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After almost three years of marriage, my husband Jon and I decided that we wanted to start a family. We dreamed about the future-camping with our kids in Colorado, backpacking across Europe, touring New Zealand. We were ready, certain that we’d start our new adventure as a family by the end of the year.

That was January 2001.

Months passed, but no baby. And then a year. And two years…

It seemed as if our friends just thought about having kids and presto-nine months later, baby arrived. What was wrong with us?

We turned to a doctor for help. Took all the tests. The doctor recommended fertility treatments. We’d had several people close to us who had gone down that road-some with success and others with devastating failure. We considered it and opted not to proceed. God had placed adoption in both Jon and my heart before we were married and now we realized that God might have our child (or children) waiting for us in another place.

He did.

As we started to pursue adoption, we heard lots of adoption horror stories (mainly from people who knew someone who knew someone…). And well-meaning people doused us with questions and comments like:

  • You should try harder to have your own kids before you adopt.
  • How can you love a child who isn’t yours?
  • What if the real mom comes back and takes him away?

But we prayed. And then we called a local adoption agency to learn the facts about adoption. After attending their class, we knew we wanted to proceed.

We completed the mound of paperwork, created a photo album, and then went on vacation for a month when the phone didn’t ring. Nine months after we started the process, the agency called to say a birthmother wanted to meet us. She was ready to give birth to a baby boy.

We clicked with Laura instantly. We loved a lot of the same things-the ocean and the mountains and line dancing. She was young and already had four kids. Five was too many.

It broke her heart to have to give up this baby, but a week later, we gave her lots of hugs at the hospital and then took home-surprise-a beautiful baby girl instead of a boy. We celebrated for a week. People came with gifts, our parents flew in from out of town, and we snuggled with our infant daughter as we scrambled to buy a crib and clothes and diapers.

It was a tough first year. It was an amazing first year. We had a crash course in parenting along with the sleep-deprived nights. We cheered as she smiled and rolled over and learned how to crawl. And we bit our nails as we waited for our birthmother to relinquish her rights.

Four months after Karly was placed at our home, the agency couldn’t locate our birthmother, and in Colorado an adoption wasn’t final until she relinquished her rights in court.

At the same time the agency couldn’t find Laura, our dear friends, David and Renee, were also adopting a baby. They were blessed with a precious newborn boy, and they adored him as much as we did Karly. But a week after he came home, their birthmother showed up at their front door and told them that she had changed their mind-she wanted her baby back.

I can’t describe the agony they felt. As adoptive parents, we bound instantly with our babies. This was their son. The agency called and told them they had no recourse. She hadn’t relinquished. They had to return him.

David and Renee’s faith grew stronger even as they grieved. Their story was (and is) an inspiration to many people. We were devastated for them, and we were scared to death that we might have to give Karly back.

But Laura relinquished, and we breathed a deep sigh of relief. Karly was ours. A year later, David and Renee were blessed with an amazing son.

Before Karly’s adoption was final, we received a phone call from an old friend. A girl I had babysat when she was a child. She was pregnant now and considering her options. Were we interested in adopting another baby?

You bet.

Less than a year after Karly was born, we rushed to Charleston, South Carolina, to see our second daughter a few hours after she was born. Kinzel had health complications. And we had red tape complications with the local government because we didn’t live in South Carolina. But our birthmother relinquished her rights at the hospital this time so our process with the courts was formality.

Kinzel (renamed “Kiki” by her older sister) fit right into our family. She is our little angel who loves to read and laugh and entertain. Her big sister adores her too.

The first two years were overwhelming, but God has given us the strength to keep up with these two busy kids. Even on the toughest days, Jon and I are grateful for these two precious gifts born from our hearts.

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