We have a secret.

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We have a secret. Or I should say we had a secret. I think it’s probably pretty obvious by now, but thanks for indulging our little mystery for a bit. It’s officially time to bring you into our story.

I’ll be honest with you, this is not exactly how we’d hoped to tell you. Ideally, we’d hoped to tell each of you in person, with lots of hugs and love and squealing and tears (at least from me, because I have seriously been an emotional beast the last 3 months. Maybe it’s better that you haven’t seen me). But we’ve been a little busy and seeing everyone on our list hasn’t been our reality yet. We’re still working on that. Thanks for hanging in there with us.

We also hoped to have a unique, creative something put together to make this little announcement’s online presence. Hence the untimely teasers. But alas, our time has been spent elsewhere and here we are just writing about it in a blogpost.

 

So here we go.

Jeremy and I just celebrated 13 years of marriage, and in that time, we’ve lived with open hands to the adventures laid out before us. We’ve always said our lives together have been an incredible journey– one without a 5-year plan. We try to live every day open to whatever the Lord has in store for us, never holding too tightly to our own agenda. And this year has certainly been no different. It’s been an incredible year as we continue to watch in amazement as the Lord leads us into His story.

And now a new adventure awaits us. There is one thing that’s been on our hearts for at least 13 years that has yet to become part of our story. Until now.

Our sweet little family of four will hopefully be a sweet little family of six by the end of 2013.

We are beyond humbled, honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to bring home two precious children into our family from the endearing country of Haiti!


[Be forewarned. Here comes the part where I get really long-winded and detailed. Run-on sentences may run rampant. If you’re not interested in the details, skip down to the bottom part where we invite you to join our journey. ]

I remember very specifically one of our very first conversations as new friends. We were dreaming about the ideal life (not knowing it would include each other), and we both shared adoption as something we felt the Lord was stirring in us. Fast forward to marriage, where it became a constant point of conversation over the years. After having two amazing children of our own, it felt like the time would be coming soon that we would adopt. That time came unexpectedly just three months ago.

In all of Jeremy’s extensive world travels, the country of Haiti really captured his heart, and mine as well. We started really praying about it last year, and this May, amidst planning our return home to Nashville, deciding to homeschool our kids, saying goodbye to California and staying steadfast to all of the irons Jeremy has thrown in the fire, the Lord made it very evident that now was the time to pursue adoption.

Let this be clear. This is His story. Not mine. Not ours. Not even theirs. And it started 16 years ago. But we’ll fast forward to the part where it got really good just 3 months ago.

 

More details.

On May 13th, I announced that we were coming home to Nashville. My first friend to “like”, comment and email me was my dear friend Aegis Stuart. She and her husband Mark were adopting a little girl named Edline from a crèche in Montrouis, Haiti, called Giving Hope Rescue Mission. Edline had a cousin, Sandy, who needed a forever family as well. In hopes of keeping the girls together and knowing our hearts were headed towards adoption, Aegis reached out to see where we were in our plans.

In all honesty, it wasn’t on our radar to actually start the adoption process right at that moment. Adoption what? Now? No. We’re just trying to get back to Nashville right now and then we’ll see what’s up.

And then she sent me a picture of Sandy.

And this little girl literally took my breath away.

(I wish I could show you, but it’s against their rules. Just trust me- your breath might leave you, too. Cuteness overload.)

I wept. I mean seriously wept. I could not stop crying. And I could not stop looking at this precious child. I had her send me as many pictures as she could find of this little darling. I created a screen saver of her images and found myself wandering back to it all day long.

I couldn’t explain what or why I was feeling so much, but it was heavy. I can’t really convey to you what it’s like to feel the immediate connection that I felt with Sandy. Moreso, I can’t tell you how you can love a child who is not yours biologically– whom you’ve never met before– as if she were your own. But that’s how I felt about her. Over the course of just a few days, I felt that Sandy was supposed to be our child.

We prayed about it for the remainder of the week. I cried a lot, as the Lord just continued to make it ever clear that this was the next part of our story.

By Friday, we officially decided to pursue adopting Sandy. And while we’re at it, let’s adopt a little boy, too. We’d always known we would adopt two, so it just seemed ideal to bring them home together.

We filled out the initial application the following week, and so officially began our adoption process.

