‘A baby was born yesterday. He may have been exposed to meth.’ There was no doubt in our minds. We turned around and ran to our baby.’: Couple shares adoption journey, ‘We’re meant to be’

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“Gus and I met when we were 12 years old. He asked me to be his girlfriend when we were only 13. While we were dating, I always mentioned I had a desire to adopt one day. Being so young and not familiar with adoption, Gus always said, ‘Yeah, we’ll see.’ With the love, guidance, and support from our families, we dated for 10 years before we got married. During our premarital counseling, we were asked how many children we wanted. I immediately said seven, while Gus looked at the pastor and I and said, ‘ZERO!’ Convinced Gus would change his mind, we got married. 2 years after being married, Gus and I had already purchased our first home, he had a great career in law enforcement, and I had received my master’s degree to teach special education. We decided it was a perfect time to try and have our first baby. Although it took a few times to conceive, we were blessed with our now 9-year-old, Kamilah Sophia.

When Sophie was only 9 months old, I felt something move in my stomach. I went to Gus and told him, ‘I am pregnant.’ We were both convinced there was no way I could be pregnant. We went to the doctor and the pregnancy test confirmed I was indeed pregnant. When they did the ultrasound, the doctor could not find the baby’s heartbeat. He told us, ‘You have probably miscarried and you need to go to an emergency ultrasound right next door.’ After a quick ultrasound, the tech confirmed I was pregnant, but was only 3 weeks along. We were both in shock and overwhelmed at the idea of having two babies so close in age. 9 months later, we were blessed with a healthy baby boy, Jacob Gustavo. When Jacob was a newborn, we began to see some developmental delays in Kamilah. After several assessments, she was diagnosed with a mild form of autism. Shortly after, Jacob was diagnosed with a speech delay. After four years of committing our lives to help our babies be successful members of society, we decided to home school.

Courtesy of Niki and Gus
Courtesy of Niki and Gus

Fast forward to 9 years into our marriage, I am a stay-at-home mom, Gus continues a career in law enforcement, and Kamilah and Jacob are improving and doing amazing academically. We sold our first home and purchased our dream home in a beautiful quiet suburb. When we moved into our new home, we spoke to our older two children and mentioned the idea of fostering some kids. They were ecstatic about the idea, and we furnished their rooms with bunk beds with the hopes and prayers they would be filled with children in need of love and care. We went through all of the classes through the county and were waiting to have our home assessed. After 6 months of hearing nothing back, I called and was told, ‘Be patient.’ A year passed, and we had still not had our home approved or heard back from the county. Gus and I agreed maybe it just wasn’t a part of God’s plan or timing.

We continued life as usual and 10 years into our marriage, talked about having a third child. I was homeschooling our two oldest, and I began a new career as an English as a Second Language teacher online. We were also very focused on working out and staying fit. After going back and forth on the idea, we decided it just wasn’t a good idea to conceive a third child. Once COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, we were watching several different church services online. While listening to one of our favorite pastors, the entire message was about adoption and the need out there for families to adopt. After many years of not mentioning the idea of adopting, Gus thought I was crazy. We had a 9-year-old and almost 8-year-old. Our kids were in a great place academically, we were in a great place financially, and were enjoying this stage of life. After a few days of strong discussions and disagreements, Gus knew and understood the love in my heart to adopt. Without any idea or clue what we were doing, he agreed and said, ‘Let’s start the process and see what happens.’

Courtesy of Niki and Gus

The following day (May 2020), we had a phone consultation with an adoption attorney. He gave us the ins and outs of adoption, and also mentioned the amount of money involved in adopting. The almost 40k number made Gus once again question how we would ever be able to come up with that kind of money. Convinced God would provide, we decided to continue with the process. The attorney mentioned an adoption agency he recommended getting our home study approval through. In May of 2020, I called the adoption agency to begin the home study process. I was told it would take about 2 months to get approved. I was sent the humongous home study package and began completing all of the information they asked for. I felt like they asked us every possible question imaginable, short from my bra and underwear size.

