Monday, March 18, 2019

Lemons From Lemonade - Brandon & Kathryn's Adoption Story

It has been an honor of ours to be adoption consultants for Brandon and Kathryn, and to see their family grow by the blessing of adoption. I (Dawn) had the privilege of also being able to present for the adoption finalization hearing here in Florida! What a blessing and honor to be invited - this is the 'icing on the cake' in my job. Kathryn shares their adoption story so beautifully, along with equally beautiful photographs that capture such beauty and love.

Emma, two weeks old. Photo by Marci Worlton Photography

"Someone once explained to me that when life gives you lemonade you should make lemons. How odd I thought. How backwards. How impossible. But you see...making lemons from lemonade means taking all the broken pieces and making them whole again. Something only God himself can do. We believe that God has brought lemons from lemonade in our adoption story – he has taken broken hearts and made them whole.

The “before” in our story is hard to write about...six miscarriages, fourteen foster placements that ended too soon in heartbreaking good-byes, failed adoptions through a broken foster system...we kept trusting God to grow our family but it was so hard to see hope dashed over and over.

Photo by Deanndra Xaynhachack of DMX Photography.

Last April (it sounds so funny to say that because it hasn’t even been a year yet!) we decided to step away from foster care and the devastation it brought our family, which was especially hard for our young son who was suffering deeply from the constant good-byes of foster siblings, and start on the path for private adoption.

By May we had our home study completed. And three short weeks later we received the life-changing call that a birthmother in Florida had chosen our family. Even more amazing, our baby girl was due in just three months’ time!

During our short wait to be matched we applied for more than a dozen situations. Each time, instead of praying “God let this expectant mother pick us!” my prayer was “God please don’t let us get picked if this match could fail. Please spare our family from more heartache and only let us be picked if it’s really going to happen!”

Adoption announcement. Photo by Kelly Petersen Photography.

In July I flew down to Florida to meet “N” – the birth mother carrying our daughter Emma. We enjoyed a girls’ spa day to relax and get to know one another. It was amazing how at ease we were and how quickly we connected. The spa staff didn’t believe us when we told them we had met that day; they assumed we were best friends with years of history given how freely we talked and laughed throughout our time with them. I had read that open adoption was ideal, but I think it took actually meeting Emma’s birth mother, and realizing what an incredible woman she is, to understand that she was truly going to be a part of our family as well. To this day we still message constantly. She’s a dear friend now and our daughter’s number one fan!

The highlight of that trip was getting to see my daughter on an ultrasound and hear her heartbeat for the first time. Her birth mother was so generous to allow me that. It felt so perfect. So real.

Summer flew by and at last it was time to head to Florida for the birth. I flew down the week before Emma was due. It was a good thing I got there a little early because less than 48 hours after my plane landed I was at the hospital with “N” preparing to welcome our daughter into the world!

While Emma’s birth story belongs more to her and “N” then it does to me, my little piece of it was waiting in a room all alone in the middle of the night after complications arose and an emergency C-section became necessary. I was so scared. Worried for Emma and her birthmother’s safety. Worried that going through such trauma would change “N”’s mind about being able to place her baby with us. Worried I wouldn’t get to see her right away because to the medical staff I wasn’t a relative so I had no rights....

But everything changed when a nurse came to get me. “Your daughter is here. Would you like to give her a bath and a bottle?” Her kindness was a gift from Heaven. She shared that she had a personal connection to adoption and promised me I could have these first moments with my little girl.

I know I am biased, but Emma was the most perfect baby I had ever seen. She was only a few hours old when I took this picture, so very in love with her already and excitedly texting my husband and son who flew in when labor started and arrived just a few hours after birth.

Emma at just a few hours old. Cell phone picture taken by Kathryn (mother).

We were smitten! We spent two days at the hospital, sharing a room with “N” and bonding as a new family. The boys visited during the day, and in the evenings “N” and I enjoyed the quiet to marvel over the perfect daughter we both get to love.

 Fresh 48 Hospital Session. Photo by Kelly Haymes of Momma Got Soul Photography.

Fresh 48 Hospital Session. Photo by Kelly Haymes of Momma Got Soul Photography.

