We have always known from the beginning of our marriage that adoption would play a special role in us adding to and completing our family.
With many failed adoptions, including three international processes, we found ourselves at a point where our last adoption had stolen a great amount of money and had lied to us about the children we were pursuing. Despite our painful losses we knew we still had children out there and that we needed to find them. We turned our hearts toward the foster care system and spent many hours on each states heart galleries. On Sept 21, 2010 we saw our son’s photo on the Arkansas heart gallery and we immediately felt as though he was our son and that we were to proceed forward. I wrote my first email inquiry about our son Drey (14yr) that day and talked with his social worker a week later. Within a couple of weeks our son had chosen us as his family and within 5 months he had finally joined our family. It’s been a wonderful joy adding a teenager to our family. There are always hesitations of adding a teenager, not knowing what they have gone through and what life experiences they may be bringing to your family. This was a fear of my husband as well, but the experience has been amazing. Our son came from a situation where he was struggling severely in school, was bullied and didn't have any confidence in himself. He was deathly scared of going to school, being around anyone other than us or the thought of participating in any event that involved more people than his immediate family. Over the last year and half that he has been here, and with the support of great teachers and a great community, he is making great strides in school, has become involved in school athletics and is more than comfortable in our community and around his peers. Most people think that adopting an older child means missing out on important milestones of their lives. I see it differently. You still get to hear their first, “I love you”, you receive their first hug, take them to their first day at a new school, watch them play their first sport, help them for the first time on homework, and send them on their first date. You still get the 'first times', you just get them later in life with your older children, however, it’s just as rewarding when it comes and in many instances a different level of reward knowing the things they have went through to get to that point. Since our adoption with Drey was such a wonderful experience, we have decided to do it again. We are so happy to be in the process of adopting our 14 year old daughter from the Arkansas Foster care system as well. Adoption is a wonderful way to add to your family. It’s not always easy and takes lots of work, but it is worth every bit of the work involved because these are our kids and I love them. I’m so grateful for the children that have joined our family through adoption. We are a forever family!
The Best Laid Plans…
My husband and I are planners. Everything we do is planned to the last detail complete with checklists and flow charts. We planned separately to adopt and talked about it on our first date. After we were married, we discussed all the pros and cons and agreed that we would adopt one child. We planned during the first two years of our marriage, buying a great house in a great neighborhood, saving our money, and praying everyday for guidance with our grand plans. Shortly after our house was “open” for adoption, our adoption specialist called and said she had a brother and sister she thought would be fantastic in our home. Two children! This was not our plan! With all of our planning we forgot to remember that God doesn’t follow our plans but has plans of His own. We opened the picture file she sent with her email. Like parents seeing their newborn for the first time, we just knew. These were our children and we were their parents. We immediately called back and asked how we could meet them. We met them at the annual Disney Extravaganza adoption picnic, two weeks later they were in our home, and we haven’t let them go since. We can’t say it has been easy. Little people do not come with instructions and they do not follow our master plan, but our little blessings have been worth every minute. We now find ourselves setting aside our best laid plans to follow them on their adventures as they discover the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in and we thank God every day that they have let us come along for the ride.
Our story begins over 35 years ago. My husband was born to an unwed, high school student, who was persuaded by her parents to give him up for adoption for the sake of her education. Joey was adopted by a wonderful, Christian family, who had been praying for a child for many years. Only four months later I was born in the same small town as his new family. Joey and I grew up as friends. We knew very early on that we would marry and that we wanted to adopt someday.
After 16 years of marriage and having four biological children, we felt it was finally time for us to start the process of adoption. We prayed about where we should adopt. We knew several people who had adopted from all over the world but we could not get past the fact there are so many children right here in our state that need homes. We began researching adoption through Arkansas’s Foster Care System. We submitted our first set of paperwork in May 2010. For the rest of that year we worked to meet all the requirements of the state. It was frustrating most of the time, but we tried to keep our mind on the child out there somewhere that needed us as much as we needed them. Finally in March 2011 our home was officially ‘open’ to receive a child. We requested information on several children in the heart gallery. We were sent bios of several possible children that we never heard back from. We were growing even more frustrated and anxious. Finally the last week of July I got a call from our Adoption Specialist. She asked if I remembered a child that we had expressed interest in back in May. Of course we were still interested, and of course we wanted to get more information on him.
On August 24, 2011 we met Caspian along with his caseworker. We fell in love. Our hearts melted. The meeting went better than we could have hoped. He was an absolutely precious 19-month old. As my husband carried him to the caseworker’s car and buckled him into his car seat we all cried, including little Caspian. We left that day knowing he was the child we had been praying for over the past year.
The very next day we met with the caseworker and Caspian again. We were informed we could bring him home with us that night. We spent that weekend doing nothing but getting to know him. Because his parental rights had already been terminated we only had regular visits with our Adoption Specialist as we waited the mandatory six-month waiting period. Time flew by and our court date was March 9, 2012. On that day Caspian legally became a member of our family! He is thriving: we are thriving. It is hard for us to remember a time when he was not a part of our family.
In November 2009, my husband and I, after much praying and talking, decided to begin the journey toward adoption. We knew we wanted to have a family and we knew we wanted to start our family through adoption. After attending the PRIDE training classes we realized the need for foster care as well and agreed to open our home to foster placements while we waited for a child to adopt. Our first foster placement came as soon as our home was open and we instantly fell in love. For several months her case seemed to be headed toward adoption and we wanted to be her forever family if it did. However, things changed and she was planned to be placed with a family member instead. Although we knew this was probably what was best for her, our hearts were heavy. A cousin of ours heard the news and sent me an email with a saying, “God doesn’t empty your hands just to empty them. He empties them so He can fill them up again.” At the time I dismissed it and was not ready to hear that. However, about a week later we got “the call” from our adoption specialist. The call that told us that we were going to be Mommy and Daddy forever! It was one of those moments in your life when you know life will never be the same again. But we were not being blessed with just one precious miracle but two – twin girls! They were premature and still in the hospital needing to grow and get stronger to come home. We went to the hospital to meet our daughters, and as I sat holding them and staring into their perfect faces I realized – God did not empty my hands because He wanted to fill them up. He emptied them because He intended to overflow them with blessings! I literally could not hold all of my blessings at once. The girls came home about a week later and changed our lives forever. The adoption was finalized about eight months after they came home and we rejoiced that God knit our precious family together forever. Our family is different and we love it! We love that our family is a testimony of God’s perfect love and His perfect plan for our lives. We love that our family shows the world that a family is not about looking the same or having the same genetics, it’s about loving each other with all your heart.
-Kurt, Carrie, Ella, and Olivia Blankenship