TOGETHER by AGCI

Together by AGCI is a brand new podcast from the creative team at All God’s Children International.

        

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Episode 31

Becoming a Mom Through Adoption

You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Melissa Rush. This week, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day. While, this is a day typically filled with flowers, handmade cards, breakfast in bed and celebrating all things Mom, I also recognize that this might be a painful day for some of you. The journey to motherhood isn’t always easy. If you’re still on that journey and you’re still hoping and praying that you’ll become a mom, I want you to know that you are seen, and that you matter. You are valued and loved just as you are, whether you are a mom, whether you’re still waiting to become a mom, or whether motherhood isn’t part of your journey, you are not alone. Today I have the honor of speaking with someone who is all too familiar with every phase of the journey: the hoping, praying, waiting, and the joys and challenges of becoming a first-time mom through adoption. Beka Wolfe adopted her daughter Shiloh from AGCI’s Bulgaria program last July. Her family’s journey to parenthood hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been so worth it. Let’s get into our time together.

Okay. So can you tell me when you knew that you wanted to be a mom? Yeah. Um, well I think growing up, my mom was a stay-at-home mom, so that was always instilled in me. Um, I never once thought I, um, I didn’t think that it would take quite as many years as it did.

Um, but when my husband and I got married in 2011, adoption was always on our minds and, um, we wanted to have a big family, we wanted lots of kids. So, um, and then of course, when you get married, just, um, you think you’re going to like plan out your little life and everything’s going to go according to plan. Ours did not FYI. Um, but no, I think just from a childhood and, um, and then once we got married, I, I really think the Lord, um, instilled on my heart that I would be a mom someday. Yeah. So can you tell me a little bit about how you and your husband landed on adoption as a, as a way to become parents? Yes, absolutely. So, um, as I said, Nick and I got married in 2011 and, uh, we lost a baby in 2012 and struggled with infertility and in our minds, we had always intended on, um, biological family and then adding, um, to our family through adoption and, um, uh, the Lord had different plans for us. So in 2014 is when we, um, sat down. We had been praying about it for some time, but we really, we made that decision. And then, um, so it was June of 2014 and then we kind of, we didn’t really know international domestic foster care.

We, we didn’t know what direction that we were being called to, um, at that point, but it didn’t take long that, um, my husband felt pretty strong about international and then that led us to all God’s children and, um, yeah, and then it was just, we got our dossier in, uh, December, 2015. Okay. Um, and so w you know, obviously thinking about international adoption and there’s so many agencies out there, like why, what was it about AGCI why, why did you guys decide to, to move forward with all God’s children? Yeah, we, um, we researched several, uh, agencies, all the agencies we researched, um, friends of ours had used in the past. So we were pretty, we’re pretty big on, like, if a family has an experience with an agency, you, you know, research them and, um, look into it for yourself. So, um, but yeah, we had a family that had used you and, um, we just, we kind of fell in love with, um, that direction that you guys, you guys are so face-paced and God directed. And we knew that our adoption was God directed. So we knew that we could, um, fly together in that way. And then, um, really it was what countries were available. And we, we were the couple that were like, well, adapt from anywhere, just put us in a program.

Um, and, and then you, uh, you all started talking about Bulgaria and, um, I had no idea where Bulgaria was, so it was, um, an adventure just kind of researching that. And really it was within one phone call, um, that we decided you, you know, AGCI was our, was our agency and Bulgaria was our country. Okay. Wow. So you kind of knew from the beginning. Yes. Yep. That’s awesome. Um, as you learn more like about Bulgari, I mean, like what excited you about the country? There was a lot of different things. So there was a lot of, um, sadness, you know, the reality side of, um, adopting internationally and, um, knowing where these kids are coming from, the hard places that they’re coming from. Um, but Bulgaria as a country is beautiful. The people are beautiful. Um, there is throughout, um, our adoption process. We were actually able to meet some missionaries over there as well. And in 2018, we were able to visit the country completely outside of the adoption.

And that was a huge blessing because I think waiting from December of 2015, and then going in October of 2018, you know, that’s a lot of space of, like, you read stuff on the internet, you look at pictures and it’s kind of this out of touch country, but then you actually go there and we just soaked it all in and learning more about, um, the cultures there and, um, how old the cities are. It was, it was just, it was fascinating. So there’s a lot of facets to why we love Bulgaria. Um, but now that we’ve been there three times, we can’t wait to take Shiloh back, but it won’t be for a very long time. We’ll pass three. Yeah. Yeah. Well, how, what a blessing though that you guys have kind of that individual experience there even before Shyla was a part of your family, and to be able to share that with her when she’s older, like that’s so cool. And that will be such a treasure, I think, like, to be able to kind of share in that and, and yeah. And to someday take her back and get to, you know, show her where she’s, you know, where her first home was. Um, yeah. So I understand why you might not want to go back for a little while considering your adoption with nothing against Bulgaria.

