Thankful for three

[caption id="attachment_10384" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo courtesy of Jessica Lee Photography.[/caption]

In 2012, their family photo included the two of them. The next year, 2-year-old Nevaeh joined the image. This Thanksgiving, Zaden, 2, and Angel, 16, are welcome parts to the picture.

The couple adopted Nevaeh and Zaden through Buckner International in Lubbock, Texas, with Zaden’s adoption happening Nov. 21. The couple continues to care for Zaden’s brother Angel through foster care.

“We’re incredibly blessed,” Ann said. “I feel like our family is whole.”

The growth in the Ulmer family is the result of their faithful commitment to foster care and adoption. Their journey began before they were married. Ann has a genetic health issue, prompting a discussion about the possibility of adopting later in their relationship.

Years later, Ann saw a photo gallery at the mall of children available for adoption. She went home, and the couple resumed the conversation about adoption, soon pursuing it as a call they felt upon their lives.

At first they dreamed of adopting a pair of siblings under the age of 6, but that didn’t seem to be working out. The Ulmers fostered two brothers for a while, then they returned to their biological homes. The couple continued putting their names in for children, but was not matched up. From May 2012-February 2013, they waited.

Frustrated, the Ulmers turned to prayer.

“There were a lot of nights that I laid down and prayed and a big chunk of the prayer was asking God to match us up with the right child,” Jon said. “Part of praying that prayer was a reminder to me to trust God.”

The couple relied on God’s timing.

“We gave up control,” Ann said. “We had a plan, and God had a plan that was different from ours.”

In February 2013, Nevaeh was placed with the Ulmers. A few months later, they were fostering Zaden and Angel. They adopted Nevaeh in May 2014. They adopted Zaden on Nov. 21 in National Adoption Month.

The following Sunday, Zaden and Angel were baptized, which was particularly meaningful for the family.

“We’re Lutheran, so infant baptism is part of our practice,” he said. “We made the conscious decision not to have them baptized until they were our children. Angel is 16, so he chose to be baptized. For us it’s significant. Zaden is our little guy, and we’ve chosen to have him baptized.”

For Thanksgiving, the family took a road trip to see extended relatives, allowing them to enjoy the moment.

“To be able to see our family fit right in and connect and be part of the cousins is a pretty touching thing,” Jon said. “For both our parents, these kids have been grandkids since the day they walked in the door.”

It may have taken longer than they’d like, but the Ulmers have seen God’s timing serve them better than their own. It’s certainly given them plenty to be thankful for.

“I guess I’ve gotten everything I wanted,” Ann said. “So we’ve got two under the age of 6 and another who is 16.”

John Hall is the associate director of public relations at Buckner International. Get in touch with him at jhall[at]buckner[dot]org.

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