Adoption Miracle pt. 2 – The Miracle
This is part 2 of my friend Christy’s wonderful adoption story. If you haven’t read part 1 yet I encourage you to start there. You’ll find it here.
With no further ado – here’s part 2.
I came home from Disney World and began to research adoption. I couldn’t believe how overwhelming it was! Information overload. OVER. Load. It was difficult to know where to start. I wrote down my questions and started making phone calls based on random internet leads. I spoke with a kind woman who answered my questions and gave me additional information I needed but didn’t know I should ask. She was the first of many angels sent to us throughout this journey. She set us on the path towards a homestudy—the process that evaluates us to determine if we’re worthy in the eyes of the State.
I quickly learned that I had many misconceptions about adoption. Adoption is not just for young girls who “get in trouble”. Women of all ages. Women who are married. Women who have other children. There are no definitions to dictate the kind of woman who has an adoption plan for her baby. I also learned very quickly about open adoptions. A woman who seeks adoption will choose a family for her baby. The birthmother and the adoptive family will meet each other and each will decide if they are comfortable with the match. Some birthmoms will invite you to prenatal visits. Some will let you be in the delivery room. When the mother goes into labor, you meet up at the hospital because the baby will go home with you. Wow! How did I not know this was all a possibility? Of course this is not the case for every adoption, but it sounded great to us. There were so many options we weren’t aware of. We learned so much—and we didn’t even learn all of it. But we learned enough for us.
Voice: “Are you stting down?”
Carol: “You’ve been chosen.”
We had to choose so many things. Would we go with a lawyer or an agency or both? How much would be our budget? Foreign or domestic? It was quickly apparent that the more expensive paths were the quicker paths—and the most risky. Who would we tell? Who would be our references? We chose an agency that was very inexpensive (relatively) and low risk. With them, we began the homestudy process. Background checks, fingerprints, financial records, personal references and about 100 interview questions. Then a visit to our home, write some checks and, viola! We were deemed worthy to be parents. We were “home study ready”. This means we were legally ready to accept a child into our home. Most adoption attorneys and agencies don’t start talking to you until your home study is complete. Ours was complete and we were listed with our original agency. Now what?
The next step was to put together our marketing strategy. We felt like we had a pretty good product and needed to sell it to the birthmoms so they would choose us over all the other families. Some couples put up their own websites, put ads in magazines, get toll-free numbers, sign up for adoption website services. We weren’t going that big. We took more of a precision approach, not big, broad strokes. We wrote a letter to the mother of our child. We didn’t know who she was but we wrote to her to tell her about us—how we met, who we are, where we come from, what we want for our family and what kind of parents we are my stepson and will be to our new baby. Then we put the letter into a storybook with family photos. It was our lives in a skinny little book. It didn’t feel like enough but at the same time it felt like everything.
Now we wait. W. A. I. T. The whole process is so intense so I would go in spurts. Research. Break. Home study. Break. Profile book. Break. Just like infertility treatments, you could let your thoughts consume you. There’s enough work to make a full-time job of adoption. Looking back, I think it was a coping mechanism for me to run through the stages in clearly defined segments. It probably slowed me down because of the breaks I took but I maintained my sanity so it worked out. Also, I think God was keeping me on His pace because my daughter was coming and it had to be timed just right.
We met with a consultant who recommended we spread out across a few different agencies or lawyers. It’s not smart to put all your hope into one place—especially the place we chose as it was very small and not very active. Our next step was to join a sister agency to ours. They were better, but still small. Then God placed a very specific angel in our path. One I never EVER would’ve expected but he was the one who most directly led to our daughter.
My husband and I carpool to work. We arrived one moring and started to walk across the parking lot at the same time as my boss. He says, have you ever heard of St. Gerard—though he mispronounced it. Making idle chatter I said I did know that place remembering how I would volunteer for the emergency pregnancy service as a pro-life teenager. “Oh, yeah, I know that place.” He proceed to tell us how he’d just come from his bible study group and one of the guys’ grandchild had been adopted from there. God had placed this angel in our path for a reason. “Wow, I didn’t know they did adoptions. I’ll have to check it out.”
