Tuesday, April 8, 2014



Today marks 8 years of marriage for us. 8 years of doing life as one. I love the life God has graciously allowed us to lead alongside each other. Each day doing life with you is such a gift. We've built so many memories together since first meeting in 1999. They say hindsight is 20/20 and looking back, I can without wavering say that God knew we needed each other.

We have walked out so much of life together...we've trudged through some deep, muddy waters. Marriage united us, joined us together as a team. I'm so thankful that we have managed to remain a team through the trenches. We've managed to recognize that we are not each other's enemy and who our enemy is. We fight for each other. I love that when one of us is lagging, struggling, we mule pack the other on our backs and march on. We stand in the gap for each other and march on towards all that God has called us to; when we are both full of faith, watch out world, we are a force to be reckoned with. "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Life has been a beautifully awkward dance of faith. We definitely dance, and we are definitely awkward.

Thank you for leading our family as Christ leads the church. Thank you for taking your role in our household seriously. You do it so well. Thank you for listening so closely to the Holy Spirit and his leading... even when he's speaking through me. Thank you for being humble enough to say I'm sorry when we get caught up in a moment of frustration. Thank you for loving Jesus as you do... your faith astounds me and keeps my wavering heart steady. I so appreciate how you walk in your authority as a son of the most high God, and you are not afraid to speak to the wind and the waves and tell them to "be still."

I love that we've in essence grown up together. We made the transition into adulthood...So much of that filled with growing pains, finding ourselves, finding our identity in Christ. I feel honored to have walked that out with you. I'm thankful for the season of life we are in now... as a family, we are leaving and cleaving to Jesus at a greater degree and becoming fully reliant on his leading and guidance. Thank you for holding my hand as we walk through the walls of water on either side...walking towards the promised land, trusting big with me. As scary as this all is, I would not want to do it with anyone but you.

I'm so thankful for your passion. I'm thankful for your sense of humor...thankful that we find each other hysterical. Even at our worst, when all else fails, we can make each other laugh. I'm thankful for your steadfastness... You very rarely waiver in unbelief. Your faith and convictions are strong. They carry us through the waves and wind, when they are big and seem to be overtaking us. You cover us as a little family and gently lead us forward. I'm thankful for the way you serve our family. From staying up late to help out with the dishes, to being the most incredible daddy I've ever met, to making dinner when you come home and my eye is twitching, you serve our family...pour yourself out to be poured out again and cheerfully.

Thank you for loving big with me... I've heard it said as "refusing small love." Together we choose love and trust that love always wins. When all seems confusing and the way unsure, love always wins. Thank you for wiping my tears when love hurts bad and patiently waiting for my heart to come around again.

Honestly, my love for you is so deep that I could write for days. Life is a wild ride, and I would dare to say ours has been super wild. I am so thankful that with you we can throw our hands in the air, laugh with our heads back, and do this life right... life deep in Jesus, deep in abundant grace, and unfailing love. Here's to at least 70 more celebrations of marriage!

Love you bubby.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Village


They say it takes a village to raise a child. It is most definitely true! We could most definitely do parenthood no justice without our village. Eliana desperately needs the influence of others in her life, and we desperately need the support of others as we figure out this walk called "Parenthood."

When we adopted Eliana, we did it in large part on our own. We were the lone rangers and front runners in our church and community of friends. We had no idea what we were doing. We had no idea how much it would actually cost, and we entered into it all pretty naively but with a simple trust that "he will provide." And that he did.

We finished Eliana's independent adoption all on our own. We hired all the lawyers needed, hired the adoption service provider to serve papers and get them signed, contacted the state to have them do our home study.... and so much more. We did all of the leg work, and at the end of the day our adoption cost about $25,000. Adoption is not cheap. Lawyers are not cheap, home studies are not cheap...there is a lot that goes into finalizing an adoption.

Here's the miraculous part... When all was said and done, we finalized Eliana's adoption with zero debt. NONE. This may not sound like much of a miracle to you, but let me give you just a glimpse in to the miraculous nature of this provision!
1) We didn't ask for help. A few of our family members gave us some money instead of presents that year for Christmas, which gave us the boost we needed to get started (about $1500 total). Bit by bit as bills came along, we always had the money to pay them.
2) We are not rich! ha! With Eliana's adoption, we were just 5 years into marriage and at the beginning of our careers. I was a private Christian School teacher, which if you don't know...they make basically nothing, and Brian was making the starting salary for an engineer in our small town. We live in a small town with a high desire for jobs and small amount of jobs, so the starting pay tends to be lower than the average. We began saving, budgeting, and putting away money bit by bit.
3) We had some serious financial opposition right before we found out about Eliana. The little nest egg that we had built literally dwindled before our eyes in one week's time.  In February 2011, in one week all of this went down.
  • Brian had appendicitis and had to have an emergency appendectomy. 
  • The transmission went out on our car.
  • I was told I was losing my job because the school I was working at was closing. 
Yet, God provided, and we finalized with zero debt. Brian and I have a very high value for living within our means. We find great pleasure in honoring God with the money he has entrusted us with. In our eyes, none of it really belongs to us...it all is on loan from Him. We have found great financial peace and freedom from living debt free... Now, before I get to far....living debt free is not easy!!! We don't have the newest cars, I shop at thrift stores (btw...I get complimented on Eliana's clothing more than any other mama I've met haahaha), we live on a cash budget, and we don't spend more than we have. Why? We find the peace far out weighs the stuff. There is so much financial peace in having cars paid off, minimal bills, and a more simple way of living. All that goes to say that we are NOT normal!!! This is most definitely not the American way to live, and that is quite alright:) Our favorite part about living debt free is having the opportunity to give!! Giving is such a blessing, and it is such a beautiful act of thankfulness towards God. God has given us the gift of giving freely when the Holy Spirit has laid something on our heart. 

