I’ve shared our adoption story to our beautiful third son pretty openly. There was a lot of brokenness and a lot of beauty that paved the road to the hospital in a sunny Florida town where we first met him. There’s one vulnerable piece I have only shared with a few. It’s hard to share because I always think of people within the adoption community as having so much grit, and strength. And here is where I vulnerably admit that I didn’t always. I think it’s important to share because I lost hope, and I’m on the other side with a beautiful son. It’s important to share because I wanted to give up, and I wonder if that’s something more of us might have in common too.

In the weeks leading up to the (unexpected) arrival of our son, Frankie, not a lot was going right. Our new spring roof had a sudden summer leak, our basement was flooded and our attic collecting water. A storm brought a giant tree limb down across our patio, shattering a string of patio bulb lights and narrowly missing our older boys. We had no news to share when kind friends asked about our adoption, and no updates to give our family who had generously poured into helping us raise funds to bring our child home. We were bleeding financially and rapidly losing hope. We had made it through several years of unexpected infertility, two failed adoption placements, and now here we were. Still in the wait.

Potential situations trickled in, but so many requested families with no biological children. So many were “no’s”.

It was summer; we filled the days with sun-soaked hours at our neighborhood pool, evening games of baseball, popsicles and catching lightning bugs in mason jars. But while the days grew longer, my heart grew weary and restless with the wait. Maybe we weren’t meant to grow our family. Maybe we would support adoption in other ways. Maybe giving up would hurt less than the waiting, and hearing no, and hoping.

One night after our oldest son, Henry’s baseball game, I stood in the parking lot with a dear friend. She asked me how we were doing, if there was news. Truth and tears that had been buried, hidden, bubbled up to the surface, “We have no news. Nothing. Honestly, I just can’t see it happening.” There’s so much optimism required in the process. I felt like I needed to be incredibly positive all the time, and couldn’t show my worry or doubt. It loosed something in me to tell the truth to this trusted friend. She listened and gently nudged me to hold on and to take the next step.

And then, a few weeks later, a phone call. Asking us to consider a situation. We had no doubts. In fact, when our adoption consultant couldn’t reach me and called Patrick he answered for me; for us. Yes, consider us. Holding on to that strand of hope. That phone call was the first time we heard about our son. 24 hours later he was swaddled in our arms.

We didn’t know if we’d ever hold him, and walked through times that we strongly doubted we would.  What I now know is that we couldn’t speed up becoming his parents simply by trusting enough, or thwarted plans to call him son by losing hope in the process.

I believe in sovereignty and grace. Lots and lots of grace. I believe in truth telling and finding community with people (even one other person) who you can be totally honest with. People who you trust with your fears and doubts. People who listen, and then point you back to truth, and hope.

Sometimes we feel like we are called to something great and we have to go from where we are to something great. But the truth is you just have to go from where you are to the next step. Maybe the next step is filling out an agency application, and maybe it’s buying a cute crib sheet. Maybe it’s waiting for a court date, or for results from a doctor’s appointment. Maybe it’s acknowledging your doubt and fear, and then walking forward anyway. Every time you feel doubt or fear rise up, let hope overtake that fear, and just take the one next step. You’re not going it alone; link arms with us. We’ll walk forward together.

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“ The pain doesn’t stop because we are more educated, but the healing can become more effective.”

– Ashley Mitchell, President Lifetime Healing, LLC


I never wanted to hold him after he was born.  I thought “if I hold him I won’t ever be able to let him go, I will be too attached.”  You want to know something funny?  I was already attached.  When you carry a baby to term, when you are the life source for that unborn child, whether you wanted this or not, you are attached!  Before I could stop myself, I leaned up toward the doctor to take that tiny new baby boy into my arms.  That sacred sound.  That first cry of my son. It is a sound I will never forget. And I know that on the other side of the door was his mother, and she wept.

At the age of 25, I found myself in an unexpected pregnancy.  I was alone and terrified.  The only reality I could grasp was that I pregnant and I needed to not be pregnant. There was only one way I knew how to do that. A fear based decision. Abortion.

As I sat in the clinic and waited for the results of my ultrasound I remember every inch of my body screaming, get out!  I couldn’t be here, but I couldn’t move.  I was glued to that spot.  This was my new reality.

