Adoption Story: Heath + Shannon

I remember speaking with Heath and Shannon for the very first time in the winter of last year. I have always been so encouraged by their unshakeable faith and the way they have trusted God with their story. They signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants in February and finished up their home study and profile in March. In June they were chosen to be the parents of a little girl by her brave birth mama. Shannon shares more of their story below!

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Waiting has always been a common theme of my life.  Waiting for a job, waiting for a husband, and waiting for a baby.  Each season of wait was harder than the wait before.  This could be why my favorite verse is Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord will renew our strength, they will mount up on wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.”

My husband and I took a while to find each other.  I thought I would never get married and Heath was content being a bachelor.  Then one day on a hike, we discovered each other.  Growing up, we had attended the same church and were well acquainted with each other’s family.  It was God who finally brought us together.  That season of waiting and feeling lonely was over.

After we were married, we decided to enjoy our first year together, growing as a couple.  When we decided to begin our family, we were disappointed to discover that we were struggling to have a baby.  We began to seek out medical consults and learned through surgery, that I had endometriosis.  The surgery to explore became the surgery to repair, but still, we struggled to grow our family.

In the meantime, we began the process of being approved for foster care.  But the timing never seemed to work out.   On the same day that we went to get a third medical opinion about our infertility, we also made an appointment to meet with adoption caseworker in our foster care organization. We felt a little hopeless after leaving the fertility doctor, but the adoption meeting was very encouraging.

After many conversations and prayers, we made the decision to begin the adoption process.  We quickly discovered that adoption is filled with so much uncertainty and we had no clue what we were doing.  But, when we met Kelly Todd, an Adoption Consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants (CAC), we knew immediately that she and CAC were both a gift from God.  The process became clearer and less daunting.  But more than that, we felt like we had a friend to guide us through this journey… to help us through the fears and rejoice with us in our joys.  Talking with Kelly was like talking with a long lost friend.

After our home study was ready to go and our profile book was complete in March, we began receiving situations. We were told “no” many times by expectant mothers. It was discouraging and somedays it felt like we would never be chosen. But, we didn’t lose hope. In April we received a situation for a baby girl due in the summer. For some reason, this young woman caught our hearts.  When we found out that she chose to move forward with another family, it was so difficult.   I remember a co-worker praying me through the tears.  Heath also felt this disappointment.   Through God’s strength, we moved forward and continued waiting.  We were secure in the knowledge that God had it all figured out and that every no would lead to a greater yes.  It’s incredible to know that we couldn’t mess up or miss out on God’s plan for our story.

Since I was a young girl, I believed that God would use myself, our farm, and our horses for a greater purpose.  It was my dream to open a children’s camp for children to ride.  I kept putting this vision off, thinking that it will happen the next year, and then the next.  But I never got around to putting it into effect. God used the wait and the unknowns in the adoption process to encourage me to take the steps necessary to organize bringing children in foster care to our farm for a week long day camp.  It was after I was obedient to his calling, we got a call that changed our lives so much.

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To our surprise, one of the agencies we were working with was contacting us about a situation we presented to a few months prior-it was the expectant mother who caught our hearts.  For some reason she was asking about us again, as she chose not to move forward with the other family. We were able to speak with her on the phone two days later and instantly clicked. She felt like a dear friend from the very beginning. We were so grateful to know that she chose us to be the parents of her little girl. Her due date was in few short weeks so we rushed to make travel arrangements to meet her and her son. We were so thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know them. Later that day, we worked together to name this precious child, Raegan Grace.  Looking back, it’s amazing to see how God worked out all of the details and met our every need.

At her request, I was able to hold her hand through delivery, while encouraging and supporting her every step of the way.  When our beautiful girl made her appearance, her brave and amazing birth mother wanted me to be the first one to hold her. As I burst into tears, Raegan’s birth mother grabbed me in a hug that I can still feel. We spent the next few days in the hospital bonding with our daughter and spending time with her birth mother. She said that it was so difficult to say goodbye, but when she saw Raegan with Heath and I, she knew she made the right decision. We are still amazed by her strength, courage and the decision she made for her baby girl. Raegan’s birth mother is a part of our family forever and we are so grateful to know her and for the selfless decision she made in choosing adoption for her daughter.