Thankfully our time in Florida moved so quickly. Within two days our healthy little girl was discharged from the hospital and we were able to stay with my husband’s grandmother until we got our ICPC paperwork back – which only took one week! Over and over God provided for us and paved the way.

Emma came home to Iowa right before my birthday. It was the most precious, amazing birthday gift possible. Our family felt complete at last!

Emma, two weeks old. Photo by Marci Worlton Photography.

The last hurdle was waiting for finalization. There were some big hiccups along the way – including a man who registered himself as Emma’s birth father, even though he lived on the other side of the country and had never met Emma’s birth mother! - but over and over God provided and cleared the path for us to be her forever family.

At last the day came. We flew back to Florida with our four-month-old daughter so that we could go to court in person and share the big day with her birth mother. Our lawyer told us that in thirty years he had never seen a birthmother invited to a finalization hearing. But she is so much a part of our family now, I couldn’t imagine her not sharing the moment with us.

We all wore matching shirts. I made cheesy signs. We were joined by family members and Dawn, our amazing Christian Adoption Consultant who had guided us each step of our adoption journey.

Our Gotcha Day! Photo by Kelly Haymes of Momma Got Soul Photography.
Our Gotcha Day! Photo by Kelly Haymes of Momma Got Soul Photography.

It was a perfect day. The most special part, for me, was presenting our birth mother with a painting of a pregnant woman clutching a heart. To me, it symbolized how when she carried our daughter she carried our hearts, our love, our hopes...and when she gave us her baby girl she gave us a piece of her own heart as well. There was not a dry eye in the courtroom!

Painting by Katie M. Berggren. Photo by Kelly Haymes of Momma Got Soul Photography.

A second highlight was getting to meet Dawn, our CAC consultant! She drove out to be a part of our ceremony. After months of near daily correspondence, countless hours of prayer and encouragement, seeing her bright smile as she walked into the courthouse was like meeting a long-lost friend.

Dawn heading towards the courtroom. Photo by Kelly Haymes of Momma Got Soul Photography.

I’ll close with going back to the lemons. Emma’s birth mother craved lemonade throughout her pregnancy. We’ve made it a point to cherish that connection and send her lemon themed pictures of Emma frequently.

I’m thankful that Emma won’t grow up with her biological past a mystery. I’m thankful for the connection we have with her birth mother. I’m thankful my daughter is doubly blessed with two families that will love her and cherish her as she grows.

Most of all, I’m thankful God made lemons from our lemonade..."

Emma, three months old. Photo by Marci Worlton Photography.
Emma napping. Cell phone picture taken by Kathryn (mother).

I know that Kathryn's story has touched your heart, and I would love the privilege of talking with you about adoption and how I may also walk with you in your own adoption journey! Please feel free to reach out to me anytime.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Those Three Words- A Book Review

This book is what I haven't been able to put down for the past week- Those Three Words written by Christine Bauer. As an adoptive mom I work hard to read, listen, and absorb any wisdom I can from birth families, relationships, feelings, the joy and the pain of the process of adoption. I want to widen my world and include the beautifully brave birth families, the children they place, and the adoptive families.

People ask me all the time how it feels for me and I am happy to share my experiences and how it feels to be an adoptive mom. So if I am able to learn more about one person's journey to placing her child for adoption I jumped at the chance to read this book!

It was completely honest and raw at times. It is definitely a book I recommend to anyone who wants a glimpse into the journey of a birth family. If you are a birth family, an adoptive family, or an adoptive child I believe this story can offer you a perspective, but more than that it can offer healing. It doesn't have to be the exact same story as ours because we are all so very different, but when you read someone's story there is a part of you involved and you can release and feel all the feelings through a different lens.

As a Christian Adoption Consultant it is always important to me to share resources with families that I think will help educate families and give them different perspectives on the adoption process. I am excited to share this with them and all of you as well.

More about Those Three Words:

Wise Ink Publishing announced today the upcoming publication of a new memoir. 'Those Three Words: A birthmother's story of choice, chance, and motherhood' by Christine Bauer will be released in May 2018 – for Mother’s Day.