I couldn’t face society with an unplanned pregnancy.  I couldn’t destroy my family with an unplanned pregnancy.  I was broken at what I was willing to consider, to sacrifice out of fear and protection for my loved ones.

The nurse said something that changed the course of my life forever, that changed the very identity of who I am today.  “You are too far along and we can’t help you.”

I walked out of that clinic and never looked back. Adoption became my option.  

I never had 100% clarity that what I was doing was right.  I don’t know if that is ever possible.  I think you do the best you can with all the information in front of you.  There are always forms of coercion, there are always mis-steps, there are always going to be options.  For me, I made a choice based on the circumstances and the education and I live with those consequences every day, for the rest of my life, good and bad.

You prepare yourself for the days ahead.  You read and you listen and you ask questions.  You study the “medical” process of giving birth and you are proactive in your potential emotional outcomes.  But nothing can ever prepare you for the reality of what is ahead.  

As I prepared to leave the hospital after spending three sacred and amazing and devastating days with my son it was time to say goodbye.  Say goodbye.  But he was still alive, he was breathing and healthy and perfect.  Grief.  Pain. Trauma.

As I walked down the hall of the hospital I was empty and broken.  My father was carrying most of my weight as I leaned into him.  And then I saw them at the end of the opposite hall.  Celebrating, laughing, bright balloons and joy.  I felt as if my son had died on one end and on the other, a celebration of life.

That is adoption.  Great love and joy built from great loss and brokenness.  

I spent the next years of my life in a limbo that about killed me.  Everything about me had shifted, the very identity of who I was.  I couldn’t go back to my old life but now I was a mother without a child, that ambiguous loss and grief kept me stuck in my own personal hell and I didn’t know how to escape.  No one was talking to me, no one was helping me to understand my emotions, my regrets, my loss.   Why was no one talking to me?  Why were they so afraid to see what was happening to me?

For me, the answers came at a tragic cost.  After years of self-destructive behaviors and carelessness, I almost lost my life.  And almost cost another their life.  After a week of lock-down in a mental health facility, time in jail and lots of counseling the fog started to lift.  I had a name for what had happened.  I had answers on how to cope.  I had clarity and forgiveness for myself and for others.  

I am a birth mother.  I am a birth mother forever.  He is a part of me and I think about him every single day of my life.  I am learning to coexist with the pain and grief every single day of my life.  The grief doesn’t get smaller, it doesn’t go away.  But I have grown, learned to make room for it, learned to have a healthy relationship with it and I respect it.

11 years post placement and I have changed so much.  I have talked with countless women that have shared similar paths.  That wished so deeply that there would have been something available to help them, something that could have helped them heal and cope in healthier ways.

That is why I created Lifetime Healing. Lifetime Healing provides support and empowers adoption agencies to give birthmothers the type of post-care they deserve. To walk with them through their grief, not only in the first six months after placement but whenever they need it. To raise the bar and set the new national standard for post placement care.  Women are going to choose adoption, and when they do they will need support for life.  We don’t ever just get over it.  

Our call to action?  We invite you to share Lifetime Healing, LLC with the agencies, law groups, hospitals, parent resource centers and other adoption professionals in your area.  We hope to see this curriculum available FOR ANY WOMAN that chose or that will choose to place her child(ren) for adoption. If we are going to stand with these women during the destruction, then we must stand with them in the rebuild.  No woman should be left to grieve on her own.  Isolation is the destruction of the human soul.

I believe that adoption can be done well.  I am blessed, after many years of darkness, to be in a respectful and honest open adoption relationship.  Just like any other relationship in my life I work at it.  We have hard conversations, we respect boundaries and we learn to compromise and remain flexible.  We understand our rights, roles, and responsibilities.  We understand that our son matters, his voice matters and we will continue to do things to honor his needs and desires, even when it is hard, even when it hurts.

I will never stop loving and hurting and questioning and wanting and needing and growing and becoming.  I am a birth mother forever.  Stand with us so we can stand with others to provide a lifetime of free post placement care.

Adoption is truly the most complex and beautiful thing that I have ever had the privilege of being associated with.  I will never stop fighting for best practices and higher standards.  Join me won’t you?

