The hands and feet of Jesus. That is what this wonderful couple was to us. Dave and Kristy not only opened up their home TWICE to us, but they loved us through the the thick and thin of both our adoptions. They held us when we needed to be held, gave us a shoulder to cry on, fed us, played with our kids and took us on several adventures in the area. They became our family and saying goodbye to them was hard, especially not knowing when we would be back.
When I say that adoption is for everyone, I mean that. Does that mean everyone should adopt? No, but everyone can do SOMETHING to support those that are. We never once went through the adoption process alone, there were always those praying us through, supporting us financially, helping us physically, and blessing us in ways we could have never imagine. I could give you countless names. Still today, it's overwhelming and humbling to think about. So my prayer for YOU is, if you ever have an opportunity to be a part of an adoption process (big or small), just know that you are making a difference in the life of a child. YOU ARE their voice and your piece in the story is just one way you can serve and be Christ in that moment. That is what being a part of the body of Christ looks like, that is being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Almost two weeks after arriving in North Carolina, our family of 6 was heading home. It was bittersweet, but we were ready to start our new reality! I will forever be grateful for Dave, Kristy, and all those that shared our adoption journey with us. This is not just our story, it's yours too.
The call. We had been in Charlotte, NC for 10 days and were anxiously waiting for "the call" saying that we could take our baby boy home.
Since usually it's REALLY cold back home in South Dakota, we wanted to take full advantage of warm weather and get outside as much as possible with our kids. This happened to be an extra special day, as it was also Danny's birthday. He told me that his birthday wish was getting the call. Well, his wish came true! As the kids were running around playing, Daeston and I were basking in the sun. I remember actually whispering to Daeston at one point saying "don't get too used to this!" His little life in the south was going to change in NO time and he would have to adjust to colder winter months😉
I'll never forget when Danny took the call and I saw his smile. It was an AMAZING feeling to know we could finally go HOME and we couldn't wait to tell the other kids.
God was So good and yet I had so many feelings rushing through my mind. Is it okay to take this child away from where he was born? Away from his birth family? Would we ever be able to speak with them or meet them? How is life going to be at home adjusting with a newborn again? Do we really have to leave and go back to reality? When will I ever see Jerik again? Yes, knowing that we were leaving NC, I still had a heavy heart knowing we would be leaving Jerik yet again. Will Daeston bond with us the same way Coyer did when we adopted him?
Through all these thoughts, fears, and questions, Philippians 4:6 kept running through my mind, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." So as a family we did just that, knowing that God's plan for our family was just beginning to unfold.
We knew our time in NC was coming to end and it would be ANY day that we would get the call of clearance to take our baby boy home across state lines. I could NOT wait for my family and friends back home to finally meet Daeston instead of having to facetime and skype. Let's be real, what mom doesn't love to show off their newborn baby?!
Honestly, I was not ready to go home and face reality. I was enjoying the little "mini-vacation" with just our family. I loved that we didn't have to have a care in the world, other than having fun together and we were having TONS of that! Some of my favorite moments were our nights spent at our host home, cooking supper, playing, going on walks, snuggling, reading, giving bathes and taking turns holding Daeston. I can't tell you how many times I looked at him and thought "is he actually mine, forever?" I knew the reality wouldn't set in until we boarded the plane home. The moment I dreaded SO much last time was going to be replaced with excitement as we went home as a family of 6.
To this day, it's one of the best experiences we've ever shared as a family. I am SO thankful we decided to take our kids and let them experience this time with us, there is NOTHING that could replace that. When Danny and I decided we wanted to adopt again, we knew that we wanted our kids to be involved as much as possible. We wanted to go through the entire process, the ups and the downs, as a family so our kids would understand how God worked through it all. We knew it would help Coyer understand a little bit more about his story too! I can't begin tell you how much it has taught our kids. So if you ever adopt and ask me if your kids should could along with you, my answer would probably be yes 😉
The next hour was a BLUR. It was filled with questions, hard conversation, answers, tears, but most of all, JOY. Never did I think I would be able to experience JOY in that moment, but I did, it was an answer to prayer. Being able to see all my children in one spot and have them meet, it was surreal. God knew what He was doing and conversation with Shinara was better than I could have ever imagined.
