Author, Speaker, Coach, Holy Yogi

adoption wasn’t our second choice

Disclaimer: If you’ve ever said the comment I address in this post to someone or me, don’t fret even the tiniest bit! It’s completely normal, totally innocent and maybe not hurtful at all to some. I just wanted to shed some light from our perspective.

Since I’m obviously pregnant with (what looks like) our third child, people have been inquiring about the gender of this baby. “We want to be surprised!” I respond. Then they sometimes ask, “Does this pregnancy resemble your son’s or your daughter’s more?” To which I always answer, well, it’s more similar to her pregnancy since he was adopted. 🙂

It either happens like that, or somehow people learn the story of how our little family came to be. We’re pretty open about things…always have been. Our firstborn son, Coleton was adopted. Then, Annabelle was born biologically 13.5 months later, followed by this baby who will (hopefully) be born in June.

Then, I brace myself.

Most of the time, people hearing our story for the first time make a comment akin to “wow, it happens so often that people adopt and then they get pregnant!”

(I won’t even address the “get pregnant with their own,” comment, as unintentionally hurtful as it is.)

I then proceed to stun them with this statistic, “Actually, studies have shown no higher probability for those who have adopted to get pregnant than those who haven’t adopted.”

I say it with a genuine smile and no hard feelings. Seriously, I’m not angry at all about this comment, especially now that I’ve moved out of the hyper-sensitive place I once lived, but it does stir something deep inside of me.

You see, adoption wasn’t our second choice, and the last thing we would ever do is label it as a means to an end – to biologically bear children.

As newlyweds, Kevin and I attended the Catalyst conference in Atlanta in 2008, and adoption was a huge theme of the conference. It was there that God started stirring our hearts. Then, just months later we were at a concert and found ourselves seated next to a couple with a beautiful little girl who had just been adopted from Ethiopia. The conversation prompted more stirring. We hadn’t even started trying to have kids, yet seeds were being planted in fertile soil.

It became undeniable. God was calling us to adopt, and we knew that at some point our family story would include adoption. We just didn’t know when or how. There were many more encounters and stirrings over that early season of our marriage regarding adoption. But when we had our third miscarriage in a row, it wasn’t even a question. We would start the adoption process, and we were excited.

Sure, we had some reservations …open or closed? International or domestic? How much was this going to cost?

But God opened clear doors and we walked through them with joy. Sure, it rocked our worlds when our first matched birth mama changed her mind. We had been selected so early in our waiting process and were elated…only to feel like another rug had been pulled out from under us when she changed her mind with a week left in her pregnancy.

But the confusion and hurt lifted a little when shortly after that incident, I sat down with our precious baby boy’s birth mommy, a girl we had known for years. A girl we loved. A girl who said she felt like from the beginning of her pregnancy, the baby was meant for Kevin and me, but she didn’t know what she was going to do because we were adopting that other baby. She was 20 weeks pregnant when we sat together on my couch and talked, and I will never forget the divine intervention that I felt taking place that night.

We were only 4.5 months away from meeting our firstborn son, and as painful as the recurrent miscarriages had been, he was our first choice.

Recently, in a grief counseling class I took at my church, we discussed how loss had changed us. We went around our table answering this question: “If you could go back and change your story, would you?”

Every single person (and these are people who have been through significant losses) answered without hesitation “no, I absolutely wouldn’t choose a different story.”

Not one of us would go back and have it “our way.” Certainly, there have been wonderings of what life would have been like had we not lost. But OH the faith that has grown out of those trials! We know and believe that who we are today wouldn’t exist had we not gone through what we did.

IT WAS POWERFUL, hearing those testimonies, agreeing and seeing that God’s plan is being played out to His ultimate Glory, though we won’t understand the fullness of it on this side of heaven. I was moved to tears as we shared glimpses of good we’ve already seen.

I look at Coleton, though, and I see more than just a glimpse. I LOOK AT HIM AND I SEE THE PRECIOUS BOY GOD WANTED US TO HAVE FIRST. COLETON, OUR ADOPTED SON, WAS AND IS OUR FIRST CHOICE. We just didn’t know it yet when we lost our first three babies.

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We miscarried again as Coleton’s birthday neared, a fifth time right around the time of his birth, and a sixth just months after that. Maybe it was numbness, but I believe it was God’s grace that those losses didn’t hurt nearly as intensely. Because I could hold my boy and look into his bright blue eyes and see God’s plan in living color.

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We said many times in his first year of life, “if we never have a biological child, we will absolutely adopt again.” Why did we say that? Because we experienced firsthand how beautiful adoption is. I’m not denying that adoption can be messy. It can and does involve pain and loss, and someday I’m sure we’ll have conversations with our precious boy that will hurt. But he is ours, 1000%, and the love we have for him is profound.

