‘I received a text from my mom that said, ‘Stop what you’re doing and start praying.”

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“Our adoption story isn’t like most. We weren’t on a waiting list, we weren’t really even looking to adopt at the time, but God saw it fit for us to have these babies in our lives and we are so thankful. We knew we would adopt at some point, but didn’t think it would be that soon. James 1:27 says that we are called to care for the widows and orphans in their time of need, so I knew we would consider adoption at some point. A lot of people tell me how blessed the babies are to have us. I have to disagree. We are the blessed ones! They have shown us what life is all about and we love them dearly.

January 27th, 2016. I was working from home that day, as we were still living in Athens at the time and I received a text from my mom that said, ‘Stop what you’re doing and start praying.’ My first thought was, ‘Oh my gosh! What has happened, is everyone okay?!’ I was on the other line with my dear friend and Caleb’s cousin, Julia, when I got the text so I kind of just blew it off and I replied back, ‘Is everything okay?’ Time went on and I never received anything back and then my sister called and told me that our mom was trying to work several things out, but there was a set of twins that were born the day before (the 26th) and they may be available for adoption. Whoah! Not what I was expecting. I kind of just let it go and didn’t think much about it because something similar had happened around the same time in 2015 and it didn’t work out, so I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. Plus, if we’re being honest, I was kind of shocked and I knew Caleb would be shocked too. I mean, most people get nine months to prepare. They were already born and it was a set of twins. A few minutes later, my mom called and told me that her good friends, David and Stacy, were planning on adopting these babies, but when they heard about our story, they wanted to give us the opportunity to become parents and raise these babies. They will never know how thankful we are for their selflessness and giving us the opportunity to become parents!

I had a little while to pray and dwell on the thought because Caleb was at school. When he got home, he wasn’t in the best mood. He had a long day and then when I told him about the twins, he wasn’t completely on board. All we knew at that time was that they were born at 27 weeks, they were boy/girl and they were each around two pounds. Other than that, we had no information. When babies are born that early, there are so many things that could be wrong or go wrong in the future. There were a lot of unknowns. And, we had a lot going on at that time. We were in the process of selling one house, about to list another home for sale, we were building a home, Caleb was in Law School and about to graduate and take the Bar Exam and to think about adding on twins…the timing was kind of crazy. Plus, we didn’t have a single item for one baby, much less two babies! But, God, y’all! He had His plan all worked out. We didn’t have to worry about a single thing. So many family and friends stepped up and we had everything we needed for two babies within a matter of weeks.

We had a trip already planned to go to Waco, Texas that weekend. We were actually leaving the next day after we found out about the twins. Going to bed that Wednesday night, I thought this wasn’t going to happen because Caleb wasn’t sure and I knew we were on a time table because the babies were already born. We asked if we could have the weekend to talk about it and pray about it. I just remember praying to God and asking Him for guidance and if this wasn’t what He wanted us to do, then He needed to let us know. There was so much peace about the entire situation. We left Thursday to go to Waco and Friday night, we decided that we were going to love these babies and show them Jesus the best we could. I will never forget that night. Waco will always hold a special place in our hearts.

We met their birth mom on Sunday night as we were coming in from Texas. To say I was nervous would be an understatement because there were so many things running through my mind. Would she like us, would she want us raising her babies and so much more. But, once we sat down and started talking, there was a peace that we had and we knew it was the right thing. And let me tell you about her. She is a blessing to us. She is the most selfless person I have ever met. She loved her babies more than anything and knew that she couldn’t do it and wanted them to have the best chance at life. I mean, how many others can say they would do that? Not many. They would take the easy way out and end the pregnancy, but she kept these babies and I think that shows you what kind of person she is. She is an angel to us and we are forever grateful for her.

As soon as we finished our meeting, we headed to Rome to tell Caleb’s parents. We had been on the road since about 4:30 that morning and this was around 8:30 that night. We were exhausted, but we had not really told anyone until we knew for sure what we were going to do. Monday, the papers were signed giving us Legal Guardianship of both babies. Once we got word that the papers were signed, we headed to Columbus, Georgia after Caleb got out of class and we were at the hospital first thing Tuesday morning. Want to know another God thing– the Monday that the papers were signed, marked three years since we had started trying to have a baby. It gives me chills every time I think about it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 was the best day!! We got to see our precious babies for the first time! With them being so little, it was kind of scary when we first saw them. I think we were both in shock because we had never seen anything so small, but my heart literally exploded!! I will never forget the moment that we saw them for the first time. Hudson’s incubator was closest to us as we walked in and then Emma’s was right beside his. From that day on, I stayed in Columbus at the Ronald McDonald House so that I could be with the babies. We met some amazing people while we were there; friendships that will last a lifetime.

