Adoption Story: Derek + Shannon

I chatted with Shannon for the very first time around Christmas last year.   I remember her talking about how it had been snowing there recently and they had been outside playing with their four boys. It has been such a joy getting to know their sweet family and have a front row seat to all of the incredible ways that God has provided. They signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants in January and in less than two months they were chosen to be the parents of a little girl by her brave birth mama. Shannon shares more of their story below.


Adoption was something that Derek and I talked about early on in our marriage. We wanted to wait on God’s timing and for His plan to be made clear. Looking back over the past 10 years- what a journey it has been. We decided to try and start a family shortly before our one year wedding anniversary. I know- so soon?! But we were both settled in our jobs, we felt financially secure, and let’s be honest- I have always loved babies and couldn’t wait to start that chapter in our lives. Over the next few years we had four boys about 2 years a part. However, we felt like our family wasn’t complete. Watching close friends journey through foster care and domestic adoption, our hearts were being tugged at more and more.

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I was ready to start the adoption process quite a bit before Derek was. I talked about it all the time. I felt like I was often nagging him about getting on the same page and wondered, “God, why are you calling me to something so huge, but not my husband?!” I decided to lay low for awhile and completely drop the topic and just pray. So for a few months that’s what I did. Finally, in October o f 2017 after we both spent time in prayer, Derek said that he really felt we should start the process towards adoption…NOW!

After discussing our options with a friend who recently adopted, I called Christian Adoption Consultants and spoke with Kelly Todd. I loved the idea of hiring an adoption consultant to walk with us through the entire process. Because let’s be honest, we were total newbies and we had no idea what we were doing. Simply just chatting with Kelly and getting information from her was like talking to an old friend. I felt my eyes literally tear up at times during the conversation when talking about that missing piece of the family, and our hearts for adoption. Kelly was so helpful and made us feel very comfortable and confident throughout our entire journey.

After our home study was complete near the end of January 2018, we signed on with CAC. Shortly after we received our first situation. We were so excited to give our “yes” for the first time, but knew very well not to expect things to happen right away. Over the next month, we said “yes” to 3 more situations. Every “no” felt more like a “not yet” to us, and we trusted that God wouldn’t let us miss out on His plan for our family. There were times when we doubted and we wondered if we’d ever be chosen by an expectant mama. Some of the doubt specifically came from the fact that we already have 4 biological children. What would an expectant mom think about that? But time and time again we heard God telling us just to trust Him. And so we did.

Near the end of March we presented to another situation. The next day, as I was building a snowman with the boys outside during a freak March snowstorm, my cell phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. But by the area code I figured it was the agency calling to tell us that the expectant mama chose to move forward with another family. I was shocked when she explained to us that we were chosen. It was us- this was really happening!  There was just something about this sweet little baby girl having four older brothers to protect her that made us stand out. Derek pulled in from work just a few minutes later and I ran outside (barefoot and all) onto the ice and snow telling him that we were matched! It was exciting, but nerve wracking all at once. We had a few months until the expectant mother’s due date. Having time to prepare was good, but it wasn’t always easy. It was difficult waiting in the unknown and we still struggled with doubt sometimes. Our faith was tested almost daily, but God continued to show up. He showed up during our fundraisers-helping us cram in two huge events in that time frame. He showed up with our community- with the support and love and prayers we felt all the time. He was faithful and He provided for us in so many ways.

When Derek and I discovered that the expectant mother wanted me with her in the delivery room, we thought it would be best if I headed in that direction a week early. Derek would plan on coming later. My mom graciously traveled out with there early with me. A few days later we were able to have lunch with Mama A and get to know her. When we first met she greeted me with the biggest hug. It was if we had been friends forever. We also met her parents that day, who were extremely supportive and made my mom and I feel like we were family. Saturday morning my mom left and headed back home to take care of our boys. I was in the unfamiliar city alone and continued waiting to get the call that Mama A was in labor. Clinging to God and trusting His plan for us was all I could do during that time. Monday night before bed I specifically remember crying out to God, as so many emotions came over me that night as I lay in bed.

After receiving confirmation in the middle of the night that Mama A was admitted into the hospital, I called Derek to tell him to get on the next plane and I took an Uber over to the hospital. I was completely honored that she wanted me to be in the delivery room with her. It was such a special time and one that I will never forget. I held her hand and supported her, as she bravely brought her daughter into the world. After the birth she reached out to me and we hugged and cried for a very long time. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. A few hours later, Derek arrived and there could have not been a sweeter reunion.

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Over the next few days we continued to get to know our daughter’s brave birth mama. We are so inspired by her courage and the unconditional love she has for her little girl. We, along with her birth mother, named our daughter, Selah Nakora. Selah means ‘to pause and reflect’, or another interpretation says ‘to praise.’ We couldn’t think of a more fitting name for our baby.

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As soon as we brought Selah home our boys were so smitten with her and have already stepped into the “big brother” role so well. Our daughter is such a miracle baby in so many ways and we are so blessed to be her mom and dad.

