Don’t begin at the end. Start the story here.

Over the next few weeks, God began to wreck our hearts for our little Haven. Our home wasn’t home without her here…even though at that point she’d never been here yet. It amazed me that I could miss someone that I barely knew. The “what if?” questions continued to roll through our minds, and we continued testing the waters to see what was next.

Grandmother allowed us to take Haven on some brief “adventures” as we called them: an afternoon at our house (the dog loved the new toy), a family dinner for Austin’s birthday (his request: “I get to hold her the whole time”), a frozen yogurt run (I became her new best friend because that baby got all the FroYo she wanted).

In early May we were with our small group updating them on the latest developments, when Grandmother called me. A situation had come up and Haven needed a place to go…now. Could we meet her somewhere? So we did. We left small group briefly and met her in a gas station parking lot. Suddenly we had a new household resident and a ton of new questions: what’s our role in this? How long is she with us? Do we have any strained peas in our house?

After a couple of weeks of Haven living with us, we sat down with Grandmother and her attorney and started talking about our next steps. Grandmother believed that adoption was the best move. I struggled between being a daddy (wanting this little girl to be a part of our family) and a pastor (wanting to see reconciliation with the birth parents if at all possible). But we all soon realized that the best thing for Haven was to pursue the adoption.

Before we pulled the trigger, we sat down with our boys and talked through all the details. We’d kept them in the loop from day one because this wasn’t a decision for two people, but for five. At a family meeting we told them, “Everybody has a voice, everybody has a vote, and if your vote is ‘no,’ we put the brakes on this.” We made them state their case one at a time, but each of them said, “She belongs here. She’s ours. We have to do this.”

And for the next couple of months, we saw God do miraculous things and fling open every door that we came to. I can honestly say that in my 26 years as a believer, I’ve never seen him extend such grace so quickly in so many details. He answered prayers we didn’t know to pray yet. In everything from home studies to attorneys to friends providing diapers and formula, there wasn’t one Haven need that wasn’t met.

This was obviously our first trip down the adoption path, so I was grateful for more experienced friends who kept pointing us to God’s timing and reminding us “This isn’t normal.” We were finishing an adoption on a baby we didn’t know in March. We’d see friends at church and around town who would do a double take and say, “Who’s the kid?!” One of our son’s school friends asked him: “Hey, did you know your parents are carrying around a brown baby?” Our parents planned last minute trips to North Carolina to meet their future granddaughter. And our house gradually began to look like a Pepto Bismol bottle had exploded in it…pink everywhere.

In late July we received word that the birth mom and dad had signed over parental consent. This is another blog post for another day, but suffice it to say that this was bittersweet for us. Yes, we cleared a major hurdle for Haven, but our hearts broke for them. Regardless of our joy, we couldn’t begin to imagine their sorrow. And while we haven’t met them, we love them. We pray for them. We desire God’s best for them. We’re thankful for the heart-wrenching decision that they made, and we want to be good stewards of the sacred trust we’ve been given.

And that’s it. That’s the high points of our adoption journey so far. There’s much more to be said and probably an entire book that could be written, but my wife / chief editor told me to wrap up the story or face the wrath of bored and/or impatient readers. (You can thank her when you see her.)

Obviously there’s more to be covered: how our family has changed, what God has taught us, and how we’re adjusting to life with baby dolls and pink tutus. You’d better believe I’ll be writing on all those topics in the days to come, but for now, this is our story.

We are so grateful for the avalanche of kindness and support we’ve received from you since this news went public. I’m saving every email, blog comment, note, and tweet so that Haven can one day understand and appreciate the world she’s been adopted into. Not the Franks family…but the world the Franks family lives in: a network of college roommates and high school teachers and church families and small groups and overseas church planters and co-workers and grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles…you’re our family. You’re her family. And we’re grateful for you.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

This is her "I know I just did something wrong, but how can you be mad at me?" face.

This is what a whipped man looks like.