Heather– The idea to adopt has always been a part of my subconscious growing up. It holds a special place in my heart since I have an aunt who was adopted. We were able to welcome our daughter into the world in the fall of 2015. Not too long after that we started discussing how to best expand our family for a second time. Through much prayer and consideration, we agreed adoption was the answer. We feel God is asking us to open our hearts and home for a child that is not biologically ours.
Nolan– Adoption for me has been something that I have thought about for a long time, but I can’t really pinpoint what first drew me to the idea. I never really knew anyone who had been adopted growing up, but in my adult life I have been introduced to several individuals that have either been adopted or have adopted children themselves. God has placed the fire for adoption in my heart and I believe that every child deserves a home. I am so thankful to have met and married someone who shares in my desire to bring a child into our lives through this avenue.
What Brought you Together?
Heather-I met Nolan in college and was impressed with how much effort he made to get to know me. At the time, he had a mustang and a motorcycle, so he was able to talk me into a couple of dates. Shortly after I met him, I moved to another state to start my career. We did the long-distance thing while we dated and during our engagement. When we married in 2012, the military split us up again a few months afterwards. I think being apart for that length of time was what really brought us closer. We were able to communicate well with one another and it forced us to discuss a lot of topics, including adoption.
Nolan– We were introduced in college through a mutual friend who had set us up on a blind date. From the first time I met Heather, I knew that I wanted to get to know her. I was not sure where it would lead, but I’m glad that I pursued a relationship with her. While we were dating, I remember discussing the idea of adoption and we had both expressed a desire to adopt at some point in our lives. It was around that time that I knew that I couldn’t let Heather get away. In a conversation early on in our relationship, Heather revealed to me that something on her bucket list was to ride in a hot air balloon. She said, “If you could get me a hot air balloon ride, I would marry you.” Little did she know, I had connections that would allow me to get her a hot air balloon ride.
Heather– Our path for adoption became clear when my husband and I both stumbled upon a situation that could have seemed like a coincidence for any other couple. We had been talking a lot about adopting over the past year, but it never went further than just a conversation. I told my husband that “if someone could hold my hand and walk me through the process, I would sign up today.” Well, the very next day our neighbors told us that they had just applied to an adoption agency and asked if we wanted to do the same. It was in that exciting moment we realized our conversation would become a reality.
Nolan– For me it was a long and twisting journey that led to the realization that now was the right time for adoption. Through opportunities within my career we have been surprised by multiple situations that have arisen. We just kept questioning why God would lead us down this path. I was introduced to several individuals who had either adopted, were adopting, or had been foster parents. We realized that everything that had led us to this point could not be coincidence, but rather a matter of spiritual guidance. It is almost as if God has been laying down breadcrumbs for us to find. Every day, we are trying to follow the path he set for us.
We are incredibly excited for this journey and can’t wait to be matched with a birth mother. Every single day we anxiously await a phone call that will change our lives forever. Our daughter Jaylee is overjoyed at the idea of becoming a big sister. She often asks, “When is my baby going to get here?” We know in our hearts that there is a child that is meant to be a part of our family and we look forward to the day that we will hold them in our arms.
I grew up in the Midwest and enjoyed living in small town America. Now that I have lived in a couple of places, I am finding city life is okay too. I would say my happy place would be somewhere in the middle. I really enjoy the outdoors and hiking. I enjoy the military lifestyle and moving from place to place. Meeting new people and making life-long friendships with families from all around this country has been a huge blessing. It feels like we need to add more Christmas cards every year just because of the new friendships we make.
I went to college to be a Physical Therapist Assistant. I first started working in an outpatient clinic in Nebraska, then we moved to Texas and I dove into the world of Home Health which was eye-opening and exhausting! We then moved to rural Alabama and I decided to go PRN at a skilled nursing facility. The Army moved us again and we are now calling Kentucky home. After this most recent move, I decided to stay home with our daughter and plan to do so until we move to the next duty station.
Growing up we moved around quite a bit, but eventually settled in the Midwest. Both of my parents are Army Veterans. I have three older brothers and two of them are also in the Army. I have always been close to my brothers. I definitely want my daughter to know what it is like to have siblings growing up, and to share that bond that is like none other.
I went to college and received a degree in Criminal Justice while participating in Army ROTC. I served for four years as an Artillery Officer, but decided to resign my commission to become a Warrant Officer and fly for the Army. I love hiking/going on walks, and just enjoying the beautiful sights of nature. We would rather collect experiences over material items. We realize that the memories made will be cherished far longer than any item that we can purchase.
We apologize to anyone following our story for the long update delay. The fact is, we experienced a failed adoption. It has taken us almost a month to fully digest what has happened to our family and sort out all of our emotions.
