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The Risk and Reward

Posted by Jeni Bowen on

Oh, 2016, I wasn't sad to say goodbye to you. This break-up was much needed and it was definitely you and not me, Sweetie.

Did y'all feel the same? So. much. happening.

Our personal world of "so much" began on the night of November 9th. While we were at our church small group, we got the *magical* call from our adoption consultant that an expectant mama wanted to speak with us. This means that she looked through a stack of profile books that included our story and she chose us.


Holy, wow. We jumped up and down, we hugged, we celebrated with the amazing people in our group...y'all, we were giddy. And as fast as that, we grabbed our stuff and rushed to the car to take the call. Moments later, we heard the ringtone and pulled onto the side of the road. "Hello?....Yes, hi! It's so nice to meet you..."

Forty-five minutes later, we hung up the phone, and jumped out of the car to hug each other (and take selfies, of course! Duh.)

We were going to be parents. 

Mom and Dad. 

And fast, too. This baby BOY was expected to arrive in Florida in TWO DAYS. So, we rearranged our lives, got our employees situated at the shop, coordinated a house/pet sitter, ripped tags off of baby clothes, washed a mountain of laundry, shoved everything baby-related into suitcases, and planned a trip to Orlando. 

Fortunately, Brandon's family is from Orlando and we lived there early in our marriage, so in many ways it was like old times. 

This itty-bitty was in no hurry to meet and greet, so we had a few days to ourselves. We waited and waited and...waited and finally on November 19th, they decided to induce. To occupy our minds, Brandon and I decided to get our 35,000 steps in for the day by going to IKEA. We were standing in the checkout line when we got the text. 


Shock of a lifetime, I tell ya. I certainly hoped that she would like blue...and plaid...and a bib with a bow tie! We rolled ourselves out of line and stood off to the side and cried and laughed and then laugh-cried. All we could say was, "A girl?!? Oh my. We have a GIRL!" 

Understandably so, as we celebrated, this was a very hard time for the baby's birth mom. When she preferred for us not to travel over to Tampa for the birth, we pulled back. Our desire was to make things as easy as possible for everyone involved. This was HER delivery and we would wait our turn. 

The next day, on 11/20, we received an unexpected invitation to come meet her and itty-bitty. Naturally, we could not get there fast enough! We decided to stay in Tampa that night since we would be traveling that way the next day (11/21) anyway to sign the final papers. 

Amazingly, we pulled up to Tampa General right on time and we walked in to meet the social worker who had been lovingly taking care of this mama and our soon-to-be itty-bitty. She walked us through what to expect and we were very careful not to overwhelm anyone by our visit. This is a sensitive time for all. There were a lot of tears, but our visit was a good one. We chose a name for her, the mother and I changed her diaper together, we fed her together, and she offered to take some really sweet pictures of us with itty-bitty.

Before we left, we said our goodbyes for the day as she gave us a hug and a card that the hospital had given her of itty-bitty's footprints. It was a good day.

The next morning, we were ready to go! Today was signing day! There was a bit of confusion on where we needed to be and at what time, so after talking with the social worker, we decided to go to Target until we received the call that they were ready with paperwork. I mean, what better way to blow time than roam Target?!? I found some super sweet  Christmas ornaments for itty-bitty and decided to buy her something frilly to wear home from the hospital. 


As I walked through Target, I found myself flooded with the Lord's peace. So much so, that I started singing old hymns to myself and repeatedly telling the Lord that I trust Him. No matter what. I trust Him. 

A few moments after leaving Target, we were on our way to meet friends for coffee and we received a call from our adoption consultant. It's a blur, really. I remember hearing, "Jeni, I have some really bad news for you...she has decided to parent the baby..."

And then time stopped. 

I know that our consultant kept talking and I'm pretty sure I was responding, but only with a hollow, "ok...uh-huh....ok..." Brandon pulled off of Tampa's busy highway and onto a side street. It was there that we both sat in silence and then smashed that silence with big ol' tears. With broken words, I told him how sorry I was for him. Yes, I was sad for me, too, but my heart ached for the man that sat next to me - the one who wanted to be a dad. The one who thought he had a daughter. 