No, no, no pandemic, so many things like, can you just tell me a little bit about your journey and kind of some of the hiccups towards the end there? Yes. Yes. I would love to share this. Um, cause I think everyone can relate a little bit with us on some different levels. I think, um, there’s hope because I, I really truly believe one of our journey has probably been on the scale of one to 10, some of the harder journey, um, that people will hear about. So, um, we got the call, the referral call for Shiloh in October of 2019. And, um, she had some medical challenges that we kind of went back and forth with, uh, social workers and doctors about. And so our first trip wasn’t actually until December 15th of 2019. So there was a pretty big gap between the time that we saw her picture heard about her, fell in love with her. Um, a lot of struggle, a lot of frustration finally going over to see her. And of course, as you all know, in December of 2019, COVID was like this. Some people were kind of talking about it, but not really. Um, and we got home right before Christmas and basically, um, you know, AGCI and Vesta were like, we just need to get your court date, get all your paperwork and then you guys fly.

And so the plan was mid March of last year is when we are supposed to go. And we had the easiest court date process, the easiest court decree process. Like, I don’t know if there’s ever been a faster one, but the problem was by the time that had been done COVID was upon us. And so, um, and of course, as many people know in our minds where like, it’s just a couple of weeks delay, it’s fine. And then a couple of weeks went by and then a month went by and in a, you know, and so it was really, I think, yes, the waiting was hard, but when you know your child, you’re preparing their room, you’re all emotionally like, okay, let’s do this. And then you’re delayed for almost three and a half months. That that was really hard. Um, but yeah, so we waited around, um, you know, I shut down. So it was, and then the United States shut down. Well, Gary, it was shut down. So we really had to fight to even get in the country at the end of June. And then we did a two week quarantine in country before we actually brought her into the apartment in Bulgaria. And then we had the 10 days. So we were in Bulgaria for 25 days in July. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a long time.

One thing that’s unique about the Bulgaria program is that you do travel and have that bonding visit. So you had met Shiloh and you had spent time with her and had to leave and we’re like, okay, just a few months and we’ll be back. And then to have that extended Josh went so like eight months basically later. Yes. Yes. Which was way, you know, when you’re dealing with a two and a half year old, a couple of months, I thought like she might remember us a little bit now, you know, and that’s fine. Eight months later. I mean, the only way that she really knew our faces was we had left a photo book with pictures of us and we had printed off pictures there. So she had pictures of our visit in December. So, and the nannies did a great job of showing them because she knew mommy, daddy Shiloh. Um, but you know, that’s still eight months of like just looking at a picture, not, um, not having a real family. So yeah, that was, it was, I mean, probably not hard for her cause she didn’t know any, you know, any different, but that was really, really tough. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I can only imagine. Um, so, you know, going back to, so that was like end of July that you guys came home July 23rd. Okay. So it’s been little over half a year, I guess. How has, how has the transition been?

How, how has that been for your family? There has been some really great and easy ways that our family has transitioned. Um, she was definitely created to be our daughter. There is like so many things throughout the day that I’m like, yep, you’re more my daughter than my biological daughter would probably. So God knows. Um, but then, I mean, as any, whether it’s biological family or adoptive family, there has been a lot of struggles with transition. And, um, you know, I’m constantly trying to remind myself is that she, she calls us mommy, daddy, but she doesn’t truly know yet what a family unit looks like. Um, so kind of, you know, trying to figure out ways, how can we bond more? How can we get her to understand, um, her English is fantastic. I’ve never like who knew that a little three-year-old could soak in so much English, but a lot of the cognitive stuff of her really understanding, um, what a family unit is, has been, has been a challenge. Yeah. But, um, no it’s been, it’s been great. It’s been the greatest adventure I’ve ever been on. I think Nick would say the same. Yeah. Yeah. It’s definitely an adventure adoption. Is that for, um, so kind of thinking back, um, to, you know, starting this process and, and kind of, you know, embracing, becoming an adoptive mom, like, were there things that scared you about that?

