“Are you sitting down?”
When adoption specialist Regina Thompson called Jennifer Money in October 2019, she knew what she had to say was potentially life-changing. Money and her husband, Daniel, had recently adopted a little boy after years of struggling through an often difficult process.
Now, Thompson and Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services had another opportunity for the Money family—a baby would be born that evening, and would arrive in immediate need of a family. The couple only had an hour or two to decide what to do. After a few additional phone calls, the Moneys drove to the hospital, where they were handed hour-old Asher Brave.
“We had been praying about this for years,” Jennifer said. The family, who attend Ozark Baptist Church, pushed through the fear and uncertainty of the unexpected second adoption with hard-earned faith in the God who had made their son in his image.
“One thing we know is he’s the giver of life,” Jennifer said. “He knit him together in his mother’s womb, and he had a plan for this little boy.”
She called their adoption story a “double miracle.”
Joyful, painful journey
Regina Thompson has served 30 years with Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services. As project manager of the agency’s Faith Adoptions ministry, she helps couples complete the home study process, which involves several hours of interviews. As a licensed child welfare agency, BCHFS can also place children in adoptive homes.
Thompson works with both birth mothers and adoptive families in Illinois, which is how she came to meet the Moneys.
As a young married couple, Daniel Money used to joke that he and Jennifer would have 10 kids. Their oldest daughter, Abigayle, is in college now. Eight years after her birth and a struggle through infertility, the Moneys welcomed a second daughter, Anna. But severe complications after the birth left Jennifer unable to have more biological children.
Jennifer said she struggled for a while after that, grieving something she wasn’t going to have. But God intervened. “I remember the day he opened our eyes to see that he wasn’t absent in our pain or suffering, but that he was literally in the midst of it,” she said, her voice breaking. God had a bigger picture, a bigger plan, she said. “When I rested in that, there was so much freedom, and so much life that was given.”
God’s plan for life is at the center of BCHFS’s ministry to families across Illinois. At Angels’ Cove Maternity Center in Mt. Vernon, they provide a place to live for mothers and babies, as well as parenting education, counseling, and family care. Across the street, the newly opened GraceHaven pregnancy resource clinic offers counseling to expectant parents and free ultrasound services.
Adoption is both a joyful and a grief-filled process, Thompson said. The hardest part of what she does is seeing couples grieve over infertility, and birth mothers grieve over an extraordinarily difficult choice. But, she said, “There’s joy from the grief of the one making the sacrifice.” There’s joy over knowing a child will have a loving home.
In 2013, the Moneys started the adoption process, with Thompson helping them complete their home study. Soon after they completed it and the required training, they were chosen by a birth mom to adopt her baby girl. But at the hospital, the mother decided not to go through with the adoption. In the months that followed, the Moneys heard about several other children, but the birth parents chose other adoptive families.
“You have to stay grounded in the faith and where God has placed you,” Jennifer said. “For us, it was like, ‘God has a plan.’ Whether we get to take this one home or not, we are compelled to keep going forward in it.”
The next year, another mom chose the Moneys to adopt her son. The couple sat with her at the hospital for 30 hours, but they knew she wasn’t ready to let him go. They gave her all the things they had for the baby, who turned four last year. The Moneys still pray for him and his mom.
The difficult experience was followed by a period of silence, the couple said. At the same time, abortions were increasingly easy to procure. The family went to St. Louis to protest Planned Parenthood. They also decided to cast a wider net, signing up with a Christian adoption agency and increasing their fundraising for an adoption. Still, any possibilities eventually came up empty.
The process was wearisome, Jennifer said, and they were getting older. With their home study set to expire in February 2019, the couple decided not to renew it. After following through for several years, they thought God was saying no.
She was waiting for her daughter to finish a violin lesson when she got a call from an acquaintance who knew of a baby due in February. The mother wanted to choose adoption, and the Moneys’ friend asked if they would be interested. On Feb. 26, they were at the hospital when Abraham was born. “It was the most bittersweet thing we’ve ever walked through,” Jennifer said. A birth is typically joyous, she said, but the couple was guarded because of past disappointments. And they were watching Abraham’s mother grieve too. When she was released from the hospital, the Moneys gave her a ride home. Then, they took Abraham home with them.
The couple got to know their son’s birth mother well through the private adoption process, and still schedule visits for her and Abraham. Jennifer recounted a conversation that cemented their connection, when the young woman said she knew God is the creator of life, and abortion was not an option for her despite very challenging circumstances.
“From the point that I heard that, it knit me closer to her,” Jennifer said. “And we would be in love with this boy together.”
The Moneys finalized Abraham’s adoption on Sept. 16, 2019. Two weeks later, Thompson called and asked the fateful question. “Are you sitting down?”
BCHFS had gotten a call that day about a mother in labor who wanted to place her baby for adoption. “Our family and friends I’m sure thought that it was a little crazy,” Jennifer said of the possibility of a second adoption so soon after the first. But the couple trusted that God’s plan was perfect. Now, Jennifer said, “We can’t imagine our life without Asher.”
Asher has since met his birth mom and extended family, and the Moneys pray everyone they’ve met through their long process will eventually come to know Jesus. Their years-long adoption journey has inspired what Jennifer called “relentless trust” in God, whose plans can’t be thwarted or changed.
“I wouldn’t change any of it, at all,” she said. “Even our ages, where we are now.
“His timing is perfect.”
Even now, it’s easy to tell the story and forget the very real struggles and darkness they walked through, Daniel said. It’s not for the faint of heart, he added.
“It’s going to be hard no matter what. But he is always good. He’s always right. He’s faithful.”