Sessions for India // Documenting Gracyn's Adoption

Adoption Documentation in 2020…

Well, 2020 is off to a pretty exciting start! I got a Facebook message about a week ago asking about the process for me to document an adoption overseas. As most of you know,  The Dream Village was born out of a heart for adoption that I’ve had since childhood. With three adopted siblings, an adopted son, an adopted nephew, and adopted cousins, adoption has always been a part of my life.

If you didn’t know, adoption is extremely expensive. My heart has always been to document adoptions for FREE, even on international trips. I don’t want to add any pressure to families at a time when they have invested so much just to bring their child home. But the moments of that first meeting are so precious. Having those moments documented is truly a gift.

Regan and Joseph will be traveling to India at the end of the month to meet their daughter, Gracyn, and bring her home. They’ve been waiting to meet her for TWO YEARS! After chatting with them, it looks like everything is lining up for me to accompany them to capture their first moments as a family. (Coincidentally, it was exactly six years ago that I went to India for the first time to document an adoption.) I spent most of yesterday filling out all the necessary forms to get an Indian Visa. This is really happening!

I usually have more time to raise funds, but I’m confident that this is a calling God placed on my life. When He calls us to do something, He also provides everything needed for the journey.

How can you help?

If you’d like to help with the expenses for this trip, I’m selling discounted sessions to raise money.

The first session option  is 45-60 minutes and includes all the digital images. These sessions can be used any time in 2020.

The second option is a 30-minute session with all the digitals. Again, this can be used any time in 2020!

These sessions also make great gifts! If you don’t need a session, pass it on to someone who could use an updated family portrait.

If you’d just like to donate without purchasing a session, you can do that by clicking here. 

You can also browse our store and purchase a piece of art for your home!

Thank you for supporting adoptive families by helping us share their stories.

Four ways you can help...

Click the photos below to purchase or donate!

Joe and Regan

orphans Archives - The Dream Village
orphans Archives - The Dream Village

orphans Archives - The Dream Village

An Adoption Story -- Meet the Nolens

An Adoption Story submitted by Cheryl Nolen

Our daughter, Whitney, is adopted. We brought her home from the hospital when she was 3 days old.

We were infertility patients and had tried every procedure available to help us conceive. After 8 years of medical intervention to help us, my doctor had a very honest discussion about our specific issues. He encouraged us to adopt because he firmly believed we would never have success in having a biological child. After all we’d been through I finally felt resolved about being a mother to a child born by someone else.

We used Adoption Advisory whose offices were in Dallas. From start to finish our process took approximately 2 years. We actually tried many other agencies for over a year before that.

When we went to the hospital to get Whitney, we were over the moon with excitement and anticipation. When they brought her through the door of the waiting room, we thought she had to be the most perfect, beautiful baby ever born.

Whitney was a challenge early on. Her strong will constantly forced us to draw on reserves of patience that we never knew existed. She struggled with rejection from birth parents during her teen years, wondering why she was “given away.” We told her that God chose to make her ours so that she’d have a good life.

I haven’t met or spoken to her, but Whitney has met her birth mother, as well as her parents. It was mostly a positive experience. She feels strongly that she and her boys need to enjoy a strong relationship with us in spite of knowing her birth family.

Before we adopted Whitney, we were actually matched with a different birth mother but it all fell apart when the child was born. The birth mother pulled out of her agreement with the agency and chose to pursue a private adoption. We never knew why, except our trust was in God that He had a different plan for a different child for us.

There were times during the difficult teen years that I wondered if God had chosen the wrong parents for Whitney. As an adult with children of her own, Whitney and I see that God does all things well. We can see that so clearly as we look back.

After Whitney was almost 4, we had a very big surprise- I had a baby boy, Spencer! I can say sincerely that I love them both the same, no matter how they came to us. We never dwelled on Whitney being adopted and people were always surprised to learn that. God chose to build our family differently, so we accepted His will. We feel so blessed to have had the children He gave us.


Do you have an adoption story you want to share? Whether you are an adoptee or an adoptive parent, we want to hear about your journey. Submit your story here!

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An Adoption Story-Meet the Sampsons

An Adoption Story submitted by Sarah Sampson

“First, let me say that I believe every adoption is a beautiful miracle.

Just like childbirth, no two stories are the same. Our story is not your typical adoption story. For us it began in December 2005 when I was attending a Christmas concert with friends. I was 2 weeks away from delivering my 4th child. During the concert, they showed a spotlight video that highlighted a ministry called Shohannah’s Hope, an organization that raises money to helps families adopt internationally. I was so moved by the video, it hit something deep inside me and I came away with a compelling feeling that I would adopt someday.

