Second Adoption: Karsten

Karsten’s story has been a long time coming.  It’s a story that we’ve prayed about for years, and one I’ve SO looked forward to writing about.  And then somehow after she was born, time got away from me.  Here we are 7 months later and I’m just now writing and sharing the “full” story.  Oh well. That’s life with two kids!

Regardless, I am still SO thrilled to be able to share Karsten’s story.  It is part of who she is, and who our family is.  It’s a story that I’ll never forget.  This memory will never fade with time!

I will say that after already having one adopted child, and even knowing that every adoption is different, we did have some preconceived ideas of how this adoption would go.  And of course, it didn’t go AT ALL like we I had planned.  But just like the first time, that’s what makes it so extremely clear that God was the one working things together in this story.  So, here’s how it all went down…

(Warning – Just like with Kate’s story, this is pretty long.  I don’t apologize! I’m just giving you fair warning that it’ll take a while to read.)

After we adopted Kate, Kevin and I had a “plan” for baby #2.  We always said we wanted our kids close in age.  My sister and I are just 2 years apart, and Kevin is one of 4 boys, all pretty close in age.  So we had a “plan”.  The original plan was to start the adoption process again when Kate turned 1, which was the soonest that our agency would allow us to.  Around Kate’s first birthday, Kevin and I both looked at each other and said “No way!”  Even though adoption can sometimes be a long process, you occasionally get surprised and get a baby very quickly (not intentional foreshadowing here).  With an extremely active 1 year old, we were so NOT ready for another baby right away.  We thought it would be best to wait before we submitted any paperwork.  So that’s just what we did- we waited.  We decided to wait until things got a little bit easier with Kate before starting the ball rolling on baby #2.  

 About a year later, in July 2013, we realized that while every baby/toddler/kid stage is a little bit different, it is never going to get any easier and waiting for the “perfect” timing was pretty futile.  So we went ahead and started the process again.

 We turned in our initial paperwork and were anticipating that it would take us approximately 3 months to finish our home study and be “officially” waiting on baby #2.  We were prepared to go to a day-long training and then be supplied with the MOUNTAIN of paperwork again.  I wasn’t too stressed out about the paperwork, because I’d saved a copy of our original paperwork and knew that we could use the same responses to a lot of the questions.  Just as an FYI, there are a lot of identifying type questions on the paperwork (like birthdate, income levels, places of birth, family member data, etc) but there are lots of open ended questions that you each have to respond to (such as describing your testimony, indicating your parenting style, etc).  We anticipated that we would be able to move through the homestudy process quickly and be approved within a few months, just like the first time around.  I think in the back of my mind, I was hoping our homestudy would be finished by early to mid-December 2013. 

 Almost immediately, our agency called us to let us know that we didn’t have to go to a day-long training program in Columbia, SC since we had already adopted.  Apparently the homestudy process was supposed to be much quicker than the first time.  We still had to wade through a fair amount of paperwork (mostly the identifying type questions) and both get physicals and drug tests completed from our doctor.  Instead of the in-person training program in Columbia, we each had to do some online training related to adoptions.  Since we weren’t in a huge rush to get all of this done, it took us a month to have everything in order.  Once we had everything completed on our end, we submitted it to our agency (around early-September 2013) and waited for them to call to schedule our home study visit.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally, our original adoption worker from Kate's adoption (Jean*), called and scheduled our home study visit at our house for exactly one week before Thanksgiving - Thursday, November 21st.

Since this was not our first home study, we were definitely not as stressed out about the home visit.  We cleaned, but it was not the white glove test kind of clean that we did the first time.  Jean, came to our house and went through all of the standard questions, played with Kate, and then walked through our home.  She indicated that she basically just had to update our previous home study but that it shouldn’t take long to get us approved.  We were pretty excited, since at this point, it had already been 3 months since we'd submitted our paperwork.

 A few weeks later, we heard the news that Jean was leaving the agency to take a job that enabled her to work from home and have more time with her kids.  While we could definintely understand her desire to be home with her children, we knew this would slow down our approval.  And it did.  We waited for someone to contact us, but really didn't hear much from anyone.  By January, I was getting pretty frustrated!  We had started the process in July and nearly 5.5 months later, we still weren’t homestudy approved, which meant that potential birth families were not able to view our profile yet.  It felt like we were at a stand-still.

