Monday, September 24, 2012

A look back

As I updated this blog and our Ruthie B Photography blogs today I thought it would be a good time to share the background of our adoption journey again... we will call it a look back and a hopeful look forward.

How we became Niles and Maria

Niles was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, brought us to the same city at just the right moment- when we were high school freshmen.One year later, Niles asked Maria to be his girlfriend, and we’ve been together ever since! We spent the rest of our high school years marching together in the band, hanging out with our friends, watching tons of movies and growing up- together .After graduation we went to two different colleges (Niles=Winthrop, Maria=USC) and commuted on weekends to see each other.Those four years of college were difficult as we began our adult lives in different places, but the Lord used that time to grow us closer to Him as individuals. We were engaged the December of our senior year and were married in July, almost 7 years from our first date.

We have now been married for 8 years and have been together 15 half of our lives!

When 2 became 4

The Lord has blessed us with two beautiful biological children, Turner Niles who is 5 and Calvin Richard who is 2 ½.

Turner is a sweet, inquisitive preschooler that loves soccer and superheroes.
Calvin is a hilarious, determined, curious and active 2-year-old.He loves cars and his snuggly-sheep and is REALLY excited about becoming a big brother soon!


The Call to Adopt

June 19, 2011 was the day God clearly spoke to me (Maria) his desire for our family to adopt a baby. It was Father's Day. Our pastor, Skip MacMillan, was preaching a sermon on Deuteronomy 1 where Moses was recounting to the Israelites the last time they stood at the precipice of the land of Canaan (the Promise Land). Moses spoke of the fear and disbelief that prevented the Israelites from obediently entering ad taking possession of the land. This disobedience condemned the Israelites to wander the desert for forty years.

Skip cautioned us against similar disobedience citing specific examples in Deuteronomy 1:26-28. In those verses Skip discussed 3 things the Israelites did that lead them into a dark, disobedience.

1. Unwillingness "Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God" ( v. 26)

2. Believe Lies about the Lord to excuse disobedience you murmured in your tents and said, 'Because the LORD hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt,to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us” (v. 27)
3. Blame Other People for their own disobedience “Our brothers have made our hearts melt...” (v. 28)

As I considered these things, specifically the Unwillingness to follow and obey God, to trust God promises, power, love for them, I found myself asking the Lord to show me areas of unwillingness in my heart.

The answer was so loud, so clear, that I felt like my head and heart might explode! God made it clear to me that for some time he had been calling our family to adopt a child and I until that moment had been unwilling to obey. The thought that ran over and over and over in my mind was "You have a daughter somewhere else- go get her." There was such a sense of finality in that moment-the direction was clear and I was to walk in it. As the Israelites were called to walk in God's promise into the Land of Canaan our family was called to walk down the path of adoption.

During that service (and the following one which I stayed in to make sure I was hearing clearly!) the Lord blessed me with encouragement. He brought to mind several recent and positive adoption conversations I had had with friends and family... there were moments while singing that I was so overcome with love for my daughter that I couldn't even sing or stop the tears from flowing... And so our journey began! We are aware that the Giants on this road are many and yet we are certain if the LORD delights in us, he will fulfill this desire he has given us and he will work the details out to bring our baby home.

As we have taken steps toward bringing our baby home and have spent more and more time learning about God's heart through his Word, our hearts have grown bigger and bigger for adoption. We believe that adoption is a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. No matter what we’ve done, or where we’re from, He has brought us into his family and adopted us as sons and daughters by faith in Jesus. Not only that- but he DELIGHTS in us! We cannot wait to share this truth with the baby the Lord brings into our family.

Now what?

Now we wait.

We are officially approved by our agency and the State of SC to adopt a baby from the United States through our agency or through a private adoption. Our nursery is stocked and ready for either a baby girl or boy. The car seat is prepped to be put in our van at a moments notice... We eagerlyand joyfully wait for a call that will change our lives forever!

"...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up withwingslike eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:30-31

What can YOU do?

Please join us in prayer for the woman that will be our baby's birthmother. Pray that she will have the courage and support she will need to make and follow through with an adoption plan. Pray that she and the baby are sheltered under the LORD'S wings during her pregnancy (
Psalm 91:4). Pray too that the Lord will continue to provide the necessary funds we will need to offset the costs associated with our adoption.

