Bringing Super Nova Home

We are SO excited to share the Jones family’s adoption story on our blog! God has given this family such a beautiful testimony through adoption.

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Hi, we are the Joneses.

Spencer & I met on March 12, 2010 and that day truly changed our lives. He was my dream fella, and I was the girl he had always searched for. It was a match made in heaven & really a fairy tale story. We were engaged within a few months, and married one year later on March 12, 2011. We have never “waited around” to do, well really, anything.  After a little while of being married, we decided the time was right & we wanted a baby. I knew I had some female problems and it would most likely take a while to conceive. After about a year with no baby, I went to my doctor and he started me on fertility medication. When several rounds of that were unsuccessful, he sent us to a reproductive specialist.  Long, boring story short– on June 7, 2013, one of the top fertility doctors in the country looked at my husband & me in the eye and said, “If you want to have a family, you need to look into adoption.”  We literally went home that day, and started our research. Over the weekend we looked at everything we could about adoption: International, domestic, different agencies, different countries– everything. Monday morning, I called Open Door and everyone there was SO helpful. I knew from that one phone call that we had found our agency!  Olga was so kind and helpful, she helped us narrow down a country that we were eligible for & really gave us a realistic expectation of how the adoption process would go.   She also sent me a link where I could view waiting children from that country and… I sat and cried. I had been googling countries and waiting children for weeks, and granted, I had seen a lot of cute kids, but THESE kids– BROKE.OUR.HEART.  I guess, that’s what it means for a country to “speak to you”. I’ve always heard that there would just be one country that would call to you, and you would “just know”. That’s exactly how it worked for us.  We decided to immediately begin our Bulgarian adoption!

On Wednesday we received our information packet, application, and fee schedule from Open Door! After the initial shock of the staggering price tag wore off, we decided we needed to take a step back and pray. We knew there was NO way we could come up with that on our own, but also knew that God was calling us to do this. We asked the Lord for clear direction- specifically that HE would give us the exact amount of money needed for every step of the way! (Because, as much as we would’ve liked to have it, we don’t NEED all $32,000 RIGHT NOW!) All we needed right then was the $250 for our application fee. Which, looking back was not a lot- but we had prayed and felt like when the timing was right, God would send us the money and we would know it was time to get this ball rolling!  Friday morning rolls around, (*PAYDAY*) and after paying all of our bills, Spencer called to let me know that we had an extra $100 in our account, and he didn’t know where it came from! I just chalked it up to “God was working” and went on about my day, not knowing where the other $150 would come from. Well, I got home from work a few minutes before Spencer that day, and when I went to the mailbox (expecting doctor bills) I was surprised to see a weird looking envelope from our insurance company. We had overpaid, throughout the course of the year, and they sent us a reimbursement check! (How often does THAT happen?!) I was even more surprised when I looked down at the amount. $152.87! In the total of about 7 hours, the Lord had given us the EXACT amount of money needed for our application fee!! He even sent a couple of extra dollars for postage!! How good is HE?!?

From there, the miracles kept pouring in- jewelry fundraisers, special love offerings at church, one little girl selling bracelets she made, t-shirt fundraisers, bake sales, our youth group even sold snow cones at the Lowndes games! People were being the hands and feet of Christ & the outpouring of love we received was incredible. By October’s end we had our completed our home-study and were busy putting together our dossier!  The mountains of paperwork, the fingerprints, and doctor’s visits were so tedious and draining- at times we did grow weary of the “process”.  But, just knowing there was a child on the other side of the world waiting for us to come, provided encouragement to press on.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2013, I opened my email to find an email from Olga. She sent me the photo of a beautiful young girl and said she thought we might be interested in receiving more information about her.  I mentioned it to Spencer, and we both thought she was adorable.  BUT, she was older than we had originally wanted & some of her needs we weren’t quite sure about. I messaged Olga back and told her that little girl “429” didn’t quite meet the parameters that we had specified, but thanked her for thinking of us. Olga replied by saying that she knew the girl was older than we had requested, but she decided to send us her file anyway. (Here I will add that I thank the Lord for the people He let us work with during this process!!) Olga encouraged us to really, REALLY pray about pursuing little girl “429” and making her a part of our family. Spencer & I couldn’t shake that sweet little face from our minds and after a couple of days, we both KNEW that THIS little girl needed to be ours!

So, off went an e-mail to our fabulous consultant and in return, we received our girl’s complete medical file along with more information about her. We also knew that we needed to work quickly, because there were more people who would want her if we didn’t.

