~ Our Adoption Story ~

Today I get to write about our little gift! Mattie is our little 11 month old that was given to us through adoption this past February. She is a very smiley girl. She loves, loves, LOVES her big brother! (And is greatly loved in return!) She is noisy, very spunky, opinionated, strong willed, happy, and loves to get in to everything! She fits in to our family as if she was homegrown, and lots of people even say she looks like us!

We had been desiring another child for several years. The Lord had not seen fit to grant us a pregnancy, and we had begun talking about adoption options. We had talked about foster care, domestic adoption, white or minority child, etc. I finally started praying that If the Lord had adoption in our future, it would be a "right place at the right time" situation that we knew was from Him and for us. And we began to tell others of our desires so they could keep us in their memory in case anything came up.

Well, in October 2005, my uncle called me and shared story with me. He is an elder in his church and a family had come to him with a struggle. Their son, Danny, had been involved with a girl, Donna, who had become pregnant. Donna had chosen a couple to adopt her baby, and that arrangement was falling through. She just didn't feel good about them for several reasons. So, now they were at square one again. She didn't want to go to an agency and just pick random people. She wanted someone who came personally recommended.

Danny's parents are strong Christians and desired Christian people to adopt their grandchild. This previous couple was not Christians, but seemed at least to be good people. Well, at the news of this family falling through, they were scared and frustrated, worrying about what could go wrong next. (As Danny's mom was sharing this with my uncle, he was remembering a conversation we had over breakfast several months before that. I had said, "If anyone ever needs a baby to be adopted, remember us!!") So, it all went from there. Danny's mom realized that God was changing the situation for the better, rather than allowing it to get worse. So, my uncle called me and told us about this situation, and I was beside myself!!! My face hurt from smiling so much that night!! I think we left it where we were all to pray about it and see how Donna would feel about it.  Oh, and he called back to tell us it was a little girl and she was due in February! Ooooh, only 3 1/2 months to wait!!!!

So, I told Robert and tried to contain myself. I had to guard my heart so as to avoid a major disappointment, but trust that God was bringing this little girl to us.

Two weeks later, I was in their state for a bridal shower and met Danny's parents and Donna and her parents.  She decided right away, I think, that she wanted us to have her little girl!! She said, "I feel like I can breathe again just knowing that she'll be with you guys!" She was really excited about us having Jacob to be Mattie's big brother...Donna has a brother and treasures her relationship with him.

So there we were...Robert said, "If a little girl needs us, can we say no?" Of course not!!! So, Donna and Danny decided we were the ones they wanted to have their little girl. WOW! What a huge decision to have to make. I cannot even imagine...

I spoke to Donna regularly and developed a relationship with her. She assured me every time we spoke that she felt great about the situation and she had no intention of changing her mind. I believed her, but I still kept myself from getting too excited. Mostly, I knew if she was to be ours, she would be ours. The Lord knew the whole situation. And if she changed her mind, how could I blame her? I could never entrust my child to someone else forever! What a brave thing she was doing!

During this time I also decided to try something to see if it would work. I induced lactation so I could nurse this little one. I started taking blessed thistle and fenugreek (two herbal supplements) and domperidone (a stomach medicine) and pumping three times a day with a hospital grade breast pump (thanks to my sister). Well, within a week I had milk, just a tiny bit, but it was milk!! I told myself I'd like to meet half her needs, but was completely unsure of how it would work, so I tried not to have expectations for myself (though that doesn't come naturally for me!). I also asked the Lord that He would give me enough milk to meet her needs.

So it was time and we were on our way up to get Mattie a couple of days early b/c Donna's mom was in the hospital and she asked us to come and support her. It was a Thursday. Halfway up our 12 hour drive, she called to say that she was in labor. Mattie was born at about 8:00 that night!!

Donna invited us to go meet her at noon the next day and stay for a couple of hours. She was absolutely beautiful! Her head was perfect and her little face was just gorgeous. Robert fed her a bottle and we just snuggled her to death. It was amazing to believe she was going to be ours!?! To be quite honest, there were no sparks, no fireworks, no floods of emotion. (Well, we are two very emotionally steady people.) It was sweet, but very hard to imagine. And a bit strange! We were in the same room with someone who said she wanted to give us her baby. Wouldn't you feel a little awkward? And nursing that child for the first time in that same room??? Yeah, a little awkward! But amazing!

Circumstances changed a bit and Donna asked if I'd stay in the hospital with her for the rest of her stay. (Of course I would! Did she think I had any desire to go home without Mattie??) It was great. She expressed how good it was to see Mattie doing well with me. It was good to see her nursing well (Donna thought that was really cool that I wanted to nurse her) and fitting in with us. I think that helped her realize she was giving Mattie a great start at life and feel confident about her decision. While it was awkward at some moments, I wouldn't change it at all. It was great for Donna and I think I'd want the same thing if I were her.

Okay, I know this is long, but it's hard to shorten such a huge part of our lives!! You can quit reading whenever you'd like!

So Saturday we took her "home" to my aunt and uncle's home. (We couldn't leave the state with her until all the paperwork was signed.) Actually, Donna and Danny hadn't signed surrender papers yet either (so they could have her at any time). They had to wait until Mattie was 72 hours old and that fell on a Friday evening, so they had to wait until Monday. It ended up being 6 days. It was a long 6 days. All there was to do was trust that the Lord holds us in the palm of His hand, and He knew what was best for us!

Monday around noon, we finally got the call that they both signed. Actually, it was kind of bittersweet. I was desperately relieved for us, but hurting for Donna and Danny. And I had no idea until then how much I was reserving my heart. I had been nursing Mattie, mothering her, but subconsciously had held myself from falling in love with her because I was afraid to lose her. What a blessing it was to be able to let go and love her, not just nurture her!!

Tuesday (Valentine's Day) we went to the adoption agency to sign papers to have her legally placed in our care. (It would be another 6 months until the adoption was final.) What a Valentine's Day gift!!

So, that's our story!! The Lord has given us a tremendous blessing in her and allowed us to love as if she was our own flesh and blood. I often forget and say, "When I had Mattie..." and have to correct myself! We have decided to keep an open relationship with Danny and Donna for everyone's sake. I have struggled greatly feeling like I'm robbing them of the joy of seeing her grow up, and the only way to compensate for that is to share as much of that joy as I can. And that means allowing them to be a part of our lives. They gave us their little girl...the least we can do is let them see her grow up! And we want Mattie to grow into an understanding of adoption rather than keep it a secret and spring it on her later.

I'm also hoping that maintaining a relationship with them will allow us an opportunity to plant seeds of the Lord's love in their hearts. I was able to share with Donna quite a bit during her pregnancy, but hope for more in the future. She is very receptive to what I have to say, but I don't know where her heart is as of now. Someday...

As far as the nursing went...it took a couple of weeks to build up my milk supply and in that time I had to supplement one feeding. Then after that I exclusively breastfed her until about 4 months when I had to start supplementing the evening feeding again. She wanted nothing to do with baby food, so she was fairly exclusively breastfed until she could do table food. I did that until 10 months when I weaned her. Nursing her was a great bonding experience, and I'd do it again if I had the chance! And the Lord answered my prayer for a great milk supply!  That wasn't something I needed, but I asked Him for a gift and I believe He found joy in granting me that gift. 

Here's Jacob loving on his "new baby sister!" We named her Mattison Joy. Mattison (spelled like Matthew) means "gift of the Lord" and Joy, other than the obvious, is my middle name. Now I can't even imagine our life without our Mattie Joy!!!