The things that scared me, I think were actually surprisingly easier. And then the things that I didn’t think were going to scare me were terrifying. So just for example, I was actually very concerned about her learning English, um, and being able because Nick and I are both very verbal people. We like to process verbally. Um, and even, you know, will she like hugs? Will she like kisses? A lot of children really reject that and she is all about touch and loves to be cuddled and everything. So those were just things that God very lovingly blessed us with. And then, um, I’ll never forget in, I think it was April. I was reading the, the court decree, um, April of last year and, um, reading, reading more in depth about some of her bio family stuff was really tough because not only is my heartbreaking for her, but I’m also thinking someday she is going to be old enough. Um, because her being adopted as no secret in our house, we have Bulgaria stuff all over. We talk about her adoption all the time special she is. Um, and as we build on that, there’s going to be really tough questions. And, um, it, it’s gonna be really tough to talk about, um, you know, the things that we know and we don’t know about her biological family or, you know, the city she was born in the city that she lived.

So those are, um, things that, that scare me the most is just the conversations and knowing she’s going to have to work through those, um, and not sheltering her from those, but also, I, I just hope and pray that she knows that Nick and I are both here for her. And, you know, as she processes through that, as she gets older. Yeah, yeah, no, that’s definitely a hard thing. I think, especially when kiddos are so young coming home and you know, you don’t have to, there isn’t that awareness about that at the, at this age, but knowing, or anticipating, I guess, having to have those hard conversations like that can be anxiety inducing for sure. And just like, how will she handle it? How will you handle like there’s so many, you know, but yeah, but knowing that she has you guys as her parents and that you love her unconditionally is like makes it, um, I guess less, uh, less scary in a way, um, that she has that support. Um, so kind of on the flip side of that, like what, what excited you about the process or, you know, of becoming a mom way? Um, that is, that is a lot, um, it’s kind of, as we talked earlier, it’s a little bit of a loaded question. Um, I think I had high expectations that I shouldn’t have.

Um, and, and just even the majority of friends and family in our life, um, have don’t have the challenges that we’re going through. Um, as we bond and attach as a family and my expectations, um, you know, have, let me down several times and yeah, so I think IX, I don’t know if excited is the right word. I think I was excited to be a mom because I knew that that’s what I was called to. Um, but it is, it has had its moments in my life where I go, I don’t know what I just did. Like, I don’t know how to be a mom. I don’t know, what am I doing? This is how did my mom raise four kids and make it look so easy, that type of thing, or just even looking around and thinking, I, sometimes I do feel alone because, um, my child is processing something a little bit differently than my friend’s child is. And, um, so yeah, there’s, there’s a lot of exciting things about being a mom. And then, you know, just even watching her learner colors and learn her letters and things that I’m like, Oh, this is so fun. Um, and then the next moment, you know, she, her little sin nature comes out and she’s not towards me. So it’s just, it’s hard to, for me, I’m a very even keel person. So it’s hard for me to like switch back and forth like that.

Um, but there’s still, I mean, the Lord is just, his mercies are new every morning and that has been one of my, my favorite verses is, um, that, you know, we can have a bad day and then we wake up the next morning and we can start all over again. And, um, you know, the Lord’s grace is with us. So yeah, that’s a great encouragement and it’s so true, right? Like, you know, what was hard one day change, you know, it changes every day and you, and every day is a new chance. Right. So yes, yes, exactly. Um, so what has, you know, I mean, we’ve talked about what’s been difficult, what’s been, you know, fun. What, what has surprised you about motherhood? Oh, how selfish? I am. I though Nick and I are married for, uh, eight years before we got her referral even. And so, as you can imagine, not having kids, you have a really flexible schedule. You can travel when you want and do you want, um, and then enter Shiloh in July. I’ll never forget looking at Nick and going, I missed being able to dictate my schedule, but, um, now she is, um, just, yeah, she’s, she’s our, everything, our focus is on her right now. So, um, so that was really surprising of just knowing how, um, selfish my, my heart really is.

And then, um, allowing the Lord to just teach me about his, um, his grace and his mercy that he shows to us every day, um, many, many times a day, because there are many times where, um, I act like an overgrown three year old towards my three year. Just the conviction that, um, my goodness, uh, the Lord never gives up on the end. Um, yeah. So, so that’s just been very surprising at the little things that didn’t used to annoy me frustrating. Um, but I’m sure she could say the same about me. Yeah. Well, that’s the journey, right? It just reveals new things on every season. Yes, absolutely. Um, well, so yeah, we’re kind of, we’re going the whole span of things. Like what I know that this is, um, you know, in the transition is not the easiest time and, and there will always be ups and downs, but, um, what right now, I guess, what do you love most about, about being a mom to Shiloh? Yeah. Um, well, I will, uh, preferences, as I’ve told you earlier, it was so ironic that I was going to talk to you about motherhood after three weeks of not shining moments for Becca and the motherhood department. So, um, but I do want to share some verses really fast, um, that I’ve just been cleaning too, because yeah, as you said, we’re just, we’re in a really, really tough season, um, with our sweet babies.

