‘This is CRAZY, but the judge just signed the order to move your son’s sister to your home TODAY. I’ll be there tonight.’: Woman adopts 3 siblings, ‘We became a family of 5 overnight’

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“John and I were 19 when we first started dating. Even in the early stages of our relationship, we knew we wanted to be parents someday. We married in 2008 and by 2010 we were ready to start a family. After six months of ‘trying’ with no luck, I began to get worried. I booked an appointment with an OB-GYN that had been recommended to me by a friend. Usually, doctors do not see patients in their late twenties who are in good health for infertility until they have been trying a year. Lucky for us this doctor agreed that it could not hurt to get tested to see if there were any reasons why we had not gotten pregnant.

First, we tried natural techniques, such as tracking basal temperature and working on our timing. Still nothing. Then the real testing began. It started with blood work, semen analysis, and procedures to rule out endometriosis. It was then that I learned I had low progesterone. So I was put on medicine and told to keep trying.

Every month taking the pregnancy test killed me. It was always negative. In 2012, we were referred to a reproductive endocrinologist. We repeated many of the tests and again it was determined my progesterone was lower than it should be. So, I was put on a higher dose of Famara – the fertility drug I was taking – as well as adding in a trigger shot. I then had to go in for ultrasound scans at certain times during my cycle.

Courtesy of Rhonda

After several months of this, they determined my follicles were not getting large enough to release the egg. They knew I needed more progesterone for this but even with the medicine I was taking, it was not doing anything. I was diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility.’ They just didn’t know why my body was not responding. The next step would be IVF. Sadly, the cost and chance of getting pregnant did not sit well with us and we decided it was time to move on and try something else.

Adoption is very common in my family, and I remember asking John how he felt about adopting even before we were married. Looking back now it is interesting that that was even on my mind back then. ‘I just want to be a father, no matter how those children come to me,’ was his response.

In the fall of 2012, we started looking into adoption agencies. I made several calls to various organizations to ask questions and request more information. In January 2013, we went to an informational meeting at Catholic Social Services. Right away I knew this was the agency for us. They cared about both the adoptive parents as well as the birth parents. They were all about compassion and lifelong support. We knew it was the right fit for us and got started on the initial paperwork.

Courtesy of Rhonda

That is one thing people do not tell you about adoption: the amount of paperwork you have to do. We had to have letters from our doctor saying we were in good health, references from non-family members, background checks, and submit our financial statements. We also had to complete a very detailed questionnaire about our lives: how we were raised, how we planned to parent, what our community was like, what our support system looked like, what kind of relationship we planned to have with the birth family… It was a lot to think about and I often wondered if parents who have biological children ever think of these things. Mentally, I felt very prepared to be a mother.

After our paperwork was submitted, we had a home study and were officially entered into the adoption pool with other families hoping to adopt. Catholic Social Services encourages open adoptions, which means the birth family can choose who they want to adopt their baby. We were also encouraged to list our profile on a website that many adoptive families had found success. We were contacted by many birth moms through that site. There were a few times we thought we were matched with a family, only to be heartbroken when they changed their minds.

In January 2014, we were matched with a birth mom who was pregnant with twin girls. We were so excited! We started getting the nursery ready and picked out names we liked. At this point, we had been in the adoption pool for a year and we were more than ready to welcome children into our home — we had already started accumulating baby stuff from friends who no longer needed their gear. We were getting ready to buy another crib and car seat when we found out the birth mom was in labor and she had changed her mind. We were devastated. We had thought it was finally our time to become parents.

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It was four months later when we were contacted by another birth mom.  She had seen our profile online and called to talk to us. Unfortunately, we had missed the call and did not hear her voicemail until it was too late to call back.  At this time, John was working the second shift at GM (General Motors) and I was an elementary teacher, so we could not return her call until after work.

After school that day, I learned that my grandmother was sick and was not doing well. I was emotionally drained and not in the mood to be let down by another birth mom. I texted John at work and he said, ‘You need to at least talk to them and see if we would be a good fit.’  I am so thankful I listened to John because the birth mom and I hit it off and chatted for an hour and a half that evening. She was so sweet, and I prayed she would choose us to adopt her baby. We talked again the next evening and continued to text each other almost every day. Everything about this situation felt right.