I went home and shared my experience with my husband. He chalked it up to pregnancy hormones and pretty much told me I was crazy. We were on the verge of having 4 children under the age of five, including a set of twins. Life got busy when the baby came and I kind of put my experience on the back burner. My baby started kindergarten in 2011, and with my youngest in school, the desire to adopt came back to me. I didn’t have long to entertain it before my kinder daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. That was such a life changing event for her and our family that I put adoption on the back burner yet again.

Fast forward to fall of 2013.

I had gone back to school to get my teaching certification. I was driving across Houston several times a week and my thoughts on my drive would always go to the possibility of adopting. It seemed everywhere I turned, whether I was in church, at my kid’s school, or driving down the road, I would see something or hear something that related to adoption. At this point, I knew God was speaking to me loud and clear. I approached my husband again about the idea and he still wasn’t completely on board. He told me that if God wanted us to adopt he was going to have to put a baby on our doorstep. That way we would know it was from Him.

Well, I knew that wasn’t how things worked so I began to research adoption agencies and options. I became consumed with the idea and I began to share my desire with my friends and family. Through an unlikely series of events, a family friend’s daughter had just found out she was expecting and at that point in her life keeping the baby was not an option. The family knew that we were interested in adoption and asked if we would meet with them. This is not how adoptions typically happen but we knew we had to see where it would lead. By seeking and following legal counsel, we proceeded with the process. Even though a birth mother cannot finalize her decision until after the baby’s birth, we were committed to walking out the journey with her. 

On June 27, 2014, Eli Thomas came into the world.

His birth mother requested our presence at his birth. My husband and I were the first to hold him. It was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. From the moment we held him, we knew he was going to be part of our family. Eli wasn’t legally ours until April 17th, 2015 when our family stood before a judge in a Galveston County Courthouse as we committed ourselves to him and he was officially given our name.  Eli’s adoption was a private adoption but we still had to go through the legal process including interviews and home studies for everything to be finalized.

Eli’s birth mother is an amazing woman. We have a unique relationship with her and she is a part of Eli’s life. I want him to know how much she loves him and how that love affected the decision she made. When I think of adoption my heart is torn. I know that it is a difficult choice for a birth mother. It requires love and so much bravery, but something so beautiful can come from that choice.

Adoption isn’t always easy.

It can be complicated and challenging at times, but when you look into the eyes of your child it’s worth all that is difficult. People often ask us about our decision to adopt. Some say we are crazy since Eli makes five children for us. We often hear the comment: “What a blessed little boy Eli is.” We turn that around and say we are the ones who are blessed. Every time I look at him I think of the miracle that he is. How he was a desire in my heart 9 years before he came to our family.  He brings so much joy to our lives and the lives of those around us! We love him more than words.

I would encourage anyone who has considered adoption to pursue it! There are many wonderful agencies for local and international adoption that can lead you through the process. If it’s a desire in your heart, it can become a reality and lives can be forever changed by your decision!”


A note from Trisha:

I met Sarah and her husband at my son’s basketball game. My daughter and I walked into the gym and I had intentions of sitting in a seat close to the door. However, she spotted her step mom and grandma and said “Let’s go sit over there.” I had no idea a divine appointment was about to happen. The Sampsons were sitting next to me and I noticed that Eli had super dark hair compared to them. I started a conversation and found out he was adopted. I told them about The Dream Village and asked if they would be interested in sharing their story. I love when God gives me a reminder that He’s in control here.

If you’re interested in sharing your adoption story, click here for more info.

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An Adoption Dream-Meet the Jeffries

A Latin American Adoption Dream

The Jeffries are in the process of adopting from Latin America. They have 2 children, Charlotte and Abram, who are 10 years old. Right now they’re in the middle of the home study process.

“We were on a mission trip to a children’s home in Latin America this summer when we felt God’s calling to adopt a brother and sister there. We immediately started the process for adoption when we returned home,” Holly said.

The Jeffries would appreciate any purchases made through The Dream Village on their behalf. To donate a portion of your purchase to their adoption, use dream code JEFFRIES at checkout. Click here to shop!

Thank you for your support of The Dream Village and the families we encourage!

adoption, adopt, orphans, Latin America

adopt, adoption, orphans, foster care, family

Adoption Story - Meet the Millers

An Adoption Story… Submitted to The Dream Village by Kortni Miller

“I’ve never won the lottery, but I imagine it kind of feels like being handed your three-day-old baby boy for the first time and hearing the words “Congratulations, you are a mother.” Especially after the long and lonely road it took to get to him.

Our adoption story really began as a sophomore in high school in the backseat of a car with all my girlfriends, driving to the hospital to offer our young teenage support to one of our best friends, who was about to place her baby boy into the arms of a woman she didn’t know and say goodbye to him forever.  I don’t think even then that I realized the magnitude of her choice. By the time we got to the hospital she had already delivered him and to this day I still remember my friend laying there, a sheen of sweat still visible on her forehead, tired, solemn and more quiet than usual. And in that moment I realized that she was the bravest person I’d ever known. I wouldn’t know this until years later, but that strong and selfless friend of mine prepared a hidden chamber of my heart for the beauty of adoption.