In early January we found out that the agency had hired a new adoption worker for our area (Sharise*).  Finally!  We felt like things would get moving again.  Anticipating that we would be quickly approved, I started working on our profile book through Shutterfly.  Since it was busy season for me at work, I really didn’t have time to create a new profile book from scratch.  So, I took the template of our original profile book, and updated it with new pictures.  I went ahead and placed an order for 4 books (one for each physical location of our agency in our state, and one “floater” book that gets delivered to other states when requested).  At the end of January we found out from Sharise that our homestudy had been approved and our profile would be made active. 

Progress!  I dropped off the books at our agency about a week later.

In my mind, it seemed like it took us FOREVER to get to the “waiting” stage in this second adoption.  In reality, it took us about 6.5 months which IS a long time, but it is what it is.  There was nothing we really could have done to speed the process along.  It was totally outside of our control. 

So we waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

We knew that our wait would probably be longer this time around for various reasons.  First, our agency told us that families with no children were often chosen over families that already had kids.  Apparently birth moms considering adoption were partial to those families.  Kate’s adoption moved so quickly for us (we only waited 2.5 months before getting “the call”, and then a month after that she was born).  We honestly didn’t expect things to move that quickly again, but I probably secretly hoped that would be the case.   

It wasn’t.  We still waited.

And waited. 

And waited. 

We got lots of recruitment emails (emails that the agency sends out, asking if you are interested in a specific case).  We said yes to most of them, but were never selected.  Around mid-summer I started to get impatient.  By July 2014, it had been a year since we started the process.  I was content with our family of 3, but so ready for another baby!  We had moved Kate into her big girl room 7 months earlier, in preparation for her baby brother or sister.  We prayed with her each night, and asked God to take care of her baby sibling.  Even though we tried to prepare Kate for the possibility of a baby brother, she ALWAYS referred to her future sibling as her sister.  We blamed it on the Elsa/Ana fascination, but maybe she just knew what was coming!

Because typically with adoption, you aren’t granted “maternity” time off at work, I’d been saving my vacation time for years in anticipation of an adoption.  Seriously.  I'd been stingy with using my vacation time since I started with my firm in June 2013.  Since I wasn’t physically having a baby, maternity time didn’t apply because I wouldn’t be eligible for short term disability.  However, I was eligible to take up to 12 weeks off (unpaid) under the Family Medical Leave Act.  Because my work knew well in advance that we were adopting, they graciously allowed me to roll over more vacation time from the year before than I typically would have been allowed to carry over. 

By September, we realized that we may be waiting a LONG time and knew that we needed a real vacation, even if it was just a short one.  We had not taken Kate to the beach since she was 10 months old, so on the spur of the moment, we decided to book a trip to Myrtle Beach for a long weekend.  It turned out to be one of my favorite family trips that we have ever taken.  It was super laid back.  We didn’t plan anything and just kind of went with it.  Kate had a blast, and quite honestly, Kevin and I did too.

We got home from vacation, and life went on like normal.  Fall is always a crazy-busy time of year for us.  We’re huge football fans (Georgia and Clemson) and our weekends are spent either watching football games or going to games.  If we’re not doing something football related, we end up filling our time with typical fall activities – pumpkin patches, Halloween fun, fall festivals, etc.  Between church activities and football, along with visiting family, fall is crazy!  So needless to say, our adoption wait actually wasn’t on my mind anymore!

On October 4th, a friend and I were in charge of a fall festival that our church was putting on and we were pretty busy organizing and getting things set up. The festival went well, and Kate had a blast with the face painting, bounce house, races, and hay ride.  But a few days later, she started getting sick.  I really blamed it on her allergies, and the fact that she went on the hay ride multiple times (probably not smart of her mom to let her do that).  Her allergies are pretty bad, and when they flare up, she is miserable. 

On Monday I was at work when Diane (my mother-in-law, who keeps Kate for us), called to tell me that Kate was sick.  It was definitely more than just allergies at this point. By Monday night, I knew I needed to take Kate to the doctor.  She was so congested, coughing horribly, and even wheezing.  I made her use her rescue inhaler to help with the weezing and made a doctor’s appointment.  A pretty scary enterovirus was going around and I was a little worried that she may have had it.  Many kids had been hospitalized with it.  The kids affected the worst were kids under the age of 5, and kids with asthma.  Just our luck that Kate fit both of these categories.

