Forever Family Friday

Spann Family

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In January of 2011, after we had been married for three years, we decided it was time to begin our family. We carefully read all the books and blogs and even took a class for family planning. By 2012, we knew that getting pregnant was not going to be easy, so we pursued various fertility treatments where we were poked, prodded, and monitored for a year and a half. At the beginning of 2013, we knew it was time to discuss other options. Would we want to empty our bank account and further engage in fertility treatments? Was it time to look into adoption- a process we knew next to nothing about??

Honestly, we had just started to dream about adoption when we learned the CALL was having an informational meeting at my parents’ church, and it felt like God was trying to get our attention. We thought we would go to the meeting “just to listen,” but not make any decisions yet. I remember crying as Mary Carol spoke at this meeting and looking into the faces of children that were in the video shown at the beginning of the meeting. God was no longer being subtle.

We decided to sign up for PRIDE training and gather our materials to become open as a foster home. In the meantime, we explored private adoption agencies, only to realize it did not feel right for us. Months passed that included background checks, fingerprints, CPR classes, support groups, and a ton of learning. By the time PRIDE training took place, we were enthusiastic about fostering or adoption, wherever the road took us.

After PRIDE training and our home being opened, we:

  • traveled back and forth from Arkansas to a northern state in the hopes of adopting a family member, participated in court sessions and meeting, and eventually did not get chosen.
  • had to say no to multiple foster care placements due to our frequent traveling.
  • were “interviewed” in the hospital by a teenage girl who had just given birth and was looking for an adoptive family. We were not chosen.
  • were contacted by someone who knew a mother who was considering adoption. Eventually she changed her mind.
  • made inquiries about multiple children on the Heart Gallery but had not yet been matched.

By 2014, multiple failed possible adoptions and many sleepless nights later, we knew it was time to focus on adoption through DCFS. A high school friend sent me a Facebook message to encourage me to keep an open mind when going through the adoption process, sharing with me her story of her beautiful older children. Almost immediately, we received an email about the Project Zero Disney Event that was happening soon. We visited the Project Zero website, too afraid to look at the photos because our hearts had been broken too many times to count. I emailed Christie Erwin to get more information about the Disney Event, and she responded within minutes. She was so reassuring and positive, and she was willing and able to answer questions for us! This was something we were not used to. That evening, we took the chance to look at the photos on the website, knowing we needed to guard our hearts and take it slowly.

Then we saw them. Two round-faced, smiling boys hugging each other with eyes that sparkled. We stopped scrolling, and we looked at each other. “This is them. These are our kids,” we said to each other. We fell head over heels in love, but we were scared and still cautious due to our past experiences.

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Christie put us in touch with their adoption specialist, and we arranged to meet them at the 2014 Disney Extravaganza. We went, not knowing what to expect or how to meet the boys while there. During the event, we were separated and Jeremy was at the bouncy house and I was at the climbing wall. That’s when he sent the text that said, “THEY’RE HERE. GET HERE QUICK!” Our oldest had literally run smack into Jeremy’s face while tumbling down the bouncy house slide and said, “This is my house!” with a huge grin on his face. I practically ran to the back of the gym, my heart racing and my breath caught. There they were. Just as smiley and sparkly-eyed as their photo. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting milkshakes and playing in a sandbox, wanting the day to never end.

Things moved quickly after the Disney Extravaganza. We were matched! We began visits, and they moved home July of 2014. Our adoption was finalized March 18, 2015!

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Kenneth and Miles were 4 and 5 when they came home. We never envisioned adopting older boys. We never envisioned adopting a sibling set. We could have never dreamed the perfect way things unfolded once we let go and allowed God to lead. Adoption is hard. The road leading to adoption is hard. The waiting is incredibly hard. But these things are worth it:

  • the first time I heard “mommy”
  • the first time a little hand reached for mine in the parking lot
  • the first time one had a fever and needed extra love
  • the first bandaid and wiping away tears
  • first birthday parties (they had never even been to one!)
  • learning to ride a bike
  • going from not knowing the alphabet to becoming READERS!
  • first days of school and enormous smiles at the end of the day
  • … and the countless other “firsts” that they experienced with us. Because we are their mommy and daddy.

Kenneth and Miles are brave and resilient. They love Superman and Batman, fellow superheroes who are also adopted. This year, we will participate in our third Walk for the Waiting. We walk for children and families who are waiting to find each other. We walk to honor the way our family was built. We walk because they were absolutely worth the wait. We walk because Kenneth and Miles are superheroes.

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Using Facebook to reach your goal

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We’ve had a few folks ask about getting their fundraising page to auto-post to Facebook. For those of you that didn’t do this last year, this is a tremendous way to build momentum, spread awareness and raise funds!

Here are the steps to make sure your page is auto-posting:

1) Login to your HQ at www.walkforthewaiting.org:

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2) Click on “Social Auto-Post”

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3) Pick your networks, connect, and save settings!

