By Marie Nesmith
The Daily Tribune News
With two little ones to cherish, Beth Summey considers herself doubly blessed this Mother’s Day.
After years of experiencing “unexplained infertility,” the Cartersville resident and her husband, Jarred, recently expanded their family through adoption. Just five months apart in age, 11-month-old Selah and 6-month-old Judah are filling the couple’s lives with joy and laughter.
“I am so excited about my first Mother’s Day as a mommy,” said Summey, 30. “I have always enjoyed celebrating this special day, because I am so blessed with an amazing mother and mother-in-law, but this year I have the privilege of celebrating as a mommy for the first time. Our two beautiful blessings made us a family, made me a mommy and made our moms’ grandmas. It is sure to be a very special day, and I feel so blessed that the Lord entrusted these two precious gifts to us. We plan on celebrating Mother’s Day with a cookout at our house — lots of family and food, and hopefully some homemade ice cream.
“My favorite part about being a mom is everything. I love all of it — the way they smile, laugh, learn and grow. Since I was a little girl, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a ‘mommy.’ Now that I am, I feel like I have such a special purpose in life — to love them unconditionally and raise them to know, love and serve the Lord. My heart is so full when I look at them and realize ‘these are my babies.’ I love to snuggle and cuddle with my kiddos — Judah especially is all about the cuddles and kisses. Selah is all hair and attitude, and she brings a little sparkle everywhere she goes. I love playing with them, tickling them and making them laugh. One of their favorite things to do is go to the park. I bring [a] blanket, and we just hang out under a tree, eat puffs and goldfish, and play.”
In December 2015, the Summeys embarked on their first adoption journey — which only took about six months — by signing a contract with Faithful Adoption Consultants. To their delight, they were notified sooner than they anticipated that an expectant mother in Kansas had selected their profile book in April 2016. With her baby due in June, the Cartersville couple still was raising funds to cover adoption expenses and in need of about $10,000. Through their church, they were put in touch with Small Bridges, a Bartow-based nonprofit that provided a key matching grant in the final months.
Approximately three months after Selah’s delivery, the Summeys were contacted by Judah’s birth mother — who had read about their story on Facebook — regarding adoption.
Realizing the closeness of the children’s ages as Judah’s due date approached, Summey said, “We were incredibly excited, but justifiably terrified at the same time. We’d prayed and [asked] the Lord for a baby, and now he was blessing us with two. At our birth mom’s last [doctor’s] appointment, a date was set for induction, and we were thrilled that she allowed us to be present at the hospital. I had the great, great honor of being in the room when Judah was born. It’s a moment I will carry with me and cherish for the rest of my life. Words cannot ever express the gratitude and love I have for Judah’s birth mom. Her love for this little boy was so great, and I look forward to sharing that with him as he grows up. He was so loved by his birth mom, and she loved us so well too.”
Expressing her gratitude to their “support system,” Summey extended thanks to her church, Oakland Heights Baptist, and Small Bridges for providing essential financial assistance during Selah’s adoption.
“Our church was one of the biggest parts of our support system during our adoption journey,” Summey said. “They loved us, rallied around us and helped us bear the financial burden of Selah’s adoption. During the time after we were matched with our birth mom — and trying frantically to finish gathering funds — one of our friends from church, Brad Cowart, called and told me he might be able to help us get an adoption grant. I was cautiously optimistic, because we’d only been able to get one grant out of numerous ones we’d applied for. He told me he was on the board of directors for Small Bridges, a local nonprofit organization that helps fund adoptions, and he set up a meeting with their founder, Denise Hutchinson, and another board member.
“I met with them and told them our story. I could see and feel the passion Mrs. Hutchinson has for adoption and was so encouraged after our meeting. Jarred and I prayed as we awaited a decision, and we were thrilled to be awarded a $5,000 matching grant. This was just the motivator we needed. With the appeal of donations being matched, we were able to raise another $5,000 via fundraising, and that amount was matched by Small Bridges. God used this local organization to do the impossible. When we first started our journey, the amount of money was overwhelming and daunting. God used people like Brad and Denise to meet our financial need, and for that I am so humbled and forever grateful. Jarred and my dream for a family came true because Small Bridges allowed God to use them to be a part of our adoption story. How cool is that?”
She continued, “We have a puzzle framed in Selah’s room, and on the back of that puzzle are the names of every person that donated towards her adoption. Small Bridges is written on the back of that puzzle too. How amazing to be able to tell her, and show her, the names of all the people who loved her before she was even born — the names of the people who made us a family.”
Furnishing a “small bridge between those who wish to adopt and those wishing to help financially,” Hutchinson founded Small Bridges in 2013.
“Small Bridges provides financial assistance to approved families in order to help with adoption-related expenses,” said Hutchinson, a Cartersville resident. “Awards are given in the form of grants, matching grants or interest free loans. Most often, the awards are in the form of matching grants. Families who are thinking about, or in the process of seeking to adopt are encouraged to contact us. We are looking for Christian families who feel God has led them to adopt. We typically meet with the prospective parents and give them the information needed to apply. We partner with Lifesong for Orphans to vet our applicants and administer our grant fund. Once approved, families are given fundraising ideas and sample letters, etc., to assist with their fundraising efforts. It is important to obtain any grants early in the process since all funds received before the grant is awarded would not count toward the matching grant.
“Small Bridges has assisted seven families since we began. It seems that as we grow and our fund builds, so does the awareness of our organization. In other words, as God provides the funds, he brings the families as well. We have awarded a grant this year and have an application in process. We are on track to assist up to six or seven families this year alone. Most awards fall within $2,000 to $5,000 and are matching grants. We find that most families are able to raise two to four times the amount of their matching grant. Given that private adoptions typically cost $15,000 to $20,000 at a minimum, the grant can really be a boost to their funding. Also, donations to their fund can be considered as a charitable donation.”
On May 6, the Summeys supported Small Bridges’ Adventure Trek benefit, which raised more than $10,000. Along with a silent auction and award dinner, the event featured a contest where seven teams completed various tasks, riddles and brain teasers, with The Awarded team being named the winner.
“Our family attended the Small Bridges Adventure Trek award dinner,” Summey said. “I was given the opportunity to share our story. And more importantly, I was able to personally thank Small Bridges for their financial support. My prayer is that they were encouraged and motivated by seeing our precious little girl — the result of their investment. It was so special to be able to share Selah with the people who helped us adopt her. Small Bridges is forever a part of her story — our family’s story.”
For more information about Small Bridges, visit its website, www.SmallBridges.org, or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SmallBridges.