We have been married for almost 5 years and wanted to start our family shortly after we were married. Over some years of trying we were told we struggle with infertility. Though different procedures with numerous doctors we were able to become pregnant! When someone tells you you have fertility issues, it’s really discouraging and you automatically think it’ll never happen, so you can imagine the excitement when it did! However, at 24 weeks, I started having problems, and a week later our sweet little boy was born. He was perfect and absolutely beautiful, weighing only 1 pound and measuring 11 inches long. He lived for 40 hours. It was devastating, but we helped each other through the toughest days and we believe our marriage is stronger because of it. About a year later, and after visiting specialists, we decided it was the right thing for us to adopt! After we made that decision we felt so good and it felt we were on the right path again for starting our family. We can’t wait to be “matched”. We are hoping for an open adoption and are so excited to meet the different people this adoption journey is going to bring into our lives. Our home study is complete and we are just trying to keep our selves busy day to day and do everything in our power to spread the word! Feel free to check out and also share our Facebook page on your own profiles and timelines. The more exposure we get, the closer we are to having a family! Thank you!
Today’s story just might break your heart. If there’s one thing that we’ve learned throughout doing this series it is that even before we choose these sweet babies it seems they have already chosen us. So proud to know people like the Gainers who make the hard decisions for all the right reasons. We can’t wait until you get to hold little Daphne in your arms again!My name is Rachel, and I’m an adoptive mother of five–four on earth and one in heaven. I have three girls (ages 7 and 4 + my angel) and two boys (age 2). My boys are two months apart; they are my twins through adoption. All of my children have special stories, but today, I’ll just focus on our second child, Daphne.
Daphne was born on January 20, 2011, in Birmingham, Alabama, and immediately placed for adoption with an agency in Utah. Shortly after birth, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that prevented blood from returning to her lungs to receive oxygen and resulted in a severely underdeveloped right ventricle—essentially leaving her with half a heart.
On Monday, January 24, our adoption agency contacted us about two situations. The first was a healthy baby girl in Virginia, and the second was Daphne. Will and I hadn’t planned on adopting a baby with special needs; in fact, when we learned about Daphne and her life-threatening heart defect, we felt terrified and inadequate. At first, we convinced ourselves that the healthy baby in Virginia was a safer, more logical choice, but we couldn’t forget about Daphne, and we knew she was meant for our family. We were afraid, but we were also confident we were making the right decision.
Two days later, I flew to Alabama so that I could be with Daphne for her first heart surgery. The first moment I saw her, she was sleeping peacefully in a clear, enclosed incubator. She weighed just 4 lb. 9 oz. and was 17 in. long. She was so tiny and beautiful. She captured my heart from the very first moment.
We spent every day in Alabama snuggling in a rocker, our mobility limited by various tubes and cords. Daphne was a calm, content baby, who cried only when she was hungry or angry about being poked and prodded by the nurses. She loved to be swaddled and wailed when she was unwrapped. She was a greedy and speedy eater, a rare blessing in a heart baby.
For the first two weeks of her life, Daphne’s cheeks and eyelids were so puffy that she couldn’t open her eyes all the way. When the swelling finally disappeared and she fully opened her eyes for the first time, she looked completely shocked by her surroundings. After a while, her eyes took on a more curious and questioning appearance. She seemed to be appraising and studying her world and the people in it. I loved those amazing eyes!
Daphne underwent her first heart surgery when she was two weeks old. When I saw her after surgery, she was swollen, sedated, and surrounded by cords and monitors. But she had made it, and I was filled with joy and peace.
After almost a month in Alabama, we took a commercial flight home. A few days after we arrived in Utah, Daphne began showing signs that her heart wasn’t circulating enough oxygen. She was admitted to Primary Children’s Medical Center for observation and tests. After a week, it was clear she wasn’t doing well, so the medical team decided to take her back into the operating room to redo her first surgery. But when the doctor arrived to deliver this news, he discovered that Daphne had made a miraculous recovery, and he decided to send her home without surgery.
