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Monday, July 18, 2016

Our Path to Adoption

Our decision to adopt has been years in the making. I cannot wait to share our story with our precious boy someday. It's been the first time in my life where I've truly felt called by the Lord to do something and it's been awesome to watch the ways He's been at work in our lives to lead us to this point. 

Growing up I always dreamed of being a mother. Becoming a mother has been the greatest blessing in my life and has given me my passion! I know people have many talents, but I think the Lord gave me the talent of being a mom. I'm sure that sounds weird as a ton of people are moms but for me I feel like it's something I was simply called to do. 

In 2012 our church sent a group on a mission trip to Ukraine. Friends shared images of their trip and part of their time there was spent at a local orphanage. This image was shared on Facebook and it made my heart stop. Seeing this little boy just filled me with a desire I'd never felt before. I wanted to pick him up and bring him to my home to be my child. Something about him just put that desire on my heart and it was the first time I ever felt like adoption was something our family was being lead to do in the future. 


I spent a few days googling about Ukraine adoptions and told Zach how I'd possibly like to adopt "someday." He also hadn't ever considered adoption for our family. We had several talks before marriage about "what ifs" and both agreed if for some reason we were unable to have biological children that we'd be on board to adopt but it wasn't something we had considered once we were able to have bio babies. 


My feelings on wanting to adopt "someday" never fizzled out. It remained something that would casually get mentioned (including on this blog!) throughout the years. Zach and I both really want to have two kids of each sex. I never had a sister and he never had a brother and we both wanted those same sex sibling relationships for our children. Our "someday" adoption talks slowly turned into "if" talks. It kinda became an "if we don't end up having 2 kids of each sex then we'll adopt" situation. We planned on having four biological kids and if we had three boys or three girls then we'd adopt the 5th child to ensure that opposite sex situation. I felt that if we had 3 of the same sex children biologically then it was meant to be that we go the adoption route! 

When pregnant with Tess I felt strongly that she was a boy and I always felt like we'd probably have three bio boys and then adopt a girl to give Britt a sister. I felt like that was a "best case" scenario as I worried about how Zach would feel in regards to adopting a son. I know that may sound silly but the Parker name and bloodline is so important to him and I felt like it would possibly be harder for him to bond with an adopted son than it would be a daughter. 

Once Tess was born (2014) and we had our two girls our "if" adoption talks started back up and now we knew that the situation would be 3 bio girls, adopt a 2nd son. I was really surprised (in the best way possible) at how Zach handled those talks. I shared my concerns about the ability to bond with an adopted son, the last name/bloodline situation and he said "Being a Parker isn't about the blood, it's about who he will be and he would be my son." I knew the Lord was putting that on his heart and I knew if we ended up adopting a 5th child that Zach would love that boy just as much as he does our bio children!

When we have our children we like to get pregnant around the youngest child's 2nd birthday. I LOVE the 2 year 9 ish month age difference (Britt and Kye are 2 years 9 months apart, Britt and Tess are 2 years 8 months apart). Doing the math on it meant that we'd be having our 4th baby around April/May 2017. Which is also our 10 year anniversary. I was swimming laps one day (I've always loved swimming as it's such a great time to THINK) and was doing that math and was thinking through it all and thought to myself "why not wait?" 

Sure, we like the 2 year 9 month age difference but there are some negatives about it too. Seeing Robyn's kids age differences (Lorelai was 3 years 3 months old when Cooper was born) I saw a lot of benefits of a little wider age gap. Lorelai was SO hands on when Cooper was born. She "got it" more and I think the transition was smoother for Robyn with that extra 6 months between them. If we waited longer to get pregnant it'd mean that we could go on our anniversary trip and not have a newborn baby at home for it. It'd mean we could go on Tess's 1st Disney trip and not be pregnant (I've been pregnant for both Kye's and Britt's first visits) It'd mean I could enjoy that summer with the kids and have an EASY summer with an almost 3 year old while pregnant instead of go through the summer with a newborn and be stuck at home all the time. 

Plus being my last baby I wanted to FULLY enjoy it. I liked the idea of the three older kids being in school when the last baby was born so I'd get more of that quality time with the baby! We talked about it and Zach agreed. I mean there is no rule written that says we HAD to get pregnant when Tess turned two! Why not just wait? We loosely talked about starting to try to get pregnant in Jan of 2017 so I'd be 2nd trimester for our Anniversary. We even talked about possibly waiting longer and not getting pregnant until summertime in 2017 and not having an actual baby until 2018. I mean we were getting wild over here ;) 

After having Tess I had a few issues (still am having some!). I battled with Postpartum Depression and my cycle (tmi sorry) just didn't go back to normal. I had a lot of issues for a long time with pain, flow, timing, etc related to my cycle. I was nursing so I figured a lot of those issues were related to that. I was concerned because a lot of them lined up with possible health problems (endometriosis being the most likely). I know my mother had some female issues in her 30s and although I'm not sure what they were, that did have me concerned. 

