Monday, March 4, 2013

Our journey to Jonah

We have had tons of people who are continuing to ask about our adoption so I thought I would share our journey from the beginning. It actually all started nine years ago while Peter and I were trying to get pregnant with Brienne. We had been trying to have a baby for a couple years with no luck and one night I was reading “Jesus the One and Only” by Beth Moore.  In the first or second chapter she discussed the role of Joseph and how the Lord has such a heart for adoption that He even allowed His only Son to be adopted by an earthly father. When I read that, I just felt in my soul that the Lord was speaking to me and telling me that one day we would adopt a baby.  When I mentioned it to Peter, though, he was less than enthusiastic. Then a couple months later, after completing another fertility treatment, we became pregnant with Brienne. But I didn’t forget the tugging in my heart towards adoption that I had felt that night alone in my bedroom.

Fast-forward three years – Brienne was almost 3 and Peter and I decided it would be a good time to have another baby. We went through several rounds of fertility treatments, spending all of our savings, but we just couldn’t get pregnant. After about 4 rounds of treatment, I just really began to feel that the Lord was calling us to adopt. Everywhere I looked, everything I read, even our Christmas program at church that year was centered on adoption. It was bombarding me and I felt that the Lord was really trying to speak to me through certain people, books and magazines that I was reading, and even things I was hearing on the radio. Peter and I began to pray about the possibility of adoption even though Peter was not thoroughly convinced that this was something we should do. We decided to pray about it while we continued to pursue fertility treatments. After 7 rounds of treatment, we decided that we would go ahead and pursue adoption. I had been given a verse (Psalm 113:9) by a friend to claim as my own. The verse says, “And the Lord will make the barren woman a happy mother of children.” I began praying that verse for myself and believing it to be true because I knew that the Lord had spoken to me and that He would do what He said He would do.

We chose to pursue an international adoption and were on a waiting list to receive a little girl from Guatemala.  When we began the process in March 2007, we were #47 on the waiting list, and after about 6 months, we had moved up to #13. However, in December 2007 we received a call that Guatemala and the United States had decided to halt adoptions due to some international laws that the countries basically couldn’t agree on. So we were left with a decision to make – we could wait it out to see if Guatemala would reopen, we could change countries, or we could choose to stop the adoption process altogether and lose all of our money. We felt like we couldn’t just let all that money go to waste so we first decided to switch countries and go to Vietnam; however, we soon found out that Vietnam was closed due to some political strife. Next we decided to try the China special needs program but we began to encounter one problem after another with our paperwork. We realized that we weren’t feeling called to adopt a child from one of these countries so we just continued to pray and tried to follow God’s will for our family. A few months later, in August 2008 we received a phone call from our local social worker in Louisiana saying that she had received a referral of a little boy in the Ukraine and she asked if we wanted him.  Of course we did! We felt like this little boy was the answer to our prayers, and all three of us, Peter (who was deployed again), Brienne, and I, immediately fell in love with this little blond-headed blue-eyed angel. We began the paperwork process for Ukraine and completed everything in record time. We truly felt like this was the Lord’s doing because everything was falling into place so easily. But that turned out to be the furthest thing from the truth. In December 2008, as we were basically just waiting on the phone call to travel to Ukraine to bring the little boy that we were calling Cooper home to us, we got a different, devastating phone call. Due to several unrelated circumstances beyond our control, including civil unrest caused by Russia, we weren’t going to be able to adopt this precious child. I was absolutely devastated and couldn’t understand why the Lord would put us through two years of heartbreak.

In the meantime, we received orders to move to Clarksville, TN. When we moved there, I begged Peter to complete a TN home study so that we would be prepared if we ever found a baby in the surrounding area who needed a home. His response was, “No. If God wants us to have a baby, He will drop one in our lap.” We had no idea how prophetic that statement would turn out to be. 

Every day, I would get up and pray for a baby for our family. I didn’t know how the Lord was going to do it, but I just felt so strongly that He had promised me another baby all those years ago so I kept praying persistently. But one morning in April 2010, as I was reading the Bible and praying, I felt the Lord tell me to stop praying for a baby. I couldn’t understand why He would ask that of me, but I knew that He was requiring me to stop praying for this thing that I had become obsessed with, and I knew that He would help me by taking away my desire for another child. So that morning, I stopped praying for a baby. I called Peter who was out of town, and he said, “Well, it’s about time.” He had stopped praying for a baby months before when he saw how much it was hurting me as we went through heartbreak after heartbreak.

Our little family got into a routine and we were satisfied and happy with the one precious daughter the Lord had given us. Everything was going smoothly and then on the morning of September 24, 2010, I was studying the Bible and reading the book Radical when I felt the Lord ask me, “Adrienne, how can I ever be glorified in your life if you are always the one planning everything?” Wow! That hit me like a ton of bricks and I just sat there and wept. I told the Lord that morning that I wanted Him to be glorified in my life and I wanted Him to show up big so that everyone would know it was Him and not me. I had no idea just how much He was going to show out!

