Disclaimer: This story contains mentions of miscarriage and may be triggering to some.
How We Met
“In August of 2012, I was a divorced, introverted, mom of 5-year-old twin boys, working in retail. I had decided to become a receptionist to finally free up my evenings and weekends. What started out as a career change turned into a life change when I attended a company happy hour my second week on the job and a coworker came over to introduce himself and tease me for leaving so much meat on my chicken wings. That coworker was Chris, a boisterous, attractive, bachelor. Neither of us could have predicted how our story would unfold. Nothing really exciting happened the first year I was at the company, especially when it came to Chris. Minus quick ‘good mornings’ when he walked past my desk in the morning or, ‘How was your weekend?’ in the breakroom, there were no special ‘moments.’ I thought he was cute and loud, and he thought I was attractive and quiet. On top of the fact neither one of us wanted to date a coworker, I had kids already and it takes a special person to be able to date someone with kids, and Chris wasn’t that person…yet.
Fast forward to the fall of 2013 for another company happy hour. At the end of the event, only a smaller group was left to hang out and Chris ended up sitting near me and really catching my eye, but this time I wasn’t letting go. Chris finally got to see my real personality and his interest was perking up. However, dating a coworker with now 6-year-olds was very scary to him, understandably. I should mention I have a type A personality and waiting for things to happen is not my superpower. I plan in advance and my backup plans have backup plans. So waiting for someone to take the hint they should ask you out is no fun! Finally, after a few months of casual flirting, a couple of happy hours, and some not-so-subtle suggesting we should hang out, we had our first date!
I have always hated in movies when the actor is practically jumping around after a first kiss; it’s stupid and it never happens in real life… and then it did happen… to me. I was walking down the hallway at the office the day after our first date (and kiss!) and thought about Chris and skipped. Like, legit, on one foot, in the air, skipped. WTF??? I knew Chris was special and I liked him, but skipping? I was in trouble. While there is no official record of Chris skipping post first date, he also was feeling this connection and knew if it was going to progress, he had to be open to a package deal. The good news for him was I had a hard rule about no one meeting my children until I was with them for over 6 months, so he had some time to get used to the idea. Over the next 6 months, we quietly and carefully dated so almost none of our coworkers even suspected anything was going on between us, until I left the company for an administrative assistant job at a different company.
While Chris was initially hesitant to meet the boys, he knew he couldn’t meet them until after 6 months of dating and only if our relationship felt like it was going somewhere. Since he spent time at my house when the boys were with their dad, he got used to seeing their toys and artwork scattered around the house. He was in the room when I got phone calls from them or was dealing with things about school or the schedule with their dad. He witnessed the behind-the-scenes of parenting he had never been privy to, and it wasn’t as scary as he originally thought.
Meeting The Kids
The boys finally met Chris at a party with other friends of ours and their kids, and while I didn’t initially introduce Chris as my ‘boyfriend,’ after we left the party I asked the boys what they thought about him and let them know he was special. They were excited to spend more time with Chris; he is a big child himself, so he really gets on their level and plays with them. While initially, we did outings to museums, the aquarium, or bowling, it wasn’t long before Chris was coming over for pizza and a movie on Friday nights (a tradition we still do to this day), and spending the weekend with us. The boys quickly fell in love with Chris — watching him play video games and patiently answering all of their questions, playing Legos and board games with him, and roughhousing outside.
Over the course of the next 3 years, we introduced the boys to Chris’s friends and family, and everyone instantly loved the boys and was excited to be part of their lives. Chris became very involved in their lives as well, becoming a regular fixture in our house and helping out with school pick-ups and drop-offs, teaching them Dungeons and Dragons, making dinner, taking the boys to the park without me, and falling in love with them. Eventually, the boys were asking me when we were going to get married. I told them they had to wait; we were building a solid foundation and when everyone was ready we would get married. You just have to be patient. The irony is I knew kids were important to both of us and my biological clock was ticking. I was not patiently waiting.
Chris proposed on a very cold New Year’s Eve Day while we took a walk as a family. He wanted to make sure the boys were involved and also that they approved of him marrying not just me, but us. They were beyond excited! We celebrated as a new family of 4 with hot chocolate before spreading the word to our family and friends. Chris has always made sure the boys felt included in everything he was doing, and this was especially true for the wedding. He asked the boys to be two of his groomsmen and made sure they had a mini-bachelor party with the other groomsmen that they could be a part of. The boys were over the moon with being ‘one of the guys.’ Chris made the decision to recite vows to the boys at our wedding, to symbolize his commitment to them as their new ‘Bonus Dad.’ He promised to always be there for them, love them unconditionally, and support them however they needed for the rest of his life. There was not a dry eye in attendance; the love was genuine and could be felt by everyone.
