The Year of the Squish: Our Adoption Story Part 1


Last night, a very tired and emotional toddler cried her way upstairs to bed after a long day of well…being a toddler. She’s a pretty typical 18 month old with dreams of endless snacks, chasing the dog, and running wild and free across the church gym. She’s our Squish, our Emmi Boo, our Princess Cupcake, our Baby Girl, our Emmaline Jane. Today we celebrate the 1 year anniversary of THE AWESOME PHONE CALL that brought the Squish into our lives. This date marks the beginning of our first Family-Versary celebration, so I thought it was a good time to fulfill my promise to actually sit down and write out the whole crazy story. Some things are left out-things that are for her to tell when or if she wants to. The conversation about how much of our story to tell has been ongoing for the past year. We have finally settled on this one truth: It is God who wrote this story for our family, and ultimately it is for his glory and for our good. We hope it is for your good as well, so here it is!

May 21, 2014

It was the day before the last day of school at the preschool where I taught 2 and 3 year olds. Teachers, you know….you just know. I was ready for school to be over, I loved my kids, and I was ready for summer. I also knew that a really important meeting happened the day before, and I was wondering if maybe we would get word sometime that week about whether we had been chosen or not. We had been waiting 3 years to adopt, and we were tired and discouraged and unsure if we were still on the right path. A couple weeks before, we had been sent a profile of a ridiculously cute baby girl with pages and pages of information about her rare medical condition. We told our case worker that yes, we wanted to be considered as her adoptive family….and also decided that if we were not matched, then we would quit for a while and regroup. (I don’t know how I feel about admitting that we were just DONE…but there it is.) This profile was different though, because unlike the other profiles that came across our screens, this one was really well-written, and ACTUALLY had a date on it telling us when the adoption placement committee was going to meet and choose the family they thought would be the best fit. Often, we would submit our interest, and then never hear word about the kids again. (Let me be clear, this is not the fault of our fantastic, amazing, superhero case worker. It’s just the byproduct of a huge system with lots of work to be done and not enough people to do it.) We were relieved to have a date and a promise that we would get word. It’s hard to explain how much power is in just knowing these kids through their profiles. You wonder if they are your sons and daughters, you read their (often) heartbreaking stories, and you worry about them and whether they are finally in a forever home. And so, this little squishy baby girl with her tongue hanging out and a gigantic goofy grin was on my heart that morning on the day before the last day of school.

I watched my director and friend Amy walk down the hallway with the school phone in her hand and a wide-eyed look. My heart basically jumped out of my chest when she handed it to me and told me that there was a call for me. This was actually kind of weird, because my case worker knew to call my on my cell…but for some reason that day she called the preschool phone instead. I knew it was our case worker before I even spoke to her. I felt the world changing around me already, as I put the phone to my ear and quickly asked Amy to go watch my class. I sat down in a chair, and I heard the voice of my case worker saying “Congratulations! You’ve been chosen!!”


I have no idea what she said next, I just kept saying “I have to call Brian, I have to call Brian” and I did, and I choked out the words to him as best I could. I told the best guy in the world that we had been matched, FINALLY!

Then, I called my mom and my dad and my sister and brother and my best friend and I choked out the words that finally, FINALLY it was our time. I ran back down to my class and hugged my assistant Rosemary and Amy and told them I would be taking a year off because I had to be a mom. I love that these two special ladies were physically there to share in that moment with me! They are priceless, and they are still here as the best supporters and the biggest fans of the Squish. We told our assistant director Tanya, and then kept it a secret from the rest of the staff.

That. Was. So. Hard.

Sorry guys, I hope you still aren’t mad at me for that. ❤ 

Meanwhile, Brian was at work trying to process it all. (I kind of always dreamed that we would be together when we got the call. Boo.) He put down the phone in shock, turned around and looked at his assistant Leah, and said “That was it, that was the call! We’ve been matched!” He got to share the news with his two awesome coworkers, tried to work a bit, gave up, and then decided to just go home. He got on the phone and called all his family members and shared the news all the way home on his 45 minute commute.

We both got home later that afternoon and finally remembered to call our case worker back at some point! Oops. We got word that we would get to meet Baby Girl just two days later on Friday. TWO. DAYS.

And so we met our daughter two days later. Our daughter. Our Emmaline Jane.

(Stick around for Part 2!)

