3 years ago I put out a model call for couples/families so I could get some experience shooting in Atlanta and the Lipham couple was one of the families I chose. They told me the story of wanting to adopt one day and I told them I would be praying for them and hoped so deeply they could adopt one day and I thought of them so many times over the years and followed their journey through Facebook. Crazy how prayers come full circle… Here is a story of adoption by Tricia Lipham:
As I sat in yet another fertility doctor’s waiting room anxious about what opinion I would receive, I was overcome with a feeling that I shouldn’t be here. Something was telling me that this wasn’t the way we would create our family. I often struggled with the thought of putting our marriage through the financial strain, multiple tests/procedures, and the thrill of conception, only to be told sorry, maybe next month. So…I got up and left. I’ve never regretted that decision.
Weeks went by and the pressure we had put on ourselves slowly disappeared. No more appointments, no more tests, no more doubts, no more monthly disappointment. The path we thought we should be on was so wrong for us. We wanted to be parents but it didn’t matter to us how it came to be. I absolutely believe that God redirected us that day in the waiting room. From that moment on, we gave it over to Him. At this point, it had been five years and was an ache we could no longer bear. I foolishly let others dictate my self-worth. I learned it’s not determined by having children. When God sees fit to expand our family, he will.
Adoption was never our Plan B but just another option. We had been in touch with several adoption agencies but we wanted to make a difference with the growing number of children in foster care. We started IMPACT training and attended several adoption/fostering events. Honestly, it was overwhelming. The trauma/neglect these children go through made us even more willing to adopt through foster care. Our eyes were wide open now. We wanted to be that soft landing, loving, protective home that every child deserves.
We came into foster care during a time when the state was going through a reorganization. We completed our IMPACT training in July of 2015. We weren’t certified until the end of May 2016. Frustration grew because there was stagnation of progress and we were all but ready to give up. A seed had been planted that maybe we weren’t meant to be parents. Nervously answering every phone call and opening every email from DFCS only to know that they just needed another form completed or to set up another home visit. The decision was made that if there was no change we would stop plans of foster to adopt at the end of May. I questioned our journey and God, “Hadn’t we evolved into the parents of a child we just haven’t met yet? Why are you putting us through this? I did what you told me to do!” It literally felt like we mourned a loss of a magnitude I couldn’t comprehend. If we stopped this journey, I wanted this yearning of being a mother gone. Looking back, I realize it was all in God’s timing.
Thursday, May 12, 2016. “Can you call me?” That’s all the urgent email said from our CM (case manager). I called and she began to tell me the story of a 2 month old baby boy. I never imagined we would get a call about an infant. We had planned on welcoming an older child, even siblings. We were the next chapter in this baby’s story and he was part of us from the day we first heard of his existence. Nervously, I mentioned to our CM that we were not certified yet. She said without a doubt that we would have a completed home study by the end of the month.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016. We are finally certified Foster to Adopt Parents! The next day we were invited to our local DFCS office to meet the match that our CM spoke about. As our CM went over some of the baby’s history, my heart begin to pound with anticipation like I’ve never experienced. Next, the child’s CM came in to talk to us a little more about the baby and what to expect. As his CASA and the current foster parents walked in holding him, it’s as if God himself was there with us. The foster mom handed him right to me and we, the baby and I, both just smiled at each other. I mean he full on gummy grinned at me. It was in that instant that I finally understood just how much my parents have loved me all these years. I really never knew until that very moment. It was the deepest, most gut wrenching, over protective, blissful love I have ever felt…he took my breath away. The three of us had finally found each other.
During the visit Robbie, my husband, said they talked about the transition of the baby moving home with us. I don’t remember a thing other than the detail of my baby’s face and way he felt in my arms. The move would be gradual over the month.
Friday, June 24, 2016. We welcomed our son home. I opened the door and there he was. They dressed him in a little red golf shirt with plaid shorts. He was grinning and unware of this monumental day in all our lives. The Brooks, his first foster parents, loved and cared for him so very much…it was hard for them to place a little piece of their heart in my arms. I will always love and respect all they do for their foster babies. Their love seems to know no limits.
Over the course of the next year and half, there were more home visits, CASA visits, WIC appointments, court hearings, doctor appointments, urgent care visits, surgeries, a few stays in the hospital and ICU (RSV and asthma is no joke people!) We were advocates for him in court and for his health. Since there was no birth parent involvement, reunification was not an option. In January 2017, the judge signed off on the TPR (termination of parental rights). Although we don’t know them, we are thankful every day for his birth parents. They unknowingly blessed us and we are forever grateful to them.
January 11, 2018 was a rainy Thursday in January. We stood in front of a judge, surrounded by our friends and family, and we swore to forever love ANDREW MICHAEL LIPHAM. We named him after our dads, Mitchell Andrew Yother and Winton Michael Lipham. From start to finish, this day was seven years in the making. We were always a momma and a daddy but it wasn’t up to us when we became them. My sister took pictures of us on our Adoption day. Our adoption day sign was in honor of our God that sheltered our hearts and taught us a great lesson of patience and faithfulness not only in him but in others. It read:
Faith in God Includes Faith in His Timing
Andrew Michael Lipham
Forever Home – January 11, 2018
During all this time, I had met a rising star in photography. There was a post on Facebook that one of my friends had shared. The photographer wanted some people to meet with her in downtown Atlanta to take some pictures for free. I jumped at the offer! In March of 2015, Alyssa had photographed Robbie and me in Piedmont Park, about a month after we made our initial call to DFCS. During conversation, it came up that we were beginning the adoption process. She was so thrilled for us and offered to pray. Once our gallery was finished, she texted me and I mentioned to her that we would love for her take our first family photos. Over the next few years, I admired her dedication to her art and always remembered our conversation. In the fall of 2017, she posted that she was doing a giveaway for a family session. I entered and lost, but my niece had won and ended up gifting the session to us! I was so surprised. Weird to think that one of the last times I spoke to Alyssa that she was going to pray for our adoption. On October 13, 2018 it came full circle. She got to see what the power of prayer can do for others through the lens of her camera. We were strangers to her and yet she took the time for prayer and it help make all the difference in our lives.
Thank you, Alyssa. For what you do for your clients…you turn us into friends! I will forever cherish our photos and I’m already excited about our getting our family photos next year.
Until next year sweet fam.