Friday, October 7, 2011


perhaps it would be wise to begin this post with a disclaimer: this will be very long, personal, and emotional... I have cried more times than I can count organizing pictures, looking at video, and thinking about this beautiful story God has written. 

This is the story of how a sweet baby girl, Bella Marie, changed the lives of so many people. This is a story about adoption.  This is the story of my sister's life, struggles, and victories. This is a story of God's faithfulness, love, and redemption. He is so good.

It all started for our family in 1979. Our parents got married, and the next year... my sister, Chrissy was born. [[I just recently found out that my Papaw named her, which is so special to me because I never got to meet him... yet everything about him somehow ripples to me. He passed away in 1982. He was only 59.]] In 1985, my sister was riding her bike in our home in Barling, AR. She took a really hard fall, and things didn't seem right because her bruises weren't going away. A quick trip to the doctor proved to be one of the most difficult days for my parents and my sister. The "accident on her bicycle" trip to the doctor soon became extremely serious, scary, and intimidating... somehow, my sister had leukemia

there are so many hospital stories, scares, and "almost lost her," traumatic moments in the next few years for my family... in the middle of all that, my brother, Casey, was born (November of 1985 - talk about a gigantic year for the Craigs). My sister was undergoing constant treatment... Arkansas Children's Hospital to St. Jude's in Memphis... at one point - they actually sent her home to die. They told my parents to enjoy life with their little 6 year old girl and accept this detrimental news.

my parents never gave up. 

they kept fighting. kept believing. kept praying. see, my sister is a miracle... her life is a testimony in and of itself, and my parents weren't going to give up on this miracle named Christa Marie. They also had a new bundle of joy welcomed into the family, somewhat unexpectedly. That baby girl was me... born in February of 1987. 

I was born in a time of extreme stress and almost crisis. My sister was going to get a bone marrow transplant... only we had to go to New York City -- and they had to wait for me to be born so we could move there. I was just a few days old, and I took my first cross-country trip to one of my (now) favorite places in the world, NYC. 

my mom and dad are seriously heroes to me. imagine their marriage up until this point: newborn baby, dealing with losing a father, finding out your 5 year old has cancer, another baby a few months after that, almost losing your daughter, medical tests that rip your heart out, seeing other cancer patients pass away, not to mention friendships/church families that hurry up and leave when hard times come, yet the rich and beautiful relationships maintained and begun during that time... then to have another baby (while miscarrying 2 other babies during my pregnancy... i was a triplet!), then to move across the country to a HUGE city with a sick kid, a toddler, and a newborn baby... not for sure knowing that this would be successful.

their faith inspires me

 here the 3 of us are taking a bath... :) 
 this is chrissy holding casey... she'd been on chemo - so she lost her hair.

this story keeps getting better. my brother was my sister's bone marrow donor. he was a perfect match, and she accepted it wonderfully! things were looking up for our family at that point... little did we know there were more hurdles to come. my sister had many complications... brain bleeds, tumor, etc - these things popped up AFTER the bone marrow transplant... it seemed as though they'd always been battling something medically. 

once my sister's health improved and maintained... there was a blow that came that i want to say only a woman can truly understand... they told my sister

you won't be able to have children.

can you imagine hearing these words at such a young age? it's a blow that i can't even comprehend. dreams are crushed. hopes are shattered. part of you that feels like a "woman" is gone. yet, God always redeems.

my mom was wonderful to my sister during those difficult times. she's told me stories about how when chrissy was in the hospital, they'd sit and talk about her graduating from high school and college... having our dad walk her down the aisle... and having kids. After they got the news, my mom immediately encouraged her. Adoption is definitely an option, and she told her that you may not take a pregnancy test or experience childbirth... your telephone call will be your pregnancy test. they will, in essence, tell you... Chrissy, you're pregnant. 

then of course, the dreadful thought of having to tell your future husband that you can't bear him any children. i'm telling you, this story is beautiful.

God is faithful.

my sister started dating Jason, and we all pretty much knew they were going to get married. they were perfect together, and our family was ready to grow with him in it! then of course... my sister had to tell him about her inability to get pregnant.

they were coming home from one of her yearly doctor's appointments in Little Rock, and she began to tell him her heart, her pain, and ultimately, her news about having to adopt once they get married.
Jason pulled the car over... You see, Jason had a little secret of his own that he hadn't told my sister yet. On the side of that highway, he shared that he himself had been adopted and had always wanted to adopt when he got married. 

