“When we decided to start the adoption process in February of 2019, my husband and I were certainly no strangers to emotional roller coasters. Having gone through 4 years of infertility and a traumatic miscarriage before taking the first steps in the adoption process, we came into this new journey bright-eyed but still cautious. Hopeful, but not overly so. Infertility prepared us for the peaks and valleys in the adoption process. It in no way prepared us for the incredibly beautiful relationships we would form or the family we would gain.
We got married in 2014 and less than one year later, we were trying for a baby. We fully believed once we started trying to conceive it would happen quickly, maybe because we were naïve or maybe because we don’t have a real history of infertility in either of our families. In either case, pregnancy did not happen right away. In fact, for two years, we hoped and prayed we would be able to have children, only to be told over and over again by doctors our chances were not very good. We talked about adoption and knew one day, we would certainly go down that road. But we still weren’t ready to take that leap. We were still hopeful I would be able to get pregnant.
In January of 2017, mere weeks after being told we had a 5% chance of ever conceiving, I finally found out we were expecting our first baby! We were ecstatic and truly believed all our prayers had been answered and we would experience a perfect, full-term pregnancy. However, I ended up miscarrying our baby at only 7 weeks. We were devastated. For months, I could think of nothing but the loss of our baby. It was excruciating. We continued to pray I would be able to get pregnant again, but we didn’t fully believe it would ever happen.
A year or so following my miscarriage, we began to discuss adoption much more seriously. We knew it was something our hearts were being drawn to, and we knew if we felt so strongly about it, we should start looking into it with the intention of moving forward with adoption. I was ‘ready’ to adopt more quickly than my husband was. For about a year, I researched and learned as much as I could about adoption, ethical adoption practices, different levels of openness in the adoption relationships, and so on. I wanted to be as well-educated in different aspects of the adoption world as I could be before we dove in headfirst. I would tell my husband about everything I learned, and we would talk about it together, but he still had something holding him back. I was willing to wait, though, and I told him so. I just knew if my husband wasn’t ready yet, it was because it was not the right time for us to move forward.
So I waited. And waited, and waited some more, until Valentine’s Day of 2019. I gave my husband a card that said I hoped the next year we would be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a little baby in our family. When I opened the card he got for me, it said the same thing! We both knew, even though we were embarking on a scary, difficult, and long journey, we were doing exactly what we were meant to be doing. And we were so excited to get started! We completed all the documentation part of the adoption process relatively quickly, thanks to lots of late nights and sheer willpower. We were determined to be an active waiting family by the summer, and we were. We became an official waiting family, which is a family who is legally cleared to adopt a child should an expectant family choose them, in May of 2019.
We were so excited, but with every case we saw, our hearts broke a little bit more. The thought of one of these mothers potentially placing their child with us was, quite honestly, emotional torture. It was torturous because we knew if we were blessed to adopt a baby, we would be bringing home another woman’s child. That woman would leave the hospital empty-handed. The conflicting feelings surrounding adoption are normal, and we understood we should have conflicting feelings. Day in and day out, we alternated between praying a mother would choose us to parent her child and also praying she would not feel the need to place her child for adoption. It’s an incredibly confusing position in which to find yourself.
As the summer went on, we gave our word to nine different moms that, should they ask us to parent their child, we would love them and care for them. And nine times we were told another family was chosen. It felt a lot like our infertility journey. Every time we would say yes, we would feel excited and hopeful, only to feel let down when each mother chose another family for her child instead of us. After about six weeks, we realized when we felt a tug to say yes to a situation, we should just move on afterward and not have any expectations about the outcome. We began handing it over to God and knew He would guide us where we needed to be. In July, we received information on an expectant mom, T, who was eight weeks out from her due date. It was exciting and scary but felt so right, especially because the baby was due in September, the same month our first baby would have been due. We felt we should say yes to that situation, should she choose us for her baby, and we did. Then we let it go. We tried not to worry about it and did our best to trust things would work out the way they needed to.
Two days later, on July 18th, 2019, I received a phone call from someone at the agency we were working with. ‘How would you feel about having a baby in September?’ she asked. I instantly began to weep and shake. Our prayers were being answered! All I could do was mutter incoherently to the woman on the phone and cry from the sheer joy of it all. I spent the whole rest of that day running around trying to figure out some way to tell my husband the news when he came home from work. I settled on pink and blue balloons because we didn’t know yet if the baby was a boy or a girl, and I had them waiting for him when he came home.
