By Kansas Fergen
Our adoption story began far before my husband and I met. God began working in my heart my sophomore year of high school and continued to plant seeds for the years to come. Danny knew within the first week of meeting me, that adoption was something I knew God was calling me to. He continued to date me, so I knew he was a keeper.
We were married in June 2007, and that July, Danny helped at a worship conference and it was there that God began to work in His heart. The topic of adoption was brought up by various individuals who God undoubtedly placed there, to begin turning Danny’s heart toward adoption. On July 25, 2007, we started the adoption process.
We took some time to research agencies and choose one out out Boise, ID. We realized that we had a lot to learn about the adoption costs and the funding available, international vs. domestic adoptions, the difference between an open and closed adoptions, potential struggles we could face, and the many details and people involved throughout the process.
One of our biggest concerns was the cost. Domestic vs. International, distance to travel, agency fees, age of child, race of child, number of children, travel expenses, lodging, meals, etc. On average, an adoption can cost anywhere from $30,000-$50,000 for international or domestic adoption (adopting from foster care is often times much less), so we began to pray that God would provide for our every need, our finances included. This was a large price tag, especially for a newly married couple, but we also knew that if this was something He called us to do, he would provide. The sticker shock could not be the determining factor in whether or not we went through with an adoption. As we prayed, we did what we could to work a little extra, save, fund raise, look for financial aid. We didn’t just expect that God would just drop a check on our doorstep.
We kept our process a secret for a few weeks before we were ready to tell our close family and friends. They were so excited for us, but with this excitement came a lot of questions and worry. No one in our family had adopted before, so this was new territory for everyone. We reassured them that this was God’s plan for our family and it could take anywhere from 1-5 years, so this was just the start of our adoption journey. At this time we also shared that we made the decision to adopt from Zambia, Africa. Danny spent a month doing ministry there with orphan children and since then, this placed held a very special spot in his heart. It was also one of our options, so that made our decision easy.
On October 1, 2007, we began our home study with a local social worker. She came to our home several times to determine whether or not we would be suitable candidates for adoption.
Our home study consisted of:
Personal/Family background check- including our upbringing, family members, and key events in our lives
Significant people in our lives
Marriage & Family Relationships
Motivation to adopt
Expectations for the child
Parenting & integration of the child into our family
Education, employment & finances (including insurance coverage)
References & criminal background clearances
Summary & social worker’s final recommendation
Over the next 3 months we sought financial assistance, completed background checks and physicals, and finished our adoption paperwork. While looking into options for helping cover the cost of our adoption, we learned there were many AMAZING organizations out there that offered financial grants and other assistance. We began to apply for many of these in hopes that this would help cover costs.
Being a waiting family meant that our adoption profile book would be shown to birth mothers that were interested in having us be the parents of their child. This was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I remember sitting at home thinking, what are they going to think about me? What are they NOT going to like about me? Are they going to like my hobbies? What are they going to think about our families? SO many thoughts ran through my head and knowing that a single picture could be the “make or break” of whether or not they chose us to be the parents of their child was sometimes overwhelming. We tried to keep ourselves busy and not think about it constantly, but it was always on my mind. Even though I knew it could be a LONG road ahead, what expectant mother doesn’t get excited and have high hopes? We continued to be in prayer for our little one and their birth parents as the looked through profile books. We focused on praying for their health and their daily needs during pregnancy. We also prayed that God would walk with them during the decisions they too would have to make through this process.
The call that makes your heart stop. June 20, 2008 my heart stopped. Writing this now, brings tears to my eyes. It’s the day I became a mom. It’s the day I heard, “You have been chosen to be the parents to a 9 month old baby boy from Texas, if you decide to say yes.” (Yes? Is that even a question?!?!) I knew the second I saw our agency’s number show up on my phone, this call meant something. It took us zero seconds to know that we were going to say yes ?, but we did take a few minutes to pray together alone in a bedroom away from my family before calling the agency back with our “official” answer. I will never forget that moment, holding onto my husband & sobbing in his arms as all my dreams were coming true. I felt my heart was going to explode and I could not get to Texas fast enough. It was less than a year after starting the adoption process and we were already chosen? How could this be?