There are three words that, when uttered together, make dreams come true for millions of women. For millions more, those same words can shatter their dreams. "You are pregnant."

Almost half of all pregnancies in the United States — some 3.1 million each year —are unintended. Among unmarried women in their 20s, seven out of 10 pregnancies are unplanned.

Author Christine Bauer’s memoir Those Three Words: A birthmother’s story of choice, chance and motherhood takes a deep dive into the emotions of facing an unplanned pregnancy at the tender age of 18.

Those Three Words takes readers along on the journey of weighing options, agonizing over a decision, and ultimately deciding to let another family adopt and raise her baby. This story also looks at how placing a child for adoption affected the rest of her life, especially when she became the mother of two boys. Those Three Words touches on the controversial topics of abortion and adoption, birth control, and women’s rights.

This story will resonate with millions of readers because women know and understand the joy and pain of pregnancy and motherhood, love and loss, and the power of family and parental love.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Bauer deftly addresses one of the most wrenching and emotional decisions one might confront: how to respond to an unexpected pregnancy. With candor and grace she leads readers on a thought-provoking journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. I couldn’t put it down." - Caryn M. Sullivan, Author of “Bitter or Better: Grappling With Life on the Op-Ed Page,” winner of the 2015 Midwest Book Award for Inspiration.

"As a young girl, I was proud to be adopted. I was chosen. Then, after giving birth to my first child, I paused and was overcome with grief. How could any loving woman give up a baby? Chrisy's book helped me understand the love, agony, and courage needed to be a birth mother, to do what's right for yourself, and for the helpless human you've brought into the world." - Lory Sutton, Chief Marketing Officer, Minnesota Historical Society

"On its surface, Christine Bauer's Those Three Words is an engrossing memoir detailing a young birthmother's hard path toward fulfillment and happiness. But even stronger currents race deeper down, about the difficulty of acceptance, the power of family, and the nature of love. Reading it is a moving and unforgettable experience." - Jack El-Hai, Author and past President of the American Society of Journalists and Authors

About the Author:

Christine (Chris) Bauer was born and raised in the big small town of Mitchell, South Dakota. She feels blessed to have grown up in a place and time when childhood was carefree, when kids left the house in morning and returned in the evening, and in between rode bikes, built forts, and played baseball and Barbies. While she loved her hometown, Chris was eager to move on to new adventures after graduating high school.

Chris attended Mankato State University in Minnesota, majoring in Mass Communications. Her dream was to one day be part of a Woodward and Bernstein-type team who saved the world through ground-breaking journalism. Soul searching and need for employment led her to a gratifying career in corporate communications, public relations and marketing. Chris has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember.

Her greatest achievement and most profound joy is being the mother of three kind-hearted children and one beautiful and spirited grandchild. In addition to being a mom and grandma of humans, Chris is also the proud mom to one very spoiled dog and two equally spoiled granddogs. She admits there were moments in the motherhood journey where she preferred the canines.

She resides in the Minneapolis area. While her nest is nearly empty now, she loves that the flock returns regularly for food and shelter. Those Three Words is her first book. It is currently available for pre-sale. To learn more, go to

Readers can connect with Christine on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Fasting- Part of my journey.

 When I first heard about fasting in our church last year like the above picture I thought:  Are you kidding me?  I mean actually give up food- why?  What does it really do and why would I do it?  So many questions and I just didn't think it was something that not only I would do, but something I needed so much more than I thought possible.
 See we often think that idols are huge like this massive B-53 Bomber that is now resting at Orlando Airport.  It is something that is in your life that is obvious.  How could I miss something so obvious in my life?  Then I remembered the scripture about the speck in your neighbor's eye and the plank in your own. 

Matthew 7:3-5   “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Remembering that God knows we are so good at seeing what is wrong with other people, and obviously so bad at knowing what is wrong in our own life.  
 Fasting is about taking our dreams and putting them into the perspective of God.  It is fine to go to Disney, but if we are so selfish in our hearts that we can not tithe or give then that is an idol that has to be removed.  It is ok to have dreams of what you want for yourself or others, but what about what God wants.