Fast forward to Adoption of Dean Baby #2: As we approached this adoption, we openly talked about what our goals were this time around.... Since this was not our first time at this rodeo, we had clearer picture of what was to come, and we started to dream accordingly. 

Goal #1: TO LIVE OUT LOUD: This time around we are both passionate about seeing God glorified. We have opened ourselves us to sharing our story on a much larger platform than before. I have very intentionally placed myself in the adoption community, and I have very purposefully and openly shared our story. The miracles, the mundane, and the rubber meets the road. Why? So God might receive the glory! He's the one at work behind the scenes in all of this. He deserves all of the Glory, Honor, and Praise that is due to him. We as a family have a huge value for authenticity and transparency. If we don't share our lives, how will God ever receive the glory? 

Goal #2: TO SHOW THAT ADOPTION CAN BE DONE DEBT FREE: I have found so often that many of us feel called by God to do something... What that something looks like is different for each one of us, but ultimately, that something always glorifies the Lord and grows the kingdom of God. BUT, what I have also have found is a general fear associated with this calling. If God has called me to start this small business, how do I do it... If God has called me to love the elderly, how do I get started....If God has called us to share the gospel with our coworker, do I have the right words? Few of us have the raw faith to believe that what God calls us to, He will equip us for... So if God calls you to start an infertility group in your community, Why not do it? God will equip you for your calling! If God has called you to love on struggling single moms in your community, why not go... God will equip you! He will give you a vision and provide you with a way! SO the challenge turned upside down on us... If God has called us to show that adoption can be done debt free, why not call of the village, the body of Christ. Eeeek! Ahhhhh! Screeech! HOLD UP?!?! So I'm preaching to myself....yup. 

Goal #3: TO SEE OTHER FAMILIES WALKING IN THEIR CALLING TO ADOPT: Ok...so this is where my goals go all crazy! We have a crazy dream!!!! We are dreaming that our story might actually give others the courage to walk out their own calling to adopt!!! We must be all kinds of crazy! 

Goal #4:  INVITE THE VILLAGE:  ok. SO. We could totally do this adoption 100% on our own... We are confident that God will provide, with the village or without the village. We could save up a few more years and be fully funded all by ourselves, BUT every time we've prayed about it, we've felt God nudging us to include the village. Allow the body of Christ to do what it does best! Soooo... "YOOHOOO!!! Village... Let's Do this!" Let's see what God does!!! Honestly, it's a risk putting ourselves out there and asking for help from our village, but you know what?! why not?! Why not see God's glory radiating from every aspect of our story!!!

Goal #5: OK... Here's where I get a little crazy in my eyes! Maybe a lot CRAZY?! I have a crazy dream! I have have a crazy dream that God will not only fund our adoption, but he will use the body of Christ to fund another adoption! Eeeeep! I know crazy right?! We have some friends that we love and adore who are knee deep in the adoption process. They are a dynamo couple that has decided to step out in faith and plant a church in St. George, UT. This month they were matched with a birth family, and they potentially have a baby boy due April 28!!!! They have beautiful hearts. After hearing our story, God confirmed in them that adoption was their Plan A for growing their family...they endured some painful losses and decided to forgo infertility treatments in order to pursue adoption. Read their story here:

OK. Who wants to do Crazy with us?! Who wants to jump on this band wagon and see God do something big! Ready or not here's the plan!

Our next adoption costs: $24,000. We are adopting through Nightlight Christian Adoptions. So far Brian and I have saved $14,000!!! That is a miracle in and of itself!!! That leaves us with $10,000 to raise! This $10,000 will directly pay the fees associated with the placement of a child in our home.

Our Dream is to raise twice as much, $20,000!!! Why not see two little ones placed in homes that love Jesus and love birth families and are committed to walking out God's heart here on earth? Why NOT?!

To me it's simple... 2,000 people who give $10; or 200 people who give $100; or 500 people who give $40; 40 people who give $500; or one person who feels God tugging on their heart to give it all. God can use whomever he so desires to see this lived out, and he can place any amount on the hearts of whomever he desires! Our Goal...GOD might be glorified as the GOD WHO PROVIDES!

We do ask that you only give if you feel led to give! Please do not feel any guilt or obligation towards giving; not everyone who reads this post or my blog will feel prompted to give! God loves cheerful givers, and we believe that in the end God will provide!

Practically here are our two platforms for giving at this time:

1) T shirt Fundraiser: We are doing a t-shirt fundraiser. We love the word God has spoken to us, and we pray that anyone who gets to wear it will be given an extra measure of courage to live out love... to be faithful in loving the people God places in front of you because LOVE ALWAYS WINS!

We will receive $15 from each t shirt purchased!

*Please send me a picture of you wearing your shirt once you receive it! I plan on making a wall collage for baby dean #2 to have on his/her wall.

