Before Chance and Brittany McConnell even met, God was weaving the thread of adoption into their story. And now, 11 years into marriage, two of their three children are adopted — all three a testament to the Lord’s kindness and faithfulness.
“We met on a mission trip to Nicaragua,” said Chance, pastor of First Baptist Church Taylorsville, Kentucky. “In a conversation on one of the bus rides, we were just talking about how (adoption) was something we both wanted eventually in our lives whenever we were married…That passion would be sort of paved through the pain of what was nearly a decade of infertility and struggle to have a family.”
Rather early in their married life, the McConnells opened their hearts and their home to children in foster care. However, a six-month placement that ended in reunification for the 1-year-old boy was very painful.
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“At that point we decided we just can’t do the foster care thing anymore in this season. In another season in life, perhaps yes,” Chance said. “But it’s just too hard right now to have that.”
Friends at their Tennessee church connected them with an adoption agency, and the McConnells felt the Lord leading them in that direction. Nearly two years of waiting, and a failed adoption, followed.
“But what we didn’t know then, which is really cool, is that when that one (adoption) failed, it was right around nine months to the day that Layli was born,” Chance said. “And so that was a really cool thread that we didn’t know the Lord was writing, but was very special for us.”
Layli, the McConnell’s oldest daughter, was three weeks old when the couple brought her home in 2018. She was a “sky baby,” meaning that her birth mother did not make an adoption plan until she was born; it was like she fell from the sky, out of the blue. Brittany and Chance didn’t even know Layli existed until she was two days old.
“We were certainly very nervous that it would fall through even at that point,” Chance explained. “But the Lord’s hand was all over that.”
Layli arrived at her forever home on a Monday, and Chance went to preach in view of a call at his current church on Friday that same week — a “whirlwind,” as he put it.
“I don’t think I made much sense in my trial sermon, but praise God they did call me,” Chance chuckled. He’s now been pastor of FBC Taylorsville for five years and was recently elected to represent them as 2nd vice president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
When Layli was around 1, the McConnell’s started the adoption process again knowing that they might have to wait several years for another child. But the journey to bring their son home looked very different.
“In God’s grace and providence, we got matched with Kingston’s birth mother and birth father pretty immediately,” Chance explained. “We actually got to build a relationship with them, talk on the phone. We talked about even the name that we ultimately chose for Kingston. They were part of that conversation.”
In 2020, the McConnells brought Kingston home from Atlanta, Georgia.
Challenges and blessings
Brittany, adopted by her stepfather, and Chance, adopted by his aunt, acknowledged both challenges and blessings that come with adoption.
“With adoption interracially, that’s been extremely important to make sure that we are just recognizing the racial differences and the cultural differences,” Brittany said. “So the learning curve with hair for me, or just really wanting to make sure that we are giving appropriate attention, without too much attention, to their race.”
“We certainly have parenting challenges, right? What is it like to figure out how to raise children in the fear and the love of the Lord? But I don’t see many of those really connected necessarily to adoption yet,” Chance added. “Now I know as they get older, more questions will come and likely with that more challenges or more things to think through and navigate through.”
But talking about adoption is a rhythm for the McConnell family.
“It will be fairly obvious at some point to our children that there’s at least a skin difference in us,” Chance said. “But we’ve always, always just tried to embed the thread of adoption … you know, ‘Hey, you were adopted, God adopted us, Mommy and Daddy were sort of adopted, too’… In any kind of conversation we have, we tend to bring it back to that as we can.”
And adoption — an object lesson of the gospel itself — has taught the McConnell’s much about God’s love and the security believers experience in Christ.
“There was a time in my life where I didn’t know if I would ever get to be a dad. You know, when we went through, again, nearly ten years of infertility, we went through failed adoptions, failed foster care placements. And we really wondered, you know, is this something that the Lord is going to allow?” Chance said. “So personally, it’s taught me just about the Lord’s kindness and love, things he didn’t have to do. And then certainly, you know, as you think about the gospel and being adopted and what Christ has done for us, how he took us out of the situation and brought us into a much, obviously, a completely different situation: from death to life.”
Chance often returns to Psalm 119:68: “You [the Lord] are good and do good.”
“With Layli and Kingston, there’s no question that it’s a done deal,” Brittany said. “And so, if us, in our finite humanness, can be fierce for them and loyal to them and committed to them…and I’m sure when they’re teenagers, there may be a time when they wrestle with that and question that — but no, (they) are forever our children. There’s no doubt about it. It’s permanent. Forever. How much more is our relationship with God?
“I think it just has magnified that for me, our security in Christ,” she added.
The McConnells encourage any families considering or pursuing adoption to find support groups or an inner circle because the path can be lonely — and, ultimately, to love the Giver of good things more than the gift of a child.
“For those that are waiting and haven’t completed the adoption process yet, it just feels like this gift that’s forever out of reach,” Brittany said. “But the Lord just showed me that my perspective, my focus had been on the gift and not the Giver. And so he had to shift that —that, yes, the gift is still a good thing. Children are such a blessing. Adoption is such a blessing. But we have to love the Giver more than the gift.”
The McConnell’s third gift, biological daughter Robin Cait, was born in 2022.