Hi friends, I am so honored to share the space this week with my best friend, Mindy.
Mindy and I met when we were just young elementary girls. We had no idea that we, as well as Sam, would be best friends for 30 years now. Over the course of our friendship, we have walked through joy and grief, life and loss, laughter and tears. Friendship is a gift that God has graciously given to us. Below you will read the amazing story of God’s faithfulness and goodness in Mindy’s adoption story of her son. The details are vulnerable and raw, but Mindy’s love for God is evident in every line.
May God receive all the GLORY and PRAISE!
Yesterday, January 26th, 2022, our adopted son Jett legally took our last name. A judge has declared Jett Brooks Bell ours forever. Over the last several months since him coming to us, I have had many ask me what the story is. To be honest, our adoption journey from beginning to end is so complex it is hard to tell. Not only because the details are so intricate, but grief and joy are woven throughout. Adoption is beautiful but it is also so fractured. I keep feeling led to share because someone needs a message of hope this season. A hope in the waiting place. A hope when things feel unsure and unsteady. A hope when you are questioning God at every closed door and broken dream. To truly capture the depths of Jett’s story, I have to back up to when we first began. This is the story of how God not only showed up but showed off! Shortly after we brought him home and we were still running off the adrenaline of his homecoming, Meredith said something that stuck with me. Having watched this whole journey from beginning to end, having trudged knee deep with me through the messy middle, she said: “I hope you never lose the awe of how this miracle was written.” 5 months later, I truly haven’t and I don’t think I ever will. I hope you read this and are in awe as well and see God’s goodness through and through.
Here is our beautiful messy miracle in the making…
We began our second adoption in May of 2020. If you didn’t know, we adopted our first son, Mack, in June of 2017. God showed up in the most tangible way to bring us our Mack. That’s a story for a different day but I’ll be honest- I questioned God if he could make a story as cool as the details of our first adoption. Seriously I remember the conversations well that I had with God when we first began. I put Him in a box and doubted. I wanted God to write a cool story but I also wanted this to be super easy, stress free, and for a baby to just land in our arms. That’s what we all want, right? Easy circumstances. But deep down, I knew that we needed to let go of our grasp, quit doubting and controlling the story line, and allow him to work out the details that would bring Him the most glory. God chose us to be the vessels that would carry this story that was anything but easy. I am humbled that he chose us. The refining fire that we were thrown into were some of the most holy and difficult moments that I would willingly relive over and over again if it meant seeing the final outcome play out.
If you don’t know, typically when you are on a domestic adoption journey, you sign on with an agency or consultant and they periodically send you cases of birth families hoping to place their child for adoption. The agency gathers several adoptive families who have read over the file and have put their “yes” on the table for this particular baby. Then, those family profiles are presented to the birth family so they can select an adoptive family for their baby. The first few months into the adoption journey felt quiet. We were presented with quite a few cases that were sent our way, a lot of which we said “yes” to. But ultimately, we were not chosen. About 5 months of playing this game started to stir up a lot of feelings of rejection in our hearts. Were we really called to this? Maybe we heard God wrong. What is wrong with our profile that makes no one want to choose us?
Finally, in late October of 2020, after about 5 months into the adoption journey, we matched with a baby girl in Dallas Texas. This was it. Our “yes” came and she was due via scheduled C-section in 12 days from that first phone call. The days that followed were filled with excitement. We told many friends and family, booked our travel, picked out a name, and set up a nursery fit for a sweet girl in one weekend. Packages of sweet baby girl bows and soft floral print outfits began filling our porch from dear friends and family joining in our excitement. Nesting was in full force. Then, 3 days before our expected arrival date to Dallas, I got a phone call from the agency. While I excitedly answered expecting to hear about details in the plans or maybe an early arrival of the baby, I was met with the opposite of that. The voice on the other end could barely speak. This baby girl had gone to Heaven in utero just days before her arrival. The grief was heavy. We asked many questions but they were never able to be answered. Oftentimes, that seems to be how life’s hardest questions go, right? Painful and unanswered. We will never know on this side of Heaven. We grieved and released this situation to the Lord, trusting fully that he knew what he was doing. God’s ways are not our ways. She was not meant to be ours but for some reason, God chose us to play a role in this situation. He had that baby girl fully taken care of and our baby here on Earth was just not ready yet.
