A few months ago, my husband Drew and I announced we would be ADOPTING our second child! Adoption is something that we’ve talked about and prayed over for years, and are so excited that it’s getting closer and closer to becoming a reality for our family! At this moment we have completed our home study, and are waiting for that to be finalized so we can begin presenting to expectant moms!
The reason I’m sharing this blog post is because I want to document this journey and our experiences along the way. If anyone out there is considering a similar path for their family, hopefully we can shed a little light on the process, and inspire you to take that leap! I have been incredibly inspired by others sharing their adoption stories, and it would make me so happy to be able to do the same for others. I also want to be able to look back and remember these times, so they will be all the more special when we have our baby in our arms. Adoption is a beautiful thing, and we will be so incredibly honored to be chosen as a forever family for whatever sweet baby God has planned for us.
Ever since Drew and I started dating, we have always talked about adoption. At first it wasn’t anything serious, we just talked about how amazing it was to adopt and give a child who may not have a mommy or daddy a loving home. We both said how we would love to be able to do that one day, and we went about our lives.
A few years into being married, we decided to try to start our family and were not anticipating the road that would lead us on. Unfortunately we experienced three miscarriages, and it was one of the hardest times in my entire life. That season was extremely tough, and tried us both physically and emotionally. Adoption was brought up again at that point, and I thought – “Well, if we can’t have kids, we can always adopt”.
After two years, countless blood draws, tests, doctors appointments, and tears, with the help from an amazing doctor we were able to identify the issue that was causing my fertility issues, and we were blessed with our beautiful daughter Isla. It ended up being an easily fixable hormonal imbalance. Praise God! 🙌🏼I am so beyond grateful that we have a healthy baby.
Becoming parents was the biggest blessing, and I could go on and on about how amazing this last year and a half has been. Isla is the absolute joy of my life. I love being a mom so much! Around Isla’s birthday, we started thinking about growing our family again because we’ve always known that we wanted our kids close in age.
Drew and I had talked about adoption on and off since the beginning of our marriage but it seemed to come up more often now. We heard many stories of adoption that really impacted us, and met many people who had either been adopted, or adopted themselves.
Over the course of a few months, God really laid it on my heart that adoption isn’t just a second choice as I had originally thought years ago, but it’s a priority and we are called to defend the cause of the fatherless. Drew and I began to talk more seriously about what this would look like for us. It was something that consumed my thoughts day and night! I really wanted to do it, but wasn’t exactly sure how.
Drew said at one point that he really felt like if we were going to do this, we should do it now and have our adopted child be in the middle. We’ve always known we wanted three kids, and he felt like it would be nice for our adopted baby to feel like they were always part of the plan for our family – not first because we couldn’t have kids of our own, or last as an after thought. (Not that there is anything wrong with adopting in any order, or for any reason! That was just a thought for us).
If you’re going to adopt, the first step is to decide how you’re going to do it. There is international adoption, private domestic adoption, or fostering to adopt through child protective services. International adoption is generally the most expensive option and can take a very long time. You have to work with different countries state departments, and at any time that country can cut off their adoptions with the United States, so we ruled that out. Private adoption is also very expensive, and wasn’t something we thought would be possible for our family either. That left foster to adopt! Foster to adopt is generally the most affordable option, with the state paying for most of the child’s expenses and covering most associated legal costs. Initially we thought would be the path we would choose since it seemed to make the most sense financially.
We actually filled out the applications and paperwork with a local foster to adopt agency, and went to the orientation excited to take the first real step towards this journey. The orientation was very informative, and eye opening to us. I have such a heart for the foster system… They’re truly doing the best they can, but they have a lot of systems in place to protect these babies that gave us a lot of uneasiness. Overall, the state’s goal is always reunification with the children and their birth families. Someday, that may be a fit for us as a family, and I would love to continue to work or serve the foster community in the future. But knowing that we want to welcome a child into our family for life, not just a season, made us feel unsure that this was the right path.
While Drew and I had been talking about our uncertainty, I had seen a friend of mine share a story about a girl on Instagram that had adopted the most beautiful baby girl into their family. I was instantly hooked, and scrolled through her feed reading every caption. It turns out that she had actually adopted TWO of her babies within a year of each other! I read her story so intently, and saw her talk about the agency they used with the adoption of their son, Mustard Seed Adoption Consultants. I really felt this unexplainable pull on my heart, even though we had originally discounted private adoption as an option for us. After hearing her glowing reviews, I began to look into them further.
I set up a prospective phone call, and from that first interaction, I felt so much peace. In the past year leading up to this point, Drew and I have really strengthened and grown in our relationship with God like never before. We found a church that we adore, (that is an another amazing story!) and have made so many strides in our life. Mustard Seed Adoption Consultants (MSAC) is a faith based company that makes sure every child they place with a forever family will grow up knowing the Lord and be raised in a Christian home. The entire thing felt so ordained and a perfect fit for us, and I knew this was the direction I wanted to go.
Despite knowing deeply this was the direction we wanted to go, Drew and I debated on signing up for a few months. There is no way around it – private adoption is very expensive. The typical costs are around $30,000-$50,000, and we had a bit of sticker shock. How could we afford something like this?! We’re decent with managing money, but certainly not THAT well off!
At this point, we were talking about adoption daily and we received sign after sign from God that this was the direction we were meant to go. Little nudges here and there for months made it so certain in our minds, but we could not figure out the financial piece.
