A Journey to Open AdoptionBrook Hills
It was about the time of our first wedding anniversary that we started seriously considering going to some classes just to learn more about adoption. It had always been on our hearts as individuals, then as we were dating, engaged, and now married.
So I remember we were sitting our couch and I brought it up like, ‘You know, would you want to start pursuing this?’ And Ryan was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it. It’s been on my heart.’ So we decided to go to an introduction class at a local adoption agency.
So we went and I’ll never forget this… We’re sitting in a circle with all these other couples and pretty much everybody there is wanting to adopt from China. And they get to us and they’re like, ‘Ok, what are you guys interested in? Domestic or international?’ And at the same time, I said domestic and Ryan said international. And they looked at us and I was like, ‘We’ll talk about it.’
So we learned a little more from that meeting and then from that we were thinking more international just because of certain requirements. We had traveled internationally and had a heart for India. So we spoke to a few agencies about the India possibility which later turned into considering the Kyrgyzstan program through a local adoption agency. Basically, if the agency would throw something at us, we’d pray about it and consider anything. We were so open to whatever the Lord had for us.
I had a good friend who’d always be like, ‘You don’t know who your child is. Who your son or daughter is. You just obey until He finds them. Until the Lord brings them to you.’ So that’s what we were gonna do.
So we just kinda went all in and said, ‘Well alright, right now we’re saying Kyrgyzstan but who knows.’
MOVING FROM INTERNATIONAL TO DOMESTIC ADOPTION
So we committed to that and did our homestudy but things ended up just not really working out with the Kyrgyzstan program we were in. And not in a bad way… We weren’t in a rush or anything, but there were just some road blocks where we were like, ‘Is this the Lord closing a door to this program? Is this not the right time for us to adopt? What’s going on? We really wanted to do this.’ So we just kinda kept going and praying about it.
Then we were approached by a mutual friend about a domestic case. Not associated with our agency at all. It would be a private adoption. And so I went home and I was so excited. I told Ryan about it and he was like, ‘Yeah, how can I say no? We’ll let the Lord say no.’
So we put together a really quick profile, because it’s different with domestic. The birth mom gets to see you and read about you. And we weren’t picked. So Ashley, who ended up being our adoption attorney, who was like, ‘Can I keep your profile because I have other birth moms that sometimes approach me.’
And I think a month went by and we didn’t hear anything from her. And I remember just feeling, like, kinda anxious, ya know? Every day just waiting for your phone to ring. Either from the agency or from Ashley… Just give me something… Like, what’s going on?
And then Ashley got back from vacation and was contacted by a few birth moms while she was gone… One of those birth moms ended up being Daniel’s. We were presented to three or four birth moms and Daniel’s birth mom picked us.
So that’s how we went from international to domestic. It was a lot of like really interesting doors that were so… shut. Like, slammed in our faces. And then really really opened. It was very clear to us. Just obey and follow.
OPEN ADOPTION: ACCEPTING ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO MINISTER
We know now how domestic adoptions work now-a-days. Very few are closed anymore. So when I was approached by our attorney saying the birth mom wanted a closed adoption but the birth dad would like an open adoption… I was like, wait… I don’t know anybody that has an open adoption with the birth dad.
That just never really happens… What does this mean… How will Ryan react to that? It was really emotional and confusing. But we got in touch with another couple who adopted domestically and did open and she just really spoke truth into our lives…
‘This is another way to minister to someone who’s going through something really hard… like, adoption doesn’t happen because it’s all like unicorns and rainbows. This is a father who’s hurting and making a good decision for the future of his child. And you get to be a part of a bigger family. Your family’s growing more than you thought it was.’
So we went into it thinking like that. But I’m not going to lie, we were very hesitant and kind of scared at first. But it didn’t take us more than a couple days to be like, ok, we’re cool with it. So the Lord gave us a calm and a peace about it, put us around people who had experienced open adoption and that really helped.
