‘At 4 a.m. we got THE call. ‘YOU’RE HAVING A BABY! Mom’s water broke! How fast can you get here?’ With tears streaming down her face, she handed him to me and said, ‘Meet your son.’

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“We met in kindergarten and grew up together at a small Christian school in Alabama. As middle school sweethearts, we continued dating through college even though we lived in two different states. Two weeks after graduation, we finally tied the knot and got married.

Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt

Soon after, we moved to Florida, bought our first home, and began our careers. We knew we wanted a family but were married so young that we weren’t initially in any rush. Unfortunately, like so many others, we were devastated when we later discovered our hope of starting a family turned very quickly into the heartache of infertility.

There were almost 5 years of doctor’s appointments and tests, followed by medications, surgeries, and injections that only lead to hot flashes, migraines, weight gain, and financial debt instead of the baby that we were so desperate for. There were times that the devastation of another negative test felt like it might be more than we could survive. During our last attempt at fertility treatments, I was in unbearable pain from migraines for almost the entire month. The weight of pretending to hold it all together was just too much and I told my husband Joshua, ‘This is it.’ I couldn’t possibly put my already ‘broken’ body through this again and I was ready to start looking into adoption if this didn’t work. That negative pregnancy test came two weeks before Mother’s Day, 2017.

Mother’s Day hurt. Father’s Day hurt even more. I would be lying if I said that summer was anything other than anger and disappointment for both of us. We were so disappointed that we were resentful toward each other (even though it took us months to admit it) and just angry at everyone, including God. Why was this so hard for us when it was so easy for everyone else? Why couldn’t he just give us the one thing we wanted more than anything? Were we not good enough to be parents?

While I was immediately ready to start the adoption process, it took Joshua a little longer to get there. That summer, he was mourning the loss of the biological child he was likely to never have. At this point, the hardest part for me was to sit quietly and wait. I needed to keep busy so, without burdening Joshua, I started researching and reading everything I could about adoption.

By the end of the summer, we were finally back in a good place. But I knew I still couldn’t push him into such a big decision. Then one day in late August, out of the blue, I got a text at work that said, ‘Why don’t you just fill out that adoption application that you had last spring?’ I thought I might explode with excitement and I’m not sure I got anything else done that entire week at work! We submitted the application to an amazing agency that a coworker had used just the year before. The very next weekend, we attended an adoption education class where we were able to meet other hopeful adoptive families and speak with several families who had already adopted.

The agency was 5 hours away from us, so the car ride home is something I’ll never forget. Joshua was so excited for the first time about this new route to starting our family. So many people have many misconceptions about adoption which can make it seem very scary. But the more we learned about what adoption typically looks like now, the more we knew that this was it. We were finally going to have the family that we longed for. The struggle and pain of infertility made us so much stronger and we both could not wait to share that big love with a child through adoption!

Once we got home, we started sharing the news with all of our families and friends. We were both blessed with large families and great friends who were all supportive. We were grateful to have such an amazing village to help us get through the next steps that included tons of paperwork, the home study process, and the wait.

The week of Thanksgiving, we finally became an active family. The holidays that year were a little easier to get through now that we had a renewed hope of a family of our own. By February, we were contacted by a local adoption attorney who had an expectant mother and father that wanted to meet us. They were pregnant with a baby boy that was due at the end of March. We were ecstatic and told all of our family and friends.

The morning we were supposed to meet them for the first time, we got a text that mom wasn’t feeling so well that day but she had her next ultrasound on Wednesday and wanted me to come to the appointment. Tuesday night, the attorney called to give us the news that they had changed their mind and were planning on parenting the baby. It’s hard to understand the feeling of loss that we felt without ever knowing him, followed by the crushing amount guilt of being disappointed that a mother and father chose to parent their own child!

Several more months passed as we waited, sometimes more impatiently than I would like to admit. Another Mother’s Day and Father’s Day came and went with our arms still empty. We had only been waiting for a few months now, but it still seemed like an eternity. Finally, in July, we got another phone call from our agency. Our profile had been shown to an expectant mother who was due at the end of August and she chose us! So, we set up a phone call to talk with her for the first time.

We were so nervous and, of course, so was she. We made awkward small talk with the help of our caseworker for about 15 minutes and then set up a time the next week for us to meet in person. When we hung up, Joshua and I both just looked at each other. We were in shock and so happy, but also nervous. What do we do now? We decided to wait until we met her in person before sharing the news with family and friends since we had already experienced one failed match.

