my entrance into motherhood and the journey thus far

I have used my backspace button a lot on this post already and it’s just the first line.  But how do I begin to write a brief post about my journey to motherhood? How can I briefly tell a story that is so crazy only GOD could write it and make it happen the way it did.  To really get the full impact of Asher’s sweet life and each of our adoption stories… I invite you to go back to my posts on this blog starting in 2007.

It was Christmas eve 5 years ago that I found out that I was pregnant with this sweet boy. I was able to surprise Dan on Christmas morning with the most delightful gift of a onesie that said “i love daddy”. There was LOTS of happy tears and giggles followed by many exciting phone calls to loved ones.

5 months later we found out that our child had some major development problems and that the lower half of his body was not developing properly thus putting a lot of major organs at risk.  We were thrown into a world of dr. appointments, testings, ultrasounds and meetings with specialists. He had an Omphalocele as well as markers for Spinal Bifida and the Doctors were convinced he had Trisomy 13 or 18. They gave us very little hope of him surviving. We understood that God would see us through any grief that would come, but as Believers we also knew that God could heal this baby and had given him to us as parents to fight for his life and wellbeing, to be his advocate.  We had hope…. we knew the Creator of this child loved him far more than we did, and knew so much more about his unseen body than the medical world could. So we prayed…. with tears and at times a wavering faith, still we prayed!!!

At 38 weeks my water broke and we headed to the hospital at UNC.  The natural birth experience that I had always wanted to go through was now turning into a C-section that I had to fight FOR due to his medical conditions and the dangers that pushing him out could cause on his fragile exposed organs. (The medical community advised a natural delivery because why would I want to “undergo a risky surgery for a baby that most likely wouldn’t live.” But Dan and I both felt that expecting him to die wasn’t our call to make, and until we knew for sure… we still had to hope and act in our son’s best interest as any parent would.)

Asher Daniel Chappell was born the evening of August 9th 2008, he weighed 5lbs 5oz and was beautiful. The specialty team quickly surrounded him and the whole operating room was strangely quiet…. I finally screamed “what’s happening? how is he?”  I looked back and one of the team looked back at me and shook her head. I knew… he was gone.  My heart broke and I really don’t remember much after that except that I fell even harder in love with this baby as my husband held him all wrapped up close to my cheek.  This was my son. And even if I was only able to love him like crazy for those 9 months and miss him for the next 900 months then God was going to sustain me. I wrote THIS post shortly after that day.

 

Due to his organs growing in the places they did, his little heart just wasn’t able to survive outside my womb, much less the many surgeries he would have been facing.  He lived for just minute but changed my life and many others forever. We were able to spend the night with our child who indeed was already beholding the face of our Savior and whose heart was perfect in every way. But in the dark and chilly room that night, to the sounds of beeps and hums we held each other and held our son and cried until sleep overtook us and when the morning light came, we said goodbye and kissed him one last time on this side of eternity.

 Dan and I were so incredibly blessed to have a huge support system in our family, our church, my blog readers, and soooo many more. Asher’s funeral was a very visual picture for me of just how amazingly God had placed so many of you in our lives for such a time as this.  It’s been over 5 years since Asher was born and there is rarely a day I don’t think about him and miss him dearly.  I was really helped by being able to blog about my journey of grief and by having so many in my life encouraging me and loving us so tenderly through it all.

Asher Daniel Chappell, I know you are enjoying the never ending joys and delights of heaven. You are complete and worshiping our Savior in a way I long to behold Him. I am so proud to have been your mommy and I know you rejoice in the ways God has been glorified in your life and your death as well as your daddy and I do.  Just know, that we miss you and you have created in me a longing for eternity in a way that nothing else could have produced.

If you know of anyone else who has or is going through a loss of a baby the things I wrote HERE might be very helpful to you and those who love them and want to minister to her through this.

Zoe proved to be a healing balm after she came to us just four months after losing Asher. Her adoption was almost out of the clear blue sky which didn’t matter because our hurting hearts wouldn’t have known really how to quite prepare for her anyway. She was so different than Asher and so I didn’t feel like she was taking his place in my heart, but she was able to fill that aching void in my arms as I longed to rock my baby. There were so many who rejoiced with us over her adoption and would come see her and taste the joy she brought to all of our sorrow, during the day…. I was mostly free to blog and grieve as others held my new little bundle of sweetness but in the wee hours of the night, I was the one who was able to hold her and rock her and  fall head over heels in love with her and though it technically happened very fast, slowly I became a mommy of two amazing children.

