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An Adoption Journey with Beth and Frank

06/05/18

Adoption is a beautiful journey—one filled with hope and promise. And like all good journeys, it has unexpected twists and turns and moments of incredible frustration balanced out by times of unfathomable joy. No matter what kind of adoption you choose, it’s important to form a solid working relationship with those who are traveling with you on this journey—your adoption agency and counselors.

Meet Beth Phillips and Frank Pippel. About a dozen years ago, Beth, then a dietician at Lutheran Crossings in Moorestown, and her husband, Frank, a software engineer with Lockheed Martin, were ready to start a family. They had been married for several years and were open to having a biological child or adopting a child. Beth spoke with the chaplain at Lutheran Crossings and he shared information about Lutheran Social Ministries’ adoption program, something Beth didn’t know about.

As she then learned, LSMNJ has been a licensed adoption agency since 1948 with a multi-faceted program that offers infant, older child, identified, and relative adoptions. After careful consideration, Beth and Frank decided to embark on their adoption journey with LSM as their guide. They completed the necessary paperwork, including an in-depth home study that explained who they were as a couple, their beliefs, what was important to them, etc., and indicated that they were open to adopting any child of any race, age or gender. Then they waited.

It was October 2005 when the couple, a week into their vacation in Ireland, got a call from their LSM adoption counselor telling them that a birth mother was about to go into labor. She asked if they would like their profile to be shared with the birth mother. They agreed, and the birth mother, upon seeing their profile, chose them. Beth and Frank immediately booked a flight home and arrived back in the States the next day, stopping only to purchase a car seat and crib on their way to meet their new son and take him home. They were so very excited and nervous. And that’s how this couple grew into a family—with the arrival of a beautiful baby boy they named Josiah.

When their son was about a year old, Frank and Beth decided two things—not to have biological children and to be open to adopting more. "Having had such an incredible experience with Lutheran Social Ministries the first time, we knew we wanted to continue our journey with them again when we were ready,” says Beth. After Josiah turned two, they started the process a second time and created an updated profile. “Josiah is bi-racial and we were open to adopting a boy or girl of any race as long as we could preserve the birth order so that Josiah would always be the oldest in the family—something we were advised to do and that made sense to us,” explains Beth.

Once they were eligible, their waiting period only took three weeks—a very rare time frame, as the process typically takes much longer—before they got the call that their new son was born. Beth and Frank were thrilled to meet the boy they named Julian and have him join the family! Over the course of the next year, Josiah slowly grew accustomed to his new baby brother, and they all bonded. While Frank and Beth thought they might like to continue to grow their family one day, they weren’t quite ready yet.

“Our oldest son, Josiah, lulled us into a sense that parenting is easy. Julian was a little harder to parent so we waited a bit longer before letting our adoption counselor know we were ready,” says Beth. “Having two small children, we needed to give them time and attention.”

It was a few years later when they were ready to adopt again. This time, they were matched with a woman who wanted to meet them and get to know the family before her baby was born. They bonded right away and before they knew it, Jace was born. Another beautiful bouncing baby boy!

After several more years, Beth (who is one of five siblings) and Frank (an only child) decided they were open to one more adoption. They completed their home study and in a very short time, Diane D’Agostino, their adoption counselor, showed their profile to an expectant mother who selected them. The baby’s arrival date and gender were unknown so Beth, Frank and their boys all eagerly awaited the call that the baby was born.

“On the morning of Josiah’s birthday, Frank and I took the boys out for a celebratory breakfast,” recalls Beth. “When we came home, the phone rang and we learned that the baby was born and it was a girl! I’ll never forget Josiah’s reaction—‘Oh my gosh, best birthday present ever!’—and it was! We were all thrilled to bring home our new daughter, Jeah.” (As you may have noticed, Beth and Frank chose names for each of their children that share the first letter “J”; the children’s middle names are those given to them by their birth mothers. It’s one more way that Beth and Frank encourage their children to bond with each other and appreciate their unique history.)

Full of praise for Lutheran Social Ministries’ adoption program, Beth shares the wisdom she gained along the way: “Adoption is full of rewards but it also has its own set of challenges. I can’t imagine our trying to navigate the system alone. LSM’s Adoption Options program was there with us every step of the way, guiding, advising, and helping us grow our beautiful family. My advice to anyone contemplating adoption is to choose a reputable agency. We would never have wanted to go with a private adoption through a lawyer—we wanted and needed the support of the agency and are so thankful we made that decision.”

Reflecting on their parenting journey, Beth says: “We are so fortunate to know that we were chosen by the birth mothers and by God. The more children you have in your life, the more stories you’re going to have. Our children belong to us and to each other and we all belong together.” Amen!