Nate: We had always talked about adoption being a good idea for our family, but it wasn’t until we started to hear sermons at church from people who have adopted that truly sealed the deal in our hearts. The testimonies that these families have told changed us. After a specific message in the summer of 2016, I felt like God was putting it on my heart and calling our family out into the waters of adoption. We trusted Him and haven’t looked back.
Caitlin: For us adoption has been plan A. We’ve made the decision to grow our family by adopting. I envision a family full of variety and diversity. We believe that adoption is at the heart of the gospel. For us, it is the foundation of our faith. God chooses to speak of us as his adopted children, children of new birth. Adoption of humans into his kingdom was costly for God, and we believe it costly for us. God didn’t leave us with feelings of abandonment. We want to teach our children, adopted and biological, about this kind of love and feel that it will help us walk in our calling that God has given us.
We are friends with a couple who adopted a child from Uganda. We were so thankful to witness their journey and it was such an inspiration for us as a newly married couple at the time. We are surrounded by family and friends who are so supportive of the adoption. Specifically, our church family is full of adoptive families. We are in community groups with adoptive parents who have wrapped their arms and prayers around us in this process. They have shared in our journey on the mountaintops, but also in the valleys. They have prayed with us, for us, given us toys and clothes, and have genuinely showed so much excitement for our adventure.
Witnessing families around us who have adopted is proof to us that adopting or fostering a child is kingdom work. There are so many children who are waiting for a place.
You can get to know us and our story a little better by watching the video above. We would so appreciate it if you took a moment to pray for our little girl and for us in the coming months, and if you feel led to contribute financially we would be so humbled and thankful!
Our Furry Child
I was born and raised in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. I am the middle of three girls. I might be a classic middle child, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I attended the University of Cincinnati where I majored in special education and am currently working as an intervention specialist teaching 5th graders. I’m a lover of all things ice cream (as long as it’s not chocolate), naps, coffee, wine, puppies, and Jesus. I’ve always had a love for the arts, crafts, and most recently writing. My newest favorite hobby is Bible art journaling. I have always had a heart for student ministry and spend time weekly at our church serving high school students.
For me, adoption was always a nice idea. I’d always say I would love to do it. But adoption just wasn’t really a “talked about” or celebrated thing in my generation. Adoption also wasn’t what I thought would bring me my first child. It’s not that we can’t have children of our own. I am so thankful that God worked on my heart and called Nate and I to adoption in the summer of 2016. Now, I believe adoption is such a precious gift. It is something I want to advocate for and celebrate as a family. It has changed me. I am not the same person I was six months ago, and I know I will grow even more six months from now. My heart is for the fatherless, the marginalized, the least, the last, and the lost. My personal testimony of faith would reveal a girl who was broken, lost, and hurt. But God didn’t leave me there. I am redeemed and adopted into His family. For me, adoption is at the heart of the gospel. I am humbled every day that this is the kingdom work I am called to do. I want to make adoption known in my generation.
I met Nate in the Spring of 2008 when we worked together in college. I always considered him a friend, but we may have always had secret crushes on one another! After a couple of moves to different cities and job relocations, we began dating in December of 2010. We were engaged in March 2012 and married in June 2013. Being married to Nate is the best. He is a patient, kind, and gentle provider for our family. He has such a servant’s heart.
I work as an intervention specialist (special education teacher) for 5th grade. I support students with special needs in the general education setting as well as supporting any “typical” students in the classroom setting. I see a lot of kids during the day!
We have one furry child, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle Mix named Mosby. We can’t wait to expand our family with our first sweet baby coming home soon!
I was born and raised in the farmlands of northwest Ohio near a small town called Bryan. My younger sister and I were very involved in sports growing up and loved tubing and water skiing in the summer. I went to the University of Cincinnati where I graduated with degrees in Operations Management and Accounting and currently work as a materials manager for an aviation company in Cincinnati. I’m a fan of both Detroit and Cincinnati sports, NASCAR, and the occasional round of golf. I’d like to think I’m a fairly handy and enjoy working on projects both around the house and at our church.
I love being married to Caitlin and enjoy spending time with her and our dog Mosby. Whether it’s a simple walk through our neighborhood or a week-long vacation, we always find ways to stay busy and entertain ourselves. I have always admired and respected other couples who adopted and never imagined that God would call us to begin our family this way. My heart has really grown for children who need a home and I am excited to carry out the Great Commission. He loved and adopted us, and adopting is going to have such a positive influence on our child, our family, and people who encounter our story. We want to use our child’s story to tell people about Christ and the love that He has for us.