Nolan was given permission to return home from deployment for the adoption. Heather texted our birth mother on December 7th, and she told her that she was still pregnant and wanted to meet us later after his flight got in. Nolan flew into Oklahoma on December 9th and we were able to embrace each other after six long months. We sent her another text to let her know that we were ready to meet whenever she could find some time. We never heard back from her. We found out later that day that she had backed out on us. The very next day on December 10th we learned that not only did she back out, but she had delivered the baby on December 1st and didn’t tell anyone. Our attorneys found out more information and she was reported to the state for adoption fraud. We had to leave Oklahoma with our car full of baby items, but no baby. We knew it was possible that our birth mom could change her mind, but we never imagined an ending like this. Our attorneys who have been in the adoption world for 30 years said they have never seen deceit quite like this.
We have all heard the horrors of what could happen in adoption situations, but we never thought we would be a part of that small statistic. Not only did we have a failed adoption, but we were victims of fraud. We were in complete shock and utterly confused as to how this happened. Heather had been texting the birth mother for seven long months, and thought we had a real connection with her. If we saw a red flag, the attorneys and adoption agency assured us that adoption is a crazy ride and it’s normal to experience bumps in the road.
Our hearts were completely shattered, and we didn’t know how to tell our 5-year-old that we didn’t have her baby brother. We know that 2020 was hard on everyone, but we appreciate all the support and prayers during our time of grief.
This feels like a loss for our family, but we try to remind ourselves that baby boy is alive and well, he’s just not with us. It’s hard to think about what the future will bring after experiencing this trauma. Unfortunately, we have also experienced financial loss too, and it weighs heavily on our minds. We are not sure what will happen with our love story, especially since the Army will be moving us again soon. We went through a small local agency, and it will be stressful and expensive to try and find another once we move. We are still hopeful that we might be blessed through adoption while we are stationed here. We think our focus is now on immediate placements until our big move.
Again, thank you to everyone who has continued to lift us up and reminded us to not become discouraged.
This whole process has been exciting and we were told that adoption is like a roller coaster ride. That is definitely a true statement for our family! We never intended to adopt during a deployment or a pandemic but this is our story. We haven’t shared every detail that has happened to our family during these past six months but I feel like we could easily write a book. We will have a good story to tell our son in the future about all of the hoops we went through to welcome him home.
I was able to talk to our birth mom tonight and she informed me that she is now dilated and is expecting baby to come before his due date of Dec 9th. We still aren’t sure if Nolan will be able to come back for the adoption because of more unexpected circumstances, but everything will work out they way they are supposed to. Our faith is what’s driving this whole journey and as parents we know and trust in the Lord. Thank you again to everyone who has been so supportive and friends/family who has checked in on me. Deployments are never fun and thankfully this one has been less stressful than our last one. It has been harder emotionally for our daughter this time around but she finds happiness in the thought of gaining a little brother soon. We are ready to meet this little boy and are looking forward to our family being under one roof again.
As we eagerly await the arrival of our soon to be, newest addition to the family, we reflect on the journey we have experienced so far, and ponder the possibilities of moments to come. The due date draws closer with every passing day, and we are filled with the emotions of joy, excitement, and even worry. When we began this journey, there’s no way we could have known that we would be trying to adopt during a global pandemic. Needless to say, it has been a roller coaster of emotions along this wild ride, but in the end we know that it will all be worth it.
There are a multitude of circumstances that have arisen during this journey that have definitely added to the stress of everything going on. However, we don’t wish to dwell on the negative events, but rather we would like to consider the good things that have happened. We are thankful for the fact that the birth mother we are matched with is willing to have an open adoption, and it has been a delight as we have become more acquainted with her. We even had the opportunity to discuss names for the baby, and have come to an agreement for what it should be. We are so happy that we were able to have input from her, and our daughter even helped contribute.
From what we have gathered, while getting to know the birthmother, the baby is reportedly very healthy and is still expected to make his entrance around December 9th of this year. We have been told, from what the doctors can see in the ultrasound, that they believe little boy has dimples. We are still holding out hope that Nolan will be able to come home from deployment to be there when we bring baby boy home.
The outpouring of love and generosity of others that we have experienced is sometimes overwhelmingly incredible. We would like to extend our utmost gratitude and thanks to everyone that has already opened their wallets and donated to our journey, and even to those who may yet still donate. We know that this pandemic has presented difficulties for everyone, emotionally and financially, but we would like you to know that every donation is greatly appreciated even if that donation is simply a prayer.
God bless you all, and thanks!
-The Stark Family
We have been hanging onto some exciting news for a few weeks now. We were told that a birth mom picked us as her number one family and she loved our profile so much that she only wanted to talk to us. We feel so blessed to have been matched with this birth mom and are excited for this new little life.
This past week we have learned that the baby is a boy and he is due December 9th. Words can’t describe how thrilled we are to welcome this sweet child into our home and get to know his birth mother. Please continue to pray for our family and this brave mom who is now considered apart of our lives.