For eight years, Dr. Laurel Shaler and her husband, Nick, have been on a journey of adoption. And it was finalized during a pandemic.
After having been on Twitter for many years, Shaler has collected a little more than 3,000 followers. So she was stunned when she checked her phone to see her tweet — announcing the adoption of their son Calhoon James, both family names — had received hundreds of responses and garnered close to 30,000 “likes.”
“It blew me away,” she told Faithwire. “I really came to the realization that people are so desperate for good news right now in the midst of all these challenges and we’re just not hearing good news, because everything is dominated by the bad.”
Shaler, a professor at Liberty University as well as a certified counselor and an author, said it’s important to be mindful of the seriousness of the coronavirus and to be there for those who are suffering. It’s equally as important, she explained, to celebrate the good things happening around us.
“The Word tells us to weep with those who weep, but also to rejoice with those who rejoice,” she said, referring to Romans 12:15. “So I think people just longed for that.”
The Shalers adopted a little girl, Anna Jean, named after the prophet in the New Testament book of Luke, in 2017. At that point, they weren’t sure what the future held, or if they’d have the opportunity to adopt again.
Then, in the fall of last year, they got a call. The South Carolina-based couple was no longer in any adoption portfolios, but the attorney who handled their adoption process a few years ago met a birth mother looking for placement for her soon-to-be-born son, and he thought of them.
Everything was moving along, finally. But there’s nothing like a global health crisis to bring the entire process to a screeching halt.
“At first, we thought we were not gonna be able to finalize until the courts were fully operational, which was really daunting,” Shaler said, noting her husband is preparing for a nearly year-long deployment. “I could sign for him, but we really wanted to do this together, obviously, as a family.”
Thankfully, though, things began falling into place when the courts decided to move forward with a virtual adoption hearing.
So rather than going to court, as they had done in 2017, the Shalers — accompanied by their soon-to-be son and his guardian ad litem — went into a conference room in their lawyer’s office, where they logged onto a video call with a judge.
“This was kind of a unique God wink that the judge we were assigned was not there; it was another judge and we happened to have some connections to that judge,” Shaler recalled. “Her husband used to own the house that we lived in and her brother-in-law used to work with my dad.”
“Ultimately, the judge decided that she was going to sign the adoption decree, and [said] my favorite words, ‘It is so ordered,’” she continued. “So we officially adopted our son.”
In addition to taking place during a pandemic, the adoption of Calhoon James came amid intense personal heartache for Shaler, whose brother unexpectedly died just weeks after her father was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Her dad is thankfully now in remission.
Like so many others, the Shalers have had to “cling to hope.”
“We have to try and keep ourselves motivated and just focus on that hope, and of course, as a Christian, my sole hope is in Jesus,” she said, “and that’s who I have to look to for my hope — even in difficult times.”
Watch our full conversation in the video above.