The Most Unselfish Gift

That’s what adoption is… in its most simplest form.

We have been given the gift of a daughter. Lyla Estalene was born at 12:23pm on Monday, January 15, 2018.  She was born 3 weeks early. She is a tiny warrior already, weighing in at 4lb 3oz at birth and measuring 17 inches long. Fast forward nearly 3 weeks later and she has grown to 5lb 7oz 18 1/2 inches long already!

She is healthy. She is beautiful. She is perfect… that is… absolutely perfect for our family.

I have learned a lot through this journey and I know I still have so much more to learn.

There have been so many “unexpecteds”… but the most unexpected of all is how much my heart has grown before we were actually placed with our daughter.

We were matched with Lyla’s birth mother the day before Thanksgiving. Instead of feeling joy, we felt scared. So very, very scared. To trust another woman… a stranger… to keep her word that she did believe we were the right people to parent her child. Scared to believe that we were actually good enough for her to pick to love and to raise her child. Scared to trust that God is in control and will work everything out according to HIS good plan.

So, we decided to keep the match private and navigate these feelings and insecurities with our families and close friends to help us.

It grew more exciting as her due date got closer. It was so very hard to keep my heart shut off from hope. Hope and belief that she really was to be our daughter. I finally gave in and began to pray daily for this birth mother and for this baby girl she was carrying. There is something to be said about the power of prayer. When I’m praying for someone, I become connected to them in a way that I cannot explain… and the walls I had built around my heart following our fail in August began to crumble down.

We got the call on a Friday afternoon that Lyla was going to be induced 3 weeks early because she had stopped growing in-utero. We were actually in the process of packing up our car to head to a cabin up north for the weekend… so we quickly unpacked and began to pack to travel for the birth of our daughter instead.

As our adoption consultant says- it was another weekend of “very high highs and very low lows.” Our emotions were flowing all over the place. Excitement. Fear. Incredulousness. Doubt. Once again, we relied on our prayer warrior friends and family because it just became too much for us to pray as we were living out these waves and feeling every single one.

We hopped on a plane early Sunday morning and met our birth mother for dinner that night. The nerves I felt about meeting her completely melted away the second I hugged her. It felt very natural to be near her. It felt very natural to talk with her and share in her excitement (and I did sense some fear too) about the birth of the baby girl the next day. Most importantly… it felt very natural to LOVE her.

We were invited to be at the hospital and in the delivery room for the birth of our daughter.  Never having given birth myself- I was terrified! And I knew this was an event I did not want to miss. Once again, it felt so very natural to be around our birth mother and support her that it didn’t even phase me to be in the delivery room. I even had the honor of cutting Lyla’s umbilical cord.  From the beginning, our birth mother was very inclusive of us in the entire process and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Our birth mother requested to spend the first 24 hours with Lyla alone and we respected that. As hard as it was to not be near her, hold her and get to know her habits and her cute little sounds… we understood the importance of this time her birth mother needed with her. Still, we worried until we received the news we had been waiting so long to hear… she signed the paperwork. She truly did believe in us and she wanted us to parent this child.

Panic hit the next day as we learned that Lyla would need to stay in the hospital one more night and our birth mother may wish to stay as well. Fear that we would be kept from visiting Lyla for another 24 hours overtook both of us. Looking back at this moment, I feel very foolish. Emotions were flowing out of my control. The situation was out of my control. And even though parental rights had been terminated, fear once again took a grip over me.

We did visit Lyla that day in the hospital. And we spent quality time with our birth mother before she discharged. I will forever remember my time with her that day.  She loves Lyla… and yet, she placed Lyla with us. That takes bravery. That takes strength. And I promised her, Lyla will know she gets her strength from her birth mother.

As we said goodbye to our birth mother, emotions once again swept over me. I was a wreck. Another one of those “unexpecteds.” I didn’t want to see her walk out of the hospital. I wanted her to stay and to remain a part of… our family. As she handed me Lyla, I felt so selfish. Again, another one of those “unexpecteds.”  Here, she was giving me the most precious gift. She was acting so selfless… and I was taking… so selfishly.

I had been told that the love you will feel for your birth mother is a love like no other. I didn’t understand until we were placed with Lyla. But now I know. I am forever grateful. I will forever love her.

The most unselfish gift that we can give to her in return… is to love Lyla fiercely and forever.

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*Note: We will not be publicly posting pictures of Lyla until finalization is complete in 6 months. Thank you for respecting our decision during this time.



Meaning “God with us”

As I have been reflecting on this Christmas season, I have never felt God’s presence more in my life.

