Posts in Our Family
Our journey with infertility, fostercare, and adoption. Part 2 of 2

If you missed the first part of the story you can read it here.

So 2016 ALMOST ended on a quiet note. . . Backing up 2 weeks prior. After our weekend with Layla, and after talking to the relatives we felt that it was clear Layla was not coming back. It was going well they said. So we called the agency and told them that we’d be open to another placement if they needed us.

Christmas 2016 came and went. We enjoyed celebrating with our 3 boys. If you recall Christmas was on a Sunday that year. Tuesday I got a phone call. A 9 month old baby boy needed a home, would we take him? And thus, Joey entered our lives.

{Below: Cell phone photos of Joey’s first few week with us.}

Each child is so different. Biological children each have their own differences, let alone children with completely different genetics and family backgrounds. To say that Joey was different from Layla would be a understatement. He was the complete opposite of her in SO many ways. It made for an interesting comparison because Layla left our home at 9 months old in the beginning of Nov. and Joey joined our family at 9 months old at the end of December.

It was a VERY difficult transition for us and him. We were use to “Layla baby” and “Joey baby” was not her, nor should he have been. But it made for some getting use to. And we were not his normal. Even if a child comes from a place of dysfunction, it is still normal to them. And the older the child, the more accustom to their “normal” they become. So our home was a hard transition for him as well.

The first two weeks I cried a lot, it was hard. And I prayed A LOT! The biggest thing was he didn’t sleep. He was up every 2 hours during the night and we couldn’t comfort him, we were strangers to him. The only thing that worked was a bottle and at 22lb at 9 months being underfed was not his issue. But it was all we had. It was exhausting. It is a reminder that just because something is hard doesn’t mean its wrong. And just because God calls you to something, doesn’t mean it will be easy.

But the beautiful thing about babies and children is how open to change they are. He adjusted, he got used to our routine and it became his routine which brought him comfort. He still didn’t sleep at night, that took MONTHS, but his crying fits got less and more manageable.

Joey was with us for a little over a month when I got a phone call. Can you guess? “Christi, it’s not working out with Layla’s relatives, she needs a home. Will you take her?” I about dropped the phone. YES! There was no hesitation. And then I cried. I couldn’t believe it, my baby girl was coming back.

We talked some more. “We will just twin it” I said to the caseworker. Ha. Oh my, I had no idea what I was getting myself in for. All you moms of twins, I raise my hat to you. Twins are a lot of work! I called my husband after I got off the phone and he too said, Yes, bring her home.

We had 24 hours to go buy another crib, another car seat and a set of bunk beds. We had to rearrange bedrooms so that the 2 little ones could be together and that meant putting our 3 year old in with the big boys, thus the need for bunk beds. We dropped everything and got to work assembling furniture. Well, who am I kidding, my husband assembled it all. What a champ! But I helped by keeping little hands busy so he could work.

It was so amazing to see God preparing us for this before we knew it would happen. Just one week before the call to bring Layla back we decided to hire in a helper. I was homeschooling at the time and it was getting to be difficult to homeschool plus have the 2 little ones. Now that I would have THREE kids, 3 years old and under, I really needed that help. She jumped right in and was coming 2-4 times a week.

So that is how we ended up with two children from different families so close together. In any other situation we would have said no to another child so soon after Joey came. It amazes us the way these things work out. If Layla hadn’t left then Joey never would have been put into our home. It was clear from his story that he was suppose to be with us.

An interesting part of Joey’s story is that he and his mom normally didn’t live in Lancaster. But the night he got placed into care his mom was indeed living in Lancaster and so that is how he got put into a Lancaster home vs a different county from his previous place of residence.

If feels very clear to us that Layla had to leave so that Joey could come to us. We needed him as much as he needed us. The struggle that he brought to our hearts has brought much growth and reliance on God. We can not do this thing of loving well without God.

{Below: cell phone photos of life with 5 kids 3 of them being 3 and under}

So if you counted you might be saying , “um wait that’s only five kids…” Right. So there we were launched into 2017, suddenly with 5 kids ages 9, 7, 3, 1, and 11 months. It was crazy, pure craziness my friends. But it got even crazier. A few months into this adjustment, we were told that Joey’s mom was expecting. Unfortunately the baby would need a home. Since we had his brother, they asked if we’d take him. Well that was an easy answer, “No.” We were swamped and barely keeping our heads above water trying to love and care for all these little people.

But it’s amazing what time will do for you. Within a few months after that phone call, we adjusted to a new normal of 5 kids, mainly a set of twins. When Michael was born in the fall of 2017, we were asked again if we’d consider taking him into our home. This time we said we’d pray about it.

We now were saying things to each other like, We’d like to keep the brothers together if we can, but are we really able to add another little one to our family? What is best for our other children? We don’t want them to feel neglected. A baby is a lot of work. But it’s his brother…etc.

