Jordan & Whitney Van Matre w/Kennedy

A Gospel of Grace

Kathy Dean Faith, Spring 2016

Jordan Van Matre ’07, Owner/President, The Law Office of Jordan K. Van Matre, P.C.

 

“I’ve got this outward appearance that I’ve got it all together,” he said. “But God knows my heart, and I know the condition of my heart. Despite that, Christ loves me and accepts me as I am. The Gospel is about accepting that fact, and living your life as a response to the Gospel – the Gospel of grace.”

 

Jordan Van Matre has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments since he was Student Government Association vice president and a member of the award-winning RamTonz barbershop quartet at University of Mobile.

He graduated with a law degree and the distinction of being one of the most decorated law competition students at Liberty University.

He married Whitney, the love of his life.

His law career has taken off – he started in bankruptcy law and soon was managing one of the largest bankruptcy caseloads in metro-Atlanta. Next, he joined the district attorney’s office as a prosecutor, fulfilling a dream of becoming a trial lawyer. His successes as a prosecutor were impressive. He had never lost a case, and won an important case before the Georgia Supreme Court, clarifying a complex area of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.

He opened his own law practice and today is a criminal defense attorney in McDonough, GA.

They are accomplishments made possible through hard work, talent and determination. But those attributes didn’t help when he and Whitney faced the heartbreaking and seemingly insurmountable obstacle of infertility.

“I always thought, ‘this was my life,’ that things always work out like I planned. Our journey through infertility and adoption forced me to accept that some things don’t always work out, no matter how hard you work at it,” Jordan said.

Together, they faced two-and-a-half years of dashed hopes, unsuccessful infertility procedures, and celebrations of their friends’ growing families as they ached for a child of their own.

Then, on Nov. 4, 2014, Jordan and Whitney started an amazing journey toward adoption that they shared openly on their Facebook page, Baby Van Matre’s Journey Home. There were ups and downs, times of doubt and moments of deep certainty, all shared with crystal clear honesty.

It was also a spiritual journey.

“I had to own the fact that God owes me nothing, and come face-to-face with the idols in my life,” Jordan said. “My struggle was more about sacrificing an idol I didn’t want to admit I had, this pursuit of a perfect life.

“This made me realize in my own personal journey that I have to be totally reliant on God in my heart. I had known that in a textbook way. This grounded me spiritually, in a way,” Jordan said.

They had always wanted to adopt, but assumed that would come after they had a natural birth first.

Whitney wrote about the moment their journey turned in a new direction.

“After three failed procedures…God brought me to my knees. He made me stop in my tracks and reminded me that He was there in the moments of agony. I was treasured by Him and He wanted me – us – to take a step of faith and follow His story for us.

“On November 4th, I laid it down. Now, let me be clear, I ‘laid it down’ crying and screaming out to God, but nevertheless that was our day of beautiful, painful surrender.

“And so began the conception of our baby – only to be grown in the womb of another woman.”

Jordan said most adoptions take at least two to three years to complete, usually costing between $40,000 -$50,000. They started fundraising in early December 2014. Friends started a Go Fund Me page, Jordan built and sold wood furniture, they held creative fundraising projects, they even tried out for the Family Feud game show with the idea that any winnings would be put toward adoption.

Only four months later, by April 2015, they had raised $30,000.

“The only way we can figure it is the Lord knew Kennedy was on his way, and we were going to be parents,” Jordan said.

That same month, they were in an airport ready to board the plane for a vacation celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. The phone rang – it was a friend of Jordan’s from law school with the news that a woman in Orlando, FL was pregnant and wanted to give the child up for adoption. Her due date was May 3.

The home study process required for adoption that usually takes six months was completed in one week. The Van Matres hurried to get ready for the baby girl the birth mother said she was carrying.

“On the way to work, we got a text – Baby is here. It’s a boy,” Jordan said. The birth mother had not had an ultrasound and assumed she was carrying a girl.

They arrived at the hospital to meet Jordan Kennedy on his birthday and were awarded custody the next day. The adoption was finalized in September 2014 – less than a year after the couple decided to stop trying to control their future and trust God’s control. Because the adoption happened so quickly, the money they raised covered the entire cost, plus nursery supplies.

They brought Kennedy home eight weeks before taping an appearance on Family Feud with family members including Jordan’s father, Jim Van Matre ’79 and brother Kory Van Matre ’15. The segment aired in February 2015 and included a memorable scene where Jordan takes to the dance floor, proving he isn’t a “stuffed shirt lawyer.”

“I get a lot of compliments in my professional career that I can relate to anybody, and the University of Mobile played a role in that,” said Jordan, who earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science and humanities, with a minor in philosophy. “UM exposed me to a diversity of people and life experiences that helped shape my understanding of the world and helps me relate to people with different world views.”

His faith is key to his work as a criminal defense attorney.

“Just like Christ is an advocate before us for the judgment seat, I want to be an advocate to be sure that what they do receive is fair and just. As wrong as it is to think someone should get off…it is equally wrong to think criminals should be punished more than what is fair. Justice, like anything, is always found in the balance,” he explained.

Jordan said he hopes the future holds more children in store for their family. His long-term goals are to be a leader in his community, raise a family, and have a successful law practice or be elected district attorney.

But, as Jordan discovered, while there are limits to what he can plan for his life, there are no limits to what God can accomplish through it.

“I’m thinking about going back to school and seeking degrees in apologetics, ministry or theology,” Jordan said. “I’m not able to deny the pull in my heart toward ministry.”

Through experiencing heartache and facing adversity, he felt as if he finally understood the Gospel in a way he hadn’t before.

“I’ve got this outward appearance that I’ve got it all together,” he said. “But God knows my heart, and I know the condition of my heart. Despite that, Christ loves me and accepts me as I am. The Gospel is about accepting that fact, and living your life as a response to the Gospel – the Gospel of grace.”

About the Author
Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning media relations director and former journalist whose expertise has enabled the University of Mobile to gain national and regional attention. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Auburn University and worked as a journalist for 12 years, including 10 years at the Mobile Press-Register, earning regional and national awards for coverage of education, deadline reporting and feature writing. She joined the University of Mobile staff in 1993, earning awards for writing and public relations including the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing in 2015 and 2012. She is a charter member of Providence United Methodist Church, serves on the board of the John Will Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from the University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.