To the woman who is parenting kids from hard places.
To the woman who only knew her baby’s heartbeat.
To the woman who welcomes children not born of her flesh into her home.
To the woman sitting at her child’s bedside, carrying them through sickness.
To the woman who is swallowed by the grief of infertility or miscarriage.
To the woman whose child was taken from her entirely too soon.
To the woman who is awaiting the call from her social worker.
To the woman whose child is on the other side of the globe, waiting to come home.
To the woman who bravely chose another family for her baby.
I see you. I celebrate you.
If I’ve learned anything over the last two years, it’s that motherhood is brave.
Last year at this time, we received our first immigration approval and were anticipating leaving the country. A year has gone by, and I still hold on to the hope that very soon, I will hold our girl for the first time. But if I’m being honest, saying out loud that I’m a “mom” isn’t something I have let myself do. Maybe it’s because it hurts too much, or maybe it’s because I don’t feel like it’s ever going to be real.
About three weeks ago, I was at our kitchen table early in the morning praying some desperate, hard prayers. I questioned every decision we were making and questioned the path to motherhood I was choosing. Through tears and scribbles into my journal, I wondered why we didn’t take a more “traditional” path to parenting. And God instantly spoke a quiet and difficult truth over me.
“Because that is not what I am asking you to do right now.”
Those words still resonate within me as I think about life this Mother’s Day. Isn’t it true, that motherhood, in its MANY different forms, strips away all security and leads you to a life of being brave?
So, I will choose to celebrate the ground that God has ordained for me to take nearly 7,000 miles away from here. I will choose to remember the truths He spoke to me in the river when I feel like I’m walking in the desert. I will honor our daughter’s first mom -who bravely chose adoption- who will always love her daughter. I pray she knows what a gift she is to me. I pray that whenever I hear the dreaded “how could someone give up their child?”, she would know her worth and the beauty in her sacrifice. I pray she knows that the little soul she delivered into the world will, one day soon, be home.
To the moms who are being brave and obedient today, thank you. So will I.
I will be brave and obedient to where He sends me.
If the stars were made to worship, so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence, so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness, so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high, so will I
If the wind goes where You send it, so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I
For the last month, I’ve lived by the words “any day now.” Any day now, our referral would come and we would be on a plane to Kyrgyzstan. We would be seeing the sweet face we love so much for the first time. This last year and a half has been spent dreaming of what it will be like to hold her hand for the first time and introduce ourselves as her mama and papa.
We received news in November that was truly a miracle. These details of her story are hers to share someday, but I know what happened in November was nothing less than a breakthrough from God. As Nate and I stood in our kitchen crying and cheering, we were reminded again that God was so able. The events in November led us to look for movement in our case by the end of February. February : finally a month full of hope for our case!
But, February ended with what seemed to be another huge roadblock. An email came through that left me collapsing at a table in my classroom on a Friday afternoon, trying to make sense of everything with a close friend while I wasn’t even making sense myself. I will never forget that drive home : one of the first times I have ever yelled at God. I cried out with desperate questions and fears.
The pain you feel during the adoption process is honestly a very unique kind of pain that not everyone understands. It breaks parts of my heart that I didn’t know existed before Nate and I decided to grow our family this way. I am so fortunate to have a dear, sweet friend who has walked this road before me, who shared such wisdom with me late that Friday night. She reminded me how God can use this spiritual warfare surrounding our kids’ stories to strengthen our faith and add another layer of Him to our stories. She reminded me that He has not forgotten her.
Fast forward a week later, and we received news that would maybe turn into a glimmer of hope. Currently, authorities from our agency are in Kyrgyzstan meeting with the embassy, ministry of social development, and our in-country coordinator. We are praying for another mountain to be moved and that the paperwork will be in our hands soon.
So, I will continue to stand on the “any day now” in praying and hoping that soon, all will be made right. I will continue to praise the name of the One who makes it all right; the One who has not forgotten my family.
We have to fight hard for these kids because there is any enemy of our souls who wants their stories to begin and end with the trauma they didn’t ask for. And when I say we, I mean it. We all have a job to do, in some way or another, that stands in the gap for these precious souls who deserve a family. I’d love to chat with you about it.
Any day now, all will be made right.
October came and went so quickly it seems. One part of me is so excited that it’s now National Adoption Month, but another part of me just feels a little broken. I wanted to be celebrating Down Syndrome awareness month standing in solidarity with other families while holding my little one’s hand. I want to be celebrating Adoption Month as a family of three, celebrating all that God has done in bringing us together from opposite ends of the Earth.
