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Meet the newest tiny ‘Agapen’ – Eli Zander Bocik

On April 30, 2016, our family grew from 2 to 3 when we brought Ari home through the miracle of adoption. Adoption changed our lives in every way, but the most notable way is how it has shown us the deep love of our Heavenly Father. When we got the call on Friday, April 29th last year and only had a few hours to decide, we leaned in and we listened. We knew we were to respond with ‘yes’ even though we were terrified of the unknown, the suddenness, and the unexpected. Looking back on that night now, we are reminded that the small and simple word ‘yes’ brought us one of the greatest gifts and we’ve never regretted making that decision. We know that God’s story for our family is a reflection of His love and how He has adopted us into His family. Now, just a little over a year later, we leaned in again and responded with ‘yes’…

Just a short time ago, we felt prompted to begin the adoption process again. On Sunday, July 23rd, we received a phone call from an adoption agency giving us the unfortunate news that a birth mother, to whom we had been presented, chose another family. Without even having time to grieve that news, the agency explained that there was another situation that they would like us to consider. So we leaned in, and we listened… A birth mother in Knoxville, Tennessee had given birth to a tiny boy on Friday, July 21, 2017, two months before her due date. She was already matched with an adoptive family, but because this little guy came so early, they struggled to proceed with the adoption as planned.

Consequently, there was now a little, 31-week-old baby boy in need of a forever family. We knew that while there were a lot of unknowns and fears, we were supposed to say, “Yes.” Within a few hours, we were matched. The next morning, we packed our bags, not knowing how long we might be gone, rallied the support of our family to watch and care for Ari, as well as the support of our teams at work to help as we figure things out, and we headed down to Knoxville. On Tuesday morning, we met his birth mother and spent the morning learning about her love and courage for her son. We signed paperwork with the agency and then headed to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

There, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, with cords, monitors, beeping, pumps, and lights all around – we met our son and Ari’s new brother. He was (is) a tiny 3lbs 2oz, but he is long at 16in. We weren’t able to hold him yet, and half of his face was covered with what looked like a baby sleep mask. Through doctors, nurses, and social workers, we learned more about the care he is going to need not just over the next couple months, but possibly for the rest of his life. These 48 hours felt like a tornado, but regardless of his condition, we know God has brought him to us and us to him, and while overwhelmed in the moment, we have a peace that everything will be ok.

Because he is a preemie and was exposed to drugs in utero, we have been advised that he may not be able to come home until mid-September. This is his story though, and it’s now another chapter in the Bocik story. We have chosen to name him Eli Zander. Eli means “ascending; lifted high; or my God.” We are lifting his life up to our God and crying for God to heal, strengthen, and grow his tiny body and soul. And we pray that for the rest of his life, his story will always lift the name of our God high. Also, we cry out to God for strength, wisdom, patience, and peace as we juggle life, family, and work in two different states. Zander means “defender of men.” We are watching God defend and fight for his life, and our prayer is that he would grow to know God as his defender and choose to serve, love and defend others out of response to his Protector and Defender.

We are preparing to stay in Knoxville as long as he needs to receive the care and support he needs from the NICU here. We never imagined that this is where we would be with adoption #2, but it is, and here we are, and we are committed. We are incredibly grateful for the love, support, and care of our Agape friends and family. We are made for life together in community with one another. And Agape is such a beautiful community that exemplifies love and service. We could not be more grateful to introduce little Eli to this sheltering, yet empowering community. You are a precious part of Eli’s story and we are deeply grateful for that. Thank you.

P.S. Just say ‘yes.’

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