‘Surprise! He’s ALREADY born!’ Our 3lb son was PERFECT.’: After infertility battle, couple adopts ‘little fighter’ preemie

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Disclaimer: This story mentions infertility and may be triggering to some.

“My husband, Matt, and I met while both visiting Nashville in 2011: he got my phone number, and we have been inseparable since! Throughout our relationship, we discussed how important family is to both of us and agreed we were ready to start growing our family soon after our wedding in March 2014.

A young couple at a restaurant
Courtesy of Kerry

After a year of trying to conceive, we thought ‘time to go see a doctor.’ Two years, multiple doctors, endometriosis surgery, seven IUIs, and three rounds of IVF later, we received our official diagnosis of ‘Unexplained Infertility.’ As many couples going through infertility know, not having an official diagnosis or reason for your infertility is heartbreaking and frustrating. I remember one night, after another failed IUI, Matt looked at me and said, ‘As long as we have each other, we will have a good life, just the two of us.’ That was the moment I thought about adoption.

A young couple dressed up at an event
Courtesy of Kerry

Shortly after that, we began seeing adoption everywhere. I had many people I knew going through the process. One of my high school friends was sharing their journey, and she talked about all the signs she kept seeing leading them to adopt. That was my AH-HA moment: I was seeing signs too! Before we began our final IVF, Matt said, ‘I think if this doesn’t work we should adopt.’ He had never talked about adoption before, so that was it, I knew this would be our path. This made our final IVF process so much better; we were less stressed having a plan to become parents even if this failed.

Right before my final embryo transfer, I had a dream about our adopted son. After that, I always knew in the back of my mind the procedure would fail, and we would be grieving our last little embryo babies. This feeling continued every time we presented our profile to expectant moms of little girls, but I never told Matt about it because he would laugh and say I was crazy. I finally told him the day we met our little guy. There is no doubt adoption was God’s plan for us.

August 13, 2017, was the day our adoption journey officially began. Unfortunately, the day before, we found out our final embryo transfer failed. That was the day before my 30th birthday. Of course, we were disappointed, but we were also excited since we already knew adoption was our plan.

I immediately texted my friend Sarah for advice on beginning the process. She had begun her adoption journey a few months earlier, and they were already matched. Sarah gave me the contact to her wonderful consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants, Leah. Leah walked us through what the private domestic infant adoption process would look like, and a week later, we were signed up, ready to go. The home study took a few months… gathering paperwork, background checks, and visits. During that time, we worked on our profile book with CAC. As soon as we had our completed home study, we were live with CAC, and we were able to begin orientations with adoption agencies. I believe, in the end, we went with three agencies, and then we also received some situations through the CAC network.

Presenting began, and I found myself leaning heavily on Leah for guidance and emotional support. She was always so considerate when telling us another family was chosen for an expectant mother and her saying it always comforted me, knowing another family’s dreams are coming true. With every ‘no’ we received, she reminded us it was a ‘not yet’: our baby was out there. The morning of Matt’s birthday, we got another ‘no.’ I really thought was the one. As I was on the phone telling him, Matt stopped me and said, ‘Read the packet we just got, I think we need to present.’

The packet we received on April 4, 2018, Matt’s birthday, was a baby boy who was 13 days old but was born 10 weeks early and would be in the NICU for some time. We immediately presented. Two days later, we were driving to spend the weekend with some friends in the mountains, and the agency called…they never called. That is when we were told we had been chosen to be parents! Luckily, we had weekend plans because it was late on Friday, and the paperwork for us to see our son wouldn’t be done until Tuesday. The rest of the drive we got to call our parents and tell them the news. ‘You are going to be grandparents, and—surprise!—he is already born!’ Watching Matt tell his parents he had a son was one of the best moments of my life. He is not an emotional man, but this news brought tears to his eyes and the biggest smile on his face.

A couple in their car is surprised by good news
Courtesy of Kerry

For weeks, we had been planning a big surprise party for my mom’s birthday but had to scramble to cancel last minute. Instead, we had a small dinner with her best friends on Monday, then we drove halfway to the hospital for the night. We woke up bright and early so we could make it to the hospital and meet our son as soon as possible. Neither of us had ever seen a baby born early, much less 10 weeks early. So, we didn’t know what to expect when we saw him.

We arrived and were shown how to scrub in for the NICU. While we were scrubbing in, we made small talk with the NICU dietician and found out we not only went to the same college but she was friends with one of my very best friends! It all seemed meant to be that we had a tie to the woman who would introduce us to our son. She led us back to the happiest moment of our lives. Our three-pound three-ounce son was PERFECT.

A premature baby boy swaddled with tubes and wires connected
Courtesy of Kerry

The day we met our baby boy was a whirlwind! We arrived while the doctor was doing rounds so immediately got all the information we could want. Our miracle, born 10 weeks early, was already off oxygen, regulating his temperature, and they were about to start teaching him how to eat. Matt gave our son his very first bottle, and it was amazing!