We have faced a trial in the last couple of years that has thrown our family in such a place that I became desperate.  Desperate to know God in a way like I have never known before.  Desperate to see Him through the muck and nasty of our situation.  Desperate to see how in the world could God still be working in and through us.  Desperate to touch the hem of God's clothes to receive healing.  Desperate.....for something different- God's focus for me.
So take off your masks of it will be too hard for you to do.  Of course it is hard, but what if it is worth it?  If you have never tried fasting this is my encouragement.  There is a great book by Jentzen Franklin called Fasting.  It is amazing at explaining why, how, and when. What I can tell you personally is that when we hand over our lives to Christ we receive Salvation, but when we fast we receive His direct hand on our lives.  It is so different that what I imagined.

Fasting is hard, and there will be times you will want to throw your hands up and throw in the towel.  You will say to yourself what is the point it isn't working.  One thing I learned as someone with a huge list of "needs" and a heart that was so very uncertain of how God would ever be able to do anything ever again in our lives that even resembled hope.  I can say and testify that God is able, and that isn't something that is just in scripture it is a real truth.

A song I found this last time my husband and I fasted (yes I have now fasted different times, different ways, and for different lengths of time over the past 6 months) from FB if you would believe it- is perfect for why we need to fast.

Clear The Stage by Jimmy Needham

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that's the measure you must take to crush the idols
Jerk the pews & all the decorations, too Until the congregations few, then have
Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
Until you're broken for your sins, you can't be social
Then seek the Lord & wait for what He has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful
'Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong
Oh, worship is more than a song
Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper
Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the Word and put to test the things you've heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken
'Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong
Oh, worship is more than a song
We must not worship something that's not even worth it
Clear the stage, make some space for the One who deserves it
Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
And anything I can't stop thinking of is an idol
And anything that I give all my love is an idol
'Cause I can sing all I want to
Yes, I can sing all I want to
And we can sing all we want to
We can sing all we want to
We can sing all we want to
And still get it wrong
Worship is more than a song
Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that's the measure you must take to crush the idols

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"Desired" - Jeremy and Kari's Adoption Story

Towards the end of 2017 Jeremy and Kari got connected and officially started with us at Christian Adoption Consultants. In less than 12 months they would be holding their precious daughter in their arms! The journey in between was filled with unexpected insights that God wanted for them to experience. Listen to Kari as she shares their story:

“Our family has had adoption on our hearts for years. It all began when God started opening our eyes to beautiful adopted children living in our community. As we sought to foster relationships with these wonderful families our eyes were opened to the need. We became passionate about coming alongside families who have adopted and form relationships with them. We then got involved hosting children who were in crisis through an organization called Safe Families. Through their mini-homestudy process we knew God was opening an incredible door.  After helping families in crisis and hosting children we decided to take the next step and become foster parents, and we hoped to adopt if necessary. Once our license was complete we had many phone calls for placements and we hurriedly got ready to care for these kids, but unfortunately each placement fell through and we didn’t quite understand why. We were beginning to feel the call from the Lord that a move across the country was a door he was opening, we realized this may be why we hadn’t had a placement yet. We knew this was God’s plan, but boy was it hard knowing we would have to start our licensing all over again. Our licensor gave us a copy of our foster care homestudy. We didn’t realize at the time what a huge gift that was. It ended up making our adoption paperwork so much easier.

After we moved we felt God refining us and strengthening our faith even more. We were finally ready to take the financial leap towards domestic adoption. We were always so afraid of the cost before, but seeing God provide during our move we were ready and knew this was our next step in this new location he brought us to. We’d had domestic adoption on our hearts all along. We quickly began our homestudy, got connected with Dawn and signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants. We had been researching adoption for years and they were well recommended. We jumped in and we were SO excited. We began mountains of paper work and the emotional process of creating a profile book. When that was done we began lots of fundraising and I started a business that has not only helped us fundraise but is also helping people around the world out of poverty, funding others’ adoptions, empowering women and so much more. I never knew this process would lead me to a dream job! 

