Field trip to the Apple Store with 2 of my boys…
Creative South 2013 Review
“If you build it, they will come…” or will they?
“It’s not personal, it’s business.” Or is it?
There are so many ways to define success and I think it can be different for everyone.
For me, success would be that one day someone would ask our children what the best thing their Father ever did for them was and I hope they would say something like this: “He led me to Jesus and he loved my mother relentlessly, passionately, and unconditionally.”
If I do anything in life, I hope that is the legacy I leave. And further, that they would lead their children to Jesus and love their wives in the same way they hopefully see me love their mother.
For me, that would be success.
What’s your definition of success?
“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” Powerful lyrics from thousands of years ago…
- It’s not all about me.
- Children are important, but my wife is more important.
- The closer we get to God, the closer we get to each other.
- Date nights are not optional.
- The night is darkest just before the dawn. Wait for the sun to rise.
- Never go to bed angry — but don’t fight tired either.
- Love like THEY need to be loved, not how you want to be loved.
- Family and friends are critical — but the marriage is ALWAYS #1.
- Marriage is not 50/50 — it’s 100/100.
- “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28
I didn’t want to adopt.
This is a story about how God changed my heart, about the miracle of adoption, and how it changed our world.
Our adoption journey has been an emotional roller coaster with many twists and turns. We’ve had days and nights of many tears and others with incredible joy. I’ve heard from so many people that I never knew were adopted and from many others who want to adopt — it’s for those people that I share this story. My hope is that it will encourage those interested in adopting or already on the journey.
It’s a long story, so get a cup of coffee and get comfortable.
Claire and I are the kind of people that like to see the future. We are planners. We set goals and we accomplish them. This didn’t work that way. I didn’t get to see the end of the tunnel most of the time, I just got to see one step ahead. I have learned to trust God through this.
About 2 years ago, Claire (my wife) mentioned the idea of adopting. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure about the idea. I mean, we have three healthy, happy boys that sleep through the night, can feed themselves, and wipe their own butts (well, almost). Not to mention that they all still fit in the back of my car without having to take the mini-van everywhere. Why would I want to mess up that balance? (Selfish attitude, I know, but that’s how I felt.)
Claire was persistent however and I agreed to at least explore the idea with her. There are so many options that once you start looking into it, it can quickly become overwhelming. International? Domestic? Private? Public? Newborn or not? Special needs or not? These, and many other questions started off our conversation.
Initially, we thought that international adoption would be the best option. We would be bringing in a child that would likely be an orphan and had little to no concern about that child’s family getting involved. We looked all over the internet, read many stories like this one and looked at a lot of countries. Each country has its own advantages and disadvantages, each countries costs vary, and each have their own requirements. We felt drawn to China but to adopt from China you have to be 30, which we were not at the time. We looked at a lot of agencies but never really felt comfortable with one.
In the meantime, we had been involved with a local organization in St. Augustine called Alpha Omega Miracle Home. They provide care for single mothers and single pregnant women in need and their children. We had been involved in some ways, but decided to become extended families. An extended family with them is kind of like a private foster program but for shorter periods of time. We would take in babies for as little as a night or as long as a month when needed. Claire and I both felt this would be a good way to help and also see if adopting was something we really wanted.
As a part of becoming an extended family, we went through a “Home Study” which is basically a full review of your family situation and lots of paperwork and background checks. This is done prior to any adoption and it was good to go ahead and get it done.
After being involved with this program, we both felt more comfortable about the idea of a domestic adoption but felt like we wanted to have a closed adoption. A closed adoption is one where our family and the adopted child would have no contact with the birth family. (An open adoption being the opposite.) We felt like this would be the “safest” route for our family. This was something we changed our minds on later.
We got a call about a baby that may need extended family care and her mother may want to give up for adoption. This was serious now.
I started to second guess it all and was a little scared about the idea of adopting.
I remember clearly sitting in my office at a men’s prayer group about 9 months ago. I told the guys that I just wasn’t feeling it. I was really happy with our current family and scared to rock the boat — but Claire felt really passionate about it and I didn’t want to snuff her fire. The guys prayed that God’s will would be revealed and that if he wanted us to adopted, he would open my heart. What happened next completely blew my mind.
That Friday afternoon (just 5 days after the prayer group), we got a call from AOMH that a mother had made some mistakes and the baby needed a home immediatly. (This was a DIFFERENT baby from the one that might be up for adoption.) We went to AOMH to pick up the baby that afternoon.
We had watched many babies before, but for some reason, this little girl just captured my heart from the moment I saw her. It was literally like the hand of God on my shoulder saying “your heart is now open”. That may sound a little crazy, but that’s exactly what it was like. We fell in love with that little girl and have watched her many times over the last 8 months but we were just providing extended family care as she was not up for adoption (even though we wished she was). God used this little girl to change my heart. He also used stories from her mother to change our hearts about an open vs. closed adoption.
