Faithfully Following a Breadcrumb Trail to Family

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When Jacquelyn was 18 she met her husband Brian, and they have now spent as much of their lives together as they have apart. By their mid-twenties, they decided to start trying to have a family and 10 years ago they welcomed their firstborn son Logan into their family, followed by a second son Bennett two years later. The following year Jacquelyn and Brian were expecting once more and went into the OB for their anatomy ultrasound halfway through their pregnancy to find the son Jacquelyn was carrying no longer had a heartbeat. Jacquelyn’s body had not passed the baby naturally, so they scheduled a D&E (dilation and evacuation) shortly thereafter. When Jacquelyn awoke following the surgery Brian told her that her grandfather had died that same day during her procedure and they decided to name their early stillborn son William Vern in memory of Jacquelyn’s grandfather.

Jacquelyn and Brian decided to try to continue to grow their family shortly after this loss, and the following year they welcomed a son Kellen into their family. After they settled into life with three boys they found that they were pregnant for the fifth time; however, the pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage. Jacquelyn said since their track record to date was all boys, she assumed this baby was another boy so they named this angel baby Jack. Spring came, and the day they were moving into a new home they found Jacquelyn was pregnant again. Throughout the summer Jacquelyn experienced regular morning sickness, filled into maternity clothes, and was feeling the baby move. By the end of summer they went in for their anatomy ultrasound and Jacquelyn and Brian heard the same words they had with their early stillborn son William. Jacquelyn remembers the ultrasound technician say, “I’m so sorry, we cannot find a heartbeat”, and Jacquelyn recalls, “the gut-wrenching pain of these words as they pierced my soul.”

Jacquelyn confessed that she immediately started praying in the ultrasound room that the baby’s heart would start again and he would be their little Lazarus, but instead, she woke up a few days later to her water breaking. Brian drove them to the hospital, Jacquelyn contracting the whole way, and shortly after arriving Jacquelyn delivered Lucas Ryan, their sixth boy, and second early stillborn. Jacquelyn fondly said, “He was perfect and tiny and fit in the palm of my hand and he had the most beautiful face and features and everything about him was intact. It was a huge gift to see him and hold him. I had all the euphoria you have when you have a baby even though he wasn’t alive.”

After about an hour of heavy bleeding directly following delivery, Jacquelyn was hemorrhaging, passed out, and started crashing. A piece of the placenta was still stuck causing the severe bleeding, and Brain was ushered out of the room for 28 minutes while the medical team stabilized Jacquelyn and performed emergency surgery. In the recovery room, Jacquelyn had a faith encounter which reaffirmed to her how fiercely Jesus loves his people, even during times of hardship.

In the following days and weeks while Jacquelyn was recovering she had dreams of children looking for permanent homes and felt drawn to adoption. After discussing it with Brian they decided to dig into international adoption and fell in love with a 10-year-old in Uganda; however, the international adoption doors to Uganda closed for prospective adoptive parents. Brian and Jacquelyn switched gears and started to pursue adopting a local boy in the foster care system; however, their family dynamics and the boy’s needs ultimately did not align. During this time Jacquelyn started to feel the full weight of the loss of their three sons and longed for a baby. So Jacquelyn and Brian then decided to pursue domestic infant adoption. They were selected by expectant birth parents, when to Arizona to meet them and attend an ultrasound, and were on the road to adopting when the birth parents later changed their minds and decided to keep the baby, resulting in a failed match.

“I felt like we were on a breadcrumb trail. God put us on a path and we were obedient and it was really hard. At 35 years old, I was still learning about the character of God. It was one of the biggest lessons for me, that we’re called to be obedient without the promise that our expectations will be met. It will be good, eventually, and God will be faithful but our expectations and desires may not always match reality.”

Jacquelyn explains, “Once your heart is open and exposed to the brokenness of God’s children in adoption and foster care it doesn’t shut off. It’s not a faucet, it’s a living well and it just keeps bubbling. Our hearts were totally broken open to these lambs of God. God was saying here’s the brokenness all over, from Africa to the states, but here’s where I want you. And in May 2017 we got a call that a birth mother was in labor and was having a baby girl and she was ours if we wanted her. We were floored because 6 boys later, God gave us a little daughter Brynne that we adopted at 36 hours old. She didn’t come from my womb but God so clearly held her for us. She settled on my heart and I loved her fiercely from the second I laid eyes on her.”

Today Jacquelyn and Brian have three sons ages 6, 8, and 10 and a one-year-old daughter. They continue to hold their three angel sons in their hearts, and when asked about the possibility of additional children, Jacquelyn smiled and said Brian shelved that conversation until their daughter Brynne’s first birthday, which is this month, so only time will tell what is next for their family. As Jacquelyn reflects on the ups and downs of their 10-year journey to four children she said, “My prayer is that we love well all along the way as we pick up the breadcrumbs God gives us in this life. God is worth the perseverance, because of what he has for us here and in eternity.”