Dear Emma,

I struggle with writing our story because I’m afraid my words will never do justice to what God put into place for you, me, your daddy, and your brother AJ. He took situations that were ugly and difficult and replaced them with something beautiful and overflowing with joy. I want us to remember the details of our story, and I know keeping it to myself doesn’t do it justice either, and so I will try…

January 2013- June 2013

I met you when you were just a few months old. I remember looking at that sweet face of yours and commenting on how beautiful you were! You gave me the biggest smiles and melted my heart. Of course, I had no idea what was to come. You see, I am a speech and language pathologist and you, my sweet girl, were placed in a foster home where I worked with another child. Oh, how your foster parents loved you! I always enjoyed hearing them talk of you and seeing how their faces lit up. You were adored and quickly nicknamed the “Princess” of the house. When you were eight months old, your foster mama asked if I would see you for therapy, and that was the start of our weekly visits.

A year and a half before….

September 2012

I had been experiencing extreme fatigue and joint pain intermittently for about a year and finally consulted with a doctor.  I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus. In short, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks normal, healthy tissue. The course of the disease can be unpredictable, alternating between periods of illness and periods of remission. I have had a range of symptoms, and at my worst, there were days when I couldn’t walk due to the pain. Although many women diagnosed with lupus can successfully go on to conceive and give birth, the hormone changes and stress on the mind and body can cause flare-ups. I was advised not to get pregnant at least until my blood work showed major improvement. At this time, AJ was two years old, and we were planning to grow our family. However, we decided to follow the doctor’s advice and wait.

October 2012
One month after my diagnosis, you were born. Babies go into foster care due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Those details I will share with you in time, but know that God held you in the palm of His hand. You went home from the hospital with your loving foster parents who took the BEST care of you. I’ll forever be grateful to them for the love they showered on you that first year and a half.

November 2013

One year after my diagnosis, I was making good progress towards going into remission. My blood work had improved from the severe range to mild, and I had given myself a six month timeline. I wanted to be well enough to start trying to have a second baby in May. It seems silly, of course. I knew I couldn’t just give my body a deadline; nevertheless, my focus was on May.

December 2013

You were a little over one year old, and we were six months into our weekly therapy sessions. I delighted in seeing you grow and learn new things. Around this time, your foster mama commented that it looked like you might be in need of a forever family….and the seed was planted.

February 2014

Your foster mama continued to keep me posted on some of the details of your case and repeated that it looked like you would be in need of a forever family. It was at the end of this month that I told your daddy about you. I simply told him a few details and for the next four days, he brought you up in conversation. You were on your daddy’s heart and mind from the moment he heard of you! Just a week later, he was able to meet you. I can still see his beaming face as he held you in his arms. Your daddy and I prayed that if it was God’s will that you be our daughter, it would happen quickly. Adopting from foster care is typically quite a long, unpredictable process. Not only did we want you home with us, we knew that you were at a young enough age where the transition from your foster home to ours would be a whole lot less difficult for you. We began to visit you as much as we could without annoying your foster parents! Of course, they were wonderful and agreed to visits pretty much every time we asked!

March-April 2014

Your foster care goal was now officially adoption, and we were named as your adoptive resource! Finally, we were able to go to court and let the judge know how much we loved you and wanted you to be our daughter. Again, our prayer was that you would be able to come home quickly. The atmosphere in a courtroom is quite formal and intimidating. However, the wonderful judge came out of his seat, walked over to us, and kindly said to me, “She’s beautiful.” I immediately teared up and could barely whisper a grateful, “Thank you.” He then looked at your daddy and asked, “What can I do for you?” Your daddy didn’t hesitate, “Make it happen quickly!” The judge chuckled and nodded his head. He then ordered background checks and an expedited home study to be completed in 10 days. The social worker pleaded with the judge to extend the time frame as she would not be able to do it that quickly. I’ll never forget this- the judge looked her right in the eye and said, “You can and you will complete it in 10 days. I have faith in you.” I remember trying my best to keep it together, but the tears of joy spilled over.

