‘My husband called. I knew something was up. ‘She delivered a baby last night.’ I shook. I cried. He wouldn’t be the only brown face in our family.’

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“It was a Wednesday late morning as we sat in a BBQ restaurant in St. Louis staring out a window with few words being exchanged. The reality that we would not have any more biological children settling in for the first time. Our second round of IVF in which we traveled to a fertility office four hours from our home was over before it had hardly started. We had hit the city limits and soon as we saw the St. Louis arch, we received a phone call I had prepared for myself for. The doctor’s office said, ‘There’s no need to come to the office. Nothing survived.  There’s no embryos to transfer.’

As we sat staring out that window with the finality of nine years of infertility, secondary infertility, two miscarriages and numerous failed IUI’s and now two failed IVF cycles, I broke the painful silence and asked my husband, ‘Have you ever thought about adoption?’ I asked cautiously because I knew he was done. He was done and content years earlier. I was the one who pushed for infertility treatments. We had a healthy child and he was satisfied and content. He had a hard time understanding why I wanted more children. And so I bravely and boldly asked him if I could at least look into adoption and talk to some friends who had adopted, and he actually agreed. This was the first time we had discussed adoption.

Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

Four days later on a Sunday morning I was up early. Alone, sad, broken and desperate to understand, I laid prostrate in my kitchen floor literally crying out to God begging for his direction or contentment in our family of three. I had tried to get what I wanted. At one point I told God, ‘I will show you. I will get the baby I want,’ thinking I could circumvent God’s plans and sovereignty with high tech doctors and medications. Now I was in the deepest part of the valley and knew I was in no way in control. I begged him if adoption was something we were to consider, I needed a huge flashing billboard. I remember kind of laughing as I asked him for this. Later that morning, and without telling my husband what I had prayed, we sat in church and after worship, with no explanation provided, a video came on about adoption. I have never in my life had God speak so clearly and loudly to me. I sat there literally looking all around me wondering what was happening. I knew what I had prayed just hours earlier and my prayer was being clearly answered. Here was my flashing billboard. The hair stood up on my arms. I was in the zone of me and this video and God. It was one of those church services where I am pretty sure it was just for me. What I did not know at that time was that November was adoption awareness month; it was Orphan Sunday. Had we had any embryos to transfer, we would not have been in church that Sunday as I would have been on bed rest.

I of course told my husband immediately after church what I had prayed. But it took him 6 months from this time to say, ‘yes let’s pursue adoption.’ We went to adoption seminars, I prayed, we talked to others that had adopted. The wait felt so long knowing if we did decide to adopt, there would be another long wait. Let me tell you, as soon as he said yes, I was on it! I got our paperwork and home study completed in record time! And then the waiting began. But it turned out to be short. Our profile was shown to a prospective birth mother before it was even completed. She chose us. As with most things in life we chose to approach it with a lot of cautious optimism. She was very early along and it would be a long match.

Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

Shortly after we were matched, something happened we could have never expected… I was pregnant! After close to seven years of actively trying to get pregnant, probably 8 rounds of IUI’s (so many I lost count) and 2 failed IVF cycles, I was pregnant. We just had to laugh. We were going to have two babies! But having had two prior miscarriages and my age, and the doctor’s had told us my eggs were much older than my biological age, we didn’t think the pregnancy would survive. But we knew we needed to let our adoption lawyers know. Our social worker quickly told us they would not approve us to adopt the baby we were matched with now that I was pregnant. It was a frustrating time. We asked God why after we have done all this to adopt and moved on from having another biological child, why do I get pregnant? And now they are telling us we can’t adopt. Our adoption team agreed to wait it out before telling the prospective birth mother I was pregnant. As we had prepared ourselves, I did indeed miscarry. We were still matched with the prospective birth mother, so we moved forward.

