Aubrey: When I was 19 I found myself in a tiny little church in The Gambia, Africa. Before that moment, I would say that my life fit perfectly into the little box I had imagined for myself. I knew I wanted to fall in love later in my twenties, get married, and have a couple of babies so I could live my dream of being a mama. During the church sermon, the pastor was preaching in the countries’ local language, so I did not understand anything that he was saying. Thirty minutes into the sermon I found myself gazing onto a baby in the pew in front of me. For some reason during that moment, a random thought came to my mind which was…”Would I ever consider adoption?” In that same instant, the pastor that had not been speaking any English, clearly pronounced one verse in English that I did understand- John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” I would say that was the first time in my life I really felt the Lord move me, and by move I mean shake me to my core and rattle the foundation that was my life. I also felt a certain comfort, like a promise that I would and could adopt. God assured me that day in the tiny, hot, church that He haq a plan for me, and He was in control of it.
That same summer I came home and fell in love with the boy next door....
We had been in touch for a year prior, but we lost touch when my dad got sick and I wanted to focus my priorities on family. A few coincidences and some not so subtle pushes from our moms later, we found ourselves on our first official date. I know it’s cliche and corny, but I knew on this date that we were going to spend our lives together. He completely stole my heart. I loved every piece of him, every inch of his wild, outgoing soul. On our first date he asked me to share some things that he did not know about me yet. Of course I talked about things like my favorite color, favorite ice cream, and that I wanted to go skydiving, but I also shared with him my heart and how I wanted to adopt.
Matthew: Our parents are neighbors so I had been trying to get her attention for months. Things finally worked out and we were able to get together for a date. After dinner, we went on a boat ride at sunset (I'm romantic, right?). She told me about the summer she had just had in Africa and about how she wanted to adopt someday. At the time, it seemed crazy to me, but it helped me start thinking about the process and also know more about Aubs' heart.
As we dated and would talk about our future family, Aubs would always say stuff about adopting. It was a constant discussion on if we saw ourselves adopting or having biological kids first. We reached out to a few agencies and started researching, and we were intimidated by the financial part of everything. We decided we would do it eventually. It took me awhile to come around to adoption in general, but after awhile, I could see it too. I knew our family would be a mixture of biological and adopted kids.
When we got married, I had a career change and switched to middle school teaching. Immediately, I could see the need for kids needing adopted here in the states. A lot of my kids had terrible home lives, and I could feel God pushing me in that direction. At the same time, a lot of countries were closing down their adoption programs. We reached out to a few agencies in the first few years of our marriage, but it didn't go anywhere and we didn't feel ready. Because the international programs were getting harder to do, Aubs and I agreed that when we would adopt, it would be domestic. We both really wanted our own kids first, because we knew adoption would be a hard thing to go through. We thought we would wait until we were older to go through that challenge, and we wanted to have all the money saved up. Little did we know.....
Aubrey: Matthew is everything that I could ever imagine a dad should be. His passions in life revolve around loving children well and helping them be the best version of themselves. He lives his life with this sort of freedom to be yourself and he invites people around him to share in that freedom, and to live in a way that allows oneself to be who God created them to be. He can make anyone laugh, and lives each day so entirely present in every moment.
It was clear to me that God gave me Matthew not only to share in marriage but also to share in eventual parenthood and all of the battles we would have to fight to be parents one day. Although we knew that adoption was going to be a part of our lives one day, I would say we generally ignored it for the first few years of our marriage. We really wanted our own biological children first (we also thought they would come easily), and we thought adoption would be many years down the road, so we almost immediately started trying for a baby when we got married. We kept it a secret for awhile, because we wanted to surprise our families. We would plan out every holiday on how we would tell them in fun ways. It never came.
Two years of trying later we were diagnosed with a really rare and shocking form of infertility. Getting that diagnosis, really only strengthened our desires to be parents. It’s a carnal desire, and every day it only grows stronger. We went through several months of trial drugs and tests and nothing improved, so we were told we really could only conceive with IVF. IVF costs a lot of money, and we found ourselves walking through a miscarriage and two rounds of failed IVF before we really stopped and said, "maybe this shouldn't be such a big focus in our lives, maybe this isn’t what He wants us to be doing right now."
We had to do a few months of praying and grieving. Full transparency- we ABSOLUTELY want to do IVF again someday, but it is so clear to us that God was closing doors for a reason. It didn't make sense, we were young (25 and 27) and responded really well to IVF treatment. It didn't make sense why nothing was working.
When we first started fertility treatments, our doctor said there were two buckets. One was financial, which can always somehow be replaced- and the other was an emotional bucket. When you are emotionally drained from trauma, continual bad news and sad experiences, it's hard to want to continue on. After our second failed transfer, we noticed how drained our emotional bucket was. Also physically, I wanted my body back. My life had been subject to medication and treatment schedules for months. I had been on fertility drugs for almost a full year. It was grueling on my body. (TMI- but my caboose is still sore from giving myself shots twice a day for weeks on end.) We needed a break in every way.
After we spent some time processing and leaning into God's presence, we felt the quiet push to turn our hearts to adoption again. We started researching domestic newborn adoption and everything sort of fell into place! We connected with an agency and flew through our home study. We can't wait to share more about the adoption details as things progress!
Matthew: When we came to a certain point with IVF, I could see Aubs hesitate to keep going. She needed a break. I could tell she needed to have hope in something else. She always had half of her heart set on adoption anyways, so I could tell she needed reassurance that it was okay to stop trying with IVF and focus on another dream for now. She likes to achieve and she is extremely competitive. So I think to not easily succeed at IVF, was crushing for her.
IVF was overall just hard. It was really really hard on her and I both, but I hated seeing her go through the pain everyday. I hated having to give her all of those shots. I hated watching her try not to blame herself when we lost our son, Shiloh. At that point, we would do anything for a child, and even though it didn't line up with our original plan, I could see what God was doing.
I know you might be questioning why we don't just keep trying with IVF as many people eventually do bring home a kid. There isn't really a great way to describe it other than it's what God wants us to do right now. Right now we are supposed to be right here. We are supposed to be adopting. There is a kid out there waiting for us. There is a reason that God has laid adoption on our hearts for years. Heck Aubs even has a tattoo dedicated to our future adoptive child that she has had for years. It's going to be a wild ride, and we are excited to see it all play out.
Aubs and Matthew
Written by Aubrey and Matthew Herron