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I go to one of three grocery stores every week, depending on my mood and my errand route. There is one in particular that is very close to my home, and I often prefer it due to the fact that it’s most usually near empty. It’s easy to get in and out of and there is always that one shopping cart available for Shepherd. The car one that is so incredibly heavy to move around, but brings him enough delight to fill my whole shopping trip with smiles and toddler “vroooom” sounds. There’s only one problem with this grocery store, and it’s the woman whose shift schedule I clearly cannot avoid.

You see, when I first started coming here, I always thought she was in a bad mood the days I came shopping. But over the course of the last year and a half, I have discovered what I now know to be true: she doesn’t approve of the way my family looks.

I would never make such a grand judgment call if I were not positive and if they were not proven through a series of weekly events that have made me passionate enough to write about it here. We enter the checkout line politely and unpack our groceries onto the belt. Shepherd loves this part. He repeats, “Help you? Help you?” as he leans forward over his car steering wheel and grabs each item clumsily, then flopping it onto the counter. Meanwhile, the woman refuses to make eye contact with him or me. Eye contact is pretty much a standard if you’re working in customer service, in my opinion. But if the story stopped there I wouldn’t be writing this. She scans my items, never saying a word, never looking at my face, and never even telling me my total. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a brash, “You can scan now,” though oftentimes our entire checkout process will be in complete silence. And so I load my bags into my cart in awkward silence and push our cart away. Every. Single. Time.

You may be thinking, “This lady is just grumpy, how do you know it’s about race?” Well I’ll tell you. You see, I don’t always shop with Shepherd. Sometimes my husband will hang with him and I’ll run out for a few things alone. These times, I make it a point to enter her line (avoidance is not my forte,) and when I am alone my experience is not just different, but it is as if I am talking to an entirely different human being all together. She greets me with a lovely smile and questions, “How are you today? Did you find everything okay?” I respond politely, but her chatter doesn’t stop there. She inquires about the food I’m purchasing and even asks what I plan to make for dinner. It feels as if she’s an old friend. She tells me my total, asks me if I have my grocery store membership card, asks me about my day and my plans, and talks to me as I finish the transaction and walk away.

For the first six months, this happened 100% of the time. She would act one way when Shepherd and I were together, and the other way when I was alone. There was never an exception. So, for those first six months, I came to this conclusion: she must not like children.

Except over the course of the next year, I collected a variety of store experience with her sandwiched in line between white parents of white children, and the situation was even more obvious and disheartening. She would chat and giggle with the white children and their parents, and I would get the cold, harsh side of her personality. Only to begin exiting the line to hear her begin chatting in a bubbly fashion to the family behind me.

I do not think she knows, when I am alone, that I am the mother of the black son, because she never looks at my face when we are together.

This has happened time and time and time again over the last year and a half, to the point where I decided to ask a friend, a black male friend, if he experiences this often around here. He said yes. He then told me something I will never forget, “It no longer matters that you are white. When you are with him you are in the presence of racism, you will be treated as if you are lesser.” This perfectly summed up my experience in this one example amongst many I have encountered. Lesser. That’s the feeling I was feeling. Inferiority.

Transracial adoption is a delicate subject, just like anything involving matters of race and ethnicity. But however delicate it is, as a mother and father of a black child, our voices should rise up as those in favor of treating every individual as one deserving love and respect. For us, skin color has never dictated how we are to love, and from the moment Shepherd’s mother found us fit to be his parents, our love for him has interwoven into every fiber of our being, and it was all founded upon her decision to place him into our arms to love and raise and nurture.

I imagine that our experience as a family of differing colors is quite different than the family the next town over, the next state over, or across the country and world. Every territory has it’s own culture, all within one great big culture that is always growing, always shifting, and hopefully always progressing towards improvement. However, this truth does not make the sting of racial injustice less painful.

I cannot claim to know what racial injustice feels like on a personal level, but I feel it for my son. And that is enough for me to say this: don’t let transracial adoption scare you. You will love your child the same, no matter what they look like. However, the world may not. And that, my friends, is all the more reason to raise your voices and let your love fight battles that cannot be fought with fire.

