Jonathan’s Birth Story

Wow. The past ten weeks have been a life-changing whirlwind of crazy and awesome and God showing up. So much grace.

About ten weeks ago, on October 26, I was expecting our case worker to call me to set up a gender reveal call with our birth parents. The phone call that I received at 9:30 that morning was something so unexpected that I literally felt my entire world stop, do a few loops in the air, and land on its head:

“Birth Mom has been told that her fluids are low. She is going to the hospital today to be induced.” Today?! TODAY!!!!

 

Before the call my plans for the week were:

  • Work on Nursery
  • Prepare to smoothly depart for Maternity Leave from job
  • Make Freezer Meals
  • Go on a Fancy Date with Ben

The plans for that day suddenly turned into:

  • Call Ben and let him know to come home from work – we’re having a baby!
  • Purchase the earliest flight possible to try to get to Ohio in time for baby’s birth.
  • Pack everything you think you, the Baby, and Ben will need for the next two weeks
  • Excitedly call work to let them know you won’t be in… for a really long time.
  • Call Ben’s Mom and ask if she’d like to make a little trip to Ohio that week.
  • Call Best Friend to ask if she would feed your cats, check your mail, take your perishable food, etc.
  • and what am I forgetting?!

I was amazed by how calm I felt as I ticked items off the list. Things fell into place SO well. We found a direct flight that would depart that evening and get us there by 11 PM – literally the earliest we could arrive in Ohio (Please wait for us to come, Baby). Ben’s Mom would drive us to the airport. We had everything we needed due to the amazing baby shower my best friends threw for me two days earlier. Friends and coworkers stepped up to pick up the slack while we were gone. Everything we needed was supplied and at 3:00 PM we were on our way to DIA to take the flight of our lives!

We arrived in rainy Ohio on time and jumped into our rental car. Nerves were all over the place – so excited, so scared, so hard to believe that this was actually happening! We arrived at the hospital at midnight – right on time as planned. We anxiously sat in the car as we processed how we arrived there and what would happen next. We said a quick prayer and entered the hospital.

The lady at the front desk graciously told us where Birth Parents were. We made it in time. We entered their room, knowing that these are the people who would change our lives forever. We sat together for about 1.5 hours, getting to know each other, making big and small talk. It was amazing and awkward and beautiful. They were so thoughtful toward us. They both continued to reassure us that this is the right choice. That they want this to be as close to our going through the birthing process as possible. That this child is ours. Wow. What a gift! We were prepared to step back to allow them all of the time and room they needed and wanted with Baby, instead, they threw him into our open arms with such grace and power I knew it was nothing short of a miracle.

In the first few minutes of our arrival, Birth Dad mentioned casually that it’s a boy. Ben and I jumped up and down with joy as it dawned on him that we didn’t know yet. This was our gender reveal! As we celebrated, they asked us what his name will be. We swiftly told them the name we came up with a few weeks ago. Soon after that we left the room while the doctor checked on Birth Mom’s progress. In those few moments Baby’s name changed completely.

There was a name we loved years ago – so many years and so many experiences ago it was forgotten. It was the name we first loved and chose when we started trying to have a baby. It was the name that came back to us now with such peace that we knew it was his true name name: Jonathan David. Jonathan means “Yahweh has Given”. David means “Beloved”. He certainly is our Beloved Gift from God. It was perfect!

The next events happened so fast it’s hard to believe they were real. Birth parents invited me to hold one of Birth Mom’s legs and Ben to cut Jonathan’s umbilical cord. If you’ve ever experienced birth from the south end you understand the next part. After witnessing our son’s birth I will never be the same again. It was an absolute miracle. After when seemed like very little time our Jonathan David arrived. I stood there shocked, praying I wouldn’t faint. Not knowing how to even feel. Here he is! He’s here! He’s crying like crazy. He’s perfect!!

Jonathan David was born Thursday, October 27, 2016, at 1:48 AM. He was 6 lbs, 8 oz and 19 3/4 inches long.

Birth Parents wanted us to hold him first. I held Jonathan and was overwhelmed with a love that I knew would never be broken. The love of a Mother for her Son. The Son not of my body but of my Heart. The one I had waited for for so long was here. My son who was prayed into existence. My soul was completely overwhelmed with joy.