God writes the absolute best stories. 

 here they are volunteering at a summer camp for kids with cancer. 

 this is right after they got married in their house.

and oh no, the story isn't over yet. 

a few years into their marriage, they decided that it was time to start the adoption process. now, some people might have some lofty ideas about how "easy" it is to adopt, and how "hard" childbirth is. I've never given birth to a child, but... I might go ahead and say that the adoption process is one of the most difficult, emotional, and painful... yet AMAZING things in life. you can definitely see the "pain" promised to Eve in Genesis paralleled to any women who has experienced adoption. 

the waiting game might be the hardest. birthmoms pick a couple she wants to raise her child. mind games can come into play here... but we were hopeful and ready to get a baby to just love in our family.

that day came in February of 2010. On a Thursday, my sister and Jason found out that they had been "picked" by a birthmom.

she got her call. 

the trick was that the baby was due the NEXT WEEK. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions... I was so excited that I went out that night and bought my sweet niece a bunch of new outfits. My whole family laughed at me and said I was jumping the gun, but I couldn't help my excitement.
 ((Little did we know that the next day, our sweet Bella Marie would be born.))

I got a call at work on Friday morning from my mom... birthmom's blood pressure was too high, and they had to induce her. OUR BABY WAS GOING TO BE BORN THAT DAY. Yes, my sister found out she was going to have a baby the DAY before it was born. It's the best story, huh! My mom and I just drove up to NWA as fast as we could. I brought all the clothes I had bought the night before (yes, the girl had clothes!)... and we went to help Chrissy get the "essentials" for what a newborn needs... and i'll let the pictures tell the story of the day. 

 here are mom and sister looking over the to-do list for baby day!

 here are all the outfits from auntie carrie. notice the onsesie that says, "I love my auntie"

 my mom and i excited and thrilled... just arrived at the hospital

 the parents-to-be waiting for their daughter to be born.

 we had a whole waiting room full of people

 everybody wanted to be there for this day!

watch the video below to get a feel for how it is waiting for a baby to be born. you can hear how excited we all are... especially my sister :)

and below is the picture that makes me cry the most. my sister's smile has to be the biggest and brightest I've ever seen it. Every bad medical test, every tear shed as you grew up over not being able to have a baby, every doubt and fear... is erased. God knew way back then that Bella Marie would be in your arms on this day. He is faithful.

 these 3 kids in New York City....

 grew up to be these 3 kids in Arkansas....

 who welcomed this amazing gift named Bella Marie.

 instant love.

 a proud Pops.

 the sweetest little baby.

 with Mammaw

 we used to play with dolls...

 now we have a baby.

 a 6lb, 5oz little thing stole my heart February 5th, 2010. 

 hi, bright eyes.

 uncle ryan & bella

 the kids with the baby.


favorite moments from this day:
 seeing my Mammaw hold Bella and whisper in her ear, "it's your great-grandmother."
seeing my sister and jason smile bigger than ive ever seen
watching a family grow
seeing my parents' prayers come to life in a baby named Bella
making bella dance when she was only a few hours old
seeing all of our hearts have to grow exponentially to contain our love for this little baby

 Grams, your prayers and dreams have arrived in that little bundle.

 Leaving the hospital. Outfit thanks to Auntie Carrie!!

 my little strawberry :)

 her 1st Valentine's day... only a little over a week old
 kisses for my sweetheart.

 she's got Pops around her little finger, too

 how many babies get to attend their own baby showers? Bella did!

 cherishing time with family!

 raising her right - she's a hogs fan as a newborn!

 my little munchkin!

 proud mom & dad.

 loving mama.

 so cute.

 "watch me grow"


 so cute!

 8 months old!

 on the lake with the family. She loves her Grams

 4 generations of us women!

 mammaw's namesake... Bella Marie

 1 year Birthday party!

 loved her cake!

 like father...

 like son...

 She's getting big now!

 riding the train with Grams, Mammaw & Auntie Carrie



 laughing again. sweet girl

 she loves Grams.

 She loves Mammaw, too.

 Uncle Ryan & Bella Marie

 She loves poochin those lips out for kisses, too!

our sweet, sweet girl.

So wow... there's the whole story about how a tiny little baby changed all our lives. The best part: God knew all along that it would be this way. He knew it when my parents were worried about their daughter surviving cancer. He knew it when my sister was in tears about not being able to have kids. He knew it during the painful adoption process. He is good. There is no better author to our stories than Christ. I look back and my family's history over the past 30 years, and I know the only reason we are here today... celebrating together, loving Bella and each other, and living life... is because of Him. 

The best stories are the ones when you can't guess the ending right? who would have ever guessed such a beautiful one for us?

im thankful.

carrie anne

PS -- watch me teach her all her dance moves here... just a few hours old!


  1. wow, crying like a stinkn baby! what a beautiful, wonderful, story that sweet baby girl will have to tell to her babies. God is SO good!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your sister's beautiful story. I am cried the whole way through, but by the end they are great big happy tears. Your niece is all kinds of gorgeous :)

    God is truly amazing.