Today, I'm thrilled to share our 6th adoption story. Meet, Wynne and Stephen who bravely traveled all the way to Ethiopia to meet and fall head over heels in love with their two adorable babies - Camp and Asher. Here is their story...
- A few words about who you are, what you do, where you live and what you are passionate about.
Hey y'all! My name is Wynne Elder and my husband, Stephen and I along with our 2 three-year-olds, Camp + Asher, live in central Texas. We just moved here from west Texas to be a part of a newer church plant and are so passionate about community, and people, and living on mission. We brought Camp + Asher home from Ethiopia when they were 7 and 8 months old and they just turned 3 this spring. They are 3.5 weeks apart in age - so not biologically related, but basically twins! They keep us pretty busy, but I am a creative who has to have something going to keep my brain active. So I keep myself busy as a blogger, young living distributor, noonday collection ambassador and co-founder of a infertility retreat/ministry called The Carry Camp!
- When, why and how did you decide on adoption?
We had been trying to get pregnant for about a year and honestly adoption was never on our radar. We wanted to wait a few years to have kids, and honestly the Lord just changed my heart overnight to be ready to be a mom. I thought since the Lord gave me this desire, it shouldn't be so hard…but after a really painful year I finally “gave it up” to the Lord - I was done. At that time a friend asked if we’d ever considered adoption, and when I said no she challenged me to pray about it and within a week I knew we were supposed to adopt! It took my husband a little bit longer, but once he really understood that we adopt because God adopted us, he was on board and we started researching!
How did the process feel to you? The paperwork, the resources you used, the timeline, the emotional rollercoaster, the wait, the uncertainty? Everything and anything that can describe your journey.
How did it feel…well it was two year process that stretched more than anything else I've been through in my life. At times it was emotionally taxing, hard, painful, and at times it was joyful, beautiful and such a way to bring people together. There were so many times that I sat in their future room and cried, or prayed, or a combo of both! The adoption process drew me closer to the Lord and to so many people in my life too.
When did you start sharing your plans with your family and friends? How did they react?
Well when I knew we were going to adopt, I told my sister and a few close friends but we waited until Stephen was on board and then basically the next time we saw our immediate families (which was within 2 weeks!) we told them! Some people were really excited and on board, and some asked hard questions. You obviously want people to be excited for you, but at the same time you don’t know how they might react, especially family members. Camp + Asher are the only kiddos we have, so there’s somewhat of a “death of a dream” for our family too of what could have been. My sister actually wrote an incredible post about how her feelings drastically changed once she met the kids.
How did the day feel when you travelled to meet Camp and Asher? What happened?
Oh wow, well that is a crazy story! We found out about our court date in Ethiopia and had 48 hours to get there. My parents came with us, and it was such an exciting moment. We got up early the morning after we arrived to Ethiopia and went over to the transition home. They brought them in one after another and me and Stephen just cried tears of joy and stayed there until nap time to hold them, and love them, and get to know them. I ended up staying in Ethiopia for 3 months and would go visit them once or twice a week. It was so special to watch them grow and have that time with them. I wrote a post that night called “the day I became a mom”.
After Camp and Asher came home with you, was there an adjustment period or did you feel the connection with them right away? How was it for your husband, and the rest of the family?
Oh yes there was for sure an adjustment. I actually did feel a connection with them right when we met - I wasn't sure what to expect, and I’d never been a mom before but in a way I can’t explain, it just felt right. I just somehow had all those motherly instincts to know what to do, and loved them from the first second. We also went from 0 to 2 kids so there was a serious time of adjustment and bonding. We had done a lot of research and had all these expectations laid out on how that time period was going to go, and we were very protective for a while to make sure they attached to us and knew we were their mom and dad. Our families are totally in love with the kids - even the ones that weren’t sure about adoption, fell totally head over heels for them. It’s like they’ve been here all along.
How is life nowadays? (Did adopting two children was what you expected so far?)
Life nowadays is busy! They are three, and are just in that really fun phase of being into everything. It’s hard, and it’s beautiful at the same time. I’m just a mom - with two three-year-olds doing my best each day. We still have our struggles, but just like if they were my biological children, you deal with them, you advocate for them, you are the best mom you can be for them. I think it’s pretty crazy we went from no kids to two, but we don’t know any different and we like our crazy story!
- Do you have contact with the birth mother? Have you met her? Would you like it?
Unfortunately we don’t know anything about their birth families. We hoped that might be part of our story, but it’s not. But we can’t wait to take them back to Ethiopia and show them where they came from! We love Ethiopia we've been several times over the last four years and think it’s really important they know about their culture and their people!
- Are you planning on having more children in the future?
Oh yes! We want to have a big family! We are just not in a huge hurry….waiting on Gods time. Would love to have some biological babies and adopt again as well!
- And any other aspects of your journey you’d like to share with us...
I would just say adoption is so beautiful. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure, it’s a high calling. The people we met along the journey have become dear friends - there’s something that bonds you with someone else who is adopting, and that was one of the most exciting parts about it. We now have connections with people all over this country. If you have questions or need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who has adopted. I didn't know anyone who had adopted when we started and I reached out to friends of friends or people I found on agencies websites and everyone is super helpful! Thanks for letting me share my story!
Thank you, Wynne for sharing your beautiful story! xo
P.S: Also, Katie's, Larissa's, Kevin's, Stephanie's and Tyler's beautiful stories.
P.P.S: Plus, my thoughts on the series.
(All photos via Wynne)