THAT VERY EVENING I received a phone call from our social worker in Louisiana. Keep in mind we had not spoken to her in over a year. She called to tell me that she had a birth mom who had chosen us to be the family for her baby! What?? I had no idea that our social worker was even showing our profile information to anyone. Well, of course, I was ecstatic but I knew we had so many hurdles to overcome. Peter was deployed again for an entire year, we didn’t have a TN home study, and we had no money to fund this adoption. When I told our social worker these things, she responded, “Well, if this is the child the Lord has chosen for your family, then He will make a way.”

I contacted Peter in Afghanistan and he agreed that we should pursue this adoption and see what would become of it. He really felt that God was answering our heart’s desire for another child, particularly because we had just given this to the Lord not too many months before. As we talked about names for this precious baby, Peter suggested the name Jonah. He felt that this name signified our journey of how we sometimes stray from God’s plan only to realize that it is impossible to elude God. Peter felt that the name Jonah signified obedience and we were being obedient to the Lord’s will for our family.

I began to get all of our paperwork together and had a home study update completed.  The baby wasn’t due until November 22, so in my mind, I had about 2 months to get ready for this new addition to our family. I was still wary about buying anything or telling anyone although I did tell a few friends who I knew would be praying for the situation. Then on October 25 I received an email letting me know that the birth mom had gone into early labor. I was panicked but I had enough sense to pack a bag for me and Brienne and hit the road to Louisiana. Our precious little Jonah was born on October 26, as we were driving somewhere in Alabama. As I arrived at the hospital the following morning to meet my son, I was nervous and excited and anxious all at the same time. But when the birth mom’s mother placed him in my arms, I knew he was the answer to our prayers. I knew I was holding my son, and he was the reason all of our other adoption plans had fallen through. The Lord had been preparing our hearts for this very moment.

As I left the hospital that evening with my son in the back seat, I couldn’t help but reflect on this incredible journey. And it dawned on me that back in April, when the Lord had asked me to stop praying for a baby, the birth mom was actually finding out that she was pregnant with our child. It was as if God was saying, “I have this under control. Stop obsessing and worrying about it. Give it over to me. I have a plan for you.” I was amazed to realize the timing of those events. And what I love the most is that God is in the details - for instance, both birth parents are musically gifted. So many things happened which indicated that the Lord cares about the details of our lives; not just the major problems but the little things. I love that! And I know that our family feels so blessed and loved by our amazing God.


Quoting the late Paul Harvey, “and now, the rest of the story...”

Nearly 1 year after Jonah’s birth, God showed up big in our lives once again.  Through our years of fertility, I developed a habit of taking a pregnancy test prior to receiving the FLU vaccination.  In October 2011, I took another pregnancy test, not with anticipation, but solely out of habit, and I nearly fainted. The result was positive!  This was impossible!  For years, doctors had told me that I would never be able to get pregnant on my own. But “humanly speaking, it is impossible.  But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26 NLT).  I was speechless!  I took a picture of the pregnancy test and texted Peter who immediately called me, dumbfounded.  Because of our history of ectopic pregnancies during fertility treatments, Peter was adamant about getting an ultrasound accomplished as soon as possible.  The very next day, we walked into the ultrasound room with too many feelings to capture in words.  Those feelings quickly turned to tears of joy when we heard the heartbeat and the nurse say, “you’re pregnant.”

Peter wanted to tell everyone immediately, but I had some reservations.  He said, “this was a gift from God and regardless of what may happen tomorrow, we are celebrating the life of our first naturally conceived child.”  How could I argue with that?  Although we were tempted throughout the pregnancy, due to my age and higher risk of abnormalities, we refused to allow fear and doubt to enter our thoughts.  So, on June 12, 2012 we welcomed Vivienne Elise into the world and our growing family.  God is good, all the time, and He has a sense of humor.  June 12 is not only Vivienne’s birthday, but also our wedding anniversary.  Peter says Vivienne was an anniversary gift from God following our obedience of adoption.

As we reflect back on our journey, we keep discovering more and more details that can only be of God’s doing.  One of those moments hit Peter and me hard.  We were preparing the house in TN for yet another move, this time to GA, when we discovered a photo from 2008.  It was a photo of Cooper, the Ukrainian blond-headed blue-eyed angel.  As soon as we looked at the photo, we turned and looked at each other—JONAH!  The resemblance is amazing and with further study of the picture, we noticed what was embroidered on Cooper’s outfit—a big fish.
We are both so humbled by God’s grace and love that has and continues to be poured into our lives.  Will this be the end of our journey…only God knows?


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