Featured Friday: Ashley at Our Happily Ever Afters

Ashley with her husband Kurt, son Liam and daughter Evy Kate
Tell us about your family and how you came to the decision to adopt.
My husband Kurt and I were married in 2007. In 2009, we welcomed Evy Kate into the world (by pregnancy). She was (and is!) an absolute joy! Adoption had always been something that I thought was great, but it was never something that I was confident I would do. Kurt felt the same way; we loved the idea of adoption but honestly, we were probably those people who, at the end of the day, would say “It’s just not something we’re called to do.” Well, God had other plans! 
In the wee hours of the morning on July 22, 2010, I was looking at a friend’s blog. I knew they were adopting from Ethiopia, and I had even looked at her blog before. However, something happened to me that night. As I was looking at this blog, I literally felt my heart break in two and I felt the presence and calling of God like I never have before. I just KNEW God was saying to me, “Why not you? Why not YOU?” I realized in that moment, as I cried and cried in front of my computer, that the only thing holding me back was fear. And as it says in God’s Word, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” I knew that He would equip us if we would only be obedient. 
I told Kurt the next day, and he took about a month to pray and think about it. It took him awhile to reconcile the idea. Not because of him being opposed to adoption, but because it’s a completely different way to add to your family. This is typical of me and Kurt – he processes major things BEFORE they happen; I process them afterwards. Those were very hard days for me. I felt so alone in my calling and I ached for Kurt to be on the same page. That was a way that I knew this was God’s call on my life – I’ve never felt so confident about something in my life. At the very end of September, I cried to Kurt and told him that we would just not proceed. He said he would seriously petition God and seek Him even more earnestly. The next night, he told me that God had taken away his fear, and that we should proceed with the adoption. I WAS SO EXCITED and so thankful that God brought us together in this calling.
I had been researching for these months of waiting in prayer and determined that South Korea was where God was leading us. We sent our paperwork in early October (we used Holt International) and we brought Liam home exactly a year later on October 21, 2011!

Why did you and your husband feel international adoption was best for you?

Honestly, we were just called that direction by God. We never felt a peace about domestic adoption. Of course you get the people who ask, “Why adopt internationally when there are so many babies here in the U.S.?” My answer to that is simply, “God.” He directs people in different ways. The point is, there’s an orphan crisis. This isn’t a competition between the United States and other countries, and this isn’t about promoting the U.S. economy or something. An orphan is an orphan, and we’re called to do something about it – whether it be here in the U.S. or internationally.


What did you feel was the hardest part of adoption? What was the most rewarding part?
Initially, the hardest part was the waiting. The emotional roller coaster was unreal. You literally enter the “Adoption Bubble” and you feel like you live and breathe paperwork, calling for status updates, and anxiously waiting for updates on your child. I will say that, in my opinion, there’s much more anticipation that builds up, even more than a pregnancy. I think in pregnancy you have your baby right there in your womb with you all the time. Of course you’re excited, but with an adoption you’re not anywhere near your child. You have no idea if they’re going to be taken away from you (that rarely happens, but still – it’s a fear), etc. There are so many unknowns and fears. 
Now that Liam’s home, I would say that the hardest part is navigating how to bond with and parent a child who was raised by other sets of people (in another culture) for a year and a half (or however long). It’s just hard. I had the added complexities of having a biological child first. Some moms aren’t this way, but I bonded with Evy INSTANTLY. It was truly an intense love at first sight. With Liam, it’s been a process. It’s taken time, and we’re still in it. 
The most important things that I’ve realized is that you’re ALWAYS changing in how you feel about your children. You always love them, of course, but your love deepens as time goes on. It doesn’t matter if your children are biological or adopted; love deepens with time. Another thing I’ve learned is that ONLY GOD can bond hearts. He is the ONLY ONE who has the power to knit hearts together (that applies to everything – marriage, etc.). We can’t do that in our own power! Once I realized that I can’t force things to happen and I can’t force my heart to feel something, it released me. I knew God would take care of us in every way – including emotionally.

Did you have any concerns on how bringing a new child into your family would affect Evy Kate?
Of course. But I would’ve felt that way if I had gotten pregnant with my second child. Change is hard, however you do it. I actually never questioned Evy’s ability to love a sibling. I knew I would be the one who would struggle – and I’ve been right! They adore each other. Evy got an instant playmate. Of course there have been difficult sibling moments, but that’s completely normal.

Tell us about the first time you met Liam.
Alongside Evy’s birth, it was the most profound experience of my life. I wrote a detailed post about it at this link http://www.ourhappilyeverafters.com/2011/10/bringing-liam-home-day-two-in-seoul.html
Are you and your husband doing anything as a family to ensure that Liam knows about his culture?
We have connected with several people who are fully Korean and some that have Korean heritage. We plan to talk with them and also have Liam spend time with them as he matures so that he always feels connected to the country of his birth. We also bought gifts for him in Korea that we’ll give to him when he’s older (a Korean drum and a traditional name stamp). I think the biggest thing we’re aiming to do is have an ongoing conversation with Liam about his story. We want it to be a comfortable, honest, and frequent thing that’s discussed in our family. We don’t want him to feel like he’s constantly straddling two cultures; it’s more like we want to validate, honor and celebrate his heritage while keeping him secure in the family that God has created for us and him.


While in Korea, did you meet any other families adopting? If so, do you still stay in contact with them?
We didn’t meet any in Korea, but I met a LOT of adoptive Mommies in the blog/facebook world while we were waiting to travel! Those women are invaluable to me. We went to an adoption conference in March and all met up for the first time. It was AMAZING, and we plan to make it a yearly thing!
Do you plan to adopt again?

Kurt and I just talked about this a couple of nights ago. I think we definitely see ourselves adopting again. In fact, I’m almost sure we will. It’s just a matter of God’s timing. We feel called to pregnancy for our next baby, and we’ll just go from there. The best thing is that God has already authored our story – we just have to seek Him to find out what it is.



You can find out more about Ashley’s story from her blog.
Our Happily Ever Afters

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