2) Adopttogether: This time around we found an incredible adoption crowd funding platform. Basically, what they have done is to create a platform for people to give towards adoptions. The donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!!! Isn't that incredible! Adopttogether has agreed to shift whatever funds raised above our $10,000 directly into the Nadalsky's adopttogether fund! To Give this way click on link below: 

Ready or not?! Let's see what God does!!! 

The Deans

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Veil Was Torn.

As we drove to our first meeting with K (Eliana's Birth Mom), 
I picked my fingernails, and my knee seemed to have a mind of its own. 
I couldn't stop it from bouncing. 
All I had the courage to pray was "Oh Jesus. Help us."

We waited outside of her house after our long drive...
Waited to meet the woman who might be growing the baby we might raise in her belly. 
It felt like a reality t.v. show;
Who does this?
Who shows up at a person's house, knowing that your lives might be forever changed by that meeting. 
It felt so surreal, yet so right. 

Eventually, K comes walking up, and we get out of the car to meet her. 
At this point, I am just in survival mode.
I had to tell my brain...Brain walk to her...Brain hug her. 
All of us were stumbling over our words. 
None of us had done this before, and we were all just trying to figure it out. 

I am pretty sure she felt equally as nervous. 
We all felt like our worlds were colliding and would never be the same. 
We spent the next day getting to know each other. 
I found it difficult to not stare at her...
She was so beautiful; her son was strikingly handsome
and her perfect belly on her petite stature. 
Dare I dream that the baby hiding in there would call me mommy one day. 

This was just the beginning of what we were to call an open adoption. 
From everything that I have seen, we have one of the more ideal and open adoptions. 

Open adoption wasn't always our heart....
We didn't know better.
We had no idea the implications of an open/closed adoption. 
The more we educated ourselves, however,
the more convinced we were that we wanted to be as open as possible. 

There was a period of time in U.S. history where open adoptions were unheard of...
closed adoption was the way to go.
In fact, you probably have heard many of your adoption experiences birthed out of this closed adoption movement during the 1950s-1970s.
There was a big push for secrecy. 
Birth mothers were sent away to home to have their babies and return back to normal life after baby was born, left to wonder if they ever really made the right decision.
They felt it was ideal for birth parent and adoptive family. 
Birth parent could move on from the adoption, pretending nothing ever happened, 
and adoptive parent could move on with their lives with baby in tow pretending as if their baby was their own biological child. 

The reality is that this movement left a mess in its wake. 
It is impossible for a birth parent to forget the baby that grew in them for nine months and they birthed, 
and it is impossible for adoptive parents to ever feel 100% secure in their role as parent with the secrecy of the adoption looming in the air. 
The whole scenario is clouded in secrecy. 

The more I've walked this journey out, the more I've come to understand the value of truthfulness.
In the same sense, I would be lying to say that openness and truthfulness is easy. 
It's NOT! 
Sometimes I would like to pretend that Eliana grew in my belly and that our family grew the same way most other "normal" families do. 
Because it would be easier in the short term, 
but we are investing in an open adoption for the long term. 
We have found great value in the truth and having a safe environment to say what we are feeling. 
In our home, there is nothing hidden. 
Eliana will always know she is adopted. 
Eliana will always know she is loved by two mommies,
and all of this will be talked about in an open manner. 
No secrets. 
"Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

Sometimes open adoption is awkward. 
It's awkward to visit K's home town. 
It's awkward to talk about the tears that show up unannounced at different times. 
It's awkward to have to tell K that Eliana has asked about her birth dad. 
A lot of it is uncomfortable, 
and it demands security. 
As Eliana's mother, I must be 100% secure in my role of mother. 
K does not threaten that role at all. 
Do I have moments where I feel threatened or tempted to compare? 

I remember this last trip we had a moment where Eliana was acting like her normal two year old self 
and hauled out and smacked Brian. 
I looked over at K, unsure of how she'd receive this behavior?!
Would she think I'm a horrible mom that Eliana would smack her dad and throw and epic fit?
Ha. No! 
She breathed a huge sigh of relief. 
"Oh Phew. I'm not the only one" was her response.
I stopped holding my breath and breathed a huge sigh of relief. 
Oh good, she still thinks I'm a good mom. 

We hit a crux, and we chose not to ignore the awkward moment. 
Instead we said something.
We have a safe place to talk openly. 

I have found that the greatest challenges in having an open adoption stem from my own insecurities.
My insecurities are all fear based and not rooted in God's truth.
Am I inadequate?
Am I good enough?
Is she still happy she decided for us to parent?!
Am I botching up her hair? ha.
As I look at these insecurities, a response is demanded, 
and I simply must bring them to the cross. 
A place where "his grace is enough for me. His power is made complete in my weakness." 
(2 Corinthians 12:9). 
Lord knows that we all struggle with insecurity at different measures...
some more than others. 
I know that if I live my life always insecure of my unique role as a mom; 
I will never be able to lead my kids in their uniqueness as they learn and grow. 
Comparison and insecurity rob us of our peace and joy to live out who we are as an individual. 