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You’re done and should see posts like this on your Facebook:

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Thanks again for walking and please shoot me an email if you get stuck!

Thanks,
Eric

Forever Family Friday

The Bailey Family

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Have you ever heard the line from a famous movie regarding an adoptive teenage boy that says…. “You are changing that boys life. No, he is changing mine.” I’m living proof that this is the very thing that can happen through adoption. Our story is different than most. It is one that started with a selfish mom of three girls with a husband that mention, on occasion, that he sure would like a boy around.

You see, two of our girls were already in college and  God had already opened the door for my 87 year old grandmother to move in with us 6 years ago. I quit working outside of home to raise my kids and care for my grandmother,  I worked with the youth at church, I was preparing to homeschool my only child I have left at home.

I was doing everything God had asked me to do and I was just fine with that but on November 27, 2015 I was sent a video of this teenage boy playing basketball and sharing a story of how he longed for a family that loved sports and just wished he could have someone to love him. The text read, “Y’ALL NEED HIM?!” and I quickly responded “NO!” I had that video sent to me by two other people that weekend and my responses to each one was “NO”.

Three days after I watched that video for the first time I sat on the back row at church alone and wept like I had never wept before. God was breaking my heart for this boy and He was telling me to quit being selfish and do what He was calling me to do once again.

Brad had been out of town during all of this, but was getting a play by play of every text, emotion and time I watched that darn video. When he came home Sunday night and I told him that I thought we were suppose to adopt this boy and he laughed at me and said that he knew that already. (I think I am the hard headed one in the marriage.) I was on the phone with the CALL the next day and seven months later we met that boy for the first time at the Disney Extravaganza event, put on by Project Zero. On July 8, 2016 we brought our son home for good.

He now has a family that will love him forever and that loves sports. He will never wonder where he will be tomorrow or a year from now. He will never have to worry that he will “age out” and have no one to share life with. He has a mom and a dad and 3 sisters with lots of family and friends. There are days that I still cry out to the Lord and ask Him if He made a mistake. Lets face it, adoption is HARD but it has made this selfish mess into something I never knew I could be. It had taught me patience that I question daily and forgiveness to someone I never met, grace that only God can give so abundantly and a love for this 16 year old boy that I could never imaging could be so great and powerful.

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I hear this voice calling “mom” that melts my heart and gives a new meaning to the significance of that name. I now look at him and think, what did I ever do to deserve to be his mom. Those are the moments that I am so thankful to our Savior that His plans are always better that ours. Through the life of our son, I am being molded into a different person. I am being changed!

To see more of the Bailey Family’s story watch the video below.

 

Elephant in the Room

A few weeks ago, I visited several of our waiting teens at an institution in another part of the state. They were so excited that our little group was coming just to visit them. (It might have had a little something to do with the fact that we were bringing treats and lunch!) As we played basketball and saw the cinderblock bedroom that they had painted themselves, I couldn’t help but think they were just like my four sons; playful, energetic, athletic, hungry! But there was one major, ‘elephant in the room’, difference……these guys don’t have a family.

While we were eating lunch together, one of them started a conversation with me, “Miss Christie, you know I’m gonna be 18 this year, right?”

“You are?” I responded knowing what was coming next.

“You’re gonna do everything you can to find me a family before then?”

“Yes, yes, I am. I am fighting every day to find you a family.” I heard myself say.

My answer seemed to ease his fears and calm his ‘little boy in an almost grown man’ heart. My heart was anything but calm. My heart broke as I thought about this teen. I’ve known him for years. His photo has been in our Heart Gallery for years. We have taken and retaken it because he has been waiting so long. And yet, he still longs for a family. And, oh, how I long for one for him.

One ‘yes’ would change his world. One ‘yes’ would take him from the cinderblock walls of an institution to a cozy warm bed that belongs to him. One ‘yes’ would give him the opportunity to be all that he was created to be. One ‘yes’ would answer his prayer and mine. One ‘yes’ would make him a son. And one ‘yes’ would bring him home. 

Project Zero has one goal: to have ZERO children in foster care waiting to be adopted. Over the past five years, the funds raised as a result of Walk for the Waiting, have drastically changed what we have been able to do in pursuing that goal. We have added two additional Heart Gallery exhibits that travel the state putting a face to the statistics and raising awareness about the need for adoptive families. We have produced several short films highlighting individual kids and sibling groups, giving a voice to waiting kids. And we have ramped up our monthly events to include waiting families, taking advantage of every opportunity to allow God to bring waiting children and waiting families together.

Thank you for being a part of Walk for the Waiting. I am so humbled by the passionate and generous people who support the Walk and who give sacrificially to help us help waiting kids make it home.

~ Christie Erwin, Executive Director of Project Zero