Even If

Lately, I’ve been asked multiple times about my favorite verse or passage from the Bible. My immediate response typically stuns the questioner – it is the entire book of Habakkuk. After assuring them that Habakkuk is indeed in the Bible, and not a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings character, I go on to explain that the book of Habakkuk is really an open letter to all who are suffering; to all who question God when life doesn’t seem fair.

By now you are familiar enough with our story to know Kendal and I had the same frustrations – “God, why can’t we get pregnant? Isn’t having a family a good thing?! How can those who seemingly don’t love, care, or want a child be blessed that way and we can’t? Why is the process taking so long?!” Maybe your circumstances haven’t revolved around infertility and adoption. Perhaps your struggle is with your career, finances, or health. If we are honest with ourselves, everyone, at some point in their lives, has felt as though life wasn’t fair and God wasn’t listening.

And that is where the book of Habakkuk comes in. As the story begins, this prophet observes his world and sees, due to the nation’s corrupt leaders, injustice, depravity, and violence. Habakkuk complains to God, “How long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” In essence, Habakkuk is criticizing God, wondering why all of these unfair and evil things happen to good people – to God’s own people nonetheless! Sounds familiar, right?

God responds to Habakkuk’s complaints, telling him that He is aware of the injustice and destruction, and that He does, in fact, plan on doing something about it, but it isn’t quite what Habakkuk has in mind. God tells the prophet that He is raising up an enemy nation to come and invade the land. This shocks Habakkuk, as this situation is far worse than corrupt leaders and moral decline. The prophet goes so far as to accuse God of being inconsistent and unfair in raising up this enemy nation – “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look to wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”  Habakkuk was looking for some relief, but God throws Habakkuk a curve ball he never expected. Still sounding familiar?

Habakkuk marvels at God’s plan and eventually consents that he has been duly silenced: “I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.”  Recognizing and trusting in God’s sovereignty, Habakkuk then offers one of the most beautiful statements of faithful submission anywhere in Scripture:


The book’s final line reads, “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” Amazing! Habakkuk has received a glimpse of the glory of God, and despite the certain suffering that looms on the horizon and not fully understanding why God is doing the things He is, Habakkuk sings praises, knowing God will sustain him. What a progression – from protest to praise – “…yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength!” While we don’t know what Habakkuk’s song sounded like, and though our “stringed instruments” probably sound different today, I think a modern interpretation is “Even If” by MercyMe, which you can listen to here.


We don’t know the end of Habakkuk’s story. The book doesn’t tell us about the invading army or what happens to the nation. Because that isn’t the point. The point of Habakkuk’s story isn’t on what happens to him, but rather, how he responds to God. Habakkuk teaches us that we have a choice; that the righteous shall live by his faith.”

And so for me, while I wish I knew God’s timing regarding our adoption journey, I don’t. While I wish I knew why He has chosen us to go down this path and not through pregnancy, I don’t. While I wish I could take this burden away from our family, I can’t.  Kendal and I have experienced highs and lows over the past few years, and even more specifically, the past couple of months. Though we recently received news that could prove to be an answer to our prayers, we also realize how quickly we could return to a period of waiting. So rather than complain or question God, I choose to follow the approach laid down by Habakkuk. While we earnestly long for a family and desperately want to have children to raise, even if my life doesn’t turn out as I want, even if our entire adoption journey fails, even if I never receive answers to my questions, “…yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”



The Importance of True Friendship

Last week, while on my way to work, I received a text from a good friend – Matt – which said “Praying for y’all today. Peace and patience and favor.” As I considered Matt’s message, I was reminded of how many people just over the last two or three weeks who have mentioned they are praying for us.  People from different cities and walks of life have reached out to us to let us know we are still in their thoughts and prayers. Thinking of those comments in light of Matt’s message, the importance of true friendship was impressed upon me.

But in a day of rampant social media usage, it is easy to forget the true meaning oftrue-friendship friendship. We mistake social media as a safety blanket to hide under – a blanket where we display how many friends we have, our best-looking selfies, our trip to the gym, or the number people who liked a photo of our dinner. Empowered to say whatever we want with little repercussions, social media, text messaging, and email makes our “friends” digital and our egos bigger.

