Brant & Heidi
Dear Ceal and Everlasting Adoptions,
Brant and I are so thankful for you and everything that you have done for our family. We started planning for a family right after our wedding in 2008. After six years of trying to get pregnant and watching as everyone else was able to start their own families. We longed to have a family. We decided in April of 2014 to start our adoption journey. We researched our options and that is when we found Everlasting Adoptions.
When we started out we were very well aware that adoption has its ups and downs. No matter how educated you are, it is still hard. Waiting became very trying. I was thankful for all of the support given by Sheila and taking my calls wondering why we had not been chosen. She listened to me and was always very supportive. After 10 months of waiting we received “the call”. I will never forget the day Ceal called me to tell me that we had been chosen by a family to adopt their baby. It was February 25th, 2015. We didn’t have much information only that we did not know the gender and that baby was due March 4th, 2015. Our life started a whirl wind of planning and preparing. We decided to fly to Las Vegas to be closer to Arizona when the baby was born. It was a few days before we heard from our Birthmother and were starting to think that it was a failed match. We had even decided to leave Las Vegas and go to California to visit family before coming home. However, on our way to California about 20 minutes out side of Vegas on March 5th I received the best email ever. It was from Lisa our birthmother telling us she couldn’t wait to get to know us. We turned around and back to Las Vegas we went. We emailed back and forth all day. We had decided that we would travel to Phoenix the next day to meet the family that wanted us to parent their child. We were so nervous and excited to meet them. The next morning I emailed Lisa back to ask about what time she and her family wanted to meet and that is when she told us she was in labor. We left for Arizona right away.
During our trip Lisa had contacted Ceal to set up a birth plan, she asked us to be in the delivery room with her. We couldn’t believe it! We had only emailed with her and she was inviting us into the most personal experience. We finally got to meet Lisa, her husband Cory at the hospital along with her daughter and son. We spent all night with them. I was able to hold her hand and talk her through contractions. We bonded immediately, we got to know each other very quickly. They told us why they chose us, to my disbelief the reasons why they chose were the reasons I was worrying that we weren’t getting chosen. During that night we were able to spend time together and it was great.
At 2:46 am our daughter was born, we were there to welcome her into this world with Lisa. It was amazing! When the nurses asked what her name was Lisa told me “she is your daughter you name her”. We chose the name Sara Elizabeth after both of my sisters. We were able to hold her right away, I had the most amazing experience of handing Sara to her Birthmother for the first time. We brought our sweet Sara home about ten days after she was born. She has filled the hole in our hears. We know that God knew Sara was meant to be our daughter. She is perfect and we love her very much. Prior to meeting Lisa and her family we wanted only limited contact with the birth family. We changed our minds and we have a great relationship with all of them. We are blessed with such a great family that has given us such an amazing gift. We adopted in 10 short months, it was hard but worth every second. We love our experiences with Everlasting Adoptions and would recommend them to anyone wanting to expand their family with adoption.
Brant, Heidi and Sara
Gennifer & William
We always wanted to adopt and after years of failed infertility we decided it was time :) Our lives are now complete!!
We started everything in November of 2014, connected with the birth mother on May 12th and had a baby on May 29th!! We adopted in 6 months! The process can feel scary and like an eternity, but the end is so worth it. Did not think we would be ones who would adopt so quickly, but we got the call that she was due and chose us and we just said yes, whatever it takes :) What a blessing!
Sheila and Ceal helped direct us to the resources we needed for the different steps of the process along the way to keep things moving smoothly. From day 1 everybody was very responsive and helpful and it was obvious that they take a personal interest in their clients. I cried with Ceal, she prayed for me :) It's a much more beautiful connection with Everlasting Adoptions than I would imagine it would be with any other agency. To the very end Ceal kept up with what was going on with me and shared in my joy when we adopted our baby girl!!
It seems at times like this will never happen and honestly that was the way I felt about it as well off and on. What an emotional roller coaster. But now, every disappointment, every heart break, every frustration we've ever felt and endured no longer matters <3 We have a beautiful baby girl, Atalie LeAnn, and we couldn't be happier! It can happen for anyone!!
