My Journey to Joy

August 25, 2015

Our Journey to Family: A Love Story

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 3:44 PM
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In 2008, my husband & I decided it was time to expand our little family of two to include children. We had been married for five wonderful years and I’d enjoyed a fulfilling career teaching kindergarten. We had prayed and planned, and we felt ready. What followed in the coming years shook my entire worldview. I had to choose to trust God as He remained seemingly silent while my dreams of having a child were shattered. When my cries of “why” went unanswered, I experienced a soul-deep sadness that went on for years. With a broken heart and crushed hopes, I begged God for help; I could not bear to live in such misery.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT) The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

He answered with Himself. And, eventually, a call on our hearts to pursue adoption. Along the way many people tried to comfort me by saying “you can always just adopt…” I was eager to begin, excited about the possibilities, and very, very naïve. In the years since, I’ve learned a lot about adoption. The joy it has brought to our lives has been immeasurable. And the pain has been incredible. Each family’s story is different, but here is ours…

In February, 2011, we sent in our application to adopt through a local Christian agency. Our homestudy was completed six months later, double the time we’d hoped. Being fairly private people, we were bruised by the process. The interviews were invasive, the home visits nerve-racking, the paperwork seemingly endless, the fees breathtaking, and the delays frustrating. Five days after approval, we received our first birthmother profile.

We were giddy; we might be parents soon! Then came the dreaded e-mail: “she chose another family.” This began an emotional roller coaster ride that went on for the next nine months. During this time we were told that “maybe God just didn’t mean for you to be parents,” “you should just relax,” and many other well-intentioned-but-hurtful things. People contacted us about possible birthmothers of their acquaintance. We were shown fifteen times without being chosen. Our wounded hearts and egos reeled from the perceived rejection, as we pasted on smiles and tried to carry on with our lives. God walked with us in our grief, and gave us the strength to just keep going.

Psalm 28:7 (NIV)  The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Our world changed forever on a Tuesday afternoon in April, 2012. Our social worker called and said, “We have a baby boy…are you interested?” Unable to speak for tears, I frantically motioned for Daniel to say “yes”! Our precious son had been born that February, while we grieved what we thought was a miscarriage, in the midst of being shown to several birthmoms. God was working, and we didn’t even have a clue! We drove to Mississippi and brought home our sweet miracle 19 days later, on the Friday before Mother’s Day.

Lamentations 3:21-23 (ESV) But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

When God began again to stir our hearts toward adoption, we were sure it would be easier. Our darling boy had brought so much joy and happiness to our lives. We weren’t coming from the aching place of empty arms. We were wary now, knowing more of what the process could entail, but we were determined to follow God’s leading. In August of 2013, we submitted our second application. In September, my 89-year-old grandmother was murdered. We knew by now that adoption involved spiritual warfare, and were committed to staying the course God had laid out for us. Some very close friends and family once again took up the burden with us, praying & waiting. Again, ironically, our homestudy took six months, despite all of our best efforts. We were approved February 7th, 2014, and had our first profile 45 minutes later! We were back on the roller coaster…

Romans 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Each time we received a profile of a prospective birthmom, we prayed, discussed the information given, and measured it by the criteria we had initially determined. Only when we were both in agreement would we give a “yes, we’d like to be shown” answer to our social worker. The decisions were agonizing. We were shown to birthmoms of every ethnicity, from age 16 to 36. Some of these brave women were single, some married. Some were pregnant for the first time, while some were expecting their second, third, fourth, or fifth child. Their reasons for choosing placement were different, but their motivation for considering this agonizing choice was the same: an immense love for their child, and the desire for him/her to have a life they knew they couldn’t provide. We ached for the pain in their situations, and prayed earnestly for God to work in their lives.

Proverbs 13:12 (NET) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.

