Passion: The pursuit to raise and nurture a child.
Jeff and Lindsay’s story of pursuing adoption started before they were even married, when they discussed their hopes and dreams together. Then, after exchanging their vows and several years of infertility, they decided that the adoption process would just happen a bit sooner than the original plan. It turns out that this process also required it’s own dedication, persistence, hope, and patience. Jeff and Lindsay watched for four more years as friends and acquaintances were matched with children through adoption. Thankfully, when the moment was right for their own child to enter their lives, it became official quicker than ever imagined. Eight years of desiring a family, and in the next moment, their dreams came true with a beautiful daughter, Jasmine.
There have been many passions discussed through Spark the Pursuit, and there have been quite a variety of things that people invest and focus their time and energy upon. The Rettig’s conversation is less about the actual object of a passion, but more about the journey and pursuit of that passion.
Jeff and Lindsay’s process of starting a family is certainly best described as a pursuit, an intentional journey. They were relentless in fulfilling what they felt called to do, and to serve others in a way that can only be done through the hard work of welcoming a child into their home.
Within their story, you’ll hear Jeff and Lindsay freely share the ups and downs of becoming parents. They give an insight of how the fostering and adoption system was both a reason to be frustrated, and also the ultimate answer to their prayers. They discuss the lessons and the relationships that they’ve gained along the way that have sustained them when the pain seemed insurmountable.
Prior to adding Jasmine to their family, they had waited years to be matched with any children at all. And then, they had two separate opportunities. Unfortunately, each of these potential children were pulled away from them for different, unforeseen reasons. Throughout these swings of hope, anticipation, joy, frustration, and heartbreak, they have learned more about themselves and have grown deeper in their relationship with each other, with friends, with family, and with their faith. Jeff and Lindsay are graciously sharing all of the pieces of their story in hopes that they can help anyone along the way to learn more about adoption and to support those in the midst of a long journey to become parents.
“This has been a whole new world for us, and it has introduced us to a whole new community. We’ve had some opportunities to share stories and hear stories from other people who have been in the life of fostering and adoption. To hear how they’ve been impacted or how they have felt like they have made an impact. Those people who have brought instruction and guidance to us and have walked alongside us have been so refreshing."
“When we started adoption, we wanted to make sure that it was NOT a Plan B. It was a part of our conversations before marriage, it just took shape after a season of infertility. About eight years ago was when we started to want to have kids. Four years after that, we began the adoption process. We started fundraising and completing the required classes, and we received our licenses in 2018. With private adoption, you get emails if you match the criteria of a birth mom. Then, you have a book that you put together with information about yourselves that is shown to the birth mom. Along with that, we would also write personalized letters to each of the birth moms that we matched. We ended up writing letters to about 40 different moms before we were able to finally connect with our adoption.”
“We just wanted to become parents. As much as we would love the newborn experience, we just wanted to be parents. We want to nurture and raise children. After a couple of years of not being able to connect with an adoption, we had to go back and renew our licenses. We decided to change our license to now include young children and all the way up to 18 years old. We realized that there are a lot of kids out there who have waited a lot longer to have a family than we had been waiting to become parents.
Not long after, we got matched with a foster-to-adopt placement of a seven year old. Throughout our training, we had always chosen the lowest level of ‘need,’ but the system misplaced us with a child who had frequent violent outbursts. We could tell that it was trauma-related. He was a sweet kid, but it was so difficult because at times it just wasn’t safe for us in this house. We are still involved with him as a “big-brother/sister relationship,” because we are the only people in his life who have kept in contact with him. He simply needed 24 hour care, and our lives weren’t able to do that for him. He’s now in a facility, and he calls us three times a week, and we get to go see him and hang out with him.
For our second placement, we had an 18 month old. After we had understood that she would eventually be able to join our family, the agency revealed to us that there was actually an aunt that they had failed to mention to us. So, our hopes were once again crushed. She was placed with a family member after we had been told that we were her only possibility for a family.”
“At this point, we tried to figure out if we were still meant to pursue this. And through these times, we just had a feeling that yes, we were meant to do this. These experiences and these children helped form us into who we needed to be for this child that we now have.
There were definitely moments where we said, “Okay, God, we are literally trying to help the orphans and the widows, and we still can’t fulfill these hopes of ours.”