In a whirlwind few weeks, we had completed and notarized the necessary application paperwork and sent pictures to Bulgaria of us and our home. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more, for what seemed like an eternity we waited. In reality it wasn’t quite that long and in the meantime, we were able to take her file to a pediatrician in town that has dealt with other internationally adopted children. We got a good prognosis based on what he could tell by her report and then we waited some more.   If you’ve never experienced anything like this, you probably won’t understand the agony that comes with knowing that one person, a government official on the other side of the world (who doesn’t know a thing about you besides the few pages of information they have before them) is making a decision that will impact your life F O R E V E R.  The wait is exhausting. It’s draining. And nerve wrecking. Even though we had a peace that it was in the Lord’s hands, it still really does a toll on your emotions.

We went out of town for Christmas thinking that we wouldn’t hear any news from Bulgaria until after the New Year, and tried to put it out of our minds as much as we could. Finally, on December 26, 2013, we opened up the e-mail that we had waited to see for so many weeks!! It began with “I have wonderful news for your family!” and that was that! Our application for our little girl had been accepted and she was officially “put on hold” for us to adopt!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

We did our best to hurry & get our completed dossier shipped to Bulgaria and waited for travel dates!! In March, our church hosted a huge benefit concert as a final fundraiser for our adoption costs! It was such a wonderful night and the Lord sent in $24,828.00 for our little girl! At this point our adoption was PAID IN FULL!! Never could we have dreamed how the Lord would provide for us & the little girl he called us to adopt. He is just so faithful!

In May we received our travel dates to go meet our princess. We could not WAIT to get our hands on that sweet little face!!! We hurriedly got everything together, suitcases packed, flights & hotels booked, and off we went!

On May 19th, Spencer & I woke up in the tiny town of Dobrich, Bulgaria. We headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast at 8:30am. We could barely eat for our nerves. Spencer downed a cup of black coffee & I had some sort of mango juice, and some fruit. I can still remember sitting at our table, me facing the billboard clock on the sports complex building next door. 9:03, it said. And it was time to go. Our translator, called for the cab & Spencer and I went up to the room to grab the yellow “Billa” bag full of gifts we had brought for our daughter. A sock monkey, a purple blanket, chalk, coloring book & pencils, bubbles, and a photo book with photos of our family and home.  We met our translator upstairs at the road, just as the tiny grey car pulled up that would (not so) safely take us to our destination. The ride was no more than 5 minutes, but it seemed like eternity. The car bounced and jarred and screeched to a halt more than once on our short trip, all the while techno music blaring in the background.  We arrived at the orphanage a few minutes after 9, and slowly walked up the few porch steps that led into the compound. We donned our blue booties (they made you wear them inside) and were greeted by a lady, the social worker, who then led us straight down a window lined hallway, and up the stairs to the second floor. She opened the first door on the right and it was eerily quiet. Not exactly the sound you would expect from this wing where so many children were housed. She led us through another door where we sat in a tiny room with a plush red couch, a small round table, and two side chairs. There was a toy box and a large window over the couch near the ceiling. Spencer and I were seated on the couch and our attendant, to my right in one of the chairs. She explained to us that they were going to get Nova, and we would be able to play with her in the room for several minutes until she was comfortable with us, then we could take her outside to play on the “playground”.  We were to spend time with her until lunch, and then we must leave while she took a nap. We would return that afternoon at 3 pm and stay until time for dinner. The social worker left, and we waited.

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Not many minutes later, we heard the door to the children’s area open. In a split second, Nova rounded the corner and was in our arms. So nervous and unsure, she sat and let us inspect her. Spencer & I were a puddle of tears. We sat and held our daughter for the first time! Never had I felt such joy as the moment her tiny little hands wrapped around my neck and she looked up into my eyes. This was my daughter, and I was her Mommy. Even though she had no idea of how that moment changed her life (and ours), it was indeed, forever changed. She went back and forth several times between Mommy, Daddy & our translator (she knew her from previous visits!) and then we decided to venture outside! Spencer carried her down the stairs and out the door- she was so nervous and scared, she clung to him with all that she had.  She quickly loosened up, then we really got a glimpse into her larger than life personality! She absolutely soaked up every bit of affection we were so excited to give her. She was thrilled to be the center of our attention and affection. It was truly one of the best days of our lives & I venture to say, hers too. After our play time, we came back upstairs and they asked if we would like to feed Nova lunch- of course! We were able to sit with her while she ate and then it was time to leave. When we came back after her nap, they told her we were back & she was so excited- she bolted out the door and into our arms so fast! Nova changed our life that day, and we are so thankful this little girl gets to be ours.