When we gained composure, I could barely whisper, "I just want to go home." So, we turned the car around and we headed back to Orlando to stay one final night. On the way, I cried hard with big tears. I professed that the Lord is good. That he loves us. That his plans remain the same. But my heart was in pieces for us, and especially for the people in our lives that were beyond-the-moon excited for itty-bitty. How would I ever be able to break their hearts, too?

When we made it back to Orlando that evening, I walked straight to the bedroom while Brandon went to pick up some dinner. His parents were in Alabama house-sitting for us, so when I got out of the shower, the house was quiet. I fell back onto the couch and began to sob. I looked up and told God that I needed actual words from Him. Not tomorrow, but now. I sat up and grabbed my Bible from the coffee table. Without hesitation, I opened His word. The pages fell directly to Jeremiah 31:15-17. 

Line by line, here were His words to me:

15 "A cry is heard...
deep anguish and bitter weeping.
Rachel weeps for her children...
for her children are gone."


16 But now, this is what the Lord says,
"Do not weep any longer,
for I will reward you", says the Lord.
"Your children will come back to you..."


17 "There is hope for your future," says the Lord.
"Your children will come back again, to their own land."


And so it is. The peace of God. 

In seasons like this, I am greatly reminded that He is a Promise Keeper. His words are true, so if He says it - if He speaks something into your life, it will be. And it will be better. Better for you, better for others. 

We woke up with the sun the next morning. After 10 days of being away, we headed home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. We were tired and it wouldn't be fair to pretend that we were 100% at that point, but we were walking in His strength and that is sufficient, even abundant, when we surrender. I cried on and off for the first few hours in the car, but I made a point to let Brandon know that I wasn't crying because I was sad. I was crying because of the Lord's goodness. The goodness of His love for us, the goodness of His plans for us, the goodness of His grace to forgive and accept what we would not have chosen. I searched my heart through and through and I did not find anger. Instead, I found a God-given gratitude for this mother's love - that she, too, saw everything wonderful in her baby girl. 

So, here we are in a new year. We made the decision right away to get back up and move forward in pursuit of our adoption - our family. No need to sit and moan when God clearly has a future for us that involves children. Children, y'all! I'm so ready for my arms to be as full as my heart.

Many blessings to you all,


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  • I love this. My heart is with you guys. I am excited to see restoration for you all in this 2017. May you all continue to be strengthen by Gods word. You have walked through much but you come out stronger every time. Many blessings to come to your home this year.

    Sharonda on
  • You and your husband are precious in the sight of the Lord! Your experience brought back memories of what God did for my husband and I right after we went through a failed adoption July 18, 2006! I will never forget it but I will never forget how sovereign my Heavenly Father was! His promises are yes and amen! On Nov. 8, 2006 we became adoptive parents for the very first time and on Oct. 24, 2009 we adopted our second child! Our family is complete now. We are the proud parents of an awesome 10 yr old son and an awesome 7 yr old daughter. They keep us busy, young and joyful and we love every minute! I shared my testimony to you because God specializes in adoption! He was the author and the creator of the love process! He’s no respect of a person and if he did it for us, he’ll do it for you all! Continue to delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Praying you hold fast and wait on the goodness of the Lord! Be blessed!

    Brenadette on
  • Wow! I cannot even begin to imagine what an emotional roller coaster that must have been. But, God is faithful and he will provide the perfect Baby Bowen in His time. I know you know that already (but sometimes we have to be reminded). Your faith is inspiring and hearing what y’all went through makes me feel like my stresses in life are a piece of cake! You and Brandon are being prayed for by people who have never met you. And that, my friend, is the greatest gift we can give one another. ?

    Ann F. Smith on
  • I am weeping. This post brings so much emotion. You guys are FULL (filled to 4overflowing ) of God’s goodness. I will be praying for the children He places in your lives to know deeply, with faith & security just how much they are loved.
    Blessings to you both❤

    Shannon McIntyre on
  • Jeni, God has given you so much strength and courage. That just tells me that He has great plans for you ahead. Praying this year brings you and Brandon blessings in abundance, and your home becomes filled with children’s laughter and love.

    Sue Ray on

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