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A Whirlwind 7 Days!

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Hi, my name is Becky and my husband’s name is Jason. Here is our adoption journey story in a nutshell.

After being a family in waiting for about 4 months, we received a phone call from Creating Christian Families on what seemed to be a normal Thursday afternoon. We heard the words, “You were chosen!” and in that moment our lives changed forever.

We had been chosen by an expectant mother and father to be the adoptive parents of their little girl. This little girl was to arrive in 7 days! Yes, you heard me right, 7 days. Our emotions were out of control, we couldn’t believe we were chosen, and we said many prayers of thanks to our Lord!

After 3 days of making plans, talking with the birth parents, working with our social worker, and booking flights, we were on our way to meet, hold, and add the most precious blessing to our family.

We were privileged to work with the amazing staff at Creating Christian Families/Mother Goose Adoptions. All their support, encouragement, and prayers got us through all the ups and downs of those 7 days. We met with the expectant mother and father for dinner the night before the scheduled c-section. What a true blessing to meet one another, ask questions, answer questions, and make a connection unlike any other.

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The day of Mara’s birth was filled with excitement, tears, and so many moments we will remember for the rest of our lives. At 4:25 p.m., one week after we got the life-changing call, Mara Hope came into the world. 6 pounds 15 ounces. We were blessed to be there 25 minutes after she was born, hold her in our arms, feed her for the first time, cry tears of joy and happiness, and share in a moment we have waited to have for nearly 5 years. From that moment Mara never left our side. We left the hospital three days later with our baby daughter by our side, knowing she was going to be in our family forever.

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Many prayers are said every day! First and foremost, we thank our Lord and Savior for the allowing us to take this journey and for bringing Mara into our family. We pray many prayers of thanks and gratitude for her birth mother, birth father, and birth family. We also pray for Creating Christian Families and Mother Goose Adoptions, that they may be blessed to continue to do the great work they are doing with both birth and adoptive families.

Today Mara is a happy and healthy 18 month-old who is walking, running, talking and exploring the world around her. We look forward to many more memories with her and pray for you and your family as you patiently await to see God’s plans unfold before you!

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#SurprisedByMotherhood

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I’m going to let you in on the little secret of adoption that no one can prepare you for: at the end of it all, when that baby is placed in your arms forever, and all the paperwork is over, YOU WILL BE A PARENT. A real, live mom or dad to a REAL, LIVE BABY. This may sound ridiculous, but honestly I didn’t see it coming. I think I was so caught up in the paperwork, the home visits, the fundraising, the paperwork, the fingerprinting and background checking, the PAPERWORK… I sort-of-maybe-for-a-small-second lost sight of the fact that in the end, the finish line is really just the beginning. I mean, we talked and talked and TALKED with social workers, and adoption advocates, and to each other about what kind of parents we wanted to be, how we would raise our child, what kind of values we want him/her to have, but it was all so “out THERE”, you know? All the, “well in theory I will be _______ kind of mom.” None of it was tangible yet; non of it seemed real. But then everything changed.

But then, Vivi was placed in my arms. But then I was kissing her little nose and breathing deep her baby smell. But then she was back home with us. But then she was calling me Mama. But then I was feeding and changing and “mom-ing” my way through life and it was like “oh yeah! THIS was the goal!” I know that may sound crazy, but it’s true. There is a hashtag going around called “#surprisedbymotherhood” where moms post pictures and stories about times in motherhood that surprised them–the good, the bad, and the poopy. Initially for me though, it wasn’t so much “surprised by motherhood” but more like “SURPRISE! It’s motherhood!” Adoption made me a mama, and it’s been the best surprise to date.

-Leah

*Leah is a guest blogger for us. To see Leah’s posts click the “Leah – guest Blogger” tag over on the right.

Adoption: The Heart Of A Mother’s Sacrifice

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We don’t show many people this picture. There have always been aspects of our adoption that we want to keep private, but today this picture so accurately describes what I want to say. It was taken the first time we met our birth mom. It was such a flurry of emotions that day. We were so anxious about her liking us, whether or not we would feel a connection, and if we would be what she was hoping we would be. Before we left our time together that day, we prayed over her, Viv, and our road ahead. It was a deeply spiritual-emotional experience; one I can’t really put into words. None of us knew what was coming ahead, but we were bonded forever in this moment; going before Jesus together, asking Him to join us on our journey, and praying for provision along the way for us all.