I'm so thankful that there is nothing hidden in our adoption...
On that note, I understand that not all adoptions are open, 
and I totally respect and honor each birth parent's decision to keep it open to whatever degree they feel comfortable.
Open adoption can have many levels of openness: sharing the adoption story with our children, pictures or letters to birth parents, phone calls, or even visits. 
Again, it's uncomfortable and awkward to watch someone else raise the baby that grew inside of you for 9 months! 
The value comes back either way to truthfulness. 
I have no idea how our next adoption will unfold. 
I have no idea what level of openness our next birth family will be open to. 
No matter what... 
Truthfulness will be our highest value. 
Questions will be met with answers, 
and my children will know always how loved they are by two mommas. 

I am reminded of the symbolic act of tearing the temple curtain.

You see the moment Jesus poured out his life and died on my behalf.
It was...
"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom" (Matthew 27:51).
The temple curtain (the veil) was symbolic of the spiritual and relational barrier between us and our Heavenly Father.
The tearing of the curtain was symbolic of a new and restored relationship with our Father.  
It was on the cross of Calvary that adoption and truth and openness were purchased for us. 
Because of the cross of Jesus Christ,
all of us have inherited the right to become sons and daughters of the living God. 
All of us have access to have a living and active and open relationship with our creator. 

So when people ask: 
"What's it like to have an open adoption?"
My response will always be; it's hard, but it's so so good. 
It's such a blessing to have the opportunity to be a living representation of the gospel.
One life poured on behalf of another.
All so relationship might happen. 

It's worth it to be completely open and honest 
because it is
Truth that brings freedom. 

 These photos are from our first visit back to K's hometown after Eliana was born.
I love that the first picture has a rainbow across it.
God's promises fulfilled.
We are so blessed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's a Process (the home study)

Have you ever been in an investigator's office?
You know like CSI Miami....
Cue the gigantic spot light lamp;
Sweat dripping from your brow, 
as you are asked the nitty gritty details about what you saw, who you saw, why.

Home studies kind of feel like this.

There are few areas that I have found that people ask the most about...
Our Home study and
Our Open Adoption, 
so I am going to spend the next couple of posts trying to unpack them.

Our home study for Eliana was completely different than our home study for this little one.
We still had to check off many of the same to do lists, 
but we did most of this after Eliana was born. 
Eliana was adopted through an independent domestic adoption, 
so agency adoption has been a different experience already....

Basically in an agency adoption, 
the birth rights are signed over to the agency after the child is born.
With Eliana, the birth rights were signed off to us the weeks following her birth.
With the rights being in the agencies court, 
agencies tend to do the extra mile of investigation
 in order to assure that they are placing children into legit homes. 

When we started our home study, we got a long list of items that needed to be completed
in order to set up our official home visit with the agency social worker. 
To be quite honest when I got the list, 
I read through it...
started to hyperventilate (slight exaggeration...just slight. I kid you not), 
and I put the packet up on a shelf. 
I shelved it for two months before looking at it again.

Two months passed, 
and I knew I couldn't avoid the checklist forever. 
I'm kind of an all or nothing gal, 
so the idea of this checklist was daunting. 
When in the world was I going to find time to do all this?!
I can barely keep my laundry folded
with a squirmy, screaming, lovely toddler at my feet!

I finally began to understand that all of this would be a process. 
It would not happen overnight. 
Day by day items would be checked off and eventually we'd get through the list. 
I named my laundry pile, "Georgia," 
and I marched on...
laundry took a backseat to a sweet girl and a long to do list. 

Many have asked what are some of the items on the "to do list". 

Here's my nutshell list: 
Live Scans (with FBI clearance)
more paperwork
Credit check
Employment references
Autobiographies (6 pages): Harder than you'd think to sum up your life in 6 pages.
Birth Certificates
Marriage Certificates
Financial Statement 
Tax Returns
Driving Records
A disaster Plan
CPR and First Aid Certification
5 book reports (each)
and some more paperwork...

Guess what?! We actually made it through all of it...
Please don't get me wrong; 
I am so glad that they do all this to ensure safe homes for these children!
I may or may not have sprouted some white hairs getting all of it done.

Next, we set up the actual home study...

We actually considered not completing our home study 
after everything that happened two weeks earlier.
I am pretty sure I looked at Brian several times during those 72 hours and said, 
"I'm never doing this again...it just hurts too bad,"

BUT God.
God had called us, and who are we to bail when God has called us. 
We arrived home to Eliana, and over the following days, 
it was confirmed over and over...
this is why we do this.
Eliana Faith. 
God has answered Faith. 

So... two weeks later we welcomed our social worker into our home for 6 hours. 
She was amazing!
Super down to earth and lovely, but
I'm not going to lie; it was hard. 
We were emotionally raw, 
and the questioning...
So many questions...
All deep, emotional, real questions. 
I found it difficult to divulge my entire life story to someone I had just met a couple hours prior.
I'm pretty sure I barely slept the week leading up to it, 
and I had to excuse myself several times during the questioning to just breathe. 

This introvert walked away from the interviews exhausted. 
My husband, the more extroverted one, left the interviews pumped.
His exact words as the door closed and we were finished: 
"Wasn't that fun?!"

The truth is that adoptive parents don't have to be perfect. 
We were open books with our social worker!
We talked about the things we bicker about...
the things we get heated over,
parenting style, 
parenting successes, 
epic parent failures, 
and we laughed...
we laughed at ourselves. 
We just had to be ourselves, authentic, real, broken...
The Deans.

