Adoption,  Faith & Family,  Main

Touched by adoption – Grace’s story

Adoption is a true calling from God

Have you been touched by adoption in some way? Maybe you yourself have adopted or someone in your family or church or neighborhood has adopted a child or sibling group? Perhaps one of your kids goes to school with someone who is adopted. Maybe a friend has adopted and you have supported them either financially or prayerfully to that growing family? Our family has been touched by adoption in several ways. 🙂 We personally have adopted 5 children (one domestically, 3 from Russia, and 1 from Guatemala), our brother and sister in law have adopted from Guatemala and are currently in process of adopting 2 small boys from our area. We have several families within our church who have welcomed children into their families and our school also has several families with adopted children. You could say that we’re pretty immersed in adoption 🙂

Sharing how we found Grace…

I wanted to share with you our stories of adoption throughout the coming year. This month I wanted to tell you the story of our Grace Elizabeth-Marie. We already had a biological son whom we conceived after many months of infertility treatments. Caleb was 2 years old when we found Grace…or actually – when she found us :). Greg was finishing up with residency and was literally in an interview for his first job when he received my text…..”911…..we were chosen……call me NOW!” Needless to say, he didn’t end up with that job as he finished the interview prematurely :).

I had received the phone call that all waiting families are eager for…..”your family has been chosen”. A baby girl was currently in the ICU at our community hospital. She was born with what doctors later found out was a very serious liver disease. We actually were told that she would have about a 50% chance of living to the age of 5. Daunting to say the least. Scary at best.

What do we do now?  Such a huge decision to make.

Grace’s birthmom was a very brave and courageous 15 year old who realized after Grace started to get sick, and found out how critical it was, that she just wasn’t old enough or capable to be able to handle the needed medical care that Grace was going to require. She made the impossible decision to place her in foster care with a resulting adoption plan. Being that Greg was a family doctor and I was a nurse, we were open to the idea of adopting a medical special needs child.

So, when Grace was 13 days old and in the middle of her first surgery – we received our phone call. Immediately Greg knew she was ours – even before seeing her or hearing more about her prognosis. I, unfortunately was replaying the “50% chance of living until 5” prognosis over and over in my head and was terrified about the possibility of bringing a child into our hearts and family only to have to say goodbye so soon. I turned to my nursing books (this was pre-internet :)) to learn about biliary atresia – the liver disease that Grace was diagnosed with. Everything I read about this terrible disease was bleak. I was even more terrified. It was only then – I’m ashamed to admit – that I turned to God and pleaded with Him for wisdom. I wanted to be sure like Greg! All I felt was fear…..until I opened my Bible.

I should have done this in the first place!

I went to my Bible and opened up to this a devotional that spoke right to my heart. Unbelievably – or actually, for God…quite ordinarily 🙂 – this devotion was about “accepting those not born from you”….exact words. Seriously? HOW could that have happened!?!?!?! No question after that – in my heart – Grace was ours. She was meant for our family. She was born for our family. No matter how long that would be – we would love her unconditionally. We chose the name Grace for her because it was ONLY by the grace of God that we were able to become her parents. His gift to us. He is so lovingly generous.

After the decision was made, we went up to the hospital to meet our new little girl. With sheer excitement and trepidation – we walked into her room and saw this:

                                     

Sorry for the poor quality of pictures – cameras were NOT the same in 1996! 🙂

You may see wires and tape….all I saw were her eyes. Her beautiful eyes. They spoke to me….that’s the only way I can explain it. It was as if she was pleading me with those big pools of blue….”please, mom, hold me…..protect me…..help me feel better….take me home” That’s all it took. No matter what the doctors were about to tell us, I was all in.

 

 

Our new – BUSY life with a medical special needs baby began…

We brought her home on IV antibiotics to prevent infection in her liver. We had an ICU set up in our home it felt like. 2 year old Caleb wanted to kiss her and play with her. We showed him how to give her kisses on her head as she had an IV in her arm.  In those first 6 months, we were in and out of the hospital 5 times for varying lengths of time. Her IV moved from her arm to her head (so we had to show Caleb how to give kisses on her hand now as to not dislodge her scalp IV – he was so confused!! :)).


Eventually we had to put in a more permanent IV (called a broviac) directly into her heart. (again….poor quality!  When will they come up with a camera that can take old pictures and FIX them up! :))

 

I definitely was putting my nursing skills to use! 🙂

Our family of 4…..well soon to be 5!

At that 6 month mark, she miraculously became better. No more hopsitalizations, no more antibiotics, no more IV infusions! By the time she turned 1 we were able to have her PICC line removed and she officially (legally) became a Van Wienen.  This picture was at the court house on the day her adoption became official.  As a complete surprise , in this picture, I was 3 months pregnant!!  :):)  Grace and Abby are 18 months apart and I LOVE how close they are even today! 🙂 

 

She was healthy, happy, and hairless :):)


   

 

If possible, maintaining a relationship with birthmom is essential.

In the mean time, we did keep Grace’s birthmom appraised of her health. Once she was a little stronger and healthier, we started our meetings with Brea. I have to be honest, I was  very nervous about this at first.  I was afraid that Brea and Grace would have more of a bond than she and I would. How could there not be? Brea was her birth mom – Grace has her eyes, the same shape of face, her little nose. What did she have of mine? She had my whole heart. I knew that it was important not only for Grace to have a relationship with her birth mom, but I also knew that Brea deserved to have one with her as well. So for Grace’s first few years of life we would occassionally get together so they could see each other.

After a while, Brea graduated and moved down south. We still kept in contact via letters and pictures. I have the utmost and profound admiration for Brea. I could not imagine the pain she had to have experienced by placing Grace up for adoption. The courage and unselfishness that Brea demonstrated is unlike anything I had ever witnessed. I will forever be grateful for the gift Brea gave us.  Brea and Grace still have a relationship today for which I am so grateful.  Grace needs Brea in her life.  Only Brea can “fill in the gaps” that need to be filled and I know that Brea also loves having a relationship with Grace.

Today Grace is happy and healthy!

Fast forward to today….Grace is now a beautiful 22 year old. She had 2-3 other hospitalizations growing up for infections related to her liver disease, but other than that she is a healthy and active young woman. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t always been easy – with any of our kids – but I think that those whom are adopted have extra hurdles to overcome. More layers to process than their peer biological siblings.  I ache for them in that matter.  Some aspects of growing up adopted is difficult I’m sure.  That’s why I continue praying for Grace’s heart…..for all of our kid’s hearts.  

    

Left picture: Grace is on the right and Abby….the one born 18 months later….is in the middle 🙂 

Middle picture:  Grace holding onto her niece (our first grandbaby!!) – Lyla.

Right picture:  Abby (L) and Grace (R) at a special event together.

What we pray for Grace today.        

We pray that she will always feel the true meaning of her name, that she will know God’s grace in a way that is personal, that she experiences His love for her, and that someday she will know just how much she is loved.

How has adoption touched your life?  Would LOVE to hear about how in the comments below!  Share your stories with me! 

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2 Comments

  • Esther

    You know our story! I am so thankful to have you as not only a neighbor, but also as a friend. You have given me inspiration and very sage advice as we have gone through our adoption. Thank you! Looking forward to reading more in the future! 😊

    Esther

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