Mila’s Birth Story

McGowanImages_MilaWright15bI’ve been thinking about how to share Mila’s birth story for months now. Seven months, to be exact. I’ve learned that when I have a baby, I go into a newborn fog that hovers really thick for about six months, and then starts to lessen. It’s still there for the first year, at least for me. I think it’s a combination of sleeplessness and all the mental planning that goes into caring for a newborn. Packing bags and counting bottles and diapers and making sure you have enough stock of everything on hand. Mentally tracking bowel movements and teething symptoms and sleep time and wake time and spare clothes for the inevitable leaky diaper. And then there’s the hours of staring at your precious baby, trying to breathe in every single detail of that baby hair and those killer eyes. Kissing those baby cheeks. It’s practically a part-time job.


It takes me about a year to adjust to a new baby and find myself on the other side. It was really hard with Wrenn, but I knew what to expect with Mila, and so it’s been a little easier to accept. I know it’s a season that has an end. A season that in hindsight will seem so brief. But also a season where things like writing or quilting go from life giving to overwhelming. My brain just can’t process anything extra. So alas, the quiet on this little blog.

Back to Mila. I also want to preface by saying that there’s a version of Mila’s birth story that we will share with the world, and another version we will share with only her. Because it’s her story to tell. Not mine. Not yours. And so I want to say thank you in advance for not asking personal questions about her story. This is a way you can show Mila and her birth family love.


It was the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. We were out of town, staying at a relative’s ranch, enjoying a lazy day of fishing and eating and sleeping in with Mr. Right’s side of the family. It was the most amazing morning, which in hindsight, seems like such a gift from God. Our big day started full of love and family. Mr. Right and I took Wrenn fishing on our relatives’ private lake. It was just us and our little fishing boat, along with some more relatives in another fishing boat cheering Wrenn’s efforts on.

She caught a fish. We all caught fish. And then we sent Wrenn in so that Mr. Right and I could have some time fishing, just the two of us. We laughed so much. It was the happiest morning.


As Mr. Right and I fished, it started to drizzle, and we could see storms off in the distance. We decided to come in before the rain hit, and I went downstairs to shower before lunch. We were having a big family fish fry. For some reason, Mr. Right decided to hang out on the porch while I cleaned up downstairs.

This is where I should mention that we had no cell phone service at the ranch. None. And really, it was glorious. We had lived tethered to our phones ever since we turned in our adoption paperwork and joined the waiting list. We knew we could get a call at anytime. We kept our phones at the waterpark all summer. We slept with them next to our beds, never on silent. We were always reachable.

Except for this weekend. For some reason, we just knew we wouldn’t be getting a call. We weren’t matched with a birth mom, and there were none on the waiting list. And so we decided to enjoy a disconnected weekend. I left my cell phone in another room most of the time. It was so refreshing.

But somehow (God!), Mr. Right’s phone rang as he sat on the porch at that moment. That one spot, at that one moment, he got cell reception. It was our adoption agency, calling to tell us that there was a baby girl at the hospital, waiting for us to come pick her up. She told us as soon as we got there, this baby girl would be discharged to our home.

The only detail we got was that she was a hispanic baby girl, and that she was healthy. That was it.

Mr. Right came downstairs and caught me right as I was stepping into the shower to wash the fish smell off of me. I reeked of fish. The conversation went something like this:


Me… totally and utterly confused: WHAT?

Him: The adoption agency called. There’s a baby girl at the hospital and we can come get her RIGHT NOW.

Me… not understanding at all: WHAT?????


Me… still confused and now in total shock: NO WAY. NO WAY. I DON’T BELIEVE IT. NO WAY. NO WAY.

Him, now gathering things and shoving them into a bag: GET DRESSED. WE HAVE TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW. WE’RE HAVING A BABY GIRL TODAY!

