‘We were watching a movie when my phone rang. My stomach dropped. We were shocked, but our hearts were open.’: Parents share rollercoaster journey to open adoption

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“We had known for some time that carrying a child wasn’t in the best interest of my health, and we were constantly discussing other options to create our family. Adoption was always the option we kept coming back to. We finally decided on adoption and signed a contract with a company called Angel Adoption in January 2021. Our hope was that we had our first child by the end of the following year. What we didn’t know was how fast our journey would go and how many highs and lows we would experience.

man and wife kissing on their wedding day
Courtesy of Allie Helmuth

Not long after joining Angel’s program, we received THE call that our profile was chosen. Not only were we chosen, but three other family profiles were also chosen. We were instantly anxious and had no idea what to say, but speaking with our coordinator and reviewing the resources she provided us helped calm our fears. We started a group text with the expectant mother, and that was the start of our slow-building relationship.

The expectant mother preferred to only text and was usually slow to respond. We knew she had a lot going on and every couple of days would send a supportive text so she knew we were thinking of her. After only a handful of conversations, we stopped hearing from the expectant mother and went two months without any contact. Angel recommended closing out the opportunity but stated on the rare occasion of the expectant mother reaching back out, to pick back up where we left off.  Max and I both kept telling ourselves it would not work out so when this moment came, it would be less devastating.

Although we were not speaking with the expectant mother anymore, we were mentally tracking her pregnancy. While mentally keeping tabs on her pregnancy, we were anxious to be chosen by another expectant mother. As we inched closer to her due date, we started to accept this likely wasn’t the opportunity meant for us and would wait for the next opportunity. We were lying on our couch watching a movie when my phone rang: it was the expectant mother.

couple in their younger years
Courtesy of Allie Helmuth

My stomach dropped. We hadn’t spoken on the phone before, but it felt natural to talk to her. We were shocked to hear from her, but our hearts were open. We knew she hadn’t formally selected a family yet and there were still other potential families, but we felt confident when she invited us to visit her in her home state. She stated that she had narrowed it down to two families and would like to meet us. Without hesitation, we left for Arkansas that Thursday.

We drove to the expectant mother’s home state and we were excited to meet her. When we didn’t hear from her in the morning, we were nervous but thankfully heard from her that afternoon. We met her at her favorite restaurant and sat and talked for what felt like forever. The entire meal was relaxed and felt natural. The following morning, we went to breakfast at the expectant mother’s mom’s house. We weren’t sure what to expect, but her mom was so welcoming and supportive of her daughter’s choice.

After such a great weekend together, the expectant mother called Angel and officially selected us as her family. Talk about a high. Max and I were completely on cloud nine. We called all our closest family and friends to share the great news. OUR baby was expected to be due in September 2021. The expectant mother wanted to make it to Texas where more of her family was to deliver. She said to have us go home and pack our bags. She felt her baby was coming early.

selfie of couple
Courtesy of Allie Helmuth

For two weeks after our visit, our conversations with the expectant mother were minimal; she no longer called us, and her texts were very short. We knew she was planning to deliver in Texas but had no idea if she made it or was safe. It wasn’t just us who weren’t hearing from her; she wasn’t in contact with Angel or the attorney either. She had lost all contact.

On August 17th, 2021, a Tuesday, we received a call from Angel that she no longer wanted to pursue adoption for her baby. I was at work when I received the call and broke down in inconsolable tears. I ran out to my car and called Max…all I could do was cry. I felt like we had just lost the baby we had been longing for. I went home from work and threw all our baby stuff into our nursery.

We knew this wasn’t the end of our journey, but we were devastated. Through our heartbreak, we still reached out to the expectant mother and sent her a short text letting her know we were still rooting for her and always supported her choices. Throughout this whole journey, we always wanted any expectant mother to know we supported her, respected her, and were always in her corner.

