Once we received our “clear direction” from the Lord, we started gathering the necessary information in order to start our new adventure. We had contacted an adoption agency in Miami, Florida called Advocates for Children and Families and they began to walk us through the necessary steps. We get a lot of questions as to why we chose this agency and why we chose a domestic adoption versus an international adoption. We chose the agency because Kaylee’s sister had successfully adopted from the same agency four years ago, so we knew that they were reputable, credible, and good at what they do. Second, we initially wanted a pretty closed adoption (meaning the birth family would have limited to no contact with the child). We know that some people scratch their head at this but that’s just where we were at that time.
Once we signed all the necessary documentation with the agency, a social worker came to our house and conducted several “home-studies”. Basically, they asked us a series of questions to try to determine the reasons behind why we wanted to adopt, how we felt about the process, how suitable our home would be for a newly adopted child, and what “type” of child (age, gender, race, etc) we were looking for. They would use this information to “match” our profile with the desires and preferences of prospective birth families.
It was somewhat stressful in that some of the questions we were asked we had never considered before and therefore made it really tough to answer one way or another. For example, it was pretty easy to say, “I don’t care about gender or race,” but when it came to “How open are you to adopting a child with Special Needs?” or, “How open are you to adopting a child who has experienced some level of drug or alcohol exposure during the pregnancy?” it became a little more difficult. On one hand, (as terrible as this may sound) if we have the ability to choose, would we really choose a child with some level of disability? On the other, if our prayer is for another child, who are we to turn down any blessing that God decides to send our way? From a theological perspective, we are all spiritually disabled children, yet Jesus would never turned down anyone, so who are we to (John 6:37)? Through much prayer and a few tears, we said that we were open to anything the Lord decides to give us.
Once we successfully made it through our home-studies, we were asked to create a profile book (Shutterfly photo-book) which would give prospective birth families a glimpse of what our family life looked like. Once that was completed, we were placed on a waiting list with 40 other adoptive families. At that time, there were only seven birth families looking to give their children up for adoption. Despite the odds seeming to be against us, we were assured by the agency that it wouldn’t take too long for us to be selected.
Our waiting game started in October of 2014. It was during this time that we started to focus on raising funds. We had been told that the initial fees would total anywhere between $20,000 to $25,000. Though this seemed like an impossible number, we remembered the Lord’s faithfulness in providing the first $350 and this gave us faith and confidence in “the Lord of a thousand cattle on a thousand hills.”
We started a “Go Fund Me” account and began praying. Despite our seemingly “perfect Christian” response and attitude, there were plenty of times where we became sinfully unsatisfied and impatient with the process. There were several times we had received phone calls on potential matches only to watch other families get selected. By the third phone call, we began to question the Lord’s purposes in this. We were still confident that this is where He wanted us to be, but couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working out.
Looking back now, it’s amazing to see how God used these moments to refine us and mold us more and more into who He was calling us to be. He wasn’t going to give us what we wanted, when we wanted it. Instead, He was going to give us exactly what we needed when we needed it. Every “No” forced us to rely more and more on Him. Every silent week caused us to trust Him more. Every temptation to quit led us to endure for His purposes in our lives. There were small glimmers of hope that gave us just enough strength to keep us expectant and hopeful. It was a battle but one that He was definitively sovereign over. This was most clearly displayed in March of 2015.
I was at work and received a phone call from our agency. They had a potential match and wanted to see if we were interested. Though exciting, this was an unusual phone call as they had never called to “see if we were interested” and it became clear that the reason they did was because there was potential problem with the pregnancy. Our agent told us that they had a mother who was pregnant with a baby girl that was due in 7 days and she appeared to have suffered a stroke early in the pregnancy and could suffer from cerebral palsy (CP). The doctor had discovered a black spot on the baby’s brain and this is what led them to the diagnosis. Here’s the tricky part. First, since the baby was still in utero, it was impossible to say for sure that she had CP. Second, there’s no way to test for the condition, so there was nothing they could do when she was born to fully determine whether she’d be fine or not. Finally, CP can surface any time within the first 5 years of a child’s life. So, even if she appeared to be “healthy” when she was born, the condition could pop up later.
Our agent gave us as many details as he had and asked us straight out if we’d be interested in being considered for this child’s adoption. The plan was to contact every family who checked “Yes” on the initial preference forms to see who would like to be considered. From there, they’d show those families to the birth mother and she would then select a family. Our agent made it very clear that this baby would find a home, one way or another and asked us not to say “Yes” out of a sense of guilt or obligation.
To say that we were “torn” would be a severe understatement. Those few days were incredibly difficult. On one hand we were excited about finally having a new baby in our home. On the other, we were terrified over what a baby who may have CP might mean for our family. It was here that The Journey Church and our close circle of friends were so crucial. With such an incredible decision ahead of us, they were there almost immediately praying, loving, encouraging, and supporting. They gave us solid advice and constantly pointed us to the grace, faithfulness, and sovereignty of our Lord. With anxious, but excited, hearts we informed our agency that we were willing to be considered. Whatever happened, we knew God was in control.
Almost a week later, we received a phone call informing us that we had not been selected. Our agent told us that the birth mom was given four family profiles to consider and she had narrowed the four families down to two … ours and one other. The deciding factor in her decision, oddly enough, was our daughter. As we received the news, we were disappointed, but at the same time slightly relieved. When asked what the reaction of the other family was when they found out they were selected, our agent replied, “Snotty tears. They were so excited.” Though it was tough to find out we weren’t selected, we found an incredible amount of comfort knowing that little girl had found the perfect family for her. Looking back now, we’re convinced that this was one of the Lord’s many ways of testing our faith in Him. It would’ve been so easy to turn down such a potentially difficult opportunity/situation, but through it all, we could hear the Lord saying, “Just trust me.”