Ben and Birth Mom held him too. We all ooed and ahhed over his adorableness. The miraculousness of it all. I gave Jonathan his first bottle. Then I awkwardly tried to figure out how to burp someone who was born only minutes ago. Finally the nurse shuffled the three of us off to our room and Birth Parents rested.

It was quite the night. By the time all of the medical checks were over, it was past 3 AM. Before I knew it, the three of us were alone in our room. Ben and I were once again overwhelmed. This little life is ours to take care of. We spent the whole night rocking, staring, and loving this little baby.

We learned so much in that 24 hours. Jonathan is a miracle in more ways than one. When he was born his umbilical cord contained a true knot. We learned that often this type of knot will result in still birth. On further investigation, we learned that the most dangerous time for this type of knot is after the 37th week. Jonathan was delivered at 37 weeks. God is good!

The next days crawled by. There is a waiting period after Baby is born until Birth Parents can terminate their rights. In each state the period is a different length. In Ohio it was three days. This was the scariest time of the whole process. Despite Birth Parents stating their confidence in the adoption placement multiple times, there is now a real flesh and blood baby in the picture. Would they change their plan? It’s not unheard of. We had to be prepared for anything. Thankfully on the afternoon of the third day, they chose to sign the papers. I was incredibly relieved and thankful and amazed! Jonathan David is our baby!

There were many more moments of beauty and grace surrounding Jonathan David’s first days. We spent hours rocking, feeding, and bonding. We brought him ‘home’ to our hotel room and waited for the interstate paperwork to be completed. Finally, when Jonathan was two weeks old, we flew back to Colorado. While we were gone amazing family and friends set up our nursery, cleaned our house, took care of our cats, picked up our many packages and mail, and so much more. We are so grateful for our community!

Now that we’ve been home for about two months, the dust is starting to settle. Life has taken on a new normal. I am so satisfied with being Jonathan’s mother. It’s an exhausting and at times anxious kind of work… but it is so rewarding. I think I’m only just now starting to understand how to ask God for help in this job.  We have an adoption finalization date in May (there’s a six-month waiting period in Colorado) and we are enjoying watching Jonathan learn and grow every day. Much more to process in the future.

Let me just a huge THANK YOU to everyone who generously, prayed, processed, and gave during this past year plus. We were able to cover all adoption-related expenses and we had just enough. God provided so beautifully throughout the process. He used you to do it. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Big News: We Are Matched

udall-family-27Thursday evening I got the shock of my life when our adoption caseworker called to give us the amazing news that we were chosen by one of the families we were matching with. We had attempted to match about five times at this point and I was really used to her calls being, “sorry they didn’t choose you.” Hearing, “you’re going to be parents” from her totally knocked me off my feet!

A couple in western Ohio saw our profile and chose us as the couple to place their baby with. The caseworker told us that they saw our profile and didn’t want to look at any others. They knew that we were the right ones. Her Mom and sister also agreed. So amazing. So humbling.

The Baby is due November 13. We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl so that will be a fun surprise! We will be flying out for the birth (we may even get to be in the delivery room) and will be in Ohio with Baby for two weeks (longer if there are medical complications) while we wait for the interstate legal paperwork to be complete. If she’s on time, we may be spending Thanksgiving in Ohio this year!

We are over-the-moon with excitement and are busily getting ready to welcome our son or daughter into our family. We are incredibly grateful for all of the support, generosity, prayers, and conversations throughout the past 16 months. I seriously don’t see how we could have gotten to this point without you, our amazing community. Because of your generosity, we were able to fund the big adoption cost 100% (the cost ended up being $35K)! Let’s all take a moment to celebrate that fact!! I had my doubts about being able to reach such a lofty goal. Wow!

 

I want to also say that the Lord is Faithful and He is Good. No matter what. It is His character. There has been so much grief over the past months and He was Faithful and Good in the midst of that. There will be more times of grief in the future and He will be Faithful and Good then too. He is a Good Author and He is writing a Good Story. I am so amazed and thankful.

