“The average domestic infant adoption takes 9 months from the completion of the home study to placement. Ours took 24 days. I still marvel at how fast everything moved. After three and a half years of infertility – five failed IUIs, one miscarriage, and one failed IVF round – we were prepared for the long haul. Adoption was on our hearts long before infertility was our reality. For us, it was always another path to parenthood, not a plan B. But infertility had steeled my heart. I learned to be cautiously optimistic, to control what I could and let the rest go. Only a week after learning IVF had failed, we contacted our adoption lawyer for the first time.
Shots and ultrasounds quickly made way for background checks and paperwork. With so much time being poured into prep, I took a leap of faith and put in my two-week notice at work. We prepped for our home study, and I spent nights scouring photos of my husband, Josh, and myself throughout our relationship. We compiled those photos onto a single page, which was to be accompanied by a letter to expecting parents, our lives compressed onto one sheet of paper. We shared where we were from, how we came to live in Hawaii, what our passions are, what our families are like, and who we hoped to be as parents.
But our introduction to expecting parents wasn’t this sheet, it was a newspaper ad with just 16 words: ‘Adoption. Hawaii couple promises baby loving home. Best education, outdoor sports, travel, devoted grandparents, gentle pets.’
I remember finding it odd we would place an ad in a newspaper when most of our lives were digital. It felt straight out of a movie. We often joked about Juno and the Pennysaver, and unlike the couple in the movie, we didn’t even have a picture. Our lawyer warned we may not get any calls the first time the ad was run, but she coached us on what information to ask for if we did. The first few unknown numbers I answered were your usual spam or wrong number, but then came the call we were waiting for.
I will never forget that day. It was September 18, just a few days before my last day of work. I was picking up lunch at our favorite smoothie place while Josh was at the vet with our dog. My phone rang, and I just knew. I quickly found a place to sit and answered. I was anxious and excited, I tried to be helpful but not pushy. It was as if the world melted away while we talked. Adoption is always born from loss, I knew this, but it became all the more real while talking to someone grappling with the decision of placing.
Over the next few days, we learned several things: the expecting family was located in Oregon, the baby was a girl, and she was due in just two months. Had IVF worked, our child would have been due in March 2020. Instead, there was a possibility we would be parents in November 2019. At this point, we had completed our adoption training and our home study had been started but was not complete. We worked with our home study agency to ensure it would be ready for this potential placement, but there was one small hiccup. We were headed to Europe.
My amazing marathoner mother had qualified for the Berlin Marathon and my family decided to make a trip out of it. We had been planning this trip for the better part of a year and visited Berlin, Hamburg, and Amsterdam. It is a trip I will never forget, but one of my favorite moments came while sitting in our hotel room in Hamburg. We had just returned from a canal cruise and, due to the time difference, we had a planned call with our lawyer and had to grab a taxi to make it back in time. Our lawyer shared more information about the expecting family and asked if we would like to pursue this adoption. Just like that, we were matched.
We spent the rest of the trip enjoying the sights but also planning what we would need to do when we got home. We returned to the US on October 10th. Josh continued home to Hawaii, and I stayed in California with my parents for a few extra days. While in my childhood home, I sorted through baby items with my mom, hardly believing things I wore twenty-seven years ago may soon be worn by my daughter.
When I returned home, we hosted a virtual baby shower, knowing the placement was not a guarantee. It was a tough decision to make, and one we grappled with, but many friends and family wanted to celebrate and support us, no matter if the items gifted were for this child or for one in the future. The outpouring of love was incredible, and I’m so grateful for everyone’s respect and understanding through that time of tentative joy.
In mid-October, I got a message from the expecting family stating they wanted us to choose a name for the baby. My heart was bursting. Each day, it felt more and more likely this child would become our daughter. Ultimately we decided it was important for her to have names given by all of us. We chose her first name, Amelia, and they chose her middle name, Susan. As Amelia’s arrival drew nearer, our relationship continued to deepen. We saw Amelia for the first time via ultrasound pictures, and they asked us to come to Oregon for her birth.
There were several indicators Amelia would arrive ahead of her November 19th due date, so we struggled in choosing when to travel. I had a friend’s wedding in California in mid-November, so I decided to go and stay with my parents until we knew more. ‘Fly safe, I love you. The next time I see you, we might have a baby,’ Josh said to me.
Shortly after, Josh and I met up in Oregon to wait together. Amelia’s due date came and went. On November 23rd, they decided to induce, so we booked a hotel closer to the hospital and met the expecting family for the first time. They invited us to their hospital room where we brought them dinner. That night is one I will always cherish. We shared stories, joys, and fears, and created a lifelong bond, regardless of their choice to come.
The next morning we woke early, anxious, and excited for the day ahead. I could only imagine what the next few hours would bring, being invited into the delivery room, and holding her mother’s hand as Amelia came into the world. As an adoptive parent, I had no expectations of witnessing my daughter’s birth, and the honor of being allowed into that space is not lost on me.
‘It’s really happening! She’s here and she’s safe, honey, we’re parents!’ I was prepared for my connection with my daughter to take some time. She had been a ‘maybe’ and a ‘someday” for so long, but the first time I held her, it was instant love. I couldn’t stop smiling or staring at her, I wanted to memorize her every feature.
We spent three days in the hospital and another three and a half weeks in Oregon before being cleared by ICPC to return home to Hawaii. Because Josh had come to the mainland before Amelia’s due date, he had to return home and to work without us. Thankfully, both my mother-in-law and my mother were able to help me in those few weeks alone with a newborn, struggling being away from my partner and my home. However, our flight home was just Amelia and me. The best advice I got for flying with a baby is to bring an extra change of clothes, for both of you, and it’s okay to ask a flight attendant to watch the baby while you use the bathroom. Because poop explosions on a plane? That’s just Murphy’s law.
Amelia is now eight months old and is learning and growing every day. She is crawling and standing, has two teeth, and her personality is truly beginning to shine. Amelia will always know about her adoption and her story, the details of which are hers alone to share. While she has brought us incredible joy, we know she may not always have positive emotions about her adoption. It’s important to us to leave space for her feelings, whatever they may be. We continue to learn and challenge the ethics in adoption, as is our responsibility as adoptive parents.
I’ve had many people tell us how lucky Amelia is, but that’s not it at all. We’re the lucky ones. I cherish every day I get to be Amelia’s mom and am grateful for the relationship we have with her birth family.
If you are considering adoption, I encourage you to follow all members of the triad (birth families, adoptees, adoptive parents) on social media. Come to these spaces with an open mind and take the opportunity to listen. Challenge your agency’s or lawyers’ ethics and advocate for expecting families. I’ll be there, alongside you, continuing to learn.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lia Garcia from Honolulu, Hawaii. You can follow their journey on Instagram and their YouTube channel. 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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