Friday, August 24, 2012

The Story of Hannah Brielle

Thank all of you for all of your sweet words, prayers and encouragement over the last four months. To everyone who has called, texted, and sent messages: thank you! You have shown us the kind of love and support that we needed! So, let me tell you a sweet story of our Hannah Brielle...

After we left the hospital without Adeline, we came home and talked quite a bit about whether or not to come off the waiting parent list at our adoption agency. Justin and I both agreed that we didn't want to come off the list; we still wanted to be considered immediately for a baby to add to our family. We had scheduled a mini-vacation to a resort outside of Las Vegas for the middle of May. If you'll remember, we left the hospital with an empty car seat on April 6, so we had a few weeks to pray and recover. I remember, very clearly, thinking that we probably wouldn't match, so we'd start trying to get pregnant on our little getaway and that we'd adopt our fourth child after biologically having our third. I was discouraged, and just didn't think that God could do it. Not that He really couldn't give us a baby that quickly, but just doubted that I'd heard Him correctly, doubted that I was understanding what He was trying to do. I think I was sort of in a state of emotional shock. Little did I know...

A few weeks after my birthday, we got a phone call from our adoption agency that we had been picked by another birth mom. This young lady's due date was July 26, which left us with nine weeks of waiting. I was sure I couldn't do it. After our previous experience, I didn't know if I had the emotional energy to go through it all again, but this time with nine weeks to attach to a baby that I may or may not be able to call my own. Skeptical was a good word to describe my mood when I got the call. Would this one go through? How would I do it? Was the baby healthy? Was it another precious girl that I'd have to leave at the hospital, once again? With all that weighing on my heart, Justin and I agreed to meet the birth mother and see if we were her baby's parents.

As we approached the agency that day, we were nervous. We prayed outside in Justin's truck for God's peace and purposes to reign rather than our nerves and fears. We prayed for the baby, for the birth mother, and that God would somehow rescue and protect our somewhat tattered hearts. I remember being so nervous, until I met our birth mother. She was absolutely delightful, from a wonderful family, had faithfully taken her prenatal vitamins and gone to her doctor's appointments. Her mom was with her, and by the end of the meeting we were not-so-discreetly exchanging phone numbers with promises to call and text. We signed our paperwork to "match" with her the next day, two weeks before we left for Vegas. I can only imagine the look on God's face as I looked at that date, just three weeks after Adeline was born.

The next eight weeks were full of fun times with our birth mom and her family, getting to know her and letting her get to know us. We went to dinner with them, they came over for play dates with the boys, I got to go have some girl hang out time with them, and got to go to every doctor's appointment. Our birthmother and her family started referring to her baby as our baby, we named her together (Hannah was the top of our list, and our birthmother chose Brielle, which means "God is our might".) and told the boys about their baby sister. I got bedding together and bought some clothes and diapers, made some fun things for the car seat and ordered more hair bows than I could ever give away if it fell through. I was nervous, yes, but trusted our birth mother and our Heavenly Father. I still am amazed at what an exceptional young woman our birth mother is; to think that she carried a baby she knew she was going to place, endured scoffing of cruel people and handed over her baby to's just mind-blowing. When people ask me who the strongest woman I know is, she will forever be the first name on my lips.

In the 36th week appointment, the doctor mentioned that she was a candidate for induction. We agreed that would be best, as our birth mother was starting school mid-August and needed as much recovery time as she could get before then. After about two minutes, the doctor walked back inside and said that our baby was going to be here on July 16! We were thrilled but also sat in the moment and thought about all that it meant. I was nervous that hearing a final date would be hard on our birth mother. Instead, she looked at me and was excited for me that I'd get to finally meet my daughter, after all this time! See?!?!? Only God could have put this young woman in our lives, and only God could have designed her in such a selfless way.

I'm not sure I got any sleep the night of July 15. I sang at church that day and wanted to both fall to my knees and beg God for Hannah Brielle, but also wanted to shout from the roof tops that we were going to have a baby the NEXT DAY! When my alarm went off at 3:30 am on Monday morning (Yes, I showered and got myself all pretty, because I was going to meet my daughter that day! You can call it shallow...I wanted to look my best for my baby girl!!!), I don't remember being very well-rested! It was the same hospital, the same nurse and the room next door to the one Adeline had been delivered in. I was nervous, and as the minutes turned to hours and the hours turned to half a day and the half a day almost turned to a full day, we waited. I met so many wonderful people that day: friends of our birth mom, Acteens leaders, church pastors, family friends. It was exciting, to say the least. Then, at 10:48 pm, Hannah was born! It was wonderful. I was in the room, and Justin came in right after. Justin got to give Hannah her first bottle. We got to escort her to the nursery and have her stay in a room with us each night. On Wednesday, we got to bring her home after getting some much needed time alone with her birth mom. It was surreal, and still is. I have a daughter. She's beautiful. She's laid-back. She's alert and smiles. Her brothers LOVE her. It's been amazing.