A new adoptive father feeds his newborn a bottle
Courtesy of Kerry
A new adoptive mom in the hospital with her son
Courtesy of Kerry

When we put our baby down for a nap, Matt and I had to run to the lawyer’s office to sign paperwork, and they asked us what our son’s name was. It had been such a crazy day we never had the chance to talk about it, but we looked at each other and knew Duke was the perfect name. As we were leaving, the lawyer told us we would meet Duke’s birth mom the next day. I have never been more nervous in my life.

Next, we had to find out where to stay! The amazing social worker at the hospital was able to get us a room at the Ronald McDonald House. This was an answered prayer: being told you will likely be in the NICU for 8 weeks and the thought of that massive hotel bill is stressful. The Ronald McDonald House is a super clean facility. Everyone is in and out of the hospital, so everyone follows special protocols to keep all the families safe. They also have volunteers to come and fix dinner nightly: they were truly a blessing. Once we were checked in, we stopped by the store to get some supplies, and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Sir Duke’ was playing, and we couldn’t stop smiling. Then we spent the rest of the day with our son.

The next day, we went to meet Duke’s birth mom. We were so intimidated and nervous; this woman chose us to raise her son. I can only imagine how she felt meeting us. Once we saw her and said hello, all those feelings disappeared, and it was the most precious time we could ask for. Matt and I learned so much about her, her family, what we had in common, and how much she loved Duke. My only regret was not taking a picture with her that day.

I remember the beginning of our journey learning about how you will want an open relationship with your child’s birth mom. I didn’t believe it, and it TERRIFIED me. But once I met Duke’s birth mom, I knew how true it was.

All the doctors and nurses expected Duke to stay in NICU until his due date, 10 weeks. Our families could not wait two months to meet Duke, so my brother was the first to visit, then my parents. Matt’s parents planned to come the second weekend we were in the NICU, and we all got a huge gift. The night before they arrived, we were told Duke would likely be discharged on his one-month birthday. Our little fighter was ready to go after just four weeks! Of course, this was a surprise to everyone, including the lawyers, so the paperwork to take him across state lines was not done, and we would have to stay at least one more week.

An adoptive mother with her baby outside the Ronald McDonald House
Courtesy of Kerry

Bringing him home to the Ronald McDonald House was the biggest blessing, I can’t imagine having to bring our four-pound baby to an extended stay! During this time another CAC family arrived to pick up their new addition. It was so nice having friends to have dinner with and talk about becoming first-time parents with. Matt had to go on a quick work trip, so his sister flew down to help me with Duke. We got the official go-ahead to go home the day Matt returned from his trip, so his sister got to ride with us. Now the fun began, and Duke started meeting all of our family and friends!

An adoptive mom holds her son in front of balloons spelling his name
Courtesy of Kerry
Adoptive parents hold their son at his welcome home party
Courtesy of Kerry

When we left, all we had was a crib and a car seat, so my mom and her friends decorated the nursery while we were out of state. Bringing Duke home was better than I could have ever imagined, my best friends surprised us with some balloons and a banner when we pulled up. In July, we had a baby shower and all our friends and families spoiled us. While everything is perfect, you always have a bit of an uneasy feeling until the adoption is final. In November, we finally had our big sigh of relief and the adoption was finalized. Since we were in another state, the hearing was done over the phone, but it was still a magical day.

Adoptive parents and in-laws stand together while holding a baby
Courtesy of Kerry
Adoptive parents and their son together in the fall
Courtesy of Kerry

After Duke’s first birthday we knew it was time to start talking about growing our family more since the adoption process takes time. Now that we had our son, we felt a pull towards fostering. Meeting Duke’s birth mom made a huge impact on us, and we realized we could handle a child going home with their biological family. We began classes shortly after.

Adoptive parents and their son on his birthday
Courtesy of Kerry

In January 2020, we received our first foster placement. Duke has loved being a big brother to all of his foster brothers. We have fostered four boys since we became foster parents, of those, only one has been a long-term placement. With every reunification we have been a part of, we have celebrated with the biological family while knowing how much we will miss their little guy.

Adoptive parents with their son at the holidays
Courtesy of Kerry

Currently, our future plans are to continue fostering. We do hope to adopt again, whether it be through foster care or private adoption, we don’t know!”

Adoptive parents stand with their son outdoors
Courtesy of Kerry
Adoptive parents dressed up holding their son
Courtesy of Kerry

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kerry from Huntsville, Alabama. 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.

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‘I have a 16-day-old baby girl in the NICU ready to be discharged.’ We fell head over heels in love.’: After battling infertility and infant loss, couple adopts their ‘forever daughter’

‘Get to the hospital now.’ I had a front-row seat to her pain. We opened the nursery door cautiously.’: Couple finally adopts their ‘tiny fighter,’ ‘My heart grew bigger’

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