But, I don’t need to be stuck in my want and in my brokenness. I can advocate. I can spread awareness. I will fight for people with Down Syndrome and for kids who need families. I will have conversations about adoption, adoption language, disabilities, and race. I will fight for inclusion. I’ll choose to celebrate all that God has done, is doing, and will do in building our family.
Over the last month, I’ve reflected on what awareness actually means to me. I’ve decided that there’s a difference between being aware and acting aware. I believe the difference has a lot to do with dignity, grace, and compassion.
I’ve previously shared my thoughts about Iceland’s pride in “eradicating” Down Syndrome. There are several research studies about the termination rate of pregnancies with a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome in the U.S. In all my research, I’ve learned that it falls somewhere between 65 and 90 percent (studies vary by maternal age, race, gestational age, etc). When it comes down to it, I just want all of us to have the courage to know that we don’t need justify a child with Down Syndrome’s existence.
Here is what we can do. We can give grace to those who don’t know better, but love these people enough to not let them stay that way. We can act from our awareness with grace.
We can let people with Down Syndrome be people with Down Syndrome. Let’s not try to make them something they’re not. I never want our goal to be changing Down Syndrome. Unlike some awareness months or movements, Down Syndrome isn’t something to find a cure for.
We can use person-first language. I am working on controlling my anger and being graceful in my correction of those who aren’t aware of its importance. Person-first language means to put the person before the disability. We are more alike than different. So, instead of saying “a Down Syndrome person,” “a Down Syndrome,” “an Autistic child,” or “a handicapped person,” you should say “a person with Down Syndrome” or “a person with a disability.” Nate and I are not adopting a “Down Syndrome little girl.” We are adopting a 3 year old girl, our daughter, who also has Down Syndrome.
We can fight hard for inclusion. We can form relationships with people who are different than us. Parents, if your child is in school, there’s a good chance there is a child with Down Syndrome in their class. Invite this child over to play. Get to know their parents. And, for goodness’ sake, if this child is in a separate class most of the day in another corner of the school, do something about it. Let’s create a culture in our communities that makes space for people with differences.
Let’s not assume that all people with Down Syndrome have the same characteristics. Although I’ve heard this generalization a lot, not all people with Down Syndrome are “always happy.” Not all people with Down Syndrome are stubborn. Not all people with Down Syndrome are cuddly. They’re people. They have their own unique qualities. I’m an elementary school teacher, but that doesn’t mean I am always nice, patient and wear cute embroidered denim jumpers (although if you can hook a sister up, I’ll take one in a size 8 please!).
Realistically, I know that our baby girl will not escape adversity on this side of heaven. She will have two white, American parents and siblings that probably won’t look like her. But I know God gave us Down Syndrome on purpose. He gave us the opportunity to be an interracial family on purpose. He wants us to see kindness and be kind. He wants us to shout from the mountaintops that love is what makes a family. I can’t wait to see how this girl rocks the world around her.
Next week, in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month and National Adoption Month, Nate and I will be doing a little giveaway of one of our “More to Love” shirts! We’ll also be posting a link for another round of orders. Follow me on Instagram @onemoretolove and stay tuned!
October 2016 was when we first saw the face that would change our family forever. We had hoped to have our first daughter home by now : October 2017. Some days, it feels like we’ve been faced with no after no once we said our big yes. I’ve questioned everything. I’ve begged God for answers. I’ve wondered if we chose the wrong road.
We were told last week that Kyrgyzstan’s government may finally be issuing re-accreditation to U.S. adoption agencies by the end of October. We are praying SO fiercely that this actually happens, and would be so thankful if you would pray for this, too. We’ve been told three times before that it would happen. But we know that no matter how many times we are faced with a mountain, our God can move it. Re-accreditation would allow us to move towards receiving our official referral paperwork and possibly traveling within a few months.
I am refusing to believe the lie that we chose the wrong road. I know that the yes Nate and I said on October 6, 2017 will be so worth it.
To those of you who pray for us, who have donated your time and resources to our story, who stand in church rows with me and cry after service, who check in on us just to ask how we’re doing, who send us little cards and messages to remind us of our strength : thank you. I’ve quickly learned that the road to adoption is never one to travel alone. We love our community so, so much.
I’m a big fan of October. I am really into Fall. But I’m an even bigger fan of Down Syndrome – and October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month! I’ve been taking this month to focus and reflect on what it means to not only be aware, but to act aware. Stay tuned for a little post about this as well as a little giveaway from our family!