During our match there were many red flags along the way and we quickly distanced ourselves emotionally and believed the match wouldn’t happen. A week before Christmas we received a phone call that the prospective birth mother had delivered her baby and had decided to parent the baby. And so, we were given a ‘no’ once again, and waited once again.

Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

The holidays came and went. My birthday came and as usual, as I had for years, I blew out my candles and silently wished for a baby. 7 weeks after our failed match, I opened up Facebook and saw a friend had delivered her second son. Her children would be three years apart. How perfect! While I was excited for her, I also wondered why not us. I wondered when will our baby be here? I got my answer sooner than I could imagine.

A few hours later we received a phone call. ‘How quickly can you get to the hospital?,’ the case worker asked us. ‘A baby was born last night and birth mom checked herself out of the hospital. We need a family that can get here quickly.’ I scribbled down what they were telling me… ‘healthy, African American baby boy,’ and details on the birth mother. This was it! Our baby was here! It was finally happening! Oh my goodness, two boys! We were going to have two boys! I quickly called my husband, told him the details, and we quickly confirmed our yes together. When I say we were cautious, we were so cautious we didn’t have a nursery set up, we didn’t have diapers, nothing was ready for a baby! We started to get things together and organized to bring a baby home. The next morning we surprised our oldest son at school. We took him out of school early and told him there was a baby born that needed a family and we were driving to meet his baby brother. One of his first questions was, ‘Have you gotten my baby toys out for it yet?’ Then of course, ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’ He had been hoping for a sister. When we shared he was getting a baby brother, he responded with a, ‘Oh yay!’ Shew!!!!

We arrived at the hospital nervous knowing that the prospective birth mother could change her mind any time. It is kind of bizarre walking into the hospital with an empty infant seat asking for the newborn nursery. We were taken to a room and after what seemed like a long time, our second son was wheeled in in his hospital bassinet. I still remember how bizarre it was meeting our son with all the nurses and staff crowded around the room’s entrance. Finally the crowd dispersed and we were alone with our newest son. All three of us just held him and held him and held him some more, and stared at him. We didn’t get home that night until after midnight, but all our family was anxiously waiting to celebrate this precious gift with us.

Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle
Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

We began settling in as a family of 4. Finally my heart’s desire for a baby had been met. We were happy and satisfied and content and enjoying family life. However over the next few years I began to explore the stories of adult transracial adoptees. I listened to and read their stories. There seemed to be a consistent thread in most of their stories…a child of color being adopted by white parents living in a predominately white community and not being connected with their culture was a source of great pain and trauma. Many of them talked about being the only brown face in their family and how this made them feel even more alienated, or the ones that did have a sibling of color it was a great source of comfort and strength for them growing up.

Photo by Hollie Colwick
Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

I began to strongly feel like our adopted son should have another brown face in our family. I began praying about it and along the way small things would happen that I believed were signs from God saying ‘yes you should adopt again.’ But again, my husband was content, and was not feeling the same way. Over the course of a year or so I became very convicted we were to have more children in our home. I didn’t know if we were to adopt a baby, an older child from foster care or care for children in our home in some other capacity. I remember commenting to my mother, ‘The only way Justin will ever adopt again is if baby A’s birth mother happened to have another baby.’

While my conviction continued to intensify, my husband was not coming around. I began to think, ‘Okay we are shutting this door.’ I packed up most of the remaining baby clothes and took them to a women’s resource center where I had already donated most of our baby equipment. But this day, there was something different. We took in the small load of items and when we left, I was so upset. I began sobbing… that kind of sobbing that you can’t talk and if you try to no one can understand you. That afternoon I prayed and read my Bible. I did the whole random flip my Bible open and speak to me God. I flipped the Bible open to the Psalm 82:3 ‘Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless…’ That evening when my husband came home, I told him, ‘I know you don’t feel this, but I strongly believe there is a child out there someplace that is supposed to be in our family.’ He confirmed, ‘No I don’t feel that at all. But you can think what you want.’

