P R O M I S E O V E R P L A N S

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For years, Raleigh and I have prayed about adoption being part of our family’s story.

I can remember when we were dating, one of us would bring it up on occasion. We were so young still, with such hopes and dreams for our futures, and anytime Raleigh would bring it up, I’d think how lucky I was to maybe marry him one day. Once we got married, adoption fell into our “one day” conversations…the ones where we figured that one day all of our plans would fall into place - our house, our family, our jobs, and we’d have everything we ever wanted. We’d be happy, content, settled. That was the plan, and we figured adoption would happen at the right time and according to our plans.

As we were making all of our plans for our family, we loved the idea of adoption but were still clueless about how to make it happen. Then, our friends JW and KC adopted Zoe from Ethiopia. Walking with the Godwin family through their adoption process and then welcoming them home opened mine and Raleigh’s eyes to what life would really be like if we pursued adopting a child for our family. The twins were still so young and we’d just gotten used to being parents of preemies so the thought of acting on adoption wasn’t in our immediate future but something that we began to talk about more intentionally. JW and KC invited us to attend an adoption conference with them one weekend in Atlanta and our church held an adoption interest meeting with an agency in Alabama called Lifeline. We listened to other people’s stories and took notes. Our girls became best friends with Zoe. Adoption became part of our family’s everyday, and we were truly inspired by our friends’ faith to give their beautiful daughter a forever home.

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We continued to file adoption away into the “one day” file as we moved home to Dothan. Life became full with work, making new friends, and searching for a house to call home. I was almost thirty when we decided to have another biological child. I was so scared to go through pregnancy again after the twins were born early. Ridley’s pregnancy was happening at the same time as the remodeling of our “forever” home and God began to remodel my heart to trust Him with our plans. Even though Ridley was born six weeks early, the gift of hearing him cry changed my mama heart forever. He taught me how to be brave and to believe that God is perfect, so I don’t have to be.

Since Ridley turned three, the adoption conversation has been happening more frequently in our house. Ridley has been begging us for a baby brother. He has talked and talked and talked about having a baby brother. His sisters have too! Their sweet hearts are so big and it makes my mama heart swell every time I hear them talk about bringing a baby into our family. However, I will be the first to admit that our kids already keep us busy and raising two - four year old children are some of the most challenging years for me as a mother. The communication barriers that result in tantrums and the somewhat but not really independent nature of a preschooler sucks the life out of me by the end of the day. Even though we’d settled into our house and the kids were getting older, we still were hesitant to move forward with adoption. We kept going back and forth on if it was the right time, if we could afford to raise another child, if our family was finished or not. I knew we all wanted it to happen but could we actually handle raising another kid?

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Then one day Ridley dressed himself (mind you, it was in gym shorts and a t-shirt) but he woke up that morning and got dressed all on his own. I know this sounds silly, but that day was a game-changer for me. Suddenly, my baby boy was acting like a big boy. When I asked Ridley what motivated him to get dressed on his own that day he said, “Mama, I want to be a big boy so I can have a baby brother.”

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We did not make the decision to adopt because our children were begging for another sibling but we believe that the LORD was using their little voices to nudge our hearts toward Him. After years of wondering if we could handle having another child, I knew in that moment that our family was not complete. Raleigh and I have always envisioned having a family of four kids with the hopes of having two girls and two boys. I know many people think we are crazy to desire having a big family and I wouldn’t say that they are wrong. We are crazy. But we are also following “Crazy Love” as Francis Chan so eloquently says. We don’t want to look back ten years from now and wish that we had been bold instead of afraid, pursuing God’s promises instead of living in our safely-planned bubble. Even though the thought of adding one more child to our already full family seemed a little crazy, we believe that our family serves a God who is able to provide us with abundantly more time, energy, love, and resources than anything we could ever ask or imagine.

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Even though we had plans to adopt our fourth child, we had to wait until God prepared our hearts to act. One day close to Thanksgiving 2018, Raleigh and I both felt an overwhelming peace that we were ready to begin the adoption process. This peace was crystal clear and settled so nicely inside our souls after years of questions and concerns. We believe that we have received this peace because God’s promises are bigger than our plans. God hasn’t given us a map of what this adoption is going to look like, but He has promised us that “He will strengthen us with power through His Spirit…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19 NIV).

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One huge lesson of love that God is asking us to obey Him on is the fact that this adoption is not just about filling in a gap within our family. Once we began to look at adoption through the needs of a newborn child and his birth parents, we couldn’t stop ourselves from committing. We believe that there is a child out there that needs us just as much as we need him. We have given this child the name Raleigh James and we can’t wait to welcome him home sometime this year!

We have chosen to adopt Raleigh James domestically and are partnering with Faithful Adoption Consultants as we walk through this process. We have been approved for adoption and are busy filling out paperwork to prepare for our home study. We will write more on our adoption as we move through the different steps but right now we ask that you pray for Raleigh James, his birth parents, our children, our extended family, and for Raleigh and myself.

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We want to be open with you all as we journey through adoption because we believe in the power of a praying community. Many of you have prayed for our family since those early days of us dating and we’ve witnessed your prayers being answered with the birth of our three beautiful children. We thank you for your prayers, love, and support. God has written adoption as part of our story so we can share His story with others. We believe that God is going to use this community of light-shiners to prepare more hearts to fully receive His promises for themselves. We look forward to sharing more with you soon!

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‘Till next time, let your light shine,

Blessings,

Christen

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