2009 brought us the biggest obstacle of the time. Ryan and I were in marriage counselling, struggling to communicate, to see eye to eye as parents, and we forgot to be best friends…. I was ready to call it quits on the life I had prayed for.
I know what you’re thinking….“What does this have to do with your adoption story?”
I used to think the same thing. But believe me when I tell you that without this part, there would be no adoption.
February 29, 2009
Ryan is at work and falls 25 feet to a concrete floor. Our world is changed and shaken harder than I ever could have foreseen. What God did through this devastation was such a blessing in disguise. God brought us back to where we started. We had to spend all our time together. I had to care for my husband in a way I never had before. We had to trust differently. We both had to let go of any and all expectations of life. It was a tough lesson but God truly healed our marriage and friendship. Praise be to God who healed my husband and who started the ball rolling on our future children.
Following our great healing we welcomed another little girl in 2010 and again in 2012.
After 8 years or marriage, we had 4 beautiful biological children. My pregnancies were beautiful but had some complications. Unfortunately, the last baby brought more complications than expected, and we had to decide to stop having children. It was the best choice we made for my health, but my heart still longed for this other little person somewhere.
After 3 sisters, our son asked for a brother as often as possible. As a mom trying to gently let her son down, I told him to pray for a brother. He did not comprehend how babies got here but he wanted one to show up.
Over the next five years we were back and forth with a Workers Compensation lawyer pertaining to Ryan’s accident. Also, around this time our hearts for foster and adoption just grew. I knew that God was getting us ready for our child. We talked about it a lot. I was brought to tears in every conversation, praying to God to let my baby know that I was waiting and I couldn’t wait to be his mommy. I knew it was a son! I just felt it in my heart!
I signed us up for Foster care classes, and we shared our joy with every person who would listen. This is where GOD showed up in big way again.
As we were sharing our hope for foster care and adoption, a young woman was sharing with a mutual friend that she was pregnant and feared she couldn’t keep this baby. Our friend Anna-Marie told this sweet young lady that she knew a couple who would adopt her baby.
That same week, we received notice that after 5 years they were closing Ryan’s Workers Comp case, and we would be receiving a settlement--a lump sum of $72,000! (This specific amount matters because while my husband makes good money, we definitely never had that much in the bank all at once. But wait...God was doing something very special.)
That weekend Anna-Marie came over for a birthday party and told us about T, her friend who was expecting but could not keep this baby. She told us, too, that she told T that we would adopt her baby. Naturally, I laughed and said, “ You can’t just tell people we will adopt their baby” Anna-Marie said, “I know no one will love this baby or take care of it like you guys will. Ryan and I just looked at each other and say, “Yes!” I told Anna-Marie to give T my phone number because, at the very least, I wanted to be available to help her in anyway I could.
Within a few days T and I met. I was such a jittery mess. I seriously went and got my nose pierced before I met her, thinking this would help calm my nerves. I was not ready for this. What if my hope of adoption was shut down right at this moment? What was I thinking?? I had 4 beautiful kids! How selfish could I be??? But I believed that God had put this calling on my heart years ago and that He was going complete what He started!
I picked her up from her house and we went out for lunch. It was like we had known each other our whole lives. We just connected. We talked like old friends and we did not beat around the bush. We had a mission. She wanted a good family for her baby and I wanted her to pick us. Within a few weeks we visited a lawyer to move forward with our fast approaching adoption…. Did I mention she was almost 6 months pregnant when we met? We didn't have much time. We had no choice but to get down to business.
As we entered our private adoption, we met roadblocks but God had His hand on this the whole time! We flew through our paperwork; we did every inspection and kept meeting roadblocks. The agency had concerns to our answers to sensitive issues, and they questioned our financials. This is where it gets really cool. There is a rule where you had to have net worth of $10k per person in your home per year. God made it that we just happened to have that $70k in our account!