During the fundraising there were months of waiting. The waiting was HARD! We don’t feel like we waited very long, but from an emotional perspective if felt like years. We questioned if this was the right path, we prayed, we longed, but through it all we clung to HOPE. We knew the hope God had given us would get us through this trying process. His hope kept us. His hope gave us strength. His hope guided and got us through the most difficult parts. Hearing “no” from a prospective birth mom was never easy, and it never got easier. Each time we just prayed for these incredible birth mothers making such a hard choice that they would have courage and know clearly which family would be best for raising their child. We trusted God’s sovereignty and clung to it daily. 

Then one day we got the call that we had been chosen! We celebrated and were beyond excited! I was helping a friend deliver a baby when she heard the news, it sure was incredible. But then a week later we heard the hard news that this courageous birth mom decided to parent. We were so sad, yet so proud of her for choosing life and deciding to parent and we wished her all the best. A situation came up pretty quickly after that, we wouldn’t have had the courage to present to this birth mom if we had not had such a wonderful lesson through this long waiting process of how good God truly is and how much we can place our trust completely in his hands. We felt hopeful to present and a part of me felt like this baby may be the one! On November 6th during a fundraising event I got the call that our amazing birth mom had chosen us! We were floored and excited and felt beyond honored! Our baby would be arriving in less than six weeks and we were SO excited, hopeful, and ready!!! We knew this was a God given “yes” and we knew we could fully be excited and hopeful, yes things could change, but we were going to focus on the excitement of the “yes!” After all there was no inclination that things would change and we were not going to live in fear.

God writes each of our stories beautifully. He knows the path we will be on. He guides us gently, lovingly and is always there during the hard times. God wrote our baby’s birth story beautifully. We arrived in Utah the night before her due date. We met the most incredible, courageous, beautiful woman, our baby’s birth mom. She was going to be “our” birth mom. It was surreal. We were so nervous to meet her. Yet so excited! The moment she met us we both knew the gravity of this meeting and we both began to cry. We had a wonderful meal together sharing life and future hopes for this child that would be arriving the next day. Sweet Javeyah Hope arrived right before Christmas. We had the beautiful gift of being at the birth supporting our birth mom through labor and all through the hospital stay. We became a family over those few days. I will never fully be able to express what our birth mom truly means to me. She was such a beautiful person who loved her daughter so much and wanted the best possible future for her. She made the hardest, most courageous decision and we will forever love her for that. Javeyah means “desired” and boy was she desired and longed for. We had her birth mom pick the spelling of her name since she fell in love with the name we had thought of when we shared it with her. Her name has a Hispanic heritage as does our daughter, and her birth mom loved that.

For a few days we were transported to another time it seemed, a time of hopeful anticipation, unselfishness, deep care, respect, deep bonding, and love. It was the most incredible experience of our lives and we are so grateful to have had the privilege to adopt. Thank you for reading our story.”

Maybe you have been waiting, longing, and been uncertain of your own adoption journey. I'd love to talk with you more and share some encouragement. Feel free to reach out to me anytime:

Dawn: (813) 360-7368

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The deep sorrow that led us to you and so much more.....

Joanna turned 8 last week, and I love who she has become, and remember vividly all the things that led to our adoption journey of our 8th child. It was one of the hardest things we have faced in our life..... a failed international adoption. The "how's and why's" of that failed adoption are hard to explain, but we were matched and waiting for a court hearing to happen in Ethiopia at the time. We eventually found out that the court hearing didn't happen and they had set another date. In the meantime USCIS started questioning our application. As we had pictures of our future daughter hanging in the house for us all to pray over and to remind us of our 'soon to be trip' to bring our daughter home, we received news that she would never come home with us. We took steps to fight it. Steps to somehow reach out and try our best to bring her home.

We were devastated and heartbroken. We even "ran away" and took a trip to be with some extended family for a little bit. People say the strangest things when an adoption fails. They say things like: "Maybe God isn't leading you to adopt/adopt again", "Maybe you heard God wrong", or "It is in God's Hands".  Actually the last statement is the only true statement to me, but it doesn't make it easier to understand.  