I'd give them a 9 out of 10. In the beginning we had some issues with getting our home study to them and miscommunication from that, but immediately after that resolved the rest of our experience was great!! Ceal connected us to someone she felt would be a great fit, even though some of our requirements/wishes didn't match. Thank God she did and we were flexible or we wouldn't be parents yet. :) They are GREAT at what they do.
We have had so much pain and heart ache along the way, had we gone with anyone else I can't imagine if they could have come close to the compassion that Everlasting Adoptions staff has shown. The fact that they are a smaller organization and only take so many people at a time shows they are committed to those they help with adoption. I also learned so much by completing some of the steps ourselves along the way and feel like we are better for it! When we adopt again in the future, we will definitely go through Everlasting!
April & James
When we decided that we would try adoption again I was extremely scared. There was so many things that could happen. I didn't care how we started our family I just wanted a family. I wanted a baby. I had prayed and prayed that God would allow us to be parents. I knew in my heart that I would but I was scared I wouldn't be. James always had faith and was amazing throughout the whole thing. I had a hard time with my faith because I didn't know why...
On November 15, 2013, we signed up with Everlasting adoptions. I had met a friend at my school whom had used them to get connected with their birthmom. They were connected within weeks. Of course, when something like that happens to someone else you think maybe that would happen to you. James and I had our first interview with them and they decided that they would like for us to be a part of their waiting parents. So we started our wait.. I am not a patient person so all of this waiting was hard on me and my attitude. I got more and more bitter ever minute that passed by. James kept me in line and helped me through my craziness. We decided to go on a vacation over New Year's to start off our New Year with a fresh start. Boy it was a fresh start. In June of 2014 we got "THE CALL". I was standing by the stairs in our home when I looked down at my phone that said please check your email and call me asap. I ran to the computer to check to see what it said. It said we had a birthmom that was interested in us and wanted to start talking. OMG.. I called James right away. He was so excited. I was too but I was in shock.. I didn't think it would happen for at least a couple of years. As soon as we read it I called Everlasting back and let them know we were interested. They gave me the Birthmom's number and we immediately started texting. She was so sweet and was not what I was expecting. I had to tell her that I was pregnant and I was scared that she was going to not want us to be her babies parents. We had just prayed so hard for a baby and now we were possibly going to have two! So, I was at the movies with my school friends and was texting through the movie.. I know not good but I needed to know everything. I told her no matter what we would love her baby more than she could ever know and that even though I was pregnant with a biological child he or she would not be any different in our hearts. He/She would be ours and we would love him or her so much. She decided to pick us and we were so happy. The whole 8 months we talked back and forth via text and my mom and I went up to Arizona to meet her and her family. They were wonderful.
As the date got closer and closer, I became really worried about how it was all going to play out. I was literally giving myself hives because I was so nervous we wouldn't make it to his birth. I had played every different scenario in my head and we had finally decided that we would drive to AZ and then we would stay in a hotel for however long we would need to, with Jaxon with us. I didn't think I could be away from Jaxon that long. Then I thought I would see if anyone knew of anyone in AZ that we could stay with. So, I put on Facebook to see if anyone knew of anyone. It just so happened that one of my former students did know of someone. So, I spoke with Larry that night and he told me sure to come on down. He was a pastor from the town we were going to. Then my uncle got us a plane ticket because the new plan was for me to fly there and then James would just meet me there in the car. My mom would keep Jaxon. Everything was just falling into place. It was crazy because every night I was just praying like crazy that God would take this burden from me and help me not to worry about all the stuff and how we were going to get there . Our birth mom had told us she was feeling a little bit different so I knew it would be anyday. I really didn't want it to be on Christmas because I wanted him to have his own day. Plus we didn't want to have to worry about all the Holiday traffic.
