Category Archives: Adoption

One year ago today, our baby had open heart surgery. I’m crying as I type this just thinking back. I’m not sure I ever wrote a recap of the surgery so here we go.

While trying to remain calm on the outside for Sweet P’s sake, I remember I was an absolute wreck on the inside. Nauseous. Every emotion one could possibly feel was in the pit of my stomach. We tried explaining it to her the best we could, but I honestly think she had no clue what was about to happen. An example of that was this picture is exactly how she looked like when she went back to the operating room. Literally, they let her drive the car back there…


Not sure what I would do without my tribe of love that day…


Hours passed, and finally the surgery was done. I will never forget seeing her for the first time. I sobbed. I clearly remember the nurse saying “I know there are a lot of wires and tubes coming out of her but they all serve a purpose”. What she didn’t get was that I wasn’t crying at the wires and tubes, I was crying at her lips! For the first time, her lips were the most radiant beautiful color of pink. No more blue lips. Those tears I was shedding were tears of joy.

The surgery was a breeze compared to the days that followed. We spent way longer in the ICU than I cared for. A surgery like that takes a toll on your lungs and one of hers collapsed. It was pitiful knowing there was nothing you could do. She was such a fighter and worked hard on breathing treatments so her lung would inflate back up and we could go to a normal room.


Y’all. She wanted nothing to do with her mama after the surgery. It’s like she totally regressed. It broke me and I was devastated. But you know what? She was mad and hurting. She had to take it out on someone, and usually you take it out on the person you love the most.

img_7788Finally, that sense of humor started coming back…

7 days later we were headed HOME!


Today, Sweet P’s heart is looking just like it should given her condition. Her doctor is very happy! She has zero exercise restrictions. She runs and plays and attends gymnastics. Looking at her, you would never know that she’s had two open heart surgeries in her short little life. God is faithful and we are beyond grateful.

“God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 

This post is dedicated to Sweet P’s biological mom. The woman I will never meet. The woman who was brave enough to let her daughter go, in hopes that she get the adequate care she much needed and deserved. She did. She’s amazing.
You’re my hero. 

When we were matched with our daughter her medical condition terrified me. A heart condition, really? It was very difficult for me to wrap my head around. We had no pictures of her heart. No recent hospital visit to know what shape it was in. The “what ifs” crept in. Imagine knowing your child has a heart problem, but you’re 7,000 miles away. All I could do was pray (and worry). We were matched with her at the end of January so come February it was time for Valentines Day. HEARTS. There were hearts everywhere. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of our daughter’s heart. Those hearts were like little notes from God saying “I’ve got this”. From February on, I had such a peace knowing God was in control.

I’m telling you this because I don’t want a medical condition to scare you. When you’re filling out those adoption papers and they ask you what medical conditions you are open to, really think and pray hard about it. Ask God to prepare your heart for whatever He brings your way.

There is a reason your baby was chosen just for you. Don’t ever forget that.

One year ago today we became a family.















It just seems like yesterday that I was dreaming about adopting from China, that I was longing to be a mama, and that the WAIT of everything was driving me crazy. Now here we are, and one year has already passed. I wanted time to pass so fast last year so we could get to her, and now I just want time to slow down!

I don’t have the words to accurately describe what I’m feeling! How do you describe a joy that you’ve never felt before, the joy that she brings us all? It’s everything I ever imagined and more.

Of course it’s not all rainbows and butterflies y’all! Adoption is hard. The wait was horrible, the trials we faced were scary, her open heart surgery was terrifying, but you know what? Everything was worth it! I would go through it all again in a second because it resulted in her. Her laugh. Her smile. Her personality. Her strength. Her love. It’s all worth it. She was meant to be ours and that is so evident!

My prayer is that you consider the orphan. There are so many other children out there just waiting to bring someone joy and love. They are waiting on you. Domestic or international, it doesn’t matter. Let this blog post be your sign. Listen to that tug on your heart, step out on faith, and just watch God do His thing.

This is the exact moment that she was placed in my arms…

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 11.38.41 AM















Here come the tears again! Just look at that face. She was so sick, so confused, and all decked out in red white and blue.

Now here we are one year later…














She is happy, healthy, and full of joy. Gosh, I can’t believe the difference! Honestly we look back on videos in China and she has blossomed so much in just a year. It’s crazy what love from a family can do for a child.

Our 1 year anniversary family photos pretty much sum up the joy she brings. Thank you Brittany Conner for capturing our sweet girl… 

To everyone who helped us along the way; I can’t post this without saying thank you. Thank you for helping us bring her home. Thank you for praying, for donating, for volunteering, for cooking, for ordering, for giving, for taking pictures, for loving us through it all. We would not be here without our community. We thank you!

