Spencer and I met in 2010. He was my dream fella and I was the girl he had always searched for. It was a match made in heaven. We were engaged within a few months and married one year later.
We had never waited around to do, well, really anything. After a little while of being married we decided the time was right and we wanted a baby. After about a year with no baby, I went to my doctor and he started me on fertitlity medication. Long story short, after several unsuccessful rounds we met with one of the top fertility doctors in the country and he looked both my husband and me in the eye and said, "If you want to have a family, you need to look into adoption." We literally went home that day and started our research. We looked at everything: International, domestic, different agencies, different countries-everything. By the end of the weekend we had narrowed down our agency and made the phone call.
An Open Door Adoption Agency helped us narrow down a country that we were eligible for and gave us a realistic expectation of how the process would go. We were also sent a link where we could view waiting children from that country and...I sat and cried. I had been Googling counties and waiting children for weeks, and granted I had seen a lot of cute kids, but THESE kids broke. Our. Heart. I guess that is what it means for a country to "speak to you". I had always heard that there would just be one country that would call to you. We decided to immediately begin our Bulgarian adoption.
On Wednesday we received our information packet, application, and fee schedule. After the initial shock of the cost we decided we needed to take a step back and pray. We knew there was NO way we could come up with that on our own, but also knew we were being called to do this. We asked the Lord for clear direction- specifically that when needed throughout the process, we would have the exact amount of money. (As much as we would’ve liked to have it all at the beginning, we didn't NEED all $32,000 at that very moment) What we did need right then was the $250 for our application fee.
The following Friday (payday) and after paying all of our bills, Spencer called to let me know that we had an extra $100 in our account, and he didn’t know where it came from! I just chalked it up to “God was working” and went on about my day, not knowing where the other $150 would come from. That evening I got home from work a few minutes before Spencer and when I went to the mailbox (expecting doctor bills) I was surprised to see a weird looking envelope from our insurance company. We had overpaid, throughout the course of the year, and they sent us a reimbursement check! I was even more surprised when I looked down at the amount. $152.87! In the total of about 7 hours we had the EXACT amount of money needed for our application fee plus a little extra for postage!!
From there, the miracles kept pouring in: jewelry fundraisers, special love offerings at church, one little girl selling bracelets she made, t-shirt fundraisers, bake sales, our youth group even sold snow cones at the Lowndes home football games! The outpouring of love we received was incredible. By October’s end we had completed our home-study and were busy putting together our dossier! The mountains of paperwork, the fingerprints, and doctor’s visits were so tedious and draining. At times we did grow weary of the “process”. But, just knowing there was a child on the other side of the world waiting for us to come, provided encouragement to press on.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2013, I opened my email to find an message from our agency with a photo of a beautiful young girl we might be interested in receiving more information about. I mentioned it to Spencer, and we both thought she was adorable, BUT, she was older than we had originally wanted and some of her needs we weren’t quite sure about. I messaged our agency back and told her that little girl “429” didn’t quite meet the parameters that we had specified, but thanked her for thinking of us. Olga, our case worker replied by saying that she knew the girl was older than we had requested, but she decided to send us her file anyway. She encouraged us to really, REALLY pray about pursuing little girl “429” and making her a part of our family. Spencer and I couldn’t shake that sweet little face from our minds and after a couple of days, we both KNEW that THIS little girl needed to be ours!
We sent an email to Olga and in return we received our girl’s complete medical file along with more information about her. We also knew that we needed to work quickly, because there were more people who would want her if we didn’t.
In a whirlwind few weeks, we had completed and notarized the necessary application paperwork and sent pictures to Bulgaria of us and our home. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. In reality it wasn’t quite that long and in the meantime, we were able to take her file to a pediatrician in town that has done medical consultations for referrals of children to be adopted internationally. We recieved a good prognosis based on what he could tell by her report and then we waited some more. The wait is exhausting. It’s draining. And nerve racking. Even though we had a peace that it was in the Lord’s hands, it still really does a toll on your emotions.
We went out of town for Christmas thinking that we wouldn’t hear any news from Bulgaria until after the New Year, and tried to put it out of our minds as much as we could, however, on December 26, 2013, we recieved an email that began with “I have wonderful news for your family!” Our application for our little girl had been accepted and she was officially “put on hold” for us to adopt!!!
We did our best to hurry and get our completed dossier shipped to Bulgaria and waited for travel dates. In March, our church hosted a huge benefit concert as a final fundraiser for our adoption costs! It was such a wonderful night and $24,828.00 was raised for our little girl! Our adoption was PAID IN FULL!! Never could we have dreamed how the Lord would provide for us and the little girl He called us to adopt.
In May we received our travel dates to go meet our princess. We could not WAIT to get our hands on that sweet little face! We hurriedly got everything together, suitcases packed, flights and hotels booked, and off we went.
