‘My baby’s placenta never stopped growing. The doctors were confused.’: Couple pursues open adoption, ‘I will never forget those sacred moments’

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“Our first baby came as a surprise, less than a year into marriage. She came into this world 3 weeks early and VERY quickly. Like, didn’t-make-it-out-the-door-born-on-our-floor quickly. But she was healthy and spunky and sweet from the start. We named her Rosemary.

Our second baby took less than a month of trying, and that morning sickness and fatigue kicked in before I could even find out on a pregnancy test. Baby measured just perfectly, and I was excited to travel to family for Christmas to share in the joy of this new baby!

On my way to my family’s home state, I saw the number ‘143’ over and over. My mom always taught me 143 means ‘I love you’ because of the number of letters in each word. During some of the hardest times in my life, I would see that number and I felt peace, as if God was saying, ‘I love you, I see you, and I am with you.’ So when I started seeing this number show up on road signs, my receipts, my restaurant waiting number, and at the airport gate, it made me wonder why God was sending so many reminders when I wasn’t going through anything particularly difficult. And then the cramping and bleeding started. A week or so later, we lost our baby boy at 11 weeks.

The very next month, we saw a little plus sign on a pregnancy test! We didn’t even consider it could still be the hormones from the baby that just passed and thought we were having a little rainbow baby. We realized the hard truth when I hemorrhaged repeatedly over the span of a month and ended up at the hospital a few times. The doctors were having a hard time seeing anything on an ultrasound and were confused. The word ‘cancer’ was thrown around, but after receiving a D&C, it was confirmed our second baby’s placenta never stopped growing, and I had experienced a partial miscarriage. The doctor warned me that because of the type of D&C he had to perform, we may struggle with having more children in the future. So we decided to let my body rest and recover and just enjoy our time with our one little sunshine girl. It made us reconsider our plans for how and when we wanted to grow our family. We had talked about foster care and adoption before, and always felt it would be something we would do after having all of our biological kids, but our hearts started to change.

Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury

One day, as we were on a sunset walk around the neighborhood in our home state of Utah, Justin turned towards me and asked, ‘What do you think about moving to Texas?’ My heart jumped when I heard those words because I kept having a still and small voice in my heart tell me we should move to Texas for the past couple of months. We felt that was a sign it was a good decision and immediately made plans to move to the hottest and most bug-populated place in the world.

Once we got here, we kept seeing little reminders about foster care and adoption everywhere and decided to just start the foster care journey because we knew it took a long time to be home study approved. By the time we would be approved, we’d definitely be more than ready for another kiddo. But as we started the training, something didn’t feel 100% right to us, so we put that on pause and decided to fast and pray together about our next child and how/when they should join our family.

The next day, Justin came home from work with wide eyes and smiled as he walked through the front door and asked, ‘Do you want to adopt?’ He had received a strong impression at work that’s what we needed to do. And I totally agreed.

I feel like when you’re on the right path, things and people come to you so easily. When we started researching how to adopt, the agency we wanted to use and the educational resources we needed seemed to fall into our laps without effort. We set up phone calls, signed papers, and started in within a couple of days. We knew the child that was supposed to join our family needed us to use this specific agency and knew our timeline, so we had heavenly help for sure!

Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury

We had a few setbacks with timing during the home study process that made it a month or two longer than what we expected, which left us discouraged. We received an email from an adoption professional that said, ‘Your baby won’t pass you by’ and my heart was filled with so much peace. It was so true. After our home study was complete (about 5 months after starting), we became an active waiting family in our adoption agency.

Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury

Only 12 days in, while getting ready for bed, we received an email about a mother who was in labor and wanted to choose an adoptive family within the next few hours. Justin and I got on our knees and prayed, and knew we should submit our profile! An hour and a half later, as we were snuggled up watching the Bachelor, we got the call the mama chose us and baby was a girl!

The rest of that night was a WHIRLWIND of packing and shopping and driving 2 hours away to meet her for the first time. Texas adoption laws require adoptive parents to wait in the hospital until 48 hours have passed since the birth of the baby to have them legally placed with you. The birth mom can change her mind at any time within those two days until she signs the placement paperwork, which we would 100% support if that’s what she wanted to do. We wanted her to feel supported in her decision to keep her baby or place her baby with us, and we prayed she wouldn’t feel guilted or pressured into making decisions she didn’t want to make.

I cannot even describe the love and worry and excitement and pain that ensued in our hearts within the next 2 days. When we met the baby girl, she was so tiny — actually the exact same height and weight as our Rosie when she was born! She had the cutest and softest mop of dark hair, and she was observant and cuddly. I was able to breastfeed her since I was still nursing Rosie, and that was a very beautiful and bonding experience. We decided to name her Ivy.

Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury

We were told that her mama needed space and this was a heartbreaking experience for her. She had very little support, which made me want to wrap my arms around her. I asked the nurse to please let her know we love her. To our surprise, the nurse returned to our room to tell us when she told her, Ivy’s birth mama cried and decided maybe she did want to meet us. We immediately rushed over to her room, so ready to meet her and hug her. It was such a gift and honor to see her hold her baby for the first time, talk to her about her life, see her beautiful physical features that Ivy will have one day, and open up our hearts about the heavy feelings during this process. I will never forget those sacred moments. We felt we should ask her mom to pick out her middle name, and I about melted into a puddle when we found out that she chose ‘Lee.’ She chose it because her mom’s middle name is Lee, but she didn’t realize that’s my mom and sister and the adoption specialist’s middle name too! There is so much love and meaning behind that middle name!

Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury

We got to meet Ivy’s mom one more time before she signed the placement paperwork and we headed home, and that was a very emotional goodbye. We have an open adoption and post pictures and write to each other on a phone app now, and hope to reunite in person soon. We love her with all of our hearts and know God specifically placed us in each other’s paths so we could become family.

Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury

There were so many things that seemed magical/meant to be about this journey, even though it was full of heartbreak. Had we not had the timing setbacks that we did with our home study, we probably would not have met Ivy and her birth mama. If I could offer advice for hopeful parents or hopeful adoptive parents, know your baby will not pass you by. Follow where you feel led and keep an open heart. God can make beauty from ashes. Adoption is very difficult and there can be a lot of laws and rules that don’t make sense, but I know beauty comes from it. And at least for us and Ivy’s birth mom, open adoption has been absolutely healing and helpful.”

Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury
Courtesy of Courtney Elsbury

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Courtney Elsbury. 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. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories about foster care and adoption:

‘I asked the birth mom, ‘Would you like alone time?’ She said yes. I knew it could change everything.’: Mom says ‘we are complete’ after long adoption journey

Would you want to adopt him?’ She was taken from the only woman she knew and placed with a stranger.’: Couple describes adoption, foster journey, ‘Our lives have never been the same’

‘We received a little boy almost 3 years old. We didn’t have enough clothes or toys, but the joy on his face was the biggest blessing in the world.’: Mom shares important lesson about foster care, ‘When people say it takes a village, it does’

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