After a move across country to Fort Worth Texas, we had no more uttered the words “we should think about adopting again” than a family member called us about fostering Jack, who had yet to be born to his young mother in prison. We had been trained in fostering before having Asher and after talking and praying through it agreed to foster if they gave us priority over adoption if it would come to that. His parents agreed. 3 weeks later the little guy was born, and 18 months later he was officially a Chappell forever. Jack brought healing in ways I didn’t even know I needed still.  I didn’t have the crowds of people to come and hold him and let me adjust on my own time frame. No, he needed me… all of me right then and there. I grew so much as a mom during those first few months.

Dan had always wanted to adopt from Africa…. since the first time we ever talked about adoption even. I didn’t really have a desire to go to Africa for any reason really. And especially after the previous two adoptions taking only about 2 weeks to prepare for and bam… you have a baby in your arms, the thought of waiting and planning and preparing for months and years to come… no thank you, I like my easy domestic adoptions.  (and this, my frustrated adoptive mommy who wonders why others don’t get it, is why I understand it’s COMPLETELY a God changing the heart thing!!!!) I moment I was chatting with a friend about a mutual friend who just adopted from the Congo, who knew Congo even was open to adoptions? I didn’t. The next moment I was calling Dan from the car saying “want to adopt from the Congo?” knowing full well what his answer would be.

Thus THIS post was born…. and our adventure began.

God sure has a sense of humor and was probably chuckling at my desire for speedy adoptions because only 7 short whirlwind months and LOTS and LOTS of paperwork, pennies and prayers later we were flying to the DRC {Democratic Republic of Congo } to get our TWO congolese cuties!!!

 

It took about a year and a half for life to start feeling normal again. Our congo sweeties grew like weeds and adapted really well to being a part of the Chappell family.

Around February of 2013, God started stirring in our hearts a passion that He had given us over 10 years ago even before we were married. We had talked for years about always wanting to adopt a child with Down syndrome. We had in various ways been around and near those who had children with Down syndrome and Dan grew up with an aunt who had D.s.  So, I started just researching and doing initial inquiries to various agencies and friends to see how one might go about adopting a special needs child. That led to a few conversations with friends as we would talk about whats next on the horizon for us as a family. Because of one of those conversations a friend saw another friends Facebook status about a special baby boy who needed a texas family who was homestudy ready! I emailed about him and in less than a week later we were boarding a plane headed to Las Vegas where our newest son was in the NICU. It happened SO fast… you can read about the very beginning of this adventure HERE. We took him home about a week later and have fallen hopelessly in love with him.

 

There is a show on TV called “Born this way” It documents a group of friends who are grown ups that have Down syndrome. It highlights perfectly why our hearts wanted to adopt another child with the love chromosome. Friendship. We know that as our kids grow up and go in the direction that their heart leads them… it could look vastly different for each of them. We don’t want to limit what Abel could do but we do know he will have limits… what those might be, well, we shall see. But one thing we know, friendships will be priceless. And in our family, we want our children to be each other’s best friends.  We didn’t want Abel to spend a lot of his adult life in the company of just Dan and I. We will have a busy fun loud household all growing up. The adjustment of our kids spreading their wings and leaving home will bring with it a quietness that probably will feel deafening to Dan and I much less to Abel. So we want that fun and togetherness to continue, we knew what that meant.

So we renewed our home study and applied to the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. After many profile views and a few steps into a few potential matches, we were finally picked by a sweet birth mom in Las Vegas. NEVER in a million years did I think our next child would be born in the exact place her brother was. But… I guess you could say we got lucky in Las Vegas.  We had a few months to get to know our daughters birth mother before she was born and quickly fell in love with her and the child she was carrying.  When Isla was born she had to have immediate surgery on her stomach. Her heart was watched closely as she has three holes in it that will be repaired in a few months time. All in all she spent almost a month in a NICU in Las Vegas. Dan and I took turns being there and were over the moon when we got the all clear to come home. Since being home we are more smitten then ever with her and are waiting till it’s time for her heart to be repaired. Abel and all the kids LOVE having a baby sister in the house. She’s the perfect sweet cherry to our family sundae!

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My life is extraordinary and I love it. At times I just look at my children and marvel at God because He KNEW all along that this is what was going to unfold. I never could imagine the blessings that He would give us through each of these little ones. But I’m SOOOO glad He did.  It’s hard at times and somedays I wonder if I will ever not have to change diapers or buckle kids up in the car, because with 6 under 8 those things can be overwhelming in a weak moment. But all I have to do is look back at ALL God’s graciousness and goodness to see what He’s brought us through and how near He’s been to us in our darkest moments, and I KNOW that He’s right there with me even in the diaper changing.

