National Adoption Month Series: Hally’s Story

Sometimes we look back on difficult periods in our lives, and we wonder how we got through them. We wonder if we could do it again; if the strength we had in those moments would return if we were to go through the same or similar challenges once more.

Over ten years have passed since my husband and I began our adoption journey, so some of the details of the process and the intense emotions of the experience have faded, but I clearly recall that God was with us during those years between the birth of our biological son and the arrival of our adopted daughter.

When my husband and I married at 33 and 28, respectively, we were ready to start our family right away. Initially, we simply did nothing to prevent a pregnancy, but after a couple of years without success, we began trying lots of “beginner” measures to become pregnant. By the time our fourth Christmas as a married couple rolled around, we were finally able to announce a pregnancy.

Our son was conceived with the help of oral Clomid, and a second pregnancy came rather unexpectedly a year or so after his birth. The excitement of that relatively-easy conception didn’t last long. I miscarried the baby just days after announcing to my family, friends and co-workers that we were expecting a second child.

Somehow I felt that would be my last pregnancy. I had suspected miscarriages prior to this confirmed one, and I thought we should resume and increase our fertility treatments in order to have the second child we wanted so badly. We tried a variety of different options, all of which were emotional exhausting. I don’t remember how many appointments, ultrasounds (part of the fertility treatment process), at-home pregnancy tests, and injections I had. But I do know it was taxing.

When we had tried without success to become pregnant using the fertility measures my husband and I felt comfortable with, we decided to pursue adoption. We met with the director of a small St. Louis agency and quickly began to pursue foreign adoption. This gave me new hope and a new focus as I threw myself into completing a dossier and all the paperwork required for the complicated process.

Months went by while we waited, researched, documented and prepared for a placement to come from Romania, the country our agency did all their adoptions through. We were nearly ready when something unexpected happened; Romania shut their doors to international adoptions. I was devastated.

A long-awaited conception with baby one, a miscarriage in my second pregnancy, tiresome fertility treatments, an adoption process, and a country with many babies in need of good homes that was no longer willing to release those babies. These challenges and closing doors were getting the best of me, and, all of this was in addition to my full-time job as a high school guidance counselor and my role as a wife and mother to my precious toddler.

I remember crying with my husband, telling him that perhaps it was just not meant to be. I thought perhaps we should be happy with our one beautiful son, but we had always wanted him to have a sibling. Maybe that just wasn’t His plan.

What is it they say about closing doors? When Romania’s door closed, our wonderful adoption-agency pioneer decided to open a new door and venture into Guatemala. She helped Tim and I prepare to be the first family for whom she facilitated an adoption in the country.

More months passed, but just a few short weeks after our son’s fourth birthday, we were sent pictures of a beautiful baby girl available for placement in Guatemala. Our daughter came home to us in January 2002 at four-and-a-half months old, and we held her in our arms on my husband’s 42nd birthday. In the first moments of our meeting, our son looked down at his baby sister in the stroller and said to her “yessa, yessa do like chicken nuggets.” Well, she did, and she still does.

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I love nuggets of truth, and I know the truth is that God has plans for us all. Romania wasn’t His plan for us, Guatemala was. And, when I look into my daughter’s eyes, I know she was the one for this family. Thank goodness for His plans, doors that open when others close, and the strength that He provides as we wait for it all to come into view.

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Hally is a former high school guidance counselor, turned homemaker and freelance writer. She serves as the secretary for her church, and she is a 4-H leader, cheer booster, band parent, book club member, and enthusiastic traveler. She lives with her family outside St. Louis, Missouri, where she regularly writes about parenting, relationships, travel and more at Bloom, Bond & Build

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National Adoption Month Series: Christina’s Adoptee Story

I was born in Medellin, Colombia. My birth mother is a maid there, but I do not have any information on my birth father. Immediately after my birth I was sent to live in an orphanage in Medellin and was cared for by nuns. When I was fourteen months old I was adopted by a young couple from Grand Rapids, Michigan. My adoption was finalized in Colombia on October 17, 1983 and a few days later I left for the United States with my new parents. I was met at the airport by my new, extended family which is quite large.