Calvin, you are right, true friends are hard to come by.  Honest people in real life situations don’t seem to hold their value anymore.  Our world makes it easy to slip away into seclusion. We value digital connection over personal investment.  This is not normal; this is not what we were created for.

wallpaper_lFriendship is more than 140 characters, snarky memes, or “Happy Birthday!” Facebook posts. Friendship is more than a forced smile and a 3-minute conversation in a hallway. Rather, true friendship is when people open themselves up to each other, messy homes and all.  It is when people genuinely care for each other, seeking their friends’ good over their own.  True friendship is about investing in each other’s lives, even if there are parts with which you disagree. Most importantly, friendship is when people who seek God’s glory can love each other, despite their sins and flaws and shortcomings. Charles Spurgeon has this to say about friendship, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” 

Scripture speaks highly on friendship and the need to help each other:

“This is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” – Romans 1:12 

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” – Proverbs 27:9 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 

“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24 

Christian friendship is beautiful and vital. It is more than a casual “hello,” but is a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a family, and a body . . . a body of Christ working together glorifying Him. A Christ-centered friendship always loves, forgives, corrects, rebukes, encourages, prays for, and hopes for each other to be more like Christ. A true friend never allows us to wallow in our sin, but wants to see us redeemed and sanctified. A true friend loves and supports and encourages despite the other’s mistakes and failures. Friendship is like love, it is tough and it is war. It is iron sharpening iron. It is holding each other accountable. True friendship isn’t easily discarded when tough situations arise.

Friendship is when people who seek God’s glory can love each other, despite their sins and flaws and shortcomings.

Which brings me back to Matt. Thinking back over our adoption journey, and especially in the last few months, I am constantly reminded of such friends in my life.  Friends who encourage us, who I know love us, and who, in spite of our shortcomings, invest themselves in us. They genuinely ask how we are doing and actually listen to our response. I am very thankful and blessed to have them in my life, and I hope that others can see this type of friendship in me.

Life is hard and we can’t live it alone. But true Christian friendship is more than a casual connection; it is journeying together in life and spurring each other on to be more like Christ and to give Him more glory.

That is infinitely more exciting than being secluded. 



September has been a significant month for us, as one year ago we became “home study ready,” meaning that all our documents were turned in, clearances checked, profile printed, and home study signed. Last September, we were ready, from a paperwork perspective, to be matched with an expectant mother and began to receive possible situations for adoption. We read and prayed over them, presenting to some and not to others. Some situations we felt strong connections and bonds, others not so much, and many more, we just didn’t know what to do.

But we presented, and were told “not yet.” We presented to another and were told, again, “no.” Another situation and another. Each time, in the teens at this point, we’ve been told “the expectant mother chose a different family.” This adoption journey has been one of, if not the most difficult seasons of our lives. We desperately yearn to grow our family, but to constantly be on this roller-coaster of emotions, riding up and down on a near weekly basis, causes emotional, mental, and spiritual discouragement. We desire a family, but with each successive “no,” it feels as though time is slipping away.

And then, over the summer, we realized our home study, background checks, and other clearances, were about to expire. We have since gone through the steps again, much of the same as a year ago. We got our fingerprints taken for background checks, went to the doctor, gathered up paperwork, and met with our social worker. We have received our updated and approved home study, and are now back on track. This was a setback to us in a variety of ways, but mostly it is a reminder of how one year has passed and our nursery is still empty. This realization hit us hard. We lost steam and energy. Of course we want a child, but this anniversary knocked us down.

Yet, we are reminded of God’s statements to the prophet Habakkuk: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie; If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” This has been our prayer for the month of September, that God would hasten the vision. And we ask for your prayer as well. We don’t know the ultimate end of this path we are on, but we trust in the One who put us on it.



We’re still smiling!

Let’s talk specifics: Profile and Presenting

One of the biggest tasks at the start of our adoption process was to create a family profile book. The purpose of the profile is to share information about ourselves as well as paint a picture of what kind of life we could provide for a child, and connect with someone in a genuine way.

We chose to have our consultant lend her expertise and help us with this project, so she provided us with a list of questions to answer. We took time to answer things such as what we do for a living, what our house and neighborhood are like, our “favorites,” our goals, and even education plans for our future child. Once we had our answers compiled, we sent those to her along with dozens of pictures of the two of us, our families, vacations, and our every-day-life. Susan essentially created a photobook of all of our information and photos, which we had printed and included in our agency application packets. We think it came out nice and hope it presents us well!


The front cover of our family profile.

So how does our profile get put in front of a birth mother? You may have heard anyone connected with domestic adoption talk about “presenting” or being “matched.” This is the part of the process where we say we want our profile to be shown to a particular birth mother, in the hopes that she will choose us to parent her baby.