There’s no doubt that my perspective about the world around me has been grown and changed in the last year. I will never say I have arrived in knowing all there is to know about what is going on globally and even in my community. I realize that supremacism happens everywhere, every day. Truthfully, I am ashamed that it took the media publicizing it for me to really feel something about it. Regardless, I know that inviting others into my family’s story means I can’t choose to stay silent about injustice that is so evidently happening.
You’ll very rarely hear me talk about politics. What I do talk about is compassion and the worth of human nature.
If you pay any amount of attention to the news, you’ll know that stories have emerged about the birth rate of children with Down Syndrome in Iceland, and how some professionals are taking pride in “eradicating” Down Syndrome in their country. As a hopeful mom to be of a child with Down Syndrome whom I am choosing through adoption, this stings. I try my best to follow news within the Down Syndrome community, so this wasn’t really new information to me. But it still makes me sad.
I am sad for people who believe that an in-utero diagnosis of Down Syndrome is tied to health and happiness. I want them to know how worth it life will be.
I am sad for the pregnant woman who told me that she was thankful her baby was healthy after her OB appointment. When she looked directly at me and said that “nothing was wrong, no Down Syndrome or anything.”
I am sad for the Icelandic hospital professional who stated that Down Syndrome brought about suffering.
You’ve heard me say this before, but I know that there is nothing wrong about a child who has a chromosomal abnormality. We cannot keep defining our happiness by controlling whether or not people who are “different” than us are in our lives. It’s just not even an argument to be had here. Let’s get real : the only people who have a say on what life is like with Down Syndrome are people who have it. (If you want to get even more real about this, visit Heather Avis’s blog post about this at heatheravis.com!).
As a hopeful mom to be of a child who will not look like me– again, whom I am choosing through adoption, the news of recent events in Charlottesville (and now other places in our country) also stings. I am sad for the people I love who think it’s best to fight hate with hateful words. I am sad for my friends who think it’s best to “stay out of it.” I am sad that some of my Christian friends have chosen to not say anything. To me, silence isn’t kind.
Friends, would you pray with me that we can find ways to stand together and love the least of these? Let’s hurt for those who hurt without making it about ourselves. Let’s pray for the hearts of those who feel they are superior – that they might be changed. Let’s continue to be humble so that we can make the Kingdom known.
Nothing I say or do on my own can change the whole world. But, there’s no grey area to what Jesus has called me to do. As an American, Christian white girl, I am called to stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who suffer. I am called to love my soon-to-be daughter whose sweet, precious face and almond eyes do not resemble my own. It’s my job to follow the teaching of Jesus, whose life declared the division in human nature incoherent.
I never pictured the summer of 2017 to go like this. And I never imagined I would be at a loss for words in keeping up with sharing our story. I imagined a summer full of happy and exciting blog updates, travel, meeting our child, and relaxing days by the pool.
But I’ve been hit with the truth that there is such a thing as waiting well.
Summer has been full of hard news, dead ends, sitting next to my dear sweet uncle who breathed his last breaths, desperate prayers, 15 hour days in surgery waiting rooms anticipating the healing of someone we love most, and days where Nate has come home to find me face down, sobbing on the floor.
But, here is the good in all of this: Any heartbreak, suffering, and waiting I have experienced has brought me to my knees. Had God not called a “timeout” on my life, I wouldn’t have recognized my need for him in parenting a child from a hard place. I wouldn’t have understood his love in dealing with the pain of watching a loved one suffer from sickness. My roots would still be attached to shifting sand instead of growing down deeper into the rock.
I recognize now that the start of my journey as an adoptive mom consisted of clinging to anything I could grasp around me to help me through the wait. I am learning to loosen my grip and let those things fall through my fingers. Shannan Martin, in her book Falling Free, says it best: “When we know him, we know that all his schemes, even the seemingly nutso ones, are for our gain. And when we trust that, when we really believe it, our fingers start to loosen their grip, and we reach out to touch the very edges of freedom. That’s what letting go is, after all. It’s freedom.”
(Shameless plug: read this book.^ Not kidding.)
So, what now? How do we get through it?
Nate and I are renewing our strength by putting our hope in God (Isaiah 40:31). We are trusting him with each day he gives us instead of dreaming up visions of what our journey is going to look like. We have stopped asking why and started asking how. God doesn’t owe us an explanation, but we know he will use our current chaos to bring about his glory. He prevails at the end of every wait.
We are so joyful that physical healing in our family is happening, and that God is protecting our precious child. Our adoption journey will be much longer than we had hoped, but this child’s story has redemption written all over it, and I can’t wait to watch it happen.