I probably said “No way” and “I don’t believe it” and “what?” about 100 times as I got dressed and scrambled to throw all my belongings in a suitcase. I smelled like fish. I had on no makeup. My things were scattered around the room. OH MY GOSH WE WERE HAVING A BABY AND HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THERE AND WE HAVEN’T EATEN LUNCH AND WE NEED TO TELL WRENN AND OH MY GOSH I SMELL LIKE FISH AND GOD IS SO GOOD AND I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING TODAY.


Mr. Right and I dressed and carried our suitcases upstairs, to find our extended family standing around in utter shock. None of us could believe it was finally time. In God’s amazing, generous grace, I was able to pull Wrenn aside, get down on her eye level, and tell her that she was getting a baby sister. Today.

And y’all, our 3-year-old cried big, adult, HAPPY tears in that moment. It was one of my favorite memories of that day. She had prayed every single night for a year for her baby brother or sister. She had helped us paint her nursery. She had walked through grief when the other baby had fallen through. We had tried to protect her from the details of the adoption, but she’s smart, and perceptive, and she knew more than I wanted her little heart to know. In that moment, Wrenn expressed such JOY at the news. She got it. She totally understood. And her response was happy tears.

Mila, your big sister has loved you since before you were made.

We said our goodbyes, left Wrenn with our extended family, and Mr. Right and I set off for a long drive to the hospital. What should have been at least a 5-hour drive (in the pouring down rain) turned into a 4-hour drive, with Mr. Right driving 90 in the fast lane, with his hazard lights on. We were in shock the whole way there. We decided we would wait to tell anybody outside our immediate family until this baby was ours. And so we didn’t tell anybody.

I should add, since this wasn’t planned, we didn’t have any baby gear with us. No car seat, no diapers, no bottles, no formula. I had a few boy clothes and a single bag of diapers back home in the nursery. Everything else was either covered in dust in our attic, or was still at the store. WE HAD NOTHING.

We got to the hospital, and two women from the adoption agency met us at the door and offered to go buy us a car seat. Remember, it was Black Friday, so the stores were probably insanely crowded. I am so thankful for those two women, who saved us from additional chaos. Instead, we got to go upstairs and meet our Mila.

Our time at the hospital was sacred. We got to spend about an hour with Mila’s birth mom, and all I will say is that we could see and feel how much she loved Mila. We are so thankful for her.


Our first picture with Mila.

And then we were back in the car, making another long drive home. Only this time, I was sitting in the backseat, wedged between fishing poles and our new baby girl. So tiny and beautiful, all 6 pounds, 3 ounces of her, with a full head of black hair. We called and texted people all the way home. We laughed and we cried and we celebrated with our prayer warriors who had seen us through the past year (and many, for years and years before that). That was probably the happiest drive of my whole life.

And that is how we went from a family of 3 at lunchtime to a family of 4 by dinner.



When the doctor first handed me Wrenn, in the delivery room, I cried such big tears that the doctor asked me if I was in pain, worried that the epidural had worn off. No, not in pain – I was crying tears of overwhelming joy at first meeting my baby girl.

I didn’t get to cry those tears of joy upon first meeting Mila, because the circumstances were different. Instead, during one of those first middle-of-the-night feedings during her first night at home, I held Mila in the dark and sobbed those same happy tears as I thanked God for answering my prayers.

McGowanImages_MilaWright06bSame tears from my same mama heart. Mila joined us in a different way, but she is absolutely ours. God knew from the very beginning of time that she would be a forever member of our family. God was so sweet to answer our prayers and let us experience His love through our journey to Mila.


Her birth mother gave her the name Mila. We gave her her middle name – Anne – named after my middle name. She will always have a piece of her birth mother, and a piece of me. Intermixed. Together. So dearly loved.




A failed adoption (Our Adoption Story – Part 4)

Click here to read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 of Our Adoption Story

Before we got Baby M, we had to walk through some extreme heartbreak.