I decided to wait to get checked out until after I had fully weaned Tess. During the time period of waiting I had to cope with my concerns. I'm big about thinking of what's the worst possible case scenario (aside from death, because duh any issue's worst case would be dying). Once I come up with a PLAN on how to handle the worst case situation, then I don't worry anymore. I'm a girl who thrives when there is a plan. As long as I have a plan, I'm golden!

With my female issues the worst case scenario would be that I'd no longer be able to get pregnant. I thought about this a LOT. How would that make me feel? What would we do?

In thinking about that I found lots of silver linings about it. If Tess's pregnancy was my last isn't it kinda better that I didn't know it during it? Since I had PPD already with her, wouldn't going into pregnancy knowing it's my last make those hormones and emotions even more intense? Her delivery was SO PERFECT, it'd really be a great note to end on. And our nursing bond was the strongest of all three babies, again great end note. 

Plus Zach and I had MANY discussions about that 4th baby. I felt SO much pressure about it being a boy. I'd already begun reading tips and tricks and methods (sidenote people SWEAR by the Shettles method and the book is a great read!) to help us get that second son and I just felt anxiety about it. Zach was pretty hardcore about wanting to find out the sex of the baby while pregnant whereas I was equally passionate about still being surprised at birth. Not knowing the sex makes my hard work during labor easier b/c I'm so pumped to find out! He had valid reasons for wanting to know as he wanted time to digest if it was a third girl and didn't want to be disappointed in the delivery room. We couldn't really come to an agreement about what we'd do and I felt like it would make that last pregnancy experience less special with that concern. 

If I couldn't have more babies naturally, then it was really meant to be for us to adopt. And really wouldn't ending with 4 kids make more sense? Sure, I've talked about NEVER wanting to be done having kids...but honestly in my mind 4 is completion. If we were able to get pregnant and had that 4th baby, would we really ever adopt? Or would we just most likely stop at four, regardless of the sex? 

All of these thoughts really helped me have total and complete peace about my health concerns. I went into the dr appointment in October ready to hear news that I wouldn't be able to conceive more babies. There were some concerns and I had an internal ultrasound and some blood work done to rule things out. When I found out that I'm perfectly healthy, my heart sank. I realized in that moment that I had done so well finding the positives about not being able to get pregnant again, that I had been disappointed when I found out I'd still be able to!  (My issues actually ended up being related to nursing and my body had held onto a lot of "junk" during that time that it got rid of once I stopped nursing which is why I had pain and other issues)

Through all of this I had not told Zach any of my feelings. Zach and I are both very big picture, long term people. We make plans and we follow through with them. Zach is much more set in stone about things than I am and sometimes that makes things difficult when I do want to switch up a long term plan we have in place. This switch up would be the biggest ever and I didn't want to say ANYTHING to him about it unless I was 100% sure and committed to it. Even with the disappointment I felt at the dr visit, I still didn't say anything to Zach. 

At this same time Aunt Karen took me to see War Room (if you haven't seen it, it's a MUST) and my spiritual life got so much deeper. I started a prayer journal and spent more quality time with the Lord, in His Word, and in prayer. My feelings about completing our family were on my mind a LOT and it's something I spent a lot of time in prayer over. 

In November I attended Britt's Thanksgiving celebration at school. The parents were all asked to wait in the hallway while the kids got the room ready for us. Of course I started chatting it up with another mom and she mentioned her children's ages and we got to talking about age differences. Then she started telling me a bit about her family and her story of her children. Her husband arrived and I ended up spending my time there mostly talking to them, she let him share his version of their adoption journey and YALL. It was straight from the Lord that this whole meeting took place. I cried hearing Jonah's story. It's amazing and awesome and is just really from GOD. Turns out their daughter is Britt's bff at school and the mama is a fellow blogger! We've become fast friends and I'm so thankful for the influence Adrienne has been in my life these past few months. Their story is so much a part of what is now our story and it's so awesome the way God works :) You can read Jonah's story here (be ready to cry!).