 

So, as you might imagine, there’s a lot to do and little time to do it all in (especially if she goes into labor early which is a possibility). Several have asked how they can help. I will list some practical ways and some points of prayer below…

 

Practical Stuff
  • Financial Help. Thanks to the generosity of so many and the saving we’ve been able to do, we have some extra funds to help pay for travel and all of the finalization costs that will come up in the months to come (adoption will be finalized 6 months after birth). However, we are estimating the need for a little more to fully cover expenses (not to mention diapers, formula, etc.) if you’d like to help us with these expenses, you can do so at our GoFundMe account below (or send us a check). Note: The tax-deductible giving page isn’t an option anymore as they’re currently cutting a check to our agency for adoption expenses at this time: https://www.gofundme.com/BenLiz
  • Baby Supplies. We have very little for Baby at this point – everything is happening so fast! If you would like to help with this type of thing, please contact me for our Baby Registry links. We’re registered at Target and Amazon. Some pretty amazing people are planning a shower for us in two weeks. We’re so blown away!
Prayer Points
  • For Baby to be protected in peace as he/she continues to grow. That he/she would be born healthy and that Birth Mom would also be protected in peace through this process.
  • For birth parents as they continue to process their decision and prepare. They wish to live differently after this and to change the circumstances that have brought them to this point.
  • That Ben and I would prepare well spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically for the super-intense time in Ohio. We are specifically working on our nursery, baby names, travel details, etc. Please pray for good health as well – my IBS is definitely acting up these days!

Thanks friends! We’ll keep you updated! :)

Big News: Home Study Done – New Funding Site

Udall Family-9 SquareLast week we hit our biggest milestone yet in our adoption process! After working on it for about eight months, our Home Study is now officially Complete! :-D We are now entering a season of preparation. For the next two months we will focus on funding and preparing to start the Matching Process in August. It takes an average of seven months to match and then we wait for Baby to be born.

Now that our Home Study is done we qualify to join a non-profit adoption funding site: Adopt Together. If you are interested in giving toward our adoption and receiving a tax-deductible receipt, please go to our new giving page:

https://www.adopttogether.org/benliz

We are crazy excited that becoming parents seems to be ‘just around the corner’. Once we start matching, it’s hard to tell how long it will be until we welcome Baby Udall into our home. It could be anywhere between three months to 24 months. There’s a wild ride ahead. We are so thankful to have the Lord and you, our awesome community with us!

Adoption Fund – 1/3 of the Way!

Udall Family-20I have some exciting news to share today!! We are now 1/3 of the way to our Adoption Fund Goal of $30,000! A huge THANK YOU to everyone who gave toward this fund and helped to make this possible (you know who you wonderful people are). I am floored that we have gotten this far in the past nine months.

The current plan is to continue to aggressively save throughout the spring/summer and then start matching with prospective Birth Moms in the early Fall. That means while we’re working hard to save, we are progressing on finishing up our home study and finishing our Profile (photo book) that will be presented to prospective Birth Moms.

It’s still a big mountain to climb but I am so thankful that we follow the One who Moves Mountains. Thank you, friends, for all of your love and support through this process.

If you are interested in giving to our Adoption Fund, you can do that through our GoFundMe account for now. We hope to have a tax-deductible option after our home study is complete.

Ben + Liz Adoption Fund

 

 

 

Adoption Update: Home Study Almost Done

heart-700141_1920My heart has been so blessed by the many friends who have been asking about where we’re at with adoption these days. In the past two months, we have made great strides in the adoption process. We are almost done with our home study! We still have some paperwork to complete and one more meeting with our case worker (who is awesome by the way) but then we will (hopefully) be officially legally approved to adopt.

One of the more significant parts of the home study process so far were the CORE Classes we were required to take by the state. The classes were a solid 16 hours of training on all sorts of adoption issues – Relating to Birth Mom, Legal Issues, Baby’s Birth at the Hospital, Bonding, Newborn Training, and more! It was incredible. I actually cannot imagine adopting without being given this information. Hubby and I both left feeling empowered and at peace about the path we’re on.

So, what’s next? Now we work and wait. We will be working to more heavily save, fundraise, and apply for grants once we are given home study approval. I have a sense that the waiting period will be long, but I am at rest about it. This is our season of “adoption pregnancy,” complete with moments of Morning Sickness of the Heart. I am so thankful for the space to prepare to welcome our little one into our lives.