After taking time to grieve our loss we starting thinking about domestic adoption, but really it was more of a fleeting hope. Who would choose a family that already had 7 children to adopt their child?  That seems like a crazy idea to most people, but we knew we had more love to give and we didn't doubt that God was calling us to another adoption. So we persisted calling agencies all around the US and doing research on domestic adoption, but there is so much to know and we just didn't really know where to turn.  
So in March of 2010 I read a blog of a family that had used Christian Adoption Consultants.  They had 9 children and adopted their 10th using CAC!  Well of course you know what I did next.....I emailed her immediately and said "How in the world did you do this?"  I was given a consultant's name and phone number. I called her and chatted for a while. I knew this was a great option right away, but we were Christian Camp Directors at the time and had a retreat group coming in for the weekend. So, Monday rolls around and we got a follow up phone call from our consultant. As I told her we were about to sit down while all the kids were napping or having quiet time to go over the paperwork and decide what we would do. Later that day we applied with CAC.

Our adoption of Joanna happened within a week of us signing on with Christian Adoption Consultants! I tell our clients this is a very rare story, and definitely not normal, but it is how God orchestrated our adoption. We of course fell madly in love with Joanna and her sweet birth mother, and cherish them.  

There is another side to our story.... one of grief and deep loss. Sometimes when I think about it I try to make sense of it, but I really can't.  In God's time and through deep despair God blessed us with our amazing daughter!

Eventually because of our ties with Christian Adoption Consultants we also got the opportunity to become adoption consultants ourselves, and have thoroughly enjoyed getting to live out our passion for adoption. We are thankful to have continued to serve families now for over 5 years and see the hard stories and the beauty only God can bring through adoption.


Monday, February 5, 2018

"Wow, He's Home With Us!" - Jon & Sarah's Adoption Story

Jon and Sarah inquired and then got started with us at Christian Adoption Consultants in March of 2017. In just 7 months their little boy was home – a precious 18-month-old! In adoption this is a short period (which is right in the middle of CAC’s average 6-9-month time frame our families wait from inquiry to match), but in the midst of waiting, presenting to situations, and praying for direction, it can seem to take forever, especially when you have heard “No” several times. Take heart, because that is exactly how Jon and Sarah felt. Listen to a mom’s heart as Sarah shares their story:

“We entered our adoption journey during perhaps an "unadvisable" period in our life. Our three young children were ages 9 months, 2 ½ years, and 4 years old and Jon was deployed to a combat zone. Yet the pull to adopt was strong. Living near Washington DC, we heard regular updates of happenings at Capitol Hill, protests, demonstrations, large scale events designed to get the attention of Congress, the Senate, and the world. In January of 2017, The Women's March, promoting abortion, among other things, grieved us deeply. On the day of the March, I (Sarah) posted on our Facebook page, "Are you faced with an unexpected pregnancy? Unsure of your ability to raise a baby? Uncertain if you could provide a safe home? Please don't let these questions be answered by Planned Parenthood. Our home is always open to a baby in need. Message me if you are considering ending a pregnancy. Your baby can have a safe place to grow and be loved. We can help!"

Fast forward six weeks -- Jon and I had been speaking regularly about adding to our family through adoption. The AdoptUSKids website opened our eyes to the reality that children are not placed in foster care due to any crime of their own, but they are often the most vulnerable victims of the crimes of others. Jon and I discussed pursuing domestic infant adoption, as well as adopting through foster care. I researched the likelihood of being chosen by a birth mom if we already had several young children. In doing so Jason and Dawn Wright's blog came up and instantly I felt a connection. The following day Dawn and I spoke at length on the phone as I shared our burden of opening our home for a child in need of a family. Dawn was so encouraging -- both spiritually and realistically! Seeing the testimony of God's grace in the Wright family and reviewing the testimonies of others who have worked with Christian Adoption Consultants greatly encouraged us to step out in faith.

In early March 2017 we began to move forward officially towards welcoming a child into our home through adoption. We initiated our home study with a local agency and signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants the same week. We kept our plans a secret from absolutely everybody except for those needed to fill out reference forms and provide other specific information. We didn't want to be viewed as "foolish" or feel the need to constantly explain ourselves to others. We just knew this was where God was leading us, even though we didn't know how He would work things out.