So we got hot and heavy and started PRAYING and fasting, asking God for an answer. And sure enough, he spoke, Joel heard that we are suppose to take him. It was enough for us. We were at the point that we WANTED to bring him home to our family but we struggled with also wanting to be good stewards of the children we had. God gave us these kids, all six of them are His, so in the end He gets to decide. We moved forward with the yes answer and a week later, November 2017, we brought Michael home from the hospital.

Christmas 2017 certainly was different than Christmas 2016. In one years time we went from 3 kids to 6. This is not normal, but in foster care, there is no normal!

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2018 was somewhat of a blur. A lot happen last year. For one thing we moved to house with a few more bedrooms which was a big help but again a difficult transition. We had weekly visits with both moms for a season but by the time 2018 ended we had adoption court dates schedule for all three little ones. And once again we were blessed to have their moms say that if they couldn’t have their child then they wanted us to. We feel honored to be the parents to these children. As we look at them. it hits us from time to time, what a privilege it is to parent these kids. This quote says it all, "A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me." Jody Lander.

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We know that not all adoptions end well, and that is so hard for everyone involved. We hear the horror stories, but we choose not live in a spirit of fear. God called us to this, so we trust Him in it. We know our hearts might get broken by the choices our children make as they grow up, but that goes for all our children, not just our adopted one. Again we choose to keep our hand open to the children God gave us and reject a spirit of fear. That is no place to live life, in the shadow of fear. The Lord is our shepherd, Psalm 23. He leads us beside still waters of rest and peace, and through valleys of death. But regardless of the good or the painful times, He, the shepherd, is with us! That is how we do this. And we keep praying and committing all our children into God’s hands. We are called to love and train them and expose them to a relationship with God, the rest is up to Him.

We also realize that we are unique in the fact that all our foster care placements have been adopted by us. We are not sure why that is part of our story. When Layla left and it was hard, my husband was like well I guess this is what this feels like. And we both assumed that it would happen more times. But it didn’t. We had no control of that its just how it happened. As our one resource worker said, there is a reason these things happen. Yes, we know God has a plan for our family and the children that he has placed into our lives to call our own.

Nov. 2018 we adopted Layla and Feb 2019 we traveled once again to the Lancaster County Courthouse and had a double adoption for the boys. We are now officially closed with Lancaster children and youth but we are still busy! We will be busy cultivating relationships with these children of our for the rest of our lives. And not only them but their bio families as well. We are so thankful that the bio families have been able to come and visit their children here in our homes since we’ve finalized the adoptions. I think maybe I will write about that sometime, our relationship with the bio families that is. But that is story for a different day.

Thanks for reading!






Our journey with infertility, fostercare, and adoption. Part 1 of 2

Our adoption story actually starts with a unique infertility story. My husband and I were blessed with 2 healthy pregnancies, and then a miscarriage, and then we were diagnosed with what is called “secondary infertility”. Basically it means we once could produce children and now we can’t. And the really interesting thing… we BOTH got that diagnosis. Think God was making it clear to us? Yeah, we did too.

Despite it being clear, it was a long journey for me as a mom to come to grips with. But God used the pain of that journey to led us to a new one, the world of foster care! It started as way of filling my aching empty arms but by God's grace it grew into so much more! We not only got to love on the babies that came into our home but also their parents. We love that we get to build relationship with them too. These are stories of hope despite the sorrow.

Backing up to 2014, our first {adopted} son was such a surprise. Our youngest bio son was 4 years old when we got involved with Lancaster County Children and Youth, so we told them we’d be open to a 3 yr old or younger. We didn’t want to mess up birth order and it didn’t seem safe to bring older children into our home since we had 2 young sons. The surprise was that it took 3 months to get a placement call and then we got the call on the one year anniversary of our miscarriage and were asked to open our home to a 7 days old baby boy, still in the hospital! A newborn was a balm to my broken heart. He was God’s gift to me. And I began to heal. As my heart healed it also matured. God used the life of my son to open my hand of control. To be open handed to God’s plan and not tight-fisted to MY plans… it is a hard journey to get to that place of release. But I will say this, God was so gentle with me as he exposed me in my sin and grew me in my faith and love for Him. Two times our son was suppose to leave and reunite with his birth mom, both times it fell thru. Both times I wept at the idea of losing him and I wept at the idea of his birth mom not having him either. We love her and so it’s such a hard thing, to love “your” child that is actually her child and not want to give him up. There is SO much more I could say but you can read more about his story here.

By the summer of 2016 Joshua’s adoption date was scheduled for September so we felt that we were at a place to open our home up again, this time we said all placements must be under 1 year of age because Joshua was just 2.5. July 2016, I got a call asking if we’d take a 6-month-old baby GIRL. A Girl?! I was ecstatic! We met the birth mom and from the beginning we were able to form a good relationship with her. Four kids was a BIG adjustment for us! Anyways, about 2 months into Layla living with us, the court ordered for Layla to move to her relatives home.

