An Early Diagnosis
“I guess you could say our journey to Everest started when I was 18 months old. I had a routine surgery during which the doctors realized I didn’t have some of my reproductive system required to carry children. My parents always worked to shift it into a positive thing. My mom would say things like, ‘You get to adopt one day and it’s going to be so special.’ They’d read me children’s books about adoption and had me ‘adopt’ Cabbage Patch Kid dolls. Just like most girls dream of having a baby in their belly, I dreamt of adoption. I think one of the hardest things about infertility is that you have to grieve hopes and dreams you create from a young age of how you’ll grow your family and I’m so grateful I knew from a young age that adoption would be a part of my plan. It was always plan A for me.
I met my husband, Isaac, the year I graduated high school while visiting my friend’s church. Since we live in the social media age, he naturally added me on Facebook. Eventually, he asked me to meet him for coffee. Our first date was over pumpkin spice lattes and we talked for hours. I just knew there was something special about him but I also knew I had no intention of dating just to date. If we were going to date, it meant I could potentially see myself marrying him.
Well, I’m pretty straightforward. I’m an enneagram 8 if you know anything about the enneagram, but bringing up something so heavy like being barren was something I wanted to avoid at all costs. At the same time, I knew I couldn’t have marriage on the table without telling him. He asked me to be his girlfriend at 1 a.m. on April 7th and I went to tell him the next day. I was sick over it. I was so worried it would be a deal-breaker for him even though it wasn’t something I could change about myself. To my surprise, he was so supportive. Turns out God had been preparing him and keeping him open-minded for this exact reason. I remember him saying, ‘I’ve actually never thought about how I’d have kids. I just assumed I would have kids.’ Music to my young-and-in-love ears. 3 years from that day, we were married.
When it came to considering becoming parents, we knew we had to actually pursue it. There was no, ‘Oh, I’m late! let me take a pregnancy test.’ No surprises. We were told so many times, ‘You never feel ready to have kids.’ Or, ‘If you wait until your feel ready, you’ll never do it.’ It was hard choosing when to start the process of doing loads of paperwork and opening our lives up to be looked at with a microscope. We were stepping into the complete unknown and I’d never even shared publicly that I was infertile. It was a lot.
Starting The Adoption Process
But March 2020 came and the world shut down. I went from being busy with multiple jobs to being stuck at home with way too much free time on my hands. I looked around the house day after day and along with wanting to completely redecorate, I noticed there was something missing. Someone.
After hours and hours of conversation over it, we decided to finally jump into the adoption journey. I remember feeling like I’d been waiting my whole life for that moment and when I got there, I felt so lost. ‘Where do we even start?!’ There are international, domestic, and foster-to-adopt. All of those categories have subcategories. From a young age, I had a pull in my heart for international adoption and I think that could be a seed God is still growing because Isaac has had that tug as well. International would have been the first thing we looked into but international adoptions were completely halted when Covid hit. So that narrowed it down to within the US.
We had two couples we adore who had adopted by using their social media to share their story and they matched with expectant mamas who were looking for adoptive parents. We met up with both of them, soaked in their knowledge and experience and we felt like that was the right path for us at the time. We made a website, had pictures taken with a ‘we’re adopting’ onesie, and had our wedding videographer create a video of us sharing our story. We wrote a post asking people to share our story in the hopes that the right expectant mama would see it.
Finding A Birth Mother
I hit the button to post the announcement on May 23rd, 2020. I remember I was freaking out so badly I had to put my phone in the other room and just leave it. We knew we had a supportive community but, wow. When I looked back at my phone, the notifications just rolled in. Eventually, our posts had hundreds of thousands of comments, likes, and shares. Our website was shared in all 50 states and 30+ countries. Our people rallied.
Through those shares, we connected with so many expectant moms looking for an adoptive family, other adoptive couples who have become great friends, and multiple scammers. It was a wild season that eventually led us to Mama J.
Once we connected with her, things moved fast. She was almost 7 months along. We walked the next few months getting to know her. We texted all the time and she’d send pictures after every doctor’s appointment. She even let us go to a 4D ultrasound to see the babe. She gave us the gender in an envelope to do a little reveal with our family. It was a baby girl. She was so sweet to want us to have all the excitement we could alongside her including naming her. The song Highlands by Hillsong United was our anthem in that season so we decided to name her Hyland and wanted to honor her mama by using her middle name as baby girl’s middle name.
When the big day came, we got the news baby girl was born at 6lbs 13oz and we went to the hospital. Our rooms were side by side with Mama J and we went in to spend time with her and her mom and they placed Hyland in our arms. She was beautiful with olive skin and dark brown hair and eyes. She looked just like her mama. At two days old, mama and Hyland were ready to be discharged and after all of us spent time together we hugged and said, ‘Goodbye for now’ at the elevator.
We brought Hyland home and for days we just loved on her, cared for her, and met every need. Sleep-deprived, studying her every feature, and soaking it all in but never fully at peace because it wasn’t finalized yet.