This may have been the most challenging year of my entire life.  The loss we have suffered. The grief we have endured. The healing that is still taking place.

But, in the midst of it all, God has been with me.  I will be brutally honest here… I wanted nothing to do with God in June. The thought that He could let our baby die was too much for me. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t go to church. I couldn’t listen to praise music. I questioned Him. I was very angry with Him.  Yet… He stayed with me. He is faithful, even when my faith is weak.

It’s incredible. Really, it’s more that I can ever wrap my head around. Which, shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Scripture says He is capable of far more than we can ever imagine.

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think… Ephesian 3:20 (NET)

I close out 2017 with light and with hope.  God is faithful and He is good. And He has the power to do more than I can imagine.  What amazing outcome does He have in store for our future that I cannot even begin to fathom?

So, I will wait and I will trust and I will hope.

Because… Immanuel… God is surely with us.

The next adventure

Josh and I recently got back from a much needed vacation. We realized that we have put our lives on hold for the duration of 2017 in anticipation of, the match for and eventually the fail of the adoption.

So, at the last minute, we made it happen. We went on our own private adventure.

It was exactly what we needed. To recenter on ourselves. To recenter on God. To recenter on the purpose behind our decision to adopt.

The thing that I realized during our trip, is that we are good at adventures. I mean, we are good together at handling new and unexpected things. We are good together in navigating unchartered areas. We are a team. We lean on each other. We build each other up. We support one another in the other’s weakness. Really, we thrive together in adventure.


So, it also hit me that this time of wait is so very hard… because we feel so very ready for the next adventure in our lives.

As our vacation came to an end, I fought back tears. I didn’t want to come home. I didn’t want to face my regular existence. To come back home to the status quo.  Yes, I felt like a spoiled brat, crying on vacation because I have to come home to a life that really isn’t awful. We have many many blessings and many many things to be thankful for. And sometimes, the sadness and the grief of the loss we have experienced is so great that it overwhelms me and I lose sight of all that I have.

I am reminded of all the times in my life that God has made beauty out of ashes. In fact, one of the most profound examples of that is included in this blog post. The fact that God has blessed me with a spouse who lifts me up, who supports me, who thrives with me during unknown and difficult times. It is not lost on me what a blessing that is. It is also not lost on me that the wait I endured to be connected with Josh was long… and hard… and so very very worth it. I couldn’t see it at the time. Just like I can’t see it now. This wait will also reap a blessing that I cannot even imagine.

And so, it’s time to begin writing the next chapter. While the first chapter remains incomplete. It will never have an ending. That baby girl will always be our baby girl. I will always remember her. Picture her. Feel her. The milestones that pass as she grows older each month. I will always remember those days. And for the time being, I will mourn her on those days. I see it as part of the larger process of letting go.

And so… we continue down this journey to welcome our baby home. Preparing our hearts for what God has in store for our family.



I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:12-13

In my last post I wrote that I am learning how strong I am inside. I am learning what I am capable of… and what I am not.

I am not capable of weathering this season of my life without God.

After our miscarriage, I fell apart. I can honestly say that it was the first time in my entire life that I questioned God. I mean, really questioned him. I could not pray. I could not listen to praise music. I could not step foot in our church. I was so angry with him. I lacked faith.

The failed adoption found me in quite a different position. After questioning God, I had learned to lean on him again. And in this new season of pain and hurt, I leaned on God. I felt like all I had left was my faith. And the hope that I have in God’s future plans for me is all that continues to pull me through each day.

In the week leading up to the baby girl’s birth, that awful week when the birth mom cut off all contact with the adoption agency and we were wondering if she would still place, I cried out loud in my worry and anxiousness that I was not strong enough to lose another baby- I did not have the strength to lose two.

The fact is, I’m not. I do not have the strength to keep the pace through this season on my own. But God… has the strength to carry me through. And somehow, in the midst of this crazy awful sad time, I’m finding the strength within me to put one foot in front of the other every single day.

I am learning that this event, this season… it will not be what defines me. Rather, I am discovering what I want this season to be defined as. It’s a work in progress and I haven’t quite arrived at the definition… but I know that when I look back at this season, I want to know that I came out of it loving my husband even better than I did before. I want us to be strong in our faith and in our relationship with each other. I know that I want to walk in faith.

Walking in faith is hard. Trusting God is hard. My struggle to do so often leads to discontentment.  The exact opposite of what I so desparately seek.  I’m working hard to find contentment in the season that I’m in right now.

