I am a wife, a friend, a teacher at Estes Elementary School, a foster parent, and I just became a mother after trusting God for eight years that He would provide a child of our own. It is rare to hear a positive story on domestic adoption; people frown at the idea and gave us multiple reasons not to adopt domestically. But for us, it was not only an answer to our prayer, but also an amazing experience, one we wanted to share in order to bring hope to those who are considering adoption.
I made the decision eight years ago to journal throughout this journey so that I would have a story to share with our little one. So here is it — her story of how God brought her into our life and how special she is.
June 15, 2009
My friend spoke at a church today and I went to hear her speak. Tears flooded my eyes and I knew in my heart that I was to come to Owensboro. After living in New York City for six years, I feel the Lord calling me to Owensboro to help a children’s ministry and serve in a local church.
(I met my husband, Steve, the day I moved here and we became friends right away.)
October 16, 2009
Yes! My family can stop asking if I will ever get married! We did it – I got married at 28, but it was well worth the wait for such a man of God.
Steve and I sat down to talk about having a family. I’m sad at the thought of waiting a year but I will be patient and enjoy my time with my husband.
We’ve been married a year. It’s hard to believe it! This year went so much faster than I expected. Yay, we can start trying to have a baby!
We are having a hard time getting pregnant. We decided that we would both contact our doctors to get checked out. I am so surprised it is taking us so long – I just thought for sure we would get pregnant right away.
We went to see the doctor in Louisville today. My husband’s doctor told us that we could get pregnant but there was only a 1% chance. It would be very invasive, expensive, and may not even work. We both looked at each other and our hearts just sank. On our way home, we stopped by our pastor’s home. We walked in and I just fell apart, sobbing. I know the promise the Lord has for us – I’ve longed to have children since I was 5 years old, but in this moment it just seems hopeless! Of course there was a possibility of fertility treatments, but we just can’t seem to wrap our minds around paying all that money when there are tons of children all over the world we can help!
I’m trying to keep myself busy, but I’m in college getting my teaching degree and we have an entire month off from school. I started researching adoption agencies and came across embryo adoption. I’ve never heard of it before and was a bit skeptical at first. When couples use in vitro fertilization to achieve pregnancy, they will often have embryos remaining after they complete their family. One option available to them is to donate those embryos to another couple. We had a peace about it and decided to pursue embryo adoption. We quickly got matched with a family from Chicago that had nine embryos.
I had three embryos implanted and they all failed.
Three more embryos were implanted. These hormone treatments are wearing me out. I feel like a different person. But we got the call from the doctor — we are pregnant! We are beyond excited! The nurse set up our appointment to come in next month for the heartbeat.
I am nervous about going to the doctor. The doctor hooked me up to the machine to hear the heartbeat, but there was no sound. I cried the whole way home and when we got home Steve and I just held each other in tears. We thought this was our time.
The last three embryos were implanted and all failed. I don’t understand. We connected with the family and I did everything I was supposed to. Today when I got the laundry out of the dryer I sat down weeping. I will never forget this moment. The Lord began speaking to me and reminded me of His love for me and the gift of a husband I have. I’ve been focused on having a baby and today I commit to focusing on you Lord and enjoying the life that you have set before me.
Throughout this season, the Lord began to speak to me and remind me of the scripture in Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” I know there is a desire for children in my heart and I believe the Lord will fulfill it. Although this season is super challenging for me and Steve, it has made us stronger together and closer to God. We have been hearing about children in the foster system and the need for foster parents. If we aren’t to have children of our own in this season, why not help children that need us right now?
We finished all our paperwork for fostering and got our first call. Two little girls in the ER who had fallen through the ceiling and were left by their parents. I left work early to go pick them up. As I sat in the ER, I was overwhelmed at the thought of immediately becoming parents to two little girls. They grabbed my hands and wanted me to dance with them. Kids are resilient. We stayed in the ER room for two hours, I sang to them and they twirled in their little tutus the social worker bought them. I got home to Steve and we realized they have lice. We had no idea about lice. I started Googling and realize that we only have mayonnaise. We clean them up, lathered that mayo all over their hair, pull out a few shower caps out of the travel kits and we are all ready for bed. These girls are so fun! The love that is in our hearts for children is now pouring all over these babies.
