By Rebecca Lewis
For Crossroads Magazine
Puzzles, neatly packaged with a plethora of uniquely-shaped pieces, can easily compare to the lives people lead. When the box opens, all the jumbled parts are somewhat overwhelming, but as the image begins to take shape, the builder can see how every jagged fragment plays a vital role in the completion of a beautiful picture.
So it is with the story of Chad and Jennifer Timbes. The couple had known each other when they were in high school, Chad at Alcorn Central and Jennifer at McNairy Central, but they both moved out of state for a time. They returned to Corinth within six months of each other and were reacquainted in April of 2011. It did not take them long to know they were meant to be, and they married in June of 2012.
Both had independent careers. He worked in sales, and she served as a supervisor of Organ Recovery for the Southwest Transplant Alliance. Following her passion, the former supervisor took on a new role as owner of Cottage Garden, a manufacturing and wholesale company of all natural bath and body products.
The business grew quickly, so her sales rep husband changed his place of employment to become head of sales and logistics of their expanding vision. Although they stayed busy meeting the demands of owning a small business, they decided not to wait to add another intricate piece to their puzzle.
The two had discussed their family dreams before they married and agreed they wanted children. Because they were in their thirties when they wed, they did not wait long before they tried to get pregnant. “We tried for about a year before we were referred to a specialist,” shared Jennifer, “and he discovered that I was unable to get pregnant.”
After the initial shock, the heartbroken pair took some time to regroup. They trusted God had a plan for their family, but they would have to let Him put the pieces in place.
Dottie Frederick, Jennifer’s mother, shared her daughter’s heartbreak, but told her, “This may be God’s way of letting you help someone else.” Her words later proved to be true.
They took some time, and when they were ready, they began researching adoption agencies and reaching out to friends who had adopted for advice. “Honestly, even before we married, we had discussed adoption. We had thought even if we had biological children, we would love to adopt another child as well,” Chad divulged.
Because they are both avid readers, they read as much as they could, trying to decide on the best agency to use. However, they learned that God had another idea.
“Our situation was definitely unique and one that was meant to be. We shared with out-of-town friends about our decision to adopt. Literally two weeks later they called and said a girl in high school with their daughter was pregnant and wanted to give the baby up for adoption. They shared our contact information with the young couple and their parents and within a month we were all able to meet,” the appreciative mom disclosed.
Within two weeks of that visit, the longed-for call came. The young couple had chosen Chad and Jennifer to be Eliza’s parents. That was in July of 2017, so the following three months were a whirlwind of finding attorneys to handle the legal aspects, going to doctor’s visits, and speaking with the birth mother daily.
“I got to be in the delivery room, and it was amazing to watch my daughter being born,” the emotional mom exclaimed.
Although they trusted they would be able to bring their new daughter home, the couple confided that they did very little preparation for her. The nursery was not assembled, and showers were not held in case something happened.
“Prior to Eliza’s birth, everything looked 100 percent, but we knew the birth mother could change her mind. I could not have come home to a full nursery should something have happened,” Jennifer admitted.
The cautious couple had to explain their seeming lack of preparation to the social worker who came to do the home inspection, and thankfully, she understood.
For a short while it appeared their reservations might be more than just a passing concern. Leading up to the birth, everything was on track, but the day the overjoyed parents held their baby girl was also the day that became one of the toughest ones they had ever faced.
“Our birth mother had a person to influence her to have doubts, and she actually sent us home after I was in the room for the delivery and we held Eliza. That was the hardest and most devastating day of our lives. I don’t really remember the ride home, and I am pretty sure Chad was just trying to hold it together for me,” confided Eliza’s forever mom.
Not only were the distraught couple heartbroken, but their families also shared their grief over what they feared Chad and Jennifer might have to endure.
“We were in Memphis for the birth, and couldn’t wait to celebrate with family. When we learned the birth parents were having second thoughts, we were devastated,” shared Chad’s mother and Eliza’s MiMi, Debbie Timbes. “We had watched the kids come so far and to think it was over had us all in tears. When we left, I didn’t think we would ever get to bring Eliza home, but trusted that God was hearing our prayers and would work everything out.”
Jennifer’s mother, known as “Nonnie” to Eliza, was honest about the pain she felt watching her daughter and son-in-law go through one of the darkest experiences of their lives. “I had no words that could give them the comfort they needed, so we just held each other and cried. Jennifer told me that they would find another baby, but a member of the birth father’s family, told her that Eliza was her baby and that it would all work out. We held onto that.”
In the end, everything worked out as they had hoped, but it was after a very emotional week. The birth parents did ask for an open adoption, which attorneys shared does not legally exist. “We knew we never planned to hide from our daughter that she was adopted, so we agreed to share pictures and meet from time to time, so the relationship can grow naturally,” her proud dad said..
“We want Eliza to know she is so loved that her birth parents gave us the blessing to love her, rear her, and call her our daughter. We also want her birth parents to always know how grateful we are for our miracle child.”
Adding sweet Eliza to their growing picture enabled the dark week of waiting to evaporate, and they returned home to adjust as a family of three. Because they own their own business, most people expected the new parents to have more than enough time to take off. In fact, the opposite was true.
“Eliza Fred’s due date was moved up a month, which was in the middle of one of Cottage Gardens’ busiest times to date at that time. We actually had eighteen full truckloads of product being shipped the week she was born,” the head of sales and logistics laughed.
Their employees handled the extra load so the proud parents could be involved in every aspect of the birth, but the couple admitted it was a very interesting time.
Along the journey, they have met several parents who had adopted and were surprised to find how many people they already knew who had gone through the same process. It was with the help of many of those parents that they found answers and encouragement.
“I talked to one mother a lot throughout the process, and she gave me advice on our first meeting with our birth mother and even referred me to our attorney. She was amazing through the whole process, and it was wonderful having someone who had been in our shoes to help guide us,” expressed a thankful Jennifer.
Even having a private adoption, the Timbes were required to use an adoption agency for background checks and home inspections. They used New Beginnings in Tupelo and loved Victoria, their appointed social worker.
When asked if they would consider adopting another child, both parents agreed, “100 percent. No question. The road was rocky, but worth every moment.”
What they felt in pain has been overshadowed by the love and joy Eliza Fred brings to her grateful parents every single moment.
Chad and Jennifer Timbes have not completed their entire picture, but as they reflect on the completed sections of their puzzle, the faithful pair can see God’s hand placing pieces in His perfect time to get them to this point.
For now, they are enjoying seeing how the small bits have fallen together perfectly and allowed them a glimpse of the beauty to come.
(Retired high school English teacher and Alcorn County resident Rebecca Lewis is a freelance writer for the Daily Corinthian and Crossroads Magazine.)