Our adoption story began four years ago. We had always wanted to adopt and the timing just seemed right since it was time to grow our family and give our daughter a little brother or sister. So we started looking into both domestic and international options but quickly realized all the doors were closing other than foster care through our local county. We signed up to take foster care class and became licensed foster/adoptive parents. On November 4, 2012 we received a call that there was a one day old little boy that needed a safe place to go. We were told that there was a 99% chance this precious baby would become available for adoption as the birth mother had other children but was not raising any of them. We quickly said YES and over the course of the next ten months, we loved, cared, and prayed over our sweet Elijah. During this time, God burdened our hearts for his birth parents and we prayed every morning at our kitchen table that his parents would come to know the Lord and that the patterns of addiction would be broken through the power of Jesus in their lives.
Over time, we built a trusting relationship with them and encouraged them any chance we got. In the fall of 2013, Elijah’s birth mother came to a large church event with us and gave her life to the Lord and was baptized. So, it was with both joy and heavy hearts that we sent our foster son back home to his parents in September of 2013. Our hearts were so thrilled for them to have their son back home yet so broken for us…we loved Elijah as our own and missed him terribly. How would our daughter ever recover from losing the only sibling she had ever had? We constantly reminded her of God’s goodness despite our circumstances and that He would be faithful to complete what he had called us to do.
Much to our delight, Elijah’s parents asked us on the day he returned to them to become his godparents and to still be active and involved in his life. To this day, two and a half years later, we still see Elijah often. He comes to stay with our family every other weekend and we love him more now as our “son” than we ever dreamed possible.
After Elijah left, our hearts still longed for a child that we could bring into our family through adoption. Our sole purpose in adopting, after all, was to give a child who would never have the opportunity to know and learn about Christ, the opportunity to know Him. Sure we wanted to grow our family, but we knew God was calling us to do it through adoption. We knew we couldn’t go through foster care again because it had devastated our daughter when Elijah left. We had to find an option where we could bring a child home that would never have to leave. And so our journey to adopt through domestic private adoption began.
In July of 2014, we were matched with a beautiful birth mother in St. Petersburg, Florida who was giving birth to a baby boy in December. She had made an adoption plan and selected us as his adoptive parents. Our amazing friends and family helped us fundraise every penny that it takes to adopt domestically and we were simply blown away at God’s provision. It was beyond clear that His will was for us to adopt this little boy. His name would be Josiah Elijah…his first name was after King Josiah of the Bible, one of the greatest kings to ever rule. King Josiah followed God all the days of his life and we couldn’t think of a more appropriate name. His middle name would be after our foster son, now godson, that had a very special place in our hearts.
Over days and weeks, we grew to love and care deeply for our birth mother and again prayed each morning at our kitchen table that she would come to know Jesus. We were blessed to have the opportunity to travel to St. Petersburg in October of 2014 to meet her and spend a weekend getting to know her and her other children. So it was much to our surprise that we received a heart wrenching phone call from her on December 1, 2014, just two days before we were to travel to Florida to bring our son home. During that call, she informed me that she had already given birth to Josiah on Thanksgiving Day and that her plan had changed from adoption to parenting. Our hearts were completely shattered and the grief was almost unbearable. We had to tell our daughter once again that she was not going to have a baby brother but that God was faithful. It was the most awful day of my life. I truly had no idea that a seven-year-old could even cry and grieve like that.
Just four days later, December 5, 2014, I went to Elijah’s house to pick him up for the weekend. We thought it would be best to get our minds off things and to let Emory have a fun few days with her god brother. Upon arriving to his house for pickup, I told his mother the story of how our adoption had failed. She immediately began telling me of a friend of hers that was looking for adoptive parents! DSS had already told her friend to find adoptive parents for the baby, otherwise the baby would be taken at birth and her rights would be immediately terminated. Her friend was scheduled to meet with an adoption agency the next day so she told me to call her friend right away if we were interested. We, of course, were beyond interested, but were careful to guard our hearts because of the sorrow and grief we were still experiencing over Josiah.
The following day, a friend of mine went with me to her house and we all quickly realized that this was a perfect match. The baby’s birth mother ended up telling the adoption agency she was no longer interested in their services because she had found the adoptive parents she was looking for. From that point on, I began taking her back and forth to baby checkup appointments and grew a relationship with her over a period of two and a half months. I was even blessed to be at the hospital for our daughter’s delivery and witnessed her being brought into the world.
Baby Ellery was born on February 20th and she is healthy, strong, and incredibly beautiful. We were able to surprise our oldest daughter with a new baby sister that she had no idea was coming! Shewas very excited to finally be a big sister and told me the day she met her that “being a big sister was everything she had ever dreamed of.” My heart is so full sometimes that it literally fills like it may burst out of my chest.
The most overwhelming part of our adoption story for me is the fact that the relationship we worked so hard to create with our foster son’s mother directly influenced us having our baby girl. I could never in a million years have imagined that she would be the one to help us find our daughter. We are also extremely blessed to have Ellery’s full biological sister active and involved in her life. Close friends of ours who are also licensed foster parents in our county are raising Ellery’s sister to know and love Christ just as we are. How could we ever have guessed four years ago sitting in foster care class that our friends would be raising Ellery’s sister alongside us!?
Our adoption story is filled with more twists and turns than I ever wanted but worth every heartache and tear now that we have our daughter home. I will never be able to tell the Lord enough how good He is. I will never in all my days be able to sing Him the praises he is so worthy of. I will never understand why he chose us to impact these little souls. But there is one thing I do know and understand. Sweet baby Ellery, you are chosen. You are adopted. You are loved. And above all, God, you are FAITHFUL!
Jillian is married to her husband Bryan and they have two daughters and one godson. They have a passion for foster children and their families and hope to continue serving the foster care community for many years. In their spare time (ha! yeah right!) Jillian and Bryan enjoy spending time outside and cheering on the North Carolina Tarheels!