Tender Mercies {Charlotte's Adoption Journey}

I want to share my story of how I went from believing the church is true to KNOWING it is true with all my heart. I went from knowing I have a Father in Heaven who loves me to feeling Him right next to me, He knows ME, and His love is so real. 

To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fullness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith. Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith.
— Bible Dictionary on Faith

After a miscarriage and years of infertility, my husband Adam and I came to a fork in the road. Our two options were to do in-vitro (IVF) or begin the adoption process. 

Both options sounded expensive and exhausting. My doctor thought that I would have great results from doing in-vitro but for some reason I was really leaning towards adopting. I have always known from a young age that if I was unable to get pregnant that I would love to adopt. But as this became an actual reality as my next possible step in life, I had some concerns and fears. Before I list some of those fears let me say how real these were for both Adam and I. It made us really nervous and we could have very easily just become consumed and overwhelmed by those fears. We could have chosen not to go forward because of them. The thing we didn't realize at that moment is how keenly aware our Father in Heaven is of our desires and needs for our family and that he would take perfect care of us. Also, the one who puts fear and doubt in our minds is Satan. He's trying to keep us from our blessings and eternal life. So going back...Here were some of our fears and concerns:

Would we feel like this baby is really ours? 

How does it feel to be in an open adoption? 

How will we afford it? 

Will our child feel unwanted or unloved because they were adopted? 

Even though we had these concerns, what truly mattered most to us is what did the Lord want for our family? I decided to do my part in getting a better understanding of what adoption really meant. I prayed a lot about it, did a lot of research and read other people's stories of adopting. One day, during this process of researching and praying, the thought came to my mind "Maybe the reason infertility exists is so that adoptions will take place" 

Other people's experiences and reasons for infertility may be different but that thought hit me like a ton of bricks. It gave me a completely different perspective. The next thought that came to me is that "We are ALL Heavenly Fathers children and it does not matter one bit how our children come to us in this life".  With these two very strong thoughts it was very clear to me that our next child would be coming to us through adoption. I knew without any doubt that this child would be destined to be in our family. 

Now I had talked with Adam a few times over the last couple years about adopting and we agreed to wait until after we had done more testing and had more time to think. However, at this point in speaking with him it was different. I had more urgency in my voice and I knew we needed to begin the adoption process right away. He agreed. 

We officially started the adoption process in May of last year. Seriously, let me tell you how grueling and time consuming all of the paperwork was to get us approved to adopt. I had no idea the kinds of questions they would ask, all the documents we would need to provide and all the hours of online courses we would have to sit through. It was tedious and there were times I wished I could throw my hands up and just quit. Then once we were approved it was time to put our profile together. This was the hardest part. How would I even begin to type up a letter to an expectant mom or dad about how we feel towards them, why we want to adopt, and include a description of our family? Talk about pressure. Finally after 6 long months we were approved and our profile was launched online. We were official! I was so giddy and relieved that we had to celebrate that day! We were very excited to start our new journey with adoption because it gave us so much hope; which we felt we had been losing as so much time had gone on without being able to get pregnant. 

Well three months went by and not much had happened. I know three months isn't long but to us it felt like an eternity after everything we had already been through. Then of course you hear of people going through multiple failed adoptions  before they finally had a successful one (which you have to understand a failed adoption is like a miscarriage- very painful) Needless to say our nerves were pretty shot by this point in our journey trying to grow our family. So after about six months of not much happening I started to wonder if we had made the right decision and if we were where our Heavenly Father wanted us to be. I know I had such a strong answer but I guess it's human nature to start second guessing yourself. I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't doing ALL I could to show the Lord I'm willing to do whatever it takes. 

About this time we actually went and had a consultation with a doctor at the University of Utah hospital about doing in-vitro. We thought it went well and started making plans to proceed with in-vitro the following month. For some reason (which I fully know now) I still didn't know if in-vitro was what Heavenly Father wanted us to do. So I said a prayer. A very desperate prayer. I was so confused. I asked him to please tell me if we were still in the right place by waiting to adopt or if we needed to pursue other ways. I also said that I'm kind of clueless and needed an answer strong enough to hit me in the head so that I would know what He needed me to do. The very next day we had an expectant mom see our profile through my friends Facebook. She told my friend that she hadn't found a family for the baby she was carrying and she wanted to know more about our family. She said our profile seemed to jump off the page at her. Now nothing actually came of this expectant mom with us BUT it was my slap in the face, hit me in the head answer I had prayed for, not even 24 hours prior. To make a long story short, we were shown MANY tender mercies, like this, from Heavenly Father throughout this whole journey. These tender mercies kept me going on the right track and brought incredible comfort to my aching heart. They all came when I needed them most and ANY time I prayed for them. I was NEVER without comfort from Him. If you don't remember anything else from my story, remember this. Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are real and so good to us. I was shown tender mercies and signs that we were in the right place, by trying to adopt, every single time I asked him in prayer. Let me say again that I have never felt my Father in Heaven is as real as I do now.  I know that he is keenly aware of me and my family's needs and righteous desires. 