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“Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your name, be the glory,
because of your love &faithfulness.”
– Psalm 115:1-

 


***If you are interested in learning more about adoption and the services we provide at Christian Adoption Consultants, I would love to chat! Feel free to email me at kelly@christianadoptionconsultants.com and check out Christian Adoption Consultants for more information!***

The Flood Will Not Consume You

Two years ago today I wrote a post on the The Great Flood of 2016 that hit our home and community in Denham Springs, Louisiana (see below). Last week I wrote a post on the importance of looking back on what God has done in our life to give us strength and confidence to trust Him with our present circumstances and future. This is me practicing what I preach…

Six weeks after we adopted our twins, the Great Flood of 2016 hit our community and our home in Denham Springs, Louisiana.  The Washington Post stated that this flood dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina. According to the Red Cross, this was the “worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy,” and FEMA reported that over 150,000 homeowners/renters applied for assistance.

Moments leading up to the evacuation I was cooking chicken fajitas for Obbie and I. While I was feeding our boy I looked out the front door and noticed the water line had risen quite considerably. At the time I wasn’t nervous because we weren’t in a flood zone. I showed Obbie and he went out to talk with all of the neighbors who had gathered at the edge of their driveways. When I stuck my head out the door, I saw Obbie’s face from a distance. I will never forget the concerned look on his face. I knew it wasn’t good. He came back inside and said, “Kelly, we need to pack everything up. The water will probably be entering our house soon.” I started crying. I didn’t want to leave. This was our home.

I couldn’t find a suitcase so I brought a large empty black trunk and dragged it into the twins room. As I walked in, I began to tear up. I had spent so much time preparing, decorating, dreaming and hoping in this room. As I began stuffing all of their clothes and diapers into the trunk I looked to the right and saw the huge frame that read, “I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him…” I turned it around and saw all of the names I had hand written with a sharpie marker-probably 500 or more. Every single person who helped us bring our babies home has a place in our hearts and on the back of the frame. I hoped that it would serve as a future reminder to our children of just how loved they are-not just by us but by an entire community! Little did I know that on Saturday, August 13, 2016 the Lord would use something I had intended for my children to minister to me. In those scary moments I felt like He was saying, “trust me with this Kelly…remember how I brought you through the other storms and valleys…remember…even when you can’t make sense of what is going on…trust me…”

We threw as much as as we could into the back of our neighbor’s big white truck. Although I don’t remember a lot from that day, I will never forget the drive. At that point the water was so high I could feel it splash my face. And as I looked down at the twins I began to cry as we slowly waded through the water.  There were moments when I felt like I was in a nightmare and I just wanted to wake up. I prayed, “Dear Lord, protect our babies. Please keep our babies safe…”

A few hours after we arrived at our neighbor’s house the waters began rising there too. We made the decision to evacuate their house because if we waited too long we wouldn’t be able to get out. We took the twins and two back packs full of diapers and formula and headed to the one of the only dry streets left in our neighborhood. Preparing to sleep in our mini van, we parked behind our friends on the side of the road. A few minutes after we arrived there a young woman approached us with a concerned look on her face.  “Please come stay with us.” We spent that night and the next day camped out in her living room. Her entire family welcomed us and fed us.

After a few days the water subsided. When we realized our house was going to be unlivable for a few months due to the flood damage, we thought it would be best if I took the twins up north to stay with family. (We ended up staying there for a few months while my husband continued gutting and rebuilding our home with the help of friends and strangers.) Many families lost absolutely everything.  Later we learned that many families had to be evacuated by boat because the water was so high. They had to leave everything behind. Can you imagine that kind of loss?

To the flood victims: I know so many of you are exhausted and you just wonder when things will go back to normal. You walk into rooms that you barely recognize. You try to salvage a decades worth of memories in print. You wonder how you will provide for your family because you didn’t have flood insurance and government assistance hasn’t covered a fraction of what it will cost to rebuild your home. I am hurting with you. But, one thing I do know for sure is that we will rise from this and we will grow and become stronger through it. I don’t say that to diminish the loss or pain you/we are going through. I say to encourage you and remind you that there is hope. And that Hope is Jesus Christ and that is what I am clinging to.

It can be overwhelming when you look around at what is left of your house. Memories may flood your mind of what used to be there; the room that you rocked your baby in for the very first time; that special corner in your living room where you put up your Christmas tree every year; the kitchen table where you shared meals together. Although the flood may have destroyed the physical things-those waters will never be able to take your memories. But more importantly than those precious memories is the overwhelming reminder that this place is not our eternal home. The Lord has always used trials in my life to remind me of this. I am not going to sit here and try to make sense of the flood. I can’t wrap my mind around it. However, I am quite certain through my own trials, that God does not waste anything. He is sovereign and in control of ALL things. God didn’t waste my cancer. God didn’t waste my miscarriage. And we can be confident that God is still at work right now. God creates beauty out of the mess and muddy waters.