Kevin had left Sunday afternoon for a golf trip that had been planned for a while, so I knew I needed to take Tuesday off for her doctor’s appointment.  Tuesday morning we headed to the doctor.  During the examination, Kate’s doctors checked her oxygen levels and determined she was only at 90%.  Another doctor was called in, and while the doctors were checking Kate and asking me questions, my phone rang.  It was a Columbia number, but I didn’t recognize it so I ignored it.  I typically don’t answer numbers that I don’t know.  Besides, it’s not like I was busy or anything! 

Her doctors could clearly hear her wheezing and decided that they needed to do a breathing treatment.  They suspected the dreaded enterovirus, but didn’t want to test for it, because the treatment would be the same regardless of the cause.  Since it’s a virus, there’s nothing you really CAN do for it except to let it run its course.  So breathing treatment it was.

Now, when there are multiple doctors discussing your child, and they call in a nurse also, you know it’s not good.  It’s a little whole lot scary.  So, when my phone rings AGAIN while the 2 doctors and 1 nurse are in the room and I look to see that it’s Kevin, I hit ignore.  I figured he was just following up on Kate’s appointment, since by this point we had been at the doctor’s office for quite a while.  Almost immediately though, Kevin calls me again. 

We kind of have this unspoken rule between the two of us, that if we’re in the middle of something when the other calls, it is fine to hit ignore and call them back at a better time. BUT, if you get called a second time, you know it is important and you better answer!  So when he immediately called back a second time, I knew it was a big deal. 

I apologized to the doctors but told them that I needed to take the call, because it must be an emergency or something important.  This is about how our conversation went:

Me: “Hello?”
Kevin: “You ignored my call. We just got THE CALL.”
Me: “Huh?”
Kevin: “THE CALL.  We have another daughter.  She’s already been born. Bethany just called us. They tried to call you, but when they didn’t answer, they called me. You need to call them back.”

And it’s about at this moment that everything clicks into place.  That Columbia number that I ignored?  That was Bethany’s main office in South Carolina, and I ignored it.  I hit ignore on “THE CALL”.  Who does that!?!  Well, apparently, I do.

As I get off of the phone, Kate’s primary doctor turns to me and is about to start talking. Meanwhile, I am about to bust into tears.  As I start crying, I tell her that I am so sorry, that nothing is wrong, but that we have been waiting to adopt and we just got THE CALL telling us that we have another daughter- a daughter who has already been born and that we should be able to bring home in just a day or two! 

You can tell Kate’s doctor is shocked.  She gave me a big hug, told me congratulations, and said she would step out of the room for a few minutes for me to return the call to our Columbia office.  I quickly called *Joyanna (name changed) in Columbia and told her who I was.  She conveyed what Kevin had already told me.  She said “Well! A baby girl has been born and her mom selected you and Kevin to parent this baby girl!”  It was a bit overwhelming! 

She gave us a little more details, but since we hadn’t officially agreed to accept the placement of this baby yet, she couldn’t tell us all of the details like where she was born, etc.  I think it has to do with HIPPA regulations or something. I don’t know.  Anyway, I told her that I was about 99.9999% sure we would say YES, we wanted this child, but I didn’t want to tell her a definite yes without at least talking to Kevin. :)  I explained to her what was going on with Kate, and that I was in the doctors office with her at the moment, so I told her it may be a little while before I could call her back.  She understood and said that would be fine.  I immediately hung up and called Kevin.  I told him the situation and he totally agreed.  We had a second daughter! 

Kate’s doctor came back into the room to check on us, and said that she would get a breathing treatment set up.  As she is getting the treatment ready, she tells me that this has never happened to her before (being around someone when they get THE CALL).  You could tell she was excited for us.  And obviously I was pretty excited myself!

At this point, Kate’s breathing treatment was ready to begin. This was the first time she has had one of these, so neither of us knew what to expect.  Kate was obviously not feeling well, and was a little overwhelmed with everything that was going on – doctors checking her out, her Mommy crying, etc.  I figured the treatment would be pretty quick and since Kate was my priority right then, I decided to call the adoption worker in Columbia back after everything was finished.  Besides, I’d told her it may be a little while.

I put Kate in my lap during the treatment, and we took quite a few selfies to try to distract her.  She wasn’t too happy about having to wear the mask, but was so pitiful that she didn’t put up too much of a fight.  It is always so sad to see your kids sick.

