“I’ve always known I wanted to be a mother. But that’s not to say I was always ready or even interested in kids. In my childhood and as a teenager, I was never that girl that was into playing with babies. I honestly felt like I didn’t know what to do. Growing up the youngest in my family, it felt extremely foreign to be around younger kids (even with all my attempts at babysitting). It wasn’t until I was a 19-year-old college student and offered a long term nanny job that my life completely changed. I learned a lot, made many phone calls to my mom for advice, and had an extremely patient and loving boss. I quickly learned that I adored kids. And not only that, but I loved them as if they were my own. Loving children suddenly came easily to me. As I continued to mature, I discovered that this love I was feeling for children that were not my own was truly a gift. Little did I know at the time how much my nine years of nannying would impact my introduction to adoption.
My husband Chase and I had been married one year when we started talking about having kids. We had always discussed having four to five, and since I was 24 at the time it seemed like a good age to start trying. After that first year came to a close with no signs of pregnancy, I began to wonder if we would be that couple that struggled to get pregnant. I remember at the time I felt a pit of worry bubble up inside me, but told myself to give it a little more time. Be patient, it’s only been a year. But after another six months passed, we decided to see a fertility specialist. I ended up having an optional surgery for a bicornuate uterus thinking that may solve the problem. Yet, after another two years of trying went by, we still weren’t pregnant. It was then we finally realized we needed to have my husband checked.
We quickly learned that he had azoospermia, a complete absence of sperm. Infertility in men is rarely discussed openly and I find that interesting and hope that changes. Upon receiving this clarifying news, we decided to look into other options. I remember our doctor at the time said, ‘The chance of you conceiving naturally is a complete miracle, but I believe in miracles.’ As she said that my head was already spinning about our other options. ‘We believe in miracles too,’ I thought, ‘but maybe it will look different than we originally planned.’
After months of prayer, thought, and discussion, my husband and I decided to adopt. It felt incredibly right and for the first time in years I felt peace and joy about my journey to becoming a mother. I had nannied for multiple families that also adopted which was a beautiful tender mercy for me. I felt familiar because of the connections I had made unknowingly in the years past, as well as ready to take on loving a baby that was not from my womb. That part came easy. I also married into a family with a sister in law that came from a family of adoption. I gathered as much information as I could from people I loved and trusted and quickly made a plan. I found a local adoption agency and completed our first home study in seven months. It took me a long time because I was working full time and felt completely overwhelmed. There were days and months where I didn’t even bother doing anything. I would just stare at the stacks of paperwork with their multiple colored and labeled sticky notes attached based on urgent to less urgent tasks.
Finally, one early summer day, I had that gut wrenching feeling in my stomach that said, ‘Lisa, get your home study done right NOW!’ That pushed me through to finish within the month and literally the week after passing our home study, I received ‘the call.’
It was summer of 2016 and a typical Sunday. My phone rang and it was my husband’s uncle. An unfamiliar caller, yet a familiar family member. My heart immediately started pounding because I knew before he spoke that this had to be about a baby. We were completely adoption ready. His uncle went on to explain the mutual friend between him and our soon-to-be birth mom, who was due in five weeks. FIVE WEEKS! We were ecstatic! The timing seemed so perfect, because it was! The entire phone call I felt a feeling of peace and my gut was telling me this was the woman we had been waiting for. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Is this really happening? Are we really this lucky?’
Within the week, I had spoken with this amazing woman and we totally hit it off. I remember I had never felt so nervous in my life before I dialed those numbers. I had taken notes to guide our conversation if need be, as well as include key questions she or I would be curious about. Yet, our conversation ended up going so well naturally I hardly had to refer to it. It was the greatest feeling in the world. Our phone call lasted about an hour, yet within that hour the words that I had been waiting for were shared. ‘You were meant to be this baby’s mom. I feel like I am just a vessel carrying this baby for someone else. I think you and your husband would be amazing parents.’ A conversation that seemed so hard to navigate came naturally between us because it was simply meant to be. After I hung up, I remember doing a happy dance in our dining room. I was so ecstatic I couldn’t contain my joy. I ran into our tiny hallway and jumped into my husband’s arms and yelled, ‘I think we found our baby! I can feel it, this is the one I just know it!’
A week after this phone call we met our birth mom over dinner. We had great conversation and got to know her in a way that felt like catching up with an old friend. She was laid back, polite, and kind. Her demeanor helped me relax and brought me a lot of ease. Not only that, but she was open and respectful to anything we wanted to know and how we hoped to parent. By the end of the dinner she told us she felt great about moving forward with us and the adoption and wanted us to be the baby’s parents. She had a feeling it was a girl even though she didn’t find out the gender. I smiled when she said that, because I was feeling the same way. And we were both right!
My daughter Remi is now two years old. She is growing into a beautiful little girl who makes me the luckiest mama in the world. She carries a lot of similar characteristics to her birth mama which I absolutely love. We have an open adoption that together with Remi’s birth mom we decided upon. I have a private Facebook profile where I share photos and any fun updates with her. I also send her detailed emails with all the fun things a mama would want to know. Together we take it day by day, leaving room for our relationship to evolve and change over time as circumstances feel right. We hold a mutual respect and love for one another and our needs. I am grateful we are growing and learning in this process together. I cherish this wonderful woman and what she means to our family.
