Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Unanswered Prayers

One year ago today, we got up on a Monday morning and headed south.  I had received a call on Black Friday about a baby that was already born and in foster care.  The birthmom had originally picked another family, but decided she didn’t like them and ended up going to our agency and picking us. 

We drove the long drive that morning, found our way around the city, and met with the guardian ad litem that had been assigned for the baby.  Later that day, we were able to meet with the birthmom.  We talked a little about ourselves and Dakota and she explained to us why she'd picked us.

We found a nice hotel that night.  Thank goodness my parents were taking care of Dakota, since he was in school at that time.  We ate supper at Taco Bell and then went back to our hotel and settled in for the night.  To say it was an awkward night is an understatement.

On Tuesday morning, we headed to court, only to find that it had been postponed.   We killed time until later that afternoon when we went to court.  We were there, along with the other couple (that she’d originally picked), a social worker, the birthparents, and the guardian ad litem.  During that court hearing, the birthmother made it very clear that she wanted us to adopt the child; however, the judge refused to rule on custody and instead decided to leave the child in foster care.  I left that day so heartbroken.  

We walked out of the courtroom and I broke down and cried.  Our attorney walked over and put his arms around me and just hugged me for a moment. Rick and Susan were absolutely wonderful during that time and I doubt I will ever forget them being there for us when we needed someone so badly.  We walked to our car and drove home with an empty car seat in the back.

The next few days were filled with turmoil.  We were still hopeful that we would eventually bring this little boy home; however, as the days progressed, we soon realized that this case was going to be much more complicated than we were prepared to deal with.  Although we had prayed and prayed for this little boy to come home with us, we came to the conclusion, along with our attorney, that this was not our son and decided to no longer proceed with the case.

My heart hurt.  I did not understand why this had happened.  Why had God sent us to this baby and not allowed us to bring him home? Couldn’t He have just allowed this not to happen? Why did we even have to know about this baby?  Why did we have to get our hopes up only to be crushed? 

As much as it hurt, we did truly believe that this was not our son. I had peace knowing this wasn’t our son, but I still didn’t understand why this happened.  I still can’t completely tell you why it happened, but, if for nothing else, it made me more thankful later down the road.

Garth Brooks had a song several years ago called “Unanswered Prayers.”  It said:
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.
Remember when you’re talking to the man upstairs
That just because He doesn’t answer doesn’t mean He don’t care. 
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

I’m not sure that prayers ever actually go unanswered.  I’ve heard before that God answers every prayer you pray.  Sometimes, His answer is yes.  Sometimes, His answer is no.  And sometimes, His answer may be “not yet.”  Today, one year in the future, I am thankful that His answer last December was “not yet.” Had He answered that prayer, we wouldn’t have our precious baby girl today.  Sarah wouldn’t be a member of our family and she is the perfect addition to our family.

If you are still waiting or have gone through a failed adoption, I want to encourage you to hang on.  It is so hard to believe things are working out for the best when you're in the middle of a storm.  But sometimes, God’s greatest gifts come in the rainbow after the storm.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jon's Testimony

I want to tell you the rest of the story of Sarah's adoption from Jon's point of view.  This is his testimony.

The Lord called me when I was 18 years old. I started to church and was really happy.  Several months later, I came down with appendicitis.  I ended up having to have two surgeries and stayed in the hospital for a good while. Not knowing if I was going to live or die, one night I found the room empty. I decided to pray.

I said, "Lord, if I'm going to die, I'm ready to go. I've got a better home waiting on me anyway.  But, if it's your will to spare me, may I have these things.  Would you send me a wife that would love me and I love her back? Lord, would you give us a good home to raise a family (I had a picture in my mind of the style I'd like).  Lord, would you let my first born child be a son and second be a girl?"

I got better after several months and got my strength back.  I was released with good reports from the doctors. Over time, I forgot about the prayer .

Right after I was saved, the Lord told me that I would marry a ministers daughter but I didn't know when or where.  I also knew she would play the piano for the church.  A couple of years later, after I fully recovered, I had decided to visit my brother at his church.  I was standing at the pulpit and a girl walked in.  The Lord told me that she would be my wife.  I didn't know who she was but I knew I was going to marry her.   Less than two years later, I married they piano - playing preacher's daughter.