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My husband and I entered the adoption world blind. Scared. Alone. Uneducated. Fearful. Excited. Apprehensive. We did not know anyone who had adopted. We didn’t know anyone looking to adopt. We only knew one person who placed before. Every time we spoke about adoption people would ask about surrogacy as an alternative option. At times I felt very empty and other times I felt naive about how our story would unfold. Since my husband wasn’t exactly on board right away, I began to look around on Instagram for stories told. I was searching for hope and searching for comfort. I was seeking for stories of both failures and success. I wanted to find proof that these journeys are guided by God with faith restored… for myself and for my husband.

I found accounts that I was immediately drawn too. Families like mine, some not. Some of these families were local but some 1200 miles away. We all had different reasons for adopting, different visions of how we were growing our families. I read of different preferences each family specified or didn’t specify. I saw babies and their birth families entering these lives of adoptive families as if they belonged together the whole time. I encounter families who felt lead to different races and ethnicities. Some families choosing foster care first then hopes to adopt. Families who chose private lawyers versus national agencies. Some of these friends reached out to me publicly and some preferred to stay private.

The further we got into the process the closer I became to finding my adoption tribe. My adoption tribe consists of adoptive parents with and without kids, birth mothers although I still have hopes to connect with birth fathers. Adoptee’s are part of my adoption tribe. This tribe has turned strangers to friends to families. There is no way I could have gone 7 months and beyond without these individuals and their families. We have connected on levels that are so scarce, so sacred. I have learned to open my heart and mind further by meeting these individuals. The complexity and uniqueness of all of our stories have connected us on levels that others peers and relatives may not quite understand.

Recently I met with a group of ladies, all who I met online. Sounds silly, I know, but I won’t be surprised if we all think the same thing. We all come from different parts of the process- in the middle of home study, three-year post placement, and recently matched with babes coming in next month or so. We didn’t skip a beat and immediately started sharing stories that we may not share with the world outside of adoption. It was so comforting when I kept hearing the reassurance, “this is a safe space” around the table of 7 ladies. During the 2 hours we were together, I felt like I knew these women my whole life. I felt connected to each one for different reasons. I didn’t want to say goodbye but I knew that we are forever intertwined even if it remains through pictures.

I know we meet people in the oddest places and sometimes we are just supposed to be in their lives for a season. The friendships I have made in this community are solid.

Raw.

Real.

Because this journey has so many high highs and the lowest of lows, we are better together.

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I grew up in old school church.   You know the type:  wooden pews, four-hundred page hymnals, red carpet, carved communion table, Jesus picture (with light) behind the pulpit, King James Bible.   

Every Mother’s Day, the pastor would stand up front and beckon all the mothers in the congregation to rise.  The rest of us would applaud them.  After the service, the pastor would stand at the back of the church and hand out single-stemmed roses to each mother.

It was a sweet gesture, and of course, we want to honor mothers, but looking back as an adult, one who didn’t give birth to her children, the whole situation had to have been incredibly awkward for some.  I wonder if there were a handful of ladies who didn’t attend services every Mother’s Day.  I wonder how those who did attend, but didn’t have the title of “mom,” felt remaining seated while we showered adoration upon the other women.   

Mother’s Day is loaded.   It means watercolor greeting cards and cheesy “mom” jewelry.   It means an awkward but well-intentioned breakfast-in-bed.   It means flowers and homemade art.   And it is everywhere, for weeks on end, beating those who haven’t entered into mommy membership.

I spent a handful of these holidays waiting.  Waiting for the call that would change my life.  Waiting for someone to decide I deserved to be a mommy.  Waiting for another mother to surrender her baby to me.

I spent holidays watching.  Watching others be handed cards and roses.  Watching others rub rounded bellies and bask in the new mom glow.  Watching honor be bestowed upon every other woman, it seemed, but me.    

Waiting and watching.  Waiting and watching.  And then, of course, wallowing.  Wallowing in the waiting and watching.  Wallowing in a pity party so epic there should have been invitations and cocktails and confetti.   Wallowing in hopelessness, jealousy, despair, frustration, and apathy.