Thank you everyone for your amazing support and prayers during this process. I’ve said it before, but it will not only take a village to raise our child but a village to welcome them into our home too. Thank you for walking with us. My heart is overflowing with joy.

 

 

 

 

 

On Going Back to Work

Back to WorkSo, I’ve been away for a while. In the last month there have been some big changes. I started working again after nine months of self-imposed sabbatical. I am so thankful for those months off. I know I would not be at the place of wholeness I’m experiencing now without it. But I am SO thankful to be back in the 9-to-5 working world.

I signed up with a temp agency in the first week of July. The very next week I had my first day at a behavioral health center that does therapy with children who are on the Autism Spectrum. Every day I get to interact with amazing parents and care providers who are working to bring greater potential to the lives of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s a privilege to work there. It’s a 6-10 week assignment so we will see what happens after that time is up.

On the adoption front, we have completed our Home Study Application and have a phone call with the Home Study Director on Tuesday. We hope to be in the full swing of Home Study by the end of the month. It will most likely take 2-5 months to complete this very important first step in our adoption process.

On a heart front, I am at peace. I have so much peace about the Wait of adoption right now. At this point, I’m thinking it will be at least two years before we are holding Baby Udall in our arms. It takes a long time to raise $30K. But in that time, I know we are going to grow and mature and be even better parents in the future because of the time spent waiting.

I have more to tell you but it will have to wait for another post. I’m still working on adjusting to this full-time job. Sometimes I really miss all that free time. ;) Thanks for reading!

 

 

Adoption Process – Our 6 Steps to Adopt

Udall Family-31Ben and I have been working to clarify what our adoption process will most likely look like. I don’t know about you, but I love lists! From what I know at this point, here’s a overview of our expected process:

Step 1: Home Study –  Where we are Today

This is an assessment of prospective adoptive parents to see if they are suitable to adopt a child. It can take 2-5 months an involves 16 hours of classes, multiple interviews with a social worker, and a LOT of paperwork. The bottom-line purpose of the home study is to decipher any indicators that a child could be abused or neglected. It will be a good process for us to go through as we will be talking through our anticipated parenting plans, etc. before our child is in our arms (kinda like pre-parent counseling).

Step 2: Adoption Consultant Sign-Up

We are planning to work with Dawn and Jason Wright with Christian Adoption Consultants. Adoption Consultants provide added support and resourcing as we walk through the adoption process. They have 10 different vetted agencies that we choose from to apply for placement. Working with a consultant often results in a faster, smoother placement. Dawn and Jason have adopted 9 kids and have already started helping us with our questions.

Step 3: Profile Book Completion

Our profile book is what introduces us to potential Birth Families. They will look through several couple’s profile books at a time to help them choose who they would like to place their child with. It can also be a helpful process for Birth Mom’s to decide if she is going to place her child with a family. Our profile book will contain information about ourselves, including pictures. We will also have an online profile.

Step 4: Sign Up with Agencies

Once we have completed our profile book, we will sign up with several agencies and wait to be chosen.

Step 5: Wait and Selection

We will be waiting until Birth Parents chose us. Depending on how far along our Birth Mom is, we will meet with her before her due date and even (ideally) be at the hospital when our child is born. Some Birth Moms choose to place their baby later in their pregnancy or even right after their baby is born, so we’re waiting to see at what part of our baby’s development we’ll connect.

Step 6: Placement

Once we are holding Baby Udall there will be followup appointments with our social worker. Typically six months after placement, our child legally becomes ours for life and is issued a new birth certificate.

Fundraising and Saving

Throughout this whole process we are also working on Fundraising and Saving. If you want to help in this part of the process, you can send us a check or go to the link below to give. Right now we’re focusing on completing the first two steps of the process. We are almost half way to what we will need for Home Study! We have been amazed and humbled by the generosity of friends and family.

Give to Udall Adoption Through GoFundMe

 

It’s pretty exciting to step out in faith and to trust God to provide. We fully believe He will provide all we need for this process – financially, emotionally, relationally, etc. We are really thankful that He has us on this path. We are filled with joy as we plan for the steps ahead.

 

 

Adoption: Worry vs. Trust

ocean-sea-stones-4358Since announcing our Adoption (see We Are Adopting!) l have been faced with an invisible battle of worry and fretting. Our Bible Study group is going through a book called Undone by Michele Cushatt. It’s a great read. In the book Michele describes worry as a way of seeking control over the unknowns in our lives. That really resonated with me.