Because so many of our friends had grown their families through adoption, we thought we were going into the process fairly “eyes wide open”. We understood the cost, the paperwork, the process. But what we couldn’t have prepared for is who our birth mom would be. Putting a face to a name and beautiful humanity to the woman carrying what would be our child. I understood (or at least thought I did) the sacrifice this amazing woman would make on behalf of her child, but it is an entirely different thing seeing that sacrifice first hand. She wanted nothing more than the absolute best for Viv, and although I could’ve spouted off that sentiment before our adoption, to see the depths of despair and loss that she was willing to go to for the sake of her child was… the greatest example of motherhood I have ever seen. And I don’t think I couldn’t fully understand that before becoming a mom myself. Now however, understanding how I would do anything for Viv, it breaks my heart and at the same time DAILY restores my ability to be a sacrificial mother when I think of what her birth mom has done. I did not expect to learn as much as I have from her. But, like every aspect of this process, we are so thankful for unexpected provision.

–Leah

*Leah is a guest blogger for us. To see Leah’s posts click the “Leah – guest Blogger” tag over on the right.

Adoption Requires A Unique Community

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Adoption is unique in that it both creates and requires community. In order to walk the road of adoption, you must elicit the help of social workers, family, friends, and other adoptive families. All of this connecting and relying creates space for incredible new friendships, deepened relationships, and immeasurable personal growth. There is no way we would be where we are in life and especially in our adoption journey without the amazing village that surrounds us. And the communities of families we have met because of adoption allow us to grow, and learn from, and lean on mamas and daddies on our same road. We are so thankful for each and every one.

For my husband and me, relying on others does not come naturally. We sort of pride ourselves, if we are honest, on being self sufficient and independent. However, because of the nature of adoption, we have had to learn to gratefully and humbly lean into the help, advice, support and community that adoption brings. There is no way, in my estimation, to make it on this road alone. And what a wonderful way to travel! The burdens of the journey seem lighter with the support of those who either have traveled before, or are traveling with us. We are able to ask questions, and voice concerns to people who truly “get it.” We have yet to be met with a response that didn’t begin with “oh! I know exactly how you feel!”

There is a dying to yourself that happens in adoption; a relinquishing of pride and self-sufficiency that must take place. There is so much “new” and so much “unknown”, and having community that understands is absolutely necessary. It’s one of the many (many!) reasons I am so grateful for our adoption story. This growth in reliance on others, and Christ, is something I don’t think would have happened without this experience. Being able to move forward in life unafraid of relying on others—joyfully, even, accepting it—is such a blessing. And it creates the opportunity for us to be readily available for others to lean on. It’s a beautiful, messy sometimes, ever connected circle, this adoption thing. We are so thankful to be a part of it.

 

-Leah

 

*Leah is a guest blogger for us. To see Leah’s posts click the “Leah – guest Blogger” tag over on the right.

Welcome to Leah – Guest Adoption Blogger

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Hi! My name is Leah and this is my sweet family. After 9 years of marriage, my husband Paul and I decided to grow our family. At that time we knew our hearts were (and are!) called to grow our family through adoption, and we began our journey to our sweet little Vivi. Ironically, we waited almost exactly 9 months for Vivian to join our family, and traveled to Arizona to meet our daughter and complete our adoption. While there, we fell in love not only with our precious girl, but her beautiful birthmom and biological brother too. In that time we had together we experienced to the fullest extent the loss, the love, the sacrifice, and the redemption of adoption. Those are days I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life. We are planning to adopt again in the next year or so, and although we have been stretched more than I ever thought possible through adoption, we know beyond any doubt this is where we have been called. It’s so hard to accurately describe what adoption means to us, but I am excited to share more of our journey.

 

Leah is a guest blogger – and we look forward to seeing Leah’s posts and messages in the days ahead!