Now is the Start


I feel that familiar “I’m such a failure at blogging” feeling as I just looked at my last post from OCTOBER 2014. Granted, there has been tragedy and upheaval and sadness and joy and stress and traveling all stuffed into this 5 month silence. There is a giant lump in my throat as I try to type words about losing both my paternal grandparents 49 days apart. The holidays were tough and joyful and fun and somber all at the same time. We just bought our first house, and I’m literally having regular nightmares about it. My little brother recently got married to his perfect match, and I smile and laugh out loud as I edit those photos. Our little Emmaline Jane is growing and talking and learning and defying the odds every day. YOU GUYS, SHE IS SO HEALTHY! There are more words to say about her, and I am working on writing our story. She needs me to write it, and every day I become more sure that God wants us to be very vulnerable and share the story he wrote for us. The photos above are from Easter Sunday, and like every other poor child in the Southern United States….she was forced to take photos outside instead of being allowed to eat and take a nap. It’s a long and glorious tradition. Look at those curls! We didn’t know they existed until the good old North Carolina humidity set in last week. The dress kills me, and she loves her disco shoes and the way they throw sparkles on everything. She’s a mess. I love every bit of her.

I opened an Etsy shop, and I’m still doing sessions and weddings and events! Running a small business and taking care of a family is a hard balancing act, and I’m ok with working less and pouring energy and creativity and love into fewer sessions and events. Many of the people already on the calendar for 2015 are those who have stayed with me for years! I love getting calls and emails and texts from clients who have become friends. They are the heart of Bonnie B. Photography and I could not stay at home and watch my little girl grow up without their loyalty and support. It’s an honor to watch their children grow up, to document their memories, and to be a tiny part of their family history.

I’m dreaming up new ideas and projects! The need for foster families and adoptive families in the US is so great, and I’m looking for ways to advocate and share and hopefully use my words and any influence I have to encourage families to bring home these sons and daughters. I’m also hoping to branch out and help families preserve their memories by offering a photo archiving service. It’s hearbreaking to sort through a loved one’s belongings and find photos that we will never know the story behind. I would love to help families tell those stories, preserve them, and have a family narrative to treasure and read and look at and show to their children and grandchildren.

Well, that is a random assortment of what I have been up to! How about a song?

This song is one of my favorites from A Fine Frenzy. The lyrics are all about a fresh start and renewal and pushing forward. I love the line that says “Unafraid you can name your scars.” You can watch the video if you want! Thanks for being a pal and reading all this.

Bonnie B.

“You Don’t Give Up on Love”

I am so very honored to help tell this story of radical love, perseverance, and rescue. Meet the Henson family! I have known Robin  for several years, and this is one amazing family! As Brian and I wait on God to reveal the next chapter of our own adoption story, He placed it on my heart to do what I can to advocate for other adoptive families. The Henson’s adoption journey is unique, as it began with actually meeting their little girl in an orphanage in Mexico. They have been working tirelessly for the past 2 years to bring Andrea home and to make her part of their forever family. Tony and Robin live in Wake Forest with their two sons Gabe and Micah, their dog Pablo, and they have one daughter, Shelby, who attends Liberty University. Read below to find out how you can help them bring Andrea home!


1.) How did you meet Andrea?

We met Andrea in June 2010 when we were visiting Acuna, MX to do some mission work. We know people affiliated with the shelter she lives in, and they took us to meet the children.

2.) What events led to your decision to pursue adopting her?

Andrea won our hearts. I (Robin) didn’t interact with Andrea on the first day. She stood back while the other children were happy to see us. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to approach her. This may sound really horrible, but she dug at her head continuously and I thought she had lice. In a sense, I was afraid to get around her. The second day, she did the same. She stayed to herself, still digging at her head, but I couldn’t ignore her. I bent down with my arms stretched out towards her. After a few seconds, she came right to me and I scooped her up onto my lap, but she had wet through her clothes. My immediate reaction (I would have naturally reacted this way to my own children) was to put her down quickly, not thinking at all! When I did, she immediately turned away and sat down in a little space between two bunk beds. She sat in the floor and would pull little strands of yarn out of a plastic container and while she did it, she would occasionally look up at me with the blunt stare. It broke my heart and I knew I had rejected her, at least in her mind. I knew then that I wasn’t leaving until I made things right between us. It took a few tries, but she eventually got up and came to me and I held her until I had to go. She never moved once held her. She laid her head on my shoulder and that was it. She was content. She just wanted to be held. At that point, I thought she was about 18mo-2yrs. We would later find out that she was four. She was just very tiny. From that point on, I wanted her. She was mine. We went back the following year and spent some more time with her. We left there saying, “Yep, she’s our little girl!”