While we were providing care for this baby, the other baby who’s mom was considering adoption for her made some poor choices and harmed her older son. We were called in to provide care for this little girl and I drove down to St. Augustine that night to pick her up. Because of the abuse involved, DCF got involved and because we were not a licensed foster care home, they wanted to take the baby out of our home. They showed up at 2 in the morning with 3 police cars at my house — it was insane. They took the sleeping baby out of our bedroom even though they had no where for the baby to go that night — crazy. As a result, we decided to take the parenting classes required by the state to become official foster/adoption family with the state of Florida. This involved ten 3 hours classes which we completed along with a ton of paperwork.
(I warned you this was a long story…)
It was never our plan to foster originally, but we felt like maybe that was the path we were suppose to walk down for the adoption process. We took the classes and completed LOTS of paperwork. The state is still working on our foster/adoption license.
In the meantime, about 4 weeks ago, AOMH got a call from an organization in Fort Myers called Life Line Family Center. They had a mother who was only 3 weeks from her due date and was looking at families to have her baby placed with. They requested adoption profile books from AOMH (a book you put together to tell about your family to the birth mother). The birth mother selected our family and one other to interview. Claire and I drove down to Fort Myers to meet with her and felt very good about it. We prayed that God would ease our hearts with whatever the decision was.
A week later we got a call that she had selected our family. We could not have been more excited. All of my previous fears, concerns, and selfishness had been completely lifted from me.
Because we had already done everything with the state and AOMH and because there is a new adoption agency (2Hearts) started by a lady that works at AOMH and her, we were able to expedite the process quite a bit as far as the paperwork goes. We could have never put all of these pieces together ourselves, it was not by design, it was God’s plan.
There were MANY nights that we didn’t think we would ever adopt, many nights that our boys prayed for a baby sister, and many, many tears shed over situations we thought would become adoptions but did not. But God is faithful and “works ALL THINGS together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.”
Just two weeks ago, we got a call that our little girl was on the way and on October 14, 2012, our precious Eva Pearl was born.
Many of you reading this may not believe in God and may not believe that he is at work in our world, but our previous Eva is living testimony that he is. I’ve seen him work in our lives, I’ve seen answers to prayers and I’ve seen the miracle of life through adoption.
I remember a phrase my high school coaches used often: “No one said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.” (thanks Jill & Robby) I couldn’t describe this process better. It is not for the easily discouraged or the faint of heart.
We give all the glory to God and are so incredibly thankful for our baby Eva.
I desire these words for my sweet Eva. “That any man who wants her heart will go to Christ, knowing it’s in his possession.”
Many say they desire for their girls to be independent women, I say let her be dependent, but let her be dependent on the creator of the universe in all things.
My dear, precious Eva,
Welcome to the world. You can’t read this yet, but I will read it to you. Don’t worry, your mother will teach you to read before you know it — she’s better at that than me.
We have prayed for you for almost two years. I wasn’t sure I wanted to adopt at first, but I prayed for God to open my heart, if it was His will, and he did. We could not be more excited to welcome you into our family.
Your birth mother could have made many choices, but for you, she choose life. And so we will call you Eva — which means life. Eva is also your mother’s grandmas name. Your middle name, Pearl, is for a very special woman who I call Nanny. She rocked me for endless hours when I was a baby and she is the lived out definition of love. She will be so proud of you and will love you as she has so many other grandchildren.
Your three brothers have prayed for a baby sister and are so excited to care for you. They will hold you, kiss you, and help feed you. As you get older, they will protect you and love you as a brother should — I will make sure of it. Sometimes (probably often), they will be annoying and probably stir up trouble — that’s what boys do — don’t forget it. Daddy lesson #1: boys are trouble.
After we had three boys, I didn’t think I would have my Cinderella, but here you are. Our princess has arrive. Know this — that I will love you with unconditional love, that I will hold you, protect you, laugh with you, cry with you, and cherish you as a spectacular blessing from God. I will be firm, when you need me to be firm, and I will be soft, when you need me to be soft.
Sometimes I will say things I shouldn’t say, I will make bad decisions, and I will mess up — I am not a perfect Father. But when I am wrong, by the grace of God, I will tell you I am sorry and I will lead our family by example. The good news is that your Father in Heaven is perfect and will always be with you. Always be reminded that Jesus said “I have come that you may have LIFE, and have it to the full.”
This world in which you have been born is not perfect either — it is fallen — but within what can seem like much chaos, God has crafted such beauty. Eva, my precious angel, you were made in HIS image. There will be people in life that try to bring you down and times that you will stray from the straight and narrow, but you’ll always be welcome home by your mother and I and by your Father in heaven.
We likely have many sleepless nights ahead, but before you know it, I’ll be wondering were my baby girl went, as I watch you grow into a little girl, and eventually into a shinning woman.
Eva, I love you and will love you all the days of my life.
P.S. I’m posting this publicly not because it’s anyone elses business, but so that I may be held accountable for my words should that be a necessary.