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The rest of the week was more of the same, blissful moments with our daughter that passed too quickly, and on Thursday afternoon it was time for us to leave. It was heart wrenching. By Tuesday, she cried when she woke up & we were weren’t there yet– I could only imagine every day her waking up expecting us to be there- only to find out we weren’t.  Leaving Nova behind was the hardest thing I’d ever done.  We both cried until we were physically sick. The only comfort we had was knowing that God would keep her in His care until we could return to bring her home.

We came home & made ourselves busy. We decorated her room & got the house ready for our Princess’s arrival. At the end of October we passed court & on Thanksgiving Day we left to go get our girl! On December 5, we made the same trek, in a taxi not unlike the one from our first trip to Dobrich. We rode down the same gloomy road, we climbed the same steps, we donned the same blue booties, we climbed the stairs to the second floor visitation room and waited for our daughter to come around that corner like she had 7 months before. Hoping she would remember who we were and that her love for us had grown in those months of separation. Later, we found out that Nova slept with her blanket and photo book every single night. She would flip through the book and then fall asleep with her hand on the photos of us. The long wait was finally over and we were really here. I could hardly believe it. We sat on that same red couch, and waited- we could hear voices in the other room, I heard her name, then “mama & daddy” and then the sweetest little cry of joy you’ve ever heard. She took off to our little room & jumped onto her daddy. She wrapped her arms tight as if she couldn’t believe that we were really back! But we were. We were back for her. We changed her clothes, shoes, and hair bows because those sweet children don’t own a thing. We dressed our daughter in her own clothes, and took her down those stairs for the last time. We walked out the doors, and she walked into a world of freedom and family and love beyond belief. She can never be called orphan again- she is forever ours.

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We have been home now for 5 months and Nova has grown like you wouldn’t believe. She is thriving, because that’s what children do in families- because that’s where they were meant to be. She’s gained over 10 lbs. and an inch in height. She went from only pronouncing “Mama, Daddy, Da and Nay” to saying the whole alphabet, counting to 10 in English, recognizing letters, and from barely able to scribble to being able to write her name (with only a little help). She knows so many words & amazes us every single day with how much she is growing and learning. We have been so blessed in our adoption journey and we’re so thankful that God sent us to Open Door, I can’t imagine going through this process without them. And I definitely can’t imagine our life without our Little Super Nova.  It’s amazing to me what God can do with two willing people. People who are ordinary and plain, but willing to follow where HE leads. Even when it seems the task is too big, too hard, the road too long– HE is faithful!

His Perfect Timing | Sincerely, Sarah.

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Once upon a time…..

A sweet southern couple named Ken and Stacy had the desire to have children. In their own efforts, they were unsuccessful, and the beautiful wife Stacy began to feel hopeless, as she felt her dreams of being a mommy slip further and further away.

One January day, Ken and Stacy were at church and it happened to be Sanctity of Life Sunday. God gripped Stacy’s heart and she knew deep within her they were supposed to adopt. Ken had already been feeling this way, so he was in agreement with his wife to proceed.

They set out on the adventure to bring a baby into their family, but they met opposition very quickly when the agency they chose closed shortly after Ken and Stacy began the adoption process. Disheartened but not defeated, they sought the Lord for what was next, and He led them right down the street to an agency very close to their home. Suddenly, things were looking up! Maybe their dreams were within reach.

While they traversed through the adoption process, over mountains of paperwork and through forests of policies and procedures, they encountered many unforeseen circumstances. Even though their adoption dreams were coming true, they were experiencing unimaginable loss in their family. Throughout the year they lost three people whom they deeply loved. Stacy strongly believes that God timed their adoption perfectly to show them that He is a Redeemer and a Healer and only He can make something beautiful come out of something difficult and painful.

Ken and Stacy were blessed to be able to meet and grow to love the woman who helped their dreams come true by bringing baby Ward into the world, and in the first moments of Ward’s life, two women came together and shared their dreams and hopes for their son. Someday, Stacy wants Ward to know that he was so loved by his birthmother that she chose adoption for him, and he was so loved by Ken and Stacy they chose him to be their son. But most importantly, she wants him to know the love of Christ, who led them to adopt, led them to Open Door, and guided his birthmother to choose just the right family for him. “He is ours for a reason,” Stacy says, as she looks lovingly at her son, exactly one year after that Sanctity of Life Sunday.