Sure, I still desired to feel a child kick inside of me. I don’t think that desire ever leaves women who haven’t experienced it. And  I certainly won’t say that I’m not grateful beyond words that God allowed me to carry a child to full term when I didn’t know if I would ever be able to.

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But birthing children wasn’t “our ultimate goal.” We had a deep desire to parent children on earth, and that desire was fulfilled on February 14th when our C-bear was born and his amazing birth mom made the courageous and more-difficult-than-I-will-ever-know choice to place him into our family.

Those of you who have hesitated about adoption because you aren’t sure whether or not you will “love them the same”…I’ll let you in on a little secret. That hesitation is a lie, straight up. When you adopt a child, you can and will love them with the same sacrificial love that you have for any and all of your children.

We choose him, we chose adoption, and we would walk through personal pain again in an instant to call Coleton Samuel Ryan our son.

So when the next person says to me “Oh, I know this one family that adopted and then they got pregnant, isn’t it cool/crazy how that happens?!” you will understand why it’s hard for me to agree that it’s a “cool” transpiration of events. Because the birth of our daughter was no more special to us than the birth of our son.

It doesn’t matter what order or fashion they come into our family, they are ours and yours are yours and it’s all crazy and cool and utterly breathtaking.

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And just like you would never choose your kids to be anyone or anyway other than they are —challenging/special needs/strong willed/full of personality as they may be—we wouldn’t either.

Words can’t describe how grateful we are for every single one of our kiddos and every single day we have with them. The ones in heaven and the ones on earth and the adopted ones and the biological ones. May God always be glorified with our story…and Lord willing, may we continue growing.

11 thoughts on “adoption wasn’t our second choice

  1. Yeah, preach it, Livs! As someone who has not adopted, it is so so helpful to hear the power and joy of adoption explained so clearly. I so appreciate the time you take to describe this so that people “outside” of the experience know just how significant it is… that its not a “backup plan” or a “second choice.” I feel like you’re making conversations between all different kinds of families (with adopted/biological/biological in heaven/no kids) able to actually understand each other better rather than hurting each other! Now we can learn to celebrate or mourn together. So important

    1. Aubs!! Thank you so much. It’s like the most encouraging thought ever to think that I’m helping break down the misunderstandings and divides between groups of people so we can be one body like we were meant to be! I seriously don’t get mad when people say it, just like “oh my goodness yes, I knew you were going to say that!” Lol can’t wait to see you in a few short weeks!!!!

  2. I have never heard any one describe how my husband and I feel about adoption better. Thank you so much for sharing. This was such a blessing to me. Before we ever got married both he and I had said that we wanted to adopt. When we were told having children biologically was not in our future. It was perfectly natural for us to adopt. We did not know when or how God was going to work it out. We ended up being the first choice for my Husband’s sister. she was young and not married and wanted us to have her child to call our own. I would not give up my Hannah for anything in the world. She is ours 1000%!!! I would choose her all over again. I know if we had given birth to our other two children God has so sweetly blessed us with we would never have been given our Hannah. I would not change one thing in our families story either.

    1. So amazing…and YES! Such a blessing to hear you echo those sentiments…”If we had given birth to our other two children we never would have been given [our adopted ones]” who we love so much!!! xoxo, thanks for sharing Amanda!

  3. Our daughter and son-in-law adopted his sister’s baby (his niece became his daughter) and then had two biological children. It never enters our minds that their firstborn is not “biological” just like the other two. She is our grandchild in every sense of the word and we can’t imagine our lives without her. We thank God for her and for her birth mommy who made such a difficult and powerful decision. Thank you for exactly expressing the sentiments of our family.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Janie! That’s so awesome. Adoption makes me happy. 🙂 Love hearing it from a grandparent’s perspective.

  4. Oh girl. I am adopted. I was picked up from the hospital by my mom and dad. From the first questions I had about my birth, my mom always said “every child is a gift from God. But you Laura are a very special gift because God chose you just for us.” I had an awesome childhood and life. I just turned 55 years old, and will tell anyone who will listen, “I thank God every day for the woman who gave birth to me. She could have had an abortion. But she for reasons Unknown to me, gave me a life that was better than any I could have ever imagined.” I could go on but there’s not enough room. Just know that unlike horror stories you may hear in the media, most of us have no desire to “find” our birth parents. We have/had nothing “missing” in our lives. We have or had great Christian parents like you.

    1. That’s amazing, Laura. It’s so wonderful to hear about contentment through the process…it seems so unlikely but it’s another gift and miracle that you’ve experienced! Thanks for sharing your story!

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