Story by Heather Marshall
Heather Marshall is an adoption advocate and podcaster. You can find her wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts at the For the Love of Adoption Show. And read more of her adoption encouragement on her site. And find her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
My name is Heather. I’m a mom to two awesome kids I have been blessed with through adoption. And, I’m a Podcaster at the For the Love of Adoption Show passionate about helping others with adoption. But, it was a long road to get here…
I grew up in a dysfunctional home. There was screaming and holes punched in walls and doors. I was left home alone as a young child. When I was 3 or 4 my mom told me to play my toy piano in front of my parents’ bedroom to wake my dad up. He walked out and smashed it to pieces.
When I was 5 years old, I was left in the children’s section of an amusement park so my parents could go off alone. A stranger came and took me away to the lost kids’ section while I screamed and kicked. As far as I was concerned, I thought I was being kidnapped. I can still see it in my mind and that was 36 years ago.
As I got older, my parents showed absolutely no interest in anything that concerned me. I had a passion for singing and was in choir in school. I had to catch a ride to concerts because my parents didn’t want to come.
I remember being told that I was a mistake. And, my father told me to never have kids because it would mess up my life. Experiencing things like that messes with your head. It certainly squelched any desire I had to have kids of my own. Believe it or not, I don’t fault my parents. They both had traumatizing experiences as children also and although I think they could have done better, I’ve managed to turn out OK despite my childhood.
But there is no doubt that these experiences greatly affected my early view of family.
I met the guy of dreams at a very young age. And, a few years later we got married. I even told my husband before we got married to never expect kids to be a part of our lives. Even though he did have a heart for kids, he said he’d choose me anyway.
So, there we were…a young married couple.
I used to think that was the end of any discussion about kids…
And I can only imagine that years later many people wondered why we chose not to have children. They likely assumed we couldn’t. They may have wondered why a happily married couple that had been together for so long wouldn’t have children… if they could. The truth is we never attempted to have biological children. My heart was just never able to get to the point where that felt right.
So, we continued with our lives as a family of two. The first time the idea of adoption caught my attention was over ten years into our marriage at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. They were highlighting an organization called Show Hope and I picked up a packet of information about adoption. And… that is where it all began!
What I didn’t realize for the first 10 years of our marriage was that, for all this time, God was preparing my heart for adoption. Although I never had a desire to have biological children, God began to plant a strong desire in my heart to adopt. My husband has several family members that were adopted so he had no problem with the concept, but for ten years he had been telling himself that having children was not an option. It took the purchase of a three-hundred-dollar stroller to prove to him just how strong this desire really was. That stroller stayed in storage for another ten years!
But still…adoption felt so hard and so expensive. We just didn’t know if we had what it took to make it happen. We went to an informational meeting about adoption and left a bit overwhelmed and discouraged after learning more about all that goes into adopting. But we continued doing little bits of research, and one thing led to another.
God wasn’t going to let us forget about this. He was busy preparing our hearts to grow our family through adoption. He had us wait all this time so we could experience His best for us.
In 2013, we made the leap and started working with an adoption agency. And the wait began. What exactly would God do with this new passion He had given us? Over the next few years, He would completely change our lives. New jobs, new church, new friends. We had been asking God to prepare us for this new chapter in our lives and He did as only He could.
While we were waiting, we celebrated our 20th anniversary by renewing our wedding vowels. And, in our 21st year of marriage, in August of 2016, which was almost 3 years after submitting our initial adoption application, we received a call from the adoption agency. A birth mom saw our profile book and wanted to meet us. She had already had the baby! That stirred up so many emotions! Was this thing we had now been dreaming of for so many years actually be happening? Could we have our child in our arms within days?
We met Casey, our children’s beautiful birth mom two days later and she said we were the ones she wanted to adopt her baby. And, that same day she asked us to come to meet our daughter who was two weeks old. One week later, our daughter Abigail came home.
We were beyond blessed. We started building our life as a family of three…which was exactly as we intended to stay…until…one year later. On July 15, 2017, while we were on our way back home from our first vacation as a family of three, we received an email from Casey. This was just 2 weeks before Abigail would turn one. She told us she had been so nervous to reach out to us. She wanted us to know that she was pregnant with Abigail’s full biological sibling. And she asked if we would consider adopting this baby due in January of 2018.