This is a letter I wrote to my birth mother although she may never read it. It explains the depth of gratitude I feel towards her and the love I have experienced in my life since being adopted.

Dear Mother,

As a mother myself I can only imagine the heartache you must have felt sending me to an orphanage, hoping for a better life for me than you could provide. You knew me before the world did, as I grew from one cell to multiple cells, growing bigger every day. I kicked and punched and slept in your womb. I felt the love you had for me.

I often wonder, when I was born did you cry for me? Did your arms and heart ache for me? As a part of you, I believe you did. I know you wished you could have kept me and watch me grow. Mother, out of love you sent me on to a better life.

When I was still a baby, a new woman and man became my mom and dad and oh what a life they have given me. They watched me learn to walk and talk. They saw me fall and shared my joys and my sorrows. I know the joy that I brought them when they lost hope of having a child. I am a daddy’s girl and he is an amazing man, a God-fearing and loving man. My mom cuddled me, sang to me, played with me, and disciplined me. I know this is the childhood you wanted me to have with an extended family that adored and loved me. My grandparents were the most amazing people I have ever met and I was blessed to call them my grandmas and grandpas. Mother, you gave them a gift and your spirit was always with me.

I kept growing into a teen, and although I went through the typical teenage uncertainty and awkwardness, I was always extremely proud of who I was and still privileged with the life you gave me.  I grew into adulthood without too many incidents. As a young woman, I became a mother. At the birth of my daughter, I felt the elation you more than likely also felt when you saw me. There was a little sorrow in my heart though because you were not there to see this child being born. My mom was there and was able to share the birth with me. My daughter would not have been possible without you and your choice.

As a mother of three wonderful children now, I cannot fathom how you could have given me this life. These three children are the gift that would not have been possible without your sacrifice. Thank you, mother, for choosing life. Thank you for choosing adoption. This life I have is amazing. To quote a popular movie, “I never did thank you for this extraordinary life you gave me!” This is my thank you to you, a woman I may never again meet on this earth, but my spirit knows you and will see you in heaven.

My adoptive parents are amazing people who have raised me in the Light of Christ. I am beyond blessed with this life I have been given.

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Christina is a single mom of three wonderful children. Being a mother is the most challenging yet rewarding job there is for her and she wouldn’t change one thing about being a mommy.

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An Unexpected, Full Quiver – Katie’s Story

I’ve always wanted a big family. Okay, well, originally I thought that meant four kids. When I was in high school I felt God distinctly tell me that He would call me to adopt someday. Those feelings were solidified when I met my husband, Tim, and he felt the same way too. After we married, we said that we would have four or five kids, but joked that we would have ten or twelve. Our first, a daughter, was born in 2007 and I just loved being pregnant. I knew then that I could happily carry and birth four or five more, if God allowed. We named her Selah, which means to “pause” or “meditate,” and I adored being able to do just that as a mother to my little girl.

What I never anticipated was having trouble conceiving or sustaining pregnancies after Selah. We began trying for our second little angel the year after she was born, but instead, had three back-to-back miscarriages over the next year. By the time Selah was three years-old and all the rest of my mommy friends were pregnant with or already having their second and third babies, I began to despair, thinking that our hopes and dreams of having a large family were quickly dwindling.

We tried fertility treatments next and it was at this time that Tim and I also began to seriously consider adoption. We researched the costs, different agencies and countries to adopt from. I became so certain that adoption would probably be where the rest of our children would come from that I was surprised when we found out at the end of 2009 that the fertility treatments had worked and we were expecting a healthy baby boy. Elijah, meaning “The Lord is the one, true God,” joined our family in May of 2010 and I was overjoyed to have another sweet little one in my arms.

After Elijah was born, we looked into adoption again, but decided that we needed to wait for more consistent finances. I took the next year to enjoy motherhood and it wasn’t until the middle of 2011 that we felt confident in beginning the process of adoption when Tim’s job was more secure. We had just signed the official adoption paperwork, requesting to adopt a sibling group from Ethiopia, when we were surprised to find out we were expecting, AGAIN, this time without the help of fertility treatments! In April of 2012, we welcomed Isaac, which means “laughter” because of the huge surprise he gave us.