So what's next?
We just finished our expectant parent letter and profile, 
and now we spend the next month fundraising. 
(More on that soon!)
The plan is to be active, 
able to be shown to expectant parents,
 come April 8th. 

Could there be a better day to have finished the entire home study process than on our 8th anniversary?! 
God is so faithful. 
Sometimes life is a journey...
a process.
Things don't happen overnight, 
but they get done.
Through it all God shapes up, forms up, and equips us for what he's called us to do.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Love Always Wins

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9) 

About a year ago is when Brian and I both felt the tug on our hearts to adopt again. 
As both of us separately began praying about this adoption, 
the Lord showed up.
He spoke the same word to us both over this next adoption process: 
Love Always Wins 

It was crazy the day we both sat down and looked in each others eyes and said,
 "the Lord has spoken to me about this adoption...
I believe our word over this adoption is love always wins." 
Surprisingly, we were not totally flabbergasted by having heard the same word. 
We both kind of nodded in agreement and went on our way. 
The further we moved on in the process, the more confirmed we felt about this word. 
Love always wins. 

About halfway through our (long) paperwork process, 
we decided on a scripture over this adoption...
" In Love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves" (Ephesians 1:5-6).

I tell you all of this to set the scene for a story that unfolded recently in our lives. 
It's one I long to tell in full detail, but it's not just my story to tell.
Some of the details will be muddy, as I need to protect all those involved. 
But here goes nothing...

The heart of adoption is deep...it runs deep, and it does crazy things for love. 
Our story starts on a Friday:
Friday morning we receive a call...
Long story short: there is a sweet woman who is considering adoption for her newly born baby. 
We were asked if there is any way we can help....
Rubber meets the road. 
The day continued on with lots of phone calls:
 to agencies, lawyers, crisis pregnancy centers, hospitals...
lots of phone calls. 
We also offered up our information as a potential while she considered all of her options. 

Friday evening rolls around, and we receive a phone call. 
This lovely woman would like to meet us and get to know us....
we make the drive and spend the full day getting to know this incredible woman. 
Sometimes life is hard. 
Through some poor choices and a lot of brokenness in the world, 
we can find ourselves in a crisis situation.
This is where this woman was. 
A place of crisis. 

We went in to all of this with open hands.... 
In fact, throughout the next 48 hours,
 my husband and I would make eye contact 
and with no words  would simply open up our hands to heaven.
We did this to simply remember that we have open hands with the Lord. 
This sweet baby was His, 
and we had full confidence that He had the answers this mom needed. 

We spent Saturday and Sunday loving on this beautiful woman. 
The more we learned about her the more we fell in love with her. 
She is an amazing woman of incredible courage and strength, 
who has endured more in her short life than any person should have to in a lifetime. 
24 of those hours, we had the privilege of caring for this sweet baby. 
I cared for the baby through the night and made a decision to love fully, 
not allowing any gap of love in her first days as her mom had to return to work. 
I cherish that time I was given to love, kiss on, and pray for this sweet little gift. 
We literally spent hours snuggling and gazing into each others eyes...
and I interceded for her, prayed over her, made sure she knew how loved she is. 

Sunday, both Brian and I felt that the Holy Spirit was leading us
to leave and give her some space to reprocess.
This courageous woman wanted to do the very best for her child,
and at this point in the game, she felt like adoption was her only hope for the best.  
We felt the Lord nudging us to open the door for his love to pour out. 
We left letting her know that whichever decision she made we were for her. 
We would walk the distance with her and love her through life. 
We adopted her as family. 

We promised to return,
 and we fully trusted the Lord to reveal himself to her in a way she had never experienced before. 
I left with her my bible as a sealed guarantee that we weren't going anywhere 
and that we supported whatever decision she made. 

Monday morning, after a tumultuous night,
 she was very confused and unsure of the right decision. 
I am not going to lie. It was a hard day. 
We simply waited... 
waited for the Lord to show up. 
Open Hands. 
We knew, no matter which decision she made...
love always wins. 
There was no loss in this story. 

Then, our faithful God showed up. 
He revealed himself to her in a dream and gave her a very clear picture of where he was taking her. 
Monday late afternoon she text us and told us of her final decision. 
This incredible, courageous mother decided to parent...
because God showed up in her dream. 

We were so thankful to have an answer...
Our hearts ached because when you love without abandon, 
sometimes love in painful. 
The story does not end here though. 

She asked to meet with us Tuesday morning before being discharged. 
Tuesday morning we drove to the hospital 
and spent some of the holiest moments I have ever experienced. 

That morning as we shared the gospel, 
she gave her life to Jesus for the first time. 
She received grace, mercy, and love in her time of need, 
and she knew God had found her. 
A God whose grace is enough...
A God who sees our sin no more...
A God of new beginnings. 

After giving her heart to Jesus, 
we had the opportunity to bring a close or I should say beginning to this epic story. 
We told her the story of the prodigal son: Luke 15:11-32
God receives us with open arms, 
and He clothes us in his best for a new beginning. 

As we wrapped up the story of the prodigal son, 
we walked out and grabbed the goods. 
The night before my amazing family went out and bought everything she needed to get started; 
a car seat, diaper bag, baby bed, clothing, diaper, wipes, etc. 
Tears streamed down her face as she saw the full force of God's love 
walking into her hospital room.
A new story began...

You see in our worst moments.
God is faithful. 
He meets us, 
and he Loves.

