I’ll be honest – the pre-adoption days are a bit of a blur at this point, but it all started when my friend and I decided to have babies at the same time. She was pregnant within the first 2 months. I watched her get bigger and bigger and we still had no luck, then the baby was born and she just got older and older. I kept track of my temperature daily and charted everything, which was before they had kits for that. We read about all the little tricks to try to make it happen. I stopped spending much time with one of my closest friends because it was just too painful to be around her daughter as a reminder of how long it had been for us; she was around 3 or 4 years old at this time.
Finally, after a couple more years, my husband went and got checked out first, and to add to the heart break we learned he was 98% sterile. He got angry with himself knowing he was the cause of us not having a baby. It put a major strain on our relationship. We finally decided to try other options of fertility. I went to the doctor to discover I had major fertility problems myself. I do not remember the actual technical terms, but the lining in my uterus that develops to hold the egg in forms after the egg is ready to attach there for it does not do its job. Even though we had no insurance to cover it we decided to try the IUI method. Making many trips to the doctor’s office, taking a ton of medications that made me feel horrible, missing work without pay not to mention the cost of travel, the doctor’s office was around an hour and a half from us and we had to go in 7 days in a row each month with at least once a week trips in between. We had no other option we put this all on high interest credit cards. It cost well over $10,000 a month. After the third try, the doctor literally told us to not waste any more money – it was not going to happen for us. We should really look into adoption.
At this point we were defeated with no baby and a ton of credit card debt. Again, this put a strain on our marriage but at least my husband was not the only one to blame anymore. We both had failed to be able to produce a baby together. Fast forward 6 more years: we were finally out from under the credit card debt for the fertility treatments. I cried daily watching all my friends have kids after kids and seeing the ones that complained about them or had them accidentally wishing they hadn’t it took its toll on me. My husband was fine either way; having kids or not, he was not struggling as I was with this. Again more strain on the marriage. Then we started talking about adoption but had no clue how we would be able to afford it. We went to a few foster care meetings to hear all the nightmare stories and realized we could never bring a child into our home just to give them back again to someone that had hurt them. It just was not for us. One day, I joined a chat group about adoption and went in and told my story. Shortly after, a lady private messaged me about the agency she had used and gave me the contact information. I told my husband and he agreed we should reach out and see what all was involved in it. I called APO in June of 2009. Just by chance, they were having their twice a year information meeting that weekend and happened to have one more spot we could have. We made the 3 ½ hour drive to College Station and for two days sat hearing about the process, stories from other parents that had adopted, and stories from birth moms. It was a lot to take in. The open adoption is what stressed us the most. We both agreed we did not want that – it would be weird or hard just not something we’d feel comfortable with – but decided, whatever, we’ll just say we are okay with it and deal with that later. It literally took us almost 6 months till fill out the million pages of the application, get our initial home study done, and make our life book. We lucked out by each of our parents loaning us money to pay for the process.
By the last week of December 2009, we were officially put on the waiting list. I told a few family members and friends that I was hoping it was going to happen soon. They all just encouraged us not to get our hopes up; it probably would be a very long journey. I just had a really good feeling about it all. A week later, I got a call from [our APO social worker] saying we had been matched with a birth mom that was due in 3 weeks and asking if we would like to come meet with her that weekend. Our heads spun we were so excited and so nervous. We made the 3 ½ hour drive that Saturday to meet her. We were all nervous and a bit shy with each other. After an hour or two, we went our separate ways, having no clue what our future would hold. After a few days, [our APO social worker] called again and said “Are you ready to be parents?” I was at work when this call came in, just as our UPS man was delivering packages. I couldn’t help myself; he was the first to know that we were chosen to be parents. I then called my husband. It was all so unbelievable after all this time.
We also knew not to get our hopes up, because the agency tells you over and over again to expect to not go home with the baby. I refused to buy anything except a pack n play, a car seat, and an outfit for it to come home from the hospital in. We had no clue if it was going to be a boy or a girl, so I bought both. The week lasted forever: we did not sleep, we barely ate, and we only told a few close friends and a handful of family members. We didn’t want to deal with all the ‘what happened’ questions if it didn’t work out. Then, on a Wednesday night while I was at church, I got a call from Victoria, from the agency, saying: “Are you ready to get here? She was just admitted into the hospital. The baby is on the way!” I called my husband but he wouldn’t answer the phone. I called him over and over as I was leaving church. I stopped to put gas in the truck and he finally called me back. I was like, “Get ready, I’m on my way home! The baby is on the way!” He was like ‘okay’ and hung up a few minutes later. He literally called me back saying “Are you serious?” I was like, “I’m not doing a test run! This is happening! Get the bags ready!” Which we already had packed.
We made record time driving the 3 ½ hours to the hospital. We went right in to see the birthmom, then waited in the waiting room for what seemed like forever. At 1:57 am I heard a baby screaming down the hall and told my husband that’s our baby. About 15 minutes later the doctor came out and announced we had a baby boy. Another 15 minutes passed and we were in the delivery room holding him and hugging our birthmom. We got to carry him to the nursery and watch his first bath. It was all so unreal. His birthmom made the process so easy on us. We did all his feedings and when the nurse would start to tell her anything she’d say tell them they are his parents. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
And even though we went in with the feeling of not wanting a relationship with the birthmom, we left that hospital with nothing but love for her. And even though she said she didn’t want to be a part of his life, we couldn’t imagine her not being in it. We called her off and on the next week just to check in with her and friended her on Facebook. I wanted her to see him and to be in his life, but she chose to not be and that was her choice. My son is 9 years old now, and this breaks his heart he ask about her regularly and says he just wants to meet her. I have reached out to her and her family with no response. Hopefully one day this will change, but for now it’s our reality.