Months went by, with opportunity after opportunity, but still no baby. I met a precious birthmom who asked me to parent her child. We were cautiously excited when she followed through by calling our social worker, then crushed with her when she miscarried. A dear friend called about a baby in immediate need of parents, and we scrambled through a breathtaking whirlwind of calls to lawyers and social workers…only to find out that the birthmom was not interested in our family. I became close to a twelve-year-old who was very interested in adoption. I wondered if she might choose our family to parent her sweet boy, but in the end she chose to parent him herself.

Habakkuk 3:18 (ESV) …yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

We had sixteen opportunities through our agency, then were ecstatic when we were finally chosen in December of 2014. The holidays were an agony of hope and fear, as a meeting with birthparents was set, then rescheduled twice. Finally in January of 2015 we got to drive to Georgia to meet the birthparents. Our meeting went very well, and we made a real connection. A couple of weeks later, I woke on a Friday morning at 3:30am, the day baby H was to be born. I prayed all day, then cried great gasping sobs for this precious woman when we got a labor update around noon, completely undone by the magnitude of her choice. It all came to a devastating end that night when I got a text as I was preparing for bed: “It looks like she’s decided to parent.” For a brief moment I thought of just not telling my husband, not wanting to see him hurt. Ultimately, I couldn’t tell him; I just handed him the phone.

Isaiah 30:15b (ESV) In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

Grief hit us hard, with the loss of this much-loved baby boy. Yet we agreed that God’s call hadn’t changed, and that we should stay our course. I called our social worker the following Monday, to let her know our decision. Somewhat surprised, she sent us two profiles that day, asking for an answer almost immediately. We were able to say “yes” to one, and again began the process of being shown. One week later, we were stunned to hear that we had been chosen again! Our hearts still numb with grief, we began again to try to imagine a sweet baby soon in our arms. The following day, our social worker called to say that the birthmom had changed her mind. Our social worker broke down and cried, then prayed with me over the phone. We agreed that it was hard to see what God was doing, but that we both knew we could trust Him, always.

Psalm 66:5 (NLT) Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!

A few weeks later, in February, we had another opportunity to be shown, and doggedly continued on our journey, with a tenacity that could only be from God. We laughed about how crazy it would be to be chosen “three times in a row,” hoping to lessen the sting of another disappointment. As the weeks went by with no decision, I found myself calling and e-mailing our social worker often, hoping for any news. Until the day she called to say we’d been chosen. I froze, sobbing on the stairs, as she said “you knew he was yours!”  One week later, we got to meet our incredible second birthmom. We saw each other in the parking lot of the adoption agency, and she recognized us from our profile. She walked over and said “you’re adopting my baby.” We hugged and walked into the agency together. At our formal meeting, I looked into her pain-filled eyes, and told her that we will love her son as long as we live. The only thing she asked was that we tell him that she loves him. We went out to give her time to tell him goodbye. A short while later, we came back to sign the massive stack of paperwork, then it was time. We walked down a hallway, opened a door, and met our second cherished son.

This is our story, so far. I wouldn’t change any of it. People ask if we will adopt again, and our answer is: we don’t know. We’re trusting God to build our family exactly as He sees fit. He’s done an absolutely amazing job so far.


September 3, 2013


Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 2:18 PM
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In 2008, my husband and I began our journey toward a family.  I had a pretty complete picture in my mind of what that family would look like, and how it would come into being.  I must confess, I didn’t give much thought to what God’s picture of our family would be, just assuming it must match mine.  (Ignorance, arrogance, immaturity?)

Giving up my idea of perfection and turning towards God’s plan was a long, hard process, that continues to this day.  His vision for our family has been more than I could have dreamed or even imagined.  (Isn’t He great that way?!)  And it appears He isn’t finished yet…

We’d like to announce that we are expecting Baby #2!  We don’t know when; the rules are all different with adoption!  We only know that we are carrying another child and birthmom in our hearts, exactly where God has placed them.  We’re aware that the “labor” involved may be quite difficult, but we’re again turning to God for His strength and help through the adoption process.  We know that He will “deliver” our child at the perfect time.