When Peter, Adrienne's husband, finished telling me Jonah's story I was crying and told them how I had it on my heart to adopt and how much their story spoke to me. I told them I hadn't talked to my husband about it yet and Peter said "well tell your husband to be ready b/c when the Lord puts something on a woman's heart it usually happens!" ;) 


November was a hard month for our marriage and it for sure wasn't the right time to have such a big talk about the future. I mean Zach and I were barely speaking that month at all to each other...let alone about baby making! We grew so, so much in our marriage in a HUGE way and it really was another tug from the Lord that He was helping prepare us for something big :) 

Leading up to my dr visit, Zach was also concerned about my health. He was aware of all of my issues and felt concerned when the dr visit didn't have any results. Even though they said I was healthy, I was still having issues after the visit. While getting ready for bed one night Zach said to me "I hope they figure out what is going on so they can get it fixed b/c it'd be so awful if you couldn't have another baby or something like that." I had ZERO percent planned on talking to Zach about my feelings anytime soon. I hadn't sorted them all out yet. I wasn't sure what I wanted. But when he mentioned not being able to have more children and was concerned about how I'd feel about it I thought maybe it was God telling me to say something to him. So in that moment I said "weeeeelllllll" and dropped the bomb that IF something was wrong and I couldn't get pregnant that I wouldn't want to try other methods and would possibly instead want to adopt. I told him about Jonah's story and about my feelings about everything. I kinda just started from the beginning and lead him through to where I was at that point. 

Like I said, Zach is a big picture person and he commits to a plan. So it was a BIG BOMB that I was dropping and it caught him completely off guard. His first response was "we planned for four kids, so let's do everything possible to have four biological kids." We didn't have any sort of argument or anything about it. I knew that all of this was MY heart and it seemed like something out of the blue to him as it's not something that had been on HIS heart. I told him that I wasn't setting anything in stone or wasn't saying I didn't want more bio kids, but that all I wanted was for BOTH of us to spend time in prayer on it and see what God lead us to in the coming months. 

We had another talk about it where I went over everything I wanted to say. My reasons for feeling like this was our path and things I wanted him to consider when in prayer about it. His initial response was just total shock that first night and I def overloaded him with too much at once when he wasn't prepared for it. Our second talk was muchhhhh smoother!!! 

Here are some of the things I brought up as "adoption pros" in our talk:
  • We'd have the opportunity to raise a child in the Lord who may have not known Him otherwise
  • We'd for sure be giving Kye a brother!
  • Adoption would be a new adventure and challenge for us
  • We've both talked about how we believe mission work is so important but that it also needs to take place in our own backyard instead of just overseas. This is an opportunity for us to do mission work in the field of parenting which is such a passion we share.
  • It'd allow me to fully use my talent as a mother that God gave me in a way to glorify Him
  • We are SO blessed and it'd be a way to truly bless others
  • God put adoption on my heart in a way that He's never put anything before
  • I've always looked for a "silver lining" with the pain I've felt with my own family, and this really could be it!
  • We wouldn't have to worry about PPD again, especially with how hard it'd be knowing it's my last pregnancy
  • We'd get to plan for a boy nursery instead of gender neutral
  • Just because we've had three healthy babies biologically doesn't mean we're guaranteed to have a healthy fourth baby biologically
  • It'd be an amazing opportunity for our biological children and they would gain so much from the experience
  • It's a chance to step out in faith!
  • We are pro-life and we can "put our money where our mouth is" by adopting
  • Realistically we both knew deep down that we'd be done at 4 and so we'd probably never adopt if we don't do it now
  • Going through the baby girl stuff would be easier emotionally because the money can help fund adoption
  • We wouldn't have to worry about me being too pregnant on our anniversary trip to fully enjoy it.
  • The newborn stage would be easier because I wouldn't be healing or (most likely) nursing
  • We'd have the chance to give love, joy, and experiences to a child who possibly may not have it it otherwise. 
I also talked to Zach about how I believe he's been called to adopt just like I have been! His whole life his mom ALWAYS talks about Zach's tender, loving heart. And it's true...he has SUCH a big heart. He always takes up for the "underdog" and is very protective of others. He's super compassionate and has a passion for fatherhood like I've never seen. 

I didn't want Zach to feel pressured to have to have an answer right there on the spot. I just wanted to share my heart, my thoughts, my ideas with him and then table it for awhile. I wanted us both to have space and time to think things through and to let God speak to us more on it. 

I prayed a TON about the Lord helping to guide our path. I felt strongly that the conversation about Jonah was really a big push from Him towards the adoption route. But at the same time it's a HUGE decision and not something I wanted to jump into without being SURE.

