The Jett Pack Adoption Campaign|2 Adoption stories in 1

Today’s post is by my friend, Tandra. We work together at Black Hawk Elementary and she is an incredible teacher. We share a love for Jesus and I know without a doubt our paths were meant to cross. Today she is sharing her story of how God lead her to adoption in more than one way. Because adoption is so expensive, I would love for us to come together to help her raise the $22,545 to bring home her next baby.  At the end of her story, I will share a couple links of ways in which you all can help.

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Tandra’s story:

Being a mother is one of the highest callings in life.   Even as a young girl, I knew that I wanted to be a mother when I grew up.  

Like many young women, I thought that I would find someone, get married and have children during or soon after graduating from college.  Around the age of 31, I realized that marriage may not be in my future and started considering the possibility of adoption.  I felt that my single status should not hinder my chances of becoming a mother.  At that time in my life, it was something that I was considering, but not actively pursuing, because I still thought that I would have time to have children.  

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Four years later, as a result of a medical issue, I learned that I would not be able to have biological children.  I was devastated, and angry with God for not giving me the desires that I had wanted all of my life.  In my eyes, I felt like my life was over or simply a waste. What good was I as a woman if I could not have children?  I scoured the Bible for answers and prayed relentlessly that God would miraculously heal my body and this would all just be a bad nightmare that wouldn’t last forever.  

Physical healing never came, but God pressed even harder on my heart that adoption was no longer just a thought that I should be entertaining.  It was His will for my life, and became my desire.

I was nervous to tell my family about my plans, and secretly looked on line at different agencies and different adoption possibilities.  I knew my parents and siblings would support me in any decision that I made, but speaking it out loud would make everything so real and also meant that I had to admit to myself that conventionally becoming a mother was no longer an option for me.

There were many sleepless nights filled with prayer, scripture reading, searching the internet, and mostly crying.  Something led me to one particular agency that specialized in connecting birth mothers with prospective families.  The name of the company also helped.

Angel Adoptions Inc. was a very selective company that only chose 5 new prospective adoptive families a month.  When I applied, it was already near the end of the month and I was told that there was only one more spot left to fill.   

Three days seemed like an eternity, but I was confident that this was where God was leading me.  I was elated when I received the call that I was selected to be the final prospective parent, out of over 200 applicants, that was allowed into the program that month.

As the first 2-3 months passed, I excitedly waited for that call that would change my life forever.  I carefully watched the website, decorated and set up a nursery.  I even made my new favorite verse into a decal and stuck it on my future child’s wall.

1 Samuel 1:27:  For this child I have prayed, and God has granted the desires of my heart.

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I knew that if God had granted Hannah’s desire, He would also grant mine.  I had so much to offer. I just knew that a birthmother would pick me.  In my mind, I had great answers to my profile questions. I picked only the best pictures of me that showed what a fun and loving mother I would be.  Angel Adoptions Inc. had such a great success rate in placing babies with adoptive parents.  I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I too would be chosen.  

Boy, was I WRONG!  A few months turned into half a year.  Half a year turned into a year.  A year turned into a year and a half.  I only had a two year contract with the agency before I would have to reapply and pay that mountain of fees all over again.  The mountain of fees that both my parents and I had taken out loans to pay for.  Meanwhile, I watched the monthly newsletters that came out celebrating the new families that were created from the sacrifice of birthmothers.

What was wrong with me?  What did these people have that I didn’t?  What made them a better pick than me?  Once again, I spiraled down into a pity party. All the while, watching my sister bring a new baby into her family, a sister-in-law bring a baby into theirs, and two cousins bring new babies into our ever growing extended family.  I wondered if maybe I had only thought I had heard God’s voice telling me that I would become a mother through adoption.

It wasn’t until late August of 2014, that I finally got my call.  A birthmother had picked me and wanted to talk to me.  I immediately called her back, and once again felt God reassuring me that becoming a mother was still one of His many plans for me.

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After many conversations, I learned that originally, the birthmother as well as the birthfather, did not want to look at any profiles that did not include both a mother and a father.  A single parent was out of the question for this baby.  She took her stack of prospective parents and started separating them into 2 piles.  A pile of “two parent” homes, and a pile of “single parent” homes that would not be read.  She told me she didn’t know why, but when my profile came up, she put it in the same pile as the two- parent homes.  She saw something in my picture and, on a whim, decided to keep my profile.  It was placed on the top of the stack and left to be read later.   When she finally returned to the stack, my profile was still on top and she decided to read it.  That was it for her.  After reading my profile, she knew definitely that I was to be the mother of this baby.  She did not read any other profiles.  The birthfather also agreed.  That circumstance couldn’t be anything other than the hand of God.

I knew that God had planned this child for me.  She had been designed to be my daughter from the very start, even before she was thought into being.  