I remember vividly the night it all came full circle. Ten years later I was snuggled up on the couch with my husband, both of us completely speechless after watching the movie Martian Child. The story hit us like ice cold water to the face. We both knew we wanted to adopt at some point in life, but we hadn’t tried anything exceptional to have kids yet so it wasn’t exactly the first thing on our minds…Until we saw that movie and heard the line “how do you argue against loving one who’s already here?” From that moment on, adoption was all we could think about.

The next day my husband called me from work and said “I don’t know how, but we need to start the adoption process today.” We met with an agency that night and handed them a check with all the money in our account to cover the intake fee and not a clue how we would pay the rest. Our profile was shown to an expectant mom a week later and Eli was in our arms exactly one month after the night we watched that movie. It was nothing short of a miracle.

It is hard for me to find words for the beauty of the moment my boys were placed in my arms. The only one that comes close is AWE. I felt quiet and small. Standing there, I felt like my heart had taken up residence in my throat and it would come crawling out if I tried to speak. The awe of everything that had just taken place made me wonder if I should slip my shoes off because I felt as if I was suddenly standing on the most holy ground. That is what the adoption journey is. Holy ground. Every step of the way.

If I could travel through time and talk to my 24 year-old self, the girl who was staring at her twentieth negative pregnancy test, I might tell her something like this: One day she is going to be alarmed when all of her friends start having one, and then two kids and she doesn’t have any yet. She is going to pray for a baby for so long until the day she can’t see the point in asking anymore. She is going to know what it feels like to be angry with God, and sad. Really, truly, deeply sad when she realizes the babies are not coming. But then I would gently grab her shoulders and look her in her now worried eyes and I would say to her; ‘Listen. God has every intention of completely wrecking your soul more than once in your life so you will know what it means to let Him put it back together again. And one day that will happen when you find yourself holding your husband’s hand in a small office at an adoption agency and the case worker will get off the phone and tell you that you are now the mother of a three day old baby boy. That is when you will close your eyes and thank God for all of those unanswered prayers. But just you wait, it will happen again. Just when you think your heart can’t hold any more love, a beautiful girl will lay her baby in your arms and make you a mother of two.’ And then I would hug her tight and tell her sorry for spoiling the ending, but everything is going to be okay, because her heart knows no happiness like mine does right now.

Even though infertility wasn’t the deciding factor for us in choosing to adopt, it was the push we needed to do something we had always planned on whether we got pregnant or not. I know that’s not everyone’s story though, and none of that discredits the very real truth that infertility still hurts something fierce.

When you are being held in God’s hands like that, it is hard to understand what He is making out of you. You ask why, why would He keep you from having the one thing you always wanted…that He wanted for me? You don’t feel the space being created in your heart or the soul stretching that is taking place. And you can’t hear Him through all the frustration and tears telling you to please hold on, ‘I am working on your prayers and what I have for you is better than you ever imagined.’

I didn’t hear or feel any of that until I saw that little face that looked nothing like my own for the first time–staring up at me, begging me to love him.  And that’s when I knew. That’s when it dawned on me exactly the kind of heart all of the days and months and years of waiting shaped inside me. I began to realize that if God wouldn’t have spent that extra time on me, I wouldn’t be here holding this baby and being asked to love him. I wouldn’t have known that I could. I wouldn’t have known that the disappointment of seeing one line on that pregnancy test month after endless month could become the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen while I was holding my baby; who would’ve never been in my arms had the stick read positive.”

We’re so grateful that Kortni was willing to share her adoption story with us. Please check out Kortni’s Instagram and read more! She’s a fantastic writer!

orphans Archives - The Dream Village

Vincent's Adoption Story // Video

May 8, 2017… the day Vincent joined his forever family. Watch how quickly he warms up when he meets them!

adopt, adoption, orphans, foster care, family

Avi's Adoption Story // Video

After just a few months at home, Avi was a completely different girl. Watch her transformation below!


adopt, adoption, orphans, foster care, family

Adoption Story - Meet Liam

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment God gave me a desire to adopt. It was a desire that just grew naturally throughout my life. Adoption always felt normal to me. It always felt like another beautiful way that God forms a family. I had the joy of being raised with three biological siblings and three adopted siblings and I fell right in the middle of these six awesome people. It’s no wonder that when my husband and I met, I was quick to let him know that someday I wanted to adopt. Thankfully, God had placed different experiences throughout his life that led him to have a heart for adoption too. 

