‘My cousin is pregnant and incarcerated.’ Could it be real? I told him, ‘This MIGHT be the answer to our prayers.’: Couple pens emotional adoption journey, ‘She WILL know where she came from’

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“Our journey to parenthood started the day my husband and I got married all the way back in 2004. We were 25 and 26 at the time. We talked about having 3 kids. We know we couldn’t pick a gender, but we imagined 2 boys and a girl, in that order. As the first year of marriage came to an end and we hadn’t gotten pregnant we didn’t worry. We heard it can take over a year for a couple to have a baby. Anything over a year, you might want to think about seeing a doctor. We went on about our lives and thought, if it happens it happens.

Well, after about 4 years nothing was happening, we decided I should see a doctor first to see if there was something wrong with me. My doctor suggested we both get tested to see where the issue lied. Turns out, it was me, I was the issue. It turns out I was suffering from PCOS(polycystic ovarian syndrome). This was causing in-ovulation. I was having heavy painful periods every month but not ovulating. My doctor tried several types of medicines to get me to ovulate but nothing worked. We were still trying to get pregnant on our own at this point just on the off chance I had ovulated, but every pregnancy test I took was always negative.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

After a couple of years of trying different medications we sought out an infertility specialist. By this time, I was still suffering from PCOS and now I was dealing with Type 2 Diabetes. The infertility doctor told me to lose weight and put me on insulin to try to lower my blood sugar. I did end up losing about 30 pounds and my blood sugar was where it needed to be. We continued with medication and I think I was able to ovulate once in that year I was with that doctor. Still no positive pregnancy test.

We finally found a doctor who suggested doing an IUI(intro uterine insemination). None of these fertility options we tried were covered by insurance so it was all out of pocket. We didn’t have much to begin with but we did what we could and we came up with enough money to try the IUI. It was unsuccessful.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

We decided after about 5 years of nothing but infertility treatments my body and our minds needed a break. All we did during that time was drown in infertility. It had put us in a dark place. Not only were we struggling to get pregnant but we were also dealing with friends and family all around us getting pregnant and having their dream families. All the while, my husband and I were struggling and suffering in silence while trying to be happy for others. I couldn’t even count how many breakdowns I had. But my husband was always there to wipe my tears.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

After a few years of not focusing on fertility and still nothing happening for us we came to a crossroads. By this time I was 36 and my husband was 37. It was only going to get harder for us at this point if we wanted to have a baby of our own. We could take out a 401k loan to try IVF(in vitro fertilization) which only has a 50/50 chance of working. This would be our one and only shot because IVF runs roughly about $20,000 or we could look into the world of adoption. We weren’t sure what to do.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

Adoption was never on our radar. We didn’t really know anyone who had adopted or who was adopted, we didn’t know how to adopt and we both never thought we could bond with someone like we would if they were our own flesh and blood. We really struggled with this. During the months we were contemplating what to do, our answer sort of just fell in our lap.

A year or so before we decided to either try IVF or try to adopt, a woman had started working at my company. I had actually known her in my childhood as I was in the same class growing up with her older sister. We didn’t know each other well in our youth, but we knew of each other. It just so happened that she was looking for a job and found herself employed with my company. As we got to know each other again we bonded over our infertility. She too, had struggled for years. She was having miscarriages and I couldn’t get pregnant. Two very different sides of infertility but we bonded nonetheless.

As my husband and I were at our crossroads as to what to do next, she came to me one day and said, ‘I have this cousin, she’s pregnant and incarcerated. She is looking for someone to adopt her baby.’ They had originally come to my coworker first to see if she and her husband were interested. Because of the family drama that would ensue, she and her husband decided to decline, but told her cousin she knew of someone who might be interested. My heart dropped. Could this be real? Could this be the answer to our prayers? I talked to my husband that night and said, ‘I think we need to pursue this.’ At this point we knew very little.

Through another family member of my coworker we came in contact with her cousin, the birth mother. We had talked on the phone and she said she wanted to meet with us. She was about a 2 hour drive away so one day my husband and I made the trip. We met her and she was so sweet. She told us she was about 6 months along and it was a girl. She gave us a little background into her situation and why she was incarcerated. After talking with her for a while we went home. I had a good feeling about this so I started researching how to adopt. We had to find someone to do our home study. About a day or so after our meeting she called us to tell us she wanted us to adopt her daughter. It was as if I had found out I was pregnant. I was over the moon excited!

