“Even before we were married, my husband and I talked about adoption. My husband, Matt, is one of six kids. I’m one of six kids also, and all of my siblings are adopted. The idea of building our family through adoption was something we’d always talked about. This being said, before getting married, I had no reason to believe we would have trouble conceiving naturally. But it turned out to be the case. I think in those first four years of marriage, I went to six or seven doctors who all had different ideas about what was going on. I had endometriosis surgery, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. All of these therapies, I’d learn later, weren’t actually addressing the root of my issue. It was a pretty rough time. I’m a very positive, happy person by nature. At the time I didn’t realize it, but looking back now I think it’s the only time in my life where I can say I was depressed. I’m someone who likes to be in control, and this was truly out of control. I was dealing with uncertainty, frustration, and what I perceived as being a failure as a woman and a wife.
Around our four year wedding anniversary we said, ‘Look, there’s a reason we aren’t conceiving. Clearly God has other plans for our family. If by our fifth wedding anniversary we aren’t pregnant, let’s start the home study process to adopt.’ Around the same time we moved to Washington, D.C. The fresh start really helped shake me out of my depression. We were in a new city. I had a new job I really enjoyed and which brought fulfillment. I am so grateful for the years we had in D.C. I think the combination of the new city, new friends, and new opportunities forced me to get out of my own way. For the first few years we were married, I was so wrapped up in my own short-comings. I was consumed by doing everything I possibly could to ‘fix’ what was ‘wrong.’ In D.C. I was busy and happy. I found a career and we made friendships which will last a lifetime. Commuting home on the metro one night, I remember thinking (maybe I even said it out loud), ‘I’m blessed and I’m grateful for everything I have right now.’ In the moment, I surrendered to the Lord and stopped trying to muscle my way to manifesting the life I thought I was supposed to (or maybe I thought others expected me) to have.
We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and started the home study process shortly after. The home study process sounds overwhelming. I can’t tell you how many people start conversations about adoption by asking, ‘How long did it take you?’ But it’s really just lots of paperwork, racking your brain, and combing your email archives for addresses and contact information. And it probably goes without saying, but it’s completely worth it. Our home study was approved in December of 2019. We sent our adoption profile (essentially a dating profile but for adoptive couples) to my mom, who sent it to a dear friend, whose son is a benefactor to a maternity home in California. One of the women who founded the home saw our profile and sent me an email while I was at work. She said a young woman at the home had a unique situation and we should give them a call. I shared an office at the time, and my office mate probably thought I was having some sort of episode. I read the email, gasped, grabbed my phone and bolted to the door to call Matt from the bathroom. Matt was at his office and I was sitting on the floor of the handicap stall when we called the maternity home.
The adoption coordinator explained one of their current residents recently moved to California from West Africa. She was about five months pregnant and was looking for a loving home for her baby. I still have the sticky note when I scribbled her name, where she was from, and, ‘Boy or girl?’ She asked if we were open to adopting her baby. Even though we weren’t in the same room, Matt and I said, ‘Yes,’ at the same time. The next step was for the coordinator to present a handful of profiles to birth mom and allow her to choose a home for her baby. I remember getting the text from the coordinator when birth mom was looking at our profile. I was at work and dropped to my knees. I asked God that His will be done—to wrap His arms around birth mom and give her peace as she made the most difficult decision a mother can make.
She chose us. I cried on the floor of a handicap stall at work. I called Matt and told him through the happiest tears I’ll ever cry. I’m sure my fellow commuters on the D.C. metro thought I was a crazy person because I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I think I was smiling, too, because I was overcome by God’s goodness. If anything else had been different: if we’d had children right when we got married, if we hadn’t started our home study when we did, if my mom hadn’t sent our profile to her friend when she did. If any of those things had been different, this wouldn’t be happening. And what was happening was overwhelmingly good. Over the next few months we built a relationship with birth mom. We made plans to travel to California just before her due date to meet her before baby arrived. But our little girl came a week early! We changed flights, didn’t sleep, and arrived at the hospital about twelve hours after perfect, beautiful, sweet Phoebe Frances was born.
Other adoptive moms reading this are likely familiar with the question from well-meaning moms who’ve had biological children, ‘Did you bond with her? Does she feel like yours?’ Before Phoebe was born I never worried for a second if I would bond with her. But as we were walking into the hospital to meet our daughter my knees buckled and I looked up at Matt and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it,’ I thought. ‘What if I don’t feel something?’ Writing this now, I can’t believe I thought it—even for a second. We opened the door to the hospital room and saw our girl. She was getting her hearing test. I looked at her and a peace I’ve never felt washed over me. In the moment everything was so clear. The waiting, the doctors, the pain. All of it was moving us closer to Phoebe. I would do all of it over again if it brought us to her. She is ours and we are hers.
Something which comes up often when I’m talking with friends about our story is adoption wouldn’t exist if everything was perfect. Adoption exists because of brokenness and pain. But it’s also beautiful. I’m Phoebe’s mom because of what some might say is brokenness within my own body, but more importantly because of Phoebe’s birth mom’s selflessness. We are forever grateful to her for the most precious gift of our daughter Phoebe.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bridget Salisbury of Huntsville, Alabama. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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