Now on to the second adoption journey of our lives. When our son turned 3, we decided to get back on the waiting list, thinking, hoping, it would be quick and easy again. We went to the meetings seeing all the younger couples and I knew it might not be as easy as I had hoped. After an entire year of our book not even being shown to anyone my heart started to break again knowing this might never happen for us. I did not want my son to be an only child I wanted him to have a sibling to grow up with and hopefully it required pink bows.
More and more time passed with no luck, and slowly we started to come to terms with the fact that it just wasn’t meant to be. Our home study was due again, but we decided we just weren’t going to do it. We’d given up and just didn’t tell the agency. Then one day my phone rings and I answer it with the response of “I know, I know, our home study is due, but….” and [our APO social worker] cuts me off with “Yes, and you better get it done, because you were just matched with a birthmom who is due to have a baby girl in 3 months.”
I couldn’t believe it. We met with her and everything was great. We were so excited that this was actually happening. We met numerous times over that 3 months. She was scheduled to be induced, so this round we didn’t have to make the 3 ½ hour a mad dash. We sat in her hospital room almost all night waiting with her, but the baby just wouldn’t come. We finally went to the hotel to get some rest and cleaned up. The next morning we get the call that she is in full labor finally and on the way to the hospital we get the call that the baby had arrived. We again were in the delivery room holding our baby girl shortly after she had been born. We got to carry her to the nursery and watch her get her first bath.
But, that is where this adoption journey makes a big change. After that, the baby went back to the birthmom, who held her tight and barely let us see or hold her again. She called herself mommy, she did all the feedings, and basically kept us at arm’s length. I was heartbroken; my husband, who doesn’t handle pain well, turns it into anger. The birthfather had originally signed his rights away before the baby was even born. But due to her wanting his name on the birth certificate or something he was given back his rights. So now he was at the hospital too holding his baby girl promising the mom the world with them. They both kept saying they know adoption was best for her, and they couldn’t give her the life they wanted her to have, but neither one wanted to sign the papers to give her up. They wanted us to take the baby, but not give up rights. We didn’t want to take the baby knowing they could take her back at any time.
My brother in law and sister in law had our son and made the long drive to bring him to the hospital to meet his baby sister, but when we decided it might not happen, we met them half way to just get away from it all. That whole day, I walked around in a fog and had déjà vu nonstop. Everything I did I felt like I had already done it. My husband was angry and ready to just go home and give up. That afternoon, we went back to the hospital and let our son meet the baby, telling him that she might not get to come home with us. Nothing had changed, and my dreams of having a baby girl were slowly going away.
That night, I laid in the bathtub in the hotel crying my eyes out praying, begging, and pleading to God to let me have this baby. The next morning we went back to the hospital where we all sat down and really talked. The birthmom really wanted us to take the baby but her biggest fear of signing the papers were that we would take the baby and disappear and she’d never get to be a part of her life. We sat there promising her that would never happen. We were all crying I told her that if she didn’t sign the papers today, my hopes of every having another baby die that day, because I knew we wouldn’t do this journey again.
All while this is happening, my church family was sitting in church with a picture of this baby girl up on the screen praying for us to get to bring that baby home. And at those exact moments both the birth parents decided to sign the papers relinquish their rights to her. It was the hardest weekend of my life. But that afternoon, we went home as a family of four. I look back now, and I am pretty sure I lived that day twice, explaining the déjà vu. It happened the way of her not signing her rights away the first time and God changed his mind and we all relived that day to make it this way.
Two weeks later, the birthmom came to visit us and we have kept our promise – she is in our life. She has since then moved to another state, but we still see each other 2-3 times a year and FaceTime often. Our daughter knows her older sister and now her baby brother from her birthmom. They treat my son no differently and include him in everything. We have had family birthday parties; both my kids and her daughter all have birthdays in January. My son asked me this last visit if he can just start pretending that she is his birthmom too. I told him, “If that is what you want, then yes, you may.” I told her what he said and her eyes filled with tears and said she would be honored; that she loves him like her own. I went into this journey thinking I would never want to “share” my kids with anyone, that I just wanted them to give me their baby and disappear, but now I can’t imagine it any other way. The love I feel for these girls – even though we only see one – I still love and hope the other shows up one day.
Everyone’s journey is different. I still stay in touch with other families that went through the adoption process at the same time. We all know the struggles of all sides of it like no one else. I tell people now that thank God there are people like us that can’t have our own children because if we did then where would all these babies that need a home gone. These are not my adopted children, these are my children. Just to put a time line to everything here: my son is 9, my daughter is 4, and the friend’s baby that we decided to have at the same time just turned 21. It was not an easy or fast journey, but it was well worth the wait.
– Julie, adoptive mother