I must’ve been on one of my breaks because it took me a few weeks to reach out to them. I checked out their website and sent an e-mail. In January (we’d started the whole adoption process the previous March) we were at one of their adoption seminars to learn about their program and to get on the waiting list. When we walked out of there, we knew we were one of only 8-10 couples who were on the list. It felt like pretty good odds! Back to the familiar place of W.A.I.T.
About six months later, we were back at the next seminar. As a requirement to be on the waiting list, you must attend the seminars—about 2 per year. So we arrive at seminar number two and see a couple familiar faces from last time. We weren’t the only ones still waiting. Still, somehow, this seminar felt different. When we walked out of there I had a new feeling in my heart. Gone was the doubt. Gone was the question of “IF” I become a mom. At this seminar, God spoke to my heart and my tune changed to “WHEN” I become a mom. We were both so excited! Now, we just needed to be patient. That shouldn’t be too hard. We’ve been waiting forEVER (it seemed). What’s one more day…week…month? We’ll stop at month. With our renewed hope and faith, we just knew it would only be months. I stopped holding my breath. I decided to just live life, hold nothing back and let the cards fall where they may.
In June we were introduced to a possible opportunity to adopt a special needs child. There was a baby in Florida born with Spina Bifida who needed a “home study ready” family. Woah. My husband & I hadn’t talked about this and it felt like it was all happening so fast. We prayed and tried be open—is this you, God? Are you sending us in this direction? It was very difficult. We wanted our hearts to be open enough. We wanted our faith to be big enough. We wanted to be the kind of amazing people who would open their hearts to this little boy. But with much prayer, we felt this wasn’t God’s plan for us. The little boy had several other families lined up to welcome him—and we were not on the list.
We continued to pray for the mother of our baby. We didn’t know her but we asked God to give her strength, to fill her heart with peace, to bless her with the courage she needed to make the decision that would be right for her and for her baby. We prayed that God would comfort her and give her grace. And we waited.
One Monday around 9:30 AM I received a phone call while I was at my desk at work.
Voice: “Are you stting down?”
Me: “Carol?” (I recognize the voice of the leader at St. Gerard. My heart starts to flutter.)
Carol: “You’ve been chosen.”
Me: silence. “Am I supposed to be able to speak right now?”
Fighting back the tears, I listen to Carol tell me that we had been chosen by a young lady who was due early next month (about 2 ½ weeks from now). Would we be able to come meet her tomorrow morning at 9AM? Is that a real question?!?! Ask me to do anything right now because I could probably flap my arms and fly to you if I had to. Yes, of course we would be there at 9AM tomorrow.
Carol: “Would you like to speak with her? She sitting right here.”
Of course I would—but what can I possibly say to her? “Thank you” sure doesn’t seem like enough. I fumbled through some words and told her we couldn’t wait to meet her tomorrow.
I sat at my desk. My whole body was shaking. I walked over to find my husband at his desk. We stepped into a conference room and I tried to tell him everything between sobs. We’d been chosen. We meet the mother tomorrow. We have about 2 weeks to get everything ready to bring home a baby. We won’t be at work tomorrow.
From the conference room we immediately started calling our family. “Mom, what’s on your calendar a couple weeks from now?” “I don’t know, why?” “Because you’re going to have a new grandbaby.” *SOBS*
For the rest of the day, I’m pretty much useless at work. We leave a little early and start our “to do” list. I still have it and it looks like this:
- Meeting w/ birthmom
- Clean baby’s room
- Find a daycare
- Pack a bag (this was for the hospital when the baby would be born)
- Research pediatrician
- Call social worker
- Call HR (for adoption leave info)
- Cancel hotel (for concert in Orlando)
- Sell concert tickets
- Post treadmills on Craigslist
We didn’t really get to our list.
Tuesday morning we arrived for our 9:00 appointment at about 7:45 AM. We were a little excited. We stalled as much as we could and eventually knocked on the door at 8:45. At 9:00, the lawyer showed up. Since the pregnancy was already past 8 months we wouldn’t have much time. We sat in a small room with chairs around the perimeter–me and my husband, the lawyer, Carol and her intern. We were all chatting and talking and waiting for the birthmom. About 9:15 AM, Carol went to check her messages while my husband & I tried not to think the worst—she changed her mind. In the room next door we hear Carol exclaiming “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!”