This is completely normal, but it is not easy.   There is no way around the difficulties that present themselves during any adoption journey.  You must walk through the pain.   It’s frightening to think that after whatever loss brought you to adoption, you are forced to travel further through hardship.  Seemingly, the journey will never end.   You ping-pong between hurdle after hurdle.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.  

It’s exhausting.  Infuriating.  Disheartening.  

To the woman waiting to adopt, to celebrate Mother’s Day, I want to know you are not alone.  Many of us have been where you are.   We get you.   We see you.   We cherish you.    We will celebrate with you when your day comes.   We will encourage you.   We are here, the midst of the crowds.   

This is exactly what Kindred + Co. exists.  So we can be there for one another, uplifting the ones who are weak and discouraged.  Celebrating the victories big and small.   Loving on moms and moms-to-be.   We are here.  You are here.  We are in this together.   

For more encouragement on your journey, check out Encouragement for the Adoption and Parenting Journey:  52 Devotions and a Journal, co-authored by me and Madeleine Melcher (an adoptee).  

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I remember being in elementary school and learning about acrostic poems. I think everyone in my family got a poem that year, their name in bright marker down the side of the page and an adjective for each letter. A was always “awesome”, N was “nice”, and you could usually bank on their actual name for the first letter because that seemed the most obvious (and easiest). That year I set out to describe my mom acrostically for Mother’s Day: M is for mom, O is for outstanding, and M is for marvelous. As we approach Mother’s Day this year, I’m so glad we don’t have to relegate only three adjectives to motherhood. Since becoming a mom, then struggling through infertility and then bringing our son home through adoption, I’ve seen it take on so many different shapes and colors and sizes. It’s so much more than I could have ever hoped or imagined.


Motherhood is a positive pregnancy test, a swelling belly, a grainy black-and-white ultrasound picture taped to the refrigerator. It’s a newborn’s first cries and a drowsy nursing babe.

Motherhood is a stack of paperwork, signed documents, and background checks. It’s having a social worker in your home, getting a physical, and selling t-shirts to fundraise. It’s waiting. It’s hoping, and praying.

Motherhood is waiting expectantly for a due date and watching it pass with empty arms. It’s folding up tiny onesies, washed muslin blankets and tucking them away. It’s the waves of loss that wash over you and threaten to hold you under, and it’s the hope that rises and pushes you forward.

Motherhood is meeting your son when he’s three days old. It’s the smell of his newborn skin and the softness of his dark silken hair. It’s your heart whispering “there you are, I’ve been waiting for you”.

Motherhood is the first glimpse of your daughter’s face, thousands of miles away. It’s the tear-soaked photo you tuck into the visor of your car, press between the pages of your Bible, and carry with you. It’s crossing an ocean and an unspoken number of obstacles to finally hold her in your arms.

Motherhood is the hope that this will be the month. It’s another twenty dollars spent on a test, and it’s the hope that lingers after the bitter disappointment has worn off.

Motherhood is a middle of the night phone call. It’s scrambling to gather up clothes, and readying bottles. It’s standing knee deep in the messy and hard. It’s saying yes to getting attached, it’s being prepared to let go.

Motherhood is sitting through that baby shower and celebrating with your mama friends. It’s bathroom floor, behind the closed door sobbing. It’s waiting for your turn.

Motherhood is loving your baby more than yourself. It’s choosing his life, feeling his first kicks and hiccups. It’s handing him to his forever mama, it’s saying goodbye.

Motherhood is love, and courage, and kindness. It’s hope, it’s loss, it’s joy. It’s longing, it’s waiting, it’s celebrating. Motherhood is perseverance. It’s fueled by lots of coffee and lots of love and lots of grace. I see it in the eyes of a new mama, in the waiting pleas and prayers of a hopeful adoptive mama, and in the beautiful face of my son’s birth mom.

Wishing you a happy Mother’s Day, whether it’s your first of many, or you are several generations in, or if it’s a title your heart longs for and you are waiting in the trenches. May you be spurred on and carried along by those who do it so well and lovingly around you. We, together, are motherhood. We are better together.

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These are the comments and questions that live in my head on a daily basis. Can anyone relate? Just me? Am I normal? Please tell me yes.

 

Hey, popular media, how about you make some movies where one out of every eight of the characters is struggling with infertility. Be relatable or something.