We just looked for validation that this was what we were supposed to do. We have experienced pain emotionally, spiritually, and physically (through our stress and anxiety from our first placement) throughout this process. Then, Jasmine came to us in less than 24 hours. And it really doesn’t happen like that. But, her mom just knew that she couldn’t take care of her, and she said, ‘I just want a family that will care for her and give her what she needs.’ We got the notification that we had someone who had matched with us on a Wednesday, and then on the following Tuesday, I got a call that said, ‘Can you come pick up your daughter tomorrow?’ The whole time in that room, we just kept asking, ‘When is this going to fall through?’ and they said, ‘No, it’s a done deal. You were selected. The birth mom’s rights have legally ended. The girl is yours.’ It was almost like God knew, Okay, enough is enough. We’re going to give you a kid in less than 24 hours.”
“Jasmine turned six months a couple of days after we got her, and once a child turns six months, the process goes through the court system and it is an entirely different system. Getting her before that milestone allowed us to almost immediately bring her into our family.
Her mother just wanted the best life that she could give her daughter. As difficult as our journey was… the decision and actions that the mother committed to give a better situation for her daughter was way harder than anything we’ve been through. The pain and moments of suffering that we went through is nothing compared to what that mother has experienced to make this decision. I can’t fathom that.”
“We would really love to connect with the birth mom, if she’s open to it. We could be a supportive part of her family. If there’s an opportunity to have more impact, to not just stop with Jasmine, but to continue and make an impact on the mother as well; we would be grateful for that possibility.”
“There’s such a negative connotation with birth moms. But it’s important to show that they are also making the best decision for their child. And it is a sacrifice, and it is hard. So, it’s important to give them empowerment to do what’s healthiest for that baby. The birth mom matters, and she has value.
In our letter, we wrote that we would always talk to our daughter about her birth mom. And at night, we talk to Jasmine and tell her about how brave her mother is. We tell her that even if she never meets her birth mom that her mom is important. We tell her that her mother is always a part of who she is and a part of her family. Jasmine didn’t lose part of her family, her family just got bigger.”
“In 24 hours, we had a child. Luckily, due to our previous placements and our hopes of having a child to adopt, we already had everything we needed to keep her safe and healthy. Then, we just needed to begin to acquire the things that helped us all to become more comfortable.
Every day, it’s like, let’s go out to the front porch and see what got dropped off! Family, friends, church… it all has just blown us away with the support we’ve received.
I cannot imagine what it would have been like without the support that we have.”
“To those looking to adopt: don’t set expectations of a time frame. There are some people with very similar backgrounds to us who were matched within a year. Our trainings told us that we should definitely have a match within two years.
Even before that, we struggled with infertility, so our desire to have kids was stressed at the beginning of the adoption process. Our advice is to not impose a timeframe on yourself, and to then try to enjoy the journey. Don’t lose sight of the ‘why.’ A lot of times, we focus on what we want.. Don’t forget that you are doing this to impact others. It isn’t all about what we want and what we expect.”
“Having two children placed with us and then losing both of them to circumstances outside of our control caused a lot of hurt. I am in therapy now, because of the trauma of losing two anticipated children, and also watching my wife go through that pain of infertility and then missing out on the expectation of thinking we were keeping a child at two different points. Who we are now is who we needed to be throughout this process. We’ve learned so much about ourselves and each other. It wasn’t always fun in the journey to get here… but we are so glad to have this perspective that’s been eight years in the making.”
“Our marriage always maintained its spot as our top priority. That was the one thing that could have been a casualty. But it wasn’t. We were so intentional over these years… our marriage could’ve been a loss, but it has actually been strengthened.
We’ve seen some relationships crumble. Before the joy of receiving Jasmine, we had both acknowledged that if we never were given a kid, then at least we’d still have gained a stronger marriage.
We always knew that we’d rather have our marriage than a house full of kids and no relationship. Having that perspective throughout this season was huge. We’ve learned to intentionally love deeper. We never really knew what those words meant until we had to put it to the fire. We’ve said to each other, ‘Okay, we are going to go take a date night. Even though we are both frustrated and angry right now. We are going to go out, and spend some time on us, even though life isn’t going our way. The value in that was massive.”
“To those not considering adoption, just reach out and listen to those struggling in the process. Show up in their lives and just hang out. Know that it’s okay to just exist in their hurting moments, you don’t need to give a lot of answers. Many times, it is enough to hear us out and agree that some of these times just suck.
If you don’t know anyone in this adoption journey, then help with CCHO, support Fostering Hope, donate to women’s pregnancy centers, and support single mothers, so we can protect families from breaking apart. When we talk with those experiencing the pains of adoption or with birth moms making adoption plans for their babies, we can help spread empathy for people groups that we would have never known otherwise.”