In July, we found out that a birth mom wanted to interview us! We were thrilled! Because we chose open adoption, it meant that the birth mom would choose us, based on a photo book we had submitted showing our family’s story. The first time we were chosen for an interview was so exciting! And nerve racking. What would it be like? Would it be awkward? What would we talk about? Would she like us?

We had to wait a few weeks for the big interview – which we held over dinner, two hours from our home. The dinner went GREAT. It lasted three hours, everybody cried as they shared stories, and we connected so deeply with the birth mother and her family. We just knew she was going to pick us.

The next day, we got a call that she had picked another couple.

You know what it felt like? It felt like back in my dating days, when I would wait for weeks to get to go on a date with some guy I liked, then I finally went on that date and thought it went AMAZING. Thought for sure he felt the same way. And then found out afterward that I wasn’t his type.

We weren’t her type. Ouch.

It sounds so silly and selfish, but we had put ourselves out there, and been rejected. It was hard. Not “having a miscarriage” hard. But it still hurt our egos. However, we quickly recovered (it was just a blip, really, on our adoption journey), and started planning a last-minute trip to Seattle with some dear friends of ours.

At the very end of August, after our amazing trip to Seattle (seriously my favorite trip since our honeymoon), on our way home from the airport, the adoption agency called to say a birth mom wanted to interview us later that week. And this time, we were the only couple she was interviewing.

Talk about perfect timing! THIS must be the one.

We were pretty guarded at our interview with the birth mother (another dinner), and afterward really weren’t sure if she would choose us. A few days later, the birth mother called me personally to tell me she had chosen us.

We were having a baby BOY! And, he would be here in the next six weeks… or sooner.

The next six weeks were a blur of doctor appointments, meetings with the birth mother, preparing a nursery, shopping for essentials, celebrating with friends and family, working overtime to prepare to go on maternity leave at work, and preparing Wrenn for a new baby. It was a busy, crazy six weeks.

It was also an emotional roller coaster. Without going into a lot of details, it looked like the adoption might fall through every time we turned around. About two weeks before Baby Boy was born, it looked like everything was going to fall apart. I got the call while working at a local conference, and was so upset by the news that I was barely able to drive myself home. It was devastating and shocking and I spent two full days in bed, crying. Like I said, adoption is so, so tough. (I must add, Mr. Right was a total ROCK during that time, and a great reminder that God has so perfectly matched us together for such a time as this.)

But, then things looked like they were going to work out again (did I mention… roller coaster?). We got a call on a Friday afternoon that she was in labor, and after shipping Wrenn off to her grandparents’, rushed to the hospital, arriving  30 minutes after Baby Boy was born. We both got to hold him in the delivery room. He was so, so precious.

But strangely enough, he wasn’t mine yet. I knew that in my heart – he wouldn’t be mine until I got to bring him home, and that was far from certain.

We had to wait 48 hours to find out if he would be ours. In Texas, a birth mom can’t sign the adoption paperwork until 48 hours after delivery. That 48 hours was an eternity. After spending Friday evening at the hospital, holding that baby, we spent the rest of the weekend at home, trying to keep ourselves busy as we waited for the news. Would he be ours? Would we be a family of four on Sunday? Imagine what that 48 hours felt like… with our entire lives on the line.

On Sunday afternoon, we got our answer. No.

Holding a baby and then having to give him back had always been my worst case adoption scenario. It doesn’t get much harder than that. And yet, our worst fears happened. It was devastating, and horrible, and exhausting.

And we survived.

God continued to remind me that He is the God who sees. And that in all this pain… He saw me. God told me that after all He had brought us through, after all the miracles He had orchestrated, that He wasn’t going to leave us now. This wasn’t our ending. We should still have hope.

Another friend shared with me that someday, when I held our forever baby, she would be worth it. That she would be worth every ounce of pain and fear and uncertainty we had had to endure. That she would be worth moving mountains for.

That friend was so right.