We receive emails from both our consultant as well as directly from agencies with which we are active when there is a birth mother ready to choose a family. These are referred to as “situations,” and based on the information we receive, we can choose to have our profile presented to them. The emails typically include some basic information about the birth mother, due date, gender (if known) and health of the pregnancy, but the level of detail ranges concerning medical information (for both mom and baby), substance abuse, family history, likes/dislikes, preferences for the baby’s family, etc.

There is usually a pretty small window of time to make the decision to present, usually just a couple of days, and we even missed out on presenting one time because the agency determined they had received enough profiles after just a couple of hours. Some agencies limit the number of profiles that are presented to a birth mother, while others allow however many respond to present. The birth mother then has the weighty task of reading through the family profiles, and making the difficult decision of choosing a family.

It is also expected that if the expectant mom chooses you, that you should not back out, so we have to be fully ready to move forward if we are matched. The time between match and baby could be anywhere from four months to immediately, it just depends on when the plan was made and the family is chosen. We’ve received situations where the due date is still several months away, but have also seen several situations of mothers in active labor or even with a baby already born! So, while we’re in a wait, there is always an anxiousness of “it could be anytime.”

We probably receive on average a couple of situations a week, though there have been periods of time where we don’t see anything for a few weeks, then a stretch of time where it seems there is at one new situation every day. It is overwhelming to decide to present or not, and we usually end up in a long, discussion trying to determine the best way to move forward. It is such a potentially life changing decision based on a simple email. We have reached the point in our presenting that if there are no obvious reasons not to present, then we usually agree to ask that our profile be presented to a situation, and trust that if it’s not our baby that God will close the door.

Since we became active with agencies (October 2016), we have presented multiple times. Obviously, we have not yet received a “yes,” but we are still waiting. Each time we receive an email letting us know that someone else was chosen, we must not see it as a “no” to us, but rather the birth mother just saying yes to a different family.

God will open the right door at the right time, we just have to be ready and willing to walk through it. We’re hoping it is soon, but we really have no idea, and are waiting as patiently as possible for a birth mother to choose us to love on her and her baby!


Let’s talk specifics: Agency Applications

2228603119_37792a3952_oIn our first, “Let’s Talk Specifics” entry, we hopefully provided you some additional clarity about a homestudy – what it is and how you get one. For our second post in this series, we want to explain the next major step in an adoption journey – selecting an adoption agency.

Type “domestic adoption agency” into your Google search bar, and over one million results will be presented to you. Agencies in every state, some with multiple offices, others with just a small staff, some with religious affiliations, others without…overwhelming to say the least. It can be hard enough for us to decide where to eat on a Friday night, so imagine our struggle on selecting an adoption agency! Luckily, this is where our adoption consultant comes in to save us.

If you recall, we are working with an adoption consultant, Susan. She doesn’t work for a specific agency, but rather an adoption consulting group and is a professional who walks this journey with us, watching out for red flags, assisting with paperwork, and answering our questions. Also, Susan has professional relationships with numerous adoption agencies, to whom she recommends adoptive parents. This was a huge help to us, shrinking that enormous, frightening number down to 15-20. This list provided a really good “starting point” for selecting an agency. In fact, because we are working with a consultant, we could apply and work with multiple agencies, potentially increasing our chances and speeding up the adoption timeline. Seems simple, right? Just pick a few and go? Well, if there is ever a recurring theme in adoption, it is that the process is slow and never as simple as it may seem.

Once we selected the agencies we felt were a good fit for us, the paperwork trail, similar to the homestudy, began again. Contact forms, applications, and contracts had to be completed, signed, and notarized. Nearly all of our homestudy paperwork and forms needed to be included, in addition to our family profile book (more on that in our next “Specifics” post). Fees had to be paid. Further, with a few of the selected agencies, a phone interview with their staff and attorney was required, where they explained the adoption process and legal implications of working with the agency. Whew!

Of all the paperwork, one of the hardest struggles was determining the “type” of child we are willing to adopt – characteristics and qualities of a child that are beyond our control. Not only are there decisions about gender, race, and age, in each agency application, there are checklists upon checklists of every disease, level of substance abuse by the birth parents, and family medical conditions, through which we had to decide our comfort level. It is very intimidating to make these decisions. Again, as Elisabeth O’Toole’s states in her book, In on it:  What adoptive parents would like you to know about adoption:

Could you parent a child of a different race?  Which races specifically?  Could you parent a child from another country?  Which countries?  Could you parent a child in contact with the birth mother?  Birth father?  Birth grandparents?  Siblings?  Could you parent a child with physical disabilities?  Which ones exactly?  How about mental disabilities?  Could you parent more than one child?  An older child?  How old?  What about a child who has been neglected or abused?