WHAT!?!?! Carol, use your words! WHAT?!
“She’s had the baby!”
HAD? Like, all done? Room starts spinning. Body starts shaking. Within minutes we are in the car heading to the hospital. We’re going to meet our baby. I called my mom to please bring us a carseat and needed her to get the dogs to the kennel. We weren’t coming home tonight. We left the house for a meeting and a big to-do list and we wouldn’t be back until we had our baby in our arms.
When we got to the hospital, Carol went to speak with the birthmom and make sure everything was still okay. We were invited in to see her and I went straight to her and hugged the mess out of her. I couldn’t let go. I tried to hold in the tears. I recognized we were in a very sensitive situation. As high as we were, she may have been equally low. She was there with her mother and we all sat down and awkwardly began talking. Slowly the awkwardness began to wane and everyone relaxed a little bit. We learned that they liked the fact that we were dog-people (we have two) and, since they’re Gator fans, they liked that my husband is a UF alum. Of all the heart-pouring we put into our book, did we really get picked because of our dogs and the Florida Gators? Who cares?! The lesson here—you really don’t know what will connect with people. I’m sure their decision was deeper than just pets and football teams, but when it came time to talk, this was common ground. A good place to start.
We spent the rest of the day with the mother and Wednesday too. When she was discharged Wednesday afternoon it was one of the most difficult and emotional moments for me. Over this short period of time, we felt truly bonded with her and didn’t want to say goodbye. She had demonstrated unbelievable strength and courage. I was in awe of her. We hugged her and watched her drive away. I prayed for her and wondered if we’d ever see each other again. In this arrangement, we are not to have any further interaction with each other. Cut ties. Clean break. I’m sure there are psychological and legal reasons for all of it but, at the time, it was hard. Harder than I could’ve imagined.
We turned around and walked back into the hospital to see and hold our little girl. More waiting. This time we had to wait for her pediatrician to discharge her so we could take her home.
Only now did we feel comfortable accepting family visitors at the hospital. The hospital nursery gave us a room to use for visiting. All of our local family came up and met the new baby. She was perfect! It was perfect. Everything was perfect! I hugged my mom and we both wept. I hugged my sisters and we all wept. It was a big, emotional cry-fest with us weepy women. We sat in the hospital room and took a million pictures—including one of my mom, my sisters, and our three daughters—three generations of women. Welcome to your family, little angel.
The pediatrician wouldn’t discharge our baby until the next day. Since we weren’t actually patients in the hospital, we had to leave to find a place to crash for one more night. We had to hit the store to pick up some essentials and luckily found a hotel that wasn’t too far from the hospital. Early the next morning—it was now Thursday—we were back at the hospital and, guess what. Waiting. Waiting for the pediatrician to discharge our baby. Waiting for the lawyer to come and make the appropriate arrangements. Waiting to get out of there!
Finally, the waiting was over and we drove away with our beautiful baby girl.
There was a little bit of baby-daddy drama that drew out the legal process but it was all just formalities. Our final court date was in February and the judge signed the paperwork that tells the court that this baby is ours—as if I had given birth to her myself. We are her family and she is our blessing. And a blessing she truly is!
She is still perfect. Seriously. She’s an amazing baby. She has spoiled us and we are spoiling her. I’m pretty sure she’s been to Disney World at least four times already. She brings more joy to our life than I ever could’ve imagined. I truly believe God brought us together and I can’t wait to see what plans He has for her. They may be big. They may be small. But I KNOW they’re going to be amazing.
That’s the end of Christy’s story. I’d like to thank her once again for sharing it. It was heartwarming. I asked Christy if she would like to share any links to resources that made her journey easier. She recommended the sites below.
Sites for fertility care:
Posted on July 24, 2012, in Real Life and tagged Adoption, adoption plan, adoption story, Baby, Faith, family, Florida Gators, God, Infant, Miracle, Newborn, Spina Bifida, St. Gerard, Waiting. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.