Walleck Family Photo Anthology
Way back in the days of college dating at ETBU, when Phil wore trucker hats and I was an English Major, we discussed the idea of adoption.
Before we even mentioned the ‘M’ word (marriage), we both spoke of wanting to adopt one day. I know, we’re weird, right? Look at those kids.
As I completed grad school, we decided to go ahead and pursue both pregnancy and adoption. Phil and I took a road trip from Miami to the Keys to celebrate. We headed on vacation, telling our agency to wait until August to officially place us on the open list.
Guess what? We got a call from our agency while on South Beach.
It was the first of many calls, but we had to say no. As it turns out, you cannot accept a placement while you’re out of state.
I was studying for the National Counseling Exam late one night when I received a call about an emergency placement. I got off the phone and woke Phil. “They’re bringing a baby to our house!!!” It was 1:00AM.
We held Colton and we prayed, 18 days or 18 years. It was our commitment to love this sweet baby. Colton was 8 months old. He was only in our home for 3 weeks, but he baptized us into parenthood. He cooed and cuddled and began crawling while in our home. We learned how to change diapers and make rice cereal. It was a sweet season. When he was moved to another home we grieved that loss, we had to wrestle through some self doubt. Can we do this again? Can we welcome another one knowing they may be with us only temporarily? We still think about Colton, he’s part of our family history.
I remember the first time I saw this tiny little nugget. All alone in a
hospital room, one month old. Pink limbs curled up, IV and tubes coming from his tiny head. A diaper bag with a few items lay on the
chair in his room. I held him and marveled at his tiny frame. It felt like a sacred moment, it was the beginning of a long journey.
Do we look nervous? (We are.) We had never been parents to a new born before and had some real concerns that we would have no idea what to do with a baby. We had learned some basics from Colton, but still felt hesitant. Looking back now, I know the truth. No parent with a new baby has any idea what they are doing!
I remember the nurse staring at us, “Yes, you can take him home.”
Um, yes, ahem, could you please show us umm…how to do everything?!
October was the first time CPS mentioned the word adoption to us. The plan had been reunification and we labored to support that goal. Going to family visits, praying for the Lord to provide a home for JJ, hoping it would be our home. We were trying to be open handed with this baby boy we had fallen in love with.
And then a lovely surprise, on Halloween we found out we were pregnant. (Phil did not believe me at first and asked to read the directions.) It had taken us longer than expected to become pregnant so we were especially thankful, and a bit skeptical honestly, until we saw the ultrasound. Which by the way, was one of the most worshipful moments ever!
We moved into a season of anticipation, realizing JJ could be part of our family permanently.
We decided to close our home to future foster placements except in the case of a bio sibling for JJ. In February we received a call from our case worker, a baby sister had been born.
I like so many things in this photo. I am holding a 4 lb 8 oz precious mooshka. Phil is holding an 18 month old JJ. I am 5 months pregnant. We are standing in the NICU and the bulletin board behind us says “WOW!” As though it were an appropriate caption for this moment. No lie, this was a difficult season. We just did not sleep, for about 2 years. But amazing things happened. Our friends threw a baby shower and we literally received enough diapers to last 6 months. Friends brought us food and helped us hold babies. Family members sent baby clothes and boxes of formula. The Lord showed me His absolute faithfulness to provide.
Henry was born, just before JJ’s 2nd birthday. We had three children ages 1 and under. Did I mention we didn’t sleep much in 2013? We had a lot of cuddle time and a lot of funny looks while out in public. Phil and I struggled through the transition, we were now a family of five. I was working on internship hours for my counseling license. Phil was serving at a church and going to school. At the time we lived in a two bedroom apartment. Everything seemed to be bursting at the seams, yet all of our needs were met.
Embracing the crazy and the beauty of our situation
Henry-1 week old | Elle-4 Months old
“The Twins” | 4 ½ months apart
Dad life | x 2
And then adoption day arrived. On August 30th, our family members gathered at the courthouse. I had been mothering for about two years at this point. But on this day, we cherished being named official guardians, parents. Not foster parents any longer. We legally adopted Jude Douglas Walleck (JJ) and Elle Nacole Walleck (Andi) while holding Henry Grey Walleck (Rev). Everyone has a nick name (a story for another time).
I consider each child a gift. Being a foster mama pruned my heart to be open handed with my children; they are from God, they belong to God.
I feel the weight of responsibility to be a good steward of what the Lord has placed into my hands. While reading Psalm 127 one day I had a realization.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”
My ideas and efforts to build my family would not produce the beautiful story the Lord was weaving together. This verse became my prayer through out our journey of parenthood. I remember asking, Lord I want you to build our family whatever that may look like.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights.