Parker – Our adoption journey has been long — from the complex paperwork and training to the emotional struggles. It is hard to be concise, and almost impossible to sum up. The path we have walked to get to this place, and the road that lies ahead, are both places I want to invite you to join us. Though best accomplished over cups of coffee and a good long conversation, we will attempt to tell our story here and now.
First, we have learned that life isn’t about us. Our story is part of a bigger story. Though we may strive and seek for the good in our lives, God is revealing His plan for our lives in His time. We are beginning to understand it is less about our desires and more about where He can take us and what He can do with us, oftentimes despite ourselves.
It has been tough for me as the planning type to face such difficulties and trials with so little ability to prepare for, prevent, or fix. Grief has changed us and we understand more and more how broken of a place the world is and many more hurting people there are out there. As God brings us through our junk, we see dimly how we are redeemed. I am reminded of the phrase, Beautiful Redemption. It is true for all of us in our pain, weakness, or isolation. His plan is for beautiful redemption for each and every one of us.
To keep this from remaining merely a thought exercise, the more we understand our own redemption, the more it begs the question: Redeemed for what? Not for ourselves or for our happiness. In the end, it is about so much more. Christ alone is the source of joy, meaning, value, and purpose. In Him, and as a part of community, love does. It is about loving God and loving others.
I know it may not seem at first like any of this has much to do with kids in need of love and family. But that is our journey. The path our hearts have taken to get to today. We still hope and pray for the children God has for us, for the family He is forging in our hearts, and for the adventures and trials yet to come. Honestly, the journey so far has been less about learning how to fill our house with kids, and more about preparing our hearts for the life ahead and the work He has for us. God has put love in our hearts for a bigger family, and we believe He has called us to adoption.
Just as God has moved our hearts to be more like His, we invite you to join us and let His work in our lives transform your hearts as well. Fair warning, it was not an easy road to get here, and I cannot say what lay ahead in your path, but I know it will be worth it.
Andrea– A while ago, I came across the words, “God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad for our greatest calling.” If someone would have had the guts to tell me this in the middle of our darkest season, I honestly think I would have punched her in the face. But now that we’ve come out of that particularly hard time, I have a better appreciation for these words and I can see some wisdom in them. Perspective takes time. When I was at my lowest point, I was stripped of everything I thought I deserved. I was left with God. He had my attention. And He proved to be enough.
For me, the journey to adopt has been a slow and steady process over the past few years. The Lord has been gently nudging my heart, breaking down walls and inviting me to trust. Trust in His ways and His timing. Sometimes God spoke directly through friends and a mentor couple. Other times, it was a book I was reading, a verse that I saw in a new context, or words in a devotional.
All these avenues pointed to adoption. This past year, I began providing regular childcare for a sweet toddler in our neighborhood. Through sharing our daily life with this precious little one (story time at the local library, play dates at the zoo, mornings at the park, children’s museums, walks around our neighborhood, and daily craft activities), we realized a few things.
First, Amelia is a big sister anxiously waiting. She is extremely social and absolutely loves to help others. She gathers the things for diaper changes, “reads” books, shares toys and loves to make others laugh. Next, we realized that we came to love this child as much as we love our Amelia. Isn’t it just like our loving Father, who knows us so intimately, to patiently let us “discover” what He’s known all along? Adoption is part the story He’s writing in our family.
What brought you two together?
Parker and Andrea didn’t meet until later in life. They joke that if they’d met any earlier that they wouldn’t have even been friends. In college, Parker was funny, loved spreadsheets, sci fi movies and played the trumpet in the Iowa State marching band. Andrea was serious, studious, athletic (played varsity basketball, softball and volleyball) and doesn’t have a musical bone in her body.
In 2008, Parker moved to Andrea’s small childhood town in rural Montana for a work project. It’s the windiest place on the planet! Parker was working for a company that builds large windmills. While in town, Parker happened to attended church with Andrea’s family, though she was working in Colorado at the time. Through Andrea’s high school mentor/bible study leader they’d each hear about the other, but they were both dating other people and lived 1,000 miles apart. In 2010, Parker finally reached out and got in touch directly with Andrea and the rest is history.
Parker and Andrea started dating long distance through Skype, texts, and talked most nights until the wee hours of the morning. Andrea fell for his lame jokes, great phone voice and his love for the Lord and family. They flew to see each other monthly for a year and a half.
In the summer of 2012, they exchanged vows under the vast Montana sky in the presence of the Lord, family and friends. It really was the best day ever. It’s been over 7 years and they remain grateful that God is the center of their story. He truly is the author of their great love story and they look forward to the “next sixty years” together.
When did you know in your heart it was time to start the adoption process?
Parker– I am not one to make hasty decisions, to rush in, or honestly to move very quickly, except when God is pushing me. As we reflect on where we have been, what He has brought us though, and what all He may have in store for the future, we see God in this. We continue to learn how to trust in His plan and in His good time.
Andrea– I think the better question for me to consider is, “Why not now?” Before Parker and I got married, he said we could have as many children as I wanted. Looking back, it was so naive of us to think we were in control and that we could pick a number. What I do know now, is that the Lord has not taken away both of our desires to have a larger family.
Our Amelia is so ready to have a little brother or sister (though her preference changes on a daily basis). She loves to help with younger children and has quite the mothering instincts herself. Recently, we walked into her room in the morning and she’s telling us about her “nursing chair” and how all of her children (aka stuffed animals and dolls) have been keeping her up at night and they just keep wanting to eat and that she’s so exhausted. Sheesh.
On a more serious note though, we’ve got more room in our home and more importantly our hearts for a bigger family. We wholeheartedly believe that the Lord has led us on this journey of adoption. While it may not have been our plan all along, it’s been His plan for us. And the best place to be is always right where God wants.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Parker and I are fairly private people. We both prefer sitting down one on one with our friends over a cup of coffee to share life, as opposed to posting on social media, mass emails or even group texts. But since our people are geographically spread out and time doesn’t always allow for individual updates, we’ve shared some of our story in less than ideal ways.
We know we can’t do this life on our own, though for goodness sakes we’ve certainly tried. Over time, we’ve come to realize that we were created to live life in community. The ups and downs of life are meant to be experienced with others. And our story, though personal and sometimes painful, isn’t really about us anyway. It’s God’s story. He’s the great author who is writing the story of our lives and yours. And His story is definitely one worthy of sharing.
So back to the note on community. More times than we can count, friends and family have carried us when we were at our worst—prayers of intercession when we could only moan, meals that provided us the time and space to grieve, and childcare for our precious Amelia while we went to yet another doctor appointment. Infertility, loss, and grief have forever changed us.
In many ways, we’ve changed for the good—we’ve grown closer as a couple and our marriage is vibrant and growing, through wrestling with God, our spiritual muscles have been strengthened, our priorities have shifted, and we can honestly say that each life is a miracle and that every day of this life is truly a gift.
Another lesson we’ve learned is that we’ve come to realize that despite our best efforts, we aren’t in control. To some of you, this is obvious. But for two first-borns who like to plan and prepare had have spreadsheets and contingency plans for contingency plans, this was a hard lesson and a lesson we had to experience first-hand. There’s also a very real part of us that will never be the same. It’s hard to put into words. But that too, we think is ok.
So here we are. Desiring to grow our family, not on our terms and timelines, but on God’s. We invite you to come alongside us for the journey. Seek God’s holy face. Lean in. Wait. Listen. Trust. Pray. Repeat. And expect the Lord to work in mighty and miraculous ways as only He can.
Parker – Parker is a small-town Midwestern guy at heart. Faith and family matter. He currently works for a large company as a lead electrical engineer. Music is a big part of his life. He played the trumpet in the marching band in college and now enjoys creating and organizing playlists, family dance parties, and singing hymns with Amelia before bed. Parker loves learning new things, house projects, being outdoors or in the kitchen making delicious food. Grabbing coffee with guys and talking about the great mysteries and meaning of life is his sweet spot.
How Andrea thinks of Parker– Parker is my real-life knight in shining armor. He frequently jokes, “What? You need a castle built? How about I build you 5 today.” Parker is kind, loyal and funny (especially if you ask him). He’s thoughtful, curious, a learner and serves our family with every ounce of his being. He can fix just about anything around the house, and he loves making pancakes on Saturday mornings with Amelia. Watching Parker as a dad makes me fall more in love with him every day. Teachable moments and daddy/daughter dates are his specialties. His personal relationship with the Lord is steadfast and growing. He supports me and challenges me. He loves outdoor adventure. He’s the most patient human on the planet. I love this man and can’t imagine my life without him.
Andrea – Andrea is a mountain girl with adventure in her soul. Since the 4th grade, she knew she wanted to be an educator. Teaching is a noble profession and allowed her to use her gift of encouragement and love of learning. A motto she’s lived by is “People are more important than things.” While waiting for Parker to enter her life, she earned some advanced degrees. In all, she taught for 10 years before staying home as a mom or “domestic engineer” as Parker lovingly calls it. Summertime at the lake and pumpkin season are her favorite times of the year. Andrea is competitive. She loves the outdoors, and likes to stay active, but also loves to cuddle up inside with a cozy blanket, good book and cup of extra hot tea. Andrea is currently a leader and mentor for a women’s bible study and loves sharing daily life with people.
How Parker thinks of Andrea – Andrea is an amazing, intelligent, dedicated, adventurous, passionate, and Godly woman. In short, she is truly my better half. She accomplishes whatever she sets her mind to. She is strong emotionally, physically, mentally and an incredibly hard worker. She’s not easily discouraged or distracted. Not to mention she is a top-notch athlete and drop dead gorgeous. Andrea is a thoughtful mom, always prepared with healthy snacks and creative activities. She is also a highly capable, intentional, dynamic leader among her peers. My life has gotten exponentially better since she became a part of it.
Amelia (a big sister anxiously waiting) – Amelia’s middle name could have been Joy. Her laugh is contagious and every person she meets is her new friend. She’s compassionate, strong-willed, full of energy and determined. When our friends come over with their younger children, Amelia is quick to jump in and help (changing diapers, feeding and getting toys to share). Every night she prays for God to give her a brother, a sister, a brother, and a sister. “Plus me, Mom. That’s 5 kids!” We remind her that God knows best and we’ll have to wait and see. Amelia loves family time after dinner. You’ll find us sharing our happy and sad parts of our day, counting our blessings, doing family exercises, having wrestle/tickle parties, listening and dancing to music, playing games and reading books.
As a Family – We love to adventure! Together we love to see and experience new places as well as enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Winter favorites are skiing, sledding and ice skating. In the summer, we camp, hike, bike and enjoy daily walks in our neighborhood. As much as we love adventure and exploring new places, we are also thankful for quieter days at home. On the weekends you’ll find us doing house projects, enjoying our backyard, hosting friends for Parker’s famous homemade pizza, shoveling driveways for our neighbors, playing games, building legos, reading books, having wrestle/tickle parties after dinner, hosting neighborhood gatherings, family movie nights and making and eating delicious food.
Like the rest of our nation and world, our plans and daily rhythms have been changed. In this uncertain season, we’ve learned to let go of expectations, savor more time as a family, and count our many blessings. Overall, our family’s adjustments have been minimal. Parker’s able to work from home full-time, and I hang with our daughter like I did before this virus. Yet, the magnitude of it all is not lost on us. Our hearts and prayers are with the millions who have lost their jobs, the decision makers, teachers who have scrambled to move classes online, first responders, small businesses, medical professionals, grocery store employees, my former 4th grade students who are set to launch into the world this May and will graduate remotely with virtual pomp and circumstance, and countless others. The effects of COVID-19 are far reaching, ever changing, and hard to fully grasp.
A devotional I read this week was entitled, “But What If What God Wants For Me Is Not What I Want?” Wow. That’s a hard pill to swallow. It went on to quote author Corallie Buchanan, “When we look to God as provider, we are surrendering our independence and trusting someone else to meet our needs, over which we have no control. Letting go of our ‘dependence on independence’ and letting someone else take control goes against natural human instinct. We need to fight the urge to take over and just let God be God, because He can provide for us better than we can.” I’m guilty of praying trite prayers for health, safety, and healing. And while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with those requests, at a deeper level, I want to pray for the will of God—for His name to be made great in every circumstance. For me to get out of the way and to trust him. It usually takes things being stripped away before I remember what really matters most.
The conditions of this pandemic have set the stage to remind me of what I’ve know in my head, but frequently forget in my heart—I am not in control. I never was and I never will be. Yet when things are going well, it’s so easy to have that false sense of control and security. Our hope is the Lord. Period. Not in our health, finances, job, etc. During this season, we echo the prayers of others—that God will use this pandemic to pave the way for spiritual renewal. And that God’s glory, power, and healing will be on display.
Last month, we had planned on two full days of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training. The TBRI training is based on the principles in Karyn Purvis’ book “The Connected Child,” which was one of the recommended readings from our adoption agency. In a nutshell, TBRI is a therapeutic model that trains caregivers to provide effective support and treatment for at-risk children. It addresses the physical, attachment and behavioral needs of a child through empowerment, connection and correction. Now, we eagerly look forward to whenever the training can be rescheduled. And it gives us extra time to actually finish reading the book before it’s due back at the library.
First, a quick update on our Beautycounter Pop-up fundraiser. A big thank you to the women who supported us in this way! $225 was added to our adoption fund. We are so humbled and grateful.
Now, on to another back post as we continue to catch you up with the journey we’ve been on.
We chose to continue living life to the fullest through the summer and were able to set aside focused time to devote to paperwork beginning in August 2019. Like any big task, we broke it up into categories and smaller portions. In order to keep a positive attitude about all the steps in the process (a legitimate 53), we likened it to the Amazing Race challenge. First, go to your local police station for a records report, then show proof of a current flu vaccine, after that take a lengthy online marriage assessment and don’t talk to each other about it, next get fingerprinted (again), and answer 71 VERY personal questions dating back to your childhood in open-ended narrative form. After an intense several weeks, we finished the mountain of paperwork Labor Day weekend.
October was a busy month meeting our case worker and having 3 separate home study visits—each lasting several hours. Our social worker even spent time interviewing Amelia. It went something like this.
Social worker: Amelia, tell me what you know about adoption.
Parker grabs my arm before I fly off the couch to intervene. It’s not like we’ve been setting aside one night a week to intentionally share about adoption and pray together as a family—for our future child and his/her first family.
Social worker: So, tell me about your dad.
Amelia: Wrestle-tickle parties. Funny.
In the end, it was super sweet and Amelia was so proud to give our social worker a tour of the house.
During the home study process, we were together some of the time and other times we had separate 2-hour interviews. Instead of The Amazing Race, it now felt like we were part of the Newlywed Game. Which, we are still terrible at by the way. One of us can’t decide on a “favorite” anything, which makes it impossible for the other one of us to guess. And unlike the game show, there were many, many serious topics covered. Throughout the process, we kept reminding ourselves that the purpose is to make sure children are placed in the very best homes—where they are safe, loved and feel secure. And that’s something we both firmly believe in.
After gathering all the information, the Hope’s Promise team reviewed our file and our home study was officially approved! In the end of November 2019, we wrote a check and have the title of “waiting family.” It’s kind of an ironic phrase when you really think about it. Aren’t we all waiting on something? A promotion at work, test results, for the weather to change, a loved one to visit, healing in a relationship, to get through a hard season, for the phone to ring (or not to ring depending on your circumstance), waiting to see Jesus face to face.
In 2016, after we lost and delivered our second child, a dear friend gave me a piece of paper with this verse:
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word I put my hope.” – Psalm 130:5
I still have the paper on our fridge. Some things we’ve waited for since that time have happened. Others have not. And that’s ok. Most of the time, waiting is not fun or easy. But it is often in the waiting that our heart is changed, our faith muscles are stretched and strengthened, and our character is refined. After all, the goal is to become imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2). The Lord is patient. He waited thousands of years to send a Savior. He allowed the Israelites to wander for 40 years before their hearts were ready to enter the promised land. He waited almost 3 decades from the time He promised Abraham a son until the actual birth of Isaac. And debatably the longest 3 days of human history were from crucifixion to resurrection. We’ll say it again, God is patient.
In our instant-gratification culture today, many have lost the art of waiting. Don’t think that we are self-righteous. Hear this, we’re not good at waiting most of the time either, but we do know that waiting is good for us.
One bible teacher suggested that if Jesus had shown up 20 minutes after Adam and Eve sinned, we never would have understood the depth and breadth of our sinfulness. Nor would we have understood how desperately we need God. Again, waiting is good for us.