Adoption Miracle – God’s Blessing In The Midst Of Struggle

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Earlier this year, in the Spring, an amazing family got the call that would change their lives, and bring joy to the journey of a family that had almost given up pursuing adoption due to many years of disappointment and “Almosts” that never happened. Find out how Paul & Mari’s family changed overnight when they least expected it. Mari shares their story:

“It has been such a long journey I am not even sure where to start.

Almost 10 years ago, I (Mari) had some health complications. After some time, we learned I had a hernia in my abdominal wall. After two surgeries to repair it, the doctor strongly suggested that I not go through another pregnancy. I had always hoped to have more than the 2 girls we had, so I started thinking about other means to add to our family. Mostly, it was just ideas and options for a while.

Then, 9 years ago, I felt impressed to look into foster care. As a family, we decided to help those kids by bringing them into our home. We knew we were just a temporary place for them to stay. However, if the chance came that they could stay with us forever, we would welcome that opportunity. There were definitely many ups and downs with our experiences as a foster family. After the first 3 or 4 years, we decided we would only do respite (babysit for other foster parents) as having the kids in our home for a long time, then watching them leave was too hard on our family. As of today, we have had over 15 different kids in our home. Some only for a few days, others for almost 2 years.

5 years ago, we decided we wanted to pursue adoption more, as I felt like there was more for our forever family. We did our home study and adoption certification through LDS Family Services (LDS FS). In the last 5 years, we have worked with several expectant mothers. One changed her mind at the hospital, others changed their mind before we got that far. Some were friends of friends, others found us on other adoption websites. We also submitted our profiles for many little ones from different agencies, who work with LDS FS. For the last several years, we have also been working with our foster care licensing agency to try to adopt out of foster care. We have submitted “family interest forms” to be the forever family for over a dozen cases. Nothing was working for us to find “our” little one.

This past April, we were up for our adoption renewal again. I told LDS FS that we were not going to renew. We felt like we had tried everything and maybe adoption wasn’t in the plans for our family after all. Maybe we just needed to enjoy the journey and take what we learned from it and move on. Our two daughters are getting older and it just felt like maybe it was time to move on. A few days later, our worker with LDS FS asked us if we would be interested in having our profile shown to an expectant mom of twins who was currently in Utah. I said sure. How many times has our profile be shown over the past five years – I don’t think I could even count that. Well, I was very surprised when she called us back and told us the expectant mom had chosen us for her little girls.

Now it was a big scramble to get everything put together. We needed to submit all of the paperwork for Mother Goose Adoptions, since this birth mother was with this agency. She was scheduled for an induction the end of the month. There were many things that took place during the month, working with Mother Goose, the birth mother, two trips to Utah (one to meet the birth mother and one at delivery), and juggling all of our daughters end of the school year activities. This opportunity eventually fell through and Paul and I drove home from Utah on a Wednesday very discouraged. I told Mother Goose we were done and we couldn’t put our family through that again. It was completely emotionally draining.
I’m really glad Deb (at Mother Goose) didn’t listen to me.

Deb sent me a message the following Monday asking if we were open to African American. I said something to the effect of “yeah, whatever”. I really didn’t want to deal with anything adoption related at the moment. Tuesday comes around and Deb starts texting me pictures of the sweetest little girl (born just 2 days before), telling me she wants to come to our family. Deb was with her back east and was trying to find a family for her. That night, at midnight, I sent the text to Deb that we wanted her in our family. I was a little nervous. We were emotionally drained and we don’t know many African American people, but everything felt like it totally fell into place for us to be in a place to even find out about her. I was still trying to figure out it if was really going to happen this time. I got up Wednesday morning and ordered her a car seat. That night at dinner, I told the girls I bought something on-line today. Sarah in her very sarcastic voice says, what a baby? I started laughing and told them about Isabelle. I was able to show them the pictures Deb had sent me. They were just a cautious as Paul and I were. Comments like, “Will this one really work out?” and “is it for real?” showed us they were just as hurt as we were by all the “almosts” we have had over the last several years (and they never knew about a lot of the contacts we had). It finally started to feel real when Deb showed up at our house on Saturday and handed the baby over to us. Granted, I only got to hold her for a few minutes before the girls and Paul took her. But we had some great bonding that night while everyone else was asleep.