In Georgia, there is a 10 day period where the birth mom can come back and take the kids back into her custody. I never really worried about this because of the conversation we had that Sunday night we met her, but I still had a small amount of fear in the back of my mind. I had already gotten attached to these tiny babies and was fearful of that being taken away, but God’s love was wrapped around us during that 10 day period and we just loved those babies as much as we could. My in-laws were in Columbus with me on the 10th day and my mother-in-law and I had just left the hospital to go pick up my father-in-law to go grab some lunch. We were going down the road right after leaving the hospital and I got a text from our attorney saying that the 10 days was up and that we were officially their legal guardians. When I got the text message, ‘Good, Good Father’ by Chris Tomlin was playing and I told Jennifer to listen to what was playing. We both were in tears. Because He is a good, good Father and had been so faithful to us. Anytime I hear that song, my eyes fill with tears because of what it means to me.

Both babies were never on a ventilator and didn’t really have any major set backs while they were in the NICU. Although it was a bumpy ride some days, our NICU journey was relatively smooth compared to others. Our babies just had to grow. And that they did! Emma stayed in the hospital exactly 7 weeks and Hudson stayed a day shy of 8 weeks. When we took those tiny babies home, I was scared to death, but I knew I gave it my all in the NICU to learn as much as I could from the nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists. They are all such a blessing to us and we will forever be grateful for them.

Once we knew the babies were coming home, the adoption process really got started because they had to be out of the hospital in order for the adoption to be final. We had our Home Study completed prior to the babies coming home, but everything else had to be completed after they were home. If you’ve ever been through the adoption process, you know that it takes time and we did not have a lot of time. I think we were one of the fastest Home Studies completed. It was a long five months, total, but I know some people wait years to get to bring their child home, so I can’t complain one bit. The adoption day finally came and I was so excited. I was excited to finally tell people that we had twins!! I was excited to know that the process was over and they were ours for good. There were lots of emotions going through my head, but when we got to the courthouse and we saw all the family and friends there to support us, it calmed me and I was so thankful that we had the support of so many people. We even had to be moved into our own Courtroom because there were so many people there to support us. The Judge was even surprised. These babies are so blessed to have that kind of support.

We have a great relationship with their birth mom. I know a lot of people question why we do, but she is part of our story and she is their birth mom. I remember telling her the night we first met that she will always be their birth mom and she will. We are just very fortunate that she gave us the opportunity to be their parents.

But, if we’re being honest, people made it hard for me to feel like I was their mom. I hated going out in public when they were still tiny because perfect strangers would make comments about how good I looked for having twins, which just made me feel uncomfortable because I was struggling inside. There were also comments about how I was lucky I didn’t have to be pregnant and go through childbirth and those comments hurt. They still do hurt. I know the people saying them don’t mean harm, but I am still very sensitive to comments like that because I would give anything to experience being pregnant. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t have to go through pregnancy and childbirth and I felt less of a woman because of those comments. We wanted these babies more than anything, and we walked through a really dark season to get them into our family. And whether I birthed them or not, they are my babies. And how thankful I am that they are!

The days quickly passed with me struggling to feel like they were actually mine and before I knew it, I couldn’t imagine our family without them. I don’t have maternity pictures to show them, but we do have the story of how we prayed constantly to become their parents. We have countless stories of a faithful God. Love made our family, not whether or not I birthed them.

God truly worked a miracle when he brought Emma and Hudson into our lives. Looking back, I know the suffering that we went through trying to get to this point was merely nothing compared to the joy that was coming. I hope that we were able to bring God glory through our trials and through the adoption of Hudson and Emma. Our story is about love and hope and God’s grace and mercy and we credit everything to Him.

We plan to always be open with Hudson and Emma about their adoption. This is something that I have had to work on because I was very nervous about telling them. I feared they would resent us. But, with a lot of prayer and with God’s help, I am now comfortable sharing our story and sharing with them that they grew in mommy’s heart instead of my belly. You can ask them where they grew and they will point to my heart. It truly melts me.

Adoption is all about love. Love on both sides. And what a blessing it is to have experienced this kind of love. I hope Emma and Hudson will one day realize how much their birth mom, Caleb and I love them. Because we all three do love them and want what is best for them. What a God we serve! He is SO faithful and SO loving and is an on time God.”

Courtesy Abbi Ratliff /The Southern Trunk

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Abbi Ratliff. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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