The treatment took about 30 minutes, which was quite a bit longer than I thought it would take.  They checked her oxygen levels, which had improved, and also gave us a prescription.  And then finally, I was able to call Joyanna back.  I told her I was able to talk to Kevin and that YES, we most definitely wanted this baby girl.  She immediately said “Well it took long enough for you to call me back!”.  I was kind of shocked that she said that, because I’d told her that my husband was out of town, we were at the doctor with a sick kid, who was weezing, and had no idea what was going on.  I think she figured out that my long pause was a little awkward because she started laughing and then apologized and said she realizes that she hadn’t worked with us in the past, so I wouldn’t get her dry humor. 

Anyway, since we’d officially said “yes”, at this point she could give us some additional information. She told us where our baby girl was, and it turns out she was at a hospital that was only about 15 minutes away from where we were!  I wrote everything down quickly and asked her what the next steps were. 

Let me just take a minute to say that typically you would get “the call” from the adoption worker that you had been working with throughout the process.  After all of Bethany’s staffing changes, we eventually ended up with Kayla* (name changed) as our adoption worker.  Well, it turns out that Kayla was in Michigan at Bethany’s corporate office when all of this happened.  So, this is why we were dealing with Joyanna in the Columbia office, instead of Kayla.   Y’all.  Over the past 4 years, we have met SO many people who work with Bethany, in various offices, and we have nothing but great things to say about them.  We have met countless SC workers – in the Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach offices.  We have met adoption workers in the Raleigh office, from Kate’s adoption.  Seriously. Nothing but great things to say about all of them!

Okay, back to the story.  So Joyanna said that obviously this was going to be moving much faster than normal, since our baby was already born.  She said would be emailing me some additional paperwork to complete and email back to her.  We’d also need to bring the originals with us at placement.  And then she asked who our attorney was.  Since we had not every experienced a SC adoption, this part was all completely new to us.  We knew we would need an attorney, but thought we would have time to contact an attorney after we were matched, so we hadn’t already lined one up.  I told her we planned on using Jim Thompson, but that I would call him immediately to let him know what was going on and see if it were possible for him to represent us.  She went through a few more things and then said “Oh yeah, and I also have a few pictures. Would you like me to send them to you?”

Uh, yeah!

Isn’t she beautiful?

Around this time we were finally able to leave the doctor’s office. I got Kate all loaded up into the car, and immediately called Kevin to fill him in.  I told him the details that I’d written down from my call with Joyanna, and told him that I had two pictures that I’d send him as soon as we hung up.  I also let him know that when I got home, I’d call our attorney and figure out what the plan was.  At this point, we didn’t know when she would be coming home, so we had no idea what to expect. 

We stopped by the drug store to pick up Kate’s prescription, and then stopped by McDonalds since she had requested a “banilla” milkshake.  Of course when Kate is sick, she gets whatever she wants!  So “banilla” milkshake it was.  Once we got home, I put her PJ’s back on and settled her on the couch with her milkshake and a movie, and then stepped outside to make some phone calls.

I first called our lawyer.  Or should I say, I called the office of the guy that we wanted to be our lawyer.  His legal assistant *Tori (name changed) answered.  I quickly told her that we were adopting through Bethany Christian Services and had been matched.  She congratulated us.  And then I told her that the baby had already been born, and that we just found out a few hours ago!  She said “wow” but assured me that they would be able to get everything completed.  This attorney has worked closely with Bethany in the past and said she would contact them directly to get everything moving along, and then would let me know what the next steps that she needed from us.  She went ahead and emailed me some information.

As soon as I hung up the phone with her, my mom called. She knew Kate was sick and that I was taking her to the doctor that morning, so she called to ask how she was doing.  I quickly said “She-is-doing-better-they-had-to-give-her-a-breathing-treatment-and-some-medicines-she’s-watching-a-movie-now-and-we-have-another-daughter!!!”

I am pretty sure I said all of that in one breath so I’m not sure if my mom didn’t understand what I said, or if she was just shocked because her response was “Huh???”  So I said “We have a daughter! While I was at the doctor’s office we got THE CALL. And oh yeah, she’s already been born!”

And to this my mom just kept saying “What?  What!?!  Really? What!?!”  Ha! I’m pretty sure she was driving and had to pull over on the side of the road.  I told her the very few details that we knew and let her know that I’d call her back when I knew more.