OUR FIRST SCHEDULED VISIT
We agreed to a once a year visit and if later we wanted to add more, then that’s up to us, but right now we’re just going to start with one. So we got in touch with him and asked when he’d like to come this year. He sent a few different dates and was very flexible with us. We ended up scheduling a weekend in February for him to come up and visit with Daniel and us.
We decided to go into it like he’s an uncle. He’s our family, we’re going to love him, we’re going to let him love Daniel. What does it hurt if Daniel has one more person who just loves and cherishes him? It’s not going to hurt him.
So we just scheduled something really casual. We went out to lunch on a Friday and then walked around downtown Mountain Brook area, talked, let him hold Daniel and give him a bottle, and kind of filled him in about life with a baby and how everything was going.
The next day, we met up and went to the zoo, let him push the stroller and show Daniel some of the animals. It was so relaxed and laid back and on that Saturday we were like, ‘Hey, would you like to come to church with us tomorrow?’ And he got so excited and was like, ‘I would be honored to visit your church.”
And I remember being like, ‘Oh man, we’re really bringing this man into, like, our home base. Like, this is very personal.’ But I wanted him to see that Daniel is in such a safe place now. He’s loved by the Preschool workers who absolutely adore him, and we’re at a church with great leadership and that has so many foster and adoptive families—he’s not going to be the odd guy out here, ya know.
So he showed up to Brook Hills that Sunday and he loved it. He took notes during the sermon and we could tell it just filled him up, if that makes sense, and it gave him a peace about this whole adoption situation. When church was over that day he even said, ‘I love your church and it’s really encouraged me to start going back.’
I was hoping the trip would kind of bring just a sense of confidence to him—that he made the right decision. And I think it did. He was able to see that Daniel is so loved. So it was really good.
When he left, he hugged us and he had tears in his eyes. He wasn’t really crying but I was really nervous that he may really lose it right here at the end. But he said, ‘I couldn’t have picked better parents for Daniel. I really appreciate all that you guys do for him.’
So then he just left. There wasn’t any awkward texts or calls… or, “You should be doing this, and not this.” Ya know? He was so supportive of us which created a huge trust in the whole relationship.
Through this visit the Lord really showed us that He is still healing and loving through this adoption.
Brook Hills is like top of the line church to be a part of when you’re going through something like this, but the biggest source of encouragement I think came from both sets of our parents.
My mom struggled with it at first, like, ‘Is my daughter going to get hurt if they keep losing these matches?’ You know, they still have this want-to-protect-you instinct, which I understand now.
Both sets of our parents would be praying for us and texting us encouraging things while our profile was out there. And then when we were stuck in Florida, they came down and spent time with us so we weren’t alone with a newborn. It was so huge for us.
Outside of our family, our small group, which was a group about about 3-4 couples, would pray with us. My friend and small group leader, Christine, who adopted domestically about 4 years ago, would call me and encourage me saying, ‘Calm down. It’s ok. You’ve got this. This is what happened with us…’ And just give us her story.
And her husband, Jeremy, would call Ryan sometimes and just like lift him up. And speak legitimate truth—not just trying to say things to make us feel better. Some things that have to be said are hard. So having that was priceless.
Our small group would all come together and help us with fundraisers. One of the wives stayed over at our house until midnight one night helping with a garage sale and Daniel was born exactly a week after that. It was madness.
They were there for us even when we were in Florida. You know, calling us and texting us to check in to see how we were doing. Crying with us when the birth dad and mom finally signed and Daniel was legally ours. It was like they were the adoptive parents too.
I mean, I don’t know if we would’ve been able to do it without them, as bad as that sounds. But the Lord made those relationships for a purpose. We’re all forever bonded because we went through this together.
A passage that really encouraged and motivated Ryan and I during this whole process was Isaiah 43:1-7.
1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Sarah Blackmon has been a member of Brook Hills since 2011. She met her husband Ryan at small group in 2011 as well. 2011 was a good year. She is originally from Kansas City, Missouri (emphasis on Missouri, not Kansas). Sarah and Ryan have served in Marks Village for multiple years and now serve in BH Preschool. Her favorite things are terribly hard workouts, the KC Royals and of course, being a mom to Daniel and wife to Ryan.