the journey to jojo

Thursday, September 11, 2014

{for those who may not know the story}

I remember standing in my kitchen, shortly after my separation, with a 2 year old little boy and a daughter on the way, realizing that my life had not worked out as I had planned. Divorce was never on my agenda, and I certainly never imagined I would go through one while pregnant.

However, God made it clear that He had made me to be a mommy, and that had not changed. I knew in that moment that He was leading me to adoption, but I had no idea what the journey would look like or that it would lead me to sweet Jojo.

After a long season of waiting, I decided in November of 2012 that I was ready to start the adoption process. I finally had the support of my family and so I jumped in with both feet!

I made an announcement on my blog that I not only planned to adopt, but that God was leading me to adopt a child with Down syndrome. I think all adoptive families struggle with people in their lives who just don’t “get it”, but as a single mom, I think I got a double dose. People said things like:

“Are you crazy?” (I got this one a lot)

“What is this going to do to the kids you already have?”

“How are you going to find time to deal with a child with special needs?”

“How is this going to effect your chances to find a husband” (yep….someone said that)

“How are you going to afford it?”

The bottom line for me was to simply give God my “YES” and learn to trust HIM to handle the rest.

My original plan was to pursue a 3 or 4 year old child with Down syndrome from China. I made this decision based on the fact that not only are children with special needs often overlooked, but most families want to adopt babies, leaving many kids who are older than toddler age without families. I was open to any country, but the one thing I was firm on was that I did NOT want a newborn.

God had different plans for me. Through a series of events, He showed me that His plan was for me to pursue foster care. While in the midst of the training, I heard about an organization called the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. They are not an adoption agency because they simply connect birth parents with a pre or post-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome with possible adoptive families. I decided to register just in case a child in Alabama ever needed a home but I would have NEVER imagined anything would come of it! Who would EVER choose a single mom out of the HUNDREDS of "whole" families in the network?

VERY soon after I finished foster parent training, I got a call from the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network informing me that a birth mom in Texas had chosen ME to parent her soon to be NEWBORN baby boy! God certainly has a sense of humor.

I had less than 3 months to switch gears from Foster Care to adoption and, looking back on it now, that period of time is sort of a blur! I had to get my home study done fast, not to mention piles and piles of paperwork that had to be filled out.

I was blessed to be able to have some contact via email with the birth mother during that time with but it was very sporadic. This was a very fearful time for me because there were so many “what if’s”. 

What if the birth mother changes her mind?

What if the baby has major health issues when he is born? 

There were so many questions, and very few had answers.

I hadn't heard from the birth mom in over a month, and needless to say I was slightly stressed with all of the uncertainties. But about noon on June 19th the call finally came! I heard her voice for the very first time when she explained to me that her doctor decided that the baby wasn't growing well and labor needed to be induced the next day! It was baby time, and so Aidan, Ella Mae, my mom and I hopped on a plane to Texas at 4:30 that same afternoon!

In the midst of packing and booking flights, I called the hospital in Texas where she would deliver simply to let the staff on the Labor & Delivery floor know that we were coming and that we were adopting the soon to be born baby. I have to be honest, I sort of expected it would all turn out like a Lifetime movie where they would give us a room next door to the birth mom, the baby would be born, then be whisked off to our room where we would have a beautiful time of bonding as a new family. That was not the case. I was informed (and rightly so) that I had zero rights aside from what the birth mom wanted. She was delivering the baby and the mom and baby were their priority for the duration of her stay as far as the hospital staff was concerned.

We arrived in Texas late on Wednesday night and I went to the hospital bright and early Thursday morning. I went up to the Labor & Delivery floor, signed in, and went back to greet the nurses, let them know I was there, and available IF the birth mom wanted to see me when she woke up.

I went back to the small waiting room and furiously crocheted away on Jojo's not yet finished blanket while I waited. Not too long after, the OB doctor came out to the waiting room to talk to me. I assumed she had bad news of some sort, or that she was coming to tell me that the birth mom wasn't ready to see me, or that I couldn't be there at all. Much to my surprise, she was simply coming to introduce herself to me, and give me an update on how the baby was doing. I was absolutely floored by her kindness. We talked for a little while and then she said the birth mom was awake and ready to see me when I was ready.

I took a few deep breaths and made my way down the hall where I was greeted by Nicole. She introduced herself to me and said with a smile "I will be your Labor and Delivery nurse". She will likely never know how much those words meant to me in that moment. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with gratitude, a sense of belonging, and a sense of empty handedness. How could I walk in to that room, and meet face to face with the woman who was about to spend hours laboring to bring my baby in to this world empty handed? I nervously hugged Nicole, told her I loved her for being so awesome, and said I would run to the store and be right back.

You know how dads act when their wives are about to go through immense pain and hard work to bring their children into this world, and they can do NOTHING to help? I know how that feels now. I went to the store and bought flowers for the birth mom, Nicole, and the doctor! If they would have had packs of blue bubble gum cigars I would have bought those too and handed them out to strangers.

I arrived back at the hospital, flowers in hand, ready to meet my birth mom. Or at least as ready as I would ever be. I walked in to the room, set down the flowers, and went straight to my job of making sure she was as comfortable as possible. We were immediately at ease with each other.
She was in a good bit of discomfort (obviously), so we talked through the pain. I got her more ice chips, requested some pain meds, adjusted her pillows and our relationship was off and running. It soon became clear to me that I was the only one that would be there that day for her. To hold her hair back when she got sick. To make sure she was a comfortable as possible. To do the things that family is supposed to do for you when you deliver a baby. So, we became family.

Around 7pm it was finally GO TIME. The birth mom made it clear that she wanted me to stay in the room with her while she delivered Jojo, and I was honored. I was able to pray with her right before the staff flooded into the room for the delivery. We took deep breaths, pushed, and counted to 10 and did it again and again until sweet Josiah made his way into the world!

The moment he was born, I literally fell into my sweet birth mother and we hugged and we both cried. The feeling of gratitude to her, gratefulness to God for a safe delivery, and awe that I was standing right where God wanted me was overwhelming.

June 20, 2013 7:22pm 5lbs 4oz 18.25 inches

Raising three children on my own (whether one has special needs or not) is not easy, but I have learned that easier is not always better! I am blessed to have the support of my parents, my church and many friends who are walking alongside me on this journey.

My hope is that my story will give another family the confidence they need to take that first step and pursue a child through foster care or adoption. So many children are still waiting for their forever families both in the US and all over the world! If God can provide the funds and move the mountains for me, He can do it for you too…..He just needs your “yes”!

Thanks for letting me share,


  1. Thank you for sharing. That was a beautiful story, thank you for sharing.

  2. This is an incredible story. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. My brother-in-law has down syndrome and I have to say that my husband would not be the man he is today if it weren't for his brother. Im not religious, but have this feeling that I too may one day mother a child with special needs, whether it's naturally or through adoption. When that time comes - Ill remember this story. Thank you for sharing Annie.