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Isabelle is now 6 weeks old and we are so grateful for her! She is a huge blessing to us. She has been showered with gifts, hugs, kisses and cuddles. She is starting to smile now, and gives her biggest smiles to Paul whenever she see him. She loves to cuddle and snuggle with whoever will hold her, which all of us love! She has changed our world in an incredible way. She is our miracle.
Side note: her welcoming into our extended family and friends circle has been completely overwhelming. She is so loved by everyone, it has really touched my heart to see the love everyone close to us has for her.”

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What a joy it is to see families come together through the miracle of adoption! Contact us today to start your adoption journey.

Life Goes On – Danny and Shauna’s Adoption Story

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Shauna and Danny are the proud parents of a baby boy born this Spring. Shauna shares their story with Creating Christian Families.  This post is an exact copy of her blog post entry so please note that all credit for the content and the photographs is to Shauna. Thank you.

“Years ago now, Danny and I were driving around in the dark. We had just fallen in love a couple of months before. Late in the evening, I had picked him up from the restaurant where he was the chef, a night of dinner-service rush and camaraderie in the kitchen behind him. I had been writing all day, working on a proposal for the first book I wanted to write. Hours apart felt like days, and we were so happy to be in the car together, going home.

As we talked and talked, a song came on the radio turned low. “Wait,” Danny said, as he turned up the volume. Desmond has a barrow in the marketplace… We looked at each other and laughed. The Beatles. Of course. We both loved the Beatles. My yes tattoo was in some part inspired by the story of how John Lennon and Yoko Ono met. He has a drawing of John Lennon, the word imagine, and a tangerine tree tattooed on his arm. Our meeting felt like kismet, with a 1960s soundtrack. We were close to my apartment — now his apartment too — but we drove around the neighborhood in circles, wanting to finish the song. We sang loudly into the darkness, Danny slightly off-key. (I knew from the start that he couldn’t carry a tune and I didn’t care.) Somehow, in that spontaneous singing was all the hopes we had for our sudden new love: the marriage, the two kids we were so eager to meet, the goofy happiness. In that moment of singing Ob la Di Ob la Da was our future together.

Years passed, with many of those moments documented on this site. I wrote a book. Two weeks shy of turning 42, I gave birth to our daughter. She nearly died. She came back to life. We settled into being parents, happier than we had ever been in our lives. Danny left that restaurant. We wrote a cookbook. We moved to Vashon and started small-town life together. Danny started cooking at another restaurant. We wrote another cookbook. I wrote. Danny cooked. He left restaurant life. We took Lucy around the world on book tours and cooking classes tours and potluck gathering tours. We started a third cookbook. There were awards and setbacks, patches of writer’s block, ideas emerging that thrilled us both. Mostly, there were so many hilarious and moving moments with our daughter as she grew from small baby into joyful child that everything else seemed small in comparison. We have been happy, so happy.

And yet, there was this hole. Our family didn’t feel complete.

If we had not been able to have another child, we would have been grateful. But Danny and I both adore our siblings, who are some of our best friends. We both believe that siblings teach you what parents cannot: how to compromise, how to fight, how to defend each other, how to make up secret languages, how to make each other laugh. We wanted Lucy to have a sibling. It was beyond analysis, even though we spent months researching and talking and thinking about it. We wanted to welcome another child into our family.

Over three years ago, we began the process to adopt another child. We started by thinking about international adoption, but within the year realized it wasn’t the right path for us. The same with foster adopt, after lots of heartfelt conversations. We settled on an adoption agency for domestic, open adoption and started filling out mountains of paperwork. We sat through interviews, home studies, wrote 25-page autobiographies (each of us), got fingerprinted, did background checks, and asked many friends for letters of recommendations. We finished it all, triumphant, and turned it in. And then we waited, and waited, and waited, as the agency had no mothers to work with and dozens of waiting families growing ever more impatient. Over the course of a year, we saw only a clutch of profiles, none of them the right connection for us. We grew frustrated and tired, tried to stay hopeful, doubted the entire process, and nearly gave up. After more thought and research, and taking a leap of faith that the extra money we would have to spend would arrive somehow, we switched to working with another adoption agency more suited to us. And we started filling out that mountain of paperwork all over again.