Perhaps you’ve never been through a natural disaster. But I know through personal experience that it doesn’t take an actual flood to bring on a storm. In the pain and chaos it is difficult to see God’s plan. When you are knee deep in the waters  it is easy to think that God has forgotten you and sometimes that makes it difficult to trust. But, believe this my friend: the flood will not consume you and He has NOT forgotten you. He is worthy of our trust even when we can’t comprehend or understand the chaos that surrounds us. Whatever flood or mess currently has your attention, my prayer for you is that you would cling to your Savior. When you look around at all of the unrecognizable mess, my prayer is that you would fix our eyes on Christ. Ask Him for strength. Ask Him for patience. Cry out to Him. He is listening and He is near. He will bring you out of this storm. Why? Because He is a faithful God who promises to never leave His children.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” -Isaiah 43:2

Remembering God’s Fingerprints In Your Life

The other night, after I sang my sweet 2 year old baby girl to sleep, I walked into her twin brother’s room to tuck him in. I laid on the floor with my arm around him on his new, big boy, toddler bed. I was exhausted from the day and thought perhaps I could get away with just singing one verse of his favorite song. After I finished and I tried to get up, he wouldn’t let me go. He wrapped his little arm around my neck, pulled me in close, and said, “No mama, song! Stay. Snuggle.” He was so confident that mommy would stay with him and sing a few more songs because He knows me and that’s what I do every other night. My heart melted into a puddle right there on the floor as I continued singing to him and watched him slowly drift off to sleep.

I don’t have to look too far back in my life to see God’s fingerprints and be reminded of His provision and faithfulness. But unlike my son, who can remember how many songs I sing to him every night, sometimes I forget. Can you relate? After 430 years in slavery (Exodus 12:40), God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and out from under Pharaoh’s rule in a mighty display of His power, dominion and glory. He sent 10 horrendous plagues, parted the Red Sea allowing the Israelites to escape from slavery into freedom, and when they were hungry God made bread fall from the sky (literally) (Exodus 16:4). But, they quickly forgot, complained and traded in the promises of God for broken cisterns that could not satisfy. And 2,000 years later, not really all that much has changed. We still behave like the Israelites who completely forgot and dismissed what the Lord did and said because our present circumstances aren’t quite unfolding the way we expect them too. 

Francis Chan refers to the forgetfulness of God’s promises and provisions as spiritual amnesia, an epidemic that none of us are immune to. You may be thinking, “If spiritual amnesia is inevitable than what can I do?” The author of Hebrews continually reminded them, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away (Hebrews 2:1). And again in Hebrews 3:6 and 3:14 he encourages them to “hold onto their original confidence.” Why would the author continually remind the Israelites to hold onto what they already know to be true?  He knew they needed to be continually reminded to REMEMBER what God has done and REMEMBER what God has said. The author of Hebrews knew the antidote for spiritual amnesia: remembering.

1. Remembering what God has said.
As a Christian, spending time with God in His word and through prayer are vital to your spiritual health. But, how can you remember what you do not know? As a busy wife, twin mom and adoption consultant, I’m constantly struggling to prioritize my schedule in such a way that allows for time in the Word and prayer. It’s tough and I’m sure it’s an art I will always be growing in. But, what a difference spending time in the Word does for my soul! During times of sickness, uncertainty, tragedy, doubt, loss, worry, fear, sadness, broken relationships, etc., God’s promises come to mind because I’ve buried them in my heart through continual reading and remembering.  Promises such as:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
-Isaiah 43:2

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 4:19

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”
-Ephesians 3:20

2. Remembering what God has done. 
In Joshua 3 we see how God, once again, parted the waters which provided access for the Israelites to walk through the Jordan River onto dry land.  They placed 12 stones from the riverbed and stacked them on the other side (Joshua 4), which served as a reminder to them and others of God’s faithfulness and provision.  I believe God places “Stones of Remembrance” in our life because He knows we are prone to forget. Remembering what God has done in our past, give us hope and confidence to trust Him with our future. Can you think of any “stones of remembrance” in your life or perhaps a time you remember where God was with you in a very tangible way?

  • Remember how God sustained you through a very difficult time.
  • Remember how God healed you or a loved one from physical illness.
  • Remember how God saved you from your sin and brought you into new life.
  • Remember how God provided for you in a very specific way.
  • Remember how God comforted you through a time of loss.

Roman and Ruby cry in the middle of the night because they know mommy and daddy are coming to rock them back to sleep. Roman runs towards me with arms wide open from across the room because he is confident that I will catch him! Ruby points out her “boo boo” to us because she knows we will make it better.  How can they be so sure that we will follow through? Our children know us and their confidence in our response comes through remembering.

Whether you’re sitting in the unknown and waiting, struggling with physical illness, trying to mend a broken relationship, experiencing financial issues, struggling with infertility or loss, dealing with the death of a loved one or in the process of adopting a child, whatever your circumstance may be; my prayer for you is that you would remember to remember. Remember what God has said. Remember what God has done. As stories of God’s faithfulness come to mind and you look back on His fingerprints in your life, I hope it will provide you with strength and confidence to trust Him with your present circumstances and your future.