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And they lived happily ever after (Ken, Stacy, Ward, and baby number 2, due in August.) God has a sense of humor! 🙂

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Unspeakable Joy: Abby’s Adoption Story

Few things in the world are more beautiful than family.  Family is God’s divine plan for his people, and each day, all over the world, He is using adoption to build families. We are blessed to be a part of this, and we love sharing our stories with you. Below, you will find an interview with one of our adoptive couples, Christy and Danny, who recently brought home their precious daughter Abby from Lithuania. Reading their story truly brings unspeakable joy; so, find a comfy place to sit, grab a tissue, and prepare to be encouraged and inspired!

Watch their adoption video here: http://vimeo.com/58140400.

Find out more about Lithuania adoption here: http://www.opendooradoption.org/Content/Default/7/11/0/countries/lithuania-adoption.html

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1.     How did you find out about Abby? Had you been looking to adopt or was this a complete surprise?

We saw Abby’s photo on Reece’s Rainbow (www.reecesrainbow.org), an adoption grant ministry for children with Down syndrome and other special needs. Our biological daughter, Bailey, is two and also has Down syndrome. Not long after she was born, we were introduced to Reece’s Rainbow and started following the adoption journeys of several families working through the adoption process to bring home children with Down syndrome. In many countries in Eastern Europe, children with special needs are abandoned by their birth families, or given up because the family cannot care for them.

We couldn’t stand the thought a sweet child like Bailey in an orphanage without parents and a family to love and protect her. We couldn’t think of that and not do anything to help.

When Bailey turned one we started talking more seriously about pursuing adoption, but the time never seemed right due to job changes, etc. When we saw Abby’s photo on Reece’s Rainbow last April, we knew that we were looking into the eyes of our daughter, and would do anything in our power to get to her as quickly as possible. The time was right and God said very loudly and very clearly that we should do this.

2.    When you saw her picture, what were some of the things going through your mind?
We both immediately knew we were looking at our daughter. I still, to this day, cannot put my finger on what it was, other than she and Bailey do have some similar physical characteristics. But more than this instant connection with one little photo, we knew God was tapping us on the shoulder (or shoving, as the case may be!) and telling us it was go time!

3.    Adoption is not an easy undertaking. What advice would you give a couple who is beginning the process and might feel overwhelmed?
Take it one step at a time. Yes, when you look at the whole process it looks huge and scary and overwhelming. And yes, very expensive. But take it one step at a time, one payment at a time, pray a lot, keep your faith, and God will see you through it.

And when that feels like it’s not enough, think of that child, half way across the world, and you are their one hope. You are the people that will bring them out of loneliness and merely existing into life and love and family. That will keep you going and make those little road bumps – that will absolutely happen – seem inconsequential.

4.    How did your faith affect this journey? What are some things the Lord taught you?
Faith was a huge part of this journey. From the beginning when we stopped to listen when God told us to pursue Abby’s adoption, to later in the process when we were discouraged or tired or wondering how we were going to pay for that next set of fees, God was there. God took a little family of four, and surrounded us with support, love, and people who held us up when we could not do it on our own, and brought us to where we are now – a family of five with our beautiful new daughter Abby, safe and sound at home where she belongs.

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Daddy’s Girls

God taught us that He will provide when we need it. Oh, the stories we can tell you of the ways that God provided for us – financially and otherwise – at the exact times we needed it. Honestly, we could write a book about this one. It was actually faith building to not have everything we needed sitting in the bank, and to see how God provided it in the most creative ways.

While I would consider our adoption process to have gone well and without too many wrinkles, to say it was a faith journey is an understatement. But God took all of the little details, and made them work just so, and now we have our beautiful daughter home where she is loved and cared for and doing so well, even after just 2 months of being home.

5.    Abby has Down syndrome. Tell me a little bit about this, and why you feel it is important to adopt children with special needs.
Yes, Abby has Down syndrome (Ds). Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

When Bailey was born 2 ½ years ago, she brought with her that extra chromosome and a joy and beauty that has literally transformed our lives. When I was still pregnant with Bailey, and knew that she had Down syndrome, a mother of a child with Ds told me that she wished everyone could experience the joy of raising a child with Ds. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I sure do now. There is something extraordinarily beautiful in the way that Bailey lives with joy, happiness, and determination, despite the challenges she has already faced in her short life. Sure she has tantrums and screams and cries (she’s a 2 year old, for goodness sake!) but she has this smile – one you’re more likely than not to see at any given time – that literally lights up the room. When she smiles and giggles she does it with her whole body and soul. It is a blessing and a joy to parent her.

