Hope Price is an Athletic Trainer at Statesboro High School for Optim Sports Medicine.
Story by Julie Lavender / Photos by Scott Bryant
Moments cover mom Hope Stalcup Price, mom of two adopted daughters, is the first to admit that not everyone is called to adopt. But she’s quick to point out that there’s always a way to help with adoption.
‘We’re all called to help widows and orphans,’ she said. ‘There’s always a way to be part of the process — either by personally adopting, sharing a file on Facebook, or helping out a family who has adopted.’
With the adoptions of Chandler and Harper, Hope and husband Evan Price have experienced the process domestically and internationally — and both had their challenges and rewards.
The Statesboro High School sweethearts married during their senior year of college, in 2010. Hope was obtaining an athletic training degree from Georgia Southern, and Evan’s degree was in human resources. After graduation, the couple left Statesboro briefly for Hope to complete her master’s degree in exercise science.
Currently, Hope is an athletic trainer at Statesboro High School, and Evan is a solution sales specialist with Fastenal.
Thoughts of starting a family didn’t go as expected for the Prices.
‘I had two miscarriages in 2012 and 2013, and we struggled with infertility,’ Hope said.
Doctors told her she had less than a 3% chance of getting pregnant. She said she remembers praying, ‘God, if this is not your plan for us, show us what you want us to do.’
Once the Prices decided to adopt, the process took two years, with paperwork and background checks and interviews and home visits. It was a long process, but then when it happened, it happened quickly.
‘We got a phone call on Monday, and we picked her up on Wednesday,’ Hope said.
The domestic adoption that brought Chandler Grace into their home in 2015 took place after the birth mother chose the Prices from a selection of files.
‘Her birth mother decided we could name her,’ Hope said.
The Prices have what’s called a ‘semi-open adoption’ and send letters and pictures to Chandler’s birth mom regularly.
‘We’ve been very open with Chandler about the adoption,’ Hope said. ‘We let her pick out the pictures to send, and we read to her what we’re writing.’
A couple of years later, when the Prices contemplated another adoption, they first assumed they’d adopt domestically again, just as a matter of familiarity.
‘I’d started following Reece’s Rainbow, an advocacy group for special needs adoptions, because we have friends who adopted their daughter internationally with help from that group. I was lying in bed one night, looking online at files, and said to Evan, ‘What if we go a different route? What if we go international?” She said that would mean even more extensive paperwork, as well as a more expensive process.
‘We went back and forth for a while, praying about
what to do,’ she said. ‘Then, when we saw Harper’s picture, we felt like God was saying, ‘This is what I’m showing you to do.” Hope said that children on international adoption sites are often given American names.
‘When we saw that her name was Harper Grace — the same middle name as Chandler’s — we felt like it was a sign that she was meant to be ours.’
Again, the process took about two years. Hope said getting on the plane to make the trek to China was probably the most terrifying thing she’d ever done.
With both adoptions, Hope said they were stepping out in faith, knowing that God would lead them and provide for them when there were challenges. But an international, special-needs adoption brought even more questions.
‘I kept asking God, ‘Are you sure you chose the right parents? I don’t know if I’m equipped for this.” The Prices knew from the beginning that they were adopting a daughter with Down syndrome.
‘Harper has some obvious delays and challenges that come along with Down syndrome,’ Hope said. ‘One of the biggest is her language and communication, but since being home and having time with therapists, we have seen huge strides in this area.
‘We’re also still navigating through bonding and affection, since institutionalized children have a hard time with that once home. We help her with this by ensuring that it is on her terms, and we don’t push it.’
Hope said that Harper adjusted faster and easier than the rest of the family, and this December marks one year that she’s been in the United States. For the most part, Harper’s laid-back personality has helped her adjust to her new life and family, but Hope said she did get a little anxious when the family moved to a new house across town over the summer.
Both girls are students in the pre-K program at Mattie Lively Elementary School, and Harper receives therapy time during her school day.
‘The therapists are absolutely amazing,’ Hope said. ‘Our families and friends are a huge support to us as well and couldn’t love Harper more.’
The Prices are blessed to have both sets of grandparents living in Statesboro.
Harper loves being outside, anything to do with music and following her sister, Hope said.
‘The only things we really try to avoid are extremely crowded situations or things where she has to walk a lot, since Down syndrome causes low muscle tone and she tires easily.’
Hope said the girls get along great most of the time, but one day recently, the nine-month-apart siblings had several disagreements.
‘They were having a rough day together, and 4-year-old Chandler asked, ‘When is Harper going back to China?’ and I reminded her that she wasn’t going back to China, that she was part of our family now forever.’
Sometimes the adoption process is a lot for a little one to take in.
‘Chandler asks occasionally, ‘Why is my skin brown and yours and Daddy’s skin is white?” Hope said that she and her husband make extra efforts to explain the process in a positive and loving way.
‘Adoption can sometimes have a negative connotation for some, especially for the birth mother,’ she said. ‘We want them
to know that, yes, we’re mommy and daddy, but that they have another family that chose to give them life and wanted better for them.
‘We try to share their birth story without tainting their view of their birth family.’
There have been challenges and changes but blessings galore for the Price little girls — and perhaps the biggest change for the sisters? They’re getting a baby brother!
‘In February, I started feeling bad, like I had the flu,’ Hope said.
Eventually going to the doctor, Hope found out she was nine weeks pregnant. With a smile, she said she’s not sure if the girls understand just exactly how their world is about to change.
Through it all, Hope and Evan have maintained a strong faith in God’s plan for their lives. Now, the beautiful family of four — soon to be five — is excited to watch God’s plans unfold for the next part of their journey.
‘Adoption can sometimes have a negative connotation for some, especially for the birth mother. We want (the girls) to know that, yes, we’re mommy and daddy, but that they have another family that chose to give them life and wanted better for them.’ –Hope Price, mother of two adopted daughters