Trusting God’s Path; An Adoptive Family Story
Throughout my whole life, my plan was to have 3 kids. I liked the dynamics of 3, the chaos of 3. Our 3rd son, Zack, was born premature at 26 weeks and lived days. While grieving for him, I was also grieving for my (perceived) incomplete family. I am a planner and if I believe strongly in something I go for it with 100% effort. After the loss of Zack, I quickly worked on my plan to complete our family. Surrogacy made the most sense to me immediately after the loss, because surrogacy meant our child would biologically be made of us. Since I couldn’t maintain a pregnancy through term, a friend offered to carry the baby for us. To me it was what we needed to do. We went to a fertility doctor to research the process and I researched the legal process as well. I was ready to sign and start.
I had a great friend, who was my OB, co-worker and would be the OB of our surrogate mom. Most importantly, he was also an adoptive father. During my research, I would keep him updated on the things I was learning. He would always quietly chime in with “what about adoption,” but I would just keep talking about my dreams for surrogacy. One day I heard him. I heard him ask “what about adoption?” I quickly fired back…”I can’t adopt! The family health history is so unknown and what if something bad happened?” He calmly reminded me that I didn’t know my mom’s health history. I could not have predicted that she would die 7 weeks after a colon cancer diagnosis. He also reminded me that surrogacy was not a promise. There were still risks. We could go through the process and still come home from the hospital without our baby. What he said stuck with me. I came home and brought it up to my husband. He revealed to me that he was not convinced surrogacy was a good idea. He was uneasy. He asked that I research adoption.
Previously, I had worked as a nurse in post-partum and had seen a failed adoption. I watched the heartbreak unfold over two days and the hopeful, adoptive mom leave the hospital empty handed. I wasn’t ready for that heartbreak. As I entered the world of adoption I refused to do a domestic adoption. That worked out because my husband wasn’t overjoyed with the thought of a newborn. International adoption seemed to be the only reasonable option. I called a random agency to start my collection of info. Based on my most selfish parameters, Ethiopia was our best option. I presented my findings with my husband but needed time to determine what was in my heart before I could hear what was in his.
How could I adopt? This child would not look or act like my boys. I couldn’t breastfeed one last time. I couldn’t hold a newborn one last time. For two weeks, I dug deep. I read a “You Can Adopt” book, I talked to people in schools, I talked to friends, I read websites, I dreamt about adoption and in the small hours of the night when I woke from my dreams I read blogs. The decision of adoption consumed me. During those two weeks, a wise person told me that I would know what the right decision was, because when I made the right decision I would be 100% committed and not questioning anything. In the end, she was right. After two weeks of deep self-evaluation, I was 100% in.
We signed with an agency for Ethiopia. It was expected to take 12-14 months. We entered the wait list at #93. We changed our parameters a few months after signing up to include sibling sets. We were hopeful that this change would speed up our wait. Over time, we inched our way down the list. We persevered through rainy seasons, the slow downs, the process changes, the rumors of shutdowns and the renewals of paperwork and fingerprints. We kept going. We had passports ready and all the immunizations necessary to travel to Ethiopia with any notice.
Two years came and we were faced with another update. I was feeling restless. I wasn’t sure this was the right path. Maybe the long wait was an indication that this was not where we should be. I decided I needed to do something to ease these feelings. I had a plan: 1. I was going to be still and listen to what Ethiopia as saying to us (Was there movement? Were there any signs?) 2. I was going to research other options…other countries, maybe domestic. At our home study update our social worker discussed with us the option to print out an additional home study, a domestic one in addition to our Ethiopia update. She explained that sometimes babies are born domestically without adoptive parents in place. If that should happen we would need a domestic home study completed to be considered. It was interesting, looking back to the very beginning of our adoption process, to see how my heart had changed. We had the domestic home study completed and continued to wait.
It was about this time that I hiked with another friend of mine. She knew we were hopeful to adopt but asked about our whole story. Throughout the hike I told her the whole thing…from Zack to where we were at that time in the process. After the hike and story she asked me if I ever felt like I was standing in the way of what was to happen. I reflected on that comment and realized I needed to let go and trust in God. I came home and wrote “Baby Girl” on a pink post it. I said a prayer and stepped back. I put it in His hands.
We ended up signing with a domestic agency also. So, over the next few months we crept within 10 on the Ethiopia wait list, we were presented to numerous situations with the domestic agency, and faced two disruptions (1 “minor” and one very “major” disruption at the hospital). Spring Break came and I decided to take the week off. We were going camping in Arkansas and there was little cell coverage there. I was not going to think about adoption (any of our current paths) and just enjoy the week. The week was refreshing and I am back from it strong! I called each of our paths, Ethiopia and domestic, to our check status and see if there was any news.
On Monday, we were presented with a situation of two older children and we submitted our profile for them. Since the siblings were older we were one of the few families that were submitted. I was convinced this was it! This was why we had waited so long. These siblings were the reason! Tuesday, we were notified another couple, without children, submitted their profile last minute and were picked. I was so disappointed. I was so tired. I knew I had to keep stepping forward, but I felt as though a black cloud covered me and my mood.
Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. I was mowing and listening to music when I received THE call. I saw the caller ID name and thought it was just another paper or number request, so I answered without excitement. The voice on the other end said something that included the words…”baby girl”…”tomorrow”…”Ft Worth.” I asked her to repeat it because this was something I needed to hear and remember perfectly. She repeated, “we have your baby girl in Fort Worth! Can you be there tomorrow at 1pm?”
We didn’t need passports or immunizations. We ended up completing our family two and half years later with a domestic newborn. Which was exactly what we collectively refused in the beginning of our story! Sometimes God takes you down a path you hadn’t planned on taking. A path that can be so much better than the one you thought you wanted to take.