Our adoption journey started early in our marriage when we realized that conceiving a child might not happen as easily as we had hoped. Michelle was having a lot of health issues, and we began seeking the assistance of several medical specialists. They determined that she likely had a few different conditions that were contributing to our infertility and more exploration would be required.

After a few years, we decided that Michelle would have surgery to remove likely endometriosis and search for any other problems. The surgery seemed to reduce the strain on her body, and she finally got pregnant! Sadly, our joy was short lived as we lost our baby to miscarriage during Holy Week in 2011. This was crushing to both of us, and we struggled with how to deal with both our grief and this newfound hope that we might be able to have children after all.

Michelle often spoke about the challenges of infertility and the frustration that her body couldn’t perform one of its most natural functions of reproduction. She felt as if she was letting me down and holding us back in our dreams of having a family. Years went by and it became more and more heartbreaking every time a friend would announce that they were pregnant (again), while we were stuck in an endless loop of hormone treatments, diet experiments, and negative pregnancy tests.

We decided to push forward with more exploration with the NAPRO doctors affiliated with the Pope Paul VI Institute. After a few years of treatments including several more surgeries, additional specialists, and countless tests, we figured out that Michelle was suffering with chronic Lyme disease and that had likely caused some significant damage to some of her body’s systems. For years we prayed Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for a hope and a future and not for woe”. Despite our prayers, it was hard to continue to believe this after suffering for 15 years.

Michelle had always been open to adoption, but I was not very open to the idea. I was worried about trying to bond and raise a child that was not biologically ours, cautious about the financial component, and I also didn’t want to admit “failure” in our infertility battle. There were three “miracles”, as we call them, that really opened some doors for both of us.

Our Three Miracles

Michelle was still struggling with some serious health issues when a friend invited her to an Order of Malta healing Mass. At this point we thought that all of this suffering was God’s plan and she was just praying for acceptance and peace. During and after the mass, she was thankful to find some mental and spiritual peace. However, her cardiologist appointment the next day revealed some unbelievable test results: her heart health had drastically improved! The doctors looked at her like she had two heads when she told them about the healing mass she attended. We couldn’t quite believe it ourselves, but this had a big impact on Michelle’s daily functionality.

The second miracle was my change of heart. In terms of my adoption “conversion”, I believe one main factor was the years and years of prayers that so many people had offered for us to conceive. It’s a great example of how we never know how our prayer requests may be answered. I remember lying in bed one night and quietly saying “Can we talk about something?” Michelle responded with a pretty sleepy “uh-huh,” and after taking a moment to get up my courage, I responded “I think we should adopt.” This was met with a long silence. I was half hoping that maybe she had fallen asleep, and I could put that toothpaste back in the tube. However, she had heard me, and from that point we were off and running!

The third miracle occurred shortly after we decided to begin the adoption process. Michelle attended a healing mass with Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga, who was sharing a message of forgiveness after living through the Rwandan genocide. At this mass, Fr. Ubald processed around the church with the Blessed Sacrament and prayed over each pew of people. Afterwards, Michelle said hi and thanked him for the beautiful mass. Without him knowing anything about us or what she was praying for, he suddenly pulled her close and said, “By this time next year, you will have an infant in your arms!” At this point, we started to believe God really was calling us to adopt and that He was leading us forward in the process.

God Takes the Lead

We are not the type of people to make quick decisions – we typically take a lot of time to research and plan – but the next chain of events unfolded rapidly for us. It seemed like God was opening doors and we just had to walk through them. It was almost like He was saying, “I’ve been dropping hints for years and now we have to make up for lost time!”

Initially, we were intimidated by the number of adoption agencies, lawyers, and support groups. After sharing our news with close friends who had also adopted, they pointed us to Siena Adoption Consultants, who talked us through the adoption process and worked us through our home study. When Siena recommended Christian Adoption Consultants, we quickly contracted with them and began applying to various adoption agencies. And even though we had jumped into an expensive adoption process without a financial plan, God came through in a big way with a lot of very generous people.

We presented our profile to 6 different birth moms before meeting Crystal in August of 2020. She was due with a baby girl due in early January. The adoption agency let us know that Crystal had seen our profile book and wanted to talk to us. We were incredibly nervous leading up to our video “meet and greet,” but she was amazing and super easy to talk to. Near the end of our conversation, she shared that she was picking us to be her baby’s parents, and we burst into tears. Normally, crying in front of a near stranger on a video call would be awkward, but Crystal said that was exactly what she needed to see. She knew that her baby was going to be loved and treasured as the precious miracle she was. I remember hanging up and just sitting there next to each other in stunned silence thinking, “After all these years, did that really just happen?”

Our Miracle, Mila

We were able to visit Crystal a few times during her pregnancy. The first time was in October, and we spent a day with her and went to an ultrasound clinic to see the baby and hear her heartbeat! Crystal was amazing and she seemed just as excited for us to become parents as we were. She told us, “I know you will change her name, but I named her Mila,” because she thought of her as a “miracle” baby. Milagro means miracle in Spanish. Crystal cried when we told her that we were naming her Mila. Crystal had asked us to be with her for the birth. This was an amazing experience, and the next two days in the hospital with her and Mila were incredibly special. It was then we realized that Fr. Ubald had told Michelle that we would be parents just 10 months earlier!

One of the most beautiful and gut-wrenching moments was saying goodbye at the hospital. We had just had 14 years of prayers and dreams answered with a baby, and Crystal had spent 9 months loving and caring for her miracle baby whom she wanted to keep, but selflessly chose what she knew was best for her daughter. We will never forget that our joy came at the expense of Crystal’s loss and sacrifice. You can’t really go through something like this and not end up with a strong bond of love and respect.

God truly knew what was best for us and how we needed to endure some suffering, to grow spiritually, and to strengthen our marriage to discover the calling that he had planned for us. We certainly never could have dreamed that this would be the path our marriage would take 17 years ago, but we could not have written a more perfect story for our family.

Daniel and his wife Michelle have been married for 17 years and live in Virginia with their two young children. Daniel runs his own residential architectural firm and Michelle works part time as a parish director of music ministry. Daniel shares his and Michelle’s story because, “We hope that our story will inspire and open eyes to the beauty of the miracle of adoption.”