We began to mention to our immediate family we were starting the process of adopting. Everyone’s initial reaction was surprisingly extremely negative. We were told things like, ‘Why do you want to start over?’ ‘You already have two kids with special needs who need all of your attention.’ We were even told, ‘You shouldn’t adopt. You never know what these kids come with or how they will be when they are older!’ I reminded them all I had two ‘perfect’ pregnancies and I was blessed to have two children with developmental delays. My response to all of these people was also at the end of the day, God was in control and we were very excited and would continue on our journey to our third baby through adoption. All of these negative comments were not easy to hear, especially coming from our immediate family members, the very people we were counting on to love and support us through this journey. Thank God Gus and I were on the same page, and we turned in our home study package around my 35th birthday in June of 2020.

Courtesy of Niki and Gus

On August 14, 2020 (our 11 wedding anniversary), we were told, ‘Your home study is approved.’ We had absolutely no idea what was to come next. All we were told by the agency was, ‘You have to wait.’ Although we had no idea when our baby would come, I felt in my heart God was going to bless us with a baby soon. Going through this journey emotionally alone, I started a nursery. I did not tell anyone I was starting the nursery, because I just didn’t want to hear everyone’s negative opinions. In what felt like secrecy, Gus and I began painting our guest room. We purchased a crib and changing table, and I began buying baby stuff. By baby stuff, I mean baby girl stuff. With our first pregnancy, I wanted a girl and Gus wanted a boy. With our second, I wanted a boy and Gus wanted a girl. With this baby, I was convinced we were going to get a baby girl. After all, this is the only time I actually had the chance to choose the gender of our baby. At this point, our families finally understood we were well on this journey to baby number three. And as crazy as they all thought we were, they had begun to be more loving and supportive.

After painting and setting up the bare crib and changing table, our family was set to spend three out of Gus’s four week vacation in Texas. All of Gus’s immediate family live there, and we had not been in four years. I asked Gus, ‘Can we please wait to leave on September 13? We have my youngest niece’s birthday on the 12.’ He agreed and we hit the road at 6 a.m., when I was done teaching. Having so much adrenaline from waiting for the last minute to pack and leave our house spotless before we left, I could not sleep. We had driven about 2 hours into our 22-hour drive, and I finally shut my eyes and fell asleep. I was awoken by a gentle nudge. I looked around and asked where we were. He told me we had entered Arizona. He then told me to answer the phone, because the adoption agency was calling. We had not spoken in a month, so I had no idea what they were calling for.

I answered the phone and the social worker began to tell me, ‘A baby was born yesterday and the mom is ready to sign herself out of the hospital.’ He was born at 33 weeks and only weighed 3 pounds. She also mentioned the birth mother admitted to using meth up until a month before her delivery, and they were waiting for the toxicology report to see what other exposure the baby had. I asked her if I could talk to Gus, because at the beginning of this process, he told me one of his conditions was ZERO exposure to drugs. I began to pray and with tears in my eyes, I began to explain to Gus the situation. He immediately asked about the exposure. I told him the mom admitted to using and we were waiting for the report. He then told me, ‘I can’t give a definite yes or no until seeing the report.’ I immediately called my mom and sisters on video call, and again, with tears in my eyes, explained the situation. They all agreed we needed to turn around and run back to ‘our baby.’ There was no doubt in either of their minds this was our baby.

Courtesy of Niki and Gus

Gus continued driving because the social worker explained the birth parents had still not signed, and it would be a few days before they would sign and be released from the hospital. He was excited to spend his birthday 2 days later with his family. However, to all of our surprise, as we approached the next exit, Gus got off the freeway and turned around without saying a word! I looked at him and asked, ‘Is that a yes?’ He said, ‘I turned around, right?’ Our older kids had no clue what was going on. They were super excited about going to Texas and did not want to cancel their trip. They cried for about 30 minutes until we pulled over and explained to them there was a baby we were matched with who was already born. They were happy and sad at the same time. We drove back in a quiet ride. I think we were all in shock and disbelief at how fast this all happened. We were also scared and unsure about the birth parents not signing. Well, let’s just say the third time is a charm, and Gus won this one. We were matched and our baby boy was here.

