finding Ava. . .part 1

It was a typical busy Wednesday at Lamgo Farms.  And by “typical” I mean, I was managing the household on approximately 2 hours of sleep within a 48 hr period with two litters of puppies born two nights in a row; and my run without showering was now teetering on day 4.  But it was Wednesday, Guitar lesson day. . .and we tried to never miss out on music days that also coincided with an opportunity at a drivers Ed lesson.  So I slapped on some perfume, threw the hair up in a messy bun and out the door we ran.

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My hour sitting outside of Jacob’s guitar lesson was normally dedicated to either writing or working on email.  But only eight minutes after pulling out my laptop, the phone rang. “Tina” from our adoption agency lit up the screen. My hands fumbled as I tried to answer in a Hurry.


THE call.


If you are on the journey to adoption, you have dreamt of that moment when you get “the call.” I had played it over and over again in my mind. The match, the call I would make to my husband. But no matter how much I prepared for the moment at hand, the actual call was a complete surprise and handed down from God.


“Hi Sandi, so we have a baby girl that was born this morning around 4:30am. . .the social worker called us and she is yours if you want her.”


I jotted down a few bits of information on a wadded up Burger King receipt still on the dash-board, and then I said, “ I better ask Phil. I’ll call you right back.”


A little flash back:


Friday, the week before, I received an email from Tina asking for us to update our documents for the file. She was presenting us to a birth mom who was expecting a little baby girl. My heart wanted this so bad, but over a years’ time, we endured 4 failed matches. The desire to quit was strong in our hour of sorrow. So I prayed. I asked God to please have the birth mom choose someone else if we were headed for another failed adoption. We just couldn’t endure another loss. So if we were going to lose this baby- I wanted to lose it before I could get attached. It would be a let down not to have been chosen. . .. but that was far better than opening up that heart only to be hurt again.


I then, kneeling at the corner of our unmade bed. . . begged my God. I asked Him that if He wanted us to continue this adoption journey- to simply allow a phone call with a baby already born. No waiting time involved. I then took out my stack of ‘prayer cards turned prayer papers turned prayer notebook’ and wrote down the request.  The papers take me back four years.  Check marks beside the answered and miracles. . .one request still stood.  “Lord, please bring home our baby or babies.”


According to the agency- the birth mom was going to make her decision on Wednesday. Wednesday. . .Guitar lesson day.  This very Guitar lesson day.


Seeing Tina’s name on my phone wasn’t a surprise that day because we expected to hear back either way about this birth mom. But I could have never guessed the reason she had called. I could have never guessed that the original birth mom chose another family and then once that baby was born, decided to parent. I could have never guessed that God heard my prayer that night and not only did He spare us from the loss of another failed match. . .but that He also heard the specifics of my cry. He handed us a little girl, already born. . . Check.


Dialing Phil’s phone was one of the most joyous moments of my life:


Phil answered the phone and I responded, “It’s a girl!!!!” He said, “ok.” No excitement or surprise or anything.   He thought we had been chosen by the birth mom. “No honey. . .We have a girl!!!!”




I went on to tell him the story:

A displaced young woman, painfully addicted to drugs called the paramedics as she went into labor.  Staying at a friends’ house, she left in the early morning to make a call from a nearby gas station.  She was taken to one hospital who refused to help her, and then ended up at another, better hospital. 40 minutes later, a little girl entered the world.


Her birth mother looked at her, but didn’t hold her. It was too hard. The baby was whisked away and given oxygen.


She appeared to be about 4 to 5 weeks early. Since no prenatal care was given, her gestational age was estimated.


This sweet little girl was only hours old, but tested positive for heroin and later tested positive for meth. But she was perfect in every way.


I went on to give him The basics: Birth mom was white and although there was no knowing who the birth father was, it appeared that he was white as well. This little girl was a tiny blond with blue eyes.


Before I even finished the statistics. . .”YES! Ok, YES! Call Tina back now!”


Our decision to adopt this little girl took approximately 15 seconds. A baby girl. . .already born.


I called and texted Tina, hung up the phone and cried.


I’m crying now just writing this. I’m sitting beach side while Phil is holding our sleeping daughter.  Our daughter.

If there was one thing I’ve learned during this adoption journey. . .it was that nothing…and I mean absolutely NOTHING goes according to plan.