There were a lot of obstacles and red tape we had to go through during those first few days and weeks. I had to go as far as to call headquarters of our agency to talk it all out to approve us because the person we worked with at the agency put the wrong date on our paperwork. We had to make way too many phone calls and advocated for ourselves and T way more than I had anticipated. My sweet husband was the best support, he really is a gift. I think I cried more during this time than I did through my 4 pregnancies combined! Every time Satan tried to make something go wrong there was a wave of prayers that broke him down! The prayers of many made every obstacle seem so small.
We went to every appointment with T; we heard every heartbeat, and she even let me feel my sweet baby kick. We talked about everything we could think of. She shared her hopes and concerns. She was so convinced that this baby was a girl, just because she already had a little boy, but I had to share with her what God had shared with me. Many months before any of this, I dreamed of a young pregnant woman who I was caring for. When I woke up from my dream, I prayed to God I was willing to take care of this woman, whoever she may be. "God I will take care of her. Whatever she needs, Lord just send her to me, I will be here for her." God answered me in that moment and told me, “this is your son.”
I know, I know, “Did this lady just say God talked to her?”
God spoke to me, I heard a voice say, “This is your son.”
My morning devotion even brought me to 1 Samuel 1:27: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
I reassured T that God would never break her heart; she was so distraught over the thought that the baby was a girl. “T, this baby is our son. Not a daughter but a son.” Two weeks later we had our ultrasound. We found out the sex of the baby. “It’s a BOY!”
There was not a dry eye in the room.
I got to reassure T again that God’s hand is deep in our adventure; He will never break her heart. During the rest of her pregnancy, we made T a part of our family. We wanted her to know that we had her back and we are in this, with her, forever.
We got the “What if she backs out?” question a lot. We truly knew that that was always a possibility. She loves her baby. She loves him so much she has chosen to give him to us. We usually answered, “We know that she could. We also know that we maybe the only Jesus she may ever see in her life. So, even if she changes her mind, we got to show her Jesus and that is worth every penny.”
Our friends and family threw us a “Baby Sprinkle” in our home. T, her family, and our family made it such a sweet afternoon. This was all just in time, too. T went into labor in the middle of the night of the 16th and called me. I woke up Ryan to let him know that it was time. I grabbed my bag and the baby’s things and headed to her house to pick her up, then headed off to the hospital. I loved that I got to love her through her pain. We had such a beautiful birth. She was awesome. She even insisted that Ryan be in the delivery room. She wanted make sure that our son had his daddy there when he came into this world. They let me cut the cord and they placed him on her chest. I loved seeing all of this and I could not wait to hold our son.
I had prepared my body to nurse our new baby. I nursed him shortly after, and it was beautiful. T also nursed our son. We soaked up every moment together. The next days brought challenges, though. Our home study was still not complete. We called the agency and our lawyer to get things settled so that we could go home with our son after she signed over guardianship.
Our hearts broke to find out that T had tested positive for Marijuana. The Division of Children Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) was contacted. T and I had a great relationship and I was by her side during the whole ordeal. I believe that worked against us. Also, I was accused of child endangerment for nursing my son by the hospital. The OB/GYN said they had never met me and that they had no idea of our impending adoption. I shoved every piece of paper showing our adoption agreement to every person who came in our room, and it was like no one cared. I fought as hard as I could, but ultimately our son Joshua was removed by Social Workers. The Social Worker kept pushing reunification of mother and child. T said over and over, “Stacy is his mom! Give her her son!”
I had to hold her back while we both mourned our loss. This was the biggest obstacle of our adoption. It was 8pm on a Friday night, and they finally discharged two emotionally drained women from the hospital. We both went home empty handed but with a plan to fight DCP&P and bring our baby home. Our friends met us at home. My girlfriends helped with the kids and laid next to me while I just cried my heart out.
Following the advice of our lawyer, we met the next morning and signed all the guardianship papers with a Notary and submitted them to the courts knowing we had to wait until Monday to know what would come of it. The longest weekend of all time. I called our lawyer as often as possible. I called the Social Worker as often as possible. I needed to know that they were working for us and not against us.
That Sunday we went to Church and I was a mess. We were approached by a woman in our church who told me, “Our sweet friend Jesus put you on my heart. Are you ok?” I crumbled. She had no idea about our adoption. It was an 800+ people on a Sunday Morning church. It's hard to keep up with everyone. Jesus was fighting for us and our family! God’s hand was working while we were crying out to Him.
