Eyes shiny with joyful tears, and lips curved into a smile that grew and grew... I listened to their stories. Stories of bravery. Of traveling an unexpected path. Struggling with infertility, and the possibility of adoption. Heavy decisions. Doors closed, windows opened.
The women shared stories that they hadn't previously shared outside of their inner circle. This was a safe place, filled with others sharing in their experiences. The joy, the pain, and everything in between. And comfort came in knowing they weren't alone.
I was there at the Choose Joy Event to help spread the word of Red Thread Sessions (complimentary portrait sessions for newly adoptive families). And while I shared the story of Red Thread Sessions with them... they shared their stories with me.
I met a lot of wonderful women who had made the decision to adopt a child. Some were at the beginning of the adoption process and it was all brand new to them. Some had gone through it before but were doing it again. Some women already had at least one biological child of their own, but wanted to add to their family through adoption. Some children would be joining their families from countries I'd honestly never even heard of before.
Each and every woman I met had a story of their own to share. And each and every one of them was absolutely amazing.
And I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. For being brave in the face of uncertainty. For sharing their stories with me. And for choosing to share their love with an adopted child.
Vendors there to share their knowledge, services and goodies:
And here was my own table set-up:
Even a fun craft for everyone to take home:
Some songs of worship were shared:
At the end of the night the event's creator, Emmy Blakely, shared her own story.
But my very favorite moment of the night was what followed. Raffle tickets had been sold for a lot of great goodies, but the grand finale was a jar of $2,700 cash that was given to one lucky attendee to use however they needed in order to help grow their family.
A ticket number was called, but nobody moved. Heads swiveled around the room, trying to locate the winner. A few moments later a noise was heard at a table, and the words "yes, that's YOU" drifted over to my ears. A woman stood and hesitantly walked toward the stage. Pure disbelief. She smiled and nervously laughed, but still didn't believe it was real. And happening to her. She asked for the ticket number to be read again. And confirmed it was hers. Then held out her ticket for someone else to triple-check. It was amazing and overwhelming and wonderful to behold. And it turns out that the amount in this glass jar was exactly the amount that she and her husband needed to reach their adoption fund goal. Click here to read her story, in her own words.
I am incredibly thankful I was present to witness this event, to meet these amazing people, and to hear their touching stories. My eyes are still shiny from happy tears, and my smile is still in place.