In January our church hosted a ladies tea. It was a chance for the older generation to mingle with the younger generation and for all of us to just get to know each other better. When all the ladies got there we were randomly assigned a table and as the event started we went around and talked a little about ourselves. Y'all. This lady who I'd never met said her name and told us that she has three biological children and a fourth, adopted child, who was now in her late 30s and was also there at the event that day. I got chills. I mean to be our exact scenario (although obviously she adopted a girl and we'll be adopting a boy) and that her adopted child is faithful to the Lord?! To be randomly sat at this particular table and for this woman to also be randomly seated there and for her to decide to tell us about her adoption? God was making it VERY clear!

After that moment at the tea, I stopped praying for God to give me a sign on what He wanted for our family. Jonah's story + the adoption story from the tea were SO CLEAR to me what God was saying. I had no doubt at all at that point that the Lord was directing us toward adoption to complete our family. I just still had a lot of fear about taking that leap and committing to it! 

Zach and I talked lightly about adoption. He would joke a lot about my "God signs." Anytime adoption was brought up with something random I'd give him a look (like The Good Dinosaur...totaly an adoption reference in there right?!?!). We didn't have any serious talks as I truly was just trying to keep my mouth shut and let God speak to ZACH. I didn't want to push my agenda on him, I wanted us both to come to a decision together. 

My original plan was to not discuss making that decision until after the lawsuit situation was done regarding Zach's wreck. He got in a wreck in 2014 and it's STILL not settled yet. His back was badly injured in the wreck which ended up resulting in his recent back surgery. Adoption is EXPENSIVE. And I felt like another "God sign" with it would be us getting a larger settlement from the wreck. It would make sense for WHY the settlement has taken so long because back in 2014 when the wreck happened, adoption wasn't on our radar at all! If Zach and I sat down and made the decision to adopt, it'd make that decision WAY easier to know we had money in the bank to help fund it!  (spoiler alert: we're still NOWHERE close to being settled with it)

When we went to California I still had the plan of not talking about it. Keep it light, keep it easy, keep it no-pressure. Well. That 6 hour long drive from LAX to our first night made us run out of things to talk about. We needed a time filler, we needed something to keep us both awake, so I went for it. Sure, I didn't have a planned out conversation (I'm a planner, even down to my conversations haha) but maybe that was for the better. We were just kicking off what would be an awesome trip, why not have "the talk"? Our marriage was in an awesome place and I felt like it'd been long enough for us both to have time to pray and think about things!

We talked about it and it was a good conversation. Zach said he had been praying but that he just didn't think God was going to show him some BIG sign the way I felt like God had been speaking to me. He told me his thoughts on it, how there were TONS of pros but also cons. It's scary! It's expensive! It's new territory! There a a BILLION what ifs!

Zach said that he didn't feel comfortable making this big of a decision. He said that I'm the one who goes through pregnancy, and childbirth, and nursing. I'm the one that does most of the "work" aspect of parenting since it's my full time job. He said he wanted ME to make the call. 

Y'all. I know this is old fashioned to a lot of people, but we try to live our lives by the Bible as much as possible and the Bible is clear that the husband is the leader of the home. I LIKE my husband in that roll. We always, always discuss things together but I appreciate the weight Zach carries as being the final decision maker for our family. Especially about the big stuff! I love that I can share my heart, my ideas, concerns, etc and then HE makes the final call. I don't want that stress of having to be THE ONE who decides how to complete our family!!!

Zach said he was 100% on board with whatever I decided. He said he could tell I was going to probably go the adoption route and that he was IN. He would love that baby just like he would if we were to get pregnant again. He'd do everything from his end with the whole process. He'd be ALL ABOUT IT. But he just didn't want to make a call that so much affected ME. He felt like it needed to be MY call. 

Well I was a bit freaked out. I'm the most indecisive person on the PLANET. Sure, I felt led by the Lord. I felt CALLED to adopt. But gah making that decision and setting it in stone was an entirely different ballgame. We didn't need to decide right then and there and I couldn't make such a big decision in the moment like that. I needed to overthink about it a ton first ;) 

While on the trip we had another God moment. We were in line at Jimmy Kimmel Live and started talking to a lady and her daughter behind us but they looked nothing alike. At first I didn't assume they were mother/daughter but once we got to know them well enough I asked if they were friends on a girl's trip to Cali and they told us that they were mother/daughter. The mother told us she and her husband adopted both a son and a daughter! It was really neat talking to them AND seeing the close bond they shared and hearing from the daughter what a blessing her adoption had been to her. 

When we got back from the trip I told Zach I needed to talk things through with a third party. I am SO indecisive and I just need to work stuff out. I couldn't blog about it (writing is my favorite way to work through my emotions) so I needed to at least talk about it with someone. I asked Lindsay if she could do dinner with just her and I. We have a great connection and such a similar faith that I feel like her perspective would really help me figure things out!

