If there was a book written about your life, what would it entail? Would it be able to pique interest? Would you be able to handle the potential scrutiny or judgement? Something as simple as a book might seem elementary… just words with some pictures perhaps… Yet, a book is a storyteller. A story that can transport you to a place, connect you to others that may seem so far away. It can pinpoint a similarity, showing that we are all the same, no matter how different we may be. It can even bridge strangers together in a way that can be life altering. Joel and Melissa Knoop’s life changed 4 months ago, and it all started with a book. Not any old book, but a book detailing their life … the past, present and hopes for the future. And as good books often do, it spoke volumes and bridged lives together in a way no one could have foreseen.
Joel and Melissa married in 2003, and after a couple years into their marriage, they made the decision to start a family. However, pregnancy did not come as easily as anticipated. For more than three years, Melissa endured IUI treatments, yet to no avail. The ongoing treatments became very costly, and rather than continuing onto other infertility treatments, Melissa and Joel made the decision to look into adoption.
Joel and Melissa initially reached out to Forever Families following a recommendation by a family friend who shared another couple’s personal journey of adoption with the help from the agency. Upon ongoing research, speaking with other adoptive families, and meeting with other adoption agencies, the Knoops waited two more years before starting the adoption process. “I had to overcome my fears and doubts,” said Melissa. “This process was a healing of the heart and growth individually and as a family. I had to understand that adoption was not a replacement for not being able to have a child of my own, but that adoption would be completing our family.”
“I had to come to terms of what my expectations of adoption were and know this was not just filling a void,” said Joel. “I learned everyone’s story is different. No two are the same. There definitely are highs and lows, but the biggest lesson I learned through this journey is to just go with the flow. Take things one day at a time.”
Ultimately, when they decided to move forward, they felt Forever Families was the right fit for them. They underwent extensive interviews, background checks, and shared information about various aspects of their lives. Then they were asked to compile their “book.” This portfolio of snapshots detailing their life, captured important moments in time, core values and lifestyle seemed daunting and overwhelming at times. How were they to showcase themselves in a way that will make them worthy enough to receive a gift of a child to raise as their own?
Birthparent(s) have the option to review adoption books to gain better insight into the lives of potential adoptive parents. Four months ago, a birth mother came across the Knoop’s adoption book. There was a sense of familiarity. Commonalities that resonated. Perhaps the child would learn to play the guitar. Perhaps have a love for the water and want to be a lifeguard one day. Ultimately, this birth mother knew Joel and Melissa would be this little boy’s parents.
As Joel and Melissa were driving through a desolate part of the Upper Peninsula on their way to visit family in Wisconsin, they received a call from Forever Families. They had a son. “It was such a shock. I literally heard you have a baby and the rest was a blur,” said Melissa. “We did not expect this to happen so quickly, and we had only been in the pool for a short period of time. We immediately turned around and had to find a Babies R Us to purchase additional items we needed for the baby. We could not contain our excitement.”
“Our friends and families were over the moon. It was a big victory for our whole family. They’ve gone through this journey with us and rallied around us with such love and support,” said Joel. “There’s been several celebrations since we brought Micah home. We are just so grateful for everything.”
Joel writes a letter to Micah every day. Sometimes several short notes throughout the day. Longer letters at times. Joel hopes they can answer questions Micah might have one day. “I know Micah will have questions about his birth family, and our answers will always be truthful and out of love,” said Joel. The Knoops have ongoing communication with Micah’s birth mother. Sometimes there is a request for a picture. Sometimes just a “how are things going?” And if Micah decides one day that he would like to meet his birth family, the Knoops are welcoming of this opportunity.
So one day, when Micah is older and wanting to learn more, he will receive his own special book compiled of letters written by his father. A book sharing his beginning, a journey filled with love, as well as a foundation for his future.