Meet our family:

We are the Black family: Daren, Shannon, & Addilynn {And we hope to add many more names to that line!}

Addi's grandpa has a favorite saying that goes, "Life is what happens when your busy making plans." We have learned that to be true. When we first got married we planned to have a large family. While we still hope this will be in our future, we have been blessed to learn that Heavenly Father intends for our family to be built through adoption.

Our family's story begins in the summer of 2002 at Brigham Young University - Idaho. Daren and I were new freshman and just eighteen when we started school that summer. I think I first laid eyes on him about three days into school and he fondly became known as "Red Shirt Boy" to my roommates and I. If there is such a thing as love at first sight, I'm not sure but I do know that from the moment I saw him my heart couldn't take my eyes off of him. We met a few days latter at a little pizza place called Craigo's and from that day on our circles of friends became closer. As we got to know one another we became fast friends and started dating at the end of July. Before we knew it, we were both head over heals in love.

Daren turned 19 in October. In our faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) when young men turn 19, they have the opportunity to serve a mission and share the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. Daren had dreamt about this opportunity his whole life as he had watched his older brothers and sister serve. As Daren and I finished the semester and were getting ready for our school year to end, it was also getting harder and harder to deal with the fact that we were going to have to put "us" on hold for two years. But we both realized that we were going to give up some thing good for something better.

We both went home at the end of the semester to work, Daren to California and I to Minnesota. Daren prepared for his mission as well and left in March 2003. Daren was able to serve a 2 year mission in Paraguay and bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to many people there. As much as I missed him, it gave me an opportunity to spend that two years growing up and pursuing my degree in teaching elementary school children. We remained close friends through letters and the days, weeks, and months flew. Daren came home in May 2005 and when we saw each other after those two long years it was as if no time had passed at all. He was only home a few weeks when we decided that this was it-- we were meant for each other and were getting married at the end of the summer. Daren and I got married on August 20th, 2005 and that was the first best day of our lives.

As time went on I finished school and began teaching. Daren pursued business @ BYU-I and had various business opportunities that took us to Arizona and New Mexico for summer jobs. We bought our first home, did tons of renovation and even added some dogs and cats to our family. Things were good but we were dealing with the hard-to-face trial of infertility. We were trying for about 2 1/2 years when I first went to the doctor and was diagnosed with polycystic-ovarian syndrome. Several months and lots of drugs later we still weren't getting pregnant and Daren got checked out-- he had fertility issues as well and between the two of us we were told we were out of luck and that we would never have children of our own.

This news was probably the most heartbreaking thing anyone has ever said to either of us. All of your life you ponder, plan, and prepare to get married and have a family, and in one moment those dreams are shattered. I can only describe the following days of that news as the darkest of my life, lonely, hopeless, and broken. I felt angry and devastated. I felt hurt. I felt far away from my Heavenly Father, as though he was purposely holding back the only thing I had ever wanted. All of these emotions swirling together in my grief were slowly destroying me. On the third day I had the distinct impression to pray and turn my grief over to my Heavenly Father. This was a pivotal point in my testimony of our Savior's atonement. I knew that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ knew my heart and my hurt, I knew that the Savior was bearing that burden with us, I knew they loved  Daren and me, I knew that despite our physical inability to have a family they still trusted us to do so and that there would be a way provided for us to do that. Daren and I knew at this point that adoption was our new path and the new dream.

We first attended an adoption orientation on February 12th, 2009. We were excited and full of hope, but a bit discouraged because of the money required to begin the adoption process. We figured that on our budget it would take us at least 6 months to raise the money for the home study and a few years to be able to pay for and finalize an adoption. As we prayed to be able to adopt and know when it was time to begin our family, we saw miracles happening for us financially. Just two months later we had the money required to start our home study and began it on April 15th.

We began filling our profile @ ldsfs with tons of pictures and answering lot and lots and LOTS of questions. We spent hours upon hours of work getting ready for this but it felt so good to be able to work to be able in some small way to help bring our first little one home. June 23rd our home study was officially finished.

The waiting game began. We made passalong cards, our first adoption blog, wrote letters, everything we could think of to be proactive in finding our baby. What ultimately helped Brittani find us was our profile on Brittani contacted us October 16th 2009. We became facebook friends and were able to get to know each other a little bit. She was from Alaska, had my same coloring, loved sports, singing, and was a member of the army reserves. After just a week of talking with her she asked us to be her baby's parents because she said she felt like it was what Heavenly Father wanted for her baby girl.  Our hearts were so full they could burst that day. Brittani was due January 15th, exactly 9 months from when we began our home study.  It was obvious that Heavenly Father's hand was in this adoption.

Daren and I flew to Alaska on January 9th, 2010  so that we could be there for Brittani's 22nd birthday on the 10th. On the 11th at 8:30 in the morning we got the call that Britt was in labor and about 12 hours later Addilynn Ann came into the world. That was the next best day of our lives.

Time flies while you are having fun and now we have a busy little chatter-box toddler who blows our mind every day with the new things she learns and picks up on. Addilynn has been such a good little girl and is so fun. She loves to give hugs and play with other kids; she will be an awesome big sister.

So now the waiting game begins again for us and we are hopeful that the Lord's hand will be with our next baby's birthmother just like he was with our Brittani.