 

Oh, look! Another movie preview about an accidental pregnancy that ends with a convenient love story between the biological mother and biological father of the child. I will now punch the wall and attempt to get my hands on that movie script so I can light it on fire.

 

Whatever. I barely watch television anyway. Let’s get some stuff done. GROCERIES!

 

*In baby aisle* Hey, large companies who produce baby products–I realize you don’t want to “rock the boat” or anything, but maybe society as a whole would have an easier time understanding transracial adoption if you like…put colorful families on your packaging. Just a thought. I’d buy them. And then maybe fewer people would stare at my family when we’re out in public. Thanks for your consideration.

 

Speaking of…..do those people staring at my family not realize I can see their eyeballs? Ugh. Just ignore them and check your phone or something.

 

Ah! Look! Another healthy twenty week ultrasound in my news feed! PRAISE. Guess I’m headed to the gym’s punching bag later. Ugh. Now I feel guilty. BE HAPPY FOR OTHERS, JORDAN.

 

Wait, no. Your kids died and all of your ultrasounds came straight from the fiery pits of h–okay. Yeah. Giving myself a break. I think people call that grace?

 

Yes, giving myself grace for the fact that I am happysadangrymad about all the ultrasounds all up in my feed. *deletes all social media apps and throws phone into trash.* Enough of that. Let’s just go to the park. Get some fresh air. Relax.

 

Oh, no. Another park playdate with a group of moms complaining about their pregnant bellies while they chase their other zillion trillion biological kids around. Oh, no. They saw me. They are talking to me. I am now included in the conversation. Seriously? This again? Pregnancy complaints and husband bashing. Think fast. They are looking at you. Say something.

 

“I mean………I wish I was pregnant and I really like my husband.”

 

*blank stares*

 

Quick…..act like it’s time to get Shepherd back for his nap. No, wait, be sassy and tell her you’ll take the baby off her hands if it’s too much trouble. No. Don’t be dramatic. Just go home. This is why you don’t like the park during peak hours, Jordan. Remember this. On the way home I ponder why all the billionaires in the world don’t just fund all the adoptions.

 

Why can’t I be a billionaire so I can fund all the adoptions?

 

*Spends rest of day thinking about how to become a billionaire.*

 

 

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Sometimes in life we beg and beg and beg God for something and His answer isn’t what we want it to be. It’s not necessarily no but it’s something different than what we asked for. When prayers are answered we often hear of God’s faithfulness. We hear of His great plans. We hear about never losing hope and always having faith. But here’s my issue with that, aren’t those things true even when God doesn’t answer our prayers or when he answers them in a different way than we asked?

 

For years I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed that God would make me a mom. In my mind that meant me getting pregnant, carrying a baby for 9 months, and birthing that baby. Down the road I knew that it included adoption but first it would include those exact things. But God had something else in mind. But He was still faithful. He still had a plan. It was just different from mine. I know many people who have prayed for the same thing and that specific prayer has been answered in that very way. Does that mean that God is more faithful to that person than He is to me? Absolutely not. I say it again. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

 

There’s a Garth Brooks song actually called “Unanswered Prayers”. If you haven’t listened to it before, here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il4qOQGUGbo

 

The chorus in the song says

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ 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
And the thing is they aren’t even unanswered prayers. What was I praying for? I was praying for God to make me a mama. And He did. He answered. He did it in the most beautiful way I could imagine. And I know I’ve said it before, if He had answered one of those prayers in the specific way I was hoping then I probably wouldn’t be sitting here watching my beautiful almost 2-year-old sleeping on the monitor. He knew exactly what He was doing. He was being faithful. He had a beautiful plan

I know it can be hard to see other people who see a positive pregnancy test after years of infertility or a heartbeat on an ultrasound after so many losses or an adoption match after so many “she didn’t choose you”. I am right there with you. In those moments, I go back to what I know. He is faithful. He loves me. He is right there with me. He is right there with you. In the doubt. In the fears. In the unanswered prayers. Cling to that. Hold on to hope. He will answer.

 

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To the beautiful woman I didn’t pick,

I want you to know that I think about you often.  I want you to know that I loved your family.  I want you to know that you and your husband were a beautiful couple and that I felt that you had so much to offer.