3.) What does the adoption process look like when adopting from Mexico?

The adoption program in MX is still pretty new. We began our adoption process in December 2011, two months after our AZ agency was approved (there are only three agencies in the US approved to adopt in MX). With that being said, we’re kind of like guinea pigs. But, that is okay with us. We knew that going in and knew we had to take whatever steps necessary to get Andrea. I think what is important to point out is that MX is learning right now. They have begun operating under the Hague Convention (this protects everyone and ensures the children are not being trafficked in any way) and there is so much to be learned about the laws, that they are learning as they go. I know this has to be frustrating for them and it takes time.

4.) There was a point in the process where another family was chosen for Andrea, how did those events unfold, and how did you and your family deal with the disappointment?

Yes, when we visited the State DIF (like social services here in the U.S.) in Saltillo last January, the Procuradora (the head attorney) expressed that she was in favor of us having Andrea “if” a Mexican couple didn’t want her. They began circulating her file. I didn’t think anyone would come for her only because she has been in the shelter since she was one. At that time, she was about to turn 7. I felt “safe,” thinking she was ours. A few months later, we got word that a Mexican couple had expressed a desire to adopt Andrea and had begun their bonding visits. I really felt numb. I don’t know how else to describe it. I was afraid to let too much emotion out and was trying not to hurt. We told the kids at the kitchen table and explained to them that the important thing to remember was that Andrea was going to have parents who loved her, and we should try to be very happy for her as sad as it was for us. I also prayed that they were believers and gave it to the Lord. I had to. I was too heartbroken to take all of this on my own. It’s interesting because Tony felt strongly that we needed to wait to make sure Andrea was going to be adopted by this other couple before we pursued another child. He didn’t want to go on just yet. I am so thankful that he was so adamant about it because sure enough, a couple of months later, we found out that the couple had decided not to adopt Andrea because after some tests were run, it was determined that she does have special needs. My heart broke for her, wondering what message this sent to her, but I was so thankful that this led her back to us. I am thankful to my husband for the guidance during that time and most definitely thankful to the Lord.


5.) How has your heart changed since you met Andrea?

Tony- Even though we don’t really know Andrea yet. We know that we love her like a mother loves her unborn child. It has been a long 2 year pregnancy of a 7 year old. The exception to that is that we have met her and helped her and interacted with her. With every step of completion we have had more and more the feeling that she is a part of our family. You don’t give up on love. We love her and we know that we must persevere.

Robin- My heart has definitely changed in that I know that I have to be an advocate, one who speaks on behalf of orphaned children. I may not be able to adopt another child after Andrea, or may not have tons of money to give for an adoption, but there is something that I can always do. I can spend $5.00 to buy an ornament from a family raising money for their adoption, I can give $10.00 or donate items around my home to a family having a yard sale to help fund their adoption. There is just so much. I can spread the word about adoption. Social media gives me no excuse whatsoever. My heart knows there is work to be done and I will do it, with joy!

6.) What has frustrated you about this process?

Tony- Wow, This has been a PROCESS. If I had to say one thing that is most frustrating in the adoption, it would be the cost. There are lots of other things that are frustrating but most are a necessary evil. The single biggest obstacle we have had to overcome is the cost of adoption. You have a family who is called to adopt and is hindered and sometimes stopped from it because of the cost associated with it. This includes both domestic and international adoption. We are blessed to have had some amazing support along our journey, and God’s hand has been all over this process.

Robin- The frustration for me is that this process takes so long. I keep thinking there has to be a better way. These children are sitting in orphanages/shelters day in and day out needing parents to just wrap their arms around them. Each day that goes by is another day that most of these children go without a hug or a smile, a wink, a word of praise, a day without someone saying, “I love you,” or, “Great job!” They have no one to sing songs to them or tell them Jesus loves them. This is so frustrating to me. Those children (and I am including teenagers) need us. Yes, there has to be a better way. And people must stop being apathetic. We need to face this head-on. There is a problem. Children are parentless and we CAN do something. What people think of as such a small thing that wouldn’t make a difference (a $1.00 donation for instance) can make a huge difference if everyone else would give a dollar. Most people can give a dollar! This seems so easy, but people don’t realize the impact of such a small donation if everyone chipped in. My point is that some aren’t called to adopt, but we are ALL called to help in some way, and we don’t have to be wealthy to help.