Friends, would you pray for us Kyrgyzstan waiting families? We are still waiting on news from the government that should have happened in May, but looks as though could not happen until October. Would you pray that these precious babies would be protected and cared for? Would you pray for me: that I seek discernment, wisdom, and the ability to wait well?
To our team of support: we are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of your love, your resources, and your encouragement. I have no words to describe the way in which you have changed our family’s life forever.
We are so thrilled to share that our I-800 immigration approval letter came in the mail Friday! I (Caitlin) am so thankful that God gave me this gift as I celebrate Mother’s Day for the sweet one growing in our heart. We would love your prayers as this travel process is hopefully going to start moving! I still cannot believe that we will be meeting our baby girl oh, so soon!
This morning our church worship team played the song “Do it Again” by Elevation Worship. I was moved to tears for two different reasons. 1) For my mama friends who have struggled with infertility: God reminded me that He makes a way when there is none. I believe He’ll do it over and over again. I am humbled and thankful to walk alongside you as we pray our precious babies home. My heart is heavy for your broken hearts and the angel babies you are missing. And 2) To my sweet girl : I’ve seen God move mountains. I believe he is moving mountains to bring you home. Thank you for making me a momma. I am not your first mom (I am thinking of her lots today), but I am thankful that God made a way to bring you to me. Your daddy and I will be there soon!
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 1:6
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose.”-Romans 8:28
This has been my favorite scripture for quite some time now. But I have grown to interpret what it means more fully as I’ve walked this road to motherhood. I think that’s how it works – I can sit on a certain verse for so long, thinking I fully understand the depth and weight of it on my life, until God grows me and reveals something new; that what he is communicating has absolutely nothing to do with me.
The phrase “more to love” has quickly become a sort of motto for Nate and I in the last six months. Our family stands on the call that God has more people for us to love: more children, more orphans. And best of all, for this moment in time: more chromosomes to love.
When we first started the adoption process, the Lord quickly (or so it seems now) revealed to us that His plan for us was to pursue a child with Down Syndrome. There are so many details to this part of the story, but the best is this: all these details wrote a story that is leading us to our daughter.
This little girl is fearfully and wonderfully made. Although her story starts in brokenness, I am so thankful that God has a plan for the redemption of it. Just like he had a plan to redeem me: a broken girl who was lost in her mess.
Down Syndrome has taught me so many things as a teacher, in ministry, as an advocate, and now as a mom. Lord willing, I will find ways to share these things as Nate and I continue on this journey, but for now I will leave you with this:
Down Syndrome is not a problem.
The dictionary defines problem as a source of trouble or worry; something difficult to deal with. When I think of the people I love who have Down Syndrome, problem is the furthest thing from my mind. My daughter has an extra chromosome. My human nature could easily jump to worry ; but God reminds me that this extra chromosome just gives us more to love. She has an extra storage tank for all the love she has to give. A local writer, who is a source of inspiration for Nate and I, puts it this way in his book An Uncomplicated Life:
“If you believe there are no coincidences, you have to at least entertain the notion that Number 47 has a purpose beyond sadness. If you are anything other than terminally pessimistic, you believe Number 47 contains a lot that makes us good. It has to. Somewhere in that bonus wiring is a connection to compassion and kindness, a plan for how to be better. Number 47 isn’t a governor on Jillian’s aspirations. It’s an extra storage tank for all her good stuff.’’
Like Romans 8:28 says, I know that in all things God works for my good. For Nate’s good. He works for our daughter’s good. But good doesn’t always mean easy. Hard isn’t bad. Hard is hard, and we are going to step out of the boat and do hard things. I believe Down Syndrome is part of God’s good.
Some people get beautiful sunsets or a divine word in the quiet as gifts from God. I believe Down Syndrome is my gift on this side of heaven. We hope our story shows that God can take ordinary lives and make them extraordinary. He truly, truly works for your good if you step out and trust Him.
Would you join us in staying connected to our story? Here are three easy ways you can follow, support, and pray for us:
- Our blog, One More to Love, just launched! We hope to use this in conjunction with our updates page here.
- As we are in the process of waiting on immigration forms to process and our official legal paperwork to come from Kyrgyzstan, would you join us in praying we stay strong in believing that God has this little girl for us? Would you pray that anxiety (I could write a whole post just about this topic…) would have no room in our lives as we make travel plans?
- Share our More to Love story by sporting a t-shirt! We hope this shirt promotes Down Syndrome Awareness as well as Down Syndrome Adoption. Proceeds (thanks to McCall and Fund the Nations) will go toward bringing our sweet girl home! Click this link to pre-order. Adult, youth, and toddler sizing available!
With so much love,