The next Wednesday, we traveled across the state to meet her in person. We got to know a little bit more about each other. She told us about herself and her family and why she had chosen adoption for her child. She asked us what names we were thinking for the baby and we found out that the family name we wanted to use as a middle name was also her brother’s name. At the end of the meeting, we all held hands and our caseworker prayed over our new relationship and for the health of mom and baby for the last 5 weeks of her pregnancy. We would be in touch over the next several weeks to talk plans of the hospital delivery. We left that day smiling from ear to ear and started making plans to tell our closest family and friends starting a week and a half later at Joshua’s dad’s birthday.

The next Saturday, we traveled out of state to a college friend’s wedding. At 4 a.m. on Sunday morning we got THE call. ‘YOU’RE HAVING A BABY! Mom’s water broke! She’s already at the hospital and wants you here. How fast can you get here?’ We were 7 hours away! We woke up the friends we were staying with, told them what was happening, brushed our teeth, and hit the road!

We started calling family from the car. ‘Wake up, we’re having a baby!’ After the initial shock and tears of excitement, they each called back for more details and to make sure they weren’t dreaming. My mom and friends from home rushed to our house to pack things for us and for our baby and met us halfway. We made it to the hospital in time to visit with mom and pray with her before our baby boy made his arrival. She was so calm and sure of herself while we were in the room with her, but we were both a nervous wreck inside. What if she still changes her mind once she meets him? Are we really about to be parents? Is this all really happening?

At 10:27 p.m. that night, the most perfect little human, Colin, finally made his entrance into the world! His birth mom sent the labor and delivery nurse out to the waiting room immediately after he was born to show us a picture. I could never describe the feelings of seeing his beautiful chubby cheeks for the very first time. Less than an hour later, we were able to go back to her room and hold him.

With tears streaming down her face, she handed him to me and said, ‘Meet your son.’ Those precious first moments holding him were absolute heaven. Now we would wait 48 hours or until she was discharged for the official adoption paperwork to be signed. Joshua and I didn’t sleep or eat a single thing for the next two days. When visiting hours were over we went to our hotel to shower and to attempt to sleep, but otherwise we sat in the waiting room all day so we would be available when she wanted to see us again.

Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt
Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt

We were so thankful that she brought us in to visit with her, her mother, and her older daughter. On Tuesday morning, we got word that she was being discharged and would be signing paperwork around lunch time. We again waited in the waiting room until she was done and ready to see us. Those moments we spent with her after she legally gave us rights to be his parents were the most beautifully heartbreaking moments of my life. This incredibly strong, determined woman sacrificed her happiness to give her son the life she desperately wanted for him by allowing us to be his parents. There can never be a room filled with more love and heartbreak at the same time.

Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt

Since Colin was born about a month premature, he was kept in the NICU for a few more days for observation. Joshua and I were able to stay with him in the hospital that week by ourselves.

Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt
Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt

We made it home that weekend and were able to introduce him to our amazing village over the next several weeks.

Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt

Every day of our lives since has been more fulfilling than we knew possible. He is such a happy, strong little boy that continues to surpass all of his milestones. He brings so much joy to so many people with his never-failing smile. I can’t imagine loving another human any more than we love him. Every time he says ‘dada’ or crawls up into my lap just to snuggle, my heart melts all over again.

Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt

We now have a semi-open relationship with Colin’s birth family and hope to continue to grow that relationship as he gets older. We send monthly pictures and updates of how has grown and what he is learning each month. I will be visiting with his birth mom and family in person around his 1st birthday this year. Not only do we love Colin’s birth family for the sacrifice they have made, but we know he deserves to be loved and know all of the people who care for him as he grows up. That includes both his birth and adoptive families.

Throughout our infertility and adoption journey, we found that the more open we were with the struggles and heartaches we were having, the easier it was for us to process. Neither of us have ever been big sharers, so in the beginning we both felt alone. Like there was no one else out there going through the same things because opening up about something so personal still seems to be taboo.

Once we started sharing what we were going through on social media we have had friends, coworkers, and acquaintances that have reached out not only with encouragement but with questions about what we’ve been through because they are in the middle of the same struggles themselves. Being able to share the hard times has only made the celebration of finally adding to our little family that much sweeter! No matter how many tears were shed, I wouldn’t change a single step of our journey because they all led us to our son!”

Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt
Courtesy of @joshuaandrachaeladopt

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachael and Joshua of Florida. You can follow their journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more beautiful adoption stories:

‘I’ve never had real parents before. I’ve waited my entire life to be treated the way y’all treat me.’ Couple adopts 18-year-old who was ‘abandoned by his birth mother with no name’

‘My husband called. I knew something was up. ‘She delivered a baby last night.’ I shook. I cried. He wouldn’t be the only brown face in our family.’

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