So, here are some of the really cool things about this adoption:
1) Had we not walked through our previous adoption process, we totally would have taken this experience for granted. Thank you, Lord, for knowing us better than we know ourselves.
2) Seeing Justin as a daddy to a girl. Can't write much about that because I just get so teary-eyed and my heart turns to mush.
3) Seeing the boys as big brothers together. Caden is the super affectionate one, kissing her every time he sees her and trying to pick her up when she does tummy time. Oh, the evil eye I get when I tell him no!! Noah is sort of her protector from afar. He takes in what we're doing and then, when Caden gets too close or when she's crying, steps in and makes sure she's being tended to. Noah talks so sweetly to her, reads to her when Caden is sleeping and has talked about protecting her so valiantly. (If you want to read more about this, scroll down to see the bath tub story...)
4) Seeing the boys become big brothers to an adopted baby. It's the coolest thing; adults want it qualified. They want to hear that she's adopted to confirm their suspicions. When I take her out, they eye me suspiciously and say something like, "You look really good for only having had a baby four weeks ago!" Most of the time I just say thanks and shrug, but every once in a while someone pushes and I tell them that she's adopted. To the boys, though, she's just their sister. Doesn't matter how she got here. She's here now, and she's here to stay.
5) Our birth family. They are phenomenal people who continue to amaze us.
6) Having three kids, and being able to share the responsibility of night time feedings with Daddy. ;)
7) Seeing how amazing our family is about having an adopted baby in the family. There is literally no difference between our kids in their eyes, which is how we hoped it would be. Maybe the coolest thing about this is that it never occurred to us to be nervous about this part; we knew they'd all be great, but it's exceeded even our expectations.
8) That everyone knows now, so we can just call her our daughter, from now until forever.

Thanks again for all your prayers! We covet and appreciate each one!

The Smiths

Here is the bathtub story of Noah protecting Hannah!

-This week, our babysitter was here and playing with the boys. Hannah was awake and happy so I decided to give her a bath. She generally loves baths, so it was fun. I got the bath tub ready over the sink and started the water. We have this tub, which allows me to monitor the bath water temperature without water that's too hot or too cold getting in the part she's in. Anyway, I started the water to allow it to get to the right temp, and Noah came over. He asked about the bath tub and why Hannah needs to take a bath in the sink. After we covered that issue, he asked about the screen and why it was blue. I told him that the screen on the thermometer being blue meant that the water was too cold. The screen then quickly went from green to red, as the hot water came through. It started beeping, alerting me that the water was too hot. Noah, of course, asked about that, too. I explained that this was a special thermometer that allowed me to see when the water was just the right mix of hot and cold, which would show as green on the screen. He asked about the alarm and the red screen, which I told him meant that the water was too hot. He looked at me with wide eyes and said, "Mom, I think I'll stay right here and watch the screen the whole time. I want to make sure it stays green, and I'll tell you if it changes to red or blue. Because, Mom, if it switches to red, we have to get our Hannah girl OUT!!!" He was so adamant about it and, indeed, stayed by my side the entire ten minutes it took me to bathe her, occasionally letting me know that the screen was still green. It was the most adorable thing ever. The Lord has blessed Hannah with amazing big brothers, and this is a story I look forward to sharing with our kids for a long time!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We had her...

Hello all. So many of you have been asking so we thought we'd post an update. About a month ago we got word that we had been chosen by a birth mother. She was having a little girl, due April 11 (Noah's 3rd birthday). We met the birth mother, her daughter and I got to go to two sonograms and see our sweet Adeline Eve.
On April 4, 2012 Adeline was born at 11:32 am. She weighed in at 5 pounds, 5.5 ounces and is beautiful. I had the honor of being in the room and escorting her to the nursery, and helping with her first bath. She pretty quickly had to be transferred to the NICU here because she had a collapsed lung. The hospital staff arranged for me to spend two nights up at the hospital, so I could be just like her mom and able to see her and help her get better.
Throughout this time we were warned that maybe the birth mother wasn't as sure as she had originally thought about placing the baby for adoption. So, at about 9 am on Good Friday, which also happened to be my 30th birthday, the birth mother said she wanted to keep our sweet Adeline, three hours before she was to sign the papers so we could officially claim Adeline as our own.
We got to see and hold her one more time. We prayed over her, wept and a sweet nurse at the NICU prayed over us. One of the most difficult things I've ever done is leaving the hospital that day, knowing that the life she is bound to lead is going to before difficult than the one we would have loved to raise her in.
We have had a hard time since then letting go. But, God is faithful. He is in control, and even when we don't understand, He does. He loves Adeline more than we do, and we trust that He will be her Heavenly and Earthly Daddy. Please pray for us, for Adeline and for the birth mother.
Thank you all for caring for us so, and for joining us in prayer.

