First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
It’s a cute, old rhyme, but most families know that the journey is never so simple.
Happily married and ready to start a family, Paul and Monika Allen were met with heartache in 2009 when their first child was stillborn. It was a devastating loss that led to a time of deep grieving and prayer. As they mourned, they were reminded of their desire to adopt. Even before they were a couple, both had a desire to adopt a child from a very early age. Paul grew up with siblings who were adopted, and they had spent their entire adult lives working with at-risk children, volunteering with ministries, and dreaming of a large family.
In the fall of 2011, Monika began to feel God urging her to prepare for motherhood. Though confused and unsure, the Allens began preparing for a baby as best as they could.
They started praying for their child, wherever he/she was, with faith that it would be the child that God might have for them to parent. They found a social worker and began saving money and researching grants. They completed a home study and filed paperwork. Adoption seemed like an impossible task, with its mounds of paperwork and bills, but the Allens found solace in setting and reaching the tangible goals, the things that were possible.
As they researched, any organization involved with bringing children into Christian families was on their radar, which is how they first heard of Show Hope. Monika remembers their grant application as straightforward and organized. The couple also took to social media. They began sharing their story on Facebook and through Monika’s blog, and eventually were able to share their story through Show Hope’s “I Heart Adoption” Facebook promotion last fall to help Show Hope raise additional adoption aid funding.
“It was fun helping an organization that had helped us,” Monika said.
People they didn’t even know began to give financially to help bring their child home. They found that friends, family, and even strangers were eager to participate in their journey. With assistance from Show Hope, other grants, and help from friends and family, they were able to finalize the adoption without going into debt.
Paperwork wasn’t all that they did during this preparation period. Monika made it a point to celebrate milestones in their adoption process. Instead of capturing shots of a growing belly, the couple took photos of getting fingerprinted for background checks and when they installed their first car-seat.
Then, in May 2012, about nine months after beginning to prepare for a baby, they received word that a birth mother in Texas has chosen them as parents. Their baby boy was born in July.
“[Through this process,] I learned how generous people are and how many people love adoption. The financial side of adoption seemed impossible — I often wonder if our social worker thought we were a little nuts! But I’m so glad we didn’t wait until all the money was in the bank before we got started,” Monika said. “If we had done that, I wouldn’t have my beautiful son right now.”
The few months since bringing baby Cole home have been a whirlwind for the Allens. As new parents, they’re adjusting to late-night feedings, lack of sleep, and juggling schedules. And as newly adoptive parents, they’re still processing the miracle that took place early last year, in their own hearts and in Cole’s adoption.
“Overall, the experience deepened our hope, our trust, and our love,” Monika said. “Both in God and for each other. It feels very vulnerable to put yourself out there, hoping that someone will choose you as a worthy parent.”
Trust and love, two fruits the Allens have gleaned from their adoption process. Each step along the way has been taken cautiously but faithfully, and the reward has been great.
“Ever since we brought our son home, my heart and soul have felt more alive than ever before,” Monika said. “I love being a mom and my husband loves being a dad. The deepest cry of our hearts has been heard and answered in the most wonderful way possible. Not a day has gone by where we haven’t thanked God for the gift of our son.”