When my husband and I got married back in August 2007, we never dreamed we would have problems having children.
But after a couple of years of trying, I accepted the truth: Most likely, we would never have biological children of our own.
After an adoption attempt painfully fell through, I came to peace with our childlessness. I was even comfortable in our little routine of work, church, and personal projects. I figured that someday, in God's timing, we'd have a chance to adopt.
Then, in the fall of 2011, in a shocking turn of events (which is a story all of its own! Read part of it here.), we found out we were expecting! In June 2012, after almost five years of waiting, our baby boy, Axton, was born -- and he has been one of the greatest treasures of our marriage.
After Axton was born, years went by, and we were never able to get pregnant again.
Since I grew up in a family of six, I hated that Axton was an only child, but at the same time, I was just SO THANKFUL for him. I felt I probably appreciated him more than I might have had we had him early on in our marriage, and even though a few more private adoption possibilities came up over the years that ended up falling through, I knew God had orchestrated everything as He had for a reason.
Axton was about 6-1/2 years old on January 1, 2019, when we got a call from a friend: Someone in her family would be having a baby in just over two months, and they were thinking of placing him for adoption.
The question was presented to us: Were we interested?
My husband and I prayed over the decision, but I have to say, it did not take us long to say that yes, we were definitely interested!
We live in Texas, and the birth mother lived almost ten hours away, out of state, so we made plans to meet her for the first time in February. Though the previous failed adoption attempts kept me from getting my hopes too high, I think we all left our meeting together that day in February feeling at peace. Something just felt right, and I was pretty sure that this time, it really was going to all come together.
Even so, from time to time, fear gripped my heart.
The birth mama had every right to change her mind, and if she did, I knew this was going to be a crushing disappointment.
I went to our ladies conference that March battling fear to some degree that the adoption would fall through (I was facing health problems, too, and that made me also wonder if I was crazy for trying to adopt), but there was a clear theme of faith over fear from the very opening words of the conference: I think it was Sis. Johnson who said something along the lines of, "Fear will be defeated at this conference; you are going home with bravery!"
You are going home with bravery.
I took hold of that statement because it held so much meaning for me.
As soon as my husband and I had decided to adopt this baby, within literally a couple of minutes, we'd settled on the unconventional name "Bravery."
On March 17, 2019, just a little over 2-1/2 months after receiving that life-changing call from our friend, we headed out of state as a family for the birth of our baby.
We didn't know for sure when he was coming, but we knew it should happen that week. My husband and I were nervous and excited, and Axton was over the moon. We weren't sure how he was going to take giving up his only-child status, but he insisted he could not WAIT to become a big brother!
God had also orchestrated things to where we were able to spend the day before the baby was born with our dear friends, Jared and Cherith Williams, who have been through their own adoption story and journey. On a day of nerves and still kind of worrying that the birth mama could change her mind, Cherith was there to talk me through the nerves and worrisome thoughts. (Thank God for good, godly friends!)
Bravery Reed Smith was born on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, just after 8:30 am.
Our whole family was able to go into the hospital room only moments after his birth, where we got to hold him for the first time.
There are no words for the feeling of amazement when you hold a tiny, 6-lb life in your arms for the first time, knowing that God in all His favor has blessed you with this tiny miracle.
For the first 72 hours of Bravery's life, there was a window where his birth mama could still change her mind, but by this point, we felt pretty confident everything was going to work out.
Bravery spent those first three days in the hospital's nursery under a phototherapy light for jaundice treatment, and we hung out in the room with him. We were SO ready to take our baby home, but there was something special about that 72-hour waiting period as well.
Finally, we were able to take Bravery back to Texas, and then six months later, on September 17, 2019, the adoption was finalized. Bravery Reed Smith was legally and forever ours!
Today, Bravery is 15 months old, and I've never seen a more driven, determined, and brilliant child.
He is strong-willed, independent, and hilarious. He loves being the center of attention. Between our family, our relatives, and our church family, he receives more love than you could ever imagine. I can't wait to see what plans God has for his life.
I'm thankful that God brought us through this journey. Looking back, I wouldn't want it to be "easy." Something about the struggle makes you stronger, builds trust, and makes everything more meaningful.
I also have a deep appreciation and gratitude toward Bravery's birth mother. I know this choice was painful and difficult for her, and yet it has produced my family with one of the biggest blessings of our lives. I pray that God pours His blessings over her and gives her a future and a hope beyond what she has ever dreamed possible.
So many times over, God has outdone Himself in my life. Life hasn't been perfect. All endings aren't happy. But the measure of grace and favor He has extended to our family is staggering.
I write this today because I know SO MANY WOMEN are dealing with their own infertility journey.
I know it's hard.
I know it's painful.
I know many stories don't work out in a way we think of as ideal.
But I want you to know that God is faithful to craft your story together in His perfect timing -- IF you delight yourself in Him and acknowledge Him in all your ways.
As a side note, this year, on February 2, 2020, exactly one year to the day that we met Bravery's birth mother for the first time, we were presented with another I-didn't-see-that-coming surprise: I am pregnant with our first baby girl, due October 2nd! I am two weeks away from my third trimester, and I'm still having a hard time believing it's true. It doesn't seem possible; it seems unreal; yet every time I feel her move and kick, my heart fills with joyful wonder.
God has blown my mind.
My husband and I have been married for 13 years this summer. If we'd written our own story, we wouldn't just now be starting all over again raising a family! =) But I trust 100% that the waiting and timing was God's perfect plan.
He is the Way-Maker, Miracle-Worker, and Promise-Keeper.