Two days later, on Thursday, August 19th, we received a call from Angel that the baby had been born and now the birth mother wanted to move forward with adoption. We were blown away. It had been such an emotional 48 hours, and this was the last thing we expected. Without speaking to Max, I said yes, knowing we were all in with this birth mother and her child. While we struggled to believe this was happening, we were in contact with both our attorney and the attorney in the birthmother’s state.

mom and dad with their new baby girl
Courtesy of Allie Helmuth

Through many conversations, we learned that there had been some unknown concerns and there were outside factors potentially jeopardizing the adoption. Our attorney asked us to sit tight and wait while she tried to figure out more details. Later that night, our attorney laid out two options in this scenario. One, let the situation go and stay home to guard our hearts and let CPS take the situation into their hands, or two, head to Texas and fight for this baby. She was very clear that adoption may not happen, even if we travel to Texas, but we had to fight. We had to fight for this birth mom, her child, and our family. The hospital agreed to place a hold on the baby and stated we had until Monday to figure out a plan with the birth mother.

We got to the birth state the following afternoon and checked into a hotel near the hospital. The birth mother was experiencing medical complications of her own, so we were unable to see her or the baby. When we were finally able to be in the hospital after waiting over the weekend, we were only able to meet with the birth mother. She had concerns about our open adoption agreement, and we knew how important it was for her to trust us. She was scheduled to sign her rights over at 11:00 a.m. that Monday. We were called to head to the hospital for a long conversation about what our option of adoption would look like, and the birth mother left doubting us and the process and was considering parenting.

We sat outside the hospital for what felt like forever. Later that evening our attorney called and stated she considered discharging the baby and asked to sign parental consents the following day. It didn’t help that the hospital was trying to discharge the baby to ‘anyone’ to have an additional room open. We wanted to support her adoption plan, but we knew that emotionally, we were unable to wait one more day. If she was going to choose to parent, we wanted to support her, and if she was going to choose adoption, we wanted to support her, but living in limbo was no longer an option for us.

mom and dad smiling with their new baby girl
Courtesy of Allie Helmuth

After that conversation, we waited. We truly did not know what the birth mother was going to choose to do. A few hours after waiting, we received a text from the attorney stating she did not think the birthmother would sign parental rights over to us and to hang tight, that she would be out to talk to us. We were once again devasted. We felt like our baby was up in a room and we had, once again, had just lost her.

We sat out in the hospital garden at a table crying, trying to process that we would be going home childless. The attorney called us again and stated the birth mom just signed her rights over and CPS would be out to talk with us. Holy cow, WHAT JUST HAPPENED. We could not believe it. After all the ups and downs, we WERE parents to this baby. CPS came out to talk to us to close their case. After we were done speaking with them, our attorney came out. She hugged us, we sobbed, and she asked if we would like to go meet our daughter. The birth mother requested to be in the room when we met her.

I honestly didn’t feel great about that decision, but we supported her and headed up to the room. It was surreal. We walked into the room and the birth mother handed our baby girl over to me and my husband hugged the birth mom. She was in my arms, she was real, and she was ours. For the first time, I sobbed happy tears. I handed our daughter to my husband, and I went to hug our birth mom. As happy as we were, our hearts hurt for her. It was a special moment to share with our birth mom.

mom and dad with daughter happy
Courtesy of Allie Helmuth

Our adoption of Rohen would not have been possible without the love and support of our families and our trust in the process. There were many times when we questioned if we had said the wrong thing or had been too honest with Rohen’s birth mother and that was why our relationship wasn’t progressing. As it turned out, this was the journey meant for us, and we were strong enough to handle it.

Stronger than us, though, is Rohen’s birth mother. We currently have an open adoption with her and hope we can maintain that relationship. We would love for Rohen to have a bonus mom in her birth mother. We are forever thankful for the path that brought us to Rohen and the relationship we were able to build along the way. We have kept in contact with Rohen’s birth mom.

We send photos all the time. We went back to Texas when Rohen was six months old to finalize our adoption and her birth mom met us in town. As hard as it was for her, we will forever cherish those times spent together. She is the most selfless, caring person in the world, and we are forever grateful that she is in our lives. Rohen has two moms to love on her and we would not have it any other way. We are where we are meant to be.

The name Rohen was always a top girl name for us. Her birth mom named her Hannah. Her birth mom respected us to name her Rohen and we valued that. We asked her birth mom to pick out her middle name which is Hanna. We believe her name is so special being hand-picked from both families and can not wait to share that with her one day.”

family selfie
Courtesy of Allie Helmuth

This story was submitted to Love What Matters  by Max and Allie Helmuth from Ollie, Iowa. You can follow their journey on  InstagramFacebook, and TikTokSubmit 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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