But it doesn’t mean we didn’t grieve. I felt deep feelings, cried big tears, but I also felt a huge sense of relief. After six weeks of not knowing, of living a life of total uncertainty, we had our answer. That baby wasn’t ours. Which meant that our baby was still out there. Mr. Right gifted me with my epic road trip, and three weeks after our devastating news, I was out on the open road, visiting friends and enjoying some healing time alone with my Savior.

That trip was life defining for me. And of course, God knew it would be part of our story.

And then two weeks after I got home… we got a call that forever changed our lives.

(more to come…)

God shows off (Our Adoption Story, Part 3)

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of Our Adoption Story

From the very beginning, God has used our adoption journey to show off. Like, really show off. Over and over he reminded me that He is the “God Who Sees Me” (El Roi – Genesis 16:13). God kept telling me that He SAW me during this adoption – that He cared about the details. That He would never leave or forsake me during this process. That He was worth trusting.

In the midst of a long, hard journey, knowing that I had a God who sees me – sees my pain, my fears, my excitement, my hopes, my insecurities… my BABY in some other mother’s womb… this was the hope that I clung to. I was never alone. God saw me and all of the big feelings I was feeling, and I was never alone.

The same week that we chose our adoption agency and started the process, God brought me three big freelance clients. I have always done occasional freelance work above and beyond my job, but these were HUGE projects. One was coordinating all of the social media for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastor’s Conference – a gig that required about 10 hours a week, plus meetings, plus a trip to St. Louis to work the actual conference. I spent March through June working my “regular” full-time job, then stopping for an hour or two to play with Wrenn and Will and eat dinner, and then once Wrenn was back in bed, I would stay up working on my laptop late into the night. I did this several nights a week, and worked at least one day each weekend. Almost all I did during those four months was work.

But it was okay, because I knew where that money was going. It was going to help pay for our adoption.

Y’all, God provided every penny we needed for our adoption. We hadn’t saved toward it, since we thought we were a year away from starting the process. And God provided, without us ever asking anybody for a dime. Mr. Right got some extra, unexpected real estate deals, we both worked our tails off, and God paid for that adoption.

But it wasn’t just about the money. We wanted to get Wrenn into a preschool to offer some stability for her (and a break for me) once the baby got here, and God moved mountains to get her into a school with a 2-3 year wait list… in less than a week.  He is a God who cares not just about our adopted baby, but about Wrenn, and making sure she was taken care of as well.

Or there was the time that we were scheduled to be interviewed by a birth mom, and of course I was a nervous wreck. Four days before our interview, a girl I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 6+ years reached out via Facebook to tell me that God had placed me on her heart and she had been praying for me, but she didn’t know why. In particular, God had told her to pray about expanding our family. I told her about the adoption and the upcoming interview, and I was reminded that I have a God who sees me.

There were so many people who popped up from my past and randomly reached out during our long wait, having no idea that we were adopting but just feeling led to check on me. Friends from around the country whom I hadn’t seen in years were praying for our adoption, even though we never publicly mentioned it on social media.

Then there were the tiny bits of blessing he gave us during our journey. We managed to take two amazing trips, perfectly timed between big milestones in the adoption. It was God’s way of offering us rest and renewing our spirits at the exact time we needed it. Because boy, did we need it… after each trip, things got HARD.

If you learn nothing from our adoption story, I hope you will hear this: Our God was faithful every step of the way. He didn’t protect us from pain or heartache, but instead sustained us through it. He comforted me when I cried. When my empty arms ached for the baby I so desperately wanted. He is a good God not because He answered my prayers the way I thought I wanted them answered… He is a good God because that’s who He is. Period.

And when our worst-case scenario ended up happening… He was still a good, good God.

(more to come…)

Researching and Choosing (Our Adoption Story, Part 2)

Click here to read Our Adoption Story, Part 1

Once we knew we were ready to start the adoption process, we had to pick an agency. It was so overwhelming. It seemed like one of those things where there were 100 ways to do it, and we had no idea where to start. It’s an overwhelming industry, with hefty price tags and huge life decisions. It requires so much trust.