Our adoption journey has been hard.  And I just want to stop and interject here for those either just starting the journey or traveling rough roads.  IT IS WORTH IT! DON’T QUIT!  Stay the course!  Cling to God!  Stand and be strong.  Have courage.  Have Faith!  God has overcome and He will see you through this journey.

Key word: Journey

Adoption is NOT a destination.  It is a journey.  It does not end with the baby or child in your arms.  Adoption is ongoing.

I imagined the call, the match, being at the delivery.  Holding my child while Phil holds me.  Bringing the baby home with the kiddos cheering at the door.  Sharing pictures with the birth mom.  I had it all planned out. (and God laughs)

Nothing went according to plan.  But it was all planned out by God and that is all that mattered.

It wasn’t long before Jacob was done with his lesson and back in the car.  It was 1pm and we were going to head straight to the hospital to meet our little girl.  I didn’t dare tell Jacob and holding my excitement was agony so I spilled.  “Listen, there may be a baby available so daddy and I are going to run to the hospital to check it out.”  We had so many disappointments and a total of 4 failed adoptions that it started wearing on the kiddos- I couldn’t be completely open.  But I couldn’t hide it either.

The phone rang again as I was driving.  “Tina” it said.  “So, there’s been a development. . .” My heart sank.  We’ve had these let downs so many times and I held my breath for a moment.  We couldn’t come up to the hospital right away because the baby was in the critical part of the NICU and another baby was being taken off of life support.  They were going to close that section to visitors and other parents while the parents of that sweet baby grieved and said goodbye.

“Oh my heart.  You know I know what that’s like.”  So we agreed to wait until dinner time to head up.  I was elated to meet our girl.  But I was dying inside as all of our sorrow seemed to surface in that one sentence given.


William was our second child.  Born and given as a complete surprise to us, his life on this earth was short.  Being infertile and finally conceiving with the help of fertility drugs, I had no idea I could conceive on my own.  Well, welcome to the story of William.

William was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  The condition went undiagnosed so when we finally learned of his illness, he had lost his major organs and we eventually decided to take him off of life support.  The very thing this poor family was enduring had already been on our doorstep.  How horrible that one of my greatest days was their worst.  My heart broke for them.

The clock was closing in on 6 pm when we finally arrived at the hospital.  Our experience with our failed adoptions at the hospital did not go well. . .so we were nervous.  Telling ourselves not to get excited our stomachs were in knots.

Poor Phil was suffering from a nasty sinus infection and had just started antibiotics.  So we decided he would not enter the NICU.  That was hard for me.  Not only did we miss the birth, the birth mom, etc. . .we would also not meet our daughter together.  Phil wouldn’t even see her for 2 days.

We had no idea what being in another NICU since William would do to us.  But much like we imagined upon the security doors opening. . .the stench of the sterile environment hit hard.

Tina, the hospital’s Social worker and I entered.

As I was rolling up my sleeves, a stranger approached with tears in her eyes.  She worked at the adoption agency and had heard about our heartbreaking journey.  Emotions overcame her as she hugged me and offered her congratulations.  Was this really happening?

Soap, lather, scrub. . .all while singing “Happy Birthday to you” in my head. . .I washed my hands, my arms and back down to my hands again.  It was time.

I stopped at the nurses station for a moment for them to get my signature and drivers license, and then a nurse led me to a little ohio bed.

There she was.  We found her!  We finally found her!  We found Ava!

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avahand2“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. . .”

Jeremiah 29:11



in Pursuit of. . .YOU. . .

     My phone rang as I held open the door to the pediatrician’s office for my two little girls.  Annual check up’s and flu shots were on the docket.  The girls sat down in the waiting room while I stood in a corner in complete disbelief.  After learning that our birth mom had disappeared and after a few days of finally settling into the idea that it was over- we suddenly found the miracle we had waited for !  A little baby girl was already born and signing would take place the next day in a town about eight hours away.  The agency owner hopped on a plane while Phil and I rushed home to pack.  We put children, puppies, dogs and chickens to bed- entrusted the kiddos to a sitter and off we went. . .continuing on the adventure of a lifetime.

Were we crazy? What if we got all the way down there only to lose another baby.  But the agency owner’s information proved to be a 100% sure thing.  It was real. . .we were bringing home our baby.

An hour into the drive, we stopped to grab some BBQ.  At first we were planning to simply drive through to gain momentum on the road. . .but then Phil made a sobering remark.  “This is the last time we’ll be going out alone for a long time.”  We took about 20 minutes to stop and really soak in the moment.