And then our lawyer’s office called me back with some details. The plan was for us to have a call with our lawyer and our agency at 9:00am the next morning, and then from there we should be able to go bring our baby girl home!  We were told we could get to the hospital around lunchtime.

Meanwhile, Kevin was in NC still playing golf.  Since we wouldn’t be talking to our lawyer until the next morning and then leaving to go to the hospital until after the call, we just figured he could finish his round of golf and then come home.  Even if he’d left immediately, he still would have been getting home late that night. So he might as well finish his round and then get home a little later!  After all, he knew it would be a while before he’d be playing golf again!!

My next phone call was to Diane.  Kate was still very sick, so as much as we would have LOVED for her to meet her baby sister at the same time as we met her, she wasn’t up to doing anything except sleeping, and we didn’t want to risk getting a newborn sick too.  I called Diane to explain what was going on, and then took Kate over to her Nana and Papa’s house to get pampered.  We planned to let Kate stay there for a couple of days to recover, while we settled in with the new baby.

And then I called my sister to fill HER in on everything.  She offered to come help me pull things down from the attic, and I took her up on it! She was actually already off of work that day, so she came on over and we pulled stuff down as fast as we could.  Car seat.  Diaper bag.  Clothes.  Bottles.  Burp cloths.  Bouncy seat.  Crib sheets.  Baby bath tub.  Our living room filled up fast.  There was a lot of washing, scrubbing and folding going on in our house that night!  Her husband, Davis, came by after work and brought us a pizza.  It was a late night!

By this point, we’d already emailed back the paperwork so for the most part, everything on our end was done.  However, we DID have to decide on a name and pass that along to our adoption worker!  We’d been discussing names for a while, and had a few that we liked, but only one that we both really liked.  It was a unisex name, so we knew we would probably use it either way, though again, we figured we would have a little more time to actually think about it.  Kevin got home around 10:30pm that night and almost as soon as he walked in the door I said “So, I guess we have a daughter named Karsten, right?”  He just smiled and said “Yep. Guess we do.”  So Karsten it was!

Karsten is the name we both loved.  I’d actually seen it at some point and liked it, but forgot to share it with Kevin.  Meanwhile, he was at a sports store, and saw “Karsten” on a PING golf club, and also liked the name.  We looked up the meaning, because we are big on names having meanings, and this one was perfect…

Karsten is the German form of the word “Christian”.  Definitely something that we hope is a characteristic of Karsten in the future.  So, we just needed a middle name.  Again, we wanted a name that meant something, or had some kind of connection to us.  My mom’s given middle name was Rose, and so we wanted to pass that along to Karsten.  So, the next morning I emailed our adoption worker to let her know that we had decided on a name for our second daughter –

Karsten Rose      

I am pretty sure that I did not sleep a wink that night. Kevin, on the other hand, fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.  Is that a typical guy thing?  Because I sure wish that I could do that!

The next morning, we called to check on Kate, and then both sat on the couch to call our attorney and the Bethany office.  After a pretty quick 30 minute phone call we hung up, with plans to get to the hospital around 12:30.  However, almost immediately our phone rang again and it was our adoption worker.  She said that the hospital was ready to discharge her now, and if we could get there by 10:30, or earlier, we could go ahead and get discharged and come home NOW.  It was already 9:45ish, and we were about 25 minutes away from the hospital.  It was going to be a stretch to make it there on time, but of course we wanted to do it!  We rushed around, packed up the car seat and diaper bag and started driving. 

We got about 10 minutes down the road when my phone rang again.  It was our adoption worker again.  She said “I’m so sorry. I should have reminded you to bring a couple of things.  Make sure you have your car seat (which we did), your signed paperwork (which we did), and an outfit to bring her home in (which we did not).”  Oops.  I have to say that I totally would have thought about that if our world hadn’t just been turned upside down.  But seriously, it completely slipped my mind.  I mean I had diapers and wipe and burp clothes.  But no clothes!  So we stopped at Target on the way and I ran inside to buy a newborn and a 3 month old outfit. We did not have enough time to turn around, go home, and then come back to the hospital.  Had this been our first child, I would have stressed out about not being able to wash clothes before she wore them.  This time I just figured she would be fine for a few hours, and then I could change her. Second kids have it rough, right?

