Adoption was a God given dream placed in Bryanna’s heart as far back as she can remember. Nick heard about this dream from probably the second date and it was a “get in or get out” sort of deal. After 2 biological children we decided we wanted to start the adoption process but we were unsure of how we would ever afford it.
At the end of 2014 Nick was let go from his job. What initially seemed like a horrible situation turned into our launching pad. Nick was given a severance package. We used some for living expenses but a good chunk went to paying for a home study and our first agency fee! October 2015 we submitted our application to adopt and we brought our daughter home January of 2017.
We had so many people supporting us both financially and in tangible ways as we walked the long and hard path of adoption “paper chasing”. We had crowds cheering when we flew off to China to pick up our daughter and a bunch of folks waiting at O'Hare with welcome home signs when we got back.
But before we even left, we knew that what we would REALLY need is support when we came home.
Throughout the first year home, our daughter had 3 major surgeries and countless doctor appointments. NONE of this was in her adoption file so it was all unexpected. While people in our circle supported us as best they could, none had actually “been there, done that”.
The hardest moments of that year were sitting alone at night in the hospital feeling like it was us against the world.
I asked several adoptive families that I met that year if they knew of any support groups. Every single one said “No! But if you find one, could you please let me know? We want to go too!” In the fall of 2017 a friend of mine told me that she had heard about LMU when Jason came to talk at her church. She sent me a web link to LMU and I was disappointed to see that there were no groups in our area. But I started following them on social media and checking every once in a while to see if there were new locations.
We started coming out of our medical “fog” at the beginning of 2018 so we signed up to attend the Empowered to Connect conference. We walked in and to my surprise saw the smiling faces of Cheryl and Jason at the LMU booth! Nick and I stood there and talked to Cheryl for a good 20 minutes and I shared our journey and our desire to get a group started in our area.
We started driving to a group 45min away in May of 2018 just so that we could start feeling the support and be able to be around other families experiencing the same struggles as us.
At our first meeting our kids were so nervous and really had no desire to go. We sat in the living room working through curriculum with Jason and I could see our kids out a distant window playing in the backyard with Cheryl and her team. They were playing games, running around laughing and having so much fun.
When we got in the car, they BEGGED to go back again. They felt the connection and we did too!
We met another adoptive family from China at our second meeting and we had an instant connection. They’ve quickly become awesome friends and an amazing support system.
What we learn at our LMU gatherings we do our best to incorporate into our homes. And our children begin to feed off of it. There have been times where they are playing together and they set rules for their play. Stick Together. No Hurts. Have Fun. They didn’t make up these rules. They are taught at LMU.
We started working with our church, Ginger Creek, last summer and were able to launch a Ginger Creek branch in October of 2018. The same pastors who originally said “yeah, we’ll support you, we just don’t know how” now had the tools to do so!
We’ve now had 12 different families from both our church and community attend our group in the 5 months since we launched. Since our second gathering, we have had a wait list of families who want to attend. Our registration opens on Monday morning and is usually closed by Monday evening. The families are literally fighting to make “the cut” so that they can experience the connection and camaraderie of other families who “get it” and understand both the joys and hardships of walking the adoption and foster care road.
In our 5 short months we have walked the hard roads of saying goodbye to a sweet foster son who passed away, and supporting a family who had to say goodbye to one potential adoption for the safety of their other kids. But we also laugh- a LOT. Our kids always come up from the basement kids program laughing and sweaty with crafts and artwork to proudly present to their parents.
Hearts are healing and families are being blessed.
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