“We started our adoption journey when I needed to put my broken heart back together.
In January of 2017, I got the first phone call that changed my life. It was from my dad, telling me that my mom was sick. Since none of you had the honor to know my mom, let me tell you a little about her. Take all of those perfect TV moms – June Cleaver, Carol Brady, Lorelei Gilmore, Clair Huxtable – and put them together in a five-foot southern body and that was my mom. She held our family together. She held me together. And with one diagnosis, and within six months, she was gone. And my heart was broken.
My husband Garrett and I have always talked about having a family. But in our first two years of marriage, we were enjoying having our own schedule, traveling, and spending our money however we wanted. But now, suddenly, all of that seemed unimportant and trivial. We had seen firsthand how short life was. We needed some joy. And if I’m honest, I needed someone to put me back together again.
I have always known I wanted to grow my family through adoption. When I was little, I used to tell my parents I was going to adopt ten kids. Now, I’m not so sure about ten – that is a lot of diapers – but I still knew that was how I wanted to become a mom. So we jumped into the process.
Now for those of you who are adoption newbies, we decided to pursue domestic infant adoption. Basically that means our goal was to be matched with an expectant mother in the United States and we would bring the baby home straight from the hospital. To us, naive to the adoption world at the time, this seemed easier. This baby would know us as their parents from the beginning of their lives. We wanted an open adoption – where the child would know and love their birth parents. We thought it would be simple. We thought it would mean less heartbreak. Man, were we wrong. But I’m so glad we were.
When I want something, I’m a little – well, what’s the kind way to put it – determined? Adoption takes A LOT of paperwork, and I went through it all like it was my job. Literally, it was like I was in the paperwork Olympics and I was gunning for the gold. Within a few weeks, we had chosen our agency, completed our home study, made our profile book (AKA, your family’s dating profile) that would be shown to expectant mothers, and we were ready to wait.
We didn’t wait long to be matched. We were selected by an expectant mother shortly after we were available to be chosen. We were SO excited. But here’s what I wish I’d understood when we started the adoption process: that baby is not yours until papers are signed. That for a little while, you need to protect your heart, because in the middle of this process is another woman who is making the hardest decision they will ever have to make. And sometimes, they decide to parent their child. We learned quickly when you sign up for adoption, you sign up for the honor of being chosen to love another woman’s baby, but you also sign up for the risk of heartbreak if that same woman decides you are not the best choice for her baby.
So with a heart still broken and a little more bruised, we closed the nursery door we had prepared and started over. And we got another call we had been matched. We opened the nursery door again. Then another call the mom had decided to parent. We closed the door again. We got another call, telling us we had been matched. We opened that nursery door a little more cautiously. And again, we got another call the mom had decided to parent. If you’re keeping count, that’s three matches. In the adoption world, we call that three disrupted adoptions. Yep. Three. You might be asking – why did y’all keep going?
Here’s the thing – those three disrupted adoptions weren’t just about us. They were about three strong, brave women who were trying hard to figure out what was best for their family and for their babies. And as I got to know these women, through phone calls and text messages, I had a front-row seat to their pain. I saw the toll this decision was taking on them. Suddenly, this adoption wasn’t just about growing our family. It wasn’t just about getting the honor to love another woman’s baby. It was also about getting the honor to love each of those women, no matter what choice she made for her baby.
I’m not going to lie to you – at this point, we were exhausted. We began to pray the next mama that came into our lives would be the one that would continue to be in our lives, the one we would share the joy of loving a baby with.
Then, another call came. Another mom had chosen us. And from the beginning, this one felt different. From the first text, I had a feeling this could be the match we’d been praying for. For her privacy, I’m going to call this brave woman B. B was young but so mature. So smart. So beautiful. We FaceTimed with her and her family member she lived with, and we had an immediate connection. We spent the next week or two texting about trashy reality TV shows we both watched, colors for the nursery, and about how we had both lost a parent. B wasn’t due for another two months, so I thought we had plenty of time to keep getting to know each other.
I was wrong. One night, I got the second phone call that changed my life. The baby was coming early and we needed to be there now. B lives about 7 hours from us, so we quickly packed up the car with everything we might need for an extended stay in another city. The baby was coming. He was going to be in the hospital for a few weeks. Oh, and did I mention this was right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic?
After a long drive, and several sleepless nights, he was here. And he was perfect. Tiny, but perfect.
We worked with B to choose his name. Theodore – which means ‘God’s gift.’ Steven – for B’s father that had passed away. She held him right after he was born. We gowned up and held his tiny hand through an incubator window until he was strong enough to come out. And with one signature on a paper, this tiny baby, a fighter in every way, was our son. The day before Mother’s Day, I became a mom. Theo made me a mom. No, that’s not true. B, and her love for Theo, made me a mom.
There is so much I didn’t know about adoption when we started our journey. Here’s what they don’t tell you: It’s messy. And it’s tough. And it breaks your heart into a million pieces because you look across the table and see another woman whose heart is breaking into a million pieces, too. Your happiest day is another woman’s saddest. That it’s full of so much joy and so much pain. That when you fall in love with a baby, it is your responsibility – no, your honor – to also love the woman that brought that baby into the world. The adoption didn’t fix my broken heart. It broke it more. But somehow, it made it bigger.
Right now, for reasons I won’t talk about, B isn’t ready to be in Theo’s life. It’s not because she doesn’t love Theo. It’s because she loves him so much, her heart needs some space. So I’ll hold that space for her until she’s ready. Every day. I’ll tell Theo about Mama B. I’ll tell him how beautiful she is. How brave she is. I’ll tell him how she is June Cleaver, Carol Brady, Lorelei Gilmore, and Clair Huxtable all put together in the strongest heart I’ve ever met. Every day, I’ll tell him he is loved by his two mamas. Because that – that is adoption.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Brown. You can follow her 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.
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‘The lawyer called, she wanted him back and the papers were already signed. I knew we’d be saying goodbye.’: Couple credits birth mom for saving almost failed adoption, ‘The bond between us made this happen’
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