Some breakfast, playing outside, temper tantrum, morning bath, post temper tantrum/prenap snuggles and horsing around.
I had been searching for a greenhouse location willing to let me use their business for over 2 years. Mini sessions have always proved to be a challenge and balancing act. Bad weather, expensive props and confining kiddos to one main area doesn’t sound like a recipe for “fun”. I have learned to stop fighting it. I did away with props, furniture and themes. “If it’s Spring, I’ll simply have to find flowers.” The greenhouse worked two-fold. A diffuser for sun during the brightest part of the day and plan B in case of rain.
I was thrilled when Kirby’s welcomed my proposal and even offered to set up a little work station for the children to pot their plant which allowed me to grab a few extra action photos. You know I’m all about the candids. This portion, unintentionally, turned into most of the mothers helping their children with their plants which I thought ended up being a sentimental start to celebrating Mother’s Day soon. In addition, the weather was absolutely perfect and between a fish pond, friendly cats and a butterfly garden, the day went off without a single hitch. Thank you so much to all my wonderful clients and friends for coming and a special thanks to Joey at Kerby’s!
The Allen Family
Pilly hospital blankets.
This is their story (stories). These are a mother’s words. Her heart. Another long journey. A brother for their son.
Noah came into our lives very unexpectedly. We were not planning on another adoption yet, but when we received a call that Nathan’s birth mother was pregnant again, we knew without a doubt that this precious baby boy was meant for our home. She was due in three short months and wanted us to adopt him! Our Nathan was going to get to grow up with his brother- a full biological sibling! It all seemed too good to be true.
We excitedly began to prepare our homes for our new baby boy. We bought new baby furniture and set up a second nursery. We hung the quote and other décor on the walls. We started reading Nathan books about being a big brother and teaching him how to be gentle with a new baby. He loved babies and we couldn’t wait to see his face when he met his baby brother.
The months leading up to Noah’s delivery proved to be much more challenging than it had been leading up to Nathan’s delivery. With Nathan, we only had 4-weeks’ notice. This time we had three months and I learned a lot more about the birth family and was exposed to more of the unfortunate chaos and difficulties of their lives. I went to every doctor’s appointment with the birth mother- including some she never showed up for. It was a high risk pregnancy and various life circumstances led her to struggle to take care of herself. She was also in a car accident during her pregnancy that involved someone t-boning her side of the car where she was sitting without a seatbelt. These issues, along with several others, led us to pray with fervency that God would protect our precious baby. It is such a helpless feeling when there is so little you can do to protect your child. I couldn’t eat healthy for him, or make sure he was at prenatal doctor’s appointments. I couldn’t make sure he was getting the nutrition he needed or that he was safe from harm. It was all out of my hands. I had to simply trust that God would take care of him. We called on close friends and family to pray. We began to fast and pray and did our best to trust that God would care of our baby boy.
At the birth mother’s last doctor’s appointment, they scheduled to induce a few days later. We made a plan to meet her at the hospital for the delivery. The day before we were scheduled to go to the hospital, I left a message with our case worker to confirm everything. When she called me back, she quietly told me that the birth mother had given birth that morning, without informing the agency, and she had decided to keep the baby. I had no words. It felt as though my heart was being ripped out of my chest. I didn’t understand. We KNEW this baby was supposed to be ours. We had prayed for him, prepared for him and loved him. Nothing made sense. We were confident God had destined this baby boy for our home and now it was all being ripped away. Over the next couple of days, as we knew she was in the hospital, we continued to fast and pray, holding onto hope that she would change her mind. A couple of days went by and we still had not heard anything. Our caseworker told us she was probably home with the baby and that it this was probably over for us.
The next few weeks were some of the most difficult weeks of my life. More than dealing with our own loss, the most difficult part was knowing that his baby boy was going into a very unhealthy and unstable environment. I had seen firsthand during this pregnancy the chaos of their lives. My heart ached for him and feared what challenges he might face growing up. I wish I could say I was resolute in my faith and that I never doubted God once, but I wouldn’t be honest if I did. I was hurting and angry. It didn’t make sense.
Every night when I put Nathan to bed, I sing him several songs, ending with the old chorus I grew up singing in church, “God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He’s so good to me. God answers prayers. God answers prayers. God answers prayers. He’s so good to me.” During those nights, I struggled to sing those words. I forced myself to sing them, with tears streaming down my face, as my heart questioned, Is God really good? Does he really answer prayer? We fasted and we prayed. We believed God was going to take care of Him and yet here we are. What I couldn’t understand was how a good God could let innocent children grow up in homes where they would face instability, violence and poverty. I thought of others that have been through failed adoptions or miscarriages, and those that had been through far more difficult situations than us, losing children to cancer, or to senseless acts of violence, terrorism or disease. How could a good God allow such suffering of innocent children in these situations by no fault of their own? I struggled to understand. Still… I sang. I searched, I read, I prayed, I listened to some of the same worship songs over and over and over again. I struggled to cling to my faith in the God I knew and loved.
During this time, I also sensed that I needed to learn to trust. I had to trust God when it made no sense and I didn’t see the answers. Is it really faith if you can see the solution to the problem? I read a quote in a book I was reading during this time that said, “Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not certainty.” I knew that I had to accept that even though at that time the doors were closed to us having this baby on our own, I had to trust that God was going to take care of him- that somehow God would work things out for his good, even though we may never know how he was going to do so. I had to trust in the unchanging goodness of God, even when I struggled to understand it.