It’s hard to check “no” on some items; feelings of guilt come quickly with thoughts such as “we’d love any child, as long as we can be parents.” But we, like any adoptive parents, had to honestly ask ourselves what was the best fit for us. O’Toole continued:

Until I faced these decisions, I had never thought so specifically about adoption – or parenthood, for that matter.  If anything, I had a vague, untested belief that I could parent any child who was in need of a family.  And I really wanted to be that person, someone who could handle any obstacle with equanimity, one with boundless patience and humor, able to provide with generous hands whatever my child needed from me.  I still want to be that person.  But I’m not.  It was only by considering adoption myself – by facing that checklist in front of me on the dining room table…that I was compelled to acknowledge and accept my own capabilities and limitations as a potential parent.

And we also sat at our dining room table, with these checklists in front of us, trying to determine as best we could what we could handle in our family. Once we figured it out, we sent off our packets of applications, contracts, and other documents so that we could become “active” in each agency’s system, to be available as potential parents for birth mothers who make an adoption plan. Currently, we are active with about five agencies and are relying on God’s help to wade through the cumbersome clunky process that is adoption.



Let’s talk specifics: The Home Study

shutterstock_150753773We often talk with people, who ask us where we are in the process. But we figure that, like us before we got into “the process,” many people probably don’t know much about adoption, and this is just the best way to ask how it’s going.

So, we thought it might be a good idea to write a few blogs to explain parts of the adoption process. First up: The Home Study.

One of the very first steps of any adoption, is a home study. This results in a legal document that confirms one’s ability to parent: physically, mentally, and financially. It is completed by a licensed social worker, and is written after review of legal documents, health reports, financial statements, as well as interviews, reference letters, and yes, an evaluation of the prospective adoptive parents’ home.

Sounds a little intrusive, huh?

As Elisabeth O’Toole put it in In On It: What adoptive parents would like you know about adoption, (a book we highly recommend, by the way):

“Compared to biological parents, the steps to achieving adoptive parenthood are much more . . . documented.”

Before we could even meet with our social worker, we first had to gather documents such as birth certificates, our marriage license, photo identification, income tax returns, residential histories, and pet records. In addition, we each had to have health exams and our doctors fill out a form agreeing we are healthy enough to parent a child. Another requirement was getting both state and federal criminal investigative reports, which involved going to the State Police and FBI locations for finger prints.

Once we had all the documentation, our social worker visited us in our home. While she did look around, it was not a “white glove test.” The main purpose of the home tour was to make sure we have a safe living space, and a plan for where our baby will sleep. This part of the home study visit lasted maybe a total of five minutes. The remaining time of the first home visit was spent discussing our relationship, our life together, work, religious views, our motivation to adopt, as well as talking about adoption in general. Our social worker is an adoptive mother, so she had stories to tell us and encouragement to share. The first home visit lasted more than two hours.

A follow up visit was required so we scheduled it for a few weeks later. The second visit lasted about four hours and included individual interviews discussing our childhood, families, where we were raised, and even things like the primary method of discipline in our childhood homes and our anticipated parenting styles.

The home study process also involves family and friends: we were required to have four to five people write letters of reference on our behalf, only one of which could be a family member. The correspondence was directly between our social worker and the individuals we asked to participate; we have never seen the letters.

Our social worker then took all her notes and our compiled documents, and wrote a report outlining our desire to adopt and why, our background and family information, childcare plans, and our health and abilities, among other personal information. Ultimately, she gave us the legal seal of approval we needed to move forwards with applying to adoption agencies.

All this red tape can be very frustrating and discouraging at times. It’s easy to fall into thoughts that having a baby biologically does not require document gathering and intrusive interviews by practical strangers. But our consultant gently reminded us to view it from the eyes of an expectant mother making an adoption plan – she wants what is best for her child and to be comforted knowing that the adoptive parents she chooses have been thoroughly examined and will provide the loving, stable home she desires for her child.

We constantly remind ourselves that we cannot find our joy in the process. But our joy from this will come when we are finally parents. And just like a woman who experiences the pains of labor and finds it all worth it when her child is placed on her chest, we believe that “the process” will eventually just be a distant memory, overshadowed by the beauty of our child joining our family.