I want you to know that I poured over your profile.  In a stack of a 50 families you stood out, for whatever reason, my heart skipped a beat when I looked at your profile and I knew that you were in the running.

You and your husband were newlyweds, married just 2 years.  You were so young and beautiful.  Your husband was serving our country and you were a school teacher.  You lived a happy life in Idaho.  You loved each other, you believed in God and you wanted a baby.

You shared your amazing story with me, a complete stranger that was pregnant and considering YOU.  You shared your deepest sadness and yearning for a child.  You shared your heartbreaking story of all of the children that you lost to miscarriage.  You shared the tears and pain of infertility.  You opened up about the guilt and shame and anger that you felt about not being able to have a child biologically.  You shared your heart and the heart of your husband.  The tears that you shed together.

And then you shared your story of hope, the hope that a woman like me would pick a woman like you.  That I would find you and be drawn to you, that I would want to meet you and that I would bond with you and love you immediately.  That I would fulfill your dreams of becoming a mother.  You promised me an open adoption, you promised to love my son like he was your own flesh and blood, that he would be raised to love God and that he would know me and always know my love for him.

I want you to know that you stood out.  I want you to know that I wanted to pick you.  I want you to know that I prayed over you and your husband.  I want you to know that I still do.

I think about you often.  You are in my heart, just as present as the woman I picked to be a mother to my son.  I know you were informed that I was looking at your profile.  I know that you had to live through the rejection.  I want you to know how sorry I am and that you did nothing wrong.

I picked her.  I picked them.  They are amazing people.  They are an amazing family and have been the perfect family for me and for that beautiful boy.

Although, I didn’t pick you.  You are amazing people.  You would have been an amazing family and could have been the perfect family for me and that beautiful boy.

I think about you and hope and pray often that you have been picked.  That you found a woman who was like me all those years ago.  That she poured over your profile and cried as I did.  That she was inspired by you as I was, that they called you and met you and that you have been able to fulfill all those same promises that you made to me.  That she was able to help you become a mother…a mother that you have always dreamed of being.

Although, I didn’t pick you.  I loved you and you touched my heart and inspired me.

I am not sorry for the family I picked, but I am sorry that the decision I made meant that you didn’t get picked.  I never wanted that kind of power.  I never wanted to deem one family worthy of a child and another not.

I want you to know that after hours of combing through so many families…SO many families with the same desires and hopes and heart breaks I picked you…I picked you AND I picked her.  I had an impossible decision to make.  I was so exhausted, I was so tired, I didn’t want to be here, I didn’t want to make this choice.  I hated everything about this process.  I want you to know that I wanted to help you both, to be a part of both of your families, I wanted to share in the joy with both of you.  I knew that wasn’t possible and it broke me.

I prayed all night, prayed for comfort, for clarity, for understanding, for peace, for direction.  I stared at your faces in the dark.  Finally a restless sleep came over me.  When I felt myself wake in the morning I wished that I could sleep forever.  I knew that I had to face the decision.  I knew that I had to be accountable for my actions.  I knew that the consequences were coming to collect.

I sat up and I looked down at your face, and at her face.  And I knew.   My prayers had been answered.  I knew who I was going to pick to be the mother of my son.  And I put your profile back in the pile.

All these years later, I want you to know that I loved you and I think about you often.  I am sorry that I couldn’t pick you.  But even more than that…I hope someone else did.

Ashley, Birth Mom 11 years later.

 

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I love surprises.

 

When I was little, I grew up with a brother, Kevin, who was 10 years older than me and was constantly finding new ways to entertain me, surprise me, and make my life feel magical. For example, Easter baskets were never just handed over, but after extensive scavenger hunts, I usually found the basket in a strange place like the dryer or hanging from a tree, outside, above my head, and out of reach. One of the BEST surprises that Kevin pulled off was waking me up one morning to go to the airport with him to “pick up one of Dad’s friends”. We got to the airport, walked past all the shops and restaurants, and all the way to the gate to greet this guest (this was long before 9/11). When the friend never got off the plane, my brother told me the guest must still be on the plane and we have to go on and look for him. So we got on the empty plane, and still, there was no friend to be found. At this point, Kevin told me just to sit down in one of the seats because he must be in the bathroom (I love surprises as much as I am gullible, so it works out well!). After sitting for a while and being totally unaware that the plane is now filling with people, I started looking out the window see the plane was moving backward. I started screaming and crying and telling Kevin we have to get off this plane – while the flight attendant sternly asked me to sit back down. Finally, Kevin had to spill the beans and tell me that we were actually on the plane to go to Disneyland, and that there is no Dad’s friend. My tears dried up quickly and yet again, Kevin had pulled off a great surprise.