Eight months into our profile being up and official, it happened! We were chosen by an expectant mom!! Oh my goodness we were over the moon excited! She was great and the baby was going to be beautiful. Our whole community rallied together and helped with a yard/bake sale to help us raise some extra money. It was a BIG deal that our baby was finally coming. Well after about 3 weeks everything came crashing down. We. Were. Devastated. The expectant mom said she couldn't bring herself to go through with it. We tried to be as nice and understanding as possible towards her. But we were just crushed, defeated, devastated... Honestly after the failed adoption happened, I just felt numb. I refused to think about what just happened because it was too painful. I have never wanted to give up on having another baby so bad. I felt I had nothing left in me to keep going.

After a few days what did I do? I prayed and asked for another tender mercy from Him. I asked for more strength even though I knew I had none left. I knew he could buoy me up even when I couldn't keep going. Right after my prayer, no joke, I got on my Instagram and I had a comment on my post about the pain of our failed adoption. She told me this:

"I am a total stranger, just saw your post through a hash tag search. Just thought I'd send positive vibes to you and your family and say, never give up. It took the family I chose to place with 2 failed adoptions to find the one that was meant to be. Keep hope alive!" 

She could have easily just not commented or said anything but Heavenly Father knew I needed to hear what she had to say. This was my answer to buck up and keep going. Our baby was coming. Even though things got so hard, I couldn't give up on expanding our family. One other thing that helped immensely was a quote I came across. It said "Let go of the thoughts that don't make you strong." This was such a powerful reminder to me! Bad and negative thoughts come from Satan himself. Satan's influence is there just like Christ's. It can be powerful and consume us if we let it. I needed to let go of those bad thoughts and let the hopeful ones prevail! 

Lucky for us and by God's grace we were matched again with another expectant mom just a short month later. Our sweet miracle boy, Quinton Joseph Kowalk, was born September 15. 

For any of you wondering if adopting a child is the same as having one biologically... Having experienced both, I am here to tell you it is exactly the same feeling of that mother and child bond. The love and connection with that baby just grows in your heart instead of your tummy. Adopting is more spiritual in a sense because of the unique way you found one another. It is very clear Heavenly Father led you straight to each other. I know this because the second I held my precious miracle boy, and saw his face, something amazing and very unexpected happened. I wondered if he would look how I pictured him but it was SO much more than that. He was very familiar to me. I KNEW this baby boy. I felt our spirits re-connect. I knew he was MY baby. He was always meant to be ours. Our birthmom never ceases to amaze us at how in tune she is and how perfect her outlook on this adoption is. She told us as soon as she saw our profile she knew we were Quinton's family. She never was hurt or sad after that. She was filled with incredible peace. We thought at the time of our failed adoption that we had lost our baby and a great birthmom. We could not have been more wrong. We have never known a stronger, smarter, sweeter woman than our angel, Rachael. When one door closes a better one opens. One of the coolest parts of this story is that our failed adoption happened on July 4... The exact same day that our birthmom found out she was pregnant with our baby boy. That is NO coincidence. The Lord knows exactly what he is doing. 

Heavenly Father addressed all of our fears and concerns we had about adoption, in the beginning. We didn't know all of those things would be worked out but He knew. We needed to take that leap of faith and show our complete trust in him before the miracle happened. Also, He never left me without great comfort. Remember when something is God's will and his hand is in it, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Period. 

People have asked me if I ever became mad at God during my trial and I tell them that answer is never. Not even one time. I am glad Heavenly Father didn't answer my prayers to become pregnant. I am forever humbled and grateful that He put me right where I needed to be to receive Quinton in my arms. After 4 long, very painful years, my heart was healed in a instant, the moment I held Quinton. Never look at your trials as bad things orpunishments. Look at them as The Lord putting you in the exact right place you need to be to receive the most precious and sacred blessings you never even knew existed.