I don’t know what our family will look like.  Will my children be close in age, or years apart?  What gender will this baby be?  What race?  Will our family grow to include a close relationship with a birthmom?  More grandparents?  How old will I be when my second child is born?  Will he/she come home from the hospital, a foster home, or somewhere else?  So many questions…I know God knows the answers.  And He has a perfect picture in mind…

March 13, 2013

On the Wings of a Prayer- Poem from a Birthmom

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Dear Abby: You recently printed a letter from “Marylou in Houston” about the pain of placing a child for adoption. When I went through this experience, I wrote a poem. You have my permission to print it if you think it will help others to understand the roller-coaster emotions a birth mother goes through making this decision.

Dear Lisa: I certainly do think it will help. Abby


I set you free on the wings of a prayer
To fly through life in His tender care,

You’re free from the nest and the ties that are bound
Free from the pressures I carry around.

If I kept you I’d only be cutting your wings,
Not offering the chance a true family brings.

The decision I’ve made has my heart torn in two,
But I know what I’m doing is the best thing for you.

The sky is so vast, the mountains so high
Take wing and remember: I love you.


–LISA BOTE-PHILLIPS, a birth mother

February 27, 2013

my kid might…{not} be my kid

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. Psalm 10:17-18

…No matter how they get here, at what age, with what baggage they bring…this child will be our child.

Last night, I was attending a Bible study with the women of my church and adoption was brought up as it’s on the hearts and minds of a few of us in the room. One young mom of two biological children said “it’s amazing how God can pick one child out of so many to enter into a covenant family.” It’s exactly this kind of statement that somedays (honestly) haunts me. Her point reminded me of an interaction I had this summer with a child who had a scary, horrible background and who was desperately trying to take his own life for the 3rd time. I remember coming home to Jon and just feeling so distraught “but why will God give our child this chance and not this child?”

…These can be the tough pills to swallow, the realization of the magnitude of what adoption really means to a Christian family…your child will be given a chance that so many will not be given…

God will have not grown this child out of our biology, but it will undoubtedly be “our own.” More than that though, I ran across this verse at the top this morning and took great comfort in God’s goodness to all of the afflicted. God, in his providence, has a child for us. It will arrive in our home on the exact day that it’s supposed to. They will live here as long as God has ordained for them to.

And at the end of this post, I find myself reminded of an even larger point. I’m reminded of Abraham and his near sacrifice of Isaac…his only Isaac. Perhaps God’s providence in providing us a child is to teach us that actually our child will be our responsibility for as long as God gives us that privilege, but they won’t belong to us either.

my kid will not actually be mine.

February 6, 2013

Why We Adopt by Lara

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Why We Adopt

Published January 29, 2013 | By The Farmer’s Wife
I was recently at a party and introduced to someone new. Of course, my friend doing the introducing said something like, “This is my friend who adopted from Africa” which I’m pretty sure is code for This is the weirdo I told you about. Anyway, the new acquaintance was shocked that we had adopted, and not really shocked in the good way. She was shocked like I had just told her I play with fireworks for fun. She kept saying things like, “But, but, won’t those kids have problems? Won’t they need counseling? How do your other kids feel about this? Why did you decide to do that?” Bless her heart. Sure, some of her questions were obnoxious, but I think the question of why is a valid one. So to set the record straight, I’ll put it all out there here and now. This is why we adopt (notice I didn’t say we adopt-ed. Because that’s past tense and would seem I am saying we’re done. Which we aren’t. Hee hee.)First and foremost, we adopt because this is God’s calling on our family. I know that sounds cliche and maybe a little nuts. But, really, my life’s purpose involves parenting these children brought to us through adoption. This is what we want to be doing. I love helping them sort through their “stuff.” I get a real kick out of showing them unconditional love. Parenting them brings us meaning and fulfillment.Secondly, we wanted more children. We like a big, loud, crazy family and adopting children is how we chose to get there.

