An Adoption Story
There are stories of motherhood that sit deep in the soul, grapple with emotions and send waves of inspiration that challenge everything known about a mother’s love. For Julie Chamberlin and Jenise Miller, their story encompasses this but is also one wrapped in faith, hope and sacrifice. It is a story worthy of praise and a tale of motherhood that truly defines love without limits.
Family has always been an ideal embraced by Chamberlin. Growing up in a family of 12, she was acutely aware of her desire to have much of the same. She got a glimpse of her future at the age of 10 when she recalls God spoke to her heart that she was going to have a black son. Chamberlin was both enthused and confused by this revelation and filed it away in her mind.
In 2007, she married her love, Austin, and their hopes of a growing family began to take shape. But as with many things in life, their wishes would not come easily, and the Chamberlins’ beliefs were put through the most grueling of tests—a five-year trial that included four miscarriages, two of which occurred within one year. Chamberlin began to feel as if her maternal aspirations were fading and on her birthday, July 8, 2012, while in the depths of her grief she bought a journal.
“It was at that time that I asked God to take my pen and write my story,” she says.
And in true miraculous fashion, God was ready to write a masterpiece.
Miller’s testament reveals a different reality. Growing up in Kansas City, Miller watched her own mother, who was 14 when Miller was born, work tirelessly to provide for her family. Miller was a stellar student and wanted nothing more than a future that would relieve her family of life’s pressures that made upward mobility a struggle. But then, during a time when Miller felt adrift, she discovered she was pregnant, and her childhood came to an abrupt end.
On March 1, 2011, 16-year old Miller gave birth to Troy. She recalls having Troy was the most treasured part of her life. Still, there were nights they cried together, unsure what the future would hold. The judgment she faced only added to what she felt was a grim picture. Miller knew the system was not working in her favor and came to the realization that she needed to find another way.
“If I could describe how I felt walking through the process of adoption, picture me sitting in a dark room by myself and God being the small dim light bulb hanging from the ceiling,” Miller says. “I did not want Troy to go through the mud with me, and I knew breaking my back was still not going to be enough. God said to me, ‘There is another way. Look at yourself. Why don’t we find a really nice family for Troy?’ It was bittersweet.”
And this is when simultaneous destiny brought them all together.
Chamberlin was an adoption caseworker at The Lighthouse, an agency specializing in adoption and assisting women in parenting. Although she worked with infant adoption on a regular basis, personally, she had always had a heart for older children in the foster care system and most of her life believed that one day she would open her home to an older child.
Miller had never considered adoption while pregnant but understood that in order to give Troy what she wanted him to have most, happiness, she would have to allow a loving family to embrace him. On July 10, Chamberlin received an e-mail from her mother that she had been praying for her and that she felt God tell her that her daughter would be a mother and would be a mother very soon. This confused her because she was going through a miscarriage that week.
Two hours later, Chamberlin received a call from a private adoption lawyer that told her about a 16-month old boy named Troy and his mother who were seeking an open adoption. Although Chamberlin had been approached about other children on several occasions before, this felt very different. She felt a stirring in her heart to meet them. July 13 marked their first visit and by July 22, Troy was placed in the Chamberlins’ arms. Through tears, Miller knew they had all found the perfect match. It felt like destiny and God’s plan for Troy’s life was beginning to unfold.
Those closest to the Chamberlins describe the immediate and complete joy that Troy brought to the family.
“I don’t think I will ever forget the beaming smiles on their faces that they wore constantly for months. After watching them go through so much heartache, the pure joy and gift of Troy to this family was so evident,” Julie’s mother says.
The attachment was very natural for Austin, Julie and their new son, Troy. He was the perfect fit for their family, and the bonding was immediate. The Chamberlins could feel God’s hand in the whole thing and knew the extended families of all involved were praying for the transition and for Troy’s heart, and those prayers were answered. Troy is confident in his family, is very protective of his mom and is proud to be a Chamberlin. He loves his story.
“The open adoption has been a very healthy and beautiful experience. It does not take away from the fact that I am his mother. He knows the difference, and it’s joyful. It’s not broken but feels whole,” Chamberlin says.
There is no formula for adoption but, for this family, the method is close to seamless. This does not mean that there are never any tears shed, as Chamberlin expressed her heart broke for Miller’s sacrifice, but both believe there is a certain joy and beauty in being adopted. Chamberlin believes it brings an acceptance that everyone has been adopted by God.
“With every visit, I receive a little kiss from God reminding me that I am still his birth mom. In the beginning, there was a lot of bitter and the end, lots of sweet,” Miller says.
Their adoption has reinvented what family means and exemplifies a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning. Together, they have successfully established an open communication and rich family traditions.
Today Austin and Julie Chamberlin have been blessed with another son while Troy proudly wears the crown of “big brother.” As for Miller, she is building upon her dreams by attending college and wants to communicate one last thing to all mothers considering adoption:
“Don’t be afraid. The only thing that matters is the well-being of your child. Children are brought into this world with love and forgiveness in their hearts, and even though Troy isn’t with me physically, I still feel him. I feel his love like he is right by my side. So let God guide you and keep an open mind and an open heart.”
“His love of his birth mom does not take away from his love of me,” Chamberlin says. “It has allowed him to know his heritage as well, and he is able to see his whole story.”
This is motherhood.