My parents and siblings were now super excited for us and we agreed to talk and pray over dinner. We were greeted with flowers and a ton of gifts for this baby we had only seen in pictures but were all so in love with already. We talked about possible names because again, I had been convinced it was going to be a girl and only had a girl name chosen. At dinner, Gus said his name was going to be Isaiah Phillip. My dad was super excited and honored Gus chose to give our baby his first name as his middle name. We continued to wait 2 more days in limbo, not knowing if the birth parents were going to sign, or when we would be able to meet our baby. We were initially told the birth parents wanted a closed adoption. We were then told the parents were ready to sign, but wanted to meet us first. We were extremely nervous and did not know what to expect. We met with both parents and it was such a beautiful interaction.

Courtesy of Niki and Gus

Although they had read our family profile, they wanted to know as much about us as they possibly could. They could not believe how we started dating and how we have ‘such a perfect family.’ The birth parents would say over and over, ‘You guys are like the Mexican Kardashians. You guys are perfect. We just wanted to make sure you guys weren’t too good to be true.’ I reassured them both we were indeed real, but far from perfect. They were extremely humbled and ashamed at some of the choices they had made. They also shared they had a scheduled abortion, and prior to having the procedure, she had to watch a video. She said she just could not do it after seeing that. We reassured them we did not judge them, but instead loved and admired them for the selfless choice they had made. They signed immediately and we were told, ‘You will be able to finally meet your baby today.’ Because of COVID-19, we were only allowed to go in one parent at a time. Gus, being on vacation, decided he would take the forefront at the hospital and I would continue to stay with the older two at home.

I asked Gus, ‘Please record the first interaction.’ It was literally love at first sight. As soon as Gus approached Isaiah in the incubator, Isaiah immediately greeted his daddy with a smile. The nurses could not believe their eyes. It’s like he knew instantly we were all meant to be. Having major anxiety with COVID-19 and hospitals, it was extremely hard for me to go and see my baby.  I would cry and pray with my sister several times a day to find the strength and comfort to go and meet my baby. On a Sunday after church, I went and told our pastor our baby was here and I had not met him. We prayed, and that day, I went to go meet my baby boy. He was having trouble feeding and stayed in NICU for 21 days. Through the 21 days, we received an abundance of prayers and gifts. Isaiah showed ZERO withdrawal signs and we were told by all of the hospital staff, ‘Don’t stress. You have the most stable baby in NICU.’

Courtesy of Niki and Gus
Courtesy of Niki and Gus

The day before Isaiah came home, I asked the nurses, ‘When do you think he will be coming home?’ They said, ‘You shouldn’t count on him going home this week.’ We prayed like never before, and the following day, were told to bring the car seat because our baby was ready to come home. We were so excited and in awe at how amazing God is. Isaiah is now 3 months old and he is literally a dream baby! He greets us with a smile every single morning. He is the most easygoing baby and already sleeps all night and is as healthy as can be. He loves his older siblings and we are 100% convinced we have this unbreakable bond. Our families are over the moon for him and we cannot be happier. We also continue to pray for his birth family and share several pictures and updates. We love them for making the selfless decision they made for our (all four) baby boy.”

Courtesy of Niki and Gus
Lori Dorman Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Niki and Gus of Upland, California. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this:

‘Look at this little girl.’ She was born without hands, feet, or a mouth. We cried all the way through her file.’: Couple pursues special needs adoption, ‘She is truly remarkable’

‘I’m sure it’s nothing.’ I came out of the bathroom, shaking. I was terrified to tell the father. I’d made such a mess of my life.’: Birth mom details open adoption journey, ‘Everything fell into place’

‘I found myself divorced and single at 40, no kids. I didn’t want to wait any longer! As my adoption match fell apart, I fell in love. Life changed overnight.’ Woman takes in special needs stepson after mother’s sudden death

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