Justin and Rachel

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If you think my hands are full...

I've heard from many people recently as they see me out and about with Caden and Noah that I "must have my hands full." And, it's true. My boys are a handful! But, I recently saw a woman with a shirt on that said, "If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart." It got me thinking, "Is my heart full"? So, as I sat and thought about it, I have come to a conclusion. My heart is wonderfully joyful that we have two healthy, loving, wonderful boys. They are the best job I've ever had, stretch me in ways I couldn't imagine, and I love them more than I would have told you was possible before we had children. They are such blessings. But, is my heart full, as in, cannot love another?
As I prayed about that, the answer the Lord gave me is a resounding no. My heart is full to overflowing, and I know that having a third child so quickly will be chaotic (or a third and fourth, should we get twins), but I guess the way I think of it is that my heart is a tall glass or pool, almost filled with love for our boys and my little family. Now, picture a kid joyfully taking a flying leap into that glass, doing a picture perfect cannonball right in the middle, landing safely in the love of his or her new mommy! Sure, there's going to be change, ripples throughout and puddles under the cup, but it's all love that spills out, joy that we'll share knowing God has blessed us with another child or more children. So, for now, we're waiting! Please continue to be in prayer for us and our boys, for the birth mother and what she's going through. We love and appreciate you all supporting us through this journey!

Lastly, our adoption agency has a Facebook page and I borrowed this picture from it. I just love it. We hope you all are well, and that God is holding you in His perfect peace, just as He is holding us!

Justin, Rachel, Noah and Caden

Friday, February 10, 2012

We're on the web!

We're up on the web! Our profile is up on the Christian Homes website, and we just couldn't be more excited. Justin and I were talking again with Noah tonight about having a little brother or sister, and it's so sweet to hear him talk about having another baby in the house. As if to give my heart an 'exclamation point', I went to Target after bedtime and saw a big brother, who was maybe sixteen, giving his little sister, who was maybe ten, a shoulder ride. They were so exicted to reach things on the top shelves, and she didn't mind punching all the signs up there, either! It was adorable and did my heart good to see a teenage big brother so unashamedly loving his sister. I may or may not have sort of followed them for an aisle or two, happy tears streaming down my face.
Justin and I stayed up late one night this week and, as it often does, our adoption became a topic of conversation. We talked a little bit about how our life will change. It was a great conversation, but I think the thing God sort of solidified in my heart was how much our lives will be blessed and changed by this precious baby (or babies) God will bring into our home.
God is so good to allow us to get to this point so quickly. We're praying a lot that the next phase is swift, but I'm selfishly praying that my heart will also be ready as He prepares me to be a mother, a third time around, to a baby that someone else knows so well, and who knows a birthmother as his or her sustainer of life. I'm praying for the relationship I'll have with our birthmother, knowing she's braver than I ever could have been. I'm praying for our boys, for Justin and for wisdom in the days to come. We covet your prayers, as always, but maybe now you can see just what to pray for. Thank you so much for caring enough about our journey to take some time out of your day to read about my thoughts. We have the best family and friends in the world, and we love hearing from you guys as you support us and pray for us!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Great news!
We're officially approved for adoption through our agency! This is wonderful news, and we're so excited to begin the next phase of our adoption journey!

What this means:
We're done interviewing and have submitted all of our paperwork. The agency has done all of their paperwork, so we're done with that phase of this adotion.

What happens now:
There are multiple possibilities now, but these are the most two likely scenarios:

1) The agency will call us any time now, letting us know that a birthmother who has yet to have her baby would like to meet us for a potential "match". Depending on the circumstance, we would most likely meet her and make sure we all agree on how much contact to have, etc. after the adoption. If all that lines up, we'd just wait for her to have the baby and then we'd bring our third child home!

2) The agency calls us and says that a mom that has already given birth to a baby would like to meet us to make sure we can agree on post-adoption terms (contact, pictures, etc.). If we do agree, we can get our new baby from foster care ASAP!

So, either way, we've officially entered the waiting stage. We were certainly waiting before, but it was on paperwork processing. Now, we're waiting for a BABY! So excited!

At this point, we'd appreciate your prayers for the birth mother, for us and for the baby. That he or she would be healthy and would already feel the love that our family can't wait to bestow on him or her!
We'd love for you all to pray for us to be wise in what we agree to, looking at how the decisions we're making will impact the life of this precious baby for his or her entire life. Please pray that we would be wise about talking to our kids about this, and sensitive to their needs in this exciting time.
I would say pray for a quick match, but I think that God has that already in His hands, so His will be done. Amen and Amen! In short, pray hard, pray often and WE LOVE YOU GUYS!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Home Study Wednesday, January 18!

Our home visit is tomorrow afternoon at 2! Prayers appreciated and coveted, both for us, our wonderful case worker, our two boys and whatever other children God has for us! Thank you so much for walking with us through this journey!