We finally made it to the hospital, parked the car, rode the elevator up to the nursery and walked in to see our baby girl being held by our adoption worker!  Sweet Karsten Rose was perfect!!

Discharge took FOREVER. We had a nurse who apparently thought we’d never had a kid before. We were lectured about Purple Crying, car seats, how to lay them on their backs at night, how to change a diaper, etc.  You name it, we were told about it.  It seriously took us a few hours before they let us leave.  

Since we hadn’t had time to sign all of the legal documents between us and Bethany, Karsten was discharged to Bethany Christian Services.  This meant that we weren’t able to take her with us yet.  So she got loaded into our adoption worker’s car, and I rode with her in the back seat over to the adoption agency.  Kevin followed in our car.   

We were at the agency for about an hour while we read through the necessary paperwork and signed our life away- again. :)  We also got to sign a Bible that our agency had since it opened.  Every family that was placed with a child through their office has gotten to sign the Bible, and put their family's names in the pages.  It was pretty special to be able to see ALL the names and families that have experienced the joy of adoption.  The pages were nearly full! We had to search for a place to sign. 

Afterward, we walked outside to take a picture of Kevin, Karsten and myself to send to her birth mom, and then off we went.  We were so excited to go home. 

Because everything happened so quickly, we weren’t able to meet Karsten’s birth mom.  Understandably, this was a very difficult time for her, and she had indicated that she wanted to meet us at some point in the future, but she just wasn’t there yet.  Our adoption worker had been taking pictures throughout the day, to save for her to send when she was ready.  And I promised to text our adoption workers multiple pictures over the next week also, so she could pass those along.  Though we were so thrilled to have Karsten with us, our hearts were broken for her sweet birth mom, who selflessly chose adoption for this baby girl and chose US. 

Up to this point, we hadn’t told anyone Karsten’s name.  Actually, at this point, not very many people even knew that we had Karsten!  For everyone that knew about her, we told them that they’d have to wait to find out her name when they met her.  My mom was the first to meet Karsten.  She’d driven up to our house while we were at the hospital, and spent the morning scrubbing it down to try to rid it of Kate’s germs.  We walked in the house with the baby carrier and said “Meet Karsten Rose!”  Her eyes got big and she said “Rose?  That’s my name!”  I think she was pretty surprised. 

The next few days were a blur.  My work already knew I was out of the office with Kate being sick.  That afternoon, I emailed everyone to tell them the OTHER reason that I was out of the office. Everyone was excited for us.   It was a lot of fun telling people what was going on.  I actually got a text from a friend who had adopted a few months earlier. She sent us a picture of them at court for their finalization and said “Guess what we did today?”.  It was so much fun to reply back and say “Congratulations! Guess what we did today? Meet Karsten Rose…”

 We had lots of family visitors the next week, but overall, we tried to play it pretty low key.  My mom spent the week with us, and I am SO thankful that she did.  Karsten ended up being tongue-tied, which isn’t all that uncommon, but we had to take her to get her tongue clipped. It stressed me out more than it should have! The process sounds scary and painful, but she cried for all of 2 seconds and then was fine.  

Kate stayed with her Nana and Papa for 3-4 days.  Kevin and I took turns going up there to see her and play with her but after that many days, she was still sick.  They had some doctors appointments and things coming up that we didn’t want Kate to have to get taken to when she wasn’t feeling well, so to give them a break, my parents took Kate home with them.  They ended up having to take her back to the doctor there, and determined that she had pneumonia.  It was so sad. This was the longest we had been away from Kate and both Kevin and I were SO ready to have her home.  My parents sent me some pictures while she was gone, but it’s still not the same. I wanted to hold that little girl!


In the meantime, I got a horrible sinus infection, Kevin got an ear infection, and I had an adverse reaction to a flu shot.  Y’all.  It was rough!  I felt like we were falling apart. However, somehow Karsten stayed healthy through it all.  We sure did pray hard that she wouldn’t get sick!  I am so glad God answered that prayer with a “yes”.

Finally, 6 days after Karsten was born, Kate was well enough to come home!  This was a Sunday, and Kevin had to do the message. Karsten and I stayed home from church, but Kevin gave everyone STRICT instructions that they were not supposed to get home with Kate before he did.  He did not want to miss out on the sisters meeting for the first time! 