About 4 years later, we were expecting our first child and had just bought a house.  We were on our way to find out the gender of the baby.  Holly asked me what I thought the baby would be. At first, I thought it had to be a girl because she was just too moody.  She asked me again a few minutes later and I replied with the same thing.  I wasn't two miles from the house when the Lord asked me if I remembered what I'd prayed that night in the hospital.  I said that I did and he said to expect it. I told Holly it was going to be a boy.  A few months later, we welcomed Dakota Paul into our lives.

When Dakota was born, Holly had some severe issues and I thought I was going to lose my wife and possibly my son.  The Lord sent a brother to anoint her with oil and everything started getting better.  Some time later, we were starting to talk about another child.  In my mind,  I was debating on whether to put Holly through that again or not.  Little did I know, Holly had a fear about having another child biologically.  We both felt like we got a sign that we should adopt.

We debated on whether to adopt internationally or domestically and I felt like we needed to adopt domestically.  We started looking at agencies and found one in Birmingham that interested us. We met with the agency and a few months (and lot of work) later were on a waiting list.

By that time,  I was trying to put this in the Lord's hands and trust that He would take care of it. The struggle for me was seeing the turmoil that the wait was putting on Holly.  Secretly, I struggled as well, but didn't say anything so I could stay strong for her.

After a while of seeing my wife so distressed, I began praying.  I'd pray when I was alone. One day, I was mowing the yard, making my rounds back and fourth in front of the house.  The Lord spoke to me and told me to look at my house.  I looked and just kept mowing.  Again,  a little stronger, I heard, "Look at your house." I looked again and said," Lord, I see it." I kept mowing.  On the third time, I heard, "Stop and look at your house." At this point, I thought something was wrong with the house.  I got off the mower and started looking at the house and questioning what God was trying to show me.  He said, "Do you remember what you asked me laying in the hospital?" I said, "Yes, Lord, I do."  He said, "Did you ask for a wife and didn't I give it? Did you ask for a house and didn't I give it? Did you ask for your firstborn to be a son? All these things have I not given you?" The only question I had was why because I didn't feel worthy.  His words were, "My word is true.  It says in my word, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and anything that ye shall have need of shall be added unto you.' Does my word stand true?" That was the Lord's way of getting my attention to say to seek Him first and he'd finish it.

This past spring, we put a garden behind our house.  When everyone had left and I was alone, I said, "Lord, I'm trying to do the best I know.  Am I not doing enough? If I'm not,  please show me."  I asked Him once again to help us with this.  We were trying to be strong but it was saddening me to see Holly suffer.  Just a few days later, we were parents again to our beautiful daughter, Sarah.

If our story has taught me anything, it's that faith can move anything.  And it doesn't have to be a lot of faith.  At times, we had no more than a mustard seed.


It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but we can finally announce to the world – we are now officially a family of four.  I can now share the story of how we went from three to four.

If you’ve read my previous posts (or if you’ve been affected by adoption), you know that it’s an extremely emotional roller coaster ride.  One minute, you’re hopeful.  The next minute, you question whether it will ever happen.  In late April, I became extremely disheartened.  I asked for a sign and didn’t get it.  In my mind, I was terrified that this was God telling me it wasn’t going to happen.  My nerves were shot.  I cried.   I was downhearted.  I was a wreck.  Jon told me what to do.  He said to write down my prayer on a piece of paper, throw it up in the air and let God have it.  I tried to do this.  It was so hard to let it go, but I began to try to prepare myself for the fact that it might not happen.  In my mind, that was part of letting God have it – being ok with either outcome.  When people would ask about the adoption, I would now say “if” it happens instead of “when.”  It wasn’t that I wasn’t having faith – but rather trying to prepare for the fact that it might not be God’s will.

On Friday, May 1st, we went to a gospel singing.  I heard a song called “When I Lay My Isaac Down.” The song talked about how Abraham had prayed for Isaac and once Isaac arrived, he had to be willing to sacrifice him.  In the end, it wasn’t Isaac that God wanted, but he wanted Abraham.  He wanted to be put first and once Abraham did that, God provided for him.  When I heard those words, I sat in that church and, again, cried like a baby.  The tears were flowing and there was no stopping them.  I realized in that moment that it wasn’t that God didn’t want to send us a baby.  But I had to be willing to put Him first and be willing for His will.

