An Unexpected Journey
Adoption will take a family to unexpected places. Fear of the unexpected can be a deterrent for many family’s who consider adoption. Yet, every family that embarks on this journey will find that the unexpected can lead them to the fulfillment of desires they never knew they had until it happens.
Ryan and Lindsey are a wonderful example of how the unexpected journey of adoption can become the greatest joy a family had experienced.
Beginning the Journey
Even before they were married, God had put adoption in the heart of Ryan and Lindsey Morris. “When I was young, God gave me a vision of a colorful family,” said Lindsey. Though the couple were blessed with four biological children back to back, the couple never wavered in knowing that one day they would pursue their dream of adoption.
So in 2013, the couple took their first steps in the adoption journey by pursuing domestic adoption. During the years that Ryan and Lindsey waited to take these steps, the Lord was preparing them. “God spoke to us about openness, about healing, and redemption,” Lindsey remembers. The couple sought out a reputable agency and began the home study process. As part of that process the couple was given a form to fill out and help them to consider the health and pregnancy history of the birth mother. They were asked to decide what types of disabilities, health issues, and circumstances they would accept in a child or the mother’s history. “This knocked the breath out of us,” Lindsey shared. “We just didn’t know those forms existed.” While the couple prayerfully considered their responses, they both felt strongly that God told them he had a child for them through adoption and no box they could check would thwart that plan. With that message in their hearts, the couple returned the form with only one barrier they didn’t feel equipped to take in older children.
Embracing The Unexpected
In May of 2014, the couple received a call about a one-month-old boy who had been born with severe brain trauma, addicted to two narcotic drugs, and not eating. During the birth mother’s pregnancy, another family had been chosen as the potential adoptive parents, however, when they realized the extent of the baby’s needs they felt they were not equipped to care for those needs. Ryan and Lindsey felt it was their highest honor and privilege to have been chosen as parents to this child. They feel like he was a gift that they were given.
The couple had to learn to care for the needs of their new son who may never sit up, speak, or do anything on his own. Nothing they had experienced in the parenting of their biological children would be the same for their youngest child. Yet, Lindsey said that when she saw him, she knew that he was their child. Her and Ryan felt bonded to him immediately. They also loved his mother for the brave decision to place her son in a family that could care for and love him no matter what the years would bring.
This love for their son’s birth mother gave Ryan and Lindsey a desire to have an open adoption. Though the birth mother never wanted any contact, Lindsey wrote her a letter every month for the first year sending them to the adoption agency in the event that she would call and ask if there was anything for her. “I still write to her about every 3 months,” Lindsey reported, “We always want to maintain an open door for her.” Through this experience, Lindsey decided to become a part of a Birth Mother Support Group to help women who have made or would make the decision to place their child for adoption to understand the love and respect that an adoptive family holds in their heart for her.
Finding Joy In The Unexpected
In 2014, the family began to consider adoption again. After receiving information that their agency began an new initiative in their international adoption program to see children with Down syndrome adopted. Ryan felt strongly that they should consider a child who was already born. In 2015, their second adopted son, a 3 year old from China entered their family. While Lindsey was in China she met another child that her heart was drawn to. Arriving back home, the family began praying for this third little boy to have a family. “It just takes your breath away seeing all of these children who need loving families,” remembers Lindsey, “Once you see something you can’t unsee it.”
While the family prayed, at different times, two of the couple’s children came to them saying they felt that they were the family for this little boy. “We had some very open discussions about family dynamics, the cost and what our children would have to sacrifice. We talked about the potential emotional impact on everyone over time if we went through with this,” stated Lindsey. The couple wanted their children to understand the impact of having seven children, three with special needs. When they were satisfied that the children understood, they all agreed they wanted this child to be a part of their forever family. So in 2017, the family received their newest member with great joy.
Finding Strength In The Unexpected
Again, while Lindsey was in China, she saw what she could not unsee. The orphanage that their son was housed in also housed older children. To this point, Ryan and Lindsey had only considered younger children. The thought of an adopting an older child had seemed daunting. Yet, as Lindsey stood in the lobby of the building, she witnessed a group of older children coming down the elevator to play outside. “My heart broke,” recalled Lindsey, “immediately, I was open to taking an older child. This wasn’t something we had ever felt we could do, but I knew we had to.”
So, in 2018, the couple adopted their daughter at age 14, just twenty-six days before she would have been declared too old to adopt. For Ryan and Lindsey, adopting their daughter has been one of the hardest, yet most rewarding adoption experiences. At 14 years of age, their daughter has a lot of questions, and other strong emotions about her history. Together, with patience, the couple helps her process through her thoughts and emotions seeing small steps of healing happen in her heart.
The Rewards of the Unexpected
“Each time we entered the adoption process, it was like God was breaking down one more barrier we didn’t feel equipped to handle,” laughed Lindsey. The couple once felt that foster care adoption was daunting, yet now they would love to foster or adopt a child from the foster care system. Looking back over four successful adoptions, Lindsey’s advice to couples and families would be to pray and allow God to direct you to where he wants you to go.
When asked about the financial cost of four adoptions, Lindsey credited her husband’s faith. “He never held back due to finances. He believed God would do it.” She said. Lindsey shared that in her husband’s unwavering faith, God met them every step of the way. They received grants and support from their community, and committed to making the sacrifices they need to make. “Sometimes the money seemed to come out of no where,” Lindsey remembers, “That doesn’t mean that we didn’t have to make cuts too. Our family had to cut out a lot of extras.”
For other couples who might be questioning if or how they should begin the adoption process, Lindsey recommends reading Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr and Laura Captari. While preparing for your child to come home, Lindsey would recommend reading, Adoptive Parent Intentional Parent by Stacy Manning and anything by Dr. Karen Purvis.
Beginning Your Journey
While every adoption story is as different as the couple who walks the road, Hope Center believes we can all be a part of this beautiful and unexpected journey. If you would like to know more about the services that Hope Center provides to couples seeking to adopt, birth mothers considering placing their child for adoption or how you can help support a family in the journey, connect with us by filling out the contact form on this site, or call us at (931) 252-7159. We would love to connect with you.