See, there are a lot of things I’m worrying about in the adoption process. There are so many unknowns. The big one is not knowing how long the process will take. It almost certainly won’t fit into the ‘normal’ 9-month time frame. In our case, we don’t know what part of the country our child will be from. We don’t know what race our child will be. We don’t know who his or her parents are. We don’t know what part of our child’s first days we’ll be a part of: Will we connect with our Birth Mom months before she goes into labor? Will we get to be there for our child’s birth? There are just a lot of unknowns.

Then there’s the Home Study process that can take up to 5 months and involves a dictionary-sized book of paperwork and multiple interviews that examine every aspect of our lives. At the end of this process we will be either approved or not approved to adopt. That’s intimidating.

There is also the creation of our Profile Book. This is the picture book that introduces who we are as a family to potential Birth Families. It’s our first introduction to our child’s Birth Parents and how they will initially chose us to adopt their Birth Child. And of course I want ours to be perfect.

There are a lot of things out of our control. Bring on the worry! … But God.

Today God interrupted my stream of worried thoughts and led me to read Psalm 37. He rocked my world with this Psalm. In this part of scripture He says things like: “Do not fret, it leads only to harm.” “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

Then I ran into this part: “When they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Isn’t that a beautiful picture? As Ben and I walk into this season filled with unknowns He holds our hand. Like a Daddy with his toddler. When we hit the cracks in the sidewalk, we aren’t going to fall.

This Psalm is so rich with truth. Powerful truth that today has stopped the raging sea of worry within my soul and replaced it with Peaceful Trust. I know this battle of seeking control through worry vs. peaceful trust in God has only just begun. But I’m so thankful that today, the Lord used Truth to over come my worry. I am going to be visiting Psalm 37 often over the coming months. God is our Help in this process. He is Good. He is Faithful. He will do it!

 

 

Adoption: Four Ways to Pray for Us

Square Udall Family-55My friend Amy asked me earlier this week how she can be praying for Ben and me as we prepare to adopt. I was so touched by her commitment to pray for us. It meant more than I imagined to know that she and her husband are standing with us in this process.

Lately I’ve been struck by the immensity of what we are doing. To move toward parenthood in this way brings so much heart-wrenching emotion. So many ‘what-ifs’. I feel the need for God’s help and the support of our community more now than ever.

If you feel so led to pray for us, here’s a short list of things to pray for as we fully step into the adoption process.

1. Wisdom to Prepare Well

We need lots of wisdom of how to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for welcoming our little one into our home. We don’t know at what stage we will meet our Birth Mom/child – it could be months before they are born or days after they are born or something in between. It’s a lot for this planner.

2. Healing of Our Hearts

We are working through the grief of infertility but still have more work to do. Even as we are so excited to welcome our little one into our home, we grieve the loss of a dream. We want to be as emotionally healthy as possible as we become parents.

3. Peace and Patience with the Process

As we move forward with the many adoption details and emotions, we have a need for God’s peace and for patience with the waiting. Please pray that we would rest in God’s sovereignty and trust His faithfulness.

4. Healthy Baby

We have already been praying for our future Birth Family and for how our child will be taken care of in the womb. Would you join us in praying for the well-being of our child even now?

 

Again, we have been amazed and touched by the support and love of our community. Thank you for walking with us in this.

 

 

Adoption Photo Shoot

Udall Family-32 square reducedAt the end of May, Ben and I participated in our Adoption Photo Shoot. It was a time to celebrate our commitment to adopt and I’m so excited to share the photos with you.

Our generous friends Tyler and Melanie Dexter are amazingly talented photographers and SO much fun to work with! We are grateful for them. (Check them out at their TMDexter Photography Facebook Page.)

Also, we have to give a huge shout out to our friend Sara Jerez who created these beautiful signs for us. Thank you so much, Sara! We are blessed!

Here are some of our favorites from the day:

 

Reduced Udall Family-4

Reduced Udall Family-8Reduced Udall Family-15Reduced Udall Family-20Reduced Udall Family-27Reduced Udall Family-53Reduced Udall Family-55Reduced Udall Family-60Reduced Udall Family-63