So, um, it’s from second Corinthians, 12, nine, and 10, and it says, and he has said to me, my grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore I will boast about my weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I’m well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong. Um, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a season in my life where, um, when I am weak, then I am strong. And just knowing that Christ is strong within me because, um, and that brings me joy because I know that the Lord is teaching me so much through motherhood. Um, and our prayer has always been that, um, our child and now, you know, child with the name Shiloh will see Christ in us and, um, that she will want to follow him someday. And so, um, I thought, I thought that would look a little different, but like actually sitting down with Bible and reading her, you know, having her memorize. Um, but it’s really, I think the Lord has been, um, hitting home with me that it really is in my weakness that she’s going to see Jesus in me more than, um, me being strong and can do it by myself type thing.

So, um, along with, you know, that’s kind of the spiritual and where I’m at, but then, um, Oh, Shiloh is just a little joy. Like she, um, she’s hilarious. She has a spunky personality. Um, she knows how to tease already, which I don’t think is always normal for a three-year-old and just, just such a Kidder. Um, she’ll say I’m teasing you, I’m teasing you. And so the humor, and sometimes, you know, I I’m S I’m trying to correct her or direct her in a different way. And then I just have to laugh because I’m like, yeah, you’re, you’re just funny. You’re just a funny kid. Um, and then, you know, just seeing the joy that she is bringing, um, our family as a whole and, um, in our community, we’ve, we’ve had an amazing community behind us that, um, helped her come home to us. And so it’s fun. No one asks about me anymore. How silo what’s she doing? So I’m of no importance anymore. Um, gosh, that’s gotta be so fun to see her little personality kind of come out.

Like, has that kind of been, I mean, thinking, you know, obviously big transition and even like you said, even though you had spent time with her, like just at her age, you know, it was kind of all new for her by the time you brought her home, ha ha has that kind of slowly come out, like her personality and her likes and dislikes and those things, her comfort level in telling us what she likes and dislikes has definitely come out in the last eight months. Um, but she actually, when we met her in December of 2019, she already had a big personality and one of the nannies actually told us that she was one of their favorites. And I think it was because she was just, and I even asked, so I asked the translator, I was like, did they tell all the parents that, because I don’t know if I believe and she’s like, Oh no, you know, they, they say what they think. And, but it was true. She just, from the very point where she walked into the room and we had, you know, some moments, she was just full of personality. So it’s, it’s only gotten bigger since that point. Definitely so awesome though.

I love a little girls with SAS are the best, I think has all the SAS and my mama looks at me and says, yep, yeah, I don’t have kids yet, but that’s something my mom has said to me that like, Oh, just wait, like going to have the sassiest little girl. I just, no, yeah, I’m sure. Yeah, no, I, the other day I looked at my mom and I said, mom, I am so sorry. I can’t even count all the times. I passed off to you, but I am sorry because I’m living it every day. Oh my goodness. We didn’t teach her to backtalk. All of a sudden she could die anyway. Well, you haven’t so perspective for it now, you know, very much so. Um, Oh, that’s great. Um, okay. Well, you know, thinking about mother’s day, obviously that can be a joyful time. It can be a really hard time, um, depending on where you’re at in your life. Um, what encouragement would you share for women who are, you know, wanting to be mothers that are still waiting this mother’s day? Yeah. Um, no, I appreciate you.

Uh, yeah, it just saying all of that because, um, mother’s day in the past for me has been actually a very hurtful day, um, struggling with infertility and, um, even in the waiting process, uh, to be matched with a child now, Shiloh, um, you know, as each mother day went by, it was just a reminder that I’m still waiting. I’m still here. Um, so an encouragement that I, I think I wish I would’ve clung on more to, um, in those seasons. And now that I’m in kind of in the highs and lows of motherhood, I never want to sound ungrateful, but I also, so I w I want women to appreciate the season that they’re in. Um, and you know, the first, the first is, um, if you know, Jesus keep your eyes on him. And, uh, Colossians three just talks, uh, consistently about, uh, keeping our eyes on Christ. And that’s an, any, any season of life, but specifically for ma for future mamas or, um, you know, women wanting to be a mom, uh, that season of life can be so special. It can be so hurtful, but, um, keep, keep your eyes on Jesus and know that, that his plan is perfect.