As we prepared our home for you, we continued to visit with you and babysit you during this time. I enjoyed bringing you to our home and seeing your relationship with your brother, AJ, blossom. AJ, who was three years old at this time, had decided that as long as I could still be his mommy too, he was ok with having you join our family. His love for you grew quickly, and he proudly introduced you to his friends as “my sister.” He affectionately called you “my Emma girl” and you two shared lots of laughs. He became every bit the big brother, both protecting you from harm and asserting his older sibling status by helping you “toughen up.”
We all looked forward to having you home with us permanently!

May 23, 2014

We went back to the courthouse to see the judge and review our status. The home study was completed and we were still waiting on federal background checks to come back. We figured we were at the very least several weeks away from having you come home. Well, much to our surprise the judge asked the social worker if the local background checks had cleared. After she said, “yes,” he stated, “In that case, she goes home TODAY.” And so it was, just three short months from the time we hoped for you (and in the same month we had hoped and prayed that I would be ready to try for a second baby), God gave us the most precious gift. He gave us YOU.

June 2014- November 2014.

In addition to adjusting to becoming a family of four, we spent time fulfilling a few more requirements that needed to be met before we could finalize your adoption. These were finished with relative ease, and we couldn’t wait to make it officially official! During this time, my mother (your Nini!) shared that she had been praying for quite a while that your daddy and I would experience God in a very real way. You can imagine our awe at the way He chose to answer that one! Surprisingly, we discovered that your birth mother has a history of lupus, which puts you at an increased risk for developing it since it does have a genetic component. I was dismayed at this information, but your daddy pointed out that if you do face that trial down the road, we would be well-equipped. Perhaps, this information is just another way the Lord chose to reveal His sovereignty to us. His hand over our lives has never been clearer and that truth brings great peace!

November 25, 2014- Adoption day!!

We headed back to the courthouse one final time. Surrounded by our family, we vowed to be yours forever, and the judge signed into law what God had already placed in our hearts. You, my precious daughter, are the greatest blessing- a gift far greater than what we could have even imagined for ourselves! It truly feels like you were always a part of us. You’ve taught your daddy and I even more about both our capacities for love, and also our Creator’s love for us. I pray you always know just how dearly loved you are, my beautiful Emma Kate Brawley.

Love always,

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. “ Ecclesiastes 3:11


Thank you Brawley family for allowing me to document such a great testament of God’s faithfulness and special thank you mom for sharing your letter to your daughter and to whom ever is reading.

  • Sandy Bossie Brock - Oh my! With tears in my eyes, I type What a BEAUTIFUL world…. God is so faithful. I <3 this sweet family!ReplyCancel

  • Svetlana Ponomarenko - Tiffany, congratulations! what a beautiful story! May God bless you abundantly! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Svetlana Ponomarenko - I am sorry i spell dour name wrong. *TiffaniReplyCancel

  • Cindy Sheats Rezkalla - Such a beautiful story, and the photos are gorgeous. I loved hearing the details from her momma's point of view. Thanks for sharing this!ReplyCancel

  • DannyandJoanna Lopez - Beautiful!! Tab, what a precious tribute to the Lord's faithfulness! Emma will treasure this, I'm sure!ReplyCancel

  • Doris Brodax - oh my goodness tab what a beautiful,beautiful letter.of course I cried through the whole thing. I found out things I did not know. thank you dear brawley family for sharing this wonderful forever event I love you all sooo much.ReplyCancel

  • Shawna Bealand-Roberts - As i cry my eyes out i can truly say i am so glad i got to experience a part of this. I remember how your eyes would light up when you talked about Emma and told us the story of how you wanted to adopt her. Each time you would come over for a therapy session with Trevor and would tell us what was happening you could totally tell how much this meant to you and how much you already loved little Emma. I am so glad that our God is amazing and answered your prayers!ReplyCancel

  • Annamae Nasewicz - This is my favorite thing ever. What a beautiful story and how you documented it is just p e r f e c t.ReplyCancel

  • Diane Sheats - Beautifully written and captured by the camera! Thanks so much for sharing the divine details…and you have a great writing style!ReplyCancel

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