‘Can you take care of her hair?’ We’d be lying if we said we were fully prepared. We had work to do.’: Adoptive mom to transracial family says ‘we are committed to learn and grow’

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Seeking Adoption

“I was already a happy wife, had a successful career, a comfortable home, and a couple of dogs. Now I had to find a way to experience motherhood. Adoption gave me a gift in the form of a beautiful baby girl. Then the best years of my life could truly begin.

While researching and speaking with adoption agencies, they all recommended we try fundraising. We hesitated but eventually set our pride aside and started our efforts with a fundraising platform online. We didn’t know it then, but that would be one of the best decisions we’d ever make. We shared our dream of adopting using our social media with a link to donate. Our story was raw and we were vulnerable and open-hearted. We were honest about our sincere desire to become parents and how grateful we would be for every bit of generosity our friends and family could offer. We were shocked at the loving response, and it was overwhelming how much support we received. The financial assistance was greatly appreciated, but the best thing was yet to come from that social media fundraising post.

On Tuesday, March 27, I received a message from my aunt’s friend. She had seen our story online about hoping to adopt, and she wanted to speak with me. I called her immediately! Within moments, I was in tears as she explained to me she knew an expectant mother who would like to place her unborn baby girl with us. I could hardly contain my excitement as I listened to the information! This is what she told me: she leads the women’s relief group at her church and was asked to help a young woman with the process of placing her baby for adoption. She showed the birth mother and birth father our Facebook post and fundraising website that shared our journey to adoption. They were able to read our story, look at some of our photos, and read the fantastic comments full of love and support from our friends and family. They were able to see how badly we wanted to be parents and how much love we had to give. They instantly picked us! Naturally, I was over the moon when she told me all of this! I couldn’t wait to tell my husband!

Here’s what we knew: birth mother’s due date was April 11 (15 days away). She was having a little girl. She lived out of state, in Nevada. The birth mother was healthy and all ultrasounds looked normal. The birth parents were confident in their decision to place their baby for adoption.

Adoption Preparation

Here’s what we didn’t know: How to adopt a baby? How to even begin the adoption process? How to adopt a baby from a different state? Where to even start?

We only had 15 days (assuming the baby wasn’t born early) to start and finish the adoption checklist. I put my husband, Colby, in charge of creating the nursery while I contacted attorneys, adoption agencies, and social workers. After making a few phone calls, I figured out exactly what I needed to do to make this adoption happen! First, I needed to complete a home study (you absolutely cannot adopt without a completed home study.) I then needed to hire an adoption agency (Nevada requires all adoptions to use an agency). Luckily, I was able to complete the home study in 9 days, which typically takes 1-3 months to do! I also picked and hired an agency in Nevada. Looking back, it’s all a blur now, and I don’t know how I got it all done in such a short amount of time – turns out, when you want something so badly, you do everything you can to make it happen! My friend brought me a lot of peace by telling me, ‘God didn’t put this opportunity in your path to watch you fail. He brought you this baby so you can successfully adopt.’

Hallelujah, everything was done and ready for our sweet baby girl’s arrival! We were so anxious and excited to meet our baby, hold her, kiss her, and love her. We were also looking forward to meeting the birth parents and thank them for choosing us and helping our family grow. Nine days passed the due date. I finally received a phone call on Friday, April 20, around noon, telling me she was born at 11:11 a.m.! I quickly wiped my tears of joy, booked flights, and Colby and I were on our way to Nevada! We would get to meet our baby girl first thing Saturday morning, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled!

Courtesy of Meghan Bruehl

Meeting Our Daughter

We arrived at the hospital at 8 a.m., took the elevator to the fourth floor, explained who we were to the nurses, and they directed us to the hospital room where we would meet our baby. When the nurse brought her in, we were instantly overwhelmed with joy and love. I held her in my arms for the first time and kept uttering the words, ‘She’s perfect.’

Courtesy of Meghan Bruehl
Courtesy of Meghan Bruehl

I couldn’t stop staring at her beautiful face and kissing her forehead. I told her how much I loved her and how happy I was to meet her. There was a giant smile on my face as tears streamed down my cheeks. Colby wiped his face full of tears with his shirt before I passed her to him.

Courtesy of Meghan Bruehl

I asked the nurse all the questions: Is she healthy? Yes. Did the delivery go well? Yes. What are her measurements? 6 pounds, 4 ounces, 20 inches. And she’s healthy? Yes. Colby and I were relieved to hear that our girl was healthy and happy and her birth had gone well. We were so blessed to be able to be with her from the very beginning, and she’s been with us every day since. She’s been in our arms since she was 20 hours old. We loved her before we met her and after laying eyes on her for the first time, we’ve been head over heels ever since. After meeting her, we confirmed our decision to name her Josie Marie Bruehl.

