The name of our daughter.
It’s been so hard not to share this part of our adoption story with you because we have been DYING to tell you our baby girl’s name.
We want to share with you all the things that God is showing us through HER name alone and you guys, it’s big.
Like REALLY big.
What I can tell you? Is that before this experience, before learning her name, before February 17, 2016… I have never had God speak so clearly to me on any-one-THING.
February 17, 2016 changed our lives forever.
However, this story won’t be complete without starting from the beginning and telling you about a HUGE event that happened prior to this day – that had already changed our lives forever.
In September of 2015 my aunt Jane was murdered by my uncle who was mentally ill. After he took her life, he took his own life. He did this 3 weeks before my cousin was set to get married and a few short months before my other cousin was supposed to graduate high school.
There truly isn’t a word that describes how horrifying that day was for my entire family. Horrific – doesn’t even come close.
Going through any major tragedy in your life is sure to do one thing… change you. And change me it did.
For months, my emotions were all over the place – the shock, the grief, the anger, the forgiveness, the sadness, the resentment, the horror of reliving the day in my head… I wasn’t sure who I even was after losing someone so close to me in such a horrific way. Heck, sometimes I’m still not sure I know who I am after that.
But what I do know, is that God is mighty. God is hope. God is grace. God is forgiveness. God is abundant joy. God is constant. God is light.
And I needed all the light I could get in those dark moments.
Moments where I questioned if He was even real? Was He true? Did He love me like he claimed?
And if He did, then why? Why would something like this happen to our family?
But instead of wallowing in the “why”… God reminded me that He didn’t do this. He didn’t shoot my aunt. He didn’t allow this to happen to her. That’s not something God would ever allow.
For whatever reason, my “why” turned to “what” and I suddenly started praying and asking, “God, what can I learn from this? What can You show me through this that will bring You glory?”
One word came over me every time I prayed this —–
Not grace in the sense that I had to forgive my uncle immediately. Not grace that I would need to not be angry. Not grace for his mental illness. Not grace that he took a very special person from all of us.
But grace that meant his actions that day were his alone. Not to be blamed on anyone else. Not to be taken out on anyone else.
Grace that he was not always mentally ill. Grace that he was once a good husband and good father. Grace that my cousins still loved their dad and that was ok.
Grace that means – God is bigger.
During those first few days following the deaths I was able to speak to his family. I was able to hug them and say “I’m sorry for your loss.”
I was able to look at my cousins at the visitation and say “I’ll go with you to see him.” And “It’s ok to still love him… he was your dad.”
I was able to stand there at his side and say “I will forgive you for what you did to my aunt, to my family, to your children. I will forgive you because it frees me from the hold the anger will have on me.”
It wasn’t ME offering grace. So don’t be fooled. I’m not that nice.
It was Jesus. Because without Jesus, there is no way in heck I would ever hug his mom or say “I’m sorry” to his side of the family.
I am not that nice of a person. In fact, I am usually the one holding a grudge or hanging on to resentment.
But God is bigger.
And God wrote grace on my heart during the week following the deaths.
Not so that my uncle’s family would see me and think, “what a nice girl” but so they would see Him and they would see that God is the one who holds the power to our hearts.
A few months after all of this, my 17 year old cousin made the decision to come live with us. It wasn’t an easy move… she lives 5 hours from us and left all of her friends, siblings, nieces and family that we have up north.
And goodness, I knew that we were adopting, but what I didn’t expect is that we would also gain a teenager. A teenager who just lost both her parents.
Something about having her here with us feels so perfect. I feel like it’s exactly where she was supposed to come.
I’m telling you all of this because it matters to our daughters story so keep reading.
Fast forward to February 17, 2016.
The phone call. The one we had been waiting for for over 4 years. The one that came while we were on a plane to Cabo.
The one that came with much better news than the phone call we had received just 5 months prior when we learned about my aunt.
The call that revealed to us that we were getting a DAUGHTER!
You can read more about “the call” HERE.
But the part of the story that I couldn’t yet share with you yet was the most important part of the entire story – her name.
Our adoption agency said her name out loud to me and I immediately burst into tears. Giant, giant tears. The kind that leave you in shock, but also in awe.
I had to ask my agency to repeat it.
Me: “I’m sorry, what did you say her name was?”
Them: Janella Jane
Me: “Did you say Jane?”
Them: “Yep, that’s right. Janella Jane.”
More moments of pure and utter disbelief. I don’t remember hearing much of anything she spoke to me after that, including her age, or where she was from. I was still stuck on her name.
You see, if you remember from the story above, my aunt’s name was Jane Ellen.
And for our new daughter to have “Jane” in her name… not to mention “Jane Ellen” is pretty darn close to being Janella… that wasn’t by accident.
It was no “coincidence”.
In that moment, I knew that I knew that I knew…
God was bigger.
God was real. He cared about me and loved me. And whatever part of me that ever questioned if He was true… vanished.
There wasn’t even a question on whether we would keep her name after hearing it.
I remember just being at the airport, waiting on a shuttle and thinking… “God, how can you pull something like that off? How did you know?”
It was clear that this little sweet girl was meant for our family. I had zero doubt.
All of our kids have meaningful family middle names. To be honest, we originally thought we’d use her birth name as her middle name and THAT would be her meaningful family middle name and we would give her a new first name.
But all along, I never searched for names. I never googled “girl baby names” or “boy baby names”. People would ask me, “Do you have names picked out?”
My response? “Nope, but I probably should.”
It’s clear now why God wasn’t having me search the internet baby name base like it was my full time job. Because He knew. He knew I wouldn’t need to waste my time with that.
As that February day in Cabo San Lucas went on, we were able to read her entire file and learn more information about her and God continued to blow my mind time and time again.
My husband’s birth name is Jan. And Jan is in Janella. Not to mention, they have the same initials.
Her birth mom’s middle name?
I mean, I can’t even make this up. And that’s just the tip of it all. Some of the stuff I can not share as they are only parts of her story that are hers to share.
But can you believe how big and mighty He is?!?!
To think that back in September I was questioning if God was true?
Goodness, thank you Jesus for not only reminding me of Your truth but for showing off so that I could be filled with faith bigger than the mountains.
So there you have it… her perfect and flawless name – given to her by her birth mother – Janella Jane.
A name that will forever hold meaning way beyond our adoption story.
We can’t wait for sweet little Nella bug to join us!! And yes, we plan to call her Nella.