In the meantime, there was a sweet little boy who captured our hearts as well, and so we began to pray that the Lord would bring these children home to us. As time went on, I fell more and more in love with them, thinking about our future as a family of six, what it would be like to be their mama, how Adler and Eisley were going to be the best brother and sister they could ever have. And to hear our guys praying for these little guys just sealed the deal in my heart.

I realized as I was going deeper in my attachment to them, that it was unsafe. These children were not mine yet. They may not be mine ever. Anything could happen to interrupt the joy I was feeling, and the Lord prodded my heart to accept this. And so my prayers turned from begging Him to let them be ours, to please help me hold them up to You. I knew I needed to hold them loosely, as we do our lives.

If we weren’t to be their family, then someone else was, and we had no place to stand in the way of that. Which also meant that another child/children were meant to be ours—and that’s good news. I know His plans are perfect. I know I can trust him. And I knew I had no right to claim these children, but my heart fought me fiercely.

Six weeks into the process, due to issues beyond our control, we found out that the little boy might not be the right fit for our family.

In the same conversation, we learned that Sandy was no longer considered adoptable by the social services of Haiti.

He warned me, but heartbreak overwhelmed me.

I’m very grateful for a Father who knows my heart and my head when I can’t find words to speak. Because He spoke very sweetly over me in that moment. He reminded me that this was part of His perfect story. Joy began thriving again because I understood what He told me earlier. He has a perfectly designed plan for each of these children, and He has a perfectly designed plan for us. He can be trusted, and He is faithful to work things out for all of our good.

We continued with the adoption process, actually receiving referrals for other children. We prayed fervently about them, but still didn’t have a peace that they were “ours”. All the while, we were still praying for Sandy and the little boy, for their future and for the people who were called to be their families. For Sandy, that would be the caregivers at the crèche (who are amazing). Just a few weeks ago, we learned that the little boy had been matched with his forever family, and my heart was overwhelmed with joy and rest for him.

 

So, where are we in the process now?

Well, we’ve had a busy summer to say the least. And because of that, we thought we were not going to be able to make the initial September deadline that Haiti established to accept new dossiers. The next opening would be in January, so we resolved to work steadily on it over the fall season while we did various creative fundraisers to pay for the adoptions.

That was up until two weeks ago when Haiti extended their September deadline.

And who decided to go for it? It’s us.

We thought, what if they extend it one more time and we definitely could’ve gotten our dossier in and hopefully secured some aspect of our adoptions? We had to at least try. Our children were worth it. So, we got our buns in gear and put pedal to the metal on our home study and the entire dossier. (Btw, if I haven’t responded to your texts, emails or phone calls lately—this is why. Sorry about that. I promise I’ll get back to you soon.)

I wish I could account for you every single way we’ve watched the Lord pave the path for this process. I honestly find myself laughing in amazement at His attentiveness to the details and timing of everything in the last two weeks. It’s been remarkable and at times seemingly absurd, but it just confirms my trust in Him, His love for us and His perfect plans for us. Yes, it’s been superiorly intense and at times certainly overwhelming—and we may still not make it— but we are moving forward diligently in response to the call He’s made evident on our lives. And the JOY is profound.

 

Which brings us to today.

Jeremy left for Haiti yesterday, and I leave tomorrow to join him. We’re going down with Mark and Aegis, who will be meeting their daughter Edline for the first time (yay!). Jeremy and I will be loving on all the children there, and our prayer is that the Lord would just continue in His faithfulness in showing us the way. We are praying and hoping that He will show us our children this week.

And I’m crying again.

Ok I’m done.

I would be remiss to not mention that we are working with the most incredible adoption agency and crèche we could possibly hope for. I’m truly convinced that there are none better anywhere in the world. Voice of the Orphan, our adoption agency, and Giving Hope Rescue Mission, the crèche where our children live, have gone far above and beyond our expectations. I cannot say enough wonderful things about both of these groups. They are God’s hands and heart for the orphans of Haiti. You should take a minute to learn more about them at www.givinghopehaiti.com.

 

JOIN OUR JOURNEY.

