No matter how much planning and preparation occurs, adoption stories rarely go exactly as planned. Our journey has been no different! While we followed instructions and walked out the prescribed steps along the way, life created a set of circumstances that shook us up for a season prior to our matching with and adoption of our girls. The process in Costa Rica was also full of hiccups and winding trails, but our first year home as a family of seven tested us beyond anything we could have predicted!
Our early adoption preparation contained lots of “hurry up to wait” moments, but the first real test of our commitment began at the end of 2015. Nathan needed to take a sabbatical from his position as a pastor after experiencing unexpected anxiety and panic attacks. Thankfully, this sabbatical gave him the opportunity to seek wise counsel, to become more physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy, and to grow as a pastor, husband, father, and friend.
Sadly, during the end of his sabbatical and a few weeks before leaving for Costa Rica, Nathan’s dear grandfather passed away. As a family, we thought to ourselves, “Wow, this was a rough patch, but now that we’re through it we can focus on Costa Rica and bringing our girls home!” Little did we know that there was still more to come!
Initially, we were planning to stay in Costa Rica for 5-7 weeks. Due to delays in our hearings, paperwork, and other matters outside of our control, our stay in Costa Rica was almost 10 weeks long. While there were fun parts of living in another country for that amount of time, we also experienced a lot of downs…being separated from our older children (who visited for a few weeks, but spent the rest of the time with family back in the States), the death of Stacy’s beloved grandmother, learning how to manage everyday life in a different culture (language, food, transportation, shopping), figuring out how to finance our extended stay from another country, and living in three different locations during our stay. We also missed out on some special events occurring in the lives of our high school children at home.
After those long weeks, we were absolutely thrilled to be reunited as a family of seven at home. Within just a few weeks of our return, we said goodbye again to our oldest daughter, Kayla, as she had been planning to spend a month in Guatemala. We also said hello to a student from Spain who we had invited to stay with us for a month a year or so prior. Subsequently, our guest became very sick during her stay, requiring a few visits to urgent care as we tried to figure out what was wrong. (Side note: sweet girl ended up with mono!)
As if those things weren’t enough to throw us off, within six weeks of returning home, Stacy’s dad became very sick and passed away. We are so thankful that he was able to meet his new granddaughters before passing, but this was an emotionally devastating time for those of us who knew him well, and an emotionally confusing time for our new daughters. A few months later, Stacy’s grandfather passed away as well. (This was the father of Stacy’s dad.)
Thinking back, had it not been for our family, friends, and most importantly our faith, we would have really struggled to stay afloat. All of this took place in the midst of incorporating two new daughters into our family. While they were trying to emotionally adjust to ALL that their new lives entailed – mourning losses and adapting to the newness of culture, country, family, language, food, education – we were also all dealing with everything mentioned above.
This was a crazy, challenging season for all of us, to say the least….not at all what we had bargained or planned for. But really, does anything ever go exactly as we plan?? Thankfully, we rely on a God who SEES and KNOWS all the details! Here we are, two years later….a family of seven, continuing on in our Spanglish journey….INCREDIBLY thankful for family, friends, and faith in a God who has it all figured out.
Nathan & Stacy