In reality, we started our journey three years ago with the God-given revelation that we wanted to add to our family through adoption.  As of those two half eaten plates of sliced chicken and brisket, we had already endured three failed matches.  Of the three, two of those, we held.  We held those precious babies and fell in love, only to leave the hospitals and never see them again.  One boy and one girl.

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The pain and suffering we’ve endured over the years since saying yes to adoption. . .the hard work with little rest to save up the funds and get our home ready for a little one. . .and the spiritual and physical warfare on our family and friends had been unmeasurably great.


But for some reason, God paved the way and gave our hearts the peace to continue down this road- no matter what.  And here we were. . .about 500 miles away from what we thought was the end of this incredible journey.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

God knows our plans and He allows our scheduling and planning and calculating and re-calculating; but ultimately, He is in control.  And for many of us “planners,” this is a hard lesson to learn.  When walking through life with God, He moves and allows so that we may travel light with open hands.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Our jobs, our finances, our marriages, and yes, our children are His.  I wish I was one to just travel with a life of open hands as to avoid my Lord constantly prying them open.  But as many of you have noticed. . .I’m a slow learner.  I know where I want “my” life to go.  I just struggle when the Lord leans over and whispers, ” I know that’s where you wanted to go. . .but here is where we’re gonna go. . .together.”

Trying to make it to a little town near the Texas/Mexico border, we slowed down on our intake of fluids so we wouldn’t have to stop so much.  But approaching just 27 miles to destination. . .We were both barely holding on.  Passing by a rest stop, Phil asked. . .going 75 mph. . .”would you like to stop?”  (And here it is. . .the biggest regret EVER) “NO! it’s just 27 miles. . .let’s go for it!”  

Go for it?  What was I thinking?  We’re 42 years old.  Our bladders are well beyond “go for it” behavior.  But it was so late, and we knew we just wanted to get there.  So, the rest stop came and went and well. . .we didn’t.  We decided to “Thelma and Louise” it.

Seventy-five miles per hour suddenly came to a screeching halt when out of no where in the middle of the night, red lights began lighting up in front of us.


To make a long story even longer. . .we managed to come across a little “conflict” between the police, state troopers, border patrol and two fine young gentlemen.

No, I was just kidding. . .I’ll shorten this part for you. . .

So, just at the time I was crawling over the back seat to retrieve our two “Dickies BBQ” cups to assist in my “let’s go for it” dilemma. . .the three rows of trucks in front of us released their air breaks and the bright reds began to let up.  Praise the Lord. . .we were moving again!!!

Now, since every patrol car was behind us. . .we may or may not have exceeded the speed recommendation for the remaining 20 miles.  Yes, I say 20 miles, because just 7 miles into our escape, we saw a gas station.  But hey, we already sat through 2 hrs of standoff with full bladders. . .what’s just another 20 miles?  Right?

Yeah, if you’re shaking your head, I’m right along with you.  But when you’ve lost feeling to your lower extremities and just praised God you survived a standoff. . .you pretty much admit you’ve lost all ability to reason.

Nearly convulsing, the GPS finally led us to our hotel. . .”turn right onto South ‘P’ street.”  We wanted to laugh.  We kind of did. . .I mean, the corners of our lips turned upward.  But an actual laugh at this time would have surely been fatal.

We made it!  Yes, we made it!  And we were exhausted as we fell into the bed at 5:30am.  We just had to hold on until 9 am to go to the hospital and sign for our daughter.  We were suppose to be back on the roads by noon.  What a miracle!

. . .who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:4

9am, 9:30am, 10am. . .10:23am. . .

Finally, a phone call from the agency.  “So, um, here’s the problem. . .”  Phil came around the corner and I just shook my head while trying to take in everything coming my way.  We had just finished crying out to God on our knees to please allow this little girl to come home to us.  The missed 9am deadline sparked our awareness that something was wrong.  We asked God to move quickly as we were literally losing patience.  And then the call.  The birth mother was wavering and feeling pressured to sign.  Something you don’t want to happen since being pressured can be means to over turn an adoption in the future.  Our birth mother was in custody and gave birth to an audience of Federal Marshals.  Not our place to judge.  Just our child to adopt and rescue.  With the birth mother soon to be discharged back into prison, she had to make a choice.  Allow us to adopt her baby or let Child Protective Services take custody and place the baby into a group home about 1 hour away since there weren’t any foster homes in the area.  Basically, an American Orphanage.