We have always loved and valued living this life in community with you guys. So we hope to see you alot and continue doing life together as we walk in this new adventure. We’d love for you to check out our blog from time to time if you’d like to keep up with our adoption journey. We hope to be posting pictures of our kiddos soon!!! And hopefully the next post won’t be such a novel. I just wanted to let you in on the whole story so you’d know what’s been going on with us…

We’d also love for you to get involved with us if you like. It can look like a whole lot of different things, too. We’re still planning on hosting different fundraisers over the next few months (save your goodwill goodies for our Adoption Yard Sale at the end of September—and bring your quarters for the kids’ hot chocolate stand (Lord willing it’ll be cool enough for hot chocolate by then) and their puppet show (they’re already working on the skit!)!). There’s likely to be a silent auction, a Both Hands event, maybe some art/photography sales, a dance-a-thon, a rap battle… Whatever we can think of that’s super awesome.

Financially, we need to raise $24,000 to bring our kiddos home. That’s $12,000 for each child to cover just the adoption fees- this doesn’t include our travel and other expenses (their visas, passports, various stateside fees). If you’d like to make a tax-deductable donation towards our adoption fees, that would be nothing short of amazing. Seriously. Just amazing. You can go here: http://jcopho.to/donation and enter “Cowart” under the Designate Family to Support tab. If you’d like to support us with a personal donation to cover the other expenses not included in our adoption fees (more amazingness), you can mail it to us at:

Cowarts
PO Box 680656
Franklin, TN 37064

We don’t have any cool kickstarter style kickbacks for your donations, but we promise to give you the biggest hugs we can muster whenever we see you again. And you’ll know our forever gratitude for the part you played when you see our little family finally come together.

 

MORE IMPORTANT TO US THAN ANYTHING ELSE…

Please pray for us. We’ve been on our knees throughout this whole process, submitting it all to Him. If you can remember to pray for us as we hustle to meet the September 15th deadline, that would be huge. Pray for us this week as we travel to Haiti. Pray for us as we hope to meet our children. Pray for our Haiti babies. Pray for Sandy (I’m still not giving up hope on her adoptability). Pray for Adler and Eisley. Pray for our family as we prepare to grow from a family of four to a family of six.

Thanks for being excited with us friends. We look forward to celebrating life with you soon!

32 Responses

  1. Reply Myrick Cowart

    So incredibly awesome!! I’m going to be a new uncle to two new amazing kids!!!!

  2. Reply sean

    Will be praying!

    Thanks for sharing the story even when it is still being written. Looking forward to how God uses the Cowart family.

  3. Reply Jason Egly

    this. is. awesome.

    So excited for you guys!! Almost 4 years ago when we adopted from Ethiopia, Jeremy tweeted out a link to our website and tons of his “followers” got behind our adoption and put us over the top.

    Now our family of three is a family of 5.

    I’d love to return the favor in some way. We will be praying about how we should help.

    Blessings to all you Cowarts :)

    Jason

  4. Reply chrissy + eddie irvin

    YES. YES. YES!!!!!!!!!!!

    so beyond excited for you all. our prayers are filled with you and your future kiddos. we’d be happy to help with art/photo donation, yard sales, and anything you need!

    XO

  5. Reply Andy Matthews

    OH WOW!

    Congratulations to the both of you! I know so many families who are in the process of adopting. Adopting kids is a great witness to unbelievers as it shows them that Christians ARE willing to tackle the hard issues.

  6. Reply Branden Harvey

    This makes me so happy. I’m so excited for you guys and the adventure that God has in store for you.

  7. Reply Chris Fox

    Cowarts,

    Praying like crazy for you guys and your kids. Following the Lord into a new chapter of His plan for your life is some of the most exciting and frightening stuff ever! I’m so glad to hear you all are moving back “home” and I know your community there will be a huge huge support of your growing family.

    Although I’ve never met Jeremy (or any of you), I’ve followed his work for a while now and been encouraged to have a peek in on your family’s story. It’s inspring to see/know of someone in my industry who works hard, inspires many, and follows the Lord.

    Thanks for letting even us on the interwebs share in your journey!

    Chris Fox
    Oklahoma City, OK
    @christopherdfox

  8. Reply Rachel Gabriel

    Amazing! God’s got it all worked out for you already, and I’m so excited for you to meet your new children! I will be following the process and praying you through it.

  9. Reply larry

    Congrats guys! Great story and thanks for sharing it. This is a noble thing you are doing. :-)

  10. Reply Sara D Harper

    Shannon! I’m SO excited about this!!! I am in Haiti right now and actually headed to a few orphanages today to meet a few kids with a friend who is adopting. She is in the process with one baby boy and hopes to find her daughter soon as well! I think Jeremy knows, but my flight was cancelled this past weekend when I was supposed to head home, and has not be rescheduled! I’m hearing it may be sept 15 or later now before I get a flight out! So let me know how its going! Are you staying in PAP? I’m about 10 mins from the airport in Del mas 31! I’ll send you my haitian cell in a FB message now! Praying for you guys! Hope you meet your children this week!!

  11. Reply Sharis Harmon

    Beautiful, Praying for you. So very much. This melted my heart and brought me to tears. In many ways…for many reasons. I hope to someday be in your shoes writing a blog similar to this, a different story, a different time with different people but the same purpose. Being a single 25 yr old with no ‘prospects’ on the horizon. It can be discouraging when I have so many desires in my heart to find a best friend to laugh through life with and to raise children of my own and of adoption. Honestly, your and Jeremy’s blog posts about your marriage and family give me great hope for a beautiful future of my own. Even when it seems far off. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable to share your lives with us.

  12. Reply Marcia Minutello

    I sent you a note on Fb. I am the mother of 3 special needs adopted daughter. I was a foster parent 25 years ago and these are 3 of the kids who came into my home. I am blessed that they never had to leave and comprise a part of my family, along with a natural daughter and a foster daughter who remains as part of our family. My daughters are all victims of substance abuse moms,, causing the difficulties they now have to live with day to day. The youngest who is now 24 has CP due to a cocaine addicted mom. My daughter is strnag and fiesty. She was crowned Ms wheelchair Florida 2012 as part of the Ms. Wheelchair America program and appears throughout the state promotd awareness for those with disabilities in our community. Here platform is One Community for All! Did i mention, she is a semester short of getting her bachelors degree. One is learning disabled but, she is an awesome natural artist and is building a company where she paints murals in homes for people and also paints glassware in a custom manor. The oldest has fetal alcohol syndrome andworks in a local fast food restaurant, she lives on her own and with some help, handles life on her own. I had 7 foster kids, who were returned to their original situations due to the laws of the land, I would have adopted all of them if given the chance.
    PThe USA, needs foster and adoptive parents, our needs are great. Adopting from other countries is good, they need it as wel, but the kids here need that helping hand as well. Good luck with what you are doing…

  13. Reply Karris Hudson

    You don’t know me, but we have mutual friends and I used to live in Nashville, but have been living in Ouanaminthe, Haiti, for 10 years. I’m a missionary at Danita’s Children and we have an orphanage, school, etc. I loved reading your post and your heart for Haiti and for adoption. My mom was adopted from an orphanage in Greece 50 years ago and adoption is such a BEAUTIFUL thing! We have 115 children in our orphanage and I love them as if they were my own. I’ll be praying for your family that the process will be quick and that you will have favor with IBESR and the government! If you’re ever in the Northeast side, you are welcome to come visit :)

  14. Reply Laura Reaux

    Jeromy & I are so excited for you guys! We are praying that God continues to move miraculously to help you guys meet that deadline. We can’t wait to read more about your journey! :) Love you guys.

  15. Reply Sarah

    Shannon, Jeremy — Praying with and crying with you; That was awesome, Shannon. I read every word; Thank you so much for sharing; My family will offer many Masses & say many prayers for this noble endeavor of yours and Jeremy’s. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” — James 1: 27 — Sarah PS: You’ll be an awesome home schooler; I’ve been doing it for 3 years & am way on board.

  16. Reply Donna Holiday-Eaves

    I am crying , Shannon, as I’ve read your blog. I knew that your surprise was going to be adoption, that’s just the cool kids you are! But I had no idea the heartbreak and patience you would have to endure and muster in the process. Prayer going up now and will continue as you journey. God is good. Love to all.

  17. Reply Alexis + Jason Ward

    Yay! I knew you were adopting but TWO! Such great and exciting news. And I knew that Aegis was involved somehow but up until now, I didn’t know how. I’ll be praying for this whole process, for your family and for the sweet gems that God has already planned for your family.

  18. Reply Missy Hodge

    SQUEEEEEEEE!!! So happy it’s official! And shut up, you write BEAUTIFULLY! Your ability to so sweetly convey your faith is off-the-charts inspiring.