With the wedding over we were ready for our first big step as a newly blended family, adding a baby into the mix. Seeing as how we were 36 when we got married, we knew our clock was ticking. My wonderful OBGYN gave us 6 months to get pregnant on our own or she was going to send us to the fertility clinic, but she felt confident we could get the job done. Fast forward 6 months and I am getting what feels like gallons of blood drawn, every photo possible of my uterus and ovaries, and family history questionnaires that were 10 pages long. We were going to have to use IVF if we wanted a chance to get pregnant. This was the start of a long journey.
We did two retrievals, which resulted in a combined total of one usable embryo, and thanks to our clinic’s embryos donation program, we were allotted 6 donated embryos and 7 transfers. If you are lucky enough to have never experienced infertility, there is a lot of waiting involved. When you add my impatience with a strong fear of large needles, let’s just say it was not a pleasant experience for me. But it was going to be worth it when we brought home our baby. Sadly, out of the 7 transfers over the course of 18 months at the height of a global pandemic, only #2 (the first of our 6 donated embryos) stuck. But we lost our ‘Bug’ at 10 weeks. We were devastated.
I have always believed in silver linings to crappy situations, so it wasn’t a surprise I found one in the most devastating of times. Our precious Bug reinforced what I already knew; you can love something that isn’t biologically yours, just as much as if it was made from your DNA. Chris realized I was right, and even though we carried our Bug for about 2 months, he was already over the moon with them. He never saw a live image of them, or felt them kick. To him, they were a weird, abstract concept, but he was absolutely in love. Still to this day, 2 years later, we both talk about our Bug, especially when we see fireflies in our yard.
After almost 2 years of heartbreak and still waiting for a baby, it was time to move on from IVF. Being the planner, I had already researched the usual larger adoption agencies. I wasn’t loving what I was seeing, and Chris did his own research and found a lot of people with a bad experience and extremely long waiting times using those larger agencies. We knew that wasn’t for us; our first priority is the expectant mother. We want to make sure she is doing this because she wants to, and if something was preventing her from keeping her baby, we would want someone to be able to help her to accommodate that. We started with the intent to do a fully private adoption, using social media and word of mouth to hopefully get matched with an amazing woman.
Waiting To Adopt
We found an awesome lawyer who understood exactly what we meant when we said we want the most ethical adoption possible and connected us and sent us off to get our home study approved. We talked with the boys and explained how the process works. They grew up with adoption in their vocabulary since I have first cousins who are the boys’ age that were adopted at birth. So for the boys, this was no big deal or foreign concept. They didn’t care how we got the baby, they knew they just wanted to be big brothers! With their blessing in place, we announced to the world our intention to adopt and started spreading the word while we started our home study process.
We officially started filling out paperwork last August (2021) and due to juggling work, family things, and (SURPRISE) I decided on somewhat of a whim to go back to school to get a second bachelor’s degree so I can do a career change, it took us a little longer than originally thought to finally get through the process. As of January 2022, our family is home study approved and ready to adopt! I was starting to stress out about attempting to juggle all of the things previously mentioned, PLUS having to create content for social media to try to connect to someone who may know someone looking to make an adoption plan. It was going to be too much. During a meeting with our wonderful lawyer, she suggested a small agency she has worked with a few times based out of Pennsylvania, Haven Adoptions, which prioritizes the expectant mother’s needs and wishes and if possible connects her with resources she needs if she wants to keep the baby.
This sounded like exactly what we were looking for, almost too good to be true. We quickly set up a meeting and instantly clicked with everyone on their staff that we chatted with. This is what we were wanting all along! With an agency helping us find matches, their partnership with ParentFinder.com, and my social media posts, we are hoping to find a wonderful woman who is looking to create an open adoption plan with us. We are LGBTQIA+ and Black Lives allies. We are open to any and all races, ethnicities, and genders, and we are excited to incorporate their family history, culture, and traditions into ours. Until then, we are doing the one thing I hate the most. Waiting.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caitlin from Maryland. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her website. 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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