7.) What has amazed you about this process?

Tony- My Wife. She is an amazing godly woman. She has been stretched and grown through this process. I have always know my wife’s passion and love that she has in her heart, but even to a person looking at this from the outside, the love she has in her heart for this little girl, a little girl she barely knows, you see she loves her like she is her own child. You hear stories of how people love adopted children like their own. I have no doubt that Andrea will be loved by us and our family as if she were biologically ours. Another thing that amazes me is the work my wife has put into fundraising.

Robin- Others. I have been amazed and at times absolutely struck speechless by those who have supported us…. By their generosity, by their prayers, by their counsel. There have been many that have helped us that we don’t even know, complete strangers. I have been amazed at many things throughout this adoption. I knew it would be difficult, but the emotional strain has been much, but in that, I have seen my faith grow and I have seen myself persevere because I know the Lord has given me this great passion. It has been amazing to partner with my husband and work together to do something that is so beyond us. We have stepped out of our comfort zone and committed that we will follow the Lord throughout this journey. Our kids have been such a big part of this journey. It has been awesome seeing them get so excited. Our daughter is 18 and we have two sons, 13 and 9. I love hearing them tell about our adoption and Andrea and have been so touched when they sit down wanting to make ornaments to sell and then to see them set out on foot in the neighborhood to raise money are for me, treasurable moments. So, seeing our family come together has been amazing. Also, the people who have come alongside us has been an awesome experience. I think a few times, I just stopped and said, “I never knew those people cared so much about us.” And I didn’t. But then, it really wasn’t about us, it was about answering a call, and I know that’s what these precious people have done. This whole journey, as exhausting as it has been, has grown us together as a couple, as a family, and grown us closer to the Lord. Also, we have seen how the body of Christ works together. I don’t mean that as in just a specific church (though that too is true), but I mean the body of Christ overall. I have been amazed to see the Lord work in the body, not just with our adoption, but with other adoptions as well. It takes all of us helping one another. Prayer, no doubt, has gotten us through. And it will continue to get us through.


8.) What is the next step in your journey to bring Andrea home?

We’ll leave to visit Andrea November 30 and return home December 7. We will have visitation with her that M-F. Once we return, the formal referral with be written up. At that time, the referral and Andrea’s medical records will be sent to homeland security for approval. After the approval, Mexico will begin the application process for the visa. Once the visa is in, then an application for Andrea’s birth certificate will be processed. Upon receipt of her birth certificate, we can then travel to get her and bring her home. Hopefully, this is about six month from now.

9.) Do you have any encouragement for other families waiting for placement?

First, know that you are not alone! There many right there with you. Some will have the financial means, but know that most don’t. We are not a family of money. When we knew we were being called to adopt, we were a bit confused because we didn’t have any sort of income to support an adoption. But, we have fundraised much of our way through and have had generous people come alongside us financially, whether it was someone giving us 10.00 or $1000.00. Also, we applied for grants and received two! If you know you are being called to adopt, answer that call. Don’t give up. I have cleaned homes since Mar/13’ just specifically to raise money for the adoption. My family and I make ornaments at Christmas and sell them. What I hope for when our adoption is complete is for others in our shoes without a high income to say, if they did it, we can too. We can clothe and feed another child. That isn’t the problem, but coming up with $20,000-30,000 is another story. However, I know that my God is big and He can do great things. He has already and I know He will continue. There are ups and downs. The process is slow and at times, you may grow weary, but just remember, you are answering a call and sometimes the road is bumpy, but I look at it as a way that the Lord is strengthening us on the journey of faith. Perseverance pays off and in the end, you have rescued yet another orphan and been obedient to what the Lord has called you to do.

If you would like to donate to the Henson family to help bring Andrea home, click one of links below. There are two websites where you can give. If you prefer PayPal, please use the Fundrazr site. If you prefer to pay via debit or credit only, please use the Gofundme site. 

Henson Adoption

Henson Adoption

The Hensons also make beautiful pinecone ornaments for Christmas! Click here for more info on how you can purchase one and give to their adoption fund.

Thank you for reading! If you would like to know more about adoption in the US, please visit If you would like to know more about adopting internationally, please visit for more info. 

Bonnie B.