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Immense Grief but Great Joy

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Hey, there! I’m Brittany- a  30 year old wife and mama who loves Jesus, tacos and essential oils. Unlike most, my adoption story doesn’t start with years of infertility. I was around 14 or 15 years old when I first felt the call to adopt. I remember the moment so distinctly. A close family member was in the process of adopting the most precious baby girl and, as she was telling us that sweet baby’s story, I just knew in my heart that I would have my own adoption story to tell someday. 

My husband Alex and I started dating in August of 2010 and I didn’t waste any time in telling him that I was going to adopt someday.  He wasn’t overly excited about  the idea, but he didn’t shut me down. A short few months later, I learned that his older sister and brother-in-law (whom he lived with at the time) were adopting from DSS. The following March, they got “the call” and were able to bring home their own sweet baby girl.  A few times of holding that sweet baby and that’s all it took.  He was convinced that he too- wanted to adopt. 

We got married in December of 2012 and spent the next 6 years traveling, doing ministry and just enjoying our time together.  During this time, we discussed which adoption route we wanted to take. I researched domestic and international adoption agencies, but over and over again, God brought us back to South Carolina DSS- through the foster care system. On more than one occasion, random people who had no idea that we were praying about adopting would approach us about the need for foster parents in our county. In October of 2017, we attended a foster care event where current and past foster children spoke and that was that. We knew we had our answer.

Fast forward to January 2018- We started the licensing process and decided that we would adopt an infant (we hoped) first and would consider fostering later.  The licensing process took a longgggggg 10 months. During this time, we attended workshops and support groups for waiting parents with individuals who literally laughed out loud when we told them our desired age range was 0-1. It’s no secret that many people wait years (and sometimes years)  to adopt infants, especially from DSS, but we were certain that this is what the Lord had called us to. We got the official “you’re on the waiting list” in October of 2018. The waiting was hard, y’all-especially when family members ask “have you heard anything” every other day. 

During this period of waiting, I was working about 25 minutes from home. I know 25 minutes isn’t really that bad, but I hated the drive. I. HATED. THAT. DRIVE. In July of 2019, a job opportunity fell in my lap that was only 8 minutes from my house. I had no idea at the time, but the Lord was lining things up perfectly. 

I started my new job on a Monday and experienced the most crippling anxiety that I had ever felt and I couldn’t understand why. My new coworkers were absolutely wonderful and I loved the office, but I just couldn’t shake the anxiety. I put on a brave face at work but crumbled at home. I reached out to my prayer circle and asked them to pray. On Wednesday in the quiet of the morning after Alex had left for work, I fell to my knees and literally wept and cried out to the Lord for help. My heart and my Lord knew what was coming. Later that  afternoon at work, one of my new coworkers asked if I had any children, to which I replied “no, my husband and I are waiting to adopt but it will probably take a few years”. I think God laughed in that moment. 

A day and a half later at 3:39pm, my phone rang. I saw that it was DSS and my heart fell to the floor. I answered the phone and the voice on the other line said “Hi, Mrs. Hanvey, it’s Emily with Region 1 adoptions. I have the tiniest and sweetest 3 day old baby boy for you!” She then informed me that his particular case would involve time in foster care before we could legally adopt him, asked if we would be willing to be foster parents and that a DSS worker would visit our home that evening. After telling Alex, I hung up the phone and immediately went to tell my new boss, who I had only worked with for 5 days, that I needed some time off. I am so blessed by how supportive she was and am so incredibly grateful for the support of the ladies in that office over the next months. They gathered and prayed with me during court dates (I’m talking about storm the gates of hell kind of prayer!) and gave the best “mom advice”. I’m not sure I would have made it through the “sleepless newborn” stage without them. The ladies of Staffing Associates will always hold a special place in my heart!

Since we didn’t know  what age, gender or size our future child would be, we had nothing but a crib and a rocking chair! I called my best friend on my way home from work to tell her the news. An hour or so later, I got a text from her telling me to let her know when the DSS worker left. Less than 10 minutes after I text her that the worker had left, she showed up at my house with everything I could possibly need to get us through the first week. If you don’t have friends like that, you need new friends. I could never explain to her how much that meant to me! 

adoption, foster care, biracial family, call to adopt, adoption stories, department of social services, Daniel law, family, adopt

We spent the weekend telling our parents, doing a ton of shopping and, if I’m being honest, I cried basically the whole weekend. I cried tears of joy for us, tears of grief for my baby’s first Mama and tears of fear because I had no idea how to be a parent!  I look back at those days now and laugh. Before even meeting him, we decided that his name would be Nathaniel, which means “God has given”. 

The following Tuesday, we were FINALLY allowed to travel  a couple of counties over to meet our baby boy. He was so tiny, had a head full of curly hair and was the sweetest thing. We spent the next few days cuddling and bonding with him until we were allowed to bring him home. The next 10 months was a whirlwind of fear of losing our son, DSS visits and court dates but it was also full of baby cuddles, giggles and watching him learn and grow. In March of this year, I became a “stay-at-home mama” and I have loved every single second!

adoption, foster care, biracial family, call to adopt, adoption stories, department of social services, Daniel law, family, adopt
Photo Credit: Georgia Buckner Photography

On May 12,2020 we were able to (legally) make Nathaniel our son. When the judge said the words “this adoption is granted”, a million pounds lifted off my shoulders. He’s now 15 months old and full of adventure. He loves to run and dive head first over toys and off of sofas- giving me a million mini heart attacks a day. I love being a boy mama!  He brings so much joy to our lives that we didn’t even know we were missing. 

adoption, foster care, biracial family, call to adopt, adoption stories, department of social services, Daniel law, family, adopt
Photo Credit: Georgia Buckner Photography

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Nathaniel’s first Mama and how I wish I could show her how loved he is. I pray every day that God would richly bless her for choosing life for our son. She gave me the greatest gift. 

adoption, foster care, biracial family, call to adopt, adoption stories, department of social services, Daniel law, family, adopt
Photo Credit: Georgia Buckner Photography

adoption, foster care, biracial family, call to adopt, adoption stories, department of social services, Daniel law, family, adopt
Photo Credit: Georgia Buckner Photography

Adoption is a beautiful tragedy.  Where there is great joy, there is also immense grief but it’s worth it.  Children from foster care are worth it. My son is worth it. He’s worth every tear I’ve cried, every second I’ve stressed if he would still be in my arms the next day and every single sleepless night. So many people approach us and tell us how blessed Nate is to have us but, truly, we are the blessed ones. I’ve held many “titles” in my life, but “Nate’s Mama” is by far my favorite.

In love,



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