The next few months were not the smooth sailing, “little to no worries” months that some mothers experience through their pregnancies.  It was full of ups and downs, doubts and fears that many adoptive parents experience.  One such time was when we learned that the baby, that was soon to be my child, was a girl.  I was excited!  My sister had three girls and I could imagine all of the fun things we would do together with our daughters.  My daughter’s birthmother had a completely different emotion.  Hers was one of pain and doubt.  She was already a mother to two boys and had always wanted a daughter.  She had gone back and forth with her decision several times, while I lived in a constant state of fear, before finally deciding to go ahead and proceed with the adoption.

On April 7, 2015, my daughter, Katelynn was born, three days late.  She was already showing me her stubborn and independent character.  God had finally given me the chance to become a mother.  A mother to a daughter who has the same personality and defiant streak I had as a child.  A daughter whose face lights up when I walk in the door from being at work all day.  A constant source of the words, “I love you, Mommy.”  Those are the 4 most precious words that I will never tire of hearing.

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Being a mother has been one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever had.  My daughter is the light of my world.  For the 2 ½ years that she has been a part of my life she has been my world.

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Recently, this past summer, I once again felt the strong desire to have another child.  I didn’t want Katelynn to grow up an only child.  I loved having siblings and I wanted Katelynn to have that same experience.  Deep down I told myself that another child would not be a possibility for me.  I would never have enough money to pay for Angel Adoptions services again, plus the agency in Texas, as well as the agency here in Illinois.  Every time the thought would enter my mind, I would suck back the pain and tell God that she was enough.  And she is.  She is everything I ever wanted, but that still didn’t stop the nagging feelings that I wanted her to grow up and have a brother or sister to fight with, learn valuable lessons with, and to lean on for support when life gets hard.  Everything I had with my siblings.  It never entered my mind that I would have the real possibility and opportunity to become a mother again.  It was impossible!

By now, I should know that nothing is impossible with God.

Once again in late August of this year, I got an email from the adoption agency in Texas. Katelynn’s birthmother was pregnant again and wanted to know if I wanted this child. She asked them to ask me first before pursuing other prospective parents.  I leaped at the chance!  My impossibility had become possible.  Katelynn could have a sibling.  A real, full biological sibling.

Many would think that this adoption would be so much easier having already gone through an adoption and with the same birthmother.  Boy, would they be wrong!  There have still been many obstacles and hurdles that I’ve had to jump over.  For instance, would I be able to get another loan while still paying off the loan from Katelynn’s adoption?  If I did get a loan, would it be enough to pay for all of the new expenses?

God has shown me in so many ways that this baby has also been planned for my life.  He has used a deep desire in my heart, a stranger with a wooden cross outside of the credit union, and a friend who has felt God telling her to pray for and help a family adopt a baby, without evening knowing my situation, as a confirmation that I am indeed to be this baby’s mother.

Once again, Hannah’s words from  1 Samuel echo in my mind:  “For this child I have prayed, and God has granted the desires of my heart.”jettgirls-231Ways YOU can help!

  1. If you would like to follow along with Tandra’s story you can do so over at the Jett Pack Adoption Facebook Page.
  2. For the months of October and November, a portion from every family session booked with jclaytor photography will go toward the Jett Pack adoption.
  3. Support this adoption by purchasing a Jett Pack shirt. Our goal is to sell 100 shirts by October 21, 2017.
  4. Give Financially at Go Fund Me.
  5. Pray- Pray for the funds to cover this adoption, for the health of the and baby and for the whole Jett family as they anxiously await the newest member of their family.
  6. Share this post, so that others may here Tandra’s story and urge others to help where they can.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time to read my friend’s story and for helping where you can.

Grateful,

Jen

 

 

Oh Christmas Tree

This year I wanted to do things as simple as possible and I was thinking we weren’t going to get a tree. But when we got home from Thanksgiving, we all agreed we needed one. I sent a picture of our tree to my mom today and she told me I’m so predictable. She knew all along I was just talk. Most likely she knows me better than I know myself:)

In past years we have gone to Lowes. We walk up and down the three or four aisles of trees until my husband just gives in me gets the tree I want. Seldom do we agree on Christmas trees;) This year I wanted the experience and today was really a pretty gorgeous day, so we tried out Shawnee Trail Tree Farm in Hudson, Ohio. We knew it was the place to be when we drove up to a completely full parking lot. In the first five minutes we found a tree that the hubby and I immediately agreed upon and then had fun perusing the rest of the time. Bonus,we ran into good friends who offered to take a picture of the four of us!