2. Book a photoshoot with Maria!
Our photoshoots have been one of our primary fundraisers and we would love to do more! For current promotions and for samples of Maria's work for Ruthie B Photography please visit our promotions page-

3. Donate!
Our best guess is that the costs associated with our adoption (agency fees, legal fees, documentation fees etc.) will be in the range of $15,000-$20,000.We are confident that the Lord has called us to welcome home a baby though adoption and that HE will provide all that we need to bring him or her home! If you'd like to be a part of what God is doing in our family please
Thank you for your love and support!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I don't know what you're doing, but I know who you are

I remember saying to one of my closest friends on the playground a few weeks ago "If this whole thing falls apart and L changes her mind... after all the pink-to-blue and emotions we've been through- will someone be there to hold me up?"  With all the confidence in the world she said "Yes!  We will be there!"

And she was.  And so were many of you reading this blog now.  You were there to hold me up.  You interceded for me and my family when I no longer had the words I needed. You empathized with our sorrow. You understood that although L's baby was never in my tummy or in my arms my heart experienced a great loss when our adoption plan fell apart. 

Thank you for being there. 

I have moved into the acceptance stage of grief... acknowledging that I have NO idea what God is doing, but asserting full faith in WHO he is.  Perhaps the Lord will give me the luxury on this side of heaven to understand the "why?" of this part of our story... but even if he doesn't I will trust that he will work all things out for our good.   The Lord has not left us and in HIM we continue to HOPE! I give glory to the Lord and thanks to his people for getting us through that most difficult and unwanted week-long-vacation. We look forward to coming better days.

This week we are back to our new normal... back to work for Daddy, back to K4 preschool for Turner, back to just-the-two-of us mornings for me and Cal and back to waiting for a birthmother to choose us.  There are moments when the idea of  "waiting again" suffocates me... I worry about enduring all that we did last time all over again... but in those moments Niles reminds me that all adoption stories are different.  That there is no reason to believe next time the wait will be as long nor that it will be as arduous... and if it is, again our FATHER will be there and his people will come along side us.

Again, we look forward to coming better days.

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."
Habakkuk 3

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A week later

So, this morning I was accused of being a silent sufferer by a good friend and decided it was time to post again. I've processed quite a bit this week, and will probably make more progress as I write this.

One week ago today, Maria and I were nervous, but crazy excited about meeting our son the next day. We were ready to go: room's finished, little bags packed, ringtones updated as to not freak us out as much when our social worker called, etc. All we had to do was sleep. For me, that was a no brainer. Literally. See, I have what some call a "nothing box" in my mind that I can access at will. When the time is right, I then crawl into this nothing box in my mind where nothing exists except for me and my pillow and sleep. Maria had no such box, and slept very little from what I'm told. You can reference Maria's previous post to see how that next day went. She nailed it. What we hoped would never happen to us, happened.

So, Monday I was pissed-off. Can I say that? Guess I just did. Was I angry with L? No, we love L and want the best for her and her child. But, who can say what's best? I guess that's up to her. And we respect that, as much as we might disagree. I think it was a protective reaction in my heart to this whole fiasco. I wanted to stand up for both the baby and L, but couldn't. Still can't.

Tuesday, I could almost physically feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit in my heart the entire day. What does that feel like? Feels like a wild hope that seems to spring from nowhere and squashes what should be utter pain and disbelief. Maria and I took Turner to preschool and then took Calvin to the Riverwalk. There we had a much-needed cathartic (look it up, I had to) walk, where I was insanely calm and hopeful about everything, and Maria and I talked through everything we could think of regarding the past day. Did we get it wrong somewhere? Should we keep going? What should we be focused on? Why are we having to go through all this?

Here's where we landed: We know for sure that God is sovereign; He's in control of everything. Not in a cliche way of saying it. But really. What has happened is part of his sovereign plan for this world, and our lives. We know for sure that the LORD works all things for his glory. (Isaiah 48:11, Jeremiah 13:11, Ephesians 1:5-6, 12, etc.) And lastly, we know that the praise of God's glory brings us the deepest joy. John Piper says it well in a reflection on Psalm 16:11, "In your presence there is fullness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures for evermore' (16:11). God is after us to give us what is best—not prestige, wealth, or even health in this life, but a full-blown vision of and fellowship with himself." So, to sum it up: God is in control. He loves us. He works for his glory. His glory will bring us the deepest, 
most satisfying joy. So what's should our focus be? What's the end to adoption? Is it the child? I think that we most of the time think it is, or should be. But, maybe our focus needs to be on pursuing our relationship with God, and his will. What does that even mean? Well, right now it means going to Him with our hurt. It means trusting that even though this baby wasn't to be ours, we know that He will be faithful our bringing our baby home. And when he does, well, there will be praise to be sung that day!