When Remi was 1 and a half years old, I had feeling it was time to adopt again. In late July I was packing for a family trip when my sister in law called me around 11 p.m. It was pretty late for a phone call, so I figured it was important. She began to tell me about the non-profit organization her parents run that helps African refugees from the Congo transition into life in America. Over time they became close to many of the families, one of which had a daughter that became pregnant. She was having a baby boy and was due in seven weeks. My sister in law began to explain that he had a mass near his heart that would require surgery. I remember feeling an immediate connection to his story that left me with an overwhelming feeling of peace and calm. I felt this inner strength rise within me that this was our baby to love and take care of. Now I just needed to learn more and cross all my fingers! Adoption was introduced to birth mama’s family and they were extremely receptive. I was warned it still wasn’t a sure go, but the odds were in my favor. As we closed the phone call, I smiled in disbelief and all the mama worries and joys kicked right in. The next day I drove down to San Diego to meet this birth mama and feel things out.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw my son’s birth mom. She was incredibly beautiful, sweet, and just as nervous as I was. We exchanged shy glances and I remember I really wanted to give her a hug, so I just went for it before we split ways. Our meeting was brief but went well. From then on, the adoption was in motion! Over the next seven weeks I got to know her very well. I drove her to multiple doctor appointments and we spent a lot of time together in the car as well as hospital rooms. Although her first language was Swahili and she was shy with her English, I kept conversation going well enough. We did a lot of smiling, nodding, and giggling. I cherish those memories we shared together and feel we really grew comfortable with one another.
Our second adoption had some unique factors that made it differ than our first. We were blessed to be ‘matched’ in a similar fashion as with our daughter, via word of mouth through family. We processed our adoption privately through the same attorney as our first so that made things easier as well. But with this adoption, there was a big cultural difference that made it feel more international than domestic, yet we were both in the same city. It was a huge blessing to us and I have felt humbled from day one to have been chosen as my son’s mother.
On September 4th I received word that our birth mama would be admitted to the hospital to be induced. My husband and I found care for our daughter and made our way to the hospital that night around midnight. Around 7 the next morning our beautiful baby boy was born. I was so blessed to be able to be in the room during delivery, just her and I. To this day that will go down as one of the most sacred experiences of my life. She needed me and I needed her, and together we brought this beautiful boy into the world.
I remember feeling so nervous that I didn’t know how to comfort someone in labor. I had no idea what that process was like aside from what I’d seen in movies. I wasn’t in the room when Remi was born so I felt like a nervous wreck! Then I realized our birth mama was feeling a lot more than I was, so I quickly flipped the switch to be all that she needed me to be in those moments. I held her hand as she pushed, and we breathed together. There was a moment when we locked tear-filled eyes right before Jax made his grand entry into this world. Even though very few words were exchanged between us, there was no need. The feeling that was in the room that morning was enough to say it all.
Going forward with the adoption of our son we had hopes of having another open adoption. With Jax’s birth mama we take it one day at a time as she is comfortable when it comes to contact. We wait for her to reach out and are elated for the times that she or her family has. I’m sure with time things will evolve and change and we gladly welcome that. I know how much love his biological family has for him and want them to not only feel, but know they are a part of our family. To have a life that is safe and full of love is what they wanted most for Jax, and we are happy to be doing just that.
When you choose to adopt you have to be prepared to be asked a lot of questions. One of the things I have been asked a lot specifically is why we chose to adopt outside our own race and if we have ever felt judgement for that. As a biracial family, we tend to stand out and receive our fair amount of looks and comments. People will always have something to say and I’ve had some negative comments that are very disheartening. Something I like to always say is, ‘People see what they want to see.’ Going into adoption my husband and I decided we were open to any ethnicity, including our own. We were presented opportunities and followed our gut and prayed for guidance on what felt right. We believe families are eternal and it is our duty to love all of God’s children. Our differences are beautiful and the challenges are real. But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. My kids are right where they are meant to be, and their birth mamas would 100% agree. In the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of our family dynamic except us, our kids’ biological families, and God.
Knowledge is power. We do our best to be sensitive to our children’s cultural backgrounds and love celebrating all that we are together and alone. Love has a lot of power as well, but won’t stop all the hurt or confusion our children may experience as a biracial adoptee. We have tools to face these situations. So be kind to one another. I worry about the challenges our children will face, what mother wouldn’t? No matter what I do there will always be things I won’t be able to fully understand or relate to. But as their mother, it is my duty to do my best and never stop trying. My husband and I will teach our kids, love them, and surround them with people that help them feel comfortable and confident.
Being a mother is my greatest blessing. My children are my very own, despite our genetics not being a match. Our family is bonded together by love on all ends, because love is what makes a family after all. The adoption process truly teaches you to follow your heart. Leading with your mind has its place, but when it comes to adoption, it’s love that matters most. Leading with your heart reaps the best results. Because in the end, we are all wanting what’s best for those sweet little babies and children even if we don’t fully understand it. Once matched, I learned to trust the signs our birth moms were giving us, not to be pushy, and roll with things one day at a time. In the end, if you have done your best to be patient and trust the process with love, you have done it right.”
This is an exclusive story to Love What Matters. For permission to use, email Exclusive@LoveWhatMatters.com.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lisa Rondo. You can follow their family’s journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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