We met Kate outside in our driveway and gave her a big hug!  We were so happy to have this girl home.  And then we asked her if she knew who was inside.  She smiled and said “Baby Karsten!”

We’d put Karsten in the bouncy chair and then let Kate walk in to see her.  She immediately said “awww”  touched her on the nose (which, 7 months later we’re still having to tell her not to touch Karsten in the face), kissed her on the forehead and said “I always wanted a baby!”.   Sweetest moment ever. 

And just like that, our family of FOUR was together for the first time ever.

To me it felt like we waited for Karsten for a long time, then when we found out about her, there was a flury of activity and we were home with her 18 hrs later.  It was crazy.  But God is good and His timing is perfect.  Looking back, we can totally see how He worked things out just the way He had planned.

First of all, my parental leave and vacation time from work couldn't have worked out more perfectly.  Karsten was born on October 6th.  The vacation time that I'd saved up, combined with the 2 weeks of parental leave that I was given, officially ran out on.... December 31st.  How perfect is that? 

I’m a tax accountant, so as far as the time of year when she was born, there couldn’t have been a better time.  My busy time of year is obviously January-April.  My slowest time of year is October – December.

Kevin posts scripture to his Facebook page every day.  He keeps a list of his scripture in a note on his iPhone.  As he reads something that he likes, he will write that scripture on the note.  Each day he just copy/pastes the next verse onto Facebook as his status for that day.  Well he posted this scripture at 7am on the day that we found out about Karsten (we did not get the phone call about her until that afternoon):

No, I will not abandon you as orphans--I will come to you.
John 14:18

Also, Kate was born on August 10th, the day before mine and Kevin's wedding anniversary.  Karsten was born on October 6th, which was the date that Kevin and I got engaged.

God is really in the details, isn't He? :) 

We have since met Karsten’s birth mom and some of her extended family.  She is wonderful. And we've had the opportunity to see her multiple times over the past 7 months.  We are thankful for our relationship with her, and with her extended family.   

And speaking of thankfulness, we are so extremely grateful for our open adoptions, and for the beauty of them when an open adoption is possible.  We fully realize that open adoptions aren’t always an option with adoption, nor are they always the best scenario.  However, we have been blessed to be able to experience two open adoptions and are thrilled that both of our girls will always be able to know exactly who and where they come from. 

So that’s our second adoption story – Karsten’s story.  There are so many more details that are personal to her, that we will share with her, and then let her share those details as she chooses later in life.  This part is OUR story.  There are parts that are HER story, and so those parts are HERS to share.  We are thankful for her life, we are thankful that she is part of our family, and we are thankful that Karsten’s birth mom, and God, chose us to be her parents. 

Infertility can be a painful thing, but God can use pain for His glory.  He can make something broken, beautiful.  He can bring joy through your frustrations.  And He has.

Lyrics from Something Beautiful, by Steven Curtis Chapman:
God’s gonna turn it into something different
He’s gonna turn it into something good
He’s gonna take all the broken pieces
And make something beautiful like only He could
So put it all in the hands of the Father
Give it up, give it all over to
The only one who can turn it into
Something beautiful
Something really beautiful

Adoption really is something beautiful...


  1. My prayer is that your 2nd adoption will go as smoothly as the first!! I'm sure Kate will make a great big sister!

  2. Dear Kelley: I am so glad I found your blog. We are waiting for our son to be born in August. You experience sounds very similar to ours. I hope ours continues to go as smoothly. Good luck on adoption #2.


  3. Best of lucky for a speedy adoption number two!

  4. Wow, you have an amazing story and two adorable little girls.
    Now, if my social worker could just call me back, we might get to start the ball rolling, too. (I want the initial meetings done before preschool lets out. Or else . . . we will be stuck, I think. Not sure what we'll do, and I'd prefer not to have to figure it out.)

    I assume you chose K names for both girls on purpose?
    And the dates are really cool!

    1. We did choose the K names on purpose. Whole family of K's!

  5. I started reading when you were waiting for Karsten, but it's cool to read all together like this. Curious, did you ever end up meeting her birth mom?

  6. Bethany has a number of couples that have adopted quickly. Unfortunately, it has a number of couples that continue to wait for their first adoption match. In our case six years and counting. Any suggestions for long waiting couples?

  7. Really beautiful, I am gkad that you shared adoptions storires through this blog. This will really inspire others to adopt babies. Well Done, God Bless!


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