Jon returned home from overseas in May 2017 after being delayed several extra weeks. Once he stepped foot on American soil, we pressed hard to complete our home study. Life in the military provides awesome opportunities to see the world, but it also provided a great headache in completing our necessary background checks (11 states for the two of us). We also scheduled a family photoshoot, so our profile could be completed with up-to-date pictures. By early July both our home study and family profile book were completed, and we began presenting our family to expectant mothers.

During our wait we presented our family for many situations. We also continued scouring AdoptUSKids and local Heart Galleries, searching for "our child." We applied to work with six agencies through Christian Adoption Consultants and found two others on our own that were more than willing to share our profiles with expectant moms. Hearing the word that the expectant mother had chosen another family or that we weren't a good match for the children listed in the Heart Galleries was hard every single time. We presented our family for over two dozen babies and children ranging in age from unborn to 17 years old, only to hear back that we were not selected.

By September I was growing nervous. What were we doing, investing all this time, energy, and money into adoption when we may never be selected? It was many nights of crying out to God for strength to go on, for Him to clearly lead us to our child. Military life means one must be ready for constant movement. Would we move before we were placed with a child? Would our home study be worthless at the whim of Uncle Sam?

The first week of October I cried every day, rising early and meeting alone with God, begging Him to show Himself real to our family and place a child in our home. So many tears were shed! Even though we had only been presenting our family for three months, I was feeling the pressure of an adoption needing to take place soon. I called Dawn and spoke at length with her about my sense of urgency. She promised that she and Jason were lifting us in prayer and that God had not forgotten about our family.

On October 2nd we heard of a young boy who needed a family. Immediately we presented our family and were very encouraged that "Maybe this is the one!!" There were a lot of promising factors in this situation, but a week later we learned that the mother had not stopped by the agency to pick up family profiles for review. We were released to present our family to other situations in the meantime. Oh, how the tears flowed. What next?

Later that afternoon I found a situation of a young toddler who needed a forever home. After discussing the situation with Jon, I emailed the attorney representing the family. The following day our profile was presented to this mother and she immediately selected our family! We had a phone conference the same day and the following week we met to pick up our new son! The turn-around from "What are You teaching us, God?" to "Wow! He's home with us!" was astounding. Again, Dawn was so faithful to walk along side of us, encouraging us as we hit a few bumps in the road, making sure we were following protocol, and reassuring us that our emotions and wobbly knees were perfectly normal!

Our son has now been home with us for 3 months. Every day we grow more in love with him, and our biological children adore him. Settling in has not been without its challenges but seeing God's faithfulness to lead us together and watching our son flourish, has been worth every tear that has fallen throughout our journey. Our beautiful birth mother raised our son for 18 months on her own before deciding to place him with a family. When contemplating his future, she knew beyond a doubt that she wanted him raised in a two-parent home with young children. Yes. She specifically chose our home because we had very young children -- the exact reason we were afraid we would not be selected.

Our adoption is a very open, loving adoption. We adopted our son from a nearby state, so we will be able to visit as desired by both families...until the military moves us away. We communicate via instant messaging several times each week -- which has been very healing for the birth mom who has stated over and over that she knows our son is meant to be in our family. The openness of our adoption has also eased the transition period in so many ways. Completing missing sections of his medical history, reminding us of bedtime routines and more have been possible because of ongoing communication.

Through it all may Jesus Christ be glorified. Adopting a son into our family has made the sacrificial love of God so much more evident. He chose to do hard things for us so that we could live with Him forever! The way that He welcomes us into His family is the perfect model for us to welcome our son into our home: freely, unreservedly, just as if he had always been here.”

We are grateful that we could be an encouragement to Jon and Sarah in their journey. It is our honor and privilege to so! We would love to walk with you too on your own adoption journey. Please call to chat with us today or shoot us a message – no question is too insignificant.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

120 Children Home: Celebrating 5 years as adoption consultants - Part 3

As a husband-and-wife professional team we get to spend lots of time sharing in our vocational passion of adoption consulting. We both bring different gifts to the table, and we work in different capacities, but we love talking about "our" families together. We get to celebrate the milestones, the good news, the heartbreaks, together. We believe we bring something unique and special to the Christian Adoption Consultants team - a group of equally special, gifted and talented adoption professionals who collectively have served hundreds of families over the years.