In the mist of waiting, we’ve come to realize that God’s apparent “delay” often has to do with His perfect timing. It’s easy to believe the lie that God’s silence = God not working. Many biblical characters got tired of waiting and tried to take matters into their own hands. This never turns out well. Think of Sarah/Abraham/Hagar or King Saul’s fight against the Philistines when he failed to wait for Samuel to make the offering.
When we take things into our own hands, we are saying we don’t trust God. We think our timing is better than His. And that we don’t trust God to fulfill His promises and thus we must fulfill them. Failing to wait on God is an insult to His providence.
So, along with many other families, we wait—wait as the Lord reveals His timing and child for our family.
We covet your prayers for our hearts during this season of waiting to be matched with birth parents.
- Pray that we will be steadfast in our faith
- That our hope continues to rest fully in the Lord
- And that our hearts will become more like His
Shortly after reading our adoption story, my sweet friend Rachel S. reached out and offered to facilitate our first fundraising event. She is a consultant for Beautycounter. Their mission is to get safer/cleaner products into the hands of everyone. There are over 80,000 chemicals on the market today and many don’t have safety data, especially those used in skin care and the beauty industry.
I tried my first Beautycounter product just over 2 years ago and have been sold ever since. Every day, I use their Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer and I love their eye shadow. I’m fairly simple with my makeup and skin care routine. Rachel patiently explained everything to me and is so talented at what she does. Her sweet southern charm coupled with her heart for women just might mean you’ve met your new best friend!
If you are local, you are invited to a Beautycounter Pop-up Event at the Lohrenz house on Saturday, February 22 between 2-4 p.m.
Come try out products, ask questions, and get pro tips about what works best for your skin tone and type. It will be a low-key, simple and fun afternoon.
For those of you who live out of town, here’s the link:
This event will close at midnight on Tuesday, March 2. If you have questions about products, let me know and I can put you in contact with Rachel.
Rachel is graciously donating her whole commission on all products to our adoption fund! If you’ve been wanting to try out some beauty products that don’t contain harsh chemicals, this event is for you! Thanks in advance for your support.
A year ago this month, we attended our first adoption informational meeting. Hand in hand, we walked into the building nervous and naïve. An hour later, we left feeling slightly more educated and definitely overwhelmed. This agency had over 40 waiting families and asked if we wanted to be added to “the list.” Our hearts and heads were spinning. We needed a bit of time and space to process.
After some time passed, we decided to attend a second informational meeting with another adoption agency. We earnestly prayed together before going inside—asking God to move our hearts and “show” us if this agency was a good fit. He showed up. The two experiences were like night and day. Instead of being handed a giant packet of papers, we began with a video. It was about adoption—from the perspective of birth moms and birth dads. To say that it was powerful would be an understatement. I don’t recall a dry eye in the room as I, too, tried to swallow the giant lump in my throat. In an instant, my selfish desires and lofty preconceived ideas about adoption were shattered. Walls were broken down and misconceptions were brought to light. The truth is, these birth parents are real-life heroes. Like all good parents, they are selfless—thinking of the needs of their child before their own. These birth parents deliberately and lovingly made an adoption plan for their child.
Throughout the rest of the evening, we continued to be impressed with the ethics and compassion of this agency. We learned the “why” behind the nearly $30K price tag. Somehow, adoption and human trafficking did not go together in my mind, but the statistics show otherwise. The black market for children is a real problem both here in the states and internationally. This agency’s fees and processes help to combat that. Relationships are formed, all parties are educated about options, and free counseling and support are offered to birth parents for life.
At the end of the night as we processed together, it was clear that we were both encouraged and excited. In fact, my dear slow, thoughtful, cautious better half was uncharacteristically asking to start immediate monthly donations to this organization, regardless of if we ended up partnering with them for adoption! The realist in me was slightly more cautious, considering the tens of thousands of dollars we may be giving to them in the very near future. In all seriousness, it was undeniably clear to us both that we would continue to pursue adoption with this agency.
We cancelled the informational meeting with a third agency.
In March of 2019, we sent a check and completed the application for local infant adoption through Hope’s Promise. In April, references were contacted, and we were officially accepted. Then, the real work began…mountains of paperwork and our home study.