Fast forward to the second year of our marriage and Ben and I were starting our foster care journey. We decided to wait a few years to start our family. Knowing that reunification is the goal of foster care, we entered ready to build relationships with birth families and offer support needed to help reunification. Deep down, we also knew that adoption was a possibility. Both outcomes sounded awesome at the time. We were ready to see what God had for us. 

By the time we were licensed, God started stirring a desire in me to start a family sooner than I had first thought. On May 31, 2012, Ben and I were planning on going for a bike ride, but God had other plans and our agency called to let us know a four month old little boy needed a home for a while. The day our sweet Liam entered our home is one that truly made time stand still and one that only God could have pieced together. The first time I held this sweet little boy he had the biggest smile and sweetest personality. It was as if he immediately knew he was home! We loved our sweet Liam instantly, but we were aware that his birth mother also loved him. And even though she obviously had hard things going on in her life, we wanted to honor her and the attachment she and Liam already had. We were committed to encouraging her. There is no doubt that while there is beauty in adoption, there is also heartache. Days and weeks and months went by. Visits were missed and the case plan wasn’t worked. Throughout our foster care journey, we were able to meet with Liam’s birth mom twice. I am so thankful that God allowed us the opportunity to meet her. I see her sweet laugh and smile in Liam all the time and she and Liam share a bond in their ability to share encouraging words. Our hearts hurt for the struggles she has faced in life and the heartache that she has had to encounter. But no doubt, God’s grace is covering her story, too. 

On February 19, 2014, one year and nine months after Liam entered our home and our hearts, we were officially able to adopt him and give him our last name. He was already our son as God had grown him in our hearts for years, but the joy of him officially being ours is like nothing else we have experienced. As I look back on our journey, I can only give God all praise and glory! What a wonderful God that He would bring our son into our lives in such an awesome way! It’s incredible to see God’s hand graciously leading our family and caring for Liam in sequence. Check out these awesome details that are only possible because of God:

  • God moved us to the county Liam was born the same month that Liam was conceived. 
  • The day before Liam was born, I prayed in my prayer journal for the child we would someday adopt. 
  • We had a friend stay with us when we first became licensed as a foster family. During this time, we received a call from placement about another child needing a home, but were unable to take this child since we didn’t have the room in our home at the time. This kept a room open in our home for when we were called about Liam. 
  • When the placement worker called us about Liam, she was looking for a family in our specific county. We had almost moved to the county next to us, but in God’s grace, He moved us to the county He knew we needed to be in for our son.
  • After Liam was adopted, we lost touch with his birth mom. By too many incredible details to write here, God brought our paths back together. I was able to meet with Liam’s birth mom one year after the adoption was final. It was such a sweet meeting to see her doing well and to hear her say that it was God’s plan for Liam to be with us and that she is happy he's with us. 
  • We ended up losing contact with Liam’s birth mom again, but by another miracle, in July 2018, God made a way for us to connect again. Liam’s birth mom texted letting us know that she is okay and that she loves us. We instantly saw the peace that came to Liam in knowing that his birth mom thought of him! Once again, we have lost contact with his birth mom, but we continue to pray for her and for another opportunity to be in contact.
  • Liam also has three birth brothers. We have been able to remain in contact with two of these birth brothers and visit once a year. This connection has been so special to all of us and we see Liam encouraged after every visit. 
  • We ended up getting two wonderful surprises in 2012! 😊 Liam came to us on May 31, 2012 and I found out I was pregnant in July 2012. No wonder God started stirring our hearts to start our family earlier than we had first planned. We now have three sons that are 6, 5 and 2! Psalm 127:3 sums it up so well.  “Children are a blessing from the Lord;”  -Amy from Daphne, AL


orphans Archives - The Dream Village

Avi // India

Avi was three years old when Hal and Carey met her in an orphanage halfway across the world in India. The sterile, white-walled building was all she’d ever known.

The orphanage required parents to visit the orphanage for three days so their child could become a little familiar with them before leaving. This way, when they left, mom and dad would be familiar faces and Avi would cling to them. Avi never warmed up much during those three days. She was fascinated with the nail polish Carey had brought, but other than that not much interested her about her new mom and dad. She was old enough to know what was about to happen next and she was probably terrified and sad.

The goodbye ceremony at the orphanage was emotional for every one in that room. Prayers were recited, songs were sung, scriptures were read and then everyone kissed Avi goodbye. The orphanage director handed Avi to her mom as she cried and screamed. We jumped into waiting cars to head to Cochin so we would be near the airport for our flights the next day. Avi cried herself to sleep on the drive. The next morning she was still somber but she clung to Carey just like the orphanage director said she would.

This sweet girl has been home for almost five years now and her transformation is incredible. Her sad eyes have been replaced with joy! Take a look at her first few days with her mom and dad and then take a minute to watch her video. You’ll be glad you did!