In reality, everything is ok.  I have a family with Josh. We are a family. In addition, I have my parents and my siblings and I have my friends. I have a job that I enjoy.  There is nothing wrong in our lives. There is nothing to cause discontentment…  and I am working to find contentment in that.  To find contentment in the midst of this season of wait.

I haven’t found that contentment yet.  But… I am finding myself in more frequent and longer periods of peace.  In my head, I know that when I am faced with the moments where I don’t feel strong, everything is still ok.  Because God is orchestrating others to pray for me and for us in those moments.

This morning, as I took time for my personal devotion, the author made a reference to what David wrote in Psalm 52 as he faced adversity.

But I am like an olive tree in God’s house. I trust the mercy of God forever and ever.  Psalm 52:8

The author went on to explain… An olive tree is strong. When cared for… it can live thousands of years and be fruitful. And it’s a symbol of joy, peace and happiness. What’s interesting, is that an olive tree is completely dependent on its caretaker. It is not strong on its own.  In order to thrive, it must depend on its caretaker to provide the right nutrients, water and climate.

God is the ultimate caretaker. I am not strong on my own. And yet, I have an ongoing and never ending struggle with trusting God completely. I will never perfect the art of trusting wholly and completely… because I’m only human. But it’s my desire to work towards it. It’s how I want to look back at this season. It’s how I want to enter the next season that stretches me.

God has placed this desire to expand our family through adoption on our hearts.  We know that is real.  And God will see this through to completion.  In His time. As part of His perfect plan.

It definitely doesn’t look like what I pictured or what I had planned for us.  And I will find contentment in that.  We will be ready for the next season when it comes.




As I started 2018, it was my goal to become stronger. I resolved to work hard at my training in order to run a strong race. I resolved to include strength and resistance training into my running schedule.  I wanted to look and feel physically strong.

I never ran a strong race in 2017. We’ve cancelled both races we registered to run this year.  I trained for both of them, but never made it to the starting line.  It seems like this is the year that I am training for so much more than the next race.

This season of life that I am in- it’s a training season. I’m training to get stronger, just in a different way than I originally planned.  I am learning how strong I am inside.  I am learning what I am capable of… and what I am not.

It’s not lost on me that… in this season of life… my running journey serves as a great metaphor for where I find myself.

Just as I began most of my marathon training when I was an inexperienced runner, I began this training season optimistic and with lofty time goals. I heard everyone tell me the adoption process takes an average of two year start to finish and thought “no way, not us.”

I’ve experienced set backs that have taken me off the training plan I set out to follow.  It hasn’t been a perfect execution. I’ve sat and nurtured wounds for so long, I wondered if I would ever be able to get back on the track.

And… as I gain experience, I’m coming to find that the less flexible you are to weather the unexpected, the less prepared you will be for race day.

I’m lacing my shoes up again and taking the leap back into this training season.  I may have missed the race I had planned to run, but I will keep training until the race God intends me to run arrives.

During each of the twelve marathons I have finished, it has never been my legs or my lungs that have given up on me first. It has always been a battle with my mind. It has come down to true grit.  Some races I fought through and finished strong… others I finished feeling defeated.

This is the race I intend to complete. This is where my true grit kicks in. Just perhaps… this is what I have been training for all along. It’s time to let go, trust the training, know that the legs know what to do… and just run with pure heart.


The sweetest… and the saddest… the best is yet to come

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post.

Sweet baby girl was born this week- she is absolutely perfect and so beautiful. We were blessed to spend a very precious 24 hours with her before the adoption was rescinded.

The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. It started a week and a half ago when all communication between the agency and the birth mom stopped. It was a heart wrenching six days while we waited for her to make contact with the agency again and confirm that she was still committed to the adoption.

Finally, we got the news we had so desperately been praying for- birth mom had reconnected with the agency and she was at a hospital in her home state with contractions. Most importantly, she was still very committed to the adoption. We were excited, nervous and anxious to hear the news and waited to hear the outcome of her hospital visit. It was still hoped that she would be able to travel to the state that the agency is located so that our case workers could help us both through the process and be a calming presence during it.

Six hours later we learned that she had given birth to a healthy baby girl, in her home state, and she wanted us to come! We started frantically packing and making arrangements with my family to care for our dogs. It was decided that, due to hospital visiting hours, it would be best for us to stay the night at our home and drive to the hospital early the next morning.  Needless to say, neither Josh nor I slept that night.

We packed up the car and headed out early the next morning. I can’t speak for Josh, but my stomach was a nervous mess and I had so many thoughts going through my mind about meeting the birth parents and meeting our daughter. The several hour drive seemed like it was only ten minutes. After we arrived, we prayed in the hospital parking lot before we entered.

