“From the time I was young, I always had a heart for adoption and knew I was going to adopt someday. When I became a teenager, I wanted to adopt so badly and wondered if I could adopt as a single lady if I never married. Greg and I met when we were very young, but didn’t start dating until much later. Three months after starting a relationship, we were engaged, and a year later, married. While dating, I talked with Greg about my heart for adoption and he was on board. Basically, he said, ‘Whatever you feel God calling you to do.’ We thought we would try for a biological child first so we started trying. Not seeing a positive reading, month after month, was very hard on me.
After a year of trying, we figured this was God’s way of telling us now is the time to start the adoption process. We got our home study completed in record time and were so close to having our profile active with our adoption center when I decided one day to just take a test. Sure enough, we were pregnant! We were beyond thrilled, to say the least. With the help of our agency, we decided it would be best to put the adoption on hold while being pregnant and wait until our baby was over a year.
A year later, we made our profile active again on the website. We were praying we would get a call very soon and have a short wait time. Six months later, we were matched with a birth mother who was due in 10 days. We were thrilled! We packed and waited for the call for her to go into labor. We waited and waited. Then the day after she was due, we got the call. She had decided to parent.
Our hearts were completely broken. I remember vividly where I was at the time. It was my sister-in-law’s bridal shower. I could barely keep my composure and put on a smiling face, but somehow I managed. The next months after that were somewhat of a blur. We waited again for another 6 months and received a call again about a birthmother. Again, thrilled! This time she was due with a baby boy. We decided to go ahead and match, and then after a few weeks, no one heard from the birth mom. I suppose she decided to parent as well. Again, we were crushed. We decided to move forward again and keep waiting. During the next year, there were a few situations we were presented to but not chosen. It was very hard.
The next match happened in April of 2017. This match just felt right. She was having a girl and we seemed to connect on the phone. For the next 3 weeks, we texted daily and the birth mom even FaceTimed me so I could be in the room while she found out the sex!
One thing some people do not know about us is during our adoption wait time, a friend of ours was a foster mom and was fostering an 8-month-old baby who was coming up for adoption. She knew we wanted to adopt so she asked us if we would consider adopting him. We prayed about it and decided yes, we think we would love to! We took foster care classes and got our foster license. Zachery moved into our home a week before he turned one and we continued to move forward with adoption. The court hearing for the county to receive custody of him was a few months later and unbeknownst to anyone, his birth mother came forward and informed the social worker she knew who his birth father was. Of course, they had to notify him. His family came forward and wanted custody of him. The next 6 months were spent having visits with his birth family and slowing moving him out of our home. By February, he was gone. Our hearts were broken. During these 6 months, I gave birth to Loretta. My hormones were all over the place and that didn’t help matters. That was a very rough time for both Greg and myself but we can only hope we played a positive part in his little life. We are sure God had us go through this loss to prepare us for the losses to come in our failed matches.
Since our birth mom was having a girl, we picked out a name and planned her middle name after her birth mom. One Sunday evening, the phone rang and it was the birth mom. She told me she had bleeding and cramping during the night, so she went to the hospital. She miscarried that day. I can’t even explain the amount of heartache I felt in that moment. I felt so heartbroken for what she had to go through and also because the baby girl we so desperately wanted and planned for was no longer going to be. We had 5 days to mourn the loss of our baby girl and then received another call. We never received a call this close together, so we were shocked. The call came when Greg was out of town for his brother’s graduation from Marine boot camp. I had to call him right away and tell him a birth mother wanted to speak with us.
That weekend, we spoke on the phone with the birth mother, and we thought it went really well. She was sweet and basically said right away she wanted us to adopt her baby! She was early in her pregnancy so she didn’t know what she was having yet. We exchanged phone numbers and began texting. Several weeks later, she called me on her way home from her doctor’s appointment and told us we were having a BOY! We always threw around the idea if we had a boy, we would name him the third after Greg. That’s what we did, but we wanted a nickname as not to confuse him with Greg and his dad. One day while driving to church, Greg said, ‘What about Gus?’ I knew immediately that was his name! Honestly, the best few months were a whirlwind full of so many emotions. We had contact with the birth mom off and on. Waiting five months until her due date was so hard and there were a lot of ups and downs and times we weren’t sure she was going to follow through with the adoption. Trusting in God and praying constantly was the only thing that got us through.
One day, she would say she was upset and wanted to reconsider adoption. Our agency had to break the news to us. Then the next day, she called and said she was wrong and she still wanted to move forward. This happened many times.
The whole time working with our adoption center and the attorney taking the advice they were giving. As her due date came closer, her doctors decided they wanted to take the baby early because of her high blood pressure. They scheduled her c-section for September 15. By the beginning of September, we hadn’t had contact with her for weeks and still weren’t sure she was still even wanting us to adopt her baby. We had to move forward in faith and trust God. Surely if He brought us this far, He wouldn’t give up on us. The week of September 15 came and we had to book a flight and move forward, not knowing the outcome. We thought it would be good to arrive early and spend some time with the birth mom. She had been admitted to the hospital. We had a few delays and planned to arrive the night before Gus was born. Unexpectedly, a c-section was scheduled, and two hours from the hospital, we got a text saying Gregory Anthony III (Gus) had been born! We couldn’t stop smiling and crying happy tears! It didn’t seem real.