I know a lot of people questioned her, were angry with her, and just didn't get it. To be honest, I had moments of this too, but at the end of the day I knew she was brought into my life for a reason and I loved her. She was the mother of our son, regardless if he was living with our family or not. He would always be our son and I wanted the best for not only him, but her. We needed this moment together, we needed to heal. Never will I forgot the look in her eyes as she apologized to us. She was sincere and in that moment, I forgave her for all the hurt she put us through.
Having Daeston in my arms was a secure feeling, as we sat and talked. It was as if God was of saying. “I had a plan, I am faithful, and he is yours." Nothing will ever change the way I feel about Jerik or his mom Shinara, and NOTHING will ever change the way I feel about Daeston. He is son, and was always meant to be. He is our "joy" after our "mourning."
Before it came time for us to go, we were able to get some pictures together. My absolute favorite picture was the one that Shinara took of Danny and I with our five children. Regardless of where Jerik lives, he will always be part of our family and our story. To this day, we still keep in touch with them, send pictures, and talk. I look forward to the day when we can be in the same room again because I know God is at work and has an amazing plan.
I never thought this day would come. When we lost Jerik, I cried for weeks thinking I would never see him again. I struggled with moving on and had to force myself to find joy in the every day moments. When we got the call for Deaston, it was VERY clear that God was at work. Jerik was from the Charlotte, NC area and when we left, I felt like I was leaving a piece of my heart there. Never did I think that my future son would also come from this area too. It was like God knew exactly what we needed. Before we left SD to adopt Daeston, I prayed that God would give us the opportunity to see Jerik again. I know that sounds crazy, but I believed that God was working in ways we could not imagine.
You see, Daeston would never replace Jerik, and I was not looking for that. I was overwhelmed with love for our new son, but that didn't mean I still didn't love Jerik or his birth mom. They were forever our family and knowing that we were going to be in the same area as where they lived, gave me hope that we would be able to see them. Over the last month since saying goodbye to Jerik, Shinara and I kept in touch by texting. So after being in NC for over a week as a family, I asked her if she would be interested in seeing us. I asked if we could see Jerik again and if our kids could meet him. (Most people probably thought we were crazy, but honestly, we didn't care.)
I believed whole-heartedly that God had a plan through it all and our story with Jerik was unfinished. Thankfully, Shinara said "yes," and we made plans to meet them at a local mall park so the kids could play and we could talk. I'll never forget the moment when she walked up and we embraced without words. Really, it was all God. Never did I think I would be able to face her without hard feelings after all the pain she put us through, but there was something unspoken that was even stronger. It was LOVE. Regardless of what she put us through, I had this immense love for her, and I still do.
A trip is not complete without Chuck E. Cheese, right? Ugh, as much as I hate this place, our kids love it. Our friends knew that too and they surprised us with a gift-card to Chuck E. Cheese. Our kids were in HEAVEN and it's always worth it when we see their smiles. Are there any other parents out there that feel the same way? Seriously, we couldn't complain though because it was free food and HOURS of entertainment. Kedren had to experience everything with Daeston and take him on every little ride that he could. Danny was lucky and got to join in too, can you see his excitement? 😉
This was just another example of the love we were shown through this adoption process. We had countless friends and family bless us with financial assistance, gift cards, gifts, prayers, notes, and help when we returned home. God provided in the BIG and SMALL ways and our hearts were filled with gratitude. We always say that "Adoption is for everyone!" There is always something you can do to bless others going through the process even if you're not adopting yourself!
One of the things our kids loved about North Carolina, was all the different parks. We asked our host family to recommend different locations to us, and had fun checking out the different areas. The great thing about our kids being so young was that they were easily entertained and the free parks were perfect!
After spending a week at our host family's house we decided to give them a small break from our family. They weren't used to having a house full of kids, so we booked a room at a local hotel. We also wanted to surprise our kids by letting them go swimming. We knew that swimming would allow them to burn lots of energy and we would all sleep good! Seriously, how cute are they all in their swimming suits?! I just couldn't wait to get Daeston in some tiny trunks like his big brothers. While Danny went swimming with the older three kiddos, Daeston and I snuggled and took lots of pictures.