Within 20 minutes after our call, we got an email with ALL of his information along with the most adorable pictures I had ever seen. THIS was OUR son. Because it was a Friday, we had to wait 4 days until we could travel to get him because they needed to get his paperwork in place. It was the LONGEST 4 days of my LIFE!!! How could they tell me I had a son and then expect me to wait 4 days to see him? We had no choice, so instead I went crazy packing and getting everything ready for our trip. Of course this included returning some newborn clothes I purchased (Yes, I purchased baby clothes, what expecting mom doesn’t?) and return them for size 9-12 months. NEVER, did I think I would be doing that. It all felt like a dream, but the best dream! On June 23, we started our drive out to Texas full of every kind of emotion possible. We couldn’t wait!
We knocked on the door and Peggy, the foster mom, came to the door empty handed. SUCH SUSPENSE. Where was he? She introduced herself (all of which was a blur) and walked us to the living room. There he was. Standing alongside a coffee table playing with a toy dinosaur. I’m not even sure what I said or did at this point. Honestly, all I can remember is walking towards him and sitting down on the couch right beside him. Being that he was 9 months old, I didn’t want to scare him. Even though I was now his mother, to him I was a stranger.
What he did next will be forever be ingrained in my mind. He turned, put his hand on my knee, and reached up to be held. My son wanted me to hold him without hesitation. There was NO greater feeling than that. I picked him up and time stood still. I remember his smell, the way he looked at me, and how he sat so calmly on my lap. I knew that God was at work calming both of us, reassuring me that I did not need to worry. I was his mom, FOREVER.
We named our son Coyer James Lony’aa. We wanted to keep his birth name as his second middle name. He was Lony’aa “Lony” for the first 9 months of his life, so we always wanted his birth name to be part of his name and story. We spent hours playing with Coyer on the first day and chatting with his foster mom, Peggy. She told us everything about him. We knew without a doubt that she loved him and we were so grateful. Coyer lived with his birth mom and older sister for 7 1/2 months before going to live with Peggy for the remaining 1 1/2 months.
A few hours after arriving Coyer got hungry so Peggy made him a bottle. This was the first opportunity I had feed him and I was NOT going to pass that up. It was a beautiful moment and God proved once again that He is faithful. Coyer took the bottle from me without any problems and Peggy was shocked. He drank slowly while looking up at me and I stared down at him in awe, taking in the moment. When he was done drinking, he laid his head down on my chest and snuggled. MELT. MY. HEART. It was the first moment I FELT like his mom, like I could care for him in the way only a mother cares for her son.
It was a Friday morning, 4 days after arriving in Texas when I got a call from our agency. They told me all the paperwork went through really quickly and we had clearance to take Coyer HOME. Tears of JOY streamed down my face.
Peggy packed up a few of his things that she wanted him to have along with a few things that came from his birth mother. Then it was time. She asked if she could just have a few minutes alone with him, so we went outside to load up the car. A few minutes later she walked out with him. Tears in her eyes, she handed him to me, hugged us, and said she loved him. It was SO hard to see her tears, but we were so thankful for the love that she gave Coyer until we were able to be his forever family. We will forever be grateful for her. One week from when we got “the call” we were driving home with our 9 month old son. GOD IS GOOD!
When we got home our week was filled with LOTS of guests. Our family and friends could not wait to meet him and we had so much fun experiencing life as a family of three. The only communication we would have with Coyer’s birth-mom would be through letters and pictures sent through the agency, so we wrote her monthly over the next 4 years. During that time she sent us a “When you Wonder Book” that told us more about her and why she chose to place Coyer for adoption. We were so thankful to receive this because we knew that when Coyer got old enough, this would be something he would treasure as it would help answer some of his questions.
Several years later we got a call from the agency in Texas letting us know that they were going to be closing down and we had a few options for continued communication with Coyer’s birth-mom. We could either keep the adoption “closed” and no longer communicate with her in any form, go through another social worker and pay for their services, or if we were comfortable we could have an open adoption where we would exchange information and start communicating openly. We knew immediately we would love to have more of an open adoption with her and found out that she wanted the same. Since then we have emailed, exchanged pictures, and texted regularly. It has been a joy to have her and Coyer’s older sister be a part of our life.
If the color of our skin didn’t tell you that our son was adopted, you would never know. He bonded with us, has never had any attachment issues, and is super affectionate. We are so thankful for this. We know our story could have been so different and we could have faced many other challenges, but God worked through them all. Not a day goes by I don’t thank God for this little man and for choosing me to be his mother. He has the most compassionate heart and I know that’s the work of the Lord. I pray that as he grows up he will always know he is loved by not only our family, but his birth-family as well. I pray he will embrace his story and let God work through his life knowing that God has been with him since day one.