CPS was in talking with the birth mother so we hung up the phone to wait.  Only three minutes had passed when the call came.  “It’s over, CPS has taken the baby. . .the birth mother is hoping to gain custody once released from prison.”

We began to pack and quickly.  We didn’t even cry at this point.  Just silence.

The drive home was unbelievable.  Especially since there was a search stop to make sure we weren’t smuggling anything into the USA- and we had to explain the empty car seat.

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But the drug sniffing dogs smiled and let us pass and we started the long journey back. . .once again. . .with that !@&* empty car seat.  Yes, the anger phase.  I do believe we experienced all stages of grief approximately every 10 minutes.

We stopped to gas up and began to sob. . .then we began to experience Tourette syndrome moments where we’d just suddenly burst into profane song and then back to pure silence again.

There was a time when we both decided we just had to turn off the Christian music station.  It had become irritating.  No, we were not running from God. . .but in that moment of grief, we had lost our footing and just couldn’t stand up or even look up to see God’s sweet, sweet grace and love for us.  We were hurt.

 “In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.””

We face-timed the kids and with every bit of the power of God inside us, we smiled and told them very causally that the baby just wasn’t going to work out and we would be home with pizza very soon.  Even though we were sure this was a sure thing, before we left the kids, we explained that this may not work, so we were gonna just check it out an then be home the next day.  Thankfully- their little hearts were protected and a nice family/pizza night at home with mom and dad holding them and smiling made all the difference.  We had agreed to keep the emotions to our bedroom or alone in the car.

Backing up a few hundred exits. . .in the midst of our anger, sorrow and deep, deep hurt came a prayer.  A moment of thankfulness offered by our friend in the Bible, Job.  Job talks about while losing everything. . .his children, wife, money and health. . .he learned to cope by dropping to his knees and offering thanks and gratitude to God.  “The Lord giveth and the Lord Taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

During those final hours of travel, we had absolutely no idea how to carry on with our daily lives.  We were clearly heading into a sorrowful depression and the very thought of even trying for another child was completely out of the question.  We had actually quit this time.  We couldn’t drag our children through this, and we ourselves were struggling to make sense of our “foolish” actions.  2015-10-07 13.11.25

Did God indeed want us to adopt?  If so, why in the world would he allow this to happen.  And in such a horrible way?  How would we get up the next day and the day after that and say yes to another child only for it to be ripped away.

The answer came to us during the final forty-five minutes before pizza.  Because God did not give up on pursuing us as His children –  THAT is why we would NOT give up.  THAT is why we would grieve, and with thankfulness, stand back up and strap on our armor once again in this battle of fathering the fatherless and FIGHT for not just “our” child, but “His” child.  This is HIS child that He created.  He thought up this child’s personality, soul, looks, and just who would deliver and raise this child.  Every child is created with a purpose by God.  Every single one is special and loved beyond measure.  And every single being is pursued by a passionate God who loves so much, that in order to save. . .he sent His son to rescue so we could be adopted.

“The Gospels record how Jesus himself spent the night before his crucifixion in unspeakable agony, allowing the anguish of his soul to spill to the ground through his tears and blood.  He pleaded with his Father, “”If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”” (Matt. 26:39)- Clayton King, Stronger

What if Christ had given up in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He asked for a way out, but asked for God’s will to be done.  His love for his children was so great, nothing could stop his sacrifices.  I am so thankful for this sacrifice.  For without it, there is no reason to live. . .and no reason to die.

And there you have the heart of the adoptive parent.  Adoption is hard.  Our adoption in Christ was hard.  It was costly.  Adopting a child is the mirror image of God’s love for us and how He calls us “His own.”  We hold His hand while walking this journey and because we are not alone. . .because He goes before us, we can trust in His care and guidance to ultimately arrive home.  This is His story.  We are just a chapter.

Our love for this child is great.  It knows no boundaries.  It is the same love we have for our other children both here and in Heaven.  We thank those who pray with and for us, who grieve our grief and who share our love for the Orphan.  Please continue to pray: Please pray for the babies that have not come home with us.  Pray the Lord grabs their hearts and protects them every single day of their lives.  Please continue to pray for our adoption journey.  Please pray for the birth parents of our children.  Pray God’s peace and comfort.  We know the Lord has our child or children and in His perfect timing. . .we will find them.