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The Sterks officially became a family of four on September 15th. I was honored to be there to document the court hearing. It was so amazing to see many of the Sterk’s friends and family members, as well as Anthony’s previous case workers come to celebrate with them. Anthony is one loved boy. Although he felt a little self conscious being photographed all day, I have a feeling he will be so grateful to have these photos to look back and remember this day.

This day was such a beautiful ending to an unimaginably hard road for both Anthony and his adoptive family. It was pure joy to witness it.

Anthony’s mom wrote the following about the journey that led to this day:

“Our story started long ago. I was 6 years old playing with baby dolls and knew someday I would be a mom. The years past and I met a handsome guy and knew I wanted to marry him and I knew I wanted kids…5 kids to be exact. October 21, 2006 we got married. After our first anniversary we agreed we were ready to start our family. Next year we would be parents! Or not…1 year passed then 2 years passed. We wondered…what is God thinking? What is His plan? Doesn’t he know the pain and emptiness we felt? Would we ever have a family?

A few more months and soon we would find out that we were expecting a little miracle. Our first miracle was Ava and she was born in the fall of 2009. Fast forward another year…maybe we should try for another baby, after all we plan to have 4 more! Years passed and no baby. No sister or brother for our daughter.

We continued to pray and had faith that God had a plan for our little family. Maybe His plan was different from ours. Maybe that is ok, but we wanted our family to grow. We thought about adopting a baby. We thought about foster care. When we first got married, my parents became foster parents for refugee children. We watched them bless children who had been through so much and had so little. I was able to attend various events with sponsored by Bethany Christian Services. My heart started to stir and I ached for these children. I could provide a safe place for a child who had experienced fear and trauma. I could give them love. Best of all, I could share Jesus love.

We decided to become licensed in refugee foster care. We were blessed to foster several beautiful children. We thought we would bless them, but they blessed us. It was not always easy…these children had endured so much loss. We could never even imagine what it would feel like to experience what they experienced.

The thought of adoption stated to stir in our hearts. December 2013 we received a call from Bethany Christian Services about an 11 year old boy from Honduras. On December 26, 2013, our second miracle walked into our home and hearts. Ava knew before we did, that he would one day be her brother. The very first day she met Anthony she called him brother. Days turned into months and we soon knew that would be adopting Anthony. I say miracle, not only because all children our miracles, but Anthony traveled over 2,000 miles before coming to our home. Never had we imagined this!

On September 15, we walked into the court room to finalize Anthony’s adoption. The room was full of our family and friends. Our hearts over flowing. Our hearts also heavy. One of the hardest things for us to process is that one of our greatest gifts was Anthony’s greatest heartbreak. Our gain came from him going through great loss.

Leading up to the adoption hearing, I kept running into Ecclesiastes 3: 11. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

You see, God’s plan is not always the same as our plan. We don’t always understand why, but when we have faith that He is in control and trust Him we can look back and see that indeed, he has made EVERYTHING beautiful in His time. For this we are grateful!”  -Ashley Sterk