I’m sold. A tree farm is the way to go! And now that I finished all my Christmas shopping on the way home from Illinois (thank you, Amazon) and our tree is up, I’m ready to enjoy all the fun activities of the season with people I truly love.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree…

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An Adoption Story: Samuel and Benjamin

Ben and Sammy were brought home to their forever family from China this past June. They are from different provinces of China and have their own individual upbringings through foster homes and foster families, but brought together to be brothers for life. I think it is so special they had each other to help make the transition a little easier.

When they arrived in the United States they did not speak any English, but I would have never known because when I arrived to their home 5 months later, they were speaking very clear English. They are homeschooled with their other brothers and sister and they seem to be right at home. Ben and Sammy were very energetic right from the start and I could tell they love being silly with their family. You will be able to see from the images below that they are loving life and having fun.

I’m thankful to have been connected with this family. At the beginning of 2015 I decided I wanted to help adoptive families by blessing them with family photos, but I wasn’t sure how to go about offering that. Then towards the end of January I got an email asking about doing ‘gotcha day’ pictures for these boys. While we didn’t do pictures right when they came home, it was clear waiting until these boys were more comfortable was the best plan. I actually  think it allowed me to capture their family dynamic and who they really are. Let me also point out how neat it is that these took place during National Adoption Month.

Ben and Sammy’s mom told me they are always looking at the old family photo hanging on the wall (they are not in it) and she can’t wait to get a new one up that includes them. I can’t wait for these boys to see their new family picture hanging on the wall and for it to be a reminder of the love our Heavenly Father has for each of them every time they look at it.

What a blessing it was for to meet this amazing family and hear their story. If you know of any newly adoptive families that could use some family photos, please send them my way.

 

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St. Joseph, Michigan Vacation: The Sines Family

Last weekend we headed off for vacation to St. Joseph, Michigan.  We were fortunate to share this trip with some amazing friends.  I love this family.  They are funny, serious, chaotic, sweet, real, and fun.  Life has been kind of a roller coaster for them the past two years, but I am loving watching how they have strapped in for the ride and take each moment as it comes at them, learning to laugh and have fun whatever comes their way.  They are such a beautiful family inside and out and we are so thankful to get to do life with them here in Ohio, in Michigan, or wherever the road may lead us next;)

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Zeke’s Homecoming: A Beautiful Adoption Story

They started the process two years ago because they really felt God was leading them to adopt and expand their family of four.  Through different adoption agencies and contacts, they did all they could to make themselves available to welcome a child into their home.  Many different opportunities presented themselves along the way, but they only ended up in disappointment and frustration.  Right after Christmas this past year, they received a call saying they were matched up with not one, but two (a brother and sister) children and they were to bring them home a week later.  Our church family and many other wonderful people through Facebook rushed to get them set up with all they needed and this family drove four hours to bring these two children home.  But apparently this still was not the right time, because they returned home without the children and the social worker lost contact with the birth mother.  Even though they were devastated, they still really felt God was leading them to adopt and through the heartbreak they continued praying and trusting in Him. Two weeks ago, Lindsay and Scot flew to Texas because they had been paired with an 11-month-old boy.  It seemed like a long process as they were separated from their two children while they spent two full weeks waiting for all paper work to be cleared to bring Zeke home.  Today was the day their whole family would be together again!  Their story proves that our plans are never as grand as God’s plan for us and sometimes its worth the wait to lean on Him and let Him grow us through trying and uncertain times.  I was able to witness/experience the pure joy this family shared tonight.  Congratulations to our dear friends and their newest addition, Zeke.  His life will be forever changed in the best way possible because he now belongs to one of the most loving families I know.

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Adorable Abundance {akron, ohio child and family photographer}

 

 

 

 

This family is about as adorable as they come and as sweet as can be.  The abundance of adorable-ness was only just beginning when I started of with this handsome, blue-eyed boy and then when his big sister was added into the mix…well, you can see for yourself;)

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Downtown Kent, Ohio: Carter Family

We had such a gorgeous summer night for this session.  Lindsay let her girls pick out their own outfits and I just love how this let their fun personalities shine through.  They all looked great and it was an absolute joy to capture this family!123414155613789101112

Huntington Beach, Ohio: Lake Family

I just love this family!  Gavin and Hannah celebrated 10 years of marriage this summer, so we had to do something special for this family session.  On top of that they celebrate each of their kids’ birthdays during the summer and Gavin’s birthday is tomorrow:)  We had the perfect evening together and I’m so happy with how these turned out. Definitely one of my absolute favorite sessions of all-time.

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Newborn Baby Emilia

 

Baby fever–that is all these newborn sessions are doing for me;)  Such sweetness.  It is always fun to capture bitty, sleeping babies, but those incredible moments between the entire family are my favorite.  I just love capturing those emotions because I hope that someday, years from now, when clients look back at their pictures, they can feel bits and pieces of those emotions all over again.

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