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Through the entire experience, we were blessed beyond what we could imagine.  Every day we look at our little girl, we are more and more amazed at God’s goodness.  As we prepare for her dedication, we are committed to proclaim that this precious child is God’s child and we are but caretakers of a beautiful gift.  We have been entrusted with something so precious. And we know through everything, God put it all together.

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***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!***

Hope: Your Anchor In The Adoption Process

Hearing “no” from an expectant mother or expectant parents is one of the most difficult aspects of adoption for hopeful adoptive parents.  I would venture to say it’s one of the most difficult things I have to share with my families: “She/They chose to move forward with another couple.”  Even though I’m grateful the expectant mother connected with a different family, it’s never easy to share the news with my families who were not chosen.

When my husband and I were walking through the adoption process a situation was presented to us that we immediately connected with. I remember receiving the information while I was at work, and I couldn’t wait to get home to write a letter to this amazing couple that was considering an adoption plan for their child. We were excited and hopeful to present our profile. About a week later, we were informed that the expectant parents chose to move forward with another family. It was not easy news to process.  Even though we were happy that the expectant parents connected with another couple, and even though we trusted God and knew He had a plan, it was still difficult to hear those words: “They chose to move forward with another family.”

In many ways, I believe the heartache we dealt with in infertility prepared us in some ways for the adoption process. Initially, when we began trying to grow our family, I felt as if every negative pregnancy test was God telling us, “No.” Every month became torture. It was very painful for me because I was placing all of my hope into the prospect of having a child. It consumed me. I’m grateful that I was reminded through my infertility to stop placing my hope in external circumstances (having a child or a positive pregnancy test). But instead, I learned to place my Hope in my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Although we were matched very quickly after signing on with Christian Adoption Consultants, we weren’t immune to the heartache of waiting, loss, and those all-consuming questions like, “Have you forgotten about me, God? Do you hear my prayers?” But, it was through those tear-filled pillows and sleepless nights that I learned how to hope and where to place my hope. It was through the storms where I came to know the depths of God’s grace, love and kindness and learned there is no end to it. It was through infertility and miscarriage that I learned that even the most devastating circumstance does not have the power to steal my hope because it is rooted in Jesus Christ. That kind of hope is unshakeable and unwavering. That kind of hope isn’t titled when the storms come. It stands firm. It’s my anchor.

If our journey had transpired any differently then Roman and Ruby wouldn’t be our son and daughter. Every negative pregnancy test, every no, was leading to our yes. I can’t imagine our life without them in it. Being their mother is by far my greatest joy and blessing. I’m so grateful that God reminded me through the adoption process that His plan is far greater than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves. And I have two little reminders of that promise running around our house and filling our hearts to the brim each and every day!

We serve a good Father who loves us more than our minds can fathom. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sins, for your sins, for her sins and for his sins so that we might come to know Him. I pray that wherever you are in your adoption journey you will never forget His great love for you; a kind of love that always has your best interest in mind even when you can’t comprehend or understand what He is up to.

The wait is never wasted. I can’t promise you an easy journey or that there won’t be bumps and turns along the way. Nevertheless I can with full confidence remind you that God hasn’t forgotten you. He has heard your prayers. He sees you. He is with you. He promises never to leave you.  Place your hope in Christ, friends. For nothing, not even the rushing waves, will be able to tip your sail over. 

“Never was a faithful prayer lost. Some prayers have a longer voyage than others,  but then they return with their richer lading at last, so that the  praying soul is a gainer by waiting for an answer.” -William Gurnall

***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 Wait Is Never Wasted

Are you waiting on an answer from God about when/if to begin the adoption process? Are you knee deep in paperwork and home study interviews and you feel like it’s never going to end? Are you in the very middle of the journey and it feels like an expectant mother is never going to choose your family? Are you burnt out from fundraising and applying to adoption grants and a little discouraged at how far you have to go? Did you just walk through a failed adoption and now you wonder if it’s even God’s plan for you to grow your family through adoption?