Bella Baby Photography 

According to Nevada state law, the birth parents cannot sign the papers that permanently relinquish their parental rights until 72 hours have passed since the birth of the child. We felt confident the birth parents would sign the papers, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. That’s the terrifying thing about adoption; it’s all risk and no guarantee. We had been with our daughter for three days and had fallen in love with her, but the birth parents had every right to change their minds and choose to parent her. Signing the relinquishment papers is something significant for both the birth and adoptive parents. For us, the signatures brought us relief and joy; for them, it can bring heartache and deep sadness. It’s an emotional storm of happiness and grief that is based out of love. It may have been bittersweet, but our dreams had come true. This amazing, healthy, sweet, tiny little angel babe was ours! Legally, the adoption was finalized on December 24, 2018, but technically, until then, she was ours!

Kady J Photography
Kady J Photography

In total, we spent 13 days in Nevada. We had to wait for paperwork to be processed before the Bruehl family of three could fly home. We were excited to be back in Washington and start our life as a family together.

Kady J Photography

Transracial Adoption

It has been an absolute joy to raise Josie. We are overcome with love for this daughter of ours. I knew in my soul I needed to be a mother; what I didn’t know was how being a mom would light a fire inside of me. I had no idea how loving a child beyond measure would transform me into a better version of myself. This daughter of ours has inspired me to be more passionate, educated, and thoughtful of my actions and words. Proudly, I am an adoptive mother in a transracial family, and with that comes significant responsibility. When we decided to adopt, we were unaware of various things vital for an ethical and healthy adoption process. Most of the growth we have made in the adoption world has been after Josie joined our family. There were only two months from the moment we started our adoption journey to the day of Josie’s birth, leaving little time for us to educate ourselves. Then we fell in love with our perfect little baby and promised her we would be the best transracial adoptive parents I could be. To be the best meant we had work to do. We are in no way experts, but these are some topics we have learned about through books, podcasts, social media, and YouTube.

Tori Stutzman Photography

Using appropriate language and terms when referring to anything adoption-related is of the utmost importance. It is necessary to learn what words are acceptable and then use them. We lead by example and correct others when they use unacceptable jargon that may be hurtful, insensitive, or disrespectful.

Ethical adoption practices are absolutely essential. When looking for an adoption professional to work with, research is imperative. There is an adoption triad: birth mother, adoptee, adoptive parents. All three corners of the triad need to be represented in the adoption process. A few points, we found to be important are avoiding coercion, post-placement services, honesty, financial transparency, and birth mother support before and after placement.

Tori Stutzman Photography

As white parents raising a biracial baby, it is crucial to celebrate their race, ethnicity, and culture. My husband and I were always open to adopting a child of any race, but we’d be lying if we said we were fully prepared. We didn’t know everything we needed to know when Josie was born. But we recognized our unawareness and acknowledged we needed to educate ourselves. I promised Josie’s birth parents I would take special care of her hair when they asked me if I was prepared for what that entailed. But embracing our daughter’s biracial beauty goes far beyond the importance of her crown. We provide mirrors for her in the books she reads, toys she plays with, and TV or movies that she watches. The art in our home, the businesses we support, and the music we listen to incorporate diversity from all cultures. We want Josie to be strong and confident in her identity. We are doing everything we can to provide a safe and protected environment for her personal growth. We are dedicated to being the best for our biracial child because we want her to succeed and feel understood. Colby and I stand up for her rights and advocate for her safety and equality. We are honored to be her parents, and we want to make her proud.

Tori Stutzman Photography

Listening to other voices in the adoption community has served us well, and we’re grateful for those who are sharing. We are incredibly thankful to the birth mothers, black mothers, and mothers of color, as well as adoptees, and fellow adoptive parents. They have helped us grow and become the parents we need to be to best serve our daughter. We would not be as informed if it weren’t for those who have shared their perspectives and experiences to enlighten us. We’re far from perfect, but we have committed to continue to learn and grow.

Tori Stutzman Photography

Being an adoptive mother to my Josie girl is the greatest gift. Our story is special to me, and I am proud to share it. Our daughter is the light of our lives, and we are thankful every day her birth parents chose us to be her parents.”

Tori Stutzman Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Meghan Bruehl from Wenatchee, WA. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more amazing stories like this:

‘But do you love them as much as your biological children?’ They’re African-American, I’m Italian. My love for them is like no other.’: Couple adopts 5 children from foster care, ‘I wouldn’t have it any other way!’

‘Oh, are you babysitting?’ ‘They’re mine.’ I’m a 30-year-old single black woman with 3 white kids. Love has no color in my home.’: Woman adopts 1 boy, 2 siblings from foster care, ‘love is love, no matter the color’

‘What are you doing? STOP.’ An older gentleman approached me in the store. ‘You stole that baby!’: Mom adopts ‘beautiful white baby boy’ from foster care, claims ‘love is colorful!’

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