A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of photographing our friends and their family. Every year we make it a tradition to head up and visit them in the Muskoka and spend the day catching up, sitting by the beach and fishing! This year April asked me to capture some moments of them all together and of her beautiful baby belly! Josh and April have such an amazing story of beauty and grace to share and rather than me try to re-tell it, I’ve asked April to write it down and if she would be willing to share it here. And so for the first time I’m sharing a guest blog post and I’m so excited for you all to read it! I hope you are encouraged, amazed and blessed by an amazing story of God’s grace and beauty. And to read more of April’s story head on over to her blog here.
As I scan through the pictures of our most recent family photo shoot, I am blown away by their beauty and their ability to tell a story – and not just the beauty of the people in the pictures! If you had asked me on my wedding day what my family would look like in eleven years, it would not be this. If you had asked me the same question after we started our fertility journey nine years ago, it would not be this.
My husband, Josh, and I take time every now and again to reflect back on where God has led us since we met on a blind date and tied the knot a few short months later. It is humbling and awe-inspiring to see how our expectations for our lives, in almost every way, have been changed and molded to something far greater than we ever could have imagined.
Josh’s career in biology came to a screeching halt when due to unfortunate circumstances he had to quit. Soon after he felt God calling him to a career in ministry of which I quickly said, “nope, not going” as I had just landed my dream job of teaching secondary school. Our dreams of building our family in the traditional way started to crumble as month after month passed without pregnancy. We moved from our families and home church to Michigan where Josh started seminary and our infertility continued to plague us. We didn’t know what we were doing or why God would have us travel this particular path. We were disappointed and angry that even though we were giving up everything to pursue ministry that God was not blessing us with a child.
After a miserable round of fertility treatments, we were in a place where we felt called to adoption. After the necessary paperwork, meetings, police checks, bills and a year-long wait, our daughter, Kailyn, was born. We had less than 24 hours to prepare physically for her but our hearts were oh so ready. We took home this gorgeous wee babe and we instantly became parents. She was and is to this day, our passionate, smart, interesting, intense little girl that we need in our lives. She made us parents and we are so thankful to her birthmom for choosing unselfishly to make an adoption plan for her child. We can’t imagine our lives without her! Beauty.
Our son, Jude, is a miracle of a different sort. I am still amazed at the fact that after more failed fertility treatments and basically giving up on the idea that I would ever carry a child in my womb, that our last attempt was what we had been waiting for. God’s perfect timing – as always. I was able to feel the miracle of having a baby grow and move inside me and experience the pain and joy of giving birth. He is a mini-Josh and makes us laugh everyday. Beauty.
And of course, as you can tell, I am quite pregnant in these pictures! After swearing off ever entering another fertility clinic in our lives, we were blessed by being matched with a donor family through an adoption agency to adopt their remaining embryos. We knew that embryo adoption was a possibility but being exhausted by the emotional, physical, mental and financial roller coaster of fertility treatments, we had not considered the possibility. We were keen to have more children, but assumed that the fertility doors were just as tired of us as we were of them. We were wrong. We were chosen and made all the arrangements for the embryos to be transferred to our care. We entered the doors of yet another clinic and began the process and in January we were able to transfer two frozen embryos into my womb. We hardly even dared hope that it would work but a few weeks later the test came back positive and while we counted down the days until our ultrasound we again sat back in awe of God’s plan for us. Now, 38 weeks of pregnancy we are ready to meet this new child. Beauty.
They say pictures are worth a thousand words but in this case, I am not sure even a thousand words would suffice. How can we thank our birth and biological families for making us parents? How can we understand how embryos grow and develop into amazing children that we get to parent? How can we give thanks to a God who has each of our lives in the palm of His hand when we know so little of what the life is going to look like? How can we fathom what God is going to do next?
All I know is that when I look at the picture of my family, I am speechless. It is a masterpiece that is becoming more beautiful each day and that tells the story of not only me, my husband and my children but of God’s ultimate plan of becoming our Father by adopting us into his family through the death and resurrection of his own son, Jesus. God knows heartache but He also knows the joy of each child who comes to call him Father.
A beautiful story.
~ Josh & April, Kailyn, Jude & baby Tuininga ~
Thank you, April so much for sharing your story of God’s beauty and grace! We are looking forward to hearing news of your newest beauty soon!