As cliche as that sounds, it is a hundred percent true, um, with each season that you go through and then if you are a mom, um, or a future mom waiting for that, you know, exciting referral call or, um, wherever you’re at in the adoption process is pray for your future child and pray for, um, pray for their biological family, pray for their situation. Um, I wish I had done more of that. I had so many years. Um, but now that I know, you know, I have a little face in front of me and I, I know a little bit about her past. I wish I would have prayed for it more. Um, so, you know, yeah, just praying for them. And then, um, another thing is for the, for the women, as I just spoke earlier, who aren’t moms yet know that you’re not less than just because you don’t hold that title of mom, um, you are, you know, you are able to serve the kingdom in a different way that, um, and I’ve, again, I’ve, I’ve said before, I’ve been in both camps, I’ve bled in both seasons. Um, there are a lot of ways that I really miss being able to serve in ways that I can’t now, now that my priority is, um, my family.

So, um, just be encouraged and you know what, um, I know this is probably going to sound crazy, but I actually choose not to celebrate mother’s day. Um, for me personally, I celebrate my, of course, because she’s a hero, but, um, that just after years of, um, hurt and just kind of that frustration, I just, I just don’t think it’s necessary because for me waiting as long as I have to be, to become a mom, I, um, even in the struggle and I am a very real person, we were talking earlier, I don’t sugar coat things. Um, I never want it to sound like I’m complaining, but I also am so grateful. So every day is mother’s day for me because I get to be a mom. Um, um, even though, even though it’s hard, it’s really hard. Yeah. So, yeah, no, thank you for sharing that perspective. And I think that that’s something that gets glossed over. Um, you know, we, we kind of tend to focus on the, kind of the crossing, the finish line of like, okay, now you have your, your child. And so everything is rosy and perfect. And we don’t, we kind of don’t want to talk about the hard stuff in the struggle and, and, and recognize the pain of not being where you want to be and not having your child.

And, um, we could all do a better job of recognizing that and celebrating women at every point of life and wherever that is. And some women never become moms, and that is okay too. And you can find purpose enjoy without as well. So I think that, I appreciate you saying that because I think that’s not something that gets talked about enough. Well, my prayer with this interview is that, um, the Lord would just use it. And, um, I wish I had had had more women speaking into my life, um, who had done all the, you know, kind of been through infertility now in the motherhood and been able to balance both because I think you’re right, Melissa. Well, a lot. And I even catch myself doing it is like, I forget about that hurt and that frustration in the mornings that you wake up and you’re just like, I just want to be a mom. Lord, why aren’t you giving this to me? Um, instead of have a screaming three-year-old, you know, or a laughing three-year-old depending on the moment. Um, but no, I just, I, I just want to be real with women of that, the good, the bad and the ugly. Um, but the Lord’s grace is totally sufficient for where you’re at. That doesn’t mean you can’t say it’s hard because it’s hard and he already knows. So yes, exactly. I always go back to the, I think it’s Mr.

Rogers quote, that’s like what’s mentionable is manageable. Uh, yes. You know that, like, we need to talk about the hard stuff we already talked. We talk about the beautiful, the wonderful stuff all the time, but like, it’s also gives it perspective, right? It’s like this moment is so much more beautiful and special because we’ve gone through the hard yes, yes, absolutely. We feel like if people go through half the things that we did, then they’re doing pretty good. Just all the craziness that’s happened, our adoption story. Yeah. But we’re yeah. So we’re more than willing to share. Well, it really is such an encouragement to families and it, I think it, I know it’s not easy, but to share the difficult parts, it just, it normalizes it. And it’s like, makes people feel they don’t have to be superwoman. And you know what I mean? I mean, no one is, everyone has the hard stuff and it’s like, when you don’t talk about it, then you feel like, Oh, is it just me? It’s not just exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Well, um, yeah, you guys have a wonderful day and, um, hopefully I’ll talk to you soon. Okay. Okay. Sounds good. Bye Melissa. Bye. That was Becca Wolf. AGCI adoptive mom to Shiloh. Thanks for listening to us together by AGCI as always, if you liked what you heard, please rate and review us wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you’d like to read or watch even more stories, check out our website at all. God’s children.org, reach out to us and let us know what you think on Instagram and all God’s children international, or email us at together at all. God’s children.org. We look forward to sharing another story of hope. The next time we’re together. We’ll talk to you soon.