Why did you choose adoption?
I (Shae) have had a heart for adoption for a long time but didn’t know what it might look like for our family. We received an infertility diagnosis and eventually were told that IVF was our only option for pregnancy. After that news, we took a break to pray about how God would have us to grow our family, and had conversations about adoption and foster care. He was really working in our hearts during this time. On Labor Day weekend of 2019 we confirmed to one another that God had been speaking adoption into both of our hearts. We researched agencies, and fairly quickly decided Deaconess was the agency we wanted to use. A big reason is because of our shared values and beliefs, and because we knew others who had used Deaconess and had spoken positively of their experience. When we reached out, we were greeted by warm, kind people who felt like talking to a friend, and that just confirmed that we had found the best fit for us.
We submitted our initial paperwork right before Seminar and we were so excited to be able to attend it right away! Walking into Seminar we weren’t sure what to expect, but ended up learning so much that weekend. Our profile was active in February and then COVID hit, and with it, so much uncertainty. We went to dinner with other waiting families right before everything started getting weird. During the “wait” we enjoyed getting the waiting family emails and eagerly waited for a check in from Catherine.
On Friday, August 14, we got a call letting us know a baby girl had been born that day and her parents were making an adoption plan, and making sure we were OK with our profile being shown. We got another call later that evening letting us know they were going to make their decision the next day. Longest night EVER! Matt slept like a rock while I did not sleep a wink. Matt said he had a feeling it would be the last good night of sleep for a while, and was going to take advantage. I guess he was right! Saturday morning Matt helped my dad and I visited my grandma, not telling them what news we were waiting on. At 11:59 a.m. on Saturday, August 15, we got the call that Karsten’s parents had chosen us. We hurried to install the car seat, pack bags, call our families, make a stop at the store for bows (that ended up being left in the car!) and arrived at the hospital to meet our daughter a long 3 hours later :)
Bringing Karsten home was a little surreal - we were humbled that her birth parents chose us and amazed at this beautiful little lady in our arms. Watching Karsten learn, grow and develop a cute little personality over this last year has been incredible. She wakes up happy every day, which is a great reminder to rejoice and be glad in the day that the Lord has given us. Karsten doesn’t know a stranger, we say that she thinks everyone is a “potential friend” - she smiles, waves and brings so much joy to every person she interacts with. We are so thankful that she is our daughter and thankful for the role Deaconess played in helping grow our family.
We currently don’t have consistent communication with Karsten’s birth mom. We send her pictures using GroupMe, and hope to have her involved in the future. It is important to us that Karsten knows her name and knows that we love her birth mom, regardless of if she is ever more involved, so we try to find ways to honor her in our family.
What advice would you give other couples interested in adoption?
Adoption is a marathon not a sprint! It’s easy to get flustered if things take longer than you hope, but remember there is a reason for the process. We took that time to invest in our marriage and really focus in on our relationship with each other and with God - we knew life would soon get much busier. We also prayed for our child’s birth parents, because we knew that before we were chosen, they would be facing an unexpected situation and difficult decisions. We also prepared our home and did a little shopping here and there, I mean, who doesn’t want to buy cute baby stuff! It was helpful & sweet to have a few special things on hand to take with us to the hospital (a diaper bag, a stuffed animal, a special swaddle, and a few outfits!).
Listen to adoptees, birth moms, and adoptive parents. Do the hard work! No story is the same, but by listening and learning, we continue to educate ourselves so that when Karsten has questions or wants to talk, we are better prepared.
Connect with other waiting families! We loved the dinner we attended and the Zoom call we got to be on. It was great to be with others who are in the same season and knew what we were feeling, especially during such a weird time like COVID.
How does Deaconess continue to provide support for you and your family?
Knowing Deaconess is always available as a resource has been invaluable to us. In this first year, they've helped us navigate communication and holiday gifts with Karsten’s birth mom, and held our hand through finalization, answering all our questions along the way. We loved attending the Deaconess hayride this fall - getting to enjoy time with other families who have adopted was so fun and Karsten loved exploring! We are already looking forward to next time :)