It was May of 2009. Leah and Andy were at a Cubs game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field when the call came from the adoption agency they were working with. The birth mother in Texas who had been considering them had chosen not to place her child for adoption.
After months of expectation, the news that they would not become parents was devastating to Andy and Leah. But even amidst the grief of this loss, they still believed God wanted them to adopt a child. They had been struggling with infertility and knew they had more medical options they could pursue to attempt conceiving. Despite having medical options still available, God brought them to a point where they knew He was asking them to start the journey of adoption. She and Andy carried on as a matter of heart; because they wanted to, not because they had to.
In August, a friend in the Indianapolis area called just after they had moved into their first house in Sidney, Ohio, to tell them that another friend’s younger sister was pregnant and considering placing the child.
Andy and Leah were excited, but also hesitant. “Are we hesitant because God is saying, ‘No, not yet,’ or just fearful because of what happened?” Leah said, referring to the failed adoption.
Leah and Andy met the birth mother and formed a relationship with her. They worked with an attorney the birth mother had chosen. When the time came, they went to Community Hospital North in Indianapolis to await Nathan’s arrival. He was born on December 15th, 2009. Andy and Leah had joint care of Nathan in the hospital, and he spent the first overnight in their room.
“It was smooth sailing,” Leah said of Nathan’s adoption. It was a wonderful answer to prayer … an answer God had already begun to form 7 months earlier. When Andy and Leah received the birth mother’s records they discovered, with delight, that God was blessing them, even in the midst of their suffering.
The day they were at Wrigley Field and got the call about their failed adoption was the very same day Nathan’s birth mother was hearing his heartbeat for the first time.
And that wasn’t all God had in store for Andy and Leah. They met a nurse at Community who had just adopted a child and was getting ready to start her second adoption with the help of an attorney named Rebecca Bruce (now Executive Director of Adoption Connections). They befriended the nurse and kept in touch with her. They watched her go through her second adoption and heard good things about Rebecca all the while.
So naturally, in March of 2011, after completing their home study update to remain eligible for adopting a second child, they began working with Adoption Connections. At that time, however, Andy and Leah did not feel like they were prepared financially to adopt again. They had not received their tax credit from adopting Nathan yet and were afraid that if they put out their profile again (a description of their family with pictures for birth mothers to view) they might be selected before they could afford the cost.
They struggled with the question of timing throughout that month, and had just decided it wouldn’t be wise to move forward, when a call from a friend changed their minds. He told them he felt like it was time for them to make themselves available to adopt. He felt strongly enough about it that he offered to cover their expenses in the short run if a child was placed with them quickly. Leah and Andy (and Nathan) officially became a waiting family again the first week of April 2011.
It was just 11 days later that Adoption Connections called. “I had just pulled into the parking lot at the gym,” Leah recalls. “She said, ‘We have a birth mother who has picked you.’ I didn’t actually go into the gym that day!”
Leah had been telling herself she would have a couple of months to prepare, but not only had she and Andy been picked quickly, the baby was due in two days.
“So I had about a week and a half [total] to prepare for a baby, with a 16-month old!” Leah said.
Hectic as the conditions were, Leah is thankful for the way things turned out, especially when she again saw the hand of God at work with Anna’s adoption. Her birth parents had called Adoption Connections several times earlier in the year but had never left contact information. The agency had not been able to call them back to coordinate a match. It wasn’t until Leah and Andy’s profile was posted on the website that the birth parents finally called again to say they were ready. So their daughter came into their lives only through the perfect timing of two unrelated phone calls, one from a generous friend and another from a young couple finally ready to seek help with their unexpected pregnancy.
According to Leah, Anna’s adoption took much longer to finalize than Nathan’s – 6 months – because
In her case Indiana laws would not let them finalize in Indiana. They had to finalize in Ohio and follow Ohio laws, a state with a much longer waiting period. That wasn’t the only major difference between Anna’s adoption and Nathan’s.
“With Anna, we got to Muncie at 7:30 am, spent about 10 minutes with the birth mother, then didn’t see her again that day,” Leah recalls. After the birth, because Anna’s birth parents wanted sole care the first 24 hours, Leah and Andy couldn’t be with her. They had to just drive around town to kill time. It was very different from their experience with Nathan, whom they were able to bond with right away, and whose birth mother they had known for months.
Leah and Andy have had time to bond with Nathan’s birth mother and Anna’s birth parents; by mutual consent between Andy and Leah and the birth parents, both adoptions are open*. They all get together at least once a year, picnicking in the park for two or three hours. According to Leah, it gives the birth parents a chance to interact with the kids in a natural way. Now that Nathan is 4 and Anna is 2, play time at the park – or indoor play places in the wintertime – is ideal.
The presence of the birth parents in their children’s lives means that questions about adoption come up naturally. Nathan already has some understanding of how he came into their family, knowing that “a special person had him in her belly until God was finished making him,” Leah says. Nathan’s birth mother and Anna’s birth parents are “special friends” to the family.
Leah says she and Andy are nervous, but also looking forward to having a talk with Nathan soon in which they will explain it all to him. It’s part of their kids’ stories and they want them both to know that.
Whatever the challenges Andy and Leah have faced, Leah says that adoption has grown their faith and given them a unique aspect of God’s love for them. “We are all adopted sons and daughters,” she says.
Leah adds, “The adoption journey has been one of the most difficult and yet one of the most richly blessed things we have ever gone through.” She points to the circumstances that connected her and Andy with both of their children, and declares, “God has put the puzzle pieces together to bring us both of our kids.”
And she feels like God is not done yet. Leah says she is thankful that Adoption Connections was a part of Anna’s adoption and plans to continue working with the agency as God builds their family. She has enjoyed keeping in touch with AC, being included in email updates and having an opportunity to pray for other waiting families and placing parents.
When asked what Leah wants those considering adopting a child to know, she says, “It’s the ride of your life. Every ride is not smooth sailing. There are some incredibly intense lows and amazingly beautiful highs. And in the end we have two kids we love and adore and can’t imagine life without.”
-Written by Matt Bloom