The baby’s due date was at the end of June, which was six weeks after our first phone conversation. I was able to finish the rest of my school year and pack up my classroom. I cried that last day as I said goodbye to both my students and coworkers. I loved my job and couldn’t imagine not being there when school started in the fall. I had been teaching there for eight years, and my students were my ‘kids.’ However, even though I was sad, I knew that making the decision to become a stay-at-home mother was the best decision I could make for our family.

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Five days before his due date I was woken up to the sound of my phone ringing at 7:30 a.m. It was a friend of our birth mom saying it was time to come to the hospital. The hospital was almost 3 hours away from our house. We quickly showered and grabbed our bag before hitting the road. We were 30 minutes from our house when we got another call saying her water broke. Panic mode set in and we worried we would not make it to the hospital in time. We regretted taking those showers!  Thankfully, we made it to the hospital 30 minutes before our beautiful son was born. We frantically ran into the hospital and asked the front desk where the maternity ward was. I am sure the receptionist thought we were crazy. We both had the honor of being in the room at the time of birth and John cut the umbilical cord.

We spent the day chatting with our son’s birth mom, holding our baby, and feeding him. I could not stop looking at him. It was amazing how quickly you can fall in love with someone you just met. John and I spent the night in the hospital that night. The sweet nurses set us up in an empty room just outside the maternity ward. When we left to go to our room our son was being held by his birth mom. I have never been more nervous in my life. I was so worried she would change her mind. I do not think I slept much that night.

In the morning, we went to the maternity ward and there was our beautiful boy chilling at the nurses’ station. They said they had kept him overnight and he was a good baby. We spent the rest of the day holding him until it was time to sign the papers and go home. Our birth mom left the hospital before us and we both cried as we hugged goodbye. The emotions I felt that day were a mix of happiness and excitement for us, and yet, sadness for her. I cannot imagine the choice she had to make, knowing it was what was best for her and her baby even if it was breaking her heart.

Courtesy of Rhonda

When it was time for us to leave, one of the nurses came to the car with us to make sure the car seat was installed correctly. She had been so helpful to us in the hospital. ‘Can you come home with us?’ I asked. She laughed and said we would be just fine. I sat in the backseat the whole ride home so I could stare at our new baby’s face. It was such a surreal moment. I could not believe we were finally parents. Six months later we finalized his adoption and we officially became a forever family. It was a day filled with such joy and relief.

We knew right away we wanted to have more children so a year later we got back into our adoption agency’s pool. This time around we did not have many contacts with interested birth moms. I am not sure if it was because we already had a child, or the right fit had not found us yet.

In April 2018, we got a call from a social worker telling us our son’s biological sister was in foster care and parental rights would most likely be terminated, meaning she would be placed in an adoptive home. The social worker wanted to know if we would be interested in becoming her foster parents with the intent to adopt. We were so excited and said yes immediately. When our son’s birth mom heard we had said yes to fostering her daughter she asked if we would be interested in one more child. You see, she also had a son who was born in between our son and his sister. This boy was staying with a relative, but our birth mom wanted him to stay with his siblings and asked if we would take guardianship of him, with the intent to adopt him eventually too. Shocked, and surprised we accepted.

Courtesy of Rhonda

Less than a month later, we had started the process to become foster parents. The process would take a while, but they needed to move our son’s sister sooner than that would happen. So, we had an initial home study for an emergency placement. We were told at that meeting that it would be two weeks until our son’s daughter would come to us, and they did not know if and when the brother would come. I still had all of my son’s baby gear but we needed another crib, so I picked one up from my friend the next morning. As soon as I got home, my phone rang.

It was the social worker. She said: ‘How ready are you for the children? This is crazy, but the judge just signed the order to move your son’s sister to your home today. I’ll be there tonight.’ Wow! ‘That’s not all, we are also bringing the brother too!’ We literally went from a family of 3 to a family of 5 overnight. Suddenly, we had a 3-year-old, A 1-year-old, and a 10-month-old. It was such a crazy transition. Our son’s world was turned upside down and it did take him a while to get used to having other children who shared his toys and his parents’ attention. We finalized our daughter’s adoption in August 2019 and are hoping to finalize our other son’s adoption next month. The journey to parenthood was a crazy rollercoaster of emotions for us, but I am so glad I did not give up those times when I began to lose hope.”

Courtesy of Rhonda

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rhonda from Michigan. You can follow their journey on  Instagram. 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.

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