We took some time off and when we felt ready, we stepped back in. It was scary to push forward again while also guarding your heart. But we knew we had to push past the uncomfortable places to get what God had for us. Some days felt brutal. I held on to hope. For me, it was as if I had a rope I was holding onto leading me to my baby. Maybe it’s a mother’s intuition, but I knew he/she was out there. I could physically feel it!
Months later, after more waiting, we chose to present to a situation for a baby girl in New York. It was February at the time and she would be due in March. We waited a few days for a final decision from the birth mother to be made. Then, the phone call from the agency came. To our surprise, the baby was early and was being born at that very moment and the birth mother had selected us! While we thought we might have a month to prepare if selected, now we had hours. The agency asked us “How fast can you get to New York?”. The scramble that followed was stressful but exciting. Early the next morning we were headed to New York. However, something in my spirit wasn’t sitting right. I felt like something was off. I chalked it up to be nerves of excitement but I knew in my heart it was different. Sure enough, we landed in New York and immediately called the agency just barely off the tarmac. “I’m really sorry… but the birth mother has chosen to parent the baby.. you can head home now” were the words we heard on the other end. We hadn’t even been on New York soil longer than 1 minute. There we stood looking like lost travelers trying to find our gate when in all reality, there was so much more to it than that. Was this really happening? Did we really come all this way to be met with heartbreak?
To make a really eventful long story short, there was a snow storm. Flights were canceled or fully booked. We couldn’t find a single flight home, so we quickly made the decision to just start driving. New York to Georgia…15 hours. This was a little different than we anticipated the story going that morning when we left our house in Atlanta at 5am. However, through it all, God had his hand all over it.
While getting our rental car, I pulled up a map on my phone and wouldn’t you know that smack dab in the middle of the trip half way was Meredith Read’s house in Virginia. I called her and through my sobbing, I let her know we were heading their way tonight and we needed a place to stay. It was the kindest gift God gave me on that awful day-allowing my best friend and a source of comfort to be right in the middle of where I needed her. We also can’t leave out the lovely detail that our rental car blew a tire and we were stuck on the side of I-81 in a snow storm for 3 hours. The awful day became almost laughable. Phillip Read, doing what he does, came to our rescue! But again, we couldn’t help but see God’s kindness in allowing best friends to be in the middle (literally) of our mess. We finally made it back to Georgia with very broken spirits. My parents had been keeping Mack and when we arrived to pick him up the first words out of his mouth were- “Where is my baby sister?” Gut punch. “Buddy, God doesn’t have our baby ready yet…”
But unbeknownst to us, Jett was, at this very moment, tucked inside that little womb, being knit together day by day. He was here. He just wasn’t ready yet. But that day was coming and it was about to blow our minds if we could just hang on a little longer.
The story took another turn. Just 2 days after arriving home from our whirlwind trip to New York, we got another phone call from the agency. “The birth mother has once again changed her mind. She is so sorry for the back and forth but she wants you to parent the baby if you are willing.” Plot twist. Again, with shaking hands and unsteady hearts, we decided to go for it again. Many factors made sense after hearing her story and we were confident enough to make the trip to New York again. We flew out again the next day. After arriving, we met with the birth mother and the agency rep and irrevocable papers were signed giving us rights to full guardianship to this baby girl. The meeting was wonderful. It all felt right. We walked out breathing a huge sigh of relief and ready to meet our baby girl. The rest of the details that followed are hard to explain and not really things that we feel comfortable sharing. However, let’s just say… it got messy. While we were told we could go see the baby in just a few hours, hours turned into days. A truly unfortunate set of circumstances followed. Circumstances that we (or the agency) never saw coming. It was wrong on so many levels but things were completely out of our control. After 5 days sitting in a hotel room in New York waiting for the tables to turn, things got messier by the minute. We knew it was time to head home. We never met this baby that we had legal guardianship of. For the second time in 2 weeks, we boarded a plane back to Georgia with empty arms. I was glad for a late night dark flight and a mask because I cried most of the flight home. Why us? Why the chaos? God, are you SURE this is where you want us? Are you SURE this is our path? The heartbreak, the time, the money.. It was almost too much to bear. But, God is close to the broken hearted and he ever so gently met me in this place.
Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. We were thrust into a legal battle. Due to the circumstances, numerous times we asked the agency if we could be removed from this situation. We were told no because this was still considered an open case until a judge ruled. If you’ve ever worked with the justice system, you know there is no such thing as a quick timeline. We had no choice but to stay as quite a large amount of our money was also being held there. So, we did the only thing we knew to do… Wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Kind of like a deer in headlights, we didn’t know where to move. So we remained still. I am confident now that this season of stillness is exactly where God needed us. This season is where the most refining would be done and the biggest revelations would happen. Not only that, but God needed this to stall us because our baby wasn’t ready yet. Don’t doubt those quiet, still seasons, friend. Lean in. I went through every stage of grief over and over again. I went back and forth from feeling the guilt of fighting for this baby to the feeling that she belonged elsewhere. I wasn’t sleeping well at this time due to the stress and there were so many early mornings I would sit in the quiet of the dark house and have words with my Maker just begging and pleading for this case to close. In every conversation, he would fill me with peace. Have you been there? Where mourning and peace co-exist. He gave me permission to allow pain and peace to live in the same place. Not only that, I kept feeling his nudge that his promise would not go unfulfilled. Psalm 27:13-14 spoke to me day after day “I remain confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Over time, more details unfolded that made us feel more and more confident that we needed to be removed. Again and again, we were told no. Almost 6 months actually. In the grief, I think we became numb to the mishandling of the situation on our behalf. In adoption, agencies can walk a verrrry fine line of unethical practices. This started to be more clear to us as time went on.
Then, one day the Heavenly realms started to shift and God said go. It was time to take a stand. Around August 1st, I developed a fire inside of anger. It felt righteous! And I now know it was a clear assignment given to me by the Holy Spirit. Not a day late or a minute too soon. God allowed me to stand up and go full on Mama Bear. There’s one thing you should know- God gave us Mama’s this strong character trait and I will warn you… Do.Not.Mess 😉 I wasn’t going to let this situation and the poor decisions of those in authority of this situation rule over my family any longer. But seriously, something shifted and I physically felt it. I became obsessively angry. Like, can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t work. This is all that I could think about. Ben and I talked and we knew it was time to hire an attorney to fight for us.
It was scary to take the next steps. I needed someone to talk to that would help me identify what to do next. Suddenly, my college friend Tori came to mind. We hadn’t kept up much after college, but I knew she was an attorney and a fellow adoptive mama. I knew she would be the perfect person to talk to but I didn’t even have her phone number. I got on instagram to message her. She immediately responded and in a matter of minutes, we were on the phone. She listened to our story and said everything I needed to hear. She justified the fact that we needed to get an attorney and get out of this situation. (Keep Tori in mind.. she will play an intricate role later). Again and again, God continued to tell me to keep fighting. Doors opened and the right attorney fell in our laps. He was angry for us, and was ready to go to bat. Let’s just say- it didn’t take long before a check was put in the mail back to us giving us back the money that had been held. We were officially released from this case! The check arrived in our mailbox on Friday, August 13th and we immediately took it to the bank. The door was closed and it was time to dust ourselves off and regroup. Broken but still believing God wasn’t done, we chose to carry on.