And when we were told about Reece’s Rainbow, and saw the photos of the children who, simply because of their extra chromosome, were given up by their families, it was heart breaking. Many tears were shed while viewing photos of these sweet children abandoned, and waiting, just waiting for someone to tell them that they matter enough to help. We imagined our precious and perfectly-made Bailey rejected because of the way she was created by our God. It was just too much for us to know about these children who desperately need homes and families and not do anything about it.

It is important to adopt these children because they have been born into societies that do not accept them. These sweet babies are given up because the societies they live in say they are not worth helping. The citizens of these countries are not stepping in to adopt children with special needs. The children are waiting and waiting and waiting and we are their only hope and chance for life outside of the orphanage. We are their only hope for love. For family.

“I promise you, with a few years of special needs parenting under my belt, the joy you receive from parenting a child with Ds is 100 fold what you give as a parent. If our girls had a joy-meter, it would be off the charts. We are blessed. Absolutely blessed to parent our girls.”

6.    You have other children. How did you explain adoption to them?

Bailey was too young to understand while we were going through the adoption process. I’m pretty sure she was more interested in playing with her toys or eating a snack to hear about a new sister!

Our son, Taylor, is six, and has a very kind heart. We had been talking about orphans and adoption for a year or so before we officially started the process, and he started asking us to adopt 150 kids, and telling us that they could sleep on bunk beds in his room. Not exactly realistic, but by the time we actually did start our process, he never thought twice about us adopting, it was just something we talked about and he was excited to meet his sister Abby.

7.    How do you think Christians should respond to the orphan epidemic?

Oh wow. Big question and I have big thoughts about this. Of course, I think we should all be out there helping the orphans. If you can’t adopt, help someone who is. If you can adopt, do! How’s that? 🙂

But to be serious, this is a hard issue for me to address, because it took something very personal and meaningful in our life (Bailey being born with Ds) for us to realize that we should do this, and that it doesn’t take a super hero family to adopt. It takes a family that has love and a home and a willingness to welcome a child. Period.

“It doesn’t take a super hero family to adopt. It takes a family that has love and a home and a willingness to welcome a child. Period.”

I wish that all Christians could have the type of ah-ha moment that we had with Bailey’s arrival that made us realize that no matter the cost, we need to rescue a child from a life of sadness and loneliness. We are not a super hero family, we have done nothing to praise, we are simply people that God put a heavy burden on our hearts and we knew we had to act.

I think that all Christians should respond to the orphan epidemic by seeing it as a command from God, that we care for the orphans. I believe we should all use our gifts and life circumstances in the ways we can to help and bless orphans. Not everyone is able to adopt but we can all help families who are adopting financially, spiritually, physically. As a church we can make supporting adoption so second nature that adoptive families know they are surrounded by support by their church families.

“I think that all Christians should respond to the orphan epidemic by seeing it as a command from God, that we care for the orphans.”

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Sweet Sisters!

8.    You went to Lithuania to adopt Abby. How were your trips?

Our trips were good. Danny and I took one trip in mid-December, 2012. We spent 8 days in the orphanage visiting with Abby, and then had our adoption court hearing, and then came home. I was home for 11 days and then flew back to Lithuania with my mother and niece for Abby’s pickup trip while Danny stayed home with the kids. That ended up being a horribly tough week as Bailey got sick and was admitted to the children’s hospital for 5 days with breathing issues. Meanwhile in Lithuania, we had custody of Abby and were in the hotel in Vilnius when she developed croup. And then the next night developed pneumonia. The poor girl was miserable and didn’t want to be comforted – she was so used to having to comfort herself that she wouldn’t let me hold her. She wanted to lie on the floor and suck her fingers because that was the only way she knew to comfort herself. It was one of the hardest weeks of our lives. But thankfully everyone recovered in time for us to fly home and be together as a family of 5 on schedule on January 12!

9.    Abby is home now! Tell me something funny she’s done. 

Abby is picking up English SO quickly! After being home about 2 months she speaks over 40 English words, and uses around 35 sign language signs. She is such a smart girl. Her favorite words are poo-poo, NO!!!, and ow. At least 10 times a day she will walk up to me, pat her diaper and say poo-poo! And I’ll ask her if she needs to go potty, to which she will look at me like why in the world are you asking me that question, say NO!!! and walk away. Funny girl!

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Sheer joy!

 10.    In a nutshell, what does adoption mean to you?

Adoption means life for these children. Adoption means a child that was perfectly made by God is given love and a family and a home. Adoption means ordinary people making room in their hearts and homes for a child who desperately needs them. Adoption means redemption. Adoption means love. Adoption means the gospel. Adoption means our daughter is finally home where she was always meant to be.

“Adoption means our daughter is finally home where she was always meant to be.”

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Finally home 🙂