“We thought infertility was our curse. With each appointment, poke, and prod, we hoped to be getting closer to building our family only to be crushed by yet another single pink line, another ‘no,’ another ‘not yet.’ After more than two years of failed fertility treatment, we knew we were on the wrong path. It wasn’t pregnancy we were striving for; it was our children. We didn’t need them to share our hair or eye color, our skin tone, or our blood; we only needed to be able to give them our love. Almost at the exact same moment, we both knew adoption would build our family.
The adoption process is hard and scary. It feels as if every aspect of life is critiqued and questioned; your childhood, health, faith, marriage, finances, and home are all brought out into the light to be deemed worthy or not. The decisions to be made, paperwork to be completed, and funds to be raised feel daunting and impossible. And yet, when it’s your children you’re fighting for, you find a way.
Seven months after starting the adoption process, we were matched with a birth family in St. Louis and, a few weeks later, our beautiful daughter, Willa, was born. She was perfect in every way, more than we could’ve dreamed of for our first born child. She taught us the earth-shattering love of parents and, in mere moments, healed our broken, longing hearts. Of course we only saw single pink lines; we were waiting for Willa!
We spent Willa’s first year of life enamored with her and fumbling our way through the beautiful, hard messiness of parenthood. Willa filled our hearts with such joy and love, but we knew our story wasn’t over and that our family wasn’t complete. We needed to be parents again and Willa deserved the incomparable gift of a sibling. We dreamed of two daughters, sisters. But who were we to be picky? Once again, still scared and vulnerable, we began the adoption journey.
We did the research, made the decisions, gathered the paperwork, completed the forms, and tucked away every spare dollar we could. We cherished our days with Willa, but spent nights dreaming of our second child. What would he/she look like? Be like? From where? And when? The adoption wait is excruciating. Unlike pregnancy, there is no timeline – rather an unnumbered, unpredictable span of time separating us from our dream of completing our family. Days turned to weeks which turned to months with no news and often we felt far away from our second child and wondered if perhaps we should turn around and be content as a family of three. In adoption, nothing seems to happen until suddenly it does.
It all started with a simple Facebook message in mid-December. Amidst a tough season of life, trying to raise her son as a single mother and still reeling from the loss of her daughter to SIDS, she was considering adoption for her unborn child (a girl!) and wanted to get to know us. That message turned into daily text messages and phone calls, an instant connection, FaceTiming through ultrasound appointments, a trip across the country to meet in person, and an unbreakable bond between two mothers: one with a baby in her belly and one with a baby in her heart.
Her water broke at 11:30 p.m. and we got the call at 11:33. She rushed to the hospital while we jumped in the car to rush across the country. Instead of counting minutes between contractions and checking for dilation, I counted mile markers and watched the red line on our GPS shrink too slowly. We were somewhere near the Indiana border when the second half of our hearts was born. The moon was bright in the sky and, though I felt an eternity away from her, I thought to myself, she’s under that same moon! We’re on our way, sweet one! We drove straight through the night, 17 hours, to get to her. Gas and bathroom breaks were the most annoying inconveniences. Our girl was here and we couldn’t get to her quickly enough!
As we walked through that hospital door in New Orleans, my legs were numb and I could feel my pulse throughout my entire body. I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and yet my body and mind were wide awake, fueled by adrenaline and the magnitude of what was about to happen. We took the elevator to the fifth floor and followed the signs to the NICU.
I wanted to sprint as quickly as I could, bust through doors, and knock down anything in my way. We passed doctors, nurses, and visitors all going about their everyday business, unaware of the magic unfolding right in front of them.
We turned the corner, entered a final set of double doors, were instructed to wash our hands. And then there she was. A tiny 6 pound miracle with a mop of dark hair making her way to me from down the corridor.
She was placed in my arms and I knew without a doubt that it had always been her. All of the hard and messy and ugly, for her. The hours of research and mountains of paperwork, for her. The phone calls, interviews, poking, prodding, and questioning, for her. The fundraising and saving, for her. The millions of prayers and tears, for her.
The late nights on an empty nursery floor, wondering and waiting for my turn, for her. All of it for this perfect, precious little girl who, in one itty bitty moment, completed our family, healed my heart, and made us parents for the second time, and Willa a sister. Sweet, sweet Adela. The one we were waiting for. We didn’t rescue her; she rescued us. We’re the lucky ones.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Heather Dickerson, 31, of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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