It was NYE and James and I had gone to dinner with my dad for his birthday and then had decided to hang out for a little bit over at my parents house. Around 9 o'clock we decided to go home and watch a movie. We made it about 10 minutes into that movie and fell right to sleep. At around 1:50, I get a phone call from our birth mom asking if I had received her text, which I had not. I was still so groggy from sleeping and kind of out of it. I jumped out of bed before she even told me what was going on. She said that thought she was in labor and that she would let me know. She was walking around outside and started having contractions so her grandma took her to the hospital and she was 4cm. So, we started packing up everything. I called my mom and told her to get over here because she was going to get Jaxon. My dad had to stay with Jaxon and my mom took James and I to the airport at 3:30 in the morning. The whole time praying like crazy that we would be able to get there in time for his birth. We jumped on the plane and got to AZ at 8:00 and she was at 8 cm, We figured it would be any time. The car rental place was taking forever so I told them.. UMM our birth mom is in labor and about to have our baby.. do you think you could hurry? He then hurried and got someone over so we could get to our baby. As soon as we got to the hospital we found our Birth moms room and met her family. She was still in labor and our little Landon wasn't here yet. He waited to arrive when he wanted to. STINKER.. he wasn't born until 2:15. He was perfect and I got to cut the cord. It was so cool being on the other side of things. They put Landon on his birth mom for a little bit so she could see him and then they took him to be weighed. They let me give him his bath and they checked him out. He was perfect with a full head of read hair. Looking back at this day we know God was with us in ever aspect of this journey. We got to have our own room with him to bond and get to know our little boy. The attorney said that this hospital was not adoption friendly so we were very worried. Well we had the most amazing nurses. They helped out so much, when it was time for us to take him home, our baby nurse had everything ready so that when the attorney got there all we had to do was sign off. It was like so easy. She even said I have never seen this go so well. Our birthmom walked out with us and we headed to the place where we were staying, The people we were staying with ended up being the nicest people you could have ever imagined. They were amazing. They adopted Landon as their Grandson since they only have granddaughters. 5 days later we got the call that we were good to go home. It was awesome because they had told us it would take two weeks and it took 5 days!!!! God was with us in every aspect of our journey. I know this was Gods plans all along.
Haley & Ben
Knowing we wanted to adopt was a given....it wasn't even a conversation for us. The minute we found out that IVF was the only way we would ever conceive, we just knew that we would grow our family through adoption. It was about 5-6 months between knowing adoption was our chosen path and finding Everlasting....I always refer to it as "Finding Everlasting" because I knew from the first phone call that it wasn't a choice. God's plan for us always included Ceal, Carol, Sheila & Brittany. Prior to that call, there were lots of other "calls", lots of packets came to our house, lots of questions asked and answered and at least 3 close-to-nervous breakdowns. Adoption is expensive, that's no secret, and deciding who to trust is overwhelming! Practically speaking, there's only so much money, but, at the beginning of this journey all you can think about is that you are trusting someone with every single desire, dream and prayer that you are capable of....so you want to pick a good place to land.
I remember our "call" with Carol....that February morning. I got to work early so I could just concentrate on the conversation. We conferenced in my husband, and I sat on the floor, later learning that Ben sat in the bathroom, and at the end of that first 90 minute call with Carol, I think we both took a deep breath for the first time in months! That phone call was the beginning of Everlasting blessing our lives forever.
Brittany & Sheila were so wonderful through the entire process of getting our book, web profile and paperwork complete. It's one of the things that I didn't realize I would find so helpful, but I know we couldn't have done it alone. This journey is so emotional, as an adoptive family you are trying to put yourself out there - the tendency is to over share, because we are so attached to every story and every picture and we want everyone to fall in love and pick us! Having professionals to help us navigate that is essential and I think they did an awesome job.
I cried when we got the call that we had been chosen as an Everlasting family, I remember exactly where I was, I hadn't eaten all day because I knew we couldn't do it without them. From that day in February until the next phone call on January 30th, if I had a nickel for every time someone said to me "just live your life, you can't let it consume you".....we could have paid for this adoption in nickels! While I appreciate the intent, if you are a mom waiting to adopt, it's the most annoying phrase in the world. I won't ever utter that phrase to anyone, but I do believe it to be true now.
What I will say (or advise, although I"m not qualified to advise), is this: find a way to make it okay for you and for your partner. I read a blog sometime last summer....I'm paraphrasing, but basically, what I took from it is this:
I believe that this is the path God planned for our family. God knew Everlasting was part of our journey. Brooks was created in his image, to be our son. It wasn't about the heartache we went through during our journey, it was about Brooks. He is our son. He's not replaceable or interchangeable. He is our son. He came in God's time. If you know that, really know it, deep down, then it makes this process easier. You'll find peace in your wait, knowing that when it's time....your baby will come.
