I cannot believe we are approaching Jones' first birthday. In some ways, it has been an incredibly long year (especially during those months and months with no sleep!), and in others, time has flown by so quickly I feel I can barely catch my breath.
My sweet baby, my last baby, at least the last one I will ever give birth to or nurse or carry inside me, is rapidly growing up. That is hard for any mother to accept, and I have definitely had my moments of grieving the fact that this stage of my life is ending. But with that also comes exciting new things, and watching Jones grow and learn and change and become his own little person is such a huge blessing to us, a blessing that at one time, we thought we would never get.
Two years ago, we were waiting to get that monumental phone call telling us we had been chosen to adopt someone's baby. We didn't wait long, and very shortly after we were chosen for Miss Ember Rose (who would later become Clara!). You all know how that story played out, and what an incredible journey it was for all of us. But when Ember moved on to her forever family, and our family was left grieving heavily and living in fear and denial over the little one we were unexpectedly expecting, we had no idea what the Lord had in store for us. In my heart of hearts, I did not accept or believe that we would be taking the little one growing inside me home. I very much anticipated to lose Jones, to grieve another child, and to continue on the adoption path when we were ready to do so. So, we held onto our adoption fund, tucked it away, and "knew" we would need to use it down the road.
The day Jones was born, I remember looking into his little face and having to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I kept thinking, "I am going to wake up, and realize that he died and I am only dreaming this wonderful dream. Please don't let me wake up for awhile..."
But I didn't wake up...he was ours, he was healthy, and he was coming home.
Josh and I knew that at that point, we needed to make some decisions about our future and the plans God had for our family. After losing Ember and bringing Jones home, Josh and I felt a door close in our hearts that we knew would not re-open. We didn't want to pursue another infant adoption. We had been down that road, and had our hearts broken in a way that wouldn't allow us to go down that path again. Plus, in all honesty, we had Jones, and did not feel that urge to adopt a newborn baby anymore. But, we thought, maybe that's just because we have a little baby. Maybe we would feel differently in a year? So we decided to wait a year. One year. We would pray about it and think about it and search our hearts over the whole thing. And when Jones turned one, we would decide what we would do with that adoption money.
During the course of this year, God brought different people and experiences into our lives that definitely influenced our desires for the future. Josh and I have talked about fostering, and a few months ago we met with a case worker to talk about preparing our home and family for foster care. We feel pretty strongly that foster care is in our future, but once again, we felt God calling us to wait on it a bit, until Jones was older and we were settled in our new home. We don't know if or when God will tell us to go forward with that, but we do know we are open to whatever God may ask us to do down the road. We also thank sweet Ember for softening our hearts toward foster care, and are so thankful that God allowed that experience into our lives for that reason.
As we approached Jones' first birthday, Josh and I sat down and talked about how we were feeling. Did we still feel called to adopt? Did we have any inkling about what God wanted us to do with the money that was so generously given for our adoption? How could we be good stewards of that gift?
One more story before I tell you what we concluded. Awhile back, my sweet cousin Lisa, who was the very person to help us raise money for our own adoption by hosting a photo fundraiser, told me about a little boy named "Shawn" who she had come across on Reece's Rainbow. She sent me a picture of him and we talked about how he looked exactly like her biological son. She told me about him and how desperately he needed a family, but it couldn't possibly be them, because they already have six children, two of which were adopted, and wouldn't everyone think they were crazy if they went for it again? Every couple of months the subject of Shawn would come up in our messages to each other. She told her husband about him, she kept thinking about him, could God possibly be calling them to bring him home?
In the very back of my mind, I wondered if God would allow us to be a small part of the story that was unfolding. Wouldn't it be just like Him to tug on Lisa's heart to help us raise funds for our own adoption that He knew would never happen, only to help Lisa with the adoption of her own son that at the time, she didn't even know existed? Yes. That would be just like him.
A few weeks ago, Lisa and her husband Scott officially committed to their son Shawn. You can learn more about him here, and follow Lisa's blog here. When Lisa messaged me to tell me they had officially committed to him, I turned to Josh and said, "This is it. This is what we should do with that money."
Because it is you all who gave so generously and you all who gave so that a child could be given a forever family, we wanted to share this with you so that you can know what your generosity has done, and so that you can see how your gifts created a ripple effect that not only blessed us immensely, but will bless this family as well.
Some of the money in our adoption fund was used during the process to get on the waiting list and complete a home study and prepare to bring Ember home. That wasn't able to be returned to us, and that's okay, because it was a small price to pay for such an extraordinary experience of holding and loving Ember for those two weeks and loving on her mother and getting to be a small part of her amazing story. The money Josh and I saved and worked overtime for and pulled from retirement funds and sold furniture and cleaned houses for, we used so that I could spend a few wonderful weeks at home with Jones, bonding with him and thanking God that He chose to bless us so incredibly after such a long road of heartache and waiting.
The rest, the money that was given to us and raised on our behalf and generously sacrificed by all of you, the ones who have been a part of our story from the beginning, the ones who entrusted us with such a wonderful gift and prayed for our family every step of the way, that money has been prayerfully donated to the Warren family, so that this little boy may know what it is like to be loved by a mother and a father and brothers and sisters and a God who has had a perfect plan for him ever since the beginning of time. I am sharing this with you because if it were me, I would want to know how my gift was being used.
We hope that you will be as supportive of the Warren's adoption journey as you were with ours. Though it went in a direction we never anticipated, God has weaved blessings throughout the entire experience, and we are so grateful He brought us down this path.
Please consider following Lisa's blog and supporting them through prayer. They have a long and scary journey ahead of them, but one I have no doubt will bless so many people. Thank you so much for supporting our family throughout these few years. We know God has more in store for us, and we hope you will continue to be a part of that journey!