On May 19th, Spencer and I woke up in the tiny town of Dobrich, Bulgaria. We headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast at 8:30am. We could barely eat for our nerves. Spencer downed a cup of black coffee & I had some sort of mango juice, and some fruit. I can still remember sitting at our table, me facing the billboard clock on the sports complex building next door. 9:03, it said. And it was time to go. Our translator, called for the cab and Spencer and I went up to the room to grab the yellow “Billa” bag full of gifts we had brought for our daughter. A sock monkey, a purple blanket, chalk, coloring book & pencils, bubbles, and a photo book with photos of our family and home.
We arrived at the orphanage a few minutes after 9, and slowly walked up the few porch steps that led into the compound. We donned our blue booties (they made you wear them inside) and were greeted by a lady, the social worker, who then led us straight down a window lined hallway, and up the stairs to the second floor. She opened the first door on the right and it was eerily quiet. Not exactly the sound you would expect from this wing where so many children were housed. She led us through another door where we sat in a tiny room with a plush red couch, a small round table, and two side chairs. There was a toy box and a large window over the couch near the ceiling. Spencer and I were seated on the couch and our attendant, to my right in one of the chairs. She explained to us that they were going to get Nova, and we would be able to play with her in the room for several minutes until she was comfortable with us, then we could take her outside to play on the “playground”. We were to spend time with her until lunch, and then we must leave while she took a nap. We would return that afternoon at 3 pm and stay until time for dinner. The social worker left, and we waited.
Not many minutes later, we heard the door to the children’s area open. In a split second, Nova rounded the corner and was in our arms. So nervous and unsure, she sat and let us inspect her. Spencer and I were a puddle of tears. We sat and held our daughter for the first time! Never had I felt such joy as the moment her tiny little hands wrapped around my neck and she looked up into my eyes. This was my daughter, and I was her Mommy. Even though she had no idea of how that moment changed her life (and ours), it was indeed, forever changed. She went back and forth several times between Mommy, Daddy and our translator (she knew her from previous visits) and then we decided to venture outside. Spencer carried her down the stairs and out the door- she was so nervous and scared, she clung to him with all that she had. She quickly loosened up, then we really got a glimpse into her larger than life personality! She absolutely soaked up every bit of affection we were so excited to give her. She was thrilled to be the center of our attention and affection. It was truly one of the best days of our lives & I venture to say, hers too. After our play time, we came back upstairs and they asked if we would like to feed Nova lunch- of course! We were able to sit with her while she ate and then it was time to leave. When we came back after her nap, they told her we were back and she was so excited- she bolted out the door and into our arms so fast! Nova changed our life that day, and we are so thankful this little girl gets to be ours.
The rest of the week was more of the same, blissful moments with our daughter that passed too quickly, and on Thursday afternoon it was time for us to leave. It was heart wrenching. By Tuesday, she cried when she woke up and we were weren’t there yet– I could only imagine every day her waking up expecting us to be there- only to find out we weren’t. Leaving Nova behind was the hardest thing I’d ever done. We both cried until we were physically sick. The only comfort we had was knowing that God would keep her in His care until we could return to bring her home.
We came home and made ourselves busy. We decorated her room and got the house ready for our Princess’s arrival. At the end of October we passed court and on Thanksgiving Day we left to go get our girl! On December 5, we made the same trek, in a taxi not unlike the one from our first trip to Dobrich. We rode down the same gloomy road, we climbed the same steps, we donned the same blue booties, we climbed the stairs to the second floor visitation room and waited for our daughter to come around that corner like she had seven months before. Hoping she would remember who we were and that her love for us had grown in those months of separation. Later, we found out that Nova slept with her blanket and photo book every single night. She would flip through the book and then fall asleep with her hand on the photos of us. The long wait was finally over and we were really here. I could hardly believe it. We sat on that same red couch, and waited- we could hear voices in the other room, I heard her name, then “mama and daddy” and then the sweetest little cry of joy you’ve ever heard. She took off to our little room and jumped onto her daddy. She wrapped her arms tight as if she couldn’t believe that we were really back! But we were.
We have been home now for 5 months and Nova has grown like you wouldn’t believe. She is thriving, because that’s what children do in families- because that’s where they were meant to be. She’s gained over 10 lbs. and an inch in height. She went from only pronouncing “Mama, Daddy, Da and Nay” to saying the whole alphabet, counting to 10 in English, recognizing letters, and from barely able to scribble to being able to write her name (with only a little help). She knows so many words and amazes us every single day with how much she is growing and learning. We have been so blessed in our adoption journey and we’re so thankful that God sent us to Open Door, I can’t imagine going through this process without them. And I definitely can’t imagine our life without our Little Super Nova.
Since our beginnings, An Open Door has always felt a strong call to provide orphan children with loving, Christian homes.
There are more than 153 million children in the world who have lost at least one parent, and there 8 million children living in orphanages -- not counting those living on the streets or trafficked as slaves. Every year, there are also thousands of birth parents who face the incredibly hard decision to place their child with the best family possible. What a humbling privilege it is to be there for these children and families.
Since 1987, An Open Door Adoption Agency, Inc. has placed over 2,100 children. These include 1,400+ children from the state of Georgia and 700+ international orphans. Each of these precious lives represents many more people touched by adoption -- from the birth parents to the adoptive couple to the children themselves. What a great privilege it is to be there for them to complete their desire for a family.