We enjoyed two incredible weeks at home as a family. Our oldest daughter, Shelby, loved helping me take care of Daphne. She insisted on holding Daphne’s bottle during feedings and pushed my hand away if I tried to help. When Daphne fussed, she offered her a pacifier and whispered comforting words. Despite Daphne’s 50-foot oxygen cord and bulky pulse-ox monitor, Shelby loved her sister and did everything she could to make her feel comfortable in this world.
After two weeks, Daphne began to decline again, and she was readmitted to Primary Children’s. This was her last trip to the hospital. She passed away on March 18, 2011, just hours after her second heart surgery. Daphne’s life on earth lasted just 58 days, but she left an everlasting mark on our hearts.
After losing Daphne, I was afraid my heart would be closed for a very long time, that having more children might not be in my future. But just one month after Daphne passed away, my husband and I had the opportunity to adopt our third daughter, Phoebe. And less than two years later, I got the wonderfully crazy idea to adopt two babies back-to-back, and we welcomed two boys, Noah and Jaimen, into our home. Adoption has been a wonderful blessing in my life. But we have also faced our share of disappointment and heartache. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned and for the joy we have discovered in the journey.
Today we are happy to feature a side to adoption we haven’t shared yet, and that is Adoption through Foster Care! Thank you to the Popenbergs for sharing so much great information with us on this!
“Foster care and adoption were always something in the back of my mind from a very early age. My family was like that, we took in kids and family members all the time. In 2007, newly married and recently transplanted to Columbus, OH, I happened upon a presentation at the State House put on by Franklin County Children Services. Grabbing some pamphlets I took them home to my husband, Nick, so that I could convince him that this could be something to look into. We didn’t have any kids of our own yet and we had time and energy to give to a child in need. That next January we started the process to become foster parents. I always tell my friends that show interest in foster care that it’s really no walk in the park. There is a lot of paperwork and classes to take before you can become licensed and although Nick and I, being Navy Vets, were used to paperwork I could see where the process could seem daunting. There is a background check, fingerprinting, home study, letters of recommendation and all the classes which took us around 7 months to get through. In the beginning of August we received our license for Foster to Adopt care, about two weeks later we were picking up little Jaren from the hospital. Getting an infant is not typical, and getting a child as quickly as us isn’t either, and that is the first thing they say when classes start. We were very lucky and blessed to have gotten the call for Jaren!
Now every agency is different and had different guidelines concerning the process to terminate parental rights. In the case of our sons, both of the biological parents had multiple other children who had been or were currently in foster care. Although reunification with the family is always the initial goal, the time frame for them to make progress on their case plan went from one year to 6 months. When Jaren was 6 months old, Children’s Services started the very long process of asking the court to terminate the parental rights so that we could adopt. During this time, we were again blessed as we added Asher to our family. Jaren and Asher are full biological brothers and have lived with us since birth. They had very minimal family contact with the exception of an older half sister who they love and adore to this day and an older half brother with medical issues, but a wonderful family who loves to keep up with the boys. A couple weeks over three years after Jaren was born parental rights were terminated and the boys were officially put up for adoption. We worked as hard and as fast as we could to get all of our stuff in order and two months later we were sitting in a room with a judge and social workers changing names and becoming legal! A few months after this, I was pregnant with our third boy, Beau and this January we welcomed our fourth boy, Gage.
We are now a happy family full of boys who love each other more than anything. There is always some concern about issues that could come up later due to the circumstances of their birth, but we are taking that one step at a time. Foster care was tough on us, but it made the end result all the more wonderful and if I can convince Nick again, I hope we can become foster parents once more!”
If you want more details on Fostering a child head here!
Photography – Angie Arthur and Stephanie’s Creations Photography
Welcome to our 3rd Annual Adoption Week! You can read all about how this week came to be with Jenna’s very personal connection to adoption right here, and we’re so excited and touched to be able to share more stories. To kick it off a sweet story from the Lynch Family!
