‘This is it.’ I took a deep breath, answered the phone, my heart racing. ‘She is heading to the hospital in labor now.’ We couldn’t believe it, OUR SON. That is what SHE called him.’

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“My husband and I met at a party in 1999 when I was 15 years old. He was my older brother’s friend. We had a fling that blossomed into a relationship that always brought us back to each other no matter what our teenage years threw at us. When I was 19, we moved in together and got engaged. While discussing our future we ultimately decided he would join the navy and pushed up our wedding. We got married in November of 2003 so we would be married before he left for boot camp in the spring.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

About 1.5 years into our marriage my brother and best friend had their first children and it sparked baby fever, so we started trying to conceive a child early in 2005. I always had irregular cycles that also came with crippling pain. A few years into trying we sought medical attention and in 2007 I was diagnosed with PCOS. The doctor did not give me much info about it, which left me feeling very lost. I knew there was something more going on with my body and I kept pushing to get doctors to listen, going so far as to print my research and give it to them only to have it tossed in the trash in the same way they were dismissing me and my health. It didn’t matter to them how many times I ended up in the ER from severe bleeding and pain so bad that even prescription narcotic pain meds wouldn’t help. The depression of infertility and being ignored by doctors while watching everyone around me get pregnant consumed me.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

While this was all going on my husband also deployed, twice. It hit me so hard that I convinced myself that my husband deserved better than a broken wife. I pushed him away in any way I could, and we ultimately separated for about 5 months. Once we worked things out we decided to seek further medical attention and try again. We were at a new duty station and thought maybe we could get these doctors to listen and finally grow our family.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

I did get a doctor to listen and had surgery in March of 2010. That surgery revealed just how bad things were. Turns out I had endometriosis and PCOS as well as the scar tissue from my appendectomy had started to attack my reproductive organs. When we went to my post-op appointment we learned that both of my tubes were blocked and our only chance of conceiving would be in vitro. However, if we explored that route my chances to miscarry would be incredibly high with everything my body had going on. We were devastated, I lost any hope I ever had of becoming a mother. I didn’t want to spend the money or take on the emotional toll of in vitro for just more heartache. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to handle that. I didn’t think adoption was for us. It’s not that I didn’t think I could love a child that wasn’t biologically mine, it was more of a selfish fear. I feared that adopting a child would be a reminder that my body failed me and it would just cause more heartache. So with that news, we gave up. No, I gave up, and lost all hope.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

I tried to convince myself for years I didn’t want children, I even tried to convince myself I didn’t like them. I tried to find the positives of not having children, anything I could do to try to make myself ok. I even saved up while my husband was away for 2 more back to back deployments and we went to Las Vegas for our 10-year wedding anniversary. For a little while the distractions worked… most of the time, but there was still this black hole inside of me, especially when someone announced they were pregnant. Even more when they weren’t happy about said pregnancy, or if the pregnancy came easily to them. There were always those comments about how we should have kids, why didn’t we have kids, we could always ‘just adopt,’ ‘just use a surrogate,’ ‘just get in vitro,’ as if any of those things were that easy. Then there was the time when a stressed out mother said my favorite not so comforting thing ever. ‘You’re lucky you CAN’T have kids.’ I remember thinking I was not lucky, I wasn’t lucky at all. They were the lucky ones. Those words stuck with me and still do, but they have a different meaning now.

Let’s fast forward to March of 2015. Once again going through some depression from what felt like a million pregnancy announcements because no matter how I tried, it always hurt, but this time was different. After about a week of succumbing to my own self-pity, it hit me, I knew exactly how to finally end this cycle of depression. When my husband came home I asked him, ‘How do you feel about adoption?’ His face lit up. As it turns out, the amazing man I married was always open to adoption, he just never wanted to make me feel pressured so he kept it to himself. He hid his urge to be a father and pain of infertility to try to be supportive of me. He didn’t want to bring it up until if and when the day came I was finally ready. Now that we were both on the same page, we needed to decide which route to take. We knew we wanted an infant for our first child so we could have the chance to experience everything from the very beginning. It was decided we would do domestic infant adoption. We researched a few agencies until we found the one that was perfect for us. I had one of my best friends take some photos for us announcing our plans to adopt. We asked our friends and family to help offset the cost and came up with about 1/4 of the money from donations.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

Then the first phase of our wait began. My husband was due for orders so we were waiting on word for when and where we would move so we could begin our homestudy process and start moving forward with our adoption plan. Finally he got orders and in October we moved. In January we sent out the paperwork to begin our homestudy. The next few months would add more bumps in the road. My health issues were flaring up again and I was determined to not have them hold me back anymore. I spoke with my new OBGYN and explained my past and everything I had been through and what the future held. We discussed what options I had, and it was decided I would have a hysterectomy. This nightmare my body put me through would all be over and I would never have to look at another negative pregnancy test again.

We waited to go active with our agency and in April 2016 I had surgery. I couldn’t wait to be healed and finally be able to finish our adoption profile and paperwork and go active with our agency. Unfortunately due to complications, I ended up with an infection which prolonged my recovery, but I knew once it was all over that everything would get better from there.