 

Today – March 29th – marks one year since the biggest surprise of my life started to unfold.  One year ago, this day started as an average day. I do remember feeling a little anxious and a little defeated. Josh’s big medical school test was only a few weeks away, and following it he would have two weeks off school – with a rigid medical school schedule this was his only scheduled break of the year. We had been hoping for so long that something would happen with our adoption before those two weeks so that we would have time together to adjust to our new normal. But that date was quickly approaching and there were no new situations, and we hadn’t even presented our profile yet to anyone (although had many opportunities that didn’t feel “right” yet). Needless to say, our timeline that we dreamt up wasn’t looking promising.

 

On that day I woke up to a text from my brother out of the blue saying,

“I’m sure that its easy to get anxious and impatient – but there is a mom out there that desperately needs you, and you are ready for her when she seeks help. I love you. And couldn’t be more proud of you.”

I thanked him for this timely text of encouragement not knowing in a matter of a few hours a VERY special mom would start to make her way into our lives.

 

I was cruising my Facebook feed during that 3 o’clock in the afternoon slump, when I saw a post that caught my eye. An agency was having a hard time finding a match for twin girls – this expectant mom had looked through many books and hadn’t found what she was looking for and was due in a few short weeks. Josh had been joking (quite seriously) that he wanted twins throughout our whole adoption. I thought he was nuts and knew the chances of twins were slim to none, but I couldn’t help but think of him when I saw this post on Facebook across my feed. So, I tagged him in the comments with a simple winky face emoji. No words. Just an emojii. It was kinda mean – because I knew these girls weren’t going to be ours. After all, the post said you needed to live in Utah, so in a way, I was taunting him and after I left my comment, I kept scrolling.

 

A couple hours later Josh flew in the door, ready to start negotiating with me why we should email the agency to make SURE that you HAVE to live in Utah. He obviously was thinking about how to convince me on his hour long commute home.
After less convincing that he thought I would need, I sent an email to the agency – expecting to hear that we can’t live out of state for this situation. But the answer was different and it changed everything.
That night, Josh and I laid in bed, both processing differently, both not sleeping, and not talking either. I remember staying up till about three in the morning crying and wondering if I am strong enough for twins. I even googled “how to take care of twins”. That night I got a text from a friend with TWO sets of twins. She told me that sometimes we have to flip the coin and let God choose how it lands.

 

Even though fears all but overtook me that night – one question would lead to the next ten questions….How do we raise 30K in just a few weeks? How do we take care of twins while Josh is in medical school? How do we afford twins? Where do we put the twins in our small Chicago apartment? How do you care for two babies at once? How long will they need to be in the NICU? And especially, can we do this?

 

But somehow Josh and I both woke up with a sense of peace. We knew our options were:

 

  • to not present our profile book and always wonder “what if?”
  • to present and get a no, and know that it wasn’t our story
  • to present, and at that point, if we got a yes, it was because so many doors had to open and that in itself would be a big enough confirmation to us.

 

So, that next morning we decided to say “yes”. And today, I am writing this blogpost with my two daughters crawling across the floor who have given me more joy than I could ever have imagined. I would be so angry at one-year-ago-Hannah if she had let fear win. How different life would look today had I not tossed the coin.

 

Ezra and Olive – You are my greatest surprise. In every sense of the word.  And I couldn’t be more grateful and honored that your birth mom said “yes” back.

“While we’re distracted with fear, the enemy pickpockets our purpose, cripples our courage, dismantles our dreams and blinds us to the beauty of the Lord’s great plans.” – Lisa TerKeurst

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Kindred + Co is a brave adoption community. Sharing stories of beauty and brokenness, hope and redemption as we walk through life together.

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