Another call today. There is a newborn in the ICU. “She needs a forever home and we think you are a great fit for her,” states the worker. A FOREVER home! Could this be our promise? I drive to the ICU in Evansville and meet our little Brooklyn. Three days later, Steve and I drive her home with the other two girls. We immediately go from four to five, three girls under three years old. I line them up on the floor to change their diapers all at the same time. Girls sure are fun! I lost 10 pounds this month, probably due to the fact that I am changing diapers, cooking, feeding, and never eating my own food.
I contact the social worker to explain to her that I am unable to drive two hours a day for their visits to their birthparents because I start back to work. She tells me that they will then have to find another home for all three girls closer to their birthparents, after they told me they would take care of the transportation. In two hours, I had to have all their items packed up. They are all three leaving us. I cry the whole trip and even get pulled over by a cop for speeding.
The heartache we feel is indescribable, but we still have faith in our hearts! I got a call from an unknown number and when I answered it, the person on the other end hung up. The next day, they called again. It was a birth mom who wanted us to adopt her baby. The baby is due in two weeks. We meet her and support her instantly by going to her appointments. The last appointment she was 4 centimeters dilated and they expected the baby to come any day. We have everything in place and are excited about baby C!
We find out that the birth mom kept the baby and announced him on Facebook. Although it is so hard to see it, we have a heart for this momma. I text her right away and tell her we love her and if she ever needs anything to contact us.
We decide to renew our fostering paperwork and foster again. I have been looking at adoption agencies but we just don’t have the down payment for it and really don’t feel like we were supposed to adopt at right now. My heart still longs for the pitter patter of little feet in our home!
We start respiting two girls, ages 5 ½ and 8 months for a few weekends and then the foster mom asks us if we would be interested in being a forever home for the girls. We fall in love with these girls instantly and have a great relationship with their birth mom.
We drive to my family’s house up north. The girls are so excited to meet their grandparents and cousin. They instantly become attached to all the grandparents.
The girls are going back to birth mom after 17 months of being in our home. I can’t begin describe the peace that we have. Sure, they were a part of our family and still are to this day. It is sad to see them go, but we know that God will watch over them and that their birthmother truly loves them and wants the best for them.
Sidenote: Fostering kids is one of the hardest things we have ever done, but it definitely is one of the most rewarding things that God has called us to do!
“God, we believe you will give us the desires of our heart! Please direct our steps on our next decision.” I pray this daily. We want God’s direction and know that His way is way better than our own!
Steve and I sat down and discussed adoption. I have done research on over 40 agencies and we picked one, one that we feel in our hearts to contact. They only accept six families a month and we have to go through an interview process. Why in the world is there so much paperwork with adoption?
We got the call for our interview. We were on the phone for two hours. We have such a peace with this agency. They are so genuine and know what they were doing. You can tell they are in it for everyone involved and we are so excited to hear if we are accepted by their agency.
We are accepted! Now to start building our profile online and work on our home study.
Our profile is complete and home study finalized. Our profile is now live online and can be picked at any time. We decide not to tell many people this time around. Our journey hasn’t just been hard on us but also for all the people who love us and love all the kids that we have had in our home!
Spending a lot of time in the nursery praying for our baby to come.
We told our families we are adopting and tears flooded the room – tears of joy! At this point, we are getting so excited. The agency told us it could be up to two years before we got picked. We are patiently waiting for God’s perfect timing. In the meantime, we pray for the birthparents and our baby.
We book our vacation to Mexico. It was something to look forward to while we are on the journey and we know it will be our last getaway together before the baby arrives. The last week in January, we got the call. I was working and checked my phone at lunch. Steve had called me twice and I saw the agency phone number. My heart leaped – could it be, did we get picked? I listen to my two voicemails and start crying – our promise that we have been trusted is here! It’s a GIRL! I want to tell so many people, but I have to hold it in. That night we call the birthparents and talk for two hours. We already feel like we have known them for years. We ask them if we could come meet them in Florida and they are excited for us to travel to see them.
