We have been so quiet lately and extremely busy! But that’s because we have been super busy finalizing our adoption of our forever daughter Claudia! Life has been such a whirlwind and we are super excited about what God has in store for her and us.
Let me tell you a little bit about our story! It all began four years ago; well actually more like 6 (CRAZY!). I felt called to look into adoption. I know crazy, right? We had two amazing young boys, what more did we need? Well God knew better. Everywhere I turned, we were surrounded with the news of adoption and/or fostering. We began praying, talking, and soon our suspicions were confirmed one Sunday when the sermon mentioned fostering. I was like, “Ok God, I hear you!”
So Brad and I began the search and discussions…international or domestic. After some discussion we decided SO MANY KIDS IN THE UNITED STATES NEED GOOD HOMES! It was settled, but now what?! So we began the search for an agency. We went to DSS and quickly realized that, that wasn’t the best route when it came to adoption. In NC, it’s very pro-reunification! Nothing wrong with families staying together at all, but we knew there were kids up for adoption needing homes. That’s what we were after.
So my search continued and guess what? I had zero luck! ZERO!!!! So God whispered, “It’s not time!” I shelved our adoption for two years! Boy did I see why! We had so many changes within our family, God had a different plan. When that plan changed, Brad said to me, “Maybe now is the time?” I agreed and began my search again. Well good ole’ Facebook showed me an ad for an upcoming informational meeting with Children’s Home Society and it was within like two weeks! So we attended. It was everything we were looking for! Training would be on Saturdays, they encouraged adoption, and we would be assigned one case worker; WHICH WE LOVE!
We began the process, did our training, and three case workers later (one left, one promoted, and now we have the best), we were officially certified foster parents! YAY!!! 8-9 months later, we literally had a license to parent! Now what? We waited! It was January, we got calls but no placements. God was secretly coordinating the right time!
Now let me clarify something that’s important. We listed our ages 0-13, but we wanted around 8-9. I was too old for babies, my youngest demanded he was the baby, and we really didn’t want a teen. Well as you will soon find out, God has jokes…He’s a funny guy! In April, we found a 13 year old and met her, thinking she would be a good fit. We met with her a few times and began the process of likely adopting her.
Then at the beginning of April, we were placed with Baby N! He was three days old and we were supposed to have him 3-4 months. Well twelve days later, God was like nope! He’s not meant to be yours, so Baby N left our home and broke my heart! It was so hard to let go, I literally told myself I wouldn’t get attached…yea right! Pff! I told Bradley, “No more babies!”
Well that weekend was our annual Southview Ladies’ Retreat! I was slated to go, but found out there was a safe surrender baby at the hospital. We offered (regardless of what I said) to take him, but weren’t chosen. Oh well, I went to the retreat, slightly defeated and heartbroken. Well little did I know what the message would entail. The message for the weekend was Mark about carrying your cross and what that looks like! God quickly reminded me that I was called to carry this cross, fostering was my cross. I went home Sunday renewed, refreshed, and ready for whatever this journey brought, no matter how hard!
The very next day, Monday, we received the call that, little did we know, would change our family forever. Little Miss Claudia was placed in our home at 5 days old. We were told we would have her two weeks, but that’s ok…remember this was my cross. I was already heartbroken once, I mentally prepped myself.
Well two weeks passed, and she never left. In this same process we were placed with the 13 year old. We joke and said God has jokes because he gave us both our ages that we really didn’t want. In that time frame we began battling the questions from Memphis about having a baby in the house. God provided us the right words to encourage his bond. Life began settling in.
Every day that passed that Claudia was in our home, I prayed to God to take her away if she wasn’t meant to be there. She continued to stay. I was so afraid of getting hurt again, to lose a baby that I knew my heart was attaching to, even though my mind was fighting it as hard as it could. Deep down, silent whispers kept pestering me. God kept whispering to me, “She will stay.” It was so hard to listen to Him, since we lost one already, but we began settling as a family of four. Well in March of the next year, the state removed the teenager. We won’t discuss that hardship right now.
When the teen was removed, Brad said, “Maybe Claudia was meant to be ours all along!” I mean we were at almost a year. Nothing was progressing on the family side and God kept whispering to me, “She will stay.” We even had people tell us that they believed she was ours. However, we knew the system.
So let’s fast forward two more years and we have finally arrived at the stage we have wanted! Claudia is officially free and clear in the State of NC and before the year is out, she will be a Forever Whitmore! To celebrate, we have designed these special shirts! Let me explain the meaning of what it means:
Faith – Throughout this entire process we had to have faith. We heard all the negative, the what-if’s, the selfishness, all of it! We are human, but we were consistently reminded of God’s selflessness in this process. He gave of himself to die for you and me and here we were being selfless to give of our love to a child who may not stay. Our faith was tested and tested so many times, but never wavered. We knew God had big plans for us and Claudia was part of that plan from the very beginning. His timing was absolutely perfect in this process.
Love – From the first day we saw her, we fell in love. She was beautiful! God gave me the joys of my heart and I have my beautiful baby girl. We have grown to love Claudia as our own daughter and so thrilled God has allowed us to be her family!
Family – With adoption there is love and there is tremendous loss. That does not defeat or change the circumstances. A family lost a child in this process and was broken because of situations beyond their control. Let me clarify, Claudia’s mother wanted her desperately. It was an unfortunate situation and Claudia is in the best place. Our family gained a daughter that I never knew I would ever have!
Adoption – God had amazing plans for me years ago when I battled health issues and can no longer have children. He instilled a sense of adoption in me long before 6 years ago. I have been surrounded by it my whole life! It’s crazy to look back and see God’s hands in my whole life with adoption. From not only the people I know, but the mindset I have. Adoption has completed our family and provided us a child we would have never known otherwise!
The symbol in the middle, the Adoption Symbol. It’s the one symbol that unifies this cross! It holds and brings together what all these words mean!
Now finally THE CROSS shows the ultimate foundation of where our journey began; with Christ himself! Without Him, my life would not be complete and I would never know true love!
So we hope that you have enjoyed our story! We will be selling these shirts here (click buy photo and follow the steps)! You can order one and we will make sure you receive it when we place our bulk order (due no later than August 1st). We will be announcing our court adoption on our Facebook page and would LOVE if everyone wore their shirt on the day our Little Claudia officially becomes ours!
For those who have supported and prayed for us through the years, thank you and we love you! Thank you for taking this journey with us!