But, it's Wednesday, and on Tuesday we found out again over lunch that the adoption was pretty much 100% over. Since you read through that big previous paragraph, you know that the LORD was faithful to comfort our hearts with His truth. So, on Wednesday, Maria went to IKEA for some retail therapy with her Mom and sister, and I stayed home while the boys were napping. Somewhere between reading soccer news and watching The Expendables on Netflix, the reality of this whole thing really started to settle in on me. I began to let my heart out of the fortress of theological truth to really start to feel the weight of this loss. The previous day, Maria and I talked about how Jesus wept over his friend's death, wept the night before his crucifixion, about Job's reaction to all of what befell him, and now it was my turn. But, I was in good company. The weight and effects of sin in this scenario and how it was going to affect my almost-son throughout his life was more than my heart could handle. While Maria was coming home, I was getting our charcoal grill ready for dinner. I sat in front of the random charcoal smoke, drank a beer, and prayed - trying to understand God's plan in this, even down to the smoke coming from the charcoal. But, it's useless trying to figure out these kind of things. So, tears it was, even though I didn't understand, I trust my God who has given me everything, who is everything. 

Thursday, I thought, would be my day to go back to work. By the time I had my clothes on, ready to walk out the door, I knew that having to relive all this at work was a little too real, too fast for my heart. Emotionally unstable is not part of my job description. The rest of Thursday was great! Maria and I had a run/walk/talk again, and were able to process even more together. And even though my legs are still sore, I'm thankful for having such a faithful, mature, and beautiful woman for my wife. 

Friday. Oh, Friday. Yeah, Friday was tattoo day. Maybe that'll be another post. Let's just say Psalm 91:4 was involved. 

Saturday and Sunday were full family days. Days where we tried to get back into the swing of our crazy family as it is right now: coffee, guitars, dinosaurs, lightsabers, Target, Grand-parents, dinner at my boss's house, Redbox, Hulu. We even bought a zoo! Not really, we just went to one, but it was still fun!

And here I am again on Sunday. I'm so thankful for our family, church family, and friends who have been so supportive over this past week. I praise God for his providence in putting all of you my family's life. The prayers for us over this week have been felt more than I can ever remember. I look forward to looking back on this post once our child is home, and praising His name again! 

Now, where's that nothing box...

Friday, September 7, 2012

You guys should go home...

I'm still not really ready to write this update...

But I realized that some of you that frequent our blog (thank you!) may not be my friends on facebook and may be wodering the latest update- so here goes a quick one:

Today L and the baby we were calling J are being discharged from the hospital- and they are going home together.

Just hours before baby boy was born on Monday morning his Mommy decided to forgo her adoption plan and instead parent her baby.

Niles and I were about 10 minutes from the hospital in Columbia when our social worker called to say- "L just went back for surgery and her mom says that she has changed her mind."

I'll be honest and say that I wasn't really surprised at the call... she had been going back and forth seemingly every few minutes over the weekend.  But we were still hopeful... even with the phone call...

So Niles and I went to walk the USC campus and bookstore.  Then we drove to my brother's home and tried to distract ourselves until L came out of surgery... the distractions didn't really work.  Even though I only had about 3 hours of sleep the night before I couldn't sleep... I couldn't sit still... I tried to pray but my mind raced... I tried being still... same problem.

So finally we decide to drive to find some lunch.  Before we get out of the car our social worker calls to give us the update.  I just remember short sentences-
I talked to L in the recovery room. 
She decided that the baby will be raised by her mother.  
The baby had trouble breathing at birth and was taken to the NICU. 
Don't come to the hospital. 
You guys should go home.

We always knew that Monday we'd go home without a baby and without anything "certain"- because papers couldn't be signed until 24hours after birth.  But we were at least hoping for things to look better than this...

We were angry.
We were hurt.
We were confused.
We were going home empty-handed and heavy hearted.

Next week I promise to fill you in on the incredible things the Lord has shown us in this week post our failed adoption... 

For today though I'll end saying this has been one of the most difficult weeks of our lives- a week we daily went to the Lord for strength. 

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
- Lamentations 3

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Rom 8:26