave us the privilege of caring for her boy the two days she was in the hospital -- giving us the opportunity to bond with this precious baby. Two days later, she made the hardest decision she’s ever had to make. She put all her trust in us to be the best parents we could be for her son. The weight of the decision is not lost on me. And the love she has for her son is undeniable.
This woman made me a mom, and I’m so grateful for that. The bond we share is sacred and unbreakable. We are so grateful for this open adoption and the relationship we share with her. Our son, Connor, is four months old now and we still talk frequently. We share photos back and forth, and have plans to see her again before he turns one. She will forever be a part of our lives. Open adoption is beautiful, and one day Connor will be able to talk to his biological mother about her decision. When God sent us this woman, he truly answered my prayers! Everything that led us to this moment -- the infertility and the disrupted adoption -- now makes sense, and we’re grateful for all of it.
Dan and I learned a lot about ourselves during this journey. We learned how to communicate better with each other. We learned how to pray and listen to God. We learned how to love. We learned how to lean on our friends and family when we just didn’t think we could go any further on our own. We learned that adoption is beautiful and broken, but born from love and loss. We learned how to open our hearts and minds in ways we never imagined. This journey through infertility and adoption strengthened our marriage in ways that “the easy way” could never have done. We learned how to process our emotions and let ourselves feel. We learned how strong we really are, but understanding that’s a strength that could only come from our loving Savior.