How has God created your family?
First of all, God is THE Master Craftsman and HIS timing is PERFECT…
Butch and I met and fell in love during the summer of 1994, but we lived in 2 different states, and we were both very busy; me in college and Butch in dental school, so we eventually lost touch with each other. Eight years later, we bumped into one another at the same place that we met in 1994…church. Four months after we rekindled our relationship, we were married.
We both have always wanted a large family, but we knew before we got married that we would never be able to conceive, so adoption was our solution, and Agape was the answer to our prayers.
When we felt like we were ready to begin having a family, we called Agape and spoke with Buddy Renahan, supervisor of social services. At that time, we had only been married about two and a half years, and Buddy told us that they really like for their couples to be married for three years before they start working with them. We were given all of the applications and packets to fill out so that when our third anniversary rolled around, we would be able to go “on the list.”
God’s timing being what it is…we received our phone call from Susan Shelton, the Montgomery social worker, exactly nine months to the date of our third anniversary! Susan called on a Thursday and told us a little bit about Alena, but since she was born with some health issues, the Agape social workers wanted to sit down with us and discuss her current health, the care that she would require and her possible prognosis. We met together on Friday and we weren’t able to meet our baby until Sunday after church. Between Friday and Sunday we were “nesting” and shopping for all things pink…
When Sunday finally came, we met Buddy in the waiting room of the hospital and he took us up to the NICU where the nurse stood holding our precious Alena and as we walked into the NICU the nurse said, “Here come your Mommy and Daddy.” Meeting her for the first time was the most amazing feeling…to be holding our baby for the first time–she was/is so beautiful. That evening we were called to stay in the hospital with her so that we could meet with her doctors and then be able to take her home the very next day. We rushed around the house throwing things in bags and making phone calls…we weren’t supposed to be doing this until later in the week…we felt like our “water broke” and we had to get to the hospital. It had to be comical from the outside looking in, but we were frantic.
Since Alena’s birth, she has been defying the odds and forcing everyone that hears her story to believe in the power of God. Because of the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, Alena has been in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals and therapy centers, but as soon as she became stable, seizure-free and in a routine of therapies…God came knocking on our door for the second time. Last December, in the middle of the day, completely unexpected, Susan called us again with the news of another little girl that was to be born in January. We were SO excited. Once again, God’s timing was perfect. Alena was/is thriving and we were settled into our new house. We were ready to grow our family (if truth be told…we thought we were ready way before God did, but looking back…God was/is perfect once again).
Gianna’s adoption story is a little different. We had the opportunity to meet and get to know her birth mom. We instantly fell in love with her and couldn’t wait to go on this journey with her. Having a more open adoption has been a much greater blessing than we had anticipated. Gianna’s birth mom was scheduled to be induced on January 8, but she went into labor on her own very early that morning and as “coincidences” happen, Alabama was supposed to get a rare snow storm, and Butch made a decision very late Thursday night to close his practice that Friday, which meant he would be home.
Around 7:15 that morning we received a call from the social worker that Gianna was about to be born…and at 7:30 we received another call…It was Gianna’s birth mom…she wanted to tell us that “YOUR baby is here, she is beautiful, and I want you to get here as soon as you can so that you can see her and hold her.”
I ran into our bedroom again to tell my sleeping husband that he was a daddy again and that we had to get ready to meet our little girl. It was amazing! Once again we were rushing to the hospital. We were in the hospital room with Gianna, her birth mom, and all of Gianna’s extended family (and now our family too). We must admit, it was difficult to leave the hospital after being able to spend so much time with Gianna, but we knew that she was going to be well cared for by the most wonderful foster parents on the planet.
On the day of our placement, Gianna’s birth mom was there too. That was the happiest and saddest day of my life. We walked into the Fireplace Room at the Vaughn Park Church of Christ, and Gianna was being held and loved and talked to by her very loving birth mom. As we sat down on the couch with her, SHE PLACED HER BABY in my arms and whispered to Gianna, “here’s your mommy.” To actually witness true sacrificial love is the most amazing, heart wrenching, humbling experience.
Since Gianna’s placement, we have had the opportunity to meet and have dinner with her birth mom and we exchange emails and pictures on a regular basis, and through this entire experience she has become an important part of our family herself not only because of the gift of Gianna, but because of the relationship that we now share.
How has adoption blessed your spiritual life as a family?
Adoption has completely blessed our spiritual life as a family. From the very beginning of the adoption process, and still today, we have had to put our faith and trust completely in God. I know it sounds silly to say that, because we are always supposed to have faith and trust in God and we do and always have, but when we filled out our paperwork and submitted it to Agape…that was all we could do. We had no hand in creating our girls – we just completely trusted in God to choose the best children to bless us with. We were completely at His mercy and His timing.
And now we laugh, because our girls are absolutely perfect and have blessed us in ways that we never knew were possible. We say all of the time, “Can you believe that God gave them to us? Do you think other couples feel as blessed as we do with the kids that they have?”
We have also been blessed by how God has healed and worked in Alena. So many of her doctors have told us that they are amazed that she is thriving the way that she is, that they can’t believe that she hasn’t had any seizures for over two years, that she is talking and running and dancing…All we can say is that GOD IS SOOO GOOD and NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH HIM!
What do you hope your girls grow to understand about their adoption story?
We want our girls to know that God has a special purpose for them and their lives. That God can use any/all situations – whether planned or unplanned, good or bad, to bring Him glory and to fulfill His purpose in our lives. That they were hand-picked – chosen to have a remarkable, unique beginning to their lives…a story that is as special as they are. Alena and Gianna will both know that their birth was the answer to many heartfelt prayers. That they were desperately wanted and needed to complete a couple and to play an integral part in God’s plan. We want our girls to understand that their birth moms were the angels that God used to make us into a family.