We knew we still wanted those two African children, though, whoever they would be, and we eagerly looked forward to word from our agency and dreamed of whom they would match us with. Selah hoped for a younger sister to play with and Tim and I tossed around what Old Testament names we would use once we got the news. But time seemed to drag on and with each passing week without word from our agency, we grew anxious. Finally, in January of 2013, just nine months after our surprise Isaac was born, we were matched with twin boys only five months younger than him. They were born in Harar, Ethiopia the previous September and then moved to an orphanage in Addis, Ethiopia.

In April, we flew to Addis and spent ten days meeting and holding our sweet, new additions to the family, touring the country and even taking a bus to visit Harar, 500 kilometers away from the boys’ new orphanage. By July, at ten months old, they were legally ours and we flew back to Addis and brought home Moses and Zechariah, which mean “drawn out” and “God has remembered.”

For years, we had prepared ourselves from agency classes, social worker visits and numerous books and resources that the biggest struggle of international adoption would be teaching these children how to bond with us as parents and siblings. However, their connection with all of us was as instant as if I had carried and born them myself.  Instead, it seemed to us that the biggest adjustment to adopting twins less than one years-old was that because Isaac was only five months older, we essentially have triplets. And since the twins were adjusting to a new home, new parents and a new routine than they were used to in their orphanage, it was much like having newborns again. They were up every three hours at night, often on opposite schedules. And once they started crawling and walking, along with Isaac, life only got crazier! Thankfully, our older two, Selah and Elijah, now 7 and 4 have been wonderful, big helpers and we have had many, many dear friends and family step in to help as well.

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But, God wasn’t done with our family yet, nor His miraculous, surprising ways. Just when I was beginning to adjust to having four rambunctious and destructive boys, 3 of them under two years-old, we had another surprise pregnancy in January of 2014. We found out that we were expecting TWINS a month later and a few weeks after that, the ultrasound showed that they were BOTH boys. I grieved this news for a short time, but God continued to bring me new mercies each morning.

Our precious new set of twins arrived via caesarian section on September 14, 2014. Noah Robert and Josiah Paul, our smallest babies yet, weighed in at 7 and 5 pounds, respectively. Their arrival meant that as an entire family we could no longer fit in our eight passenger minivan and we are bursting at the seams in our 3 bedroom, 1 bath 1200 square foot home. However, this past summer, God provided Tim with a significant and long prayed-for promotion at work, which allowed us to get approved for a loan on a new, 2015 Ford Transit nine-passenger van. He has also blessed us with a large community of family, friends and even strangers who want to help us with meals, housecleaning, childcare as well as the remodeling to expand our small house to accommodate our large family!

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We are amazed at God’s gift of seven children in seven years, and it has opened our eyes to become aware of our need for Jesus, family, friends and our church to help us. He has blessed us with the chance to experience and embrace the most beautiful picture of community and the powerful testimony of His provision as we open the doors of our lives, hearts and home to experience His grace, “do life” together, and raise this pack of children with the help and love of a multitude of others. And while I cannot even remember what life was like just seven years ago with only one baby girl, God’s grace and goodness has been abundant, and we continue to trust that He will provide for all our needs.

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Made to Mother is partnering with the Evans Project to fundraise and build enough support to be able to help expand Tim and Katie Evans’s home and assist in funding the purchase of their new family car. For years Tim and Katie have played a huge part in and blessed the lives of so many people. They have opened their home and lives to everyone who has needed or asked for help. We now see this as an opportunity to give back to them that blessing, as we donate our own time and resources and ask others for help in supporting this family.

If you would like to learn more about the Evans Project, please visit the Evans Project Page for more information and to donate. 100% of your donations will go directly to the Evans family. Thank you so much for supporting this loving, godly family and being a part of the amazing work that God continues to do through them!

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