When Kelly was pregnant with her daughter Anna, everyone in her family, and in her husband Jake’s family, knew what to say. They asked when the baby was due, when the shower would be, where they were registered. They prayed for God’s favor in labor and gave her words of encouragement. When Anna was born, it was a familiar celebration.
A few years later it became evident that it would be more difficult for Jake and Kelly to have a second child biologically. They weren’t getting pregnant. Jake took supplements and underwent surgery. Kelly took fertility medication.
“I wanted to adopt, but Jake was uneasy about it,” Kelly says.
“It was really hard for me to come to grips with our own infertility, since it was on my end,” Jake says. “I wanted to make sure I tried every option that was available to heal myself.”
Jake had years of feeling confused and uncertain because he didn’t know how God wanted them to grow their family. After much thought and prayer, his heart started to open up to the idea of growing their family through adoption. “One day, I went on a long run, listened to some good tunes. When I got back I told her I was ready to take that next step.”
Kelly immediately began researching adoption. She spoke to her priest, who connected her with a woman at the church who had adopted three times. She called agencies and talked with numerous people whose lives have been touched by adoption. Cautious of the potential for misinformation on the internet, she preferred to talk to people. It took them about 3 months to research domestic verses international adoptions and to pick an agency.
Then it was time to tell their families.
“They asked, ‘Why?’ And, ‘Are you sure there aren’t other medical procedures you can try?’” Kelly recalls. Kelly remembers explaining to them that their hearts were being called to grow their family through adoption instead of invasive medical procedures.
“No one had ever adopted or had issues with infertility,” Jake says. “It was something entirely new to them.”
Jake and Kelly discovered it was far more difficult to discuss their adoption journey than it had been to talk about the pregnancy five years earlier.
“If I said, ‘We’re having our first home study,’ they’d be like, ‘Oh, okay … So what are you doing this weekend?’ It was like they didn’t know how to respond,” Kelly says. “I think maybe they were afraid for us, that the mother might change her mind, that there might be a disability.”
Their next step was to choose an agency. A friend referred them to Adoption Connections, and after their first consultation they felt comfortable becoming a waiting family. To increase their chances of being matched with a birth mother they signed on with an agency in Ohio at the same time.
They were soon matched through the Ohio agency. They dropped off the AC waiting list, thinking it looked promising, but then it seemed the birth mother in Detroit was unsure she wanted to make an adoption plan. The baby was born, but still they had no word. They waited by the phone and prepared to make the trip to Michigan.
All their anticipation withered, after a few phone calls with the agency, into disappointment.
“On July 1st, I emailed Rebecca (Bruce), who had always been wonderful to us,” Kelly recalls. “I told her it looked like we have a failed adoption, and asked if we could go back on the waiting family list. She replied and said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Then, as this agency has seen time and time again, God moved mountains.
On July 2nd, Ball Memorial Hospital contacted Adoption Connections to say they had a young woman there who had just given birth and was asking for help. That night, after looking through 10 profile books of waiting families, she picked Jake and Kelly. She notified the agency on the morning of July 3rd.
Meanwhile, not knowing yet what was going on, Kelly was on her way out of town. Distraught from the failed adoption, she wanted to get away and visit with her sister and nephews. She arrived at 9 am. 15 minutes later her phone rang.
“Something went off in my head telling me I’d better get that,” Kelly recalls. “It was Rebecca. She said, ‘Kelly, I know this sounds crazy, but I might have a baby boy here for you. How fast can you get to Muncie?’” Turns out, their new baby boy was born the same day Kelly contacted Rebecca about becoming a waiting family again through Adoption Connections.
“Kelly called me at work,” Jake says. “I started crying at my desk.”
They met at home and raced to the hospital, where Adoption Connections had the privilege of introducing them to the birth mother, her grandfather, and to the boy they would name Joseph.
“His birthmother picked him up, held him and passed him to me,” Kelly says. “She wanted to be the one to introduce us to Joseph.” They left the room to give birth mother time alone with Joseph. Then, with tears in their eyes, Jake and Kelly accepted custody. At that moment, they realized that God’s plan all along was to place Joseph in their arms. All the years of struggle led them to this moment and everything finally made sense. They excitedly brought him home on Independence Day.
Anna, who was now almost six years old, was in for a surprise. She had been expecting a little sister. Jake had Joseph upstairs while Kelly told her the story of what had happened, and that she was going to have a baby brother instead. Then they revealed him.
“Her face was priceless,” Kelly says. “She was so excited to have a brother. Anna has been head over heels in love since the moment she met him.”
Jake and Kelly and the birth mother have chosen to remain in contact with one another (a form of “open adoption”). They have kept up a dialogue through email, and they have been blessed by the birth mother’s frequent expressions of gratitude.
“It’s a hard thing, to find joy in someone’s pain,” Kelly says. “In the end the birth mother knew she was making the right choice out of her love for Joseph.”
Early on, the woman Jake and Kelly’s priest had referred them to had told them not to worry about their families’ lack of understanding. She had told them, “As soon as they hold the baby, they’re going to melt.”
They did, and Jake and Kelly want those considering adoption to know that families do come around.
“Though they didn’t understand, they supported us through the whole thing, especially afterward. Be patient with your loved ones,” Jake advises.
Jake and Kelly are thankful for the agency support they received as well.
“Adoption Connections was awesome,” Jake says. “The professionalism and care … it swept us up, reassured us they were doing everything in their power. We’ll always have a special place in our heart for Rebecca.”
-Written by Matt Bloom