Two weeks to the day later, we went to a singing at my mother-in-law’s church.  We had gone to the fellowship hall during intermission to grab a bite to eat.  For some reason, while we were there, I looked down at my phone and noticed we’d missed a call.  The area code indicated the same area as our agency so I thought I’d better call it back.  When I did, it was Susan from our agency.  She had a “situation” to tell us about.  Jon and I quickly found my parents for Dakota to stay with and we went outside near our car to talk to her on speaker. 

She began telling us about this baby girl that had been born April 18th.  She had been born a little early and was still in the NICU. They were expecting her to be released that weekend.  She told us a little about the situation and asked if we were interested.  Of course, we said, “YES!”  It seemed so surreal to me.   We had waited for three years for that call and it was finally happening. She said, “I guess we thought you’d say that because we’ve already got the paperwork ready.”  We were to go home and wait to hear from them the next day.

Needless to say, we left the singing and headed home.  We tried to do work in the house to make sure everything was ready to bring a baby home. 

Now, if you’ve read previous posts, you’ve seen me refer to the name “EJ.” This was because we had “Emma” picked out for a girl and “Jacob” picked out for a boy.  On that Friday night, I asked Jon what if we changed.  I thought about Sarah in the Bible and how she’d had to wait so long to have a baby.  I thought the name, “Sarah” was fitting for her.  We’d talked about that name before and quickly decided that her name was going to be “Sarah Grace” instead of “Emma Grace.”

We got a call from our attorney, Rick, on Saturday saying they were expecting release on Sunday.  He wanted us to wait at home until we heard back from him.  Saturday afternoon, we decided to go out to eat with my parents.  Jon’s birthday was on Sunday and we knew we’d be busy, so we decided to celebrate early.  The whole time, everything still felt so surreal.  Was our wait finally over? Or would this one fall through?

On Sunday morning, we got up and got ready.  We’d realized the city she was in was a little further away than we initially thought so we decided, on faith, to start driving that way. The three of us loaded up in our car and started driving.  Rick called when we were about 20 minutes from home and said the doctor hadn’t been in yet.  We decided to drive on a piece and I could stop by the office and grab my laptop, since I’d likely be out of work for a while.  We did that and then stopped at a Walmart not too far down the road. (Not much else is open that early on Sunday morning.)

Our plans had been to kill time there until we heard from Rick.  When we got through at Walmart, Jon decided to just start driving that way. I questioned whether we should, but Jon said, "Oh ye of little faith." We ended up about 45 minutes to an hour from the hospital at a flea market.  We’d just walked in the flea market when Rick called.  He had talked to the doctor and they were releasing her.  That moment, standing outside a flea market in Warrior, AL, I realized that this was really happening.

We met Rick & Susan at the hospital a little while later.  They went back, made sure they were ready for us, and then five of us (Jon, Dakota, Rick, Susan & I) went back.  We put on our NICU hospital gowns, which brought back memories since Dakota spent a week in the NICU, himself.  The hospital set us up in a little “room” that reminded me of an ICU room – just a little curtained-in room.  They brought out stickers and activity pages for Dakota.  We nervously waited.

We heard a baby cry and they wheeled this beautiful little girl around into our room.  I picked her up from the bed and handed her to her big brother.  In that moment, we became a family of four.  It still felt surreal, but it was oh so real.  We held her for a while and had some bonding time. We signed papers and fed her before getting ready to leave.  Rick and Susan had given her a beautiful outfit that said, “I was worth the wait.” Right before time to eat, I changed her and she peed on it. So, she got to wear her “Little Sister” sleeper home.

After feeding time, the hospital went over discharge papers with us and we put her into the car seat. We walked out of the hospital as she was rolled out on a little baby bed.  We got in the car, pulled out and headed home.

Throughout the next week, reality set in on me.  We were finally here.  The wait was finally over.  We were a family of four.

Dakota is absolutely in love with his baby sister.  He is VERY protective of her.  She absolutely adores him, as well.  I am so thankful they have each other.  I always thought I wanted them closer in age.  That was even one of the things that added to the wait was knowing he was getting older.  In the end, I think they are the perfect number of years apart.

The last four months have been wonderful.  I am so happy to have my family complete. I had wondered how it would be with one biological and one adopted child, but it really isn’t any different, at least as far as how much you love them.  It is hard sometimes keeping up with two, but I am absolutely in love with being a mom of two.  I am no longer waiting for and wondering if my family will ever be complete.