We shared in Part 1 and Part 2 of our post about our journey to become adoption consultants, and the Top 10 reasons we love our job. We'd like to conclude our 3 part post sharing some facts and stats of our 5 years as adoption consultants with CAC. So here we go:

the total numbers
43 boys + 77 girls = 120 children home!

special needs program – physical needs or older child/sibling adoptions
21 children

our first family match
A special needs baby boy

returning CAC families
we’ve had 1 family match and bring home 3 girls within 4 years. Also, 21 families have adopted a second time, including sibling adoptions

big families adopting

1 family currently with 15 children, as well as a family with 13.

total families we’ve consulted for
131 families

wait times for our families
5 ½ months average – some families this included homestudy completion time!

local and across the country
We have consulted for families from 25 states, including several local families in Florida where we live. We have met 20 of our families in person!

adoption in the family
one of our families adopting made it the 3rd generation of their family to adopt!

The numbers are cool to see – a neat way to look back over the past 5 years and recall the families we’ve served, but our reward is truly received when we know how we’ve impacted families so deeply. So, we wanted to share a few closing remarks in the way of some quotes from our families about how they’ve been encouraged and touched by us and how we do what we do:

“If someone were to ask me how to begin the adoption process, I would tell them without hesitation to call or email Jason and Dawn. I understand that the financial part of adopting can seem intimidating and that one may think the cost of a consultant is not necessary, but I would encourage anyone to start with CAC because the help and encouragement and wisdom that comes from experience is worth every penny. Starting with Jason and Dawn means you have an advocate to guide you through each step, and there is a huge comfort in having them a quick phone call or email away when questions or urgent situations come up. Their respect and love for everyone involved in the adoption process is reflected in how they serve others and guide adoptive parents on their journey.”
-Brian & Julie, Georgia

“Life changing experience for us. We always refer others to CAC first because Dawn & Jason prayed for us and with us during the entire process.”
-Ryan & Mendy, Iowa

“You are amazing - we Thank God for you every day.”
-Paul & Suzi, Florida

"Our adoption journey was one we could have never anticipated. Six and a half years waiting (five of those in international adoption) and several failed adoptions. The road was long with many twists and turns. But ultimately this very road led us to our beautiful daughter. We are so thankful for all the love, prayers, and encouragement that Dawn gave to us during our time working with CAC. She is truly amazing and was always just a text away! She always encouraged us that God was in control and He knew exactly who our baby was. Thank you, Dawn for your part in our journey to our daughter! The wait was so very worth it!!!!"
-Justis & Bobbi, North Carolina

“Working with Dawn and Jason with CAC gave us the confidence to accept a situation with an excellent small agency across the country. We are so grateful that we could quickly check the agency out though CAC's network. This led to our two littlest members of our crew.”
- Dan & Summer, Illinois

“This is MY Mommy” are the words my oldest son used this morning when introducing me to his friends at preschool. The magnitude of those words still hits me at my core. Our road to start a family was not easy and was full of hills and valleys. We signed on with Dawn at CAC in April 2014 and were holding our son in our arms in July of that same year. Dawn is not only a wealth of adoption knowledge, but she is a prayer warrior. Her faith and strength are contagious, and I look back now and it all makes sense. The hills, the valleys, the tears, it is because I was always meant to be HIS Mommy. Dawn and CAC are part of our story and I cannot imagine our adoption path without them. Their words of trust, strength and faith are what I love most about them.”
- Allison & Bryan, Iowa
“Thank you so much for all of your love and support thus far on our adoption journey. It's a very long road. At times it's discouraging. At times we wonder, "Is God in this?" And then we think of all of you. We remember all of the love, generosity, prayers, and encouragement we've received from you. We think back on all the ways that God has shown us his faithfulness and kindness through you. So thank you. We love you all and are so thankful to have you walking with us on this journey.”
-David & Sarah, Pennsylvania

“We are so thankful for you and all that you’ve done, and continue to do, to help us along our adoption journey. You’re such a blessing to us!”
-Todd & Jen, Maryland

To chat with us about adoption, contact us anytime:
Dawn: (813) 360-7368