For years, Jose and Liz Marie Galvan dreamed of expanding their family but struggled with one miscarriage after another.
Then Jose had a dream.
“He woke up from this dream and he was like, ‘Don’t talk, I need to write this down,” said Liz Marie, the popular interior design blogger behind the Liz Marie Blog and an author based outside of Grand Rapids. “‘I dreamt of a children’s book last night.’ I was like OK. This is before we had a kid, all of that. It’s also very weird that it had ties to adoption because it was before we even considered adopting. It was a real full circle moment.”
Liz Marie Galvan and her husband Jose, the duo behind the popular design website, the Liz Marie Blog, hold their son Copeland Beau in their west Michigan farmhouse. The couple have a new children’s book about adoption. (Photo: Anna Vanderberg)
Now, the couple — who adopted their son, Copeland Beau, two years ago — are making Jose’s dream a reality. Their children’s book, “We Belong to Each Other” (Tommy Nelson, $18.99), hits shelves Tuesday and tells the story of a scared sheep named Grace who comes to live with a family she doesn’t know. Grace learns that love is what binds a family, not genetics.
“There are so many different messages within this book,” said Liz Marie. “One of the main things that (will likely resonate with readers) is that looks have nothing to do with where we belong. Looks don’t make a family. It’s love.”
Illustrated by Katie Rewse, a British artist, the book is set on the Galvans’ real-life farm just south of Grand Rapids, White Cottage Farm, and features drawn versions of Liz Marie, Jose and toddler Copeland (who they call “Cope.”)
The main character Grace is actually based on a sheep that in many ways was the Galvans’ first foray into adoption. The couple brought Grace back to their farm as a lamb several years ago after she was rejected by her birth mother on another friend’s farm. She was their first barn animal.
“We brought her in and bottle fed her,” said Jose. “She hung out with our cats and dogs and took on a lot of traits of them.”
Liz Marie and Jose, who also own a home decor shop called the Found Cottage, believe the book also has a message even for those who haven’t experienced adoption firsthand, especially kids. Jose recalls a conversation with a niece and nephew not long ago who thought adoption was like buying a baby.
“We use this message to connect those conversations with young ones,” said Jose. “We all might not look alike but with some love and some welcoming open arms, we all belong to one another.”
Jose and Liz Marie grew up in west Michigan. After they married, they lived in North Carolina for a decade while Jose was in the Marine Corps.
It was in North Carolina that Liz Marie, who has always loved design but didn’t think she could make a career out of it, started her design blog and her design career has exploded since then. She’s appeared on the “Today” show several times with design tips, her “Cozy White Cottage” book is a bestseller and she has 500,000 followers on Instagram alone. The couple decided to move back to Michigan in 2014 and buy a farm after Jose’s father died.
It was on a whim, however, that Liz Marie decided to be candid with her followers several years ago about her and Jose’s heart-breaking fertility journey. She’s had nine miscarriages. It was Mother’s Day and “I was sitting there so broken and decided to share a story,” said Liz Marie.
“Little did I know there were many, many, many women who felt the same way,” she said. “It was very scary to put it out there but I’m so thankful that I did because it got me through a lot of dark times and from the messages we still get today, it’s helped other people too.”
Today, Cope is a rambunctious on-the-go toddler and Grace is one of 10 sheep at White Cottage Farm, along with 3 dogs, 6 or 7 barn cats and “a million bees,” says Liz Marie. And the Galvans, who are in the process of starting the adoption process again, think several of their sheep are expecting.
“We’ll probably have a lot more this spring,” said Liz Marie.
Cope, meanwhile, is big fan of his parents’ book. The book is dedicated to him and his birth mother, who Liz Marie and Jose maintain a relationship with and see regularly.
“Cope loves the book,” said Liz Marie. “He points out everyone in the book. And he doesn’t sit through many books but he sits through this one.”
‘We Belong to Each Other’
- Out Tuesday, March 9
- Written by Liz Marie and Jose Galvan
- Tommy Nelson books, $18.99
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