While we were considering how we could make this work, I began thinking back on the last year and a half of our lives… I left a “safe” office job in order to become a realtor when I was seven months pregnant with Isla. A bold move I would say! The lady I got my headshot done with could not believe it when I told her. I stepped out in faith, knowing that this was the move for our family so that I could be home with Isla and not put her in day care. I had absolutely zero clue how I was going to do it. Yet God provided again and again and again. Commission based jobs can be unsettling if you’re a planner like me! Yet every single time we’d be biting our fingernails waiting for a closing, something would come through for us.
Drew had also left a “safe” job while on paternity leave weeks after Isla was born. He had been unhappy with his old position for a while, and this time off was the perfect opportunity to look for his next career move. He applied, interviewed, and was offered a job making almost twice his old salary! We were so happy, and knew this was an answer to our prayers. He put his two weeks in after receiving a signed offer letter from the new company, only to be called two days before he was supposed to start and told that they had to terminate all new hires – effective immediately. He had thought he was going to a new job on Monday morning, and instead we both spent hours on the internet scouring job posting sites terrified and holding our brand new baby.
Days later, a dear friend helped recommend him for a position at his company – and despite there not “technically” being a spot for him there, he got the job! The job he got (and has now!) has proved to be so much better of a fit for him and our family than the one he lost would’ve been. We are so grateful that God had different plans than we did!
Safe to say, we have seen many, many miracles in our marriage and family thus far! Our path in our personal finances and in our jobs has been something that truly we could not have done on our own. One day I thought – “God, why have you helped us so much? We aren’t the best with budgeting, we definitely don’t always save or give like we should… Why do you always take care of us?” And the answer that came to me was – “So you will trust me when it comes time to do something big”. I believe that God working everything out with our jobs for us was setting the stage and strengthening our faith, so that when the time to came do something on an even larger scale, we would have the confidence and trust that he would provide as He’s always done.
Around that time I was in church one Sunday and during praise and worship a line in a song stuck out to me in a new way. The song is “This is a Move”, and the line that really resonated with me was – “Miracles happen when you move”. I have heard many sermons on faith needing action behind it, but this spoke directly to me. All of the successes and small victories we’d had so far have been the result of taking a step, even when we didn’t know what came next. We certainly don’t know where this journey will take us!
On April 19th, we took the step, and signed up with Mustard Seed Adoption Consultants!!! We were so excited and couldn’t wait to share it with our friends and family. We realized after the fact, that April 19th was the exact same day I found out I was pregnant with Isla in 2018. That wasn’t even planned at all by us! What’s even more crazy, is we found out we were expecting Isla exactly a year after the most traumatic of the three miscarriages we experienced, the loss of our son Forrest in 2017. There has been God’s hand over so many details in this so far, and he truly gives beauty for ashes!
Once we are home study approved, which should be very soon, we can begin presenting our family to expectant moms! One of the benefits of working with a consultant agency is- instead of being confined to one agency in one geographic location, we can work with any agencies they’re affiliated with, nationwide! This helps us have a higher chance of being matched quickly. I can not say enough good things about our experience with MSAC. They really work with you and help you along the entire process!
The way it works is that we will be notified by MSAC of any “situations” they receive of an expectant mom choosing to place their child for adoption. We then learn a bit of information about her and her story, and choose whether or not to “present” our family profile book to her. If we feel that the child she’s carrying would be a good match for our family, we send her a handwritten letter with a copy of our book. The profile book is a photo book of pictures and text where we share pictures of our family, our life, and our home so that she can picture where her child would grow up. The expectant mom will then choose the family she’d like to place her child with out of the families that “present” to her.
Once we present our family to an expectant mom, and she chooses us back, we are considered a match! We will communicate with her and her agency throughout her pregnancy, and hopefully be present at the birth! MSAC only works with adoption safe states, so the birth mom will have 72 hours or less to revoke her parental rights. Once that happens, there is nothing that can be done to “get the baby back” so to speak. So by the time we leave the hospital, our baby will be legally be ours!
If the baby is born out of state, we will have to stay there until the paperwork is filed with both states, which can take 10-14 days after the baby is discharged. This is called ICPC, which stands for Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. With everything going on in the world these days, I am 100% supportive of any measures and organizations that protect the welfare of children! Even if that does add an additional cost and burden on us.
Even after we return to Texas with our new baby, we’re not quite at the finish line yet! Our state require post placement visits with our social worker we used for our home study, so she can see that the baby is thriving. This part was a little confusing to me since they’re legally ours once the birth mama revokes her rights, but again – I’m all for protecting the children! After we fulfill the post placement requirements, we will be given a court date where the adoption will be finalized in front of a judge. I get teared up thinking about this day! We’re already planning to record the entire thing, and have a big big party for their “Gotcha Day”! I can NOT wait to hear the judge declare them officially a Maclellan!
One thing I have learned from mamas who have walked this path, is that our happy ending is someone else’s sorrow. I can’t even imagine the strength it takes an expectant mom to place their child in the hope of giving them a better life. I pray that I can communicate in our letter what admiration I have for her! We hope to have an open adoption and let our child grow up knowing her in some way. We don’t know exactly how that will look either, but our baby will always grow up knowing the respect we have for their birth parents, no matter what!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading and for your support! We’d love your prayers and good thoughts, and can’t wait to update you on whatever lies ahead! ❤️