Our adoption story…
Kenton and I had talked about adoption numerous times in our marriage and decided that we would start the process in 2017 with the goal of having our adoptive child in our home by 2020. We wanted to give God space to work and let Him guide the whole process while still trying to grow our family on our own during the wait.
Part of Kenton’s birthday present to me in November of 2016 was to start the adoption process. I cried (of course) and was so thankful for his blessing and that he really was ready for babies. Over Christmas break Kenton told me to make the call to get paperwork. On December 28, 2016 I called New Horizons and they emailed me the pre app. It took about a month to fill out the 38-page application and mail it back. The second round of paperwork came February 3, 2017 and it took us about a month to fill it all out and get our physicals done. We worked on our t-shirt fundraiser and had our 3 home study visits in April.
The summer of 2017 was busy! I created our profile books, filled out grant applications, and did another round of the t-shirt fundraiser. June 5th I ordered our profile books, June 15th we were approved, and June 20th we were online as a waiting family. July 17th I made the call to An Open Door in Georgia and they told us there was a high need for families who wanted African American babies and that the process would likely move quickly. Hearing that was exciting and terrifying! We filled out their application and were approved by August 15th. By September 15th they had the rest of our paperwork and our profile books and by the 29th we were online as a waiting family.
On October 13th (2 weeks later) Kenton got a phone call that we had been chosen by an expectant mom in GA. They said she was due anytime between 4 days and 2 weeks from now and that the gender was unknown. When Kenton told me that night I felt like I could hurl, but we accepted the match and trusted in God’s timing. Since we didn’t know for sure when the baby would come we continued to fundraise and started to prepare the nursery. My preschoolers all became very anxious when I told them I’d be leaving to get a baby sometime soon, but I didn’t know who would be teaching them while I was gone.
On October 23rd An Open Door called and said that the expectant mom was started to freak out about everything. The next day one of my preschool families prayed with me after my kiddos went home and while we were praying my phone rang. This mom had changed her mind and we had a failed match. I was crushed, but that sick-to-my-stomach feeling was finally gone. This loss felt so much like our miscarriage two years ago. When I told my kiddos at school they were devastated that we wouldn’t be getting this baby. They reminded me of Abraham and Sarah and how God kept His promise of a baby to them and that He would give me a baby too.
We were a waiting family again and didn’t hear anything again until December 13th. While I got ready for our Pizza Ranch tip night Kenton told me that another mom had chosen us and that she was due January 8th with a baby girl. We accepted the match on the 15th and began to prepare my classroom for my absence. When I told my preschoolers, they were so excited and not anxious at all. They asked how I was going to teach them with a baby at school and made me promise to visit them. I felt so much peace about this match and hoped and prayed that this baby would be ours.
A week later on the 22nd we found out we were pregnant! Panic set in and I immediately called AOD to see how we would proceed. Their policy is to have 6 months between adoptive and biological babies and we worried that we wouldn’t get to love both of these babies. I assured them that we wanted to proceed with the adoption and they approved it at the agency, but said the decision was ultimately up to the expectant mom. We didn’t hear anything from them again until the night of the 29th. Our caseworker sent us a text and said that mom was going in for a c-section and she would call us later. We both panicked a little! No one had officially told us that she still wanted us to parent her baby girl. We were supposed to have a few more weeks to prepare!
After the c-section we were told that our baby girl was healthy and mom was recovering well. They asked if we were on our way and we said we needed a day to pack and get things ready at school. On the 30th we got a text saying that mom had held baby girl for a little bit and said that seeing her only made her more certain that adoption was the right decision for her. I wept at her deep love for her baby girl. We left early on the 31st and started the 17.5 hour drive to Georgia.
We checked into our GA hotel on January 1st and looked at the pictures the caring home family had sent us. On the 2nd we drove to Target to buy some baby things before meeting our caseworker, caring home family, and OUR BABY GIRL at Chick-fil-A! We signed a bunch of papers and then they placed the most beautiful tiny baby in my arms. I started crying and just stared at her. Kenton thought he’d be funny and told me not to get the baby wet. Our sweet baby was finally here and it all felt so surreal. We spent the next 8 days in our hotel room bonding, only venturing out for food and some nearby tourist attractions. Mostly Kenton and Kezlyn slept while I worked on lesson plans for my sub and sent pictures of our little blessing to our friends and family.
January 10th we met Kezlyn’s first mama and grandma before making the long drive home to Iowa. I will forever cherish our time together at IHOP and the pictures we were able to take with them. Grandma held her and cried, asking us to make sure Kezlyn knew she was placed for adoption out of love. She said she could see how much we loved her and was so grateful to have met us. Her mama kept telling us how beautiful she was. Kezlyn gets more beautiful each day and has so many qualities of her first mama.
Looking back we see the hand of God in all of this. Kezlyn was born 1 year and a day after we first started this whole process and I’m so grateful that God moved so quickly. He walked with us during the paperwork and stress of fundraising and sent friends who had experienced failed matches to comfort us in our sorrow and loss. Most importantly He has built a community around us of friends who have also adopted and they have supported, encouraged, celebrated, and loved our sweet girl. I’m so thankful that Kezlyn will grow up with kids who look like her and also have stories that showcase God’s mercy and grace.
Kezlyn Angelica Grace, you were my promise from God. Before our wedding a friend prayed for marriage and babies and I heard the Lord say the name Kezlyn. I’ve held onto that name as my promise that He would give us a baby someday in His own precious timing. Angelica is for your first mama. She named you Angel and we wanted you to forever have a piece of her with you. Grace means God’s mercy or favor and that perfectly describes our journey to you. You have already been such a blessing to us and we are thrilled to forever be your family. Just remembering and writing all of this has me in tears. I’ll stop now before I get the computer wet. Love you forever, baby girl.