The next time I hear someone say to a couple who cannot have children, “Oh, you can just adopt!” I will refrain from smacking him. Gently, however, I might say, “There’s no easy fix in that option, believe me.” Making a plan for adoption has been the most conscious, thoughtful process Danny and I have ever undergone. People get pregnant without planning it nearly every day. No one ever adopts mindlessly.

At times, I wondered if it was all worth it, this process of hoping and waiting and writing big checks. There were terrible moments when I thought we should give up. I’m not the kind to give up, but it was just so hard, all this uncertainty. Our friends who adopted their children all said the same: “Stay patient. When you meet your child, you’ll know that all these almost-chances and waiting were worth it. It was all the path to meet your child.”

They were right.

blog pic 1Last week, on March 19th, we met our son.

We are over the moon. We are amazed with this little guy, a sweet and patient boy who barely cries. He’s making shapes in the air as he learns to use his arms, dancing in his sleep at my feet as I write this. The gratitude we feel for this little peanut is enormous.

And gratitude for his mother. Our son was born of an amazing woman, kind and strong, who has become like family to us. She chose us to be his family back in January, and we have been writing back and forth ever since, getting to know each other through our words. I’ve never been more grateful for my words, for my ease with writing them, all these years later. It is the most unexpected relationship of our lives.

Her story, and his birth story, are not ours to tell. For years, I have been open with the stories of our life, sometimes too open. This one, however, is private. In the last year, and especially these last two months, as we prepared and hoped for his arrival, Danny and I have been feeling the need to share less, to be more quiet. As we left the hospital with him in his car seat, Danny turned to me and said, “Well, our DNA is different now.” This has all changed us in ways we won’t be able to articulate for a long time.

I will say this, however. When I first heard about open adoption — the mother chooses the family by looking at family books and letters, then communication and learning to trust each other, then a child who moves from one mother to another, and in some cases, letters and meetings in the following years — I was scared. I wanted to be the mother, the only mother. I didn’t want the complexity and ambiguity of it all. But a good friend of ours told me something that changed our minds. She also didn’t want to try open adoption at first. And then she realized this: it’s all about having a story for your child. “Your birth mother loves you, and she realized she couldn’t take care of you the way she wanted you to be cared for. She made the hardest decision she has ever made, for your sake. And she chose us to be your family.”

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This is what we’ll be telling our son. This is why we decided to enter into open adoption with open hearts and full commitment. Because of him. And because of her.

We wanted a second child. And oh, what a fine little baby he is. I can’t wait to watch him grow up. Lucy is besotted with him, in three-minute spurts. She hugs him and touches him and talks about how cute he is. “I’m your big sister!” she tells him every time. And then she goes off to dance or draw again. Babies are supremely boring when you are five.

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We wanted this child. We longed for him. But what we didn’t know is how moved we would be by the relationship we have with his mother, whom we will always honor in his life. We wanted a child and we found more family.

There are all kinds of ways to make a family in this world. But really, I think you just make them, in any shape, with love.

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Oh, and the little guy’s name is Desmond Jeremiah Ahern.

Jeremiah is in honor of Danny’s dad, with whom we are staying in Arizona (and his mother) while we wait for the paperwork to clear so we can climb on a plane home. His name is Jerry and he always wanted someone in the family to be named Jeremiah. When we wrote to this little guy’s mom about the reason for this name, she was moved. When she found out this was a boy, she wrote to us, “It looks like we’ll all have the chance to honor Danny’s dad.”

Desmond is in honor of Desmond Tutu, one of our favorite people in the world, for his fierce work with social justice and forgiveness. Desmond is a good Irish name, to go with the Ahern. But mostly, we named him after that Beatles song we sang together in the darkness so many years ago. We listen to the Beatles in our house every Sunday morning. Whenever Lucy hears Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds on the radio, she shouts, “That’s my song!” We can’t have the second kid feel left out. He has to have his own Beatles song too.

But mostly, we realized after we chose it, that it’s the perfect name for this boy, this longed-for boy, this worth-the-wait, this-product-of-goofy-happy-filled-with-love-singing boy. This boy who completes our family and has already brought us so much joy in only 8 days.

Life goes on.”

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Thank you to Shauna for sharing their story. Full credit for this post goes to Shauna. See her original post on her blog.

 

 

 

 

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