We gradually tried to move on with our lives, but nothing felt right. This wasn’t how things were supposed to be. My sister described it well- things didn’t feel finished. Nevertheless, with every door slammed in our face, we were forced to try move on. We converted the new nursery into a playroom for Nathan. We packed up the baby’s diapers and took his name off the wall. We went back to work. In the back of our minds, we still hoped for a miracle, but in the meantime, we tried to move forward. Still, we prayed for him every night. We prayed that God would protect him and take care of him throughout his life, where ever he was. We prayed for the birth mother. We hoped for the best for both of them.
Three weeks later, we received another phone call. This time we learned that Noah was in foster care. My heart sunk as I worried about the quality of the home he was, about what he had been exposed to and more. Yet as I processed the information I was being given, I realized there was a light in the darkness. There was hope that we could still bring home our baby. The birth mother was “thinking about” signing for us to adopt him again, but she had not made up her mind. Next came a week of sitting on pins and needles, watching my phone constantly, hoping and believing she would sign, but the phone call never came. Just before Thanksgiving, we decided to pursue a foster placement of Noah, in hopes that we would eventually be able to adopt through the state. This option made me very nervous because I knew it was risky and that adopting through the state would be a long road. We could bring him home and lose him again. Nonetheless, we felt like we needed to pursue any means necessary to bring our baby boy home.
The following Monday, however, we received the phone call we had been waiting on. The birth mother FINALLY signed the papers agreeing to allow us to adopt this precious baby!!!! Words cannot express the joy and utter relief we felt. Yet, we still had to wait over two weeks for a court date to approve transfer into our custody and for them to schedule a time for us to bring him home. Those were without a doubt the longest two weeks of my life! I did not know where my baby was, how much he weighed, if he had the same allergies as his brother, what color eyes he had, or if he was being loved and cared for as he deserved. Oh how I longed to hold my baby! We prepared his nursery for a second time and eagerly awaited his arrival.
Those weeks brought their own fair share of hang-ups and concerns, but FINALLY, in mid-December, the judge approved our placement and the next morning we finally got to meet our precious baby boy! Nothing can compare to the joy we felt in our hearts as we brought OUR baby boy, Noah Seth, home to meet his baby brother. I will never forget the excited smile on Nathan’s face when we came home for the first time with “baby,” as he so lovingly called Noah. By the grace of God, our love found him. Our baby was home. Our boys were together at last. Finally, everything was as it was supposed to be.
One thing I learned through this ordeal is that things may not happen according to our own plan or our timing, but God can work any situation for good if we are willing to surrender and to trust Him with our lives. When all seems hopeless, God is still moving. He is working in ways we cannot see. In those nights immediately after Noah was born, even as I sat doubting and questioning the goodness of God, God was moving. As I forced myself to sing about his goodness, struggling to believe the words coming out of my mouth, unbeknownst to us, God was working things for good. We eventually found out that Noah never went home with the birth family. As much as it frustrated us to try to understand why the birth mother didn’t just sign so we could have been the ones to bring him home, we knew that the foster home was God’s way of protecting him, given the situation he was in and the choice the birth mother made. In those nights that we spent praying that God would protect our baby boy, God was doing just that. A series of events that occurred just prior to Noah’s delivery led to DCF involvement and a hold was placed on him in the hospital. He was never in danger and he never went home with the birth parents. He went straight from the hospital to a foster home where he was dearly loved and cared for. When everything seemed hopeless to us, God was moving in ways we could not see and taking care of our precious boy. Where we saw no answers, God was creating one.
I know that every situation does not work out as ours did. People face indescribable tragedies and loss on a daily basis. Yet, even in those tragedies, God can use them in unexpected ways for good. Another quote I read in the book I was reading during this time said, “In every case, suffering offers an opportunity for us to display the work of God, whether in weakness or in strength.” I have seen many people that have walked through life altering, devastating tragedies and emerge from those tragedies to use their own experience to help others facing similar circumstances. They use their tragedies and struggles to give life changing hope to others. God can use the most tragic of circumstances for good.
I also learned that God IS good. Unequivocally, undeniably, without qualification, in good times and in bad, God is good. End of story. God is not good because he answered our prayers the way we thought he should. God is good because that is who he is. He is unchanging and unwavering. We cannot claim God is good in good times, but that he is not good in bad. Tragedy will happen. Heartache will happen. We live in a broken world, with broken people. That does not change the fact that God is good.
All of God’s promises are yes and amen. God IS good. Whatever mess you are facing, there is hope. No matter how dark your world may seem right now, there is hope. Trust that God is moving. Trust and believe that God will bring you through the darkness in ways you would have never imagined. Wait with wonder and expectation about what God is going to do in your life and about how he is going to work your situation for good. We have two precious little boys that are living proof that God will ALWAYS pull through. Noah’s name means rest, comfort and peace. His precious little face will always be my reminder to trust- to rest and take comfort in God’s goodness no matter how dark my circumstances may seem. Throughout the time we waited for Noah to come home I held on to the scripture from Isaiah, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.” May Noah always be my reminder of the good that comes from keeping our minds focused on God and God alone.
Noah Seth, my sweet baby boy, I hope you always know how much you were wanted, how much you were sought after and prayed for and how much you are loved. You were made to be part of our family and we will love you forever. No words can describe the joy you bring to our hearts every time we look at your sweet little face. My precious baby boy, one thing is sure, where ever life may take you, our love will surely find you wherever you go.