Because the birth was in the birth mom’s home state and not in the state that the agency is located as was planned- the whole adoption process became rather ‘messy’ for lack of a better word. Our agency had to set up a local legal team to help us and the birth parents navigate the process. The time period that we needed to wait before birth parents could terminate their rights was twice as long. And most importantly, none of us had our case workers- the ones we have a relationship with, the ones who counseled the birth parents for the past three months, the ones who knew why they had made this incredibly hard decision in the first place. Instead, we were surrounded with nurses who did not understand this was an adoption case and who had little to no experience with this type of situation. We were visited by the hospital social worker, who had no personal connection to any of us, and who was not present the second day. Halfway through the process, a new hospital social worker visited and explained she was filling in for the woman we met the day before. It seemed to become even messier- for many other reasons that I won’t go into.

Even with all of this, Josh and I pressed on. The birth parents were so welcoming to us. We were so comfortable around them. We let our guards down early. As nervous as I was to walk into the hospital room and meet the birth parents and our daughter, all those nerves disappeared within the first 15 minutes after meeting them. They seemed happy- maybe even relieved- to see us. We immediately were encouraged to pick up our daughter and begin to love on her. We spent the entire first day in the hospital room with birth mom and baby. She slept on and off while we cared for baby girl. We loved on the birth parents as well as baby girl all day long. By evening, the hospital had figured out what to do with us and offered us to stay in a separate room. The birth parents encouraged us to take baby girl with us. Of course, we were overjoyed to spend some alone time with her. That night, any walls that were still up guarding our hearts crumbled. To care for her and have the freedom to love on her and just soak her all in- it’s indescribable. She was our baby girl. The attachment we felt came naturally.

The next morning, we were both woken by our cell phones ringing. Attorneys for both birth parents and us wanted to meet to get the process moving toward termination of rights, which could happen in 10 hours. In the next few hours, we met with our attorney and the birth parents met with theirs as well as another social worker- this one from a local adoption agency that our agency had been in contact with. Before we knew what was happening, the nurse was telling us they were discharging birth mom. She had signed a power of attorney to allow us to leave the hospital with baby girl and care for her until the time passed and rights could be terminated. I went down to our car to get our car seat and an outfit for baby girl to leave the hospital in. After I returned and we were getting ready to take baby girl down the hall to say goodbye to her birth parents, our attorney called to alert us that he had some major concerns. We called our agency and they told us to go and be honest with the birth parents and feel them out. What happened next feels like a surreal dream. As the events unfolded in the birth mom’s hospital room, I felt like I was not present, but staring down at the room, watching it unfold like a nasty nightmare. Neither Josh nor I showed any emotion in that room. As the hospital social worker walked us down the hall towards our room, I began to lose it and started to walk/run until I could collapse in sobs in the room. Just like that, it was over. They had called their attorney and rescinded. She was not our baby girl.

We are deeply hurt. We are feeling all the emotions. This is a huge loss- in a way- this is a death that we will need to mourn.

It’s very hard to understand why and how this fits into the big picture. To lay it all out here- this is the second baby we are mourning in the past 3 months as we miscarried our first child in May. I have so many questions. Perhaps, I will never know the answers. And I can say that I am finally at a place where that feels ok.

This journey is far from over. We will continue on it to complete our family. And while walking blindly in faith is so very, very hard– ultimately, it is the only thing that brings hope for the future.

Counting Days

It’s hard to believe we are down to three weeks before our daughter is due! When we were matched, three months seemed so far away and in a blink of an eye… we are counting down the days to her arrival!

Are we excited? That’s the number one question we are getting asked… and yes, of course we are overly excited to welcome her home!

It’s been a long journey and the wait has felt like it has been forever long. And there has been a lot of ‘life’ along the journey but those mountains and valleys are what make this so special. It’s our story- it’s not perfect- but it’s ours. It’s the story that we will tell our daughter and she will know how very much she has been loved and prayed for from the very beginning.

We are starting to get ourselves ready to travel to meet our birth mom and dad and welcome our baby girl into the world. I say our baby girl collectively- because she is all of our baby girl- all four of us. We are all in this and I couldn’t be more grateful for the gift that they are giving us and the life they are choosing for this baby. I already have so much love for this couple, so much respect… in three short months, I have grown to care for them so much. God willing, this will be just the beginning of a long relationship that is centered on this baby girl.

I ask for your continued prayers as we head down this final stretch. While we are excited, we are cautiously so. Please pray not just for us, but for our birth family in the days leading up to our daughter’s birth. For the health and safety of all involved. And for strength in the days ahead.