But as you will see, God’s hand was in this adoption process every step of the way. He showed me again and again that He is the God of details. We just “happened” to have a dear friend who has worked as a social worker at several different adoption agencies, and we invited her over for dinner so we could “ask her everything.”

Some of our questions/decisions included:

  • Did we want to adopt an infant? An older child?
  • Open or closed adoption?
  • Use a private agency or go through the foster care system?
  • How much do adoptions cost?
  • What would the process look like?
  • How long would it take? (the magic question)
  • What should we look for in an agency?
  • What pitfalls could we avoid?
  • After the adoption, then what? How can we help our child thrive in her new family?

Our sweet friend patiently answered our questions, and helped me come up with a list of questions to use as we interviewed agencies. Based on our family’s needs at this time, we decided that domestic, private, open adoption of an infant was the right fit for us at this time. We reached out to all of our friends who had adopted, did a lot of googling, and called/researched agencies for about a month.

We ended up choosing the original agency we called that January day.

Once we had committed to our agency (March 2016), we started the long process of filling out all of our application paper work. It was harder than writing my master’s thesis, harder than any work project I’ve ever completed. There were just so many things we had to collect – I had to track down the blue prints from my house. We had to get physicals at the doctor. We had to provide copies of all of our health/life insurance, wills, financial documents, references from just about everybody who had ever met us. We had to fill out pages and pages of questionnaires. All this while both of us were working full-time (plus some part-time gigs… more on that later).

It was a LOT.

We finally wrapped up that paperwork in May and attended an all-day training that was required by the adoption agency, and then… we waited. When it comes to adoption, there is a LOT of waiting.

 (More to come…)

Surprise! We adopted a baby girl! (Our Adoption Story, Part 1)

Surprise! We adopted a baby girl!

It may seem like a huge surprise to some, but for me, it was a ten-year journey. Before I tell you how we got Baby M, let me tell you how we got there…

Way back in 2007, through some random events, God placed the desire to adopt on my heart. Now mind you, I didn’t meet Mr. Right until 2009… and we didn’t start dating until 2010. So before I met him, I knew that someday, with someone, I wanted to adopt.

And then I met Mr. Right, and after things got serious, we started talking about our hopes for a family, and I shared my desire to adopt. His response, “I’d love that too!”

And that was that.

Our question was never IF we were going to adopt… but WHEN. We decided to try for a biological child and see what God would do, and after many months of trying, and a high risk, difficult pregnancy, He gave us Wrenn. She was my miracle baby, my answer to many, many months of prayers.

Two years later, we decided to try for one more biological child, and we got pregnant almost immediately. What a wonderful surprise! And then, all too soon, we had a miscarriage and lost our precious Baby Truett.

I was almost 35, and my ticking biological clock was almost deafening. Should we try one more time for a biological child, or was this God telling us that now was the time for adoption? I felt like if we committed to adoption, we would be forever closing the door to a biological child, which seemed to have such forever consequences.

We decided to just pause and pray (and heal). And both of us came to the conclusion that it was time to adopt. Not right that minute… but that our next child would be through adoption.

Now we had a plan, but no timeline. Mr. Right wanted to wait a full year before we started the adoption process, so we could enjoy some peace and healing as a family. After a difficult few years of health problems, job changes, etc., we were finally enjoying some fun and easy times as a family. I wanted to adopt yesterday. It was one of those times that we decided to just pray separately and see what God did.

And God changed Mr. Right’s heart overnight. One day, a few months after we started praying about it, a friend at lunch casually mentioned that an adoption agency was low on adoptive parents. She knew that someday we wanted to adopt, and thought she’d simply pass the info along. We decided to give the agency a call (What could it hurt, right?), and after one conversation, Mr. Right was all in.

That was in January 2016.

 (more to come…)