I’ve spent plenty of my time here on this earth waiting. From waiting in the oncology unit at the hospital for my test results or waiting to see a positive pregnancy test after years of trying. I’ve become quite accustomed to waiting in the unknown spaces. Waiting used to steal the very life out of me. I despised it. But then something happened and through that experience I learned to be grateful in the wait.

I was finishing up my last semester of undergraduate school when I found a small lump in my upper back. I assumed it was just a muscle knot, but upon inquiring about it, and considering my history of cancer, my doctor disagreed with my assumption and referred me to a specialist. Upon examination and surgery the pathologist said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before. It looks concerning, but I would like to get a second opinion.”

I remember the turmoil that went on in my head as I waited for a diagnosis. Days turned into weeks with no conclusive answers, as the tumor was transported from one hospital to one another for further evaluation. I wasted many hours during that time playing all the “what if” scenarios out in my head. Then, an answer came. In light of the rarity of the tumor, the oncologist still wasn’t completely certain, but it was looking like the cancer I had would need to be treated with aggressive chemotherapy.

After leaving the oncology wing that day I felt hopeless. My parents went back to the hotel room, but I told them I needed a minute to myself. I remember completely falling apart underneath a corner in the cold stairwell. My mind began drowning in a sea of unknowns.  “Would I need chemotherapy? Would I have to drop out of school? Would my fertility be affected? Was death in my immediate future?”

We opted to get another medical opinion before moving forward with the treatment plan. Waiting became second nature to me. Sitting in waiting rooms, waiting for tests to be done, waiting to hear back from the doctor about those tests-for the next 10 weeks this is what my life consisted of. To our shocking yet pleasant surprise, the final diagnosis of the tumor was cancer, but it was a less aggressive form of cancer than originally diagnosed. Therefore surgery was sufficient and no further treatment was required. Although this situation was extremely exhausting and scary, the wait wasn’t wasted. Waiting in the unknown spaces reminded me of my humanity and my weaknesses. It forced me to recognize my need for Jesus and pushed me to daily places of surrender.

What does my story have anything to do with the adoption process? Waiting in the unknown. It took me awhile, but I came to a point where I started waiting with hope, instead of waiting with worry. I found hope to be a far better choice, than allowing worry to permeate all the corners of my mind. I can see how God used all of the waiting in the oncology wing to prepare me for the many unknowns in the adoption process. 

At some point in your adoption journey you are going to be faced with a decision: “Am I going to embrace the wait or become overwhelmed by it and see it as a hindrance?” My advice for you is don’t waste the wait. Don’t rush the process. God has a purpose for ALL things-including the wait. Whether it’s waiting for your first visit with your home study provider, waiting to get the final copy of your home study, waiting to hear back from an agency, waiting to hear back from a grant application, waiting to see if an expectant mother has chosen you, waiting out ICPC, waiting for finalization (I think you get the point!)-a great deal of waiting takes place in the adoption process. But keep in mind that it is through the wait that God is growing you. It won’t be easy. But it is worth it!

“In retrospect, I can see that “wait” is the most precious answer God can give us. It makes us cling to him rather than cling to an outcome. God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not. He will give me what is best for me. When it is best for me. As Paul Tripp says, “Waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.” -Vaneetha Risner

Some helpful things I did while waiting in the adoption process:
-Created a play list of worship music and played it all throughout the day
-Spoke regularly with friends who had walked through the adoption process before and could understand what I was going through
-Prayed specifically for the expectant mother and child that would one day choose us
-Communicated with our consultant at Christian Adoption Consultants
-Read a ton of blogs/books about adoption
-Kept a prayer journal about our journey (so neat to look back on!)
-Went on date nights with my husband to stay connected during the process

***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!***