When Jamie and Jerry Schmidt found themselves unable to conceive naturally, they started weighing their options, including running some medical tests to diagnose the problem. But the couple soon decided further testing didn’t feel right for them.
“It felt like God was asking us to depend on something more significant. We needed to drop all things and let it be completely under His control,” said Jerry.
“I was struggling as we were having a hard time getting pregnant. But I felt like at a low moment God spoke to me and said, ‘Jamie, I love you and I have a plan.’ It was so strong that it hit me, and really changed my perspective,” said Jamie. “We thought we had a plan, but I realized it’s not the plan God has. So that’s how it started to evolve, and Jerry brought up adoption.”
Jamie has a teenage son named Trae from a previous relationship, but Jamie and Jerry wanted to add a baby to their family. Jamie and Jerry put their trust in God, and started looking into adoption agencies. They looked at a couple other agencies before deciding on New Life Family Services.
“Other places we went to felt like you were going through the DMV of adoption agencies as they shared information. New Life was way more personal, and a lot more focused on the building of relationships,” said Jerry.
“We liked the Christian perspective, it felt like they cared, it was more intimate, and it felt right. New Life was so helpful sharing how the whole process worked. It felt good that New Life started each meeting with prayer,” said Jamie.
After a couple stops and starts with different birth families, they waited for 7 months, until they heard a young man and a young woman, still in high school, were interested in meeting.
“It was a long 7 months, we probably had 4 or 5 birth families view our book and it’s so hard not to get your hopes up every time,” said Jamie.
In July 2014, Jamie and Jerry met with Maddie and Joey, who were looking for a loving, Christian family to place their daughter for adoption.
“When I read the profile for Maddie, it felt so right,” said Jamie.
Jamie said she felt this match was God ordained.
“The verse that I kept going back to was Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.’ So when we met for the first time, we were sitting there waiting to meet them, and at the very bottom of the agenda sitting on the table was Jeremiah 29:11 written out,” said Jamie.
Through this process, she was learning she could trust God’s promises.
“When you naturally have doubt, it was so cool that God would put that verse on my heart and it felt like, ‘Nope, I still got you. I have a plan.’ For me I was able to keep going back to that, God obviously had His hand all over that,” said Jamie.
When the two families met for the first time they felt an instant connection.
“I went to the same high school as Maddie and Joey, and of course they are high school students, so that was a cool similarity,” said Jamie. “We were really excited and trying not to get our hopes up.”
But Maddie and Joey felt the same connection, and immediately told the Schmidts that they were choosing them to adopt their little girl.
“When we met Jerry and Jamie, we knew she was in perfect hands, we couldn’t have picked better parents than the Schmidts,” said Joey. “We were assured we’d be involved in her life forever and that they’d love her to death.” (Read Joey’s full story here.)
Maddie and Joey wanted a very open adoption.
“I loved this couple so much, and I knew placing Elise with them would make them so happy. They are people I want to have in my life. I chose an open adoption so it wasn’t like I was going to give her away and never see her again,” said Maddie. (Read Maddie’s full story here.)
“Once we met them we knew we would love hanging out with Maddie and Joey because there was such an instant connection with them,” said Jamie.
Maddie also felt she received a Word from the Lord, to name her baby girl, Elise.
“Elise’s name means “Promise of God,” Maddie doesn’t know anyone by that name, and she felt God gave her that name. It’s so cool, when you find out the meaning of it, it fits the whole story,” said Jamie.
Entrusted as Parents
Two short months later, Elise was born. The Schmidts were invited to the hospital that evening and stayed with Elise in a hospital room down the hall from Maddie that night. The day Elise was discharged from the hospital, New Life helped facilitate an entrustment ceremony for the adoptive family and birth families.
“It was extremely emotional, we were all crying. It’s a really weird mix of feelings. When Joey handed Elise to me, Joey and I hugged forever and were bawling together. Once we did that and we all stepped back, it was a big relief and everyone felt better,” said Jerry.
“God had gotten us there, and God had gotten us through that; everyone felt ready, and content with what was happening, it was a very good feeling.”
Maintaining an Open Adoption
That day the Schmidts’ family didn’t just grow by one newborn, it grew by three people.
“We love spending time with Maddie and Joey; it’s like another set of family,” said Jamie.
The Schmidts have an open door policy, Maddie and Joey can call and let them know they’d like to drop in and see Elise anytime. When Joey moved to California after high school, Jerry made it a point for the two of them to grab dinner while on a business trip in California.
“We like them as friends and as family,” the Schmidts emphasize.
Occasionally, the Schmidts will call up Maddie or Maddie’s mom, or Joey or Joey’s mom to babysit Elise, when they need help with child care.
“We are so happy to know that Elise is going to know her birth family, and know that she was loved, and she wasn’t placed for adoption out of fear, it was done because everyone loved her,” said Jerry. “Everyone knew God’s plan and felt God moving in our lives and listened to him, and this is what God wanted for her.”
Jamie adds, “Elise will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Maddie and Joey have been there every step of the way. This will be Elise’s story from the very beginning, she won’t know anything different. Everyone loves her so much, there’s no way this open adoption is a bad thing.”
A Family of Four
Elise not only has Jamie and Jerry, and her extended birth families who love her dearly, she also has a great older brother. Trae has adjusted to being Elise’s older brother amazingly, even with the wide span of age difference.
“They seem to have a special bond and Elise gets so excited when Trae gets home and walks in the door,” said Jamie.
Jamie noticed Trae is so helpful in his new role as Elise’s older brother.
“Since he is older, we feel this whole experience is something that has truly impacted his view in a positive way on adoption and he has seen first-hand what it takes to raise a baby,” said Jamie.
Trae has found an extra special spot in his heart just for Elise.
“Elise brings pure joy and entertainment into his life and into all of our lives every single day,” said Jamie.
Encouragement for Families in Waiting
Jamie and Jerry believe this adoption process not only brought them a little girl whom they adore, but it strengthened their faith in God’s larger plan.
“It made me realize, when you truly listen to God and put your faith in his plan, it’s perfect. Every step of this whole thing has been seamless and perfect,” said Jamie.
“We are in awe of how God provided. We put a lot of faith in what God’s plan was, and He way over delivered. It’s one of those things where you step back and see God did something way beyond what you could’ve asked for or deserved,” said Jerry.
The Schmidts encourage all families waiting to adopt to put their full trust in the Lord.
“God has a plan and He has the right child picked out for you, so be patient because it will be in his timing. If it takes one month or three years, it’s worth it because that child God has for you is perfect,” said Jamie.
But Jerry warns waiting families that patience does not mean putting your life on hold.
“Move forward with your life as if you hadn’t gotten pregnant yet; plan vacations, plan your life. And know that it’s going to happen, and when it happens, then you get the fun of making a baby’s room and preparing for the baby,” said Jerry. “God is faithful and it’s a really rewarding time when it comes.”