I spent my time praying, crying, hugging our children and printing out every picture of our last first few days. I made albums for us and T. We talked even more.
Monday Afternoon… I got a long awaited phone call from our lawyer. DCP&P had to return the baby to our care as soon as possible. The Social Worker would come and inspect our home. At the time of the call, because I was avoiding being home around all the baby things, I was walking around a Big Lots. I laid down on the floor of the store and cried! I ran to find Ryan and told him what was said. What a relief!
The Social Worker called shortly after and came to our home a few hours later. We briefed the kids on what was happening. It was safe to say that our home was happy to get this behind us was an understatement. She wandered around our home and checked things off her list. We confirmed a meeting at the pediatrician for her to bring our son and for her to be done with us forever.
Tuesday Afternoon. December 23,2014
We walked into our pediatrician office and met with the staff that has known our family since 2006. They got to give us our baby two days before Christmas. His foster mom had dressed him like a present. Red and green everything. He was the most perfect present I had ever seen. I was a ball of emotion. I said, “Can I hold him?” They all said, “Yes, he is yours now.”
We invited all of our prayer warriors over to come and meet our baby Joshua Armando Ferrigno. Every Grandparent, Aunt, Uncle, cousin, friend who could be at our home was at our home. We got to pray over our family and really just relish that we got to finally to be together.
Christmas Eve Day 2014
We picked up T and let her spend time with our new little boy. It just meant so much to all of us to be together. We had gone through so much to bring him home. We wanted her to know that she was so loved and so was Joshua.
We get a phone call from T telling us that the birth father’s parents were just now finding out about baby Joshua and would like to know if we could talk. We had met with the birth father during the pregnancy and we had his approval for the adoption. He was adopted out of the foster care system himself, but he had not told his parents about our baby. I told T to give them my phone number. She did.
I questioned their intentions in my head. What if they wanted to fight us for our baby? We were still weeks away from Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). I was honestly apprehensive about a relationship with them. When Lillian called, I was an instant ball of nerves. I didn’t know what to expect. She was just as nervous as I was but she said all the things I never thought I would hear. She told me that she didn't want to take our baby. She expressed her love for foster care and adoption. She told me of her adoption journey to grow their family and how she admired that her son made such a responsible decision to choose adoption for his own child. She simply asked for an opportunity to meet her grandchild and to get to know us. I told her about our family dynamic and how we are a package deal. She was thrilled by the chance of a large family and the thought of 5 grandchildren! God was just showing off at this point!
We met for the first time in a halfway house in Camden. That was where R was during this time. They got to meet us and their grandson, She took so many pictures, it was a bittersweet time. We were all together for the first time and I had to ask R to sign consent to the TPR.
We continued our relationship with Lillian and Bill, R’s parents. To this day, they spend intentional time with all 5 kids. They have grown a relationship with them that is such a true blessing of adoption. All five of our children now call them Meemaw and Pops. The love they all have for each other is just gorgeous, it’s almost like they have been here all along. God intended them for us, Joshua was the catalyst to this beautiful connection.
The day we had been waiting for was finally here! We finally went to our final hearing where Joshua officially was named a Ferrigno.
After Joshua was removed from us at the hospital I lived in fear that somehow someone would take him away again. Every time we had an evaluation, maybe I would do something wrong or what if our home wasn't clean enough? What if they thought he wasn’t bonding with us? These months I felt so insecure. I cried out to God for confidence. I knew that God had this all under control but my mind was flooded with doubt.
But on September 16, 2015 we became a forever family.
Looking back over this time, there is so much that could have been seen as hopeless. We got to pray and trust that God was in control. What the enemy meant for our devastation, God has used it for His glory and our good.
Joshua just turned 3. We have a fantastic relationship with T, Joshua’s brother, and her boyfriend. We are just family. Our families have loved us so much through all of this, even if they had their concerns. They know that their lives would be incomplete without Joshua.
I know that our story isn’t typical but that’s what makes it so special.
This was all the work of a great and mighty God.