{Below: cell phone photos of our first week with Layla. Bring out all the PINK please.}

We understand why this happens. If WE had a relative in foster care WE would want to have them live with us, not some strangers. But it’s hard on your heart to see a child you opened your heart to leave. {This is foster care, it’s about them, not you. You do it for the child, not for you.}

After another month of court visits and all the details getting put into place we packed her little pink duffel bag and dropped her off at the agency, it was terrible. I cried off and on for weeks but it was a time of soul searching and hearing from God. That is the beauty of hard times, we seek the face of our Lord and He is right there to comfort us.

December came and we enjoyed having Layla for a weekend visit. We talked to the relatives and were glad to hear everything was going really well. But man, it felt so right having her back in our home. Needless to say, after the weekend was over and we dropped her off, I cried the entire way home and for the next week. Love really hurts sometimes, but it’s a good kind of hurt. It’s a hurt that is about more then just you.

{Below: cell phone photos of our December weekend visit.}

Christmas came and we reflected on our year. Here we were,back to just us and our 3 boys. This is the way of foster care. Your family grows and decreases. It’s not your job to decide if it’s fair or the right thing. It’s your job to love the kids and love their parents and love God even more then the rest. Because the kids and the parents might come and go, but God is there forever. He is the one to put your trust in and He is the one who gives strength to love and release. You trust that you planted seeds of love and trust into those broken little people and then you commit the child into God’s hands to do the rest.

2016 ALMOST ended on a quiet note, but this is where the story gets really …unique. It will be another 10 paragraphs to write out what all happened next so I think I’ll stop here and finish the story in the next post. Thanks for reading, I invite you along for the next part of this story.

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The weight of Infertility and the joy of Adoption

Five years ago my life was about to change forever and I was oblivious. Feb. 12, 2014 came and went and meant nothing to me. Little did I know that in 7 days I would get a phone call that would rock my world.

Our third child was wanted and prayed for, I was ecstatic when I saw that we were pregnant. But The joy was short lived. Feb 2013 we miscarried about 6 weeks into the pregnancy. I was devastated. We had been blessed with 2 healthy pregnancies and now had 2 boys but suddenly we were dealing with an infertility diagnosis. It was a very painful journey. I asked God lots of questions and cried lots of tears. I specifically asked him over and over again, “why did you give me a desire for more children if I can’t have (birth) them?” God in his graciousness did grow our family, His way, thru adoption.

Fast forward to summer of 2013 we did lots of praying and realized we were called to pursue foster care. We became foster parents thru Lancaster County Children and Youth because we wanted to grow our family. But God is so good. He uses our desires for His good. He puts His desires into our hearts and then works in ways we don’t understand to fulfill them. We thought foster care was to grow our family. We soon realized it was not about us. (I could write a whole blog post on that statement.) The purpose of us being foster parents was NOT about keeping babies but rather loving them with an open hand as well as loving and building relationship with their birth moms.

Back to Feb 2014. I’ll never forget the day I got the call. My arms were aching with the weight of emptiness. It was the one year mark of our miscarriage and I felt the loss very deeply. I answered the phone and was greeted by a caseworker who said there is a seven day old baby boy who needs a home. Would we be willing to take him?

My heart nearly exploded and after getting more information, I hung up and promptly proceeded to cry. I cried and cried, tears of joy. I loved that baby already. I had been waiting for him to come into my life for a whole year. I was scared too. What did it mean to have a “drug baby”? What would it mean if I fell in love and had to give him back? Lots and Lots of questions flooded me but they were overruled by a deep desire to go bring that baby home.

One wonderful thing about telling a story that happened years ago is the ability to fast forward through all the painful parts. I am so glad I don’t have to relive those 2.5 years of loving and releasing. Twice we were told he was leaving us. I wept tears of sorrow but God gave me the grace to open my hand to Him and His plan, even if it meant taking my sweet baby and giving him back to his birth mom. She loved him very much so that was a comfort, but I needed to work thru my stuff too. In the end she was unable to provide him (or herself) the consistent care that was needed.

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It was with bittersweet joy that we adopted our son Sep. 2016. Bittersweet because his birth mom was heartbroken. But we were filled with great joy to be welcoming him into our family for keeps, and we were so blessed because his birth mom told us that she couldn’t have him then she wanted us to have him. We have since been blessed to adopt three more precious babes into our home, but that’s a different story for a different day.

I might have shed a few tears of surreal joy during the court hearing.

I might have shed a few tears of surreal joy during the court hearing.

Today we are thankful. We now have a reason to celebrate on Feb. 12. We celebrate the life of our beloved boy and thank God that his birth mom loved him, wanted him. And we are thankful that he was given a chance to live life, ours are forever changed because of him.