Adoptive parents Kellie and Rob finalized their adoption of their daughter Lily this summer. Now, the couple shares their story of how they coped with a long wait to find the adoption opportunity that was always meant to be.

When we got married, we wanted to grow our family. My husband has two older kids from a previous marriage — now ages 11 and 13. His oldest son was adopted internationally from Guatemala at 9 months, and his daughter is a miracle, born biological. As a family, we are all very close but still wanted a child of our own together. There were too many complications of having a biological child, and because we had already adopted, we knew this was the only choice for us.

I honestly think choosing American Adoptions was the easiest part of the adoption journey. I know that may sound cheesy, but it’s the truth.

American Adoptions was originally referred to us as an option from our home study agency. We were extremely impressed with the website and the experience of the staff; the company seemed to have a solid track record. Their policy in case of a disruption — the fact that our funds would be returned to try again for a successful adoption — was really a closing point for us.

We had a lot of anxiety about putting our profile together: choosing the right words, choosing the best pictures, telling our story. “What if they don’t like this about us?” goes through your mind constantly. American Adoptions was extremely calming during this process and offered assistance when we needed it.

We received a call within two months of being active. It was a “pop-up” adoption, where we dropped everything and drove six hours only to wait in the hospital lobby and find out the little girl wasn’t going to come home with us. We were completely devastated. It was a long, quiet, tearful evening drive back home.

What hurt us the most was knowing we had two older kids at home waiting for a little sister to be brought home. How would we tell them? Especially our son — we didn’t want him to ask, “Why didn’t my mother choose to keep me?”

Telling them about the disruption was probably the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do. We explained the situation, and our son sincerely said, “You guys are sappy.” Sappy — sad but happy. Sad we didn’t keep her but happy she was able to stay with family.

It was when we heard those words from him that we knew they were going to be okay.

Months went by and we heard nothing. I started to question our profile. I changed pictures, re-wrote sections, and American Adoptions even offered birth mother specialists to read our profile for us. They did everything they could to make us feel comfortable. But, we were really losing hope.

We would schedule calls with our adoption specialist, Dacia, from time to time. Talking to her gave us hope to keep waiting. Looking back, you could tell she sincerely wanted this to work for us and believed even on the days we did not. We wouldn’t have made it through our adoption journey without her.

An entire year went by, and we still hadn’t heard anything. Waiting was harder every day. Questioning ourselves. Planning our lives — or not planning our lives. It even became difficult to talk about it to others as we felt it almost became a joke — like it was never going to happen for us. We built up walls and started to close off our hearts to the idea of growing our family.

Our daughter was losing hope too. Her questions went from “When is the new baby coming?” to “Are we even going to get a new baby?” It makes your heart sink.

A lot of thoughts went through my head as days went on. I doubted myself as a mother, I doubted our family, and I started to count the checks against us as we were far from the “picture perfect” family.

We were ready to give up. We talked to the kids and our parents to tell them that we would give it a few more months, and after that, we weren’t going to try to adopt anymore. We were getting older, our kids were getting older, and maybe this was the way God intended our family to be. There were many days of crying myself to sleep. I had to accept that my name wouldn’t be “Mom” after all. I counted my blessings for the strong relationship I have with my stepchildren, and I was thankful that they had made me a mother already, but I was still feeling empty as I yearned for the chance to be called Mom.

“A Christmas Miracle”

All of this changed on Dec. 12, 2017, at 1 p.m. in the afternoon. I received a phone call sitting at my desk.

There was a little girl born that morning in Texas, and we were to get there as soon as possible. It was fast and furious; we booked our flight, hotel, said goodbye to coworkers and left the very next day. We were so scared this wasn’t going to work out again, but something about it felt right. We kissed the kids goodbye and told them we may not be home for Christmas. Our daughter said, “I’d rather you come home with a baby and miss Christmas then to be here on Christmas without.”

We got to hold her for the first time on Dec. 13 at 11 p.m. We were exhausted, but there was no feeling like holding in her our arms. She was so tiny and so beautiful. We barely got any sleep that night, as the next day was the day that documents would be signed, and she would become ours. By 11 a.m., we received the news that papers were signed and we could go ahead and name her. We were in the hospital lobby and there was a Christmas tree in front of us with the word “Noel” on it.

Lilyen Noel was going to be her name. She was our Christmas miracle.

Lily was released from the hospital that Saturday. Monday morning — the week of Christmas — our ICPC paperwork started. While ICPC usually takes seven to 10 business days, everyone at American Adoptions of Texas helped push our paperwork through to give us another Christmas miracle.  Our paperwork was completed in 3.5 days, we were on a plane home by Thursday, and Friday was Christmas Eve.

I cannot even begin to express the amount of dedication that American Adoptions and Dacia had for us to get us home by Christmas. They were there for us night and day. This whole experience is something you read about in magazines but never happens to you. Well, it happened to us, and we have a story to tell Lily when she gets older of how she gave us the best Christmas present ever.

I believe God had so much to do with bringing Lily into our family. As it would turn out, He had another surprise up His sleeve. We were fortunate that American Adoptions and our lawyers handled the finalization of our adoption without us being present in Texas for the hearing. We ended up receiving notice of our finalization a day before expected. It also happened to be the same day that the lilies in our front yard bloomed for the first time in three years. It was just a sign to us that everything had gone the way it was supposed to, and that Lily was meant for us.

When it was all said and done, it was nearly three years from start to finish. It was hard waiting that long, but, when we look back, we know everything was supposed to happen like this. Now, those two years of waiting don’t even seem real.

To be chosen for “who we are” is simply incredible — knowing someone else out there believes in our family and how special we are. For those families waiting and doubting yourselves, please stay strong. God has a plan for you; he is simply taking more time to mold your journey so it’s perfect.