DJ and I know Jeremy and Staci through church. Jeremy is the Recovery Groups Pastor at our Denton Campus, but because we work for different campuses, we actually do not know him all that well. We were able to see glimpses of their adoption process from afar (via emails to the church staff and updates on social media) so I was so glad to read the full version below. Read it and be encouraged, friends. The Lord is good and his grace is evident in their story.
We are the Daniels and are excited and honored to be guest bloggers! We enjoy opportunities to share with others how the Lord has worked and moved in our family through the beautiful gift of adoption. Here is our story, from the beginning…
I always had a desire to adopt and my husband married me understanding this, although at the time his heart was not in the same place. Through years of prayer and the Lord faithfully working on both of our hearts we knew we were both ready to begin looking into adoption. I had always had the specific desire to adopt a child that was in CPS custody. As we learned more about the process we learned that in order to adopt a younger child from CPS you must be willing to foster. We were not exactly sure we were prepared to go this route but nonetheless felt the Lord moving us in this direction. So, about 10 years into our marriage and 2 years after the birth of our second biological child we started the process to become a licensed foster home.
We received our first placement, Aniyah, 5 days after becoming licensed. I will never forget that day when this beautiful, exhausted 8 month old baby girl was carried into our home wearing a ragged blue onesie. We held her and loved her instantly despite the fact I couldn’t even pronounce her name (yes, my oldest who was 4 at the time had to teach me a cleaver way to remember how to say her name). Our boys, Kaydon and Layton, took to her right away and loved her as their baby sister, even though she was a complete stranger. Our Father was so gracious to allow our hearts to be knitted together instantly and to be able to love her as our own while acknowledging that she was not ours and that we must be open handed with her.
While our intention of fostering was to adopt, I felt the Holy Spirit convict me early on that our role as her foster family was to work alongside with the system to obtain the goal of reunification with her biological mother. For me, that meant that my prayers were not prayers of asking for adoption but rather crying out to the Lord begging that He would save her and break her free of generational sin regardless of the home in which she was raised. I remember rocking her at night and confessing that I was not Aniyah’s savior and reminding myself that our God can move in mighty ways and He doesn’t have to use our family to do that, but we should be faithful with the time He has given us, however long that might be.
Another way our family was lead to work towards supporting reunification was by being open to a relationship with the biological mother. Again, the Lord was so gracious by granting us favor with this young lady and through the years of fostering Aniyah we have developed a good relationship with her and she has opened up her heart to us and has shared some of her past with us. On Aniyah’s first birthday we were able to have a CPS supervised birthday party with our family and the birth family. Two completely different cultures coming together to love on and celebrate the life of this precious baby was such a sweet testament of the Lord’s faithfulness.
The process of fostering Aniyah lingered much longer than we had hoped. We came across many obstacles and it was two and a half years of a lot of back and forth of preparing for her to leave our home just to find out she is staying a little longer. It was over a year and half before her goal was changed from reunification to adoption. While this was an exciting day it was also a heavy day. Adoption comes with loss and the reality of that was vivid for us along this road.
After two years of court hearings, mediation, a trial and an appeals process, Aniyah was finally free for adoption and our court date was set. June 26, 2013 is a day our family will always celebrate. It was such a beautiful day. Aniyah had this sweet, excited spirit about her that day as if she knew what was going on even though she had no idea we were legally not her family. She was dressed in a beautiful white dress that morning and she runs down the stairs and yells, “Look daddy! I’m a Barbie!” as she is twirling around. We made the all too familiar drive down highway 35 to the Cooke County courthouse like we had many times before, but this time it was different. We entered the courtroom surrounded by sweet family and friends and testified before the judge that we understood the weight of becoming this little girl’s parents. I took a moment to look around and see tears streaming down many faces. That day we were finally able to say that Aniyah was part of our family, forever!
We have also continued to grow our relationship with her birth mother. We were given the opportunity to foster two more of her younger biological siblings but felt God closing those doors. Now I am able to see that He has had different plans for us. Plans for us to now walk with the biological mother not by fostering her children but by having the freedom to form a deeper relationship with her as we have entered into an open adoption.