We still had an hour’s drive to the hospital and it was the longest of our lives. When we arrived at the hospital it was 1 a.m. and we had no clue where to go. Finally, we found a nurse and she figured out who we were. She knew the birth mom’s mom who was there with her and told her we had arrived. Amanda’s mom (Gus’s birth grandmother) walked through the doors, gave me a big hug, and said, ‘Let’s go meet your baby!” We walked into her room and there he was. She was holding him and handed him right to us. That moment was magic. I wanted to cry, but I wanted to hold it together so they didn’t think I was crazy. We spent the next 24 hours in the room with her and I’m so glad we were able to do that.
Months before Gus was born, I prepared to nurse him. I didn’t even know it was possible until I came across an adoptive breastfeeding group on Facebook. (Shout out to those wonderful ladies! The best Facebook group I’ve ever been a part of!) I started taking herbs and pumping every 2 hours and was seeing some progress, but not enough to have a full supply or even a parcel supply for a baby. I decided to take a medication that helps tremendously with producing and once I did, my supply went up so much! I was able to start a little stash in the freezer, which felt like such an accomplishment. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed I was taking my pump with me everywhere. People probably thought I was crazy for doing this because I didn’t even have a baby. I just prayed all this hard work would pay off in the end. When I was able to nurse Gus at only hours old, I knew right then it was TOTALLY worth it.
After his birth mom gave me permission to breastfeed, we had to get clearance from the hospital. Of course, they hadn’t ever had anyone nurse an adopted baby before so they didn’t know the protocol on this. I forgot a part of my pump at home so I couldn’t pump while I was there. I needed to breastfeed him so badly but had to wait. I gave him one bottle and was dying for them to come in and tell me I could nurse. Finally, a nurse came and said, ‘Don’t say anything, but go ahead.’ He latched right away!
It was so funny because every time they had a shift change, the nurse would ask how many ounces he was eating, and when the previous nurse told her I was breastfeeding, she was shocked! They also were surprised at how much he was gaining. I was so proud of myself. Our breastfeeding journey hasn’t been all perfect, by any means. Gus had a severe lip and tongue tie, which thankfully we found out when he was just a month old. We had to supplement with donor milk and then formula for a time. I also had to use a Lactaid (supplementing device) for a time. My hope is to spread the word this IS possible, and the bonding has been amazing!
We were moved into our own room after spending 24 hours with her. I can honestly say those hours were so special. We talked and bonded. The conversations flowed like we were good friends. She was able to hold Gus several times and I know that was good for her. I’ll be forever grateful for the time we spent with her and her mom. Gus’s birth-grandmother was so sweet and wonderful. She was there for her daughter when she needed her most. I’m so glad she had someone there for her and help her make important decisions. We were discharged 4 days after his birth. We were amazed at how well he was doing for being born almost 4 weeks early at 5 pounds, 14 ounces. We checked into our hotel and had to stay in California for 2 weeks. Being away from Loretta that long was torture. Thankfully, we were able to FaceTime with her but we couldn’t get home soon enough.
During our time there, we kept getting news one of the potential birth fathers wouldn’t sign off his rights, even though he didn’t want to parent. It was an emotional roller coaster ride, to say the least, but there was nothing we could do but pray and wait it out. Thankfully, months after being home, both potential birthfather rights were terminated. Two weeks in California was quite the whirlwind, full of meeting with social workers, paperwork, and a lot of site seeing. The highlight of our trip was getting to meet the staff at Lifetime Adoption Center. It was so wonderful to meet the ladies we had been working with for 6 years. They were wonderful to help us with anything we needed while there.
We were basically waiting with our phones in our hands for the call for clearance to go home. When we finally received the call, it was almost as exciting as getting the call about Gus. (Hmm, maybe not but close.) We couldn’t get home fast enough and introduce Gus to his big sister, Loretta. Just like us, she was instantly in love. We are beyond thankful to our mighty God who took us through quite the journey to our sweet Gus. Looking back, we can see so many times where he had us go through hard moments to prepare us for what was to come. We are honored his birth mom chose us to be the parents of Gus and are grateful each and every day.
Every time we were matched and it fell through or the birth mom miscarried, it was hard. So hard. We waited and wondered for five years. God, are we following your plan for us? Speak to us clearly and give us wisdom, please. If you think you simply cannot keep going and have nothing more to give. This. THIS is what the end result will be: a reward full of JOY! We are blessed every time we look into these gorgeous dark eyes. Knowing he is ours FOREVER is something I will be forever grateful for. ”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bethany and Greg Coumos. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. 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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