If you want to build your family through adoption, here are my thoughts:
*You can't do better than Everlasting, you are in perfect hands!
*Have faith ~ Know that YOUR son or daughter is out there...if this is what's on your heart, then you have to trust that your child is out there, waiting on you to bring him/her home!
*Don't feel like you have to listen to anyone but yourself. If your heart is aching to buy a crib, buy a crib and when people tell you that you're crazy, just use as your "why" story that we had 72 hours notice :)
*Don't apologize to anyone, especially for your feelings. This is a long journey; emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually....you will find strength when you need it, and on days when there is nothing to do but sit and cry, embrace it and NEVER apologize.
We were incredibly blessed to meet our son just 11 months into our relationship with Everlasting. Ceal called Friday morning around 10:00 am (by the way, you will ALWAYS remember answering the phone and hearing "Hi X, it's Ceal") there were still some questions to be answered, but I knew that moment we were bringing home our son. By the afternoon, most of our questions had been answered. Saturday morning we spoke with our birth mom, and everyone in our life rallied to bring home our baby. Monday morning we made the drive to New Orleans, and the minute my husband held him, he smiled and we knew. This was the baby God made for us to love. Benjamin Brooks was born on January 16th, 2015 in New Orleans. He had a rough couple of weeks, but thankfully once we were able to bring him home all that was forgotten.
We are settling into being a family; Brooks is already so loved and spoiled. His dad just stares at him in awe of this wonderful little dude that is now his best friend. I stare in awe of the treasure God entrusted to me.
Our story was perfect...for us. Your story is perfect....even if you don't know the ending. Know that your Everlasting family is bigger than you will ever know!!! We're all praying for you and for your sweet baby. Motherhood has made me realize that I will never, ever, ever be able to repay people for what they have done for us....all I can do is pay it forward. There are no words to adequately convey the debt of gratitude we have for Ceal, Carol, Sheila and Brittany and the rest of the team.....they helped us find our son.
Lindsey & Stephen
Stephen and I decided to adopt because we always wanted to be parents, but, after 3.5 years of intense infertility treatment, felt that we were being called to a different route to parenthood. From start to finish, it took 24 months to adopt Jacob Aiden. The experience was hard at first because of the frustration of filling out what felt like reams of paperwork, feeling as if we needed everbody else's approval to become parents, feeling as if it was never going to happen...but, now weeks away from finalization, I can appreciate that, while a lot of what you go through to adopt is extremely hard and maybe over the top, it is worth it to see your child.
One of the main reasons we chose Everlasting Adoptions versus other facilitators/agencies was our feeling that they had a deep respect for all the people involved in the adoption process. Some other places I spoke to seemed to be frustrated at having "another couple" wanting to adopt because they needed more birthmoms, and others seemed to have a lack of sympathy for the birthmothers. We did not experience this negativity from any of the staff at Everlasting, and felt as if they were truly trying to help birthmoms and adoptive parents find a happy ending without judging them in the process. Everlasting's staff was always there to help us; I was amazed at how easy it was to reach Carol whenever I had a question (something we did not experience with our attorney, home study agency, and social workers!) Overall, we had a good experience with Everlasting, and would utilize them again for a domestic infant adoption.
There's a few things I've learned through this process, one of which, is try to stay hopeful throughout the wait! Stephen and I tried to do some things we knew would be harder after a baby, like taking a weekend vacation, going out to a movie, and outdoor stuff, like hiking and tennis, to try and appreciate the time alone together, since you tend to focus on wanting the future to come faster! I would advise prospective parents to keep an open heart and mind; you never know what is meant to be. We were fortunate to have a wonderful birthmother who wanted us to be involved even before our son's birth, and feel blessed to be able to share pics and updates with her now, something about which we were initially concerned.
Jacob is such a blessing in our lives and we've enjoyed every minute with him! Even those 2 am feedings! Sometimes the pain of not having a child makes you appreciate the one you finally have that much more.
Stephen, Lindsey, and Jacob