We were in shock! We had honestly planned to remain a family of three. Although being asked to adopt our daughter’s full biological sibling was never something we imagined would happen, we quickly realized what an amazing blessing this was. So, we started preparing our family of three to become a family of four in just 6 short months.
This amazing woman who was choosing us all over again invited us to her ultrasound so we could all learn the gender of Abigail’s sibling together. I even remember her referring to the baby in her belly as ours!
Together, in that little room on December 5, 2017, we learned that we would have a son. And our daughter would grow up with her full biological brother. On January 30, 2018, we met our son, Bennett, and brought him home soon after.
We are so thankful that to this day we maintain an open adoption with our children’s beautiful birth mom. She picked us to be their parents and that means so much. She is always telling us how happy she is with her decision and as adoptive parents it means so much to us to know that she feels that way. We know we were called to adoption and that open adoption was always meant to be our story. We are so very glad that our children have this connection with her and they get to know where they came from. We are excited to see their relationship grow.
One thing that I have learned from all of this is that if God puts adoption on your heart, you cannot ignore it. If you feel led to adoption, that is your calling, and you follow it and you don’t let anyone take that from you. Regardless of the difficulty, regardless of anything you hear people say negative about adoption, regardless of your family not understanding why you’re pursuing this, regardless of it all! If God puts adoption on your heart, you do not ignore it. You will feel a lack of alignment in your life if you try to ignore a calling that God has put on your heart, especially something like adoption.
And, I’m so excited that through my podcast and resources I offer, I get the honor of helping others move forward with this dream. I was called to be these kids’ moms and I was called to help others and I’m so thankful for that!
After we adopted our daughter, I was woken up in the middle of the night with a message. God spoke to me more clearly than He ever has. He told me to start a site called For the Love of Adoption. Although He gave me the name, I didn’t know what it would look like or turn into. But He told me, “If you follow me in this, I will bless it”.
I now know that I was put on this earth for adoption. It’s my legacy. Not only to be the best mom I can to these amazing kids we’ve been blessed with but, to spread this adoption message far and wide. And, to help others in their adoption journey. It’s my mission and my calling.
These two precious children are nothing short of an absolute blessing and inspiration. They are our little gifts. With our daughter, we sought out and prayed for her for years. We had her name picked out seven years before we met her.
And our son is an amazing gift we never expected or even dared to dream of. It was like God was saying, “you thought it might be impossible to do this even once. Well, look at what I can do when you step out with just a little faith.”
I fully believe that Abigail and Bennett were always meant to be together. And, as hard as this can be to understand at times, we were meant to be their parents.
I know that for many their paths to adoption look very different than ours. In many cases, it’s full of pain. In ways, ours was full of pain too. A husband that had always wanted kids. A wife that had dealt with too much pain and neglect in childhood to have the heart for children, until God changed all of that. And He chose to change my heart to one for adoption. I am forever grateful for this, and I will spread the adoption message that is on my heart as far and wide as I possibly can for as long as I can.
Throughout our adoption journey, we have trusted the one that had orchestrated this whole thing. The one that set our hearts on adoption so many years before and now…right before our eyes…He made it happen…twice. We could not have done this without divine intervention. We knew that even though we were clueless, He wasn’t. He knew all along they would be ours. He handpicked them to be a part of our family.
We don’t ever take lightly and never will that our sweet children were born to another woman. We know she made the beyond hard and selfless choice to place them with us. She is and will forever be their first mom, their birth mom. She gave them life and for that, we are forever grateful. And, we are extremely blessed to have an open relationship with her. We are so happy they get to grow up knowing her. And, that she gets to see them grow into the amazing individuals they are.
We know there will likely be times in the future where adoption becomes confusing to our children. They will encounter people that don’t understand or respect it. Someone may say things that deepen their confusion. My heart already hurts to think they would ever question their place in our family or this world.
But I will always make sure they know this. They are 100% ours. More importantly, they are 100% His. And, they are 100% where they are supposed to be. Their story was written before they were ever born. And it is an amazing story of love!
To Abigail & Bennett…My little loves, you are such a light. It’s hard to understand how you didn’t physically come from me because you both are truly such a part of me; more than I can explain or even understand. I can’t imagine you not being mine. So, never doubt our bond. I am your Momma, from the first time I held you and forevermore.