“It was September 2011 when we decided to put years of talking adoption into action. We put our profile out into 5 states across the country to find a little boy who was meant for us. After a few adoption counseling sessions, house checks and filling out everything we’ve ever known about ourselves, our profile went ‘live.’ It didn’t feel real until in early January 2012 when our profile was all of sudden going into the hands of a soon to be mama in Florida. We knew we would be one of 8 families in the mix and were convinced we were a shoe in. How could we not be? We felt like this was right. She passed on us and I’m sure, found an incredible family.
We were pretty sunk at first. We learned quickly this is all part of the deal. Accepting the no’s and respecting the birth mom is making the best decision for her baby. It would end up that almost a dozen different mothers to be would see our pictures and lives through a scrapbook. It’s a tough rejection but it’s only one step closer to that one birth mom who just falls in love with you.
On February 12th, 2012 we got a call from an agency in Arizona. I still remember where I was standing. A 19-year-old girl wanted to chat with us. Her name was Rae and she was having a boy in June of that year. During our conversation on the phone she just came out and said she wanted us to have that little boy who was growing inside her. We held our joyful tears back until we hung up the phone and could let the water flow. We were excited but cautious.
None of this is a for sure thing until you hold that baby in your arms. We would learn quickly there would be a hiccup. Not a major one at first but enough to put a mild pit in our stomachs. The baby’s father wasn’t on board with the adoption. After a couple months of back and forth we were told to move on and put our profile out to other birth moms, but something didn’t feel right. A couple months passed and it was only getting pushed further away from us. Everything felt so out of our control and slipped further and further away every day. We didn’t know what was going on in his mind or heart.
We had zero control sitting in chilly Minnesota a couple thousand miles away from Rae. We prayed, and we prayed, and we prayed some more. I remember laying on the floor of our nursery for a baby we didn’t have, listening to records and dreaming about the day a baby’s cries and laughs would fill the room.
At this point, we assumed joy would come in a different form, from a different birth mom, and with a different child. We were so disappointed this little boy we had started to love wouldn’t be in our lives at all. On the day we were told to submit our profile for other birth moms, the birth dad walked into the agency and said he was ready to sign the papers and was on board with the adoption. So out of the blue, or was it all an orchestrated plan? We were back on!
That day, the birth father walked into the adoption agency saying he would like to sign all the papers and he felt like it was in the best interest of his child to complete the adoption. WHAT!? We couldn’t believe it, but we knew it was right. Over the next couple months we developed a relationship with Gus’ birth parents. We’d talk on the phone and email and slowly a bond was forming. Gus’ due date was mid-June and if you’ve ever been to Arizona in the summer you know all you do is sweat, but we didn’t care.
We had lined up to meet Rae for coffee the morning after we arrived. We sat at the coffee shop awaiting a woman we had never met and a child we would call our own. 10 minutes felt like 10 months and then we saw her from a distance. 4’11”, nine months pregnant, and all of 90 pounds, our life was about to change. How do you greet a woman who is carrying your child? How do you not throw your arms around her and give her a hug when she’s giving you the most selfless gift? How do you just shake a hand when her bravery has been caring your son for the last nine months? How do you not burst into tears when everything you dreamed of was about to walk up to your table and say hello?
We stood up to give her a hug and tears begin to roll down my cheeks. She was amazing in every way and you could tell that little boy was well taken care of inside her belly. June 14th came and Rae would be induced. Needless to say we were on a million pins and even more needles it seemed. There’s some similarities to the waiting besides not having a huge belly and being uncomfortable (don’t get me wrong, we were uncomfortable with the waiting game!) but there’s a million different emotions that go along with this.
We knew there was a 72 hour waiting period where the birth parents minds could change and so could our world. We knew 6 months of communication and a long trip to Arizona could all end in nothing. It’s a reality we were trying to ignore.
We got the call from the hospital we could come meet our son. Our hearts were racing and our blood pressure was spiking as we rode the elevator to see Rae and this new baby we’d been waiting and praying for, for the last 9 months. We stood outside the hospital room door knowing as we walk through that threshold our life could change forever.
We pushed open the door and all of those feelings went out the window.
He was here!
As we walked in the room Rae asked if we would like to hold our son. As she reached out her arms and I reached out mine, she handed me the most precious gift I have ever received.
But we still had to be cautious, which was WAY harder now that we’d held him and fallen in love with him. He stayed in our hospital room and kept us up all night – we were in love. Somehow holding our boy, the insecurities of the waiting game faded away. The relationship with the birthparents began to bloom. 3 days after Gus was born, on Fathers Day of June 2012, signatures were put on paper that matched what we knew in our hearts. Gus was officially ours!
Gus’s birth mom continued to show us love by pumping and mailing breastmilk for three months after he was born. She mailed breastmilk on dry ice from Arizona to Minnesota. The sacrifice and love she showed us was on a new level. A name says a lot about a child. And this case was no different. Gus was named Gustaf John James. Gustaf for Chelsea’s maiden name. John to carry on Marty’s family name and James in honor of Rae’s Grandpa and also a book in the Bible that talks about considering it pure joy when we face trials in life. There is heritage in a name. And that is certainly the case for this boy. Heritage of his birth family as well as his adoptive family, strength from both sides that he will carry-on forever.
From the day we turned in our paperwork to the day Gus was born was exactly 9 months. A normal pregnancy, but instead, for us, growing in our hearts. Two years went by and after round three of infertility treatment we were ready to go through the adoption process again. We started to gather our profile and update our information when bam…we got pregnant. Maverick was born 9 months later and would fulfill our family of 4.
Gus is now six and talks about Miss Rae with such a love and understanding that blows our minds. He has a book that we made him about his adoption story and photos of his birth parents and us having fun together and surrounding him with love. Now on Gus’s 7th birthday, Gus’ birth mom, birth grandma and his uncle will be coming to visit us for the weekend to celebrate his birthday and make that initial connection. There’s a depth to Gus that knows he is twice loved! We hope he grows up knowing how loved he truly is. Knowing that he was never given up, but instead given us. Just the other day, Gus told me he thinks Miss Rae loves him with her whole heart.
The depth of those words and the truth in that statement could not be more true. I hope he knows and remembers that forever.
Adoption affected us so much that we wanted to give back to this brave community of birth mothers. We started ‘brave boxes’. It is a box of gift cards given to birth parents as they leave the hospital.
Such a brave, selfless, incredible gift they have given and this is a small thing we can do in return. Gus‘s story lives on in each one of those brave boxes. There is a photo of our family and a heartfelt note from our family to each birth mom about how brave we think they are for making this decision. It’s our way of allowing Gus and Rae’s legacy of bravery to continue.”
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