The Heartbreaking Call
In North Carolina, birth mothers sign the adoption papers at discharge and then have 7 days to revoke their rights. On day 4, we got the call. Isaac was in the shower and I was just holding Hyland on my bed. I answered to hear our lawyer say, ‘Hi Brooke, I have some bad news. Mama J and her mother came to the office and just revoked her rights. We need you to be at my office in about an hour. I am so sorry.’ I went numb. I sat back down on my bed staring at the floor as I heard Isaac crying. I will never forget that moment in my entire life. The deep heartbreak, the anger, the hurt. All the while trying to remember Mama J was her mama first and this is good. This is how it should be. In a perfect world, there would be no adoption because families would always stay together.
That drive was so silent. We walked into the lawyer’s office and no one knew what to say. We sat waiting in a cold conference room. As we looked down at this precious little girl we thought would be our daughter forever, she smiled for the first time. I believe with every fiber of my being that she was smiling because Jesus was in the room. I could feel Him. He was holding all of us.
We handed Hyland to the lawyer, we got in our car with an empty car seat, and we drove home. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do, but as adoptive parents, it gave us so much perspective. Even if it’s just an inkling of the heartbreak a birth mother feels as she places her child in the arms of another and drives away, it changed us and affected every aspect of our hearts toward birth mothers moving forward.
After we had a little time to process it, I shared the news. We desperately needed everyone who had supported us and prayed for us to that point to be praying for us now because we couldn’t find the words to pray for ourselves. I remember quoting the song we’d played on repeat, Highlands:
‘I will praise on the mountain
And I will praise you when the mountain is in my way
You’re the summit where my feet are
So I will praise You in the valleys all the same.’
We had praised Him on what we thought was our mountain and now we had to walk out the hard part of the verse and praise Him in the valley. We knew God had called us to adopt but we did not expect it to be this hard. We were both scared to put our hearts out there again. We eventually found Evermore Adoption Consultants. I was just too tired to handle everything on my own and from my first call with Brittany, I had total peace. We both just knew that’s where we were supposed to be.
Trying To Adopt Again
We presented to many expectant mamas making an adoption plan and matched with one mama that decided to parent two weeks before baby boy was born. Here we were again dealing with the emotions at war within us. The selfish parts of just wanting to be a mama and selfless parts of wanting the birth mama to keep her baby are constantly at war within you.
When May came around and it had been a year since we announced our adoption journey, we had to renew our home study. We were deep in the valley. I didn’t even enjoy being around children at that point because I was just so heartbroken over my own empty arms.
We knew God gave us the desire to be parents and we knew He had good plans for us but we were definitely questioning when those good plans were coming. We truly came to the end of ourselves. We had done everything in our power to become parents and we held onto control for as long as we could until our exhaustion forced us to let go.
We went out to dinner for Isaac’s birthday on June 17th and we basically told God we were done trying. We were completely giving up control and if He wanted us to be parents, He would have to make it happen all on His own. Well, He didn’t waste any time after that prayer. We got home that night to see an email about Mama M. There she was. It’s crazy but we just knew she was the one.
We sent our book to her and a week later we got a Facetime call late at night from our consultant Brittany saying Mama M had chosen us. Brittany said, ‘She picked you guys because you’re just like her family and you’ll give the baby a life like what she would give them.’ We were so excited but this time, hesitantly excited. We’d been here before. But time after time, the Lord gave us peace that she was the mama for us. The more we got to know her and her family, the more we loved them. That has only grown and grown.
Meeting Our Baby Boy
Two months after that first email about her, we got a text from her mom, ‘She’s in labor, taking her to the hospital now!’ This was about two weeks earlier than her due date so I called Isaac, he rushed home, we packed the car and somehow we got on the road in a little over an hour! It was a mad dash.
As we were driving, we prayed harder than we’d ever prayed: over Mama M, over this precious little life, over the whole family, over the adoption, everything. We got into our hospital room around 2 a.m. and Mama M’s mom came to meet us while Mama M was resting. She said, ‘It’s a boy!’ I hugged her so tightly. Instant family. She handed us a tiny 6lb 5oz baby boy with the cutest lips I’d ever seen.
The next day we went back and forth to each other’s rooms visiting. We talked through names and decided on Everest. His birth mama picked Leo for his middle name. Everest means ‘the highest point.’ We thought we’d been on the mountaintop with Hyland but she was meant to be her mama’s mountaintop. She’s now almost 2 years old and thriving exactly where she’s meant to be.
We may have walked through the deepest valleys to get to Everest but there’s always a valley before the mountaintop and I would do it all again for our boy. He is worth every day of waiting, every tear, all the heartbreak, questioning, and doubting. He is our highest point. We and his birth family have all agreed God brought beauty from the ashes when He made Everest. The pregnancy may have been unplanned but this little boy was no accident. He was fearfully and wonderfully made and his life brought two families together forever.
Adoption is joy, redemption, and love. Adoption is also trauma, heartbreak, and loss. You don’t get one without the other. It is not lost on me that a child born to another woman calls me ‘mama mama.’ It’s a weight I do not take lightly. It urges me to do better and stay educated. To always put Everest’s best interest above my own. To honor and love his birth family well because they’re OUR family, not just his. And to never take a moment of being his mom for granted.
If you are reading this and you’re in the thick of it:
The valley. The longing. The heartbreak. The questioning. The jealousy. The anger. The wish for something different. The bargaining with God. The tears. Friend, I see you. I am you.
I’ve walked through that valley and it was brutal. But not a day of it was wasted. With God, NOTHING is wasted. And just like He carried us from the valley to the mountain, He will carry you too.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brooke Niemitalo. 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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