Still praying but no longer hoping & waiting…

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Things Happen for a Reason

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog.  We have definitely had a lot going on over the past couple of months so I figured it was time to update.

We had somewhat of a failed adoption in early December.  The day after Thanksgiving, I got a call from our lawyer that there was a situation that he was cautiously optimistic about.  However, because DHR was involved (and other legal issues), we needed to meet some people related to this case so we prepared to travel.  Over the weekend, we prepared.  We went out and bought little boy items (because due to the gift I received here, I had mostly girl items), bought the monitor, put together the pack and play, installed the car seat, and made sure the house was ready for a baby.  On Sunday, we met with our lawyer and then traveled to the baby’s location on Monday.  We prayed, we asked others to pray, and we proceeded anxiously.  We met with the birth mom and felt hopeful.  Legally, we should have won the case and brought the baby home.  To make a long story short, things ended up getting very complicated very fast.  It was going to be a long drawn out battle and after discussing with our attorney, we all decided it would be best for us to back out.

I was crushed.  I knew this just meant this wasn't our baby but it still hurt.  It still hurts.  I wonder about him.  What happened to him? Is he OK? Did another couple adopt him or is he still in DHR care? What happened to the birth parents? Were they mad that we backed out?
I don’t understand why we had to go through that but someday, I probably will.  Maybe, if nothing else, it reassured us of our love for our agency and it taught me that I truly would be OK with either a boy or girl this time around. I mean, let’s face it, as much as I would love to have a little girl, I do have a boy and know how to take care of one of those.  And I’m not a very girly girl either. Unless you’re showing me a reptile…then, I’m as girly as they come.

You know how they say everything happens for a reason?  Well, in hindsight, had we brought that little boy home, we would have had a rough couple of months.  He wouldn't have been in a normal routine yet.   Less than a week after we backed out of the adoption, my six year old came down with strep throat, which means he would have had to stay away from the baby.  Then, a week and a half later, he came down with the flu.  The baby would've likely been a month old before his big brother could even start spoiling him.

Then, came the big kicker.  Dakota's flu diagnosis was the Sunday before Christmas.  Two days later, I began not feeling too well.  I assumed I was likely coming down with the flu as well.  That night, I started hurting but attributed it to endometriosis.  Christmas Eve came and I felt miserable all day.  I was just very uncomfortable throughout my abdomen.  Although I did research on appendicitis and knew it was a possibility, I wasn't doing like most people.  I wasn't throwing up, bent over in pain, etc.  So I thought maybe it was gas pains and went on.  I didn't want to go to the ER on Christmas Eve and mess up Christmas for my son.  Christmas Day arrived and I was still miserable.  Dakota enjoyed his gifts from Santa and from us.  We then went to my parents for our annual Christmas morning breakfast and gifts.  It was all I could do to eat a few bites and I got through the gift opening but I was still miserable.   Finally, after everything was done, I sat down in their recliner and watched as Dakota played with his new toys.  I realized I couldn't even enjoy my son on Christmas Day and there was no way I could work the following day feeling this.  I called my family doctor (who was on call) and after a lot of questioning, finally said I needed to go to the ER just to make sure it wasn't appendicitis. 

Now, let me explain something.  I get sick probably 3 or 4 times a year with sinusitis but that’s about it.  I have never (since I've been old enough to remember) been to the ER for myself.  This was a first for me.  They got me back quickly and after blood work, xrays, and a CT scan, discovered that I did in fact have appendicitis.  I told Jon I must have been bad for Santa to bring me that. I had surgery on Christmas night.  From there, things actually got worse before getting better.  Five and a half weeks and 3 additional hospital visits later, I finally feel like maybe I’m on the road to recovery. 

Remember how I said everything happens for a reason? Well, imagine if during all this time, I’d had a newborn.  I couldn't even take care of myself part of the time, much less another human.  Thank God for my parents and my husband during this time, but what if they’d had a newborn to take care of as well?  It saddens me to think of how that baby wouldn't have gotten the attention that he deserved during those few weeks.

I have to convince myself that God knew what was ahead for us and knew that we wouldn't be able to care for a baby very well during that time.  I still question things – like why couldn't we take that little boy home and me NOT get sick?  However, I know that little boy wasn't our son.  And most likely, that realization will make it so much sweeter once our son or daughter does arrive.

Still waiting, hoping, and praying…