What to Expect When She’s Not Expecting


I’m sorry, what? “There is less than a 2% chance you can naturally conceive a child.” No, no, you must be mistaken. This must be some cruel joke; after all, it is April Fool’s Day.  “Less than a 2% chance.” But we followed the plan – we both graduated college, I finished law school and passed the bar…we even recently started building a house! Now it is time to start building our family, too! All of our friends are pregnant – surely this is wrong! But the doctor wasn’t wrong. And on that day, April 1, 2014, our lives were turned upside down. 

If you have explored our site, you know about our struggles with infertility and adoption; if not, you can get caught up here. We are using this blog to share our story and hopefully encourage others through similarly difficult times.  But I wanted to write a post specifically for men. For those husbands whose families are struggling with infertility and adoption, trying to cope with the heartache, and searching for what to do next all while attempting to faithfully lead their families through such a trying time. Guys, this post is for you. Trust me, I understand and can empathize with the challenges and struggles you are facing; with the feelings of doubt, anger, and confusion. And because of that, I wanted to share with you a few lessons God has taught me through our journey. I’m no expert, but these are just a few of the thoughts and perspectives I’ve gained from our experience thus far.

My first encouragement is men, if your wife is struggling with infertility, make sure you allow time to grieve. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”  Kendal and I received our infertility diagnosis in April 2014.  At the same time, we were in the process of building our first home, so questions of wall color, furniture placement, and landscaping filled our minds.  After closing on our home that June, our life settled down a bit.  So, during a summer evening walk, and just a few months after receiving our tragic diagnosis, I brought up to Kendal the idea of adoption.  My comments were met with silence.

You see, SPOILER ALERT, men and women think differently. Men are fixers and problem solvers.  In my mind, infertility + wanting a family = adoption.  This logically made sense to me.  But I missed the mourning and grieving part.  Kendal wasn’t ready.  She was still working and processing what such a diagnosis really meant.  And I jumped waaaaaaay ahead of her, unrealistically expecting her to be on the same page as me.  So men, take the time to grieve and mourn with your wife.  And trust me, we did and still continue to do so, both together and individually.  I still struggle with this, but I’m learning to stop, slow down, and just wait for her.  We both wanted a family, and obviously both came to the decision of adoption, but take time to mourn and grieve with your spouse.  Cry with her, hug her, love her.  While adoption may be in your future, and perhaps it is God’s plan for you, it is ok to take the time to be sad. 

Secondly, realize that just because you made a plan, that doesn’t mean God has to fit Himself into it.  Proverbs 16:9 says “A man makes a plan in his heart, but God directs his path.”  Kendal and I met while we were in college (Geaux Tigers!) and were engaged in December 2009.  I was in law school at the time, so we weren’t “ready” for kids.  But once I finished and passed the bar in 2012, we wanted to add to the two of us.  We thought we were ready – it was just “time” to have children.  All our friends were pregnant and asking us when we would have children.  They spoke as if it were a guaranteed outcome.  But it just wasn’t happening for us.  God wasn’t fitting Himself into our timeline – into what we thought we wanted and when we wanted it.

For two people who like plans, schedules, and being in control, this is a tough one to learn. God isn’t restricted to what our feeble minds can imagine, but just as He told the prophet Habakkuk, He is “doing a work…that you would not believe if told.” So, just remember, it is ok to not have the answers.  Believe me, I know the pain of waiting and wanting a child and feeling so lonely when all your friends are pregnant and something just isn’t right.  But God is in control.  The Proverbs writer puts it like this, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” 

Lastly, above all else, and while it may be difficult to see at the moment, these struggles are just light and momentary. I know that sounds like nonsense while you are enduring your trials, but that is how the apostle Paul describes them in 2 Corinthians 4:17 when he writes “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  In other words, Paul, writing with eternity in view, weighs his present trials against future glory and discovers his trials are actually working for him.  So when your world seems to fall around you, when you and your wife are devastated by terrible news, remember that these experiences are paled in comparison with what is to come.  And that is something to take hope in – your light and momentary struggles are producing something much better for you!  And that is eternal rest with our Father in Heaven. 

I hope this post is helpful to you.  Believe me, infertility and adoption isn’t just something you “get over” and move on from.  But these are just a few of the many lessons I’ve learned which I hope will encourage you during your time of struggle. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping us find our arrows!