Thirdly, we are Christians and we care about who Jesus cares about. And He cares about kids who don’t have moms and dads. Notice, this is third down the list. That’s for a reason. See, being specifically led to adoption and wanting more children are prerequisite to this. One can care deeply about children without wanting to parent those children and that’s okay. This isn’t for everyone. There are many ways to care about orphaned children without adopting them. We care about these children in the way that we want to parent them. Through the sunshine-y, happy days and through the really hard days. We want to see how their stories play out and how the Lord redeems their hurts.

Finally, we choose adoption because we deeply believe all life matters. I don’t mean life matters in the pro-life bumper sticker sort of way. I mean these kids lives matter in that they deserve to grow up loved and cherished. If I’m going to wave my Jesus Flag, I think I need to really examine the way I see others. If all life matters and it’s all created equally, then the lives of the lost and forgotten matter too. Once again, adoption is just one way we live out the value that life matters. My grandparents have been involved in prison ministry for a bajillion years because they believe the lives of inmates matter.

Now, here’s why we didn’t adopt.

To rescue or save our children. Anyone who knows me would know I am totally incapable of singlehandedly saving anyone. If anyone has been saved through these adoptions, it’s me. Saved from my own complacency and selfishness and American dreams of a tidy little family, clean house and nice car.

To be just like Angelina Jolie. Want to know how trendy I feel with internationally adopted kids? Super hip and cool. NOT. They are children, not accessories.

Because I’m so saintly and unselfish that I just can’t help but give and give and give and get nothing in return. Ha. Ha. Let me share the great big secret of adoption with you: I am absolutely getting something out of this. I get a son and daughter who are precious beyond words. I get to see the miracle of kids who didn’t come from my belly call me Momma. I get hugs and kisses and hand-drawn pictures. I get to take part in these little lives restored by Jesus.

And that’s why we adopt.

I’d say I’m a pretty lucky lady, wouldn’t you?

August 23, 2012

Walking Toward a Miracle…Gotcha’ Day!

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Thursday night was spent getting everything ready.  We tried to get some sleep, but that wasn’t really happening.  Friday morning, we left half an hour early, and headed to Mississippi.  It was a good thing we left early, since we made lots of stops on the way down!  Our nerves were so jangled; I felt like I’d had several pots of coffee.

Neither of us are good with directions, but Meridian is small, and we found the Lifeline offices quickly.  I started to cry when I saw the brick building, but quickly got control of myself.  We were precisely on time.  We gathered everything from the car, and walked up to the glass doors.  A social worker stuck her head out and said to wait just a moment.  I was so antsy at this point, it seemed like forever!  Then she motioned us into the building.

We walked in, and there he was.  Lying in a wooden cradle was the most beautiful baby boy.  Our boy.  Our Nathan.  I stepped up to the crib, and dropped my purse and the diaper bag on the ground.  (Good thing I didn’t have the camera!)  Through tears and a few sobs, I reached down to pick him up for the first time.  I kissed him, again and again, and whispered to him how much I loved him.  After a minute, I realized that his daddy might want to see him too, so I turned around, but wasn’t willing to let go yet.  I now believe in love at first sight!

Nathan had a blanket that a local ladies’ group had crocheted for him.  His foster mom had sent a sweet card for me, and the social workers gave me my first Mothers’ Day card!

After much sniffling (on everyone’s part!), we sat down to do paperwork.  Since this office has such a limited staff, there was no one to keep him while we signed things.  (Typically a baby is given to the parents after everything is completed.)  I struggled to hold him while scribbling my John Hancock on what seemed like reams of papers.  Thankfully we’d already read it all, so it was just a formality.

About thirty minutes after arriving, we walked out of the office.  We’d come in as a couple, but left a family.  Praise the Lord!

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