What does love look like?
It looks like something...
Love looks like you.
Love looks like me.

Love says yes. 
Love without abandon is bittersweet. 
Adoption is love. 
We choose love
Love Always Wins. 

1 Corinthians 13: 8 "Love never fails" 

P.s. We have had the honor of keeping contact with this incredible woman, and we even got to visit her this past weekend. We consider it a great honor to walk out life with her from here on out. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Baby Dean #2 Update

Hi friends. 
An update is in order. 
I keep coming back to a blank page and feeling a bit  overwhelmed at the prospect of even attempting to update, but I will give it my best shot. 

First off. I would like to answer some questions and make it clear as to what we are doing and why.

Why Adoption?

Adoption is the heart of God. 
The new testament is drenched in the heart of adoption, 
as we are adopted ourselves into the family of God. 
Adoption is a physical representation of God's heart. 
Living out our first adoption with Eliana has only increased our understanding of
our own adoption into the family of God. 
We as a family feel called to adopt.

Now, I understand that these waters can seem a bit muddy for some people. 
I have found that there has been a misconception that people ONLY adopt because they're infertile.
 Adoption can be seen as a solution to infertility. 
The idea of this actually is quite bothersome to me. 
The reality is that both Brian and I are infertile.
 For us, finding out this news from the doctor simply confirmed our calling. 
We had already felt the calling of God upon our lives to adopt. 
Adoption does not "fix"our barrenness. 
It simply is an instrument of God's glory:
A way that God has used our story of ashes and woven beauty into it. 
Even if God chooses to open my barren womb, 
we would still choose adoption as a part of our story. 
Infertility has been a gentle confirmation of God's calling. 

With adoption, two broken stories collide and by God's grace something beautiful emerges. 

Why domestic Infant Adoption?

Did you know there are nearly 153,00,000 orphans worldwide?

The Numbers

  • Total estimated number of orphans worldwide:  153 million
  • Estimated number that have lost only their mother: 34.5 million
  • Estimated number that have lost only their father: 101 million
  • Estimated number of “double orphans”:  17.8 million 
    (Source:  U.S. Government “5th Annual Report to Congress on Public Law 109-95 and affirmed byUNICEF)
  • Number of caring adults it takes to make a life-long difference for an orphan:  1

As Brian and I prayerfully considered all the types of adoption, 
we were continually drawn to domestic infant adoption. 

There are many types of adoption out there, and all are vital!
The reality is that there is a need for families for children across the board. 
Internationally, there are children in orphanages waiting for a family to call their own. 
Domestically, there are about 104,000 children waiting in the foster care system eligible for adoption and waiting for families. (www.adoptuskids.org ). 
There are over 600,000 embryos frozen in the United States 
and there is domestic infant adoption.
All of these avenues of adoption desperately need people who are willing to say yes... 
Yes to go or yes to support. 

Daily women in the United States find themselves in a crisis pregnancy situation, 
an unplanned pregnancy.
These women are faced then with the decision to keep or abort the baby. 
Domestic Infant Adoption provides an opportunity for a mother to choose life for her baby. 
We have found through our own adoption experiences that 
we have the opportunity to be a source of hope to mothers who are in this crisis situation in their lives.

Brian and I have a huge heart for these women, 
and we consider it a great honor to have an opportunity to love them with the love of Christ and offer hope in a hopeless situation.
Eliana's birth mom is family to us. 
"He sets the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6). 
When we adopt an infant through open adoption, we are adopting a larger extended family as well.
We become the answer to one another's prayers. 

SO...this is the route we are taking this time to grow our family. 

Who are we adopting through?

We are adopting through an agency in California called Nightlight Christian Adoptions. 
We chose this particular agency because we love their heart. 
They love birth moms. 
They love open adoption, 
and they love Jesus. 
We love that expectant parents are counseled before, during, and after their pregnancy. 
We love that they are committed to finding families for babies not babies for families. 

Where are we in the process?

We have just completed our home study process. 
What is a home study?
Home studies are part of the lengthy process that is required to become an adoptive parent. 
In a nutshell....
LOTS and LOTS of paperwork. 
Lots of Reading. 
Lots of Writing. 
Lots of footwork. 
Home studies are required in order to legally complete an adoption in the United States. 
The goal is mainly to ensure that children are being placed in safe, healthy homes. 

At the beginning of April, we plan to become an active family. 
This simply means that we will be available for an expectant parent to choose us. 
We have created a profile and expectant parent letter that birth parents look at.
From there, an expectant parent can choose to meet us and potentially choose us 
to parent their child. 

Each adoption is different, and we have no idea how baby dean will come into our family. 
We could find out the day of...
We could find out months in advance and have the opportunity to develop a relationship with an expectant parent beforehand...
We could wait for days, weeks, months, or years. 
We don't know.
Adoption is a wild ride. 

Nonetheless, we move forward in faith. 
We are confident in our calling, and we are willing to walk out what love looks like. 
We are so very thankful to be an instrument of God's love and hope. 
May HE receive all the glory, honor, and praise for our story.

To be continued...

Stay tuned to hear our word over this adoption, hear some crazy God stories, and to watch God provide in BIG ways. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Redemption. A Birth mom's Perspective.

Redeem: to make (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) better or more acceptable
We have been purchased at the greatest cost, 
and what has fallen to the ground in ashes can be made beautiful.