One week later I was at our local gymnastics gym for bounce time with our youngest son. As he ran around my phone rang and I saw it was our adoption lawyer. I didn’t answer it, thinking, ‘Well if it is anything important or pressing they will leave a voice mail.’ I constantly kept checking my phone, but no voice mail notification. I was kicking myself for not answering the call. Then my mind started wondering all kinds of things. About 10 minutes later my husband called, and I knew something was up. I didn’t get good cell service in the gym so I swooped up my 3-year-old much to his dismay and went out to the entry way. My husband calmly started telling me our adoption lawyers had called him to let him know baby A’s birth mother had delivered a baby boy the night before, and out of a courtesy since it was baby A’s brother, they were calling us first. I was completely shocked. I cried. I shook. I couldn’t hardly breathe. My husband kept telling me to calm down and breathe. I knew my answer was yes, but my husband wasn’t saying yes. He wasn’t saying no either. I drove to his office and in the parking lot of his office we held hands and prayed and agreed on saying yes. I called the lawyers and said we would be there tomorrow to meet our newest son. Baby A would not be the only brown face in our family. God took my prayers literally and gave Baby A his brother. That feeling I had deep inside was right…there was another baby out there that was supposed to be in our family, and it was baby A’s brother.

Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

Baby A getting a brother with beautiful brown skin just like his was not the only blessing of our second adoption. Our first adoption had been closed. We did not get to meet our birth mother. At the time, our adoption updates for her were done via the mail. For three years I wrote all the scheduled updates and sent photos. I would contact our adoption lawyer at least once a year and ask if she had gotten them. She never asked for any of them. But I continued to write them.

Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle
Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

During this time I was greatly bothered that we did not have a picture of baby A’s birth mother. I believe any one wants to know and see the face they came from. When baby B was born I asked our adoption lawyers if they would ask her for just one photo of her for the boys. Within a few minutes of asking for a photo, two pictures popped up on my phone. I stood at my kitchen island looking at the picture and across to where baby A was sitting, and saw he looks exactly like his birth mother. I knew she had to be beautiful, and she was. I continue to be so thankful she gave us the photos.

About a week later I received an email from the new online portal in which our updates would be done. I thought, ‘Leave me alone! I have a brand new baby that I wasn’t expecting or planning for! I know I have the one week update to write! Just give me a chance!’ When I clicked on the email, it wasn’t them reminding me to do my update. It was their birth mother. She had read all the updates I had done over the past three years. She hadn’t realized I had been writing her and sending her photos and she was so thankful for all the updates. Via our online portal we have been able to communicate and connect which has been another wonderful blessing.

Photo by Hollie Colwick

Adopting transracially has changed our family for the better and opened our eyes to racial disparities and injustices. Our family’s community has grown and expanded to include our youngest boy’s culture and community which has been a great blessing to our whole family. As our eyes have been opened to racial realities, we have begun to use our voice to bring light to the disparities and injustices that continue today. With support of our amazing church family we are getting ready to launch a group called ‘Be The Bridge to Racial Unity’ in our local city in which racial disparities and injustices are examined through the light of the gospel among a culturally diverse group of people.

Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle
Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

Years ago when I prayed and begged for a baby, I just wanted a sweet little baby to hold and love and my oldest son to have a sibling. I could have never dreamt what God’s plans for our family would be. Sometimes God’s greatest blessings come through heartache, prayers that seem to go unanswered or long periods of waiting where you think God has forsaken you. But He is there working our His divine great plan. We just have to lean into the pain and lean into and on Him to carry us to his will.”

Photo by Hollie Colwick
Courtesy of Amanda McMonigle

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda McMonigle. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more beautiful stories of transracial adoptions:

‘Eli and his biological brother who went to another family have lived 45 minutes from each other for their entire lives, and have never met. Until now.’

‘I stood there holding my 3-month-old baby boy as she sent me pictures of an ultrasound of the baby growing in her stomach. I was speechless. But I also knew. Deep down I knew.’

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