I wanted to capture every moment of happiness that I could and I'm so glad I did. We still look at all these pictures and recall all the fun memories we had. It's so fun to be able to show Daeston these pictures too and for him to learn about his story through his siblings! If I can recommend ANYTHING to families adopting it would be, DOCUMENT IT ALL. Pictures are a wonderful tool to share the adoption journey not only for our adopted children but also family and friends.
We had been told about the "Lazy 5 Ranch" from our social worker and she said that we HAD to take our kids. OH MY GOODNESS, BEST DECISION EVER! To this day, I don't think we ever laughed so hard or had so much fun as a family. Our kids LOVED it! Who am I kidding, WE loved it!
We drove through the park going 5mph feeding ostriches, donkeys, zebras, and giraffes from the window of our vehicle. We thought they would gently eat from the buckets of food, but we were wrong! Honestly, we would go back in a heart beat. Our hope is to travel back there in a few years and re-live our fun memories all over again with our family!
After feeding the animals we walked through a garden area, had a picnic, and saw some wild birds. We decided because we had so much fun, we would drive through the animal park one more time just to hear the giggles of our kids. If you are EVER near Charlotte, NC, you HAVE to go!
This was the exact reason why we wanted to take our kids durning this adoption process. They are still talking about our time there and it makes us SO thankful that God provided for our whole family to be able to go. Because of the love of our family and friends, we were able to raise enough money to go as a family and no "thank you" will ever be enough. God is SO good and His presence was with us every step of the way. The JOY we had as a family on this day was the perfect medicine for my mama heart.
The weather was finally warm enough for us to get outside and venture around the surrounding towns. Of course, with a newborn I was dying to do a little shopping. We all know, shopping for teeny tiny babies is the BEST! So we went to an adorable town 15 minutes away from our host home for some shopping, lunch, and ice cream. This was the town we were driving to when we got "the call" about Jerik so I was excited to actually visit it and have it be a place of fun memories.
I'm not going to lie, there was numerous times while we were in North Carolina that I wondered why we lived in South Dakota, and the beautiful weather in the middle of winter was not helping those thoughts! It was so fun to get out with our kids and make memories in new places. If you know me, that is one thing I love. I'm a memory maker. I love adventures, traveling, and experiencing it ALL with our kids. It had been 6 days since we arrived in NC, and because of the snow we hadn't experienced enough adventures for my liking. So the rest of our time spent there was going to be PACKED with fun.
Danny was already getting anxious to head home, but I was the complete opposite. I would have stayed for months if I could have! At this point we were just waiting for clearance to leave the state and then we could book our flights and fly home. Tomorrow, we had an exciting surprise for the kids and so no call was going to change our plans!
Quite a few people have asked me over the years if it "feels different" with my adoptive children. If I have a "different love" for them than I do with my biological children. I always think these are slightly funny questions to ask someone who has adopted, but at the same time, I get it. It's hard to know what the relationship and love looks like when you've never adopted or experienced it yourself. How can someone love a child so much that they didn't carry for 9 months, right?
Well let me tell you, you can. I love my adopted sons JUST AS MUCH as my biological children. As much as I share my adoption stories with you to give you a good understanding of the process, NOTHING compares to going through it. As much as I try to put it into words, I never will fully be able to. It's changed me. It's made me a better mom. It's changed my relationship with the Lord for the better. It truly has been the best experience in my life.
Do I love my adopted kids more? No. Is my love for them different? Yes. Actually, I love each of my kids in a unique and different way regardless of if they are biological or adopted. Why? Because each of them are different and they bring a different type of JOY into my life.
I see it in my husband too. This picture says it all. The love he had for Daeston was evident from the second he laid eyes on him. HE WAS HIS SON. Trust me, if you've ever thought about adopting, I can promise you that you will receive a love you never imagined before. A love that fills your heart so much that you can't imagine life without it.
We spent a day at our host home just relaxing. After a busy day of pictures and celebrating Valentines day the night before, we just wanted to spend time bonding, playing games, doing puzzles, cooking supper, and snuggling!
Hi, I'm Kansas! I wish we could be doing this face to face over coffee. Maybe someday, till then this will have to do!