We had THE best talk. I'm so thankful for her friendship! I told her everything and shared with her my concerns. I felt like adoption was our path and my calling but I was SO nervous about having the pressure of being THE person to make that kind of decision. It would affect our entire family for life! My biggest concern was my marriage. What if we adopt and something goes wrong? What if things take turns for the worse? Would Zach resent me? Would we have issues because I'm the one who decided this path?

We talked a lot about a lot of things, one of them being about my family situation. We talked about everything that happened with my mom (as Lindsay only knew bits and pieces) and Lindsay asked me if I ever resented Zach at all in any of that. Did I blame him for things going south with my mom because he was the one who really pushed for her to move here? When it was more of "his call" did our marriage suffer when my family situation suffered? My answer was not. at. all. Everything we've been through with my family has only brought Zach and I closer. Never in a million years would I blame him for any of it nor would I EVER want him to feel any sort of guilt over being "the one" who really pushed for her to move so close. I know he only was thinking of me and that he just wanted me to get to have that close mother-daughter bond. I know that he was only thinking of Mom and that he wanted her to be able to be close to her grandkids and had hopes of her coming to know Jesus through living closer to us. How in the WORLD could he have known how things would have turned out?!?

Lindsay looked at me and said "then why do you think adopting a baby would go any differently?" Can I just say #BOOM. What Zach and I have been through with my family is a HUGE deal. If we came through that closer than ever before, and that was 4 years ago, we will face any obstacle that this adoption may bring TOGETHER. We are so much more united and so much stronger and mature and have deeper connections to the Lord than we did 4 years ago. Of course if things do get tough with the adoption process or if we do have hurdles with our last child we will remain united and I shouldn't doubt that for one second because we've already faced such difficult times and have already proven that we can handle them as a team! 

Big talks over queso ;)



I came home from that dinner (April 25th!) and told Zach "let's do it!" I was nervous telling him but I was also SURE. Talking through it with Lindsay and having her bring so much perspective to it made me feel more comfortable and more ready to take that leap of faith! Zach's immediate response? He laughed and said "IT'S ABOUT TIME." Haha! He knew when I first brought it up months prior that we'd end up adopting ;) It just takes me longer to sort through stuff haha!!!

That night we watched Survivor and Zach kept pausing it to say little things about our decision. He paused it and said "omg it's going be so cool to KNOW we are having another SON!" and then again to say "will we still use the same boy name?" It was PRECIOUS because I knew he was thinking about it while watching the show and it was so great to see his excitement!

Zach says that he felt lead to adopt because it's what I felt lead to do. He may not have had the enthusiasm I had at first about it but he feels so blessed to be able to further God's kingdom by raising this child on a path of righteousness. He wasn't joking when he said he'd be ALL IN, he's been INCREDIBLE in the process. He typed up his 35 or so pages for the home study and never complained once about it. He's been involved in every step of the process so far and this experience has already taken our marriage to even deeper levels of love than we've ever known!

When we were dating I was DYING to be engaged. Zach was patient. He wanted to wait to ask me until he was VERY SURE. I was the opposite. I was obsessed with getting engaged and just wanted him to stinking ASK ME. After he proposed, then I freaked out. It kinda went the same way with the decision to adopt. Once the decision was made, Zach has been sure and steady but I'm the one feeling SUCH a mixture of emotions. I'm excited but WHEW so overwhelmed and nervous and scared and basically I walk around feeling like I'm going to puke (it's been a great diet plan haha). I remind myself over and over and over that THIS IS GOD'S PLAN and that fear is NOT from the Lord!!! 

Just as much as I feel like I wanna vomit, I equally have NEVER felt SO confident that this is God's will for our lives. It's truly an opportunity to take a leap of faith in a way we never have before. My personal motto through this entire journey is simply "Step Out in Faith." It's easy to feel called to do something and ignore that call. It'd be EASIER to get pregnant. Have a bio baby. It'd be easier to stick the path we've always walked. The one we've always planned for. The one we are familiar with. And comfortable with. Oh it'd be easier! But it would be ignoring God's calling for us. I trust in HIM and in HIS plan and I cannot WAIT to see this story unfold for HIS glory!!!

{I got this bracelet from Farmgirl Paints to wear as a reminder of my adoption motto throughout this journey. I just happened to be wearing it for our recent family photos with Captured by Colson. And also happened to have my fingernails painted blue! Lindsay happened to notice the bracelet and had the inspiration to take a photo of it. I. LOVE. IT. }


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