Adoption is complex. 
There is no perfect solution.
 Someone's greatest sorrow became my greatest joy, yet there is another side to the story. 
When adopting we not only adopted our Eliana, we adopted a family. 
K has become family. 
We fight for her and love on her as if she was our own flesh and blood. 

Adoption has a redeeming value. 
In a situation where two families are faced with life altering decisions, 
one decision can changed everything. 

By the grace of God, we were put together with K. 
Two worlds collided and were forever changed. 
In her moment of crisis, we became an answer to her deepest prayers. 
In our desire to grow a family, she became our answer to years of prayer and crying out. 

Earlier this week I asked K to write...
Write on what adoption has meant for her. 
Below is what she sent me. 

The impact that Brian and Jen have made on mine and my kids's life has been nothing short of incredible. 

They are a God send. God really and truly works in mysterious ways. 
He has been behind the scenes ever since our initial contact via phone. 
Whenever I have doubts or concerns about the outcome of a situation that I have felt I had no control over he reveals himself in his perfect timing. 
That is why it was so important that Brian and Jen stepped in when they did when I was pregnant with Eliana.  
Im always reminded of the love and compassion God has for me. 
He really cares and loves me so much.
 Enough to bring Brian and Jen into my life. 
They immediately knew that I was very much in need of their help after talking and visiting with me. 
Even though neither of us beforehand knew each other were even on the planet. 
God had prepared for our paths to cross. 
I felt as if I was at war with myself. 
As if I was in defeat but Brian and Jen came to our rescue. 
My rescue. 
Because of Brian and Jen God reminded me that there are true genuine unselfish people still out there. 
Brian and Jen needed Eliana. 
Eliana needed Brian and Jen. 
Life is all about miracles and answered prayers. 
God has superceeded and singlehandly fulfilled all of those promises I mentioned above. 
I had no idea that by meeting Jen I would soon find out how true and genuine a person could be. 
I don't ever have to worry of her judging me and I want to be influenced by her because she loves Jesus. Shes an awesome mommy and great with kids. 
She's done nothing but shown me love from day one. 
She's a go getter and it reflects in everything she does. 
We have so much fun together! My kids adore her.
 Jen and Brian are the glue that just mended everything together. 
We have a bond so close to each other. 
Brian is one of the coolest people I know.
 He loves Jesus with a passion. 
And pursues him everyday. 
Always has an encouraging word to give. 
Knows the bible like the back of his hand. 
He loves being a dad. 
I am glad he has the energy and patience it takes to raise a child. 
He fits the description of being a dad to a tee.
 Brian and Jen have reassured me time and time again that God keeps his promises toward his children if you are obedient and faithful and trustworthy. 
Brian and Jen are my miracle. 
They were the answer to my prayer.

Written by : K on November 23, 2013

I am thankful for a loving Savior who has given us all we need in order to walk out the journey.
By no means were we the "Savior" in this story, Jesus was. 
As we've felt our way through this open adoption, we have made lots of mistakes. 
We've made every effort to bring our precious K to the feet of Jesus time and time again. 
She has willingly been obedient to the Lord, and her life is a testimony to his goodness.
Our lives are a miracle. 
There are so many miracles that have led us to where we are today. 
For us adoption has been interconnected. 
It has been the redeeming silver lining. 
It's brought hope into hopeless situations. 
Each adoption story is different. 
There is no "right" way to adopt...
But this is our story.
Written by God
and lived out by us. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Love Wins. (Part 3)

Where I left off. 
Sometimes you have to pick up where you left off.
Even if that means over a year behind,
 so today I bring you part 3 of our story. 

I believe that the reason I hesitated to share this part of our story is because it is so very intimate. 
It is the rubber meets the road of adoption. 
It's the one life laid down for another. 
This part of our story is deeply woven with beautiful hope, courage, and rejoicing, 
but deep sorrow and surrender. 

If you want to catch up, you can read PART ONE and PART TWO
I actually recommend reading our  story from the oldest post to the newest. 
It gives a more thorough understanding of our journey. 

SO. Picking up from Part two. We had the honor of first meeting K on Memorial Day. 
It was magical.
 There is just something extraordinary about meeting someone 
that you potential could forever be tied to. 
We spent the next several months traveling back and forth to her hometown. 
Hours were spent on the phone and over text message getting to know each other. 
Through it all, there was an understanding that we were all just trying to figure out how to do this. 
There are not many blogs, books written on how to get to know, form a relationship with your birth mom, so we were all navigating uncharted territory. 

The more time we spent together the more tightly knit we became. 
She quickly became like a sister to me, and my love for her was deep, like blood deep. 

August quickly approached, 
and we all knew that the day we'd meet this little one was coming at us like a bullet train. 
There was no stopping it. 

As I look back, I honestly am astonished I was not more afraid.
Sure, I had moments of fear.
Moments, sometimes days where I was crippled by the what ifs, 
but I had an underlying peace. 
I had peace that if this was our Eliana Faith... our little answer to Faith
It would all fall into place. 
I was not afraid of K changing her mind. 
If she had, I would have still loved her as deeply as I do, 
and I knew God would have lead us to our Eliana. 

Before we knew it...
the day to travel for the planned c-section was here. 
We planned to travel on my sister's birth day and celebrate my sister in K's hometown the day before the scheduled c-section.

