Twelve Years Later

There are good things that happen during a time of mourning – favorite stories are told, family members gather to comfort one another and offer affirmations, and friends from seasons past come back around to pay respects.

We aren’t entirely out of touch with the Pennys and Valovcins, so it isn’t that we haven’t seen each other in 12 years. However, our three families haven’t sat down for a meal in a long time, and we certainly haven’t taken photos of the group when we’ve been together.

After Bill’s funeral on Sunday, we went to dinner together, along with Karin and Ethan, and marveled at how old our children have become.

This photo was taken a few days before Christmas in 2006. From left to right, in order of age: Lauren, Grace, Jeremy, Christian, Jake, and Jackson, who was a mere six months old.

Pennys, 2006:

Jillyan wasn’t born until the following September:

Valovcins, 2006:

And us, 2006:

Going back even further, here’s a picture (of a picture) of the three dads with their first borns in 2004:

And now in 2018:

We spent a lot of time together in those days, but by the end of 2008, we left Chattanooga for Amarillo and we haven’t lived in the same city since.

Now the guys and I are facing 40 (Amy and Christy have a few more years to go), and our oldest kiddos are 14 and 15 years old.

High school. Driving. Dating. Conversations about college.

What in the world.

So yeah, there are good things that come during times of mourning. It was wonderful to see our old friends, to hug their necks, to laugh and remember how easy parenting used to be. 

We’re doing all right. Thanks, friends, for being with us this week. We love you dearly.

Column: Miracle makes a family of four

You lucky ducks get to read this Sunday’s column right here, right now, before the rest of the city gets a chance. Don’t you feel special?

Miracle makes a family of four

When I was preparing for my previous column six weeks ago, I had no idea that by the time it ran on Sunday morning my life would be changing forever. Again.

On that early morning in June, our second son, Jackson, was born. We had no knowledge of his existence until a few short hours prior to his arrival. His birth into our family is nothing short of a miracle.

There is very little predictability in adoption. With the adoption of our first son, we had about four weeks to prepare. We found his birth mom through a friend and met with her and her entire family. Everyone was supportive and encouraging. This baby was who I longed and prayed for. Jeremy’s adoption was flawless. The fact that God gave us a miracle was more than I could fathom.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t believe God would do it again.

And to be perfectly blunt, I thought I could do it on my own.

Last fall, I told my pastor about my struggle to believe a another miracle could happen. When I informed him we’d be signing up with an agency to adopt a second child, he quickly asked me why. I gave him run-around excuses, something about adoption being a long process and wanting to get on a list.

“But why not go for another private adoption?” he asked. I gave him more excuses, but this time, he called me on it.

“Don’t you believe God will give you another child the way He did with Jeremy?” he asked.

“No,” I responded with certainty. “I know He could, but I don’t think He will. It’s just not logical. Two miracles in one family? I don’t see it.”

He disagreed with me, but didn’t push. I left his office in tears, struggling to hold my head up. Weeks went on and we started the adoption process with an agency. We barely got to the formal application before backing out. It didn’t feel right for us and we couldn’t move forward. Our file was closed and baby No. 2 seemed more out of reach than ever.

Fast forward to the Saturday night before Jackson was born. We had dinner plans with another couple who were considering adoption and they wanted to get the inside scoop. I was happy to meet with them, though I knew my heart was still dealing with bitterness and confusion. I wanted a second child and felt like we had no where to go. How in the world I could inspire someone else was beyond me. Nevertheless, we met at the restaurant and eventually ended up back at our house to continue the conversation.

We shared our story about Jeremy’s private adoption, how quickly it all surfaced and how were there for his birth. We told them how much prayer and faith adoption required, and certainly, how unpredictable it can be. You just never know, we said. There’s no real way to prepare, we told them.

I received a phone call during their visit, but I let the voicemail pick it up.

They left around 9:30 p.m. and I went upstairs to get ready for bed. All the adoption talk left me thinking about another child. I longed for another boy, and I wanted our second adoption to mimic the first – private, comfortable, and through someone we knew and trusted. Before turning down the bed, I remembered the phone call. I went downstairs to check my voicemail and nearly dropped the phone as I listened.

“There’s a woman in labor,” I told Chuck, who was sitting on the couch. His face went blank.

“What?” he asked, as if I had spoken in Greek.

“Yes, there’s a woman in labor and wants to place the child for adoption! Is this really happening?” My hands were shaking and my heart beat heavy in my chest. I returned my friend’s phone call and got more information. In a matter of minutes, we got our neighbor down to stay with Jeremy and were out the door to the hospital. We had no guarantee that this baby was ours, but we were surely going to find out.

Four hours later, we returned home still unsure about what lay ahead. We met with the birth family, making them aware of our desire for another child, and left it in their hands. Neither of us slept. Every second was longer than the last. By mid-morning, we had lawyers on the phone. By early evening, we were able to view the baby through the nursery window. By Monday morning, we were awarded temporary custody and were able to hold him. Now we are awaiting a court date to make it final.

In a matter of about 36 hours, we became the parents of another beautiful blue-eyed baby boy.

Jackson is not just a second child for us. He is what my heart desired, even when I struggled to believe. He’s proof that God really does perform two miracles in one family.

Now I wonder if He’ll do three.