  19. Reply Kate Brown

    HOW AWESOME! I love the Love Adventure our Abba has you guys on – I’m so excited for you! Praying all will come together smoothly, with great Shalom and Joy! Can’t wait to SEE all of your beautiful children together with you here in Nashville! Praying GREAT GRACE for your Journey and all “green lights” FAVOR and “open doors”! XO

  20. Reply Christine & Steven Bailey

    It’s hard to express in words how much we love y’all. Two of the most wonderful people on earth that God has used to bless our lives in such tangible, precious ways. And then to see your two sweet children, who are clearly best friends. And now that God would open your hearts to two more through adoption! It’s almost too much wonderfulness to take in :) We couldn’t be more excited for you and can’t wait to hear all about the journey. Love you so much, friends.

  21. Reply Mary Elizabeth Wiggins

    SO, SO, SO thrilled for ya’ll! Lifting y’all up and praying for your soon-to-be-children. Thank you for sharing and the reminder of His attentiveness to the details~love it! Look so forward to seeing y’all and their sweet little faces!!! Much love!

  22. Reply Barbara Faw

    Thanks for sharing in this wonderful news! I cried also.
    My brother Chris Keylon is a missionary in Haiti.
    My daughter Julia and her husband adopted a 6 year old boy named Olkin and we are all crazy about him. She has three of her own and homeschools all of them.
    I will be praying that all goes well for your family.
    You are a wonderful person and I am so glad I got to know you and your Mom.

  23. Reply Meg Davis ~ InverseDream

    SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!! I will be praying for ya’ll So So Much! Safety & wisdom & detail-come-togetherness!!! & Plenty of tissues!!! It’s a beautiful thing to meet you Shannon via [Framed] & now this blog. It’s a privilage to watch Jeremy do his thing on twitter & I’m so thankful for how you share yourselves with the world in SO many different ways.

    You’ll never know your impact. Keep living for Christ.

    <3

    ~Meg

  24. Reply Jessel

    From a random stranger who just follows Jeremy’s photos – this news is beyond exciting – a new adventure definitely – a new set of dreams — and lives that are forever yours to mould — wish you and the family only the best — live each day as it comes and create what your imagination desires — later days

  25. Reply Lyndsey

    Shannon, that is absolutely
    beautiful! So excited for all of you! Prayers for you and your family.

  26. Reply Jody Johnston

    YES! Praise God. The Cowart family is now on my daily prayer list. So excited for you!

  27. Reply Nancy Lee Kolb

    While I do not know you or Jeremy personally, I have been a follower of his photography. This adoption journey for you has been amazing! You truly are blessed by God. I wish there was a way that we could monetarily contribute, but that is not possible. I will pray and ask the Lord to see you through to bring these beautiful children into your lives where I know they will be loved and cherished for the beautiful blessings they are! God Bless and Watch over You and Your Family.

  28. Reply Ruth Ann

    I met Jeremy at the recent Photoshop World in Washington, DC, where he spoke about the Help Portrait project. I was completely blown away by his sincerity and genuineness, as well as his talent! You are a very special and inspirational family and I wish you joy and the best of what this adventure on Earth called life has to offer. Keep us posted!

  29. Reply Christa Black

    I’M CRYING! THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL, SHANNON!! WE CAN’T WAIT TO JOIN YOU SOME DAY!

  30. Reply Mike Cushing

    I am another random stranger who follows Jeremy’s work and a supporter of the Hands and Feet Project.

    This is awesome that God has called you to this to both adoption and homeschooling. We recently started our homeschool journey with our three (7,5, and 2 year old) kids, well mostly just the 7 and 5 year old. It definitely hasn’t been the easy path but it is rewarding to see your kids grow up before your eyes.

    Jeremy mentioned that you haven’t been to a 3rd world country before. Up until this past May that was true for my wife. She took a trip with our church to the Hands and Feet project site in Grand Goave. She fell in love with the kids there and the country. She is ready to go back and that is saying a lot for someone who’s idea of roughing it is a motorhome with air conditioning. I hope that gives you some comfort.

    Good luck on the adoption process and safe travels.

  31. Reply Sarah

    Hey Guys,

    Ever since I left the below verse on your page a few days ago, I’ve seen it at least 3 more times — once in a magazine article, next in a blog and then today at Mass it was read in every Catholic Church around the world. It’s always been one of my favorite verses & it’s especially making me think of you all & pray for you all today. Here it is again: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” — James 1: 27