Birthmom sent us ultrasound pictures today! The baby is 2 ½ lbs. We text back and forth all throughout the week. We are so connected to each other already and we love hearing from them! They are already our family!
I took two personal days off from work to travel to meet the birthparents. Steve and I hop in the car for our 14-hour journey. Our hearts are nervous, excited, anxious, etc. Thankfully, my godparents live very close to them and we are able to stay with them for the weekend. We meet them at a breakfast place along the beach. Our breakfast turned into a four hour conversation. Later that weekend, I spend special time with birthmom. We decided to go get massages. I sit and look at her and just cry, thankful of the sacrifice and honored that they chose us to raise their child. This amazing woman wasn’t giving her child up, she was giving this child the best life that she knew by entrusting us with her life and future. Special moments like these are what I will share with our child as she grows up – her mom that loved her so much and wanted the best for her.
We start Facetiming on a weekly basis getting to see her tummy grow and connect on such a deeper level, conversations of life and our future together. Steve and I decide on a name and want to see if they have a name preference. I text the birthparents our idea but also share that we would love any ideas they have for a name. They text back that they love the name. She will be called Olivia! The name stems from olive, meaning the promise of life. The Lord reminded us of the dove that left the ark and brought back the olive branch to show that there was life on land. God spoke to us and said “Olivia is your promise of life!”
One month left for her arrival, Olivia Joy Harralson. It finally starts to feel real. Thoughts of God’s faithfulness bring tears to my eyes every time. We find out that her C-section was scheduled for June 7th and we make plans to travel down June 1st to spend more time with them.
We have a special dinner with the birthparents. They brought us a bag of gifts and we end the night with ice cream.
June 7, 2017
We pack our bag for the hospital and have butterflies of excitement about what this day would bring us – such JOY! We arrive at the hospital and the head of the unit tells us that they are going to give us our own special room, right next to the birthparents. As they prep birthmom for surgery, we are right by their side. They take them back for surgery and us to the recovery room. They will be back in about 30 minutes with our baby. Now, the wait….we just sit and stare at each other. Finally, we hear a crying baby headed our way. My body starts shaking – I couldn’t believe this moment. The moment we’ve waited for our entire life – this sweet moment of God’s faithfulness. They bring her into the room and there she was — perfect! The perfect gift from God. I did skin to skin and she latched right on. My special friend donated all of her breast milk and I am able to nurse my adoptive daughter. All the fear and anxiety left, God’s peace flooded my entire body!
June 9, 2017
The past two days, I would take Olivia to feed her and then bring her right back to birthmom to hold. Sure it was hard not holding her the whole time but could you imagine how the birthmom feels? We really tried to put them first because we love them and know it is a tough decision for them. After two nights of no sleep and anxiously awaiting to get custody of our baby, the agency arrives. We have to leave the room while the birthparents sign their paperwork. An hour later, we are asked to come back into the room. As we entered, everyone starts crying and holding each other. No words can even explain that emotional moment in that room that day. They are grateful for us, and we are grateful for them. We all got dismissed from the hospital and walked out together. After multiple hugs and goodbyes, my husband and I got in the car. My husband begins weeping, not because we finally got our baby but because he hurts for them.
June 12, 2017
Olivia has her two-day follow up and we ask the birthparents to come to the appointment. We are so grateful that they want to be involved in Olivia’s life.
June 21, 2017
We finally get to come home after all the paperwork went through the state of Florida and the state of Kentucky. As we got into our home, I just weep for days at the faithfulness of God. Every time I look at our daughter, I will never forget the sweet love and sacrifice that her birthparents had and have for her still to this day. We remain to have open communication with them and believe that this will be the best for Olivia and her future. Although these past eight years have been challenging, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so thankful for the journey and looking back, I see God’s plan and His faithfulness through the entire journey.
Faith Harralson is a kindergarten teacher at Estes Elementary. She and husband, Steve, just adopted Olivia Joy, and are excited to share their story with Owensboro Parent.