While we waited for me to recover we started putting together a nursery despite the fact people urged us not to. They said things like, ‘It’s not a sure thing.’ They didn’t understand that preparing the nursery was what gave us hope, it was the closest thing to nesting we would have. We didn’t know if it would be days, weeks, months, or even years, but we did know that someday we would finally bring our baby home. Adoption IS a sure thing, you just don’t know how long it will take.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

Finally on July 7, 2016, we became an active waiting family with our adoption agency. We were excited, nervous, and scared. We had heard stories of people getting a match within a few days and we had heard stories of people waiting years. The days went by and became weeks which turned into months. Every single time the phone rang I jumped thinking this could be it. As time went on the wait only got harder. Why weren’t we being chosen? What was wrong with us? Are we ever going to be parents? These are the things that went through my mind.

There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed, days I cried in our empty nursery when someone else said they were pregnant or someone else in the adoption group I was in got the call. It’s not that I wasn’t happy for them, it’s that I was jealous and wondering when it would be our turn. My husband kept telling me, ‘Our time will come.’ He never lost hope. The holidays came and it got harder, I was so sure we would have gotten the call by then. That New Year’s Eve I didn’t want to celebrate, I went to bed early refusing to bring in the new year because when we started the adoption process I was so sure we would be parents by the end of 2016.

Then it was January. Our homestudy was coming up on needing it’s 1 year renewal. I stopped jumping every time the phone rang letting myself settle in for the wait. On January 20, 2017, we were driving to my brother’s house to spend the day there and as we were turning onto his street, my cell phone rang. I looked at my phone and see it is a call from the state our agency is based in. My husband and I both look at each other, smile and squeeze hands. ‘This is it.’ Then I took a deep breath, and answered the phone with my heart racing. ‘You’ve been matched and she is heading to the hospital in labor now.’ Hearing those words, nothing prepares you for that call. We sat in my brother’s driveway getting the details in disbelief of what was unfolding.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

A few hours later we got the call saying, ‘It’s a boy,’ and we were so happy. My mom and I went to the store and bought a few outfits just for him. Things couldn’t be unfolding any more perfectly. Our son was born on the other side of the country about 30 minutes from my uncle. My uncle used air miles to fly us out there and offered us his spare vehicle so we wouldn’t have to rent a car. Later that evening the baby’s birthmother was nice enough to send us a few photos and called him ‘our son’ while we texted back and forth thanking each other for what was unfolding. It felt that much more real. We couldn’t believe it, OUR SON, that is what SHE called him. We rushed home that evening and frantically started packing, way too much as first time parents tend to do. We had to use space bags to make things fit. We flew out first thing in the morning.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

I remember the entire flight staring at his picture and listening to the song ‘A thousand years’ on repeat. I was a ball of nerves. When we got to the hospital her oldest son and his father met us at the elevator. Her oldest son is who chose our profile. He picked us for his baby brother, and I will forever be grateful for him and his mother. We got to the room and she held him for a moment and then said, ‘I would like you to meet your son.’ I was the first to hold him and looking into his eyes for the first time I couldn’t help but cry and tell his birthmother how thankful I was. We stayed in the room with her a few hours getting to know one another and then the hospital gave us a room next to hers. We got to bring our son with us and finally have some time just the 3 of us to take it all in. I remember feeling like I have never loved anyone more in my life, but also feeling guarded and scared.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

The next few days I would go through a million emotions, love, happiness, fear, sorrow, everything. I was still trying to guard myself from the love I was feeling as she had not signed her parental rights over yet so I was still scared something would change. The day we checked out of the hospital was the most beautiful and heartbreaking moment. We went in to say our ‘see you again someday’ to his birthmother. I gave her the blanket I had made her that matched one I had also made for our son. We both kept telling each other thank you over and over again, and we all cried. Then we got to leave the hospital with our son.

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

We spent the evening in the hotel taking it all in. The next day we went in for his checkup while we waited for news from the lawyer that she had officially signed the papers. I remember the relief I felt when we got the news she signed, but my heart still broke for her as I know it was not an easy thing for her to do. That night I finally let myself feel all the love I was guarding out of fear things would change. I held my son for hours crying tears of joy. I remember telling my husband, ‘It’s all over. I feel like I can breathe again. This weight I carried for years has been lifted.’ We were finally complete. Like I said before, when that stressed out mother said to me, ‘You’re lucky you CAN’T have kids,’ I didn’t see it then, but she was right. Not being able to have kids the traditional way is what brought me to my son, and for that, I am so thankful. This is the path that was chosen for me. It wasn’t easy, but everything worked out the way it was meant to and now I get to be the mother of the most perfect little boy.

Abbeigh Blake Photography
Abbeigh Blake Photography
Abbeigh Blake Photography

There is a quote that many know and love by Jody Landers. ‘A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.’ Those words could not be any more true than if I had written them myself. I strive every day to be the best mother I can be, not just for our son, or for me, but for her, our birth mother. I will forever be grateful to her for choosing to place him for adoption, and to his big brother for choosing us.”

Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders
Courtesy of Jessica Saunders

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Saunders. 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.

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