Future mama; don’t give up! Your time is coming and it will be here before you know it. It’s hard, the paperwork is never ending, but I’m here to tell you it’s worth it!

We thank God every day for leading us to our daughter. It’s so evident that He designed her just for us! I tell people it’s like she’s always been here. She was our missing piece. Our hearts are full.

Here’s to one year, and a lifetime to go!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

There is a cologne called Obsession by Calvin Klein and every time I smell it, my mind immediately goes to my dad. He wore it all the time. There are certain scents that take us back to our childhood and certain family members. Attachment and bonding is a must for children and is especially important for those that have been adopted.  Pheromones help begin establishing a bond while a baby is in the mothers womb, but obviously we didn’t have that. As crucial as bonding and attachment is for adoption, I wanted something like that for Sweet P.

When we went to China, I took only one lotion and used it the entire time. In a time when everything was changing and nothing was consistent in her life, I at least wanted to maintain some sort of consistency with the same smell. I still only use that lotion and now only use one perfume.  My advice would be to find a scent that isn’t overwhelming and very light. I used lavender lotion from Young Living:

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 9.38.09 AM

What I love about this is there is also a body wash, hand soap, and chapstick that I can use to continue the consistency across all boards. There is of course a lavender oil so it’s always running in our diffuser, and we rub it on Sweet P’s feet at night. As you can tell, the lavender scent is always present in our home. I also read an article once that lavender was a good smell if you wanted to establish trust. No matter the scent, I highly suggest picking one that you love and sticking to it. From a mama’s perspective, I definitely believe that it works!


The number one email I get from people is asking how we chose Holt as our adoption agency, and how did we like working with them. The agency you choose is the link between you and your child. You are relying on them to find the perfect match for your family so it’s a big deal! I’m here to give you some honest feedback on our experience with them and why we chose them.

Harry and Bertha Holt in 1955 arriving in the U.S. with their eight adopted Korean children. Image via Holt’s website.

We chose Holt International for a few reasons. One, because of their longstanding, 60 year relationship with China and international adoption. China highly respects them, and I honestly feel our process went so smoothly because of that close relationship. After 60 years, they know what they are doing! Secondly, Harry and Bertha Holt’s story really resonated with us. We love everything they stood for and how the agency still abides by those values today. Lastly, we chose them because of their great communication skills. I emailed a number of agencies requesting more information, and they were the quickest agency to respond (in less than 24 hours). Some agencies took weeks to respond, and that was a red flag for me. Trust me, during this process you want an agency that is quick in responding to emails! Holt is based out of Oregon and we’re in Tennessee, but that was never an issue. You can mail or fax them everything they need.

The only thing I wish I would’ve asked them was how they handle grant money. If you are awarded grant money during the adoption process, that company sends the money to Holt and Holt is the one that decides when the money is released to you. Holt does not release grant funds until after you return home with your child and the adoption is final (about one month later to be exact). This isn’t really a negative thing, it’s just not the way I had it planned out. As long as you don’t rely on grant funds before you travel, you’ll be good! It was actually a blessing to have those funds when we got home, since my hubby took leave from work.

So that’s my honest feedback. Basically if you are considering Holt, then we highly recommend them! We are 100% satisfied with Holt, and I would absolutely use them again. Don’t just take it from me, but pray about it and do your research on all agencies out there. Look around on Holt’s website, email them, call them, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. As always, contact me with any additional questions you may have.

find joy!




Today is a day to celebrate! One year ago today at 1:15 PM (I still have it on my phone) we received a phone call that forever changed our lives. Our adoption agency called and said “we have a file we’d like for you to look at. It’s a little girl, she’s almost three, and she has a heart defect”. Y’all, I lost it! I couldn’t believe what was happening. In fact, THIS is my face when she told me…

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 7.24.29 AM

Yes, I recorded our conversation as I did a lot during the adoption process. Many times I would get calls that I also wanted Casey to hear, but he would be at work. So I recorded them. The phone call was only about 10 minutes, but what followed were a million happy tears! I couldn’t wait to see her file and read all about my girl. It took what seemed like hours for her to email it to me. People say when you open the file to read the medical information before looking at pictures, but I immediately started searching for photos! I clicked on one, and there she was in that big ole pink jacket and little tiny smile. She was beautiful.

ClaireElayneI told myself I wouldn’t tell Casey until he got home from work, but I couldn’t wait. I emailed him the file, to which he quickly called me and said “that’s my girl”. I accomplished nothing that day because all I did was watch videos and look at pictures of her. I remember zooming in on every little finger, I wanted to memorize everything I could…

Today is a day to celebrate, because it was a year ago today that God introduced us to our daughter. Thank you Lord for blessing us!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20