Two Pair Photography http://www.twopairphotography.comTwo Pair Photography http://www.twopairphotography.com

Are we done adopting? For right now, yes. We are busting at the seams when it comes to space, time and energy. God is our sustainer and provider and we’ve given Him quite the bundle of craziness to show Himself great to.  However, I think when I’ve seen what I’ve seen over in Africa…. I’m not sure I can be comfortable ever confidently saying “we’re DONE adopting for good”.  Not when if those children over there were in my front yard here with the needs they live daily with, we’d be making room for them no matter what.

Can we have any more biological children?  We had a very painful miscarriage about a year after we brought Ezra and Evie home from Africa. Again, walking through one of my biggest fears and finding Christ to be near and faithful.  We don’t do anything to prevent getting pregnant (other than having infants and toddlers and preschoolers running around…. intimacy can be a little scarce at times). We are open to having another biological baby but I’m also at peace if we never do. God has created eternity within my womb twice… and I’m forever grateful He did.  I do know that God has led us thus far and I have full faith that He will lead us in whatever else He may have in store for our family.

And I’m so grateful to have you along for the ride.

For our joy and His glory,

 


  • Lisa KnittelDecember 21, 2012 - 10:50 pm

    Your family is beautiful. This blog was like a drink of water in the desert for me tonight.ReplyCancel

  • EmilyJanuary 8, 2013 - 5:10 pm

    I’m officially crying my eyes out. What a beautiful beautiful story and a beautiful family you have!!!!ReplyCancel

  • […] This will be a short blog post. A very dear friend sent me Casey Chappell’s blog of her son Asher because her story is very similar to mine (complicated pregnancy with a poor prognosis and A LOT of uncertainty). You can read Asher’s story here: http://www.caseychappell.com/my-entrance-into-motherhood-and-the-journey-thus-far/ […]ReplyCancel

  • CarolineApril 7, 2013 - 6:58 pm

    Wow. God is so good! I found your blog through Rebecca Shrader’s blog. I also lost a son, Conner, last summer 14 hours after his birth. I experienced something called PPROM which caused his lungs not to develop (long story, short). Your life truly is extraordinary and only the Lord could allow you to have that wonderful life. Asher has wonderful, God-loving parents as do you all of your beautiful children!

    Caroline Combs
    Wilson, North CarolinaReplyCancel

  • AlyApril 25, 2013 - 6:07 pm

    Hi! I follow you on IG and just love your family!! My husband and I are pursuing adopting a child from Uganda. I can’t believe it only took you 7 monts from the Congo! They’re saying 18-24months for Uganda. It’s such a hard job just to choose an agency so far! Praying we’ll have an app in next week though! If you har any advice on adopting or fundraising I’d be so thankful!ReplyCancel

  • […] years ago when we came home from the hospital after losing Asher, we walked into our home and it was sparkling clean from top to bottom. What a blessing that gift […]ReplyCancel

  • […] chance of survival due to such extreme dehydration and starvation. We knew what it was like to have loved a child and hoped for their survival but trusted God to ultimately make that call because we couldn’t heal and save lives like He […]ReplyCancel

  • […] can read more about how quickly the other awesome kids we have came to be ours HERE. It was a whirlwind but at the same time it was lived within a confidence and steadiness we had […]ReplyCancel

  • HollyDecember 30, 2014 - 1:58 am

    Sweet Casey, this is my first time reading your journey to mothering all of your precious little ones. Thank you for sharing the beauty amidst the trials and allowing us to ponder it. I just lost a baby (in womb) to trisomy 13 after another miscarriage earlier this year, and as I process my loss there are so many thoughts that run through my mind. Your story is incredibly inspiring and hopeful. Your children will know the love of their Father by the way you and your husband love them. What a testament! Thank you. Love (from Israel:) – HollyReplyCancel

  • Gale JonesJanuary 18, 2016 - 8:59 am

    So enjoyed reading this. I sat with your mom on the bus going to Houston in 2007. You were pregnant with Asher and she shared with me about Asher. Prayed for you in 2007 and praying as you and your husband love on these precious blessings!

    You are a gifted writer! Blessings each day!!!ReplyCancel

  • LaurenFebruary 11, 2016 - 9:16 am

    The beauty of your story and of your family is overwhelming! I write this with tears in my eyes! I’m so glad you and your husband are following the commands of Jesus, in a day and age where self-focus isn’t selfish and having too many kids is! Praying blessings over your fantastic family!

    LaurenReplyCancel

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