We found a company to do our home study. What no one told us was the amount of paperwork it was going to take to get home study approved. They had to go through our entire life with a fine tooth comb. It took about 3 months for us to complete our home study, and by Christmas of 2015, we finally made the announcement to our friends and family on social media that we were expecting a baby girl soon! Everyone was so excited for us but some had their doubts. They didn’t want us to get our hopes up because they knew she could change her mind at any moment. My husband and I just kept the faith. I felt it in my heart that this baby was meant for us. We spent the next couple of months putting together the most beautiful girly nursery. It was so much fun; it was something I always dreamed of doing. Once we were done we just had to sit nervously and wait. Because birth mother was incarcerated she didn’t have an accurate date on when she was due. She thought the end of January 2016 but she ended up being about 3 weeks off. The days dragged on and we waited.

The time finally came! We got the call that she was in labor. We packed our bags and drove 2 hours in a snow storm. The thing about giving birth while incarcerated was that the birth mother got 24 hours by herself with baby. Then she would be taken back to prison and then we could meet the baby. When we got the call that she had gone into labor we didn’t know exactly when we could go to the hospital so we rented a hotel room and waited. Some labors can take a really long time and some don’t. We had no idea what to expect. It was the most nerve wracking 24 hours of my life. We didn’t know when the baby would be born or anything about her. Was she healthy? Were there any health concerns? We were on pins and needles. We finally got the call that we were waiting what seemed like a lifetime for. You can come see your baby.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

We rushed to the hospital and they brought us to her. She was in a small room by herself. We walked in and I expected to just ball my eyes out at this point but there were no tears. I think I was just in a state of shock that after almost 12 years of struggling to become a mom my day was finally here. I took one look at her and said, ‘She’s perfect.’ She was seriously the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. She was just laying there swaddled asleep. She was breathtaking.

The hospital said we could take her home right then and there or we could stay the night with her in the hospital. It all happened so fast and we had no clue how to take care of a newborn, so we decided to stay the night at the hospital. They put us in a room and I instantly went into mom mode. We learned that besides a little jaundice she was healthy. She weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and was born at 7:05 the night before. We learned how to change her, feed her and swaddle her. We were in total bliss. We sent pictures to our families and shouted to the world we were finally parents!! Her birth mother had given her a name but with her blessing we gave her the name Faith. Faith because we never lost our faith in our pursuit of becoming parents and we thought it was just so fitting.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

We went home to begin our lives as a family of three. After 6 months and more home study post placement visits, a court in St. Louis, Missouri decided that we were fit enough to be Faith’s legal parents. She was always our daughter but at 6 months old she finally got to take our last name.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

Faith is now about to be 5 years old. She knows that adoption is part of her story. We talk about her birth mother with her from time to time as a reminder that someone loved her so much that they decided to let someone else have the chance to offer her wonderful life with opportunities her birth mother knew she wouldn’t be able to provide. She is starting to ask questions and it will only get harder for her as she gets older. Her daddy and I are prepared to be there for her through the ups and downs.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

While we don’t currently have a relationship with Faith’s birth mother right now, we do hope to have one some day. In the meantime, Faith will know her history, she will know where she came from, she will know her birth family and who they are.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

Knowing what I know now about adoption, I can tell you I was completely wrong. I thought I could never love another person the same way I would love someone born of my flesh. What was I thinking? I could never love Faith more than I do. It’s not possible. It’s as if our souls are one. I would move mountains for that girl. She is the reason I breathe. Adoption made me a mom. I will never forget the sacrifice that one woman made so that I could be a mom and my husband could be a dad. Her selflessness is not lost on me. I am eternally grateful for her decision to place her daughter in our care as our own.

Courtesy of Julie Dunn

Adoption is born from tragedy but that tragedy brought me back to life. I am forever changed for the better. I have my happily ever after.

As for my friend and coworker who told us about our daughter, she got her happy ending too. She is now a mom to twins through IVF and another without any medical help.

They are right when they say God works in mysterious ways. Couldn’t be truer than with our story.”

Courtesy of Julie Dunn
Courtesy of Julie Dunn

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie Dunn from Cedar Hill, MO. You can follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook. 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.

Read more stories about adoption:

‘Our PE coach pulled me aside. ‘Your little buddy is about to be put on an adoption website.’ I told her, ‘We’ll adopt him!’: Teacher unexpectedly adopts student with special needs

‘She’s white. Is that okay?’ Without hesitating, my husband said, ‘She needs a home. Her race isn’t relevant.’: Foster parents adopt 3 children in 7 months, ‘Families don’t have to match’

‘Her birth parents wanted to spend time with her. I wasn’t sure if I would see her again. All I could do was pray.’: Mom describes emotional adoption, ‘She is our greatest joy’

‘At 11, his adoptive parents abandoned him at a hospital, never to return. ‘Mr. Peter, can I call you my Dad?’ I began to cry uncontrollably.’: Single dad adopts 11-year-old boy from foster care after biological, adoptive family abandon him

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