Dearest family and friends,
Before I (Erin) begin telling our story, Clayton and I want to humbly thank you for even taking the time to read where the Lord has brought our family. We also selflessly ask for your prayers as our journey is just getting started and this is a journey which requires so much blind faith. We are holding to our Father’s promises- “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does” (Psalm 33:4)
To begin, let me introduce us to you. I am Erin- wife, mama, and teacher. I grew up in Peachtree City, Georgia. I experienced a blessed childhood for sure; I always had what I needed and most of the thing that I wanted. The majority of my family lived close by, and we spent time with them often. I also spent much of my time at church and with my church family at Rolling Hills Baptist Church. I owe so much of my faith journey to those who poured into me here. After graduating from The University of North Georgia, I went on to begin my teaching career in Hall County Schools teaching middle school Language Arts.
Clayton is husband, father, and Army Reservist Chaplain (candidate about to become Captain). While he called multiple places home throughout his childhood, Clayton still deems Mt. Vernon, Texas his hometown and often speaks of his time and the people there quite fondly. In high school, Clayton came to call Gainesville, Georgia home. It was while attending college at UNG and being a part of the ROTC program, that he felt the Lord calling him to serve in the military, ultimately as a Chaplain. The journey to Chaplaincy has been a long one, but Clayton has almost reached his goal. In October, Clayton graduated with a Masters in Divinity from Liberty University. In November, he was ordained into the ministry by Lakewood Baptist Church, and in the next month, he will be presented before the Chaplain Board to be promoted to a Captain and Army Reservist Chaplain.
Obviously, our stories aligned during our time spent at UNG. Clayton and I knew we wanted to be parents even before we got married. Clayton was born to be a father; he takes on every aspect of that role fully. I just wanted to be “mama”, biological children or not. Marriage only intensified my desire to be “mama bear”, and the infamous “baby fever” hit full force. Clayton and I began trying to have our first child with the hopes of his/her arrival after completing that second anniversary milestone.
After many months and no positive results, we began to seek out answers and medical assistance. While I could bore you with the specifics, our only real answer was this- unexplained infertility. Part of me wanted more of a tangible explanation, but there was no one thing to pinpoint as the culprit. My body simply did not want to do what it was designed to do. We had options though, so we tried fertility medication. After three cycles of the medications, God was gracious, and we conceived our son, Jude.
I was a rare “pregnancy unicorn”. I had no morning sickness, continued exercising, gained just the right amount of weight, and fully enjoyed almost every moment of pregnancy. Jude cooked right up to his due date and arrived an absolutely perfect baby boy. He is a testament to God’s goodness and grace, and Clayton and I are indescribably thankful for him. He challenges us and makes us better.
After my seriously wonderful pregnancy experience, I was ready to go after #2 as soon as dad was onboard. We knew upfront that we would likely not be able to conceive naturally again, so we prepped for more cycles of medication and began praying. Upon receiving some initial check-ups and bloodwork, things were off again, even more so, and those two words hung in the air- unexplained infertility. For various reasons, the doctor was not as hopeful this time and referred us to a fertility specialist.
At first, that referral, that lack of hope, felt so absolute. I would be “mama” to one. Clayton and I agreed a long time ago that we were not going to invest in fertility treatments. If the Lord intends it, he will do it. The beauty of his intentions, though, is that there are countless ways he can and will do it. Initially, blinded by heartbreak, I struggled to see this, but he continued to remind me of my heart to be mama and his call to father the orphans.
With all of that said, this is our adoption journey, but it is so much more than that. It is the story of our family, it is our calling as Christ-followers, and it will be our testimony to his provision because let’s face it, adoption is expensive! Heck, having a child is expensive! But, it is most certainly not about the money; it is about “bringing justice to the orphans” (Psalm 10:18) and “loving because he first loved us” (1st John 4:19). Just as God chose us to be Jude’s parents, we are so hopeful that he has chosen another child for us.
Clayton, Jude, and I are working towards a domestic infant adoption. We are working with a consultant from Christian Adoption Consultants who has helped us to match with a birth mother and adoption attorney in Florida- Shorstein & Kelly Adoption Attorneys. The total fees for this adoption are just under $40,000. These expenses include:
Birth mother living expenses
Legal fees (adoption services, ICPC, TPR, Finalization)
Administration and advertising fees
Birth mother counseling & post-birth services
In addition to the fees listed above, we will also require funds for travel, lodging, and food when the baby is born. Due to the circumstances of the situation, we will have a guaranteed 5-7 day stay in Florida while the baby is monitored in NICU. We have been awarded a $3000 matching grant by Small Bridges Adoption Fund, administered by Lifesong for Orphans. This type of grant will be awarded if we are able to raise at or above the $3000.
Before I tie this up with a bow, rewind back to the brokenness of my body not doing “what it was created to do”. Yes, God created me, all women for that matter, with the astounding ability to grow, nurture, and give birth to a tiny, incredible human, but giving birth alone does not make one a mother. God can make YOU a mother. Psalm 113:9 states, “He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord!”
It is our family’s hope, our desire, that even if you are not led or able to support us financially in our journey, that some aspect, some small part of our story and testimony speaks to and encourages you. Infertility does not make you less of a woman or a man, it does not mean no sweet little voice will ever call you “mama” or “daddy”, it does not mean you cannot have a family, it is simply an opportunity for you to trust God to show up in a big way. We are expectant.
Thank you for partnering with us- either through giving, prayer, or both. All forms are appreciated!
STRIPE charges an online processing fee (2.2% +.30 USD per transaction). Your donations will be decreased by this amount. You may also send a check payable to “Lifesong for Orphans”. In the memo line please write “Bean 8226”, to ensure it is credited to our account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744.
Lifesong has been blessed with partners who underwrite all U.S. administrative and fundraising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.
- In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to Lifesong for Orphans. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.
- Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.