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For the Least of These: The Steeles

Greg, Tiffany and Erik Steele

Greg, Tiffany and Erik Steele

Greg (’08) and Tiffany (Thompson ’09) Steele met while students at Abilene Christian University and found a common bond in the idea of adopting a child.

“Many people think that adoption is a fall-back plan or a safety net for infertile couples,” Tiffany says. “Adoption is anything but that. It is pure love, joy and completely miraculous. We always planned and prayed for our sweet Erik; we just didn’t know God’s timing on the matter.”

Greg is preaching minister at Heritage Church of Christ in Rowlett, and Tiffany teaches middle school at Firewheel Christian Academy in Garland.

We continue our series about Abilene Christian University alumni who have followed their hearts to adopt with Tiffany’s account of their journey to adopt Erik:

A Heart for Adoption

Everybody’s story has to start somewhere. Erik’s story began long before he was ever conceived, deep inside our hearts.

A feature series from ACU Today

A feature series from ACU Today

Greg and I met at Passport at ACU in the summer of 2005. We were both planning on being members of the Big Purple Marching band. He played the tuba, and I twirled baton and participated in color guard. Once we offcially started school in August, we became quick friends. We ended up going on our first date that fall, and the rest is history. I remember the moment I knew I wanted to marry Greg. We were sitting outside McKinzie Hall talking about children. He said he always imagined having children AND adopting children. He felt very strongly that God calls us to care for the orphan and widow, and he thought adoption was a wonderful way to do just that. I had always imagined adopting a child, and to find someone with the same idea was absolutely mind-blowing.

Greg and I married in August 2008. He was working on his M.Div. at ACU, and all I had left was student teaching in the education department. By May 2012, I had been teaching in the Abilene Independent School District for three years, and Greg graduated with his M.Div. We picked up and moved to the metroplex for Greg to begin preaching.

When Greg and I decided to start trying to have a baby, we both imagined a short and blissful journey to achieving our dream, but day after day, week after week, there was nothing. We tried to ignore the problem, and we told no one. We suffered silently for the first couple of years. There are no words to describe the heartbreak we felt. I know that I felt completely defective. I was made to be a momma, but this just wasn’t working.

We knew that we could love any child, and we felt that God calls us to adopt children who need a home. We never knew if it would be sooner or later, but we knew we wanted it to happen. As we tried and tried, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this was the time, but I didn’t bring it up.

Many people think that adoption is a fall-back plan or a safety net for infertile couples. Adoption is anything but that. It is pure love, joy and completely miraculous. We always planned and prayed for our sweet Erik; we just didn’t know God’s timing on the matter.

Little did we know that in late August 2010 God put the first stepping stone to lead us straight to Erik. That August evening I met a precious little girl at “meet the teacher.” She stole my heart from the moment I met her. I was so nervous to start my first real classroom teaching job, but this little girl created an immediate peace in my heart, and my heart latched onto hers instantly. My dear Bailey (name changed for confidentiality) was such a joy and, oh, so special. She was always eager to learn, and loved putting her new skills to work. She was such a joy to teach!

Sadly, I did not get to keep my sweet Bailey in class all year. She had some horrible things happen to her in her home. I reported the abuse, and she was quickly taken to a safe place within a 48-hour period. I held her hand at the hospital while she was examined for old bruising, and I held her close to my heart. I thought to myself, “This is why God connected our hearts – so I could help save her life.” I went a year or more without seeing her; then I testified in court as a CPS witness. After all of that, I met Bailey’s new, forever momma, and she was such an amazing woman. God gave me peace that Bailey would be OK.

Erik Steele

Erik love Mickey Mouse, cars, books, trucks and superheroes.

Time passed. Fertility issues still stared me straight in the eyes. I finally went to the doctor, and she told me that Greg and my chances of getting pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy, and carrying a baby was somewhere between slim and none. I was angry. I remember sitting in my car screaming outside of our local Chick-fil-A (they probably thought I was some kind of crazy person). I yelled at God. I said, “YOU CREATED ME TO BE A MOTHER. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LET ME BE ONE!” That’s how I felt. I felt so confused. After yelling at God, I made the drive to tell Greg the news. I will never forget how inadequate I felt as I looked my husband in the eyes and told him that I was broken. Greg was amazing. He insisted that I was just who God wanted me to be, and I definitely was not BROKEN.

After the anger wore off, my prayers became obedient and meaningful. I asked God to show us what to do. The adoption idea started to surface again. I thought maybe this is God’s way of telling me that it was time. I brought it up to Greg, and he agreed. We prayed about it for three months then decided in September we would let everyone know that we wanted to adopt.

Fast forward to October. I got a random text message from Bailey’s momma telling me she had good news and that I should call later. I called and ended up in Abilene to see Bailey’s mom. We went outside for her to take a break, and I met a friend of Bailey’s mom who said, her daughter was pregnant and was due in early December. They could not keep the baby.

You know what happens from there. I spent some time with Erik’s birth grandma (affectionately called Nammy), and from there I met Julie. Julie was my age, born only a month apart. She was truly precious, and I instantly fell in love with her. She was beautiful, funny, smart and driven. She was strong, bold and courageous. She was Erik’s tummy momma.

Julie had several devastating life experiences, and just weeks before I met her, she sat in the waiting room of Pregnancy Resources of Abilene planning to ask for an abortion. Little did she know that the love of Christ was waiting for her just behind the waiting room doors. The doctor and nurses there helped her realize that adoption would give life to her son. She left that day with a sonogram of Erik and a plan. Just weeks later, Julie and I met.

Over the next few weeks, we rushed to get a baby boy room ready. We had lots of help from friends, family and our church, and we got everything we needed and more. I went back to Abilene with Greg so he could meet Julie, and we went to some doctor appointments as well. Julie’s doctor let us hear Erik’s heartbeat and then did a special sonogram just so we could see our little guy. It was amazing. I cried through the whole thing. It all seemed so surreal.. But I knew that God had always had a plan. Ever since I was young, God was watching over me. He was watching over Greg as he grew up in the Texas Panhandle, and Julie as she grew up in West Texas. I know God made all of us with each other in mind. Ever since the moment I met Bailey in my kindergarten classroom, God slowly began to reveal this amazing plan to me. He began to connect the dots to an amazing puzzle that would create a true masterpiece.

Meeting Erik for the first time

Meeting Erik for the first time

Erik was born in the early morning hours at Abilene Regional Medical Center on Nov. 29, 2012. He was perfect from head to toe. Greg and I witnessed our son’s birth. It was the single most miraculous thing I have ever witnessed.

Our journey to meet our son began in our hearts and ended in a small hospital room in Abilene that was filled with love. God brought Erik to all of us, birth family and adoptive family, for a reason beyond any we can imagine.

There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t thank God for Erik, his birth family, the doctors and nurses at Pregnancy Resources, and my sweet Bailey and her momma.

It is truly amazing to see how beautifully God weaves our lives in such an outstanding way beyond any we could imagine. God always has a plan, even when you feel there is nowhere to turn. All you have to do is reach out, take His hand and jump. He will take care of the rest!

Erik is now 2 years old. He is healthy and happy. He is the only grandchild on either side of our families, so he is spoiled rotten!

In the weeks to come, we will introduce you to other alumni who help make a real difference in the world – and enrich their own families – by adopting and fostering children.

You can follow new stories in this series on the ACU Facebook page.

See previous posts in this series:

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About the Author

About the Author: Robin Saylor (M.S. ’03) is director of content strategy for University Marketing and editor of ACU Today online. In addition to writing and editing, she develops strategies to promote the university through web, social media, print publications, video, e-newsletters and other communication channels.
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