I should preface this next part by a couple things. 
1. My sister is my best friend. She is the only person on this planet that shares my DNA and has walked out the length of my story. There is no one else on the planet that knows me to the extent that she does. 
2. My Sister is a labor and delivery nurse. 
3. My Sister's love language is gifts. 
I know those sound random, but they are an integral part of this beautifully God written story. 

We packed our car August 23, 2011.
We packed our suitcases, and we packed a suitcase for a baby. 
We put an empty carseat in the car, and we in faith headed out of town into the unknown. 
Again, I remember being nervous, yet I had a deep peace. 

We arrived at dinner time on the 23rd. 
As we opened the door to K's house, we knew something was up. 
In between each sentence, she was having to take a breath and bear down. 
I remember looking at my sister, the labor and delivery nurse, 
and mouthing, "Oh. crap."
Her response: a head nod. 
A head nod from a nurse is never a good thing in this kind of situation. 

Ready or Not...
Here we went. We packed bags quickly and headed to the hospital.
One day prior to the scheduled c-section. 
K was in active labor.
(We even had to pull out the infant carseat, so we could all fit in the car to get her to the hospital.)
I remember sitting in the back seat thinking, 
"Are there hidden video cameras somewhere?!" 
It seemed like a movie.
I felt like I should be hanging out of the window screaming at people 
"MOVE OVER woman in labor over here!!!"

K was immediately checked into the hospital, 
and she was told that she would be having the baby that night.
Holy canoles, for being a girl who likes her ducks all in a row, 
my ducks just got blown out of the water! 
Was this really happening?! Now?! Like this!!

Watching K labor was difficult. I hated seeing her in physical pain. 
I wished I could pull a Freaky Friday and switch spots with her,
 so she wouldn't have to hurt. 
So... back to my sister. Have I told you how she amazing she is?!
Well, she is an amazing sister and an amazing nurse. 
We took turns coaching K through the contractions. 

Time marched on, as we waited for them to call her in for the c-section. 
If I remember correctly, there were three emergency c-sections that trumped K's, 
so she was forced to labor far longer than any person undergoing a c-section should have to. 

The time finally came for her c-section, and we were all ready. 
Ready to be done with the physical pain. 

They wheeled her back into the surgical, delivery room, 
and as they did I whispered the scripture I was given for K long before we met her into her ear.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go"
Joshua 1:9

With that I let go of her hand and released her and the baby fully onto the Lord. 
Eliana was born a little after 11pm weighing in at 8lb 8oz. of perfection.
On my sister's birthday (Could there be a better birthday present?)
Three hours later, K was ready for us to come meet Eliana. 
I love that K was the first to get to see and hold her. 
I know most adoptive moms wish it was them, but I love that it was her. 
She was able to lay eyes on this beautiful girl for the first time and love her fully. 
She was able to love her and see her first. 
I had Eliana many years ago in my mind's eye, 
so I love that in the physical K was able to be the first. 

The ride up the elevator seemed to take forever. 
I felt like I had led in my shoes. 
The moment was here...
This was the moment I had dreamed about for years.
This was the day I'd meet my daughter. 
As we reached the door, I felt like my heart could be heard audibly outside of my chest. 

I had already made the decision that I would love this baby without abandon. 
I would love without bounds, fully knowing that it could end in heart break. 
We entered the room and my eyes immediately met K's. 
I just wanted to see in her eyes that she was ok. 
In fact, I remember that I had to remind myself that a baby was there. 
My Eliana. 

This picture below speaks volumes. 
It speaks much louder and more eloquently than I could ever use words to convey. 
This picture is the culmination of years of waiting. 
Years of negative pregnancy tests. 
Years of longing with seemingly no answer. 
Years of unknown. 
They are boiled down to this moment. 
The moment I first held Eliana. 

My world became undone. 
I loved her. 
I loved her immediately. 
I loved her with my entire being. 

Our stay in the hospital was short for a c-section. 
I spent most of my time loving on K. 
I wanted K to spend as much time with Eliana in these hours as she possibly could. 
I wanted her to have every moment she could with her to be able to drink her in.
To love her. 
That she did. She loved her deeply. 
She held her and wept. Held her and kissed her. 
This was probably the most emotionally intense days of my life. 
I was completely torn apart watching someone I love hurt. 
Now, it was the heart hurt. 
I hated watching K hurt. 
With each tear that fell on Eliana, I felt like it was my fault. 

There was a moment where I completely melted down. 
I actually left the room and asked the nurse for a private room.
I curled up in the corner of a hospital meeting room, 
and I wept. 
I wept long and hard. 
It was in that time I realized that I was not the source of pain. 
I was the beautiful silver lining. 
You see God foresaw all of this. 
He knew...all those years I lay in bed crying myself to sleep...
He knew K needed and answer to her prayers. 
He knew that Eliana would have two mamas. 
He knew. 

You see Eliana was chosen by God to be in our family. 
Eliana was chosen.
She is so wanted. 
K chose life for my sweet baby. 
K chose a life with us for her. 
Forever, this will be the hardest and most bittersweet decision. 
She is the most courageous, most selfless woman I have ever met. 
I love that God chose us to be the answer to her prayers. 
We are so blessed. 
God takes the most bitter of circumstances and makes them sweet for his glory.
He makes Beauty from ashes. 
In the end, Love always wins.