Meet Chad and Christina Church and their beautiful son, Wyatt Eddie. After the heartache of losing four pregnancies, Chad and Christina turned to Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties to learn about fostering and adopting a child. The result? Wonderful Wyatt.
“When we look at the number of abortions that take place in our society, we know there are plenty of potential parents ready to love those babies,” says Christina to the January edition of FAITH Magazine, the official publication of the Diocese of Lansing.
“After trying for two-and-a-half years and experiencing so many lost pregnancies, my eyes were really opened to how much a miracle babies are.”
Chad adds, “We make a plan and God laughs. Our journey with Wyatt has been heartbreakingly and absolutely beautiful. We thank God every day for bringing him to us, and we ask for blessings on all the people who helped make us a family.”
* Below is the full story of Chad, Christina and Wyatt Church contained in this month’s FAITH Magazine:
The day dawned on four lives. One, we don’t know. She is shielded by the miraculous Safe Delivery of Newborns Law, which protects the identity of birth parents who release their infant children for adoption. We do know she cared for her child – eating healthy foods, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and loving him enough to carry him full term. The sun rises on the end of her journey to bring him into the fullness of life and releasing him to the care of a loving family as yet unknown.
The second life has just begun. Him we know as Wyatt Eddie. Weighing nearly nine pounds, he emerged from the soft darkness of the womb into a pre-dawn world, unaware of his uncertain future. Yet, thanks to the protection of the law, he was always safe, always cared for and, though he didn’t know it, always the answer to one family’s prayers.
The third and fourth lives are that family – or soon-to-be that family. The day dawns on Chad and Christina Church, asleep with their three dogs. Their hearts and their home are ready to welcome a new child without condition. They have no idea of the changes this sunrise brings, but their gratitude will be boundless by sunset.
Christina shares their story. “Chad and I have known each other since kindergarten. At 16, we started dating and we married in 2013. Three years later, I was in a car accident that really woke us up to the reality of how little control we have over our lives.”
Sitting next to his wife, Chad nods. “We make a plan and God laughs,” he says, smiling. “We wanted to get our house in order, and we loved our dogs. But when Christina had the accident, I started to wonder, why would we wait to start our family? Life is precious. I said, ‘Let’s give it a go.’ And we got pregnant right away.”
“Then we lost that pregnancy,” Christina explains. “Then we lost three more over the next two years. It was devastating. After our first pregnancy, Chad pointed out that we could always adopt. After our fourth, we turned to Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties to learn about fostering and adopting a child.
“We enrolled in the foster-parents program through Catholic Charities, went through a State of Michigan full home study and background checks, and we provided them with three references. They require prospective parents to enroll in classes – including how to bring traumatized children into our home. It was intense, but I just really appreciate how straight Catholic Charities were with us.
“The whole time we were at Catholic Charities I just felt comfortable. Like, it felt right,” Chad agrees. “When we finished our classes, they told us it could be a couple weeks or a couple years before we got the call.”
“A couple days later, at 11:00 am, my phone rang.” Christina recalls. “Someone from Catholic Charities was explaining about the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. The person was telling me that under the law, we could have no information about the birth parents. We would not meet with the birth mother or learn anything about her. They also made it clear that the birth parents have 28 days to change their minds. If within 28 days of giving birth, they decide they want to keep their baby, they have that right.
“Then I heard them telling me the state had been notified that under that law, a baby had been abandoned at a nearby hospital that morning. Would we like to adopt him?
“I thanked the caller and immediately called Chad. It didn’t hit me until I said it out loud to him. When it did, I started bawling!”
“Of course, we agreed.” Chad said. “The next day at noon, we got to meet our son at the hospital. We arrive just as the birth photographer was there, so we have pictures of the first time we met him, the first time we held him. They’re amazing memories of the first moments we became a family.
“After Wyatt received a clean bill of health, we were able to bring him home. Our parents had been helping us set up the nursery to prepare for a baby whenever it came. We called them casually and asked if they’d like to see the changes we had made in the nursery. They came over, and when they walked into the room, Wyatt was asleep in his crib. Needless to say, they loved the change!”
“Five months later, we all celebrated Wyatt’s adoption on National Adoption Day in the Livingston County Courthouse,” Christina says. “Every day since we got the call, I have said prayers of thanks for Wyatt’s birth mother.
“When people ask, ‘How could she give up her child?’ I tell them it was sheer love. We need to change that conversation to focus on how courageous and loving those parents are. Releasing a child to a family that will love them and care for their baby in ways the birth family cannot – that is an act of selfless love. We are so grateful for Wyatt’s birth mother’s courage to release him completely while making sure he stayed safe and loved. She gave us the opportunity to welcome him into our family straight from the hospital.
“When we look at the number of abortions that take place in our society, we know there are plenty of potential parents ready to love those babies. After trying for two-and-a-half years and experiencing so many lost pregnancies, my eyes were really opened to how much a miracle babies are.”
Chad repeats, “We make a plan and God laughs. Our journey with Wyatt has been heartbreakingly and absolutely beautiful. We thank God every day for bringing him to us, and we ask for blessings on all the people who helped make us a family.”
* Words by Nancy Rosebush Schertzing | Photography by Jim Luning
* Adoption and foster care services at Catholic Charities agencies in the Diocese of Lansing support families through these processes. They offer training, orientation and licensing support for foster parents, and assist families with adoption.