We were both so excited we couldn’t hold it in, and we had to tell our families immediately! The joy we felt and the immense gratitude for answered prayers was overwhelming, but we honestly felt a mixture of every emotion, I think. There was a lot of fear T would change her mind, which is always a real possibility in adoption. Those babies belong to their biological family until relinquishments are signed, and we knew this baby was in no way, shape, or form ours yet. But there was also a sense of peace about the situation, a sense God would provide, no matter the outcome at the end of the day. We were hopeful and excited, while also being cautious because we understood everything could change at any moment.
For the next eight weeks, we built up a relationship with T. We texted back and forth, exchanged more pictures of ourselves and our families, and just got to know each other more. We even got to hear directly from her the baby was a girl, and it was incredibly special T was able to share that with us. My husband and I did our best to learn how to care for and support T and to be what she needed us to be at that time. We wanted her to know no matter what happened, she was loved and respected. She and her baby would always hold a special place in our hearts, even if the adoption did not end up happening. We very impatiently waited and counted down the days until it was time to head out of state to meet T and wait together for her baby girl to arrive.
We caught the only flight out and made it to our destination in the middle of the night. T did not go into labor until the middle of the following night, so we had the beautiful opportunity to spend several hours together in person, visiting, getting to know each other, and talking about our hopes and dreams for the baby. When T went into labor, we rushed to the hospital and sat in the waiting room, praying for her strength, hoping for a healthy baby, and wondering where things would go from there.
At 2:30 in the morning on September 14, our daughter was born. We sensed it before we even got confirmation that she was born. We just knew, somehow, she had come into the world. A nurse came out shortly afterward to bring me a wristband, and she brought along a card with the baby’s tiny little footprints on it, which she told us she does for all the adoptive families. She told us she always makes two copies when an adoption situation is happening in the hospital because it’s such a sweet keepsake and one most adoptive parents don’t have access to. To say that nurse was special and a Godsend would be an understatement.
Forty-five minutes after the baby was born, my husband and I were invited by T to go to her room and meet the baby. It was the most surreal moment of my entire life. We walked into the hospital room and saw that perfect, beautiful baby girl, and my heart knew her instantly. It was as though every single moment and event in our lives had led us straight to her. All of a sudden, all the heartache of infertility, the loss of our first baby, the sadness and pain of wondering if we would ever have children, made perfect sense. We were waiting for her. We were being prepared for that baby, for our girl.
My heart was shattered into a million pieces over the next few days we spent in the hospital together. We had come to love T so much, and the thought of her placing her baby with us was overwhelmingly heartbreaking but also brought us so much joy to think about. Adoption is full of conflicting emotions and lots of both/and moments. We wanted the baby to be ours, but at the same time, we wanted her to grow up with her biological family too. At the end of the day, T made us the parents of her baby. We have spent the last thirteen months watching this perfect girl grow and learn, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for T’s gift to us, for the strength it took for her to make the decision to place her baby in our family, and for the immense love she has for our daughter.
Adoption is not for the faint of heart. It’s not something you can just one day decide to do and breeze through effortlessly. The process of being approved to adopt is brutal, and the ways your heart needs to stretch and soften in order to welcome not just a child, but that child’s first family, is beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. We knew those things going in. We understood our commitment to any child that joined our family would necessarily mean we would also love and support their biological family in whatever way we were needed. But having that knowledge become reality was a huge change for both of us. Finding ourselves in the position of hopeful adoptive parents was difficult and exciting, as well as painful because we understood if we were to gain a child, another family must lose one.
And that’s the reality and heartbreak of adoption. It splits your heart in two and heals it, all at the same time. Holding my daughter for the first time mended cracks in my heart I thought had closed up long before, and being given the privilege of loving her first momma is one of the greatest honors and gifts of my life.
Our daughter did not join our family in the ‘traditional’ way. We didn’t get to hear her heartbeat on an ultrasound. We didn’t get a gender reveal party or a baby shower. Nobody got to visit us at the hospital when she was born. We were hundreds of miles away from most of our family for the first five weeks of our daughter’s life. That’s just how adoption often works. It is such a journey. A beautiful adventure and a traumatic experience, all rolled into one. And I wouldn’t change how our family grew for anything in the world.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Hannah Marks from South Louisiana. 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.
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