Remember Tori who I mentioned previously? Well, two days later, on Sunday, August 15th, she called me and I missed it. Twice I missed it. I looked at my phone and thought, “that’s weird, that must have been an accident”. Then a text came, “MINDY you have got to call me!” I immediately called her back and the words were coming out so fast I could barely process them. She had just heard from another college friend of ours, Sarah. Sarah told Tori of a baby boy born in South Carolina and his nurses were helping the birth mother make an adoptive plan and find a family. Since Tori had adopted before, Sarah thought to ask her if she was interested. “No, BUT MINDY IS!”. So wait, did you catch that? Remember when I told you my anger the previous week sent me on a rampage which led me to seek advice from someone and Tori popped into my mind. Don’t talk to me about coincidences. There are NO coincidences in this story! There are only God ordained details. I didn’t even have Tori’s phone number until last week when I messaged her seeking guidance about the awful adoption situation we were in. Had we not been stuck in this situation, had Tori not popped into my mind that day, had we not spoken, she would have never known we were trying to adopt. When that call came to her about a baby boy, she would not have known to think of us. BUT GOD. *Insert mind blown emoji here*. Everything came flooding and flooding fast. I felt confident I had heard God clearly last week when he gave us permission to act on our anger, but now I tangibly knew it was a spoken word from Him. Not a day late or a minute too soon.
Brittany was a nurse taking care of the birth mother. Another God ordained detail was that Brittany is a traveling nurse and was only at this hospital for two weeks. Again, God had his timing perfectly planned out. God had a special task for Brittany in that short time period. If you know Brittany, she’s a connector. Her personality is one were you meet her and two minutes later you feel like you just met a best friend. I believe God used her specifically to build an effortless bond of trust with this birth mother. They began to discuss what an adoption plan might look like and Brittany was given permission to go find an adoptive family. She started texting friends- “Who knows a family ready to adopt? We have a baby in need”. Brittany’s friend Andrea received a text. Andrea happened to be with her sister at that time. Her sister is Sarah. Sarah texted Tori, Tori contacted me. So within a matter of minutes, we were found. After hearing the details, our yes was immediately on the table.
For the 3rd time in a year, we began quickly making travel arrangements and packing to leave the next morning to go get a baby. But this time felt different. Peace was ever present. When Meredith called that evening to catch up on what was happening, I remember I was painting my toenails. Like, WHAT?! We both laughed that I was so calm and filled with peace that I chose to sit and paint my nails after the day that had transpired. That shows my level of peace. God’s got this. I knew it.
We made it to South Carolina and met our sweet Jett that evening in the hospital. His dark full head of hair won us over in an instant and it was sure to become his trademark. (His first words may be “THAT HAIR!” Because he has heard it a thousand times from everyone he meets) That moment, laying eyes on him for the first time, will be etched in my memory forever. God’s promise fulfilled right in my arms.
Over the next 24 hours, everything happened smoothly. Irrevocable papers were signed giving us full guardianship. We were able to learn of Jett’s birth mother and hear how smart, hard working, and beautiful she is. The incredibly selfless choice she made to place her baby boy for adoption will never be lost on us. She will play an intricate role in our family forever. The gift she gave us will never be able to be repaid.
Now, 5 months of Jett being home, we get to look into the eyes of our baby boy and see the goodness of the Lord. I can’t imagine another baby being ours. The brotherly bond Mack and Jett share is already almost too much for my heart to take. I can’t even picture our family looking any different. Thank you, God for the heartbreak over and over if it means this. God’s promise fulfilled. A story of redemption. A journey of refinement that I would do over and over again to see the outcome that HE chose. My scribbled plans that I penned in my mind when we first began, can’t even pale in comparison to what he brought us. I hope you can see his hand through it all like we did.
If you’re reading this and need a message of hope in an unknown journey, I see you. If your story involves infertility, I see you. If you are waiting for a baby in your own journey of adoption, I see you. I encourage you with this: Let go of your own personal plans and put your eyes up to Him. Have a posture of palms up and hearts open. Lean in and look for those places of peace to carry you. Allow the Holy Spirit to hold you close. Listen for his leading. I promise you he won’t leave you hanging without answers. Your story is not forgotten. Your story won’t end with brokenness. Your story will be redeemed.