“I will always remember where I was the moment I got the call—in the Panera Bread parking lot. I heard our adoption counselor on the other end saying she was going to call my husband, Josh, and we would be on a three-way conversation. I knew what was about to happen, but that did not stop the tears from flowing when she told us a birth mother had chosen us. As car after car passed to get in the drive-through line, my husband and I laughed and cried and laughed again. I could practically hear his smile through the phone line. The most joyous words I had heard up until that point in my life: “You have been matched.”
Rewind to two years earlier when my husband and I became engaged. We knew then that having our own biological children was not going to happen, but we were still undecided about adoption. I had so many questions: Will I love this child as if I had given birth to him or her? What if a birth mother never chooses us? What if we are chosen and then she changes her mind? What if our child grows up and wants to find his/her biological family? The fears seemed endless, but not nearly as frightening as never having anyone call me, “Mama.”I cannot believe I ever questioned the love I would have for this angel sent to us from Heaven above. There is no way I could love my Ryan Michelle any more if I had given birth to her. She melts my heart when she wakes in the morning and wants me to bend down so we can give kisses through the slats in her crib. She runs to the safety gate at the top of the stairs when her dad comes home and shouts, “Dada!” at the top of her lungs. She dances to every single song she hears, even in her highchair, if a particularly awesome tune comes on. She loves bubbles and swinging and reading books. She is our beautiful, perfect, funny, curious girl. OUR girl.
I will not say the journey was easy. It was filled with tears, worries, sleepless nights, time spent on our knees in prayer, and many questions and doubts. But the second we got that phone call, it made every single tear and anxiety-filled moment worth it. We were there the moment she came into this world and I find that experience difficult to put into words. The first time I held her, I realized what unconditional love was. I was a mother—she was mine and I was hers. It was that simple and pure. And perfect.
I still have worries: How will we explain things to her? Will she understand or will she be hurt? Will we ever be able to truly get her to understand how loved and wanted she is? Will she ever want to meet her biological mother? I know there are things and events in our future that many families will never have to face. There will be obstacles in the way and maybe difficult bridges to cross. But when we get to those bridges, we will cross them together as a family. Because that is exactly what we are: A FAMILY.
For our last day of Spring Cleaning Week we are heading outside! We teamed up with Lifetime Products to take control of my overflowing garage and the answer was simple, time for a shed! The situation at my house is this: my husband is not only a contractor (tools everywhere you look) but he’s also a hobbyist mechanic and a sports lover. Our boys have bikes and scooters and toys and then we have those little things called cars to think about, too. We have amassed a ton of stuff and here was our answer.. Ride-on toys, sports stuff and yard gear got upgraded to this beauty.My number one reasoning for this split was a strong desire to get all the kids toys out of the garage and away from the cars. We’ve had a few friends and friends of friends deal with fatal accidents in their own driveways and I felt like if I could make it so my kids had no reason to be playing and running in and out of the garage all day (like they were doing!) then that would be a good improvement. So, their bikes, scooters, sports toys all came to the shed.The second plan for the shed was all our yard and garden gear! I started with this peg-board and added a little graphic element by taping off the triangle shapes and then spray painting the bottom half black. Garden tools. hoses, yard wellies, gloves, watering cans and my giant brimmed hat just like my mom wears in her garden. We spend a ton of time in our yard once the garden is sprouting so having the shed right there is going to a welcome change from trekking to the garage for supplies and tools.
I was so excited to get our scooter and dirt bike into the shed and still have plenty of space for whatever else we needed to add. All our sports gear made its way to the shed as well. Balls, bats, rackets, nets, all things I am happy to be done tripping over! Basically anything we use outdoors is here now.If you’re looking for a way to add functionality without losing curb appeal to your outside storage Lifetime is offering Small Fry readers 10% any of the sheds on their site! The code is good until April 24th, 2015 so don’t delay! Enter “smallfry” at check-out and view all their sheds right here.
Have a great weekend, everyone! We announced that next week is our 3rd Annual Adoption Week on our social networks (@smallfryblog) but realized we didn’t mention it here! If you have a story or are looking to adopt email us! hello at smallfryblog.com. Also, we hope to see you locals at Design Mom’s Book Tour stop in Salt Lake tomorrow! Details here.