After three years of marriage, Matt and Heidi decided it was time to start a family. They were excited about becoming parents and believed they would be good parents. As time went on, Heidi was not able to get pregnant. Despite the hardship, they were determined to not to be bitter about their circumstances.

They wanted to share their joy and love with children, and instead of putting their efforts into seeking out why they were unable to get pregnant, they chose to put their energy into becoming parents through adoption. They started the process, and they were told it could take up to one year, maybe more, before a match was made.

A Portrait of Courage and Love

However, one day after being approved, they received a phone call that changed their lives. Matt and Heidi boarded a plane and flew to Georgia to hold their child, Isaiah. Isaiah was just twelve hours old when they first met him, and in that moment, he captured their hearts.

Four years after their adoption of Isaiah, they felt it was time to expand their family. Matt and Heidi chose foster care—even though they were fully aware of the possibility that reunification with birth parents or placement with relatives could happen. They brought their newborn baby boy home from the hospital, loved on him, cared for his needs, and then, with great sadness, helped him transition to an adoptive home with his sibling.

Heidi recalls, “That was the moment that we realized we were not in this for ourselves. We were doing this for the children. And, our hearts changed and we became courageous. We decided to love courageously.”

A few months later, Matt and Heidi were asked to take in a sibling group of three children, ages 3 years, 2 years, and 10 months as foster care placements. These children had regular visits with their biological mother; therefore, Matt and Heidi expected for them to be reunified. Because of this, they chose to accept a newborn baby as a foster placement as well. This baby had the very real potential of becoming available for adoption. As the year passed, the plan for all of the foster children in their home changed to adoption, and in 2011, they adopted four children.

With five young children, they moved to a larger home and closed their foster care license. With the fulfilling love of a home full of children, they felt complete. Shortly after their move, they received an unexpected call from the state’s Child Protective Services asking them if they would accept the newborn sibling boy of their youngest child. After lots of consideration and praying, they chose to accept him. After all, they felt it important to keep siblings together.

The case goal changed to adoption, and right around the time of their adoption, Heidi found out she was pregnant. After many years of infertility, multiple adoptions, and a new addition to their family, they were overwhelmed by the news. Heidi admits that she had given her desire to become pregnant over to God and loved their unique story of foster care and adoption. She loved encouraging others to become foster parents.

At first, it was hard. Heidi worried that her children would feel like they are loved less than the baby she was carrying. However, through her fears, she felt that God wanted her to experience the pregnancy so that she would have a glimpse of what her children’s birth mothers felt. This was an incredible revelation in her life.

Heidi shares, “God’s timing isn’t always ours. Actually, it rarely is, but His timing truly is the best. If I had gotten pregnant 10 years ago, would we have adopted our children? I don’t know, but probably not. Being pregnant at 36 and not wanting it or trying to get pregnant put me and Matt in a different place during this pregnancy. We were not worried or anxious. We were really relaxed and knew if God made this happen after all of these years, He was going to take care of this child inside of me.”

Heidi’s experience with pregnancy and birth of their biological child made her more aware of the feelings that the birth mothers of her children might have felt. Her heart was broken thinking about them. Though empathetic to their struggles, it made her question the choices some of them made while pregnant. She found herself wondering how they could have chosen anything over the precious children that ended up blessing her life. It also made her long for newborn pictures of their sibling group.

The greatest lesson Heidi learned from being a parent through adoption and through birth is that being a parent is way more than pregnancy. Parenting involves daily sacrifice, patience, and steadfast love. Being a parent through adoption has its own set of challenges, yet Heidi and Matt both know there is great beauty in it. In their words, “Adoption is the best example of love being a choice. “

Looking back on their experience, they are actually so glad they did not look into why infertility came knocking on their door. After 15 years of marriage, multiple adoptions, and a pregnancy, Heidi and Matt feel that there are so many beautiful children in our very own communities that just want to experience love in full measure. “There are many people afraid of foster care and adoption,” Heidi states, “It really makes me sad because they are missing out on a beautiful experience.”

Heidi and Matt have learned that regardless of giving birth to them or not, they are the parents to seven amazing children. In parenting their remarkable children, they impact their lives with their actions, words, love, and determination to raise strong, full of life, courageous, self-believing children who are proud of their family, stories, and heritage.