Disclaimer: This story contains details of infant loss that may be triggering to some.
“My life has always been perfectly planned since my earliest memories. I grew up with loving parents. I was the third child, my mom’s baby, and I had anything a girl could ever want in life. My plans and dreams were to graduate college, marry my prince charming in a fairy-tale wedding, have lots of babies, and live happily ever after. I was in control and it would all work out just how I intended it to.
My husband and I began trying to start a family pretty quickly after we married. It was taking longer than expected. A year later, we decided to see a fertility doctor. We tried a few things to get pregnant, but we were still unsuccessful. The next step was IVF. I was bitter about the whole ordeal, but accepted it and gave it our best shot. We expected IVF to work on the first try. Our first transfer failed and then it failed again. On our third attempt, we were successful, only to be devastated at the ultrasound appointment where we learned our baby no longer had a heartbeat. We had to take a break. My husband’s tears in that lonely doctor’s office were like a knife to the heart. I literally wished for God to take my infertility and give me cancer. I told him to take a limb, I didn’t care. I bargained. I pleaded. I begged. We considered adoption. One way or another, all we wanted was to be parents.
Growing up, I had an amazing bonus dad and though I wasn’t adopted, I knew I could love someone else’s child as my own, just as he had done with me. After all, DNA doesn’t make a family. Love does.
The whole adoption process was very overwhelming. After looking it all over, we decided we just needed a break. My greatest struggle through this was all my friends kept getting pregnant and having babies while my arms remained empty. During this time, I found out my young, unmarried cousin was also having a baby. Of all people, why her and not me? I was crushed. It was so unfair. All I wanted was to be a mom. I had everything a child could need which was the complete opposite of my newly pregnant cousin. She could barely take care of herself. How could she take care of a baby?
We finally decided to try one last time with our last two embryos. This was our last option for a family of our own. Surprise! It worked! We were ecstatic, but we were scared. We didn’t tell a soul.
6 weeks into my pregnancy, we got a call. It was my cousin, Krysta. We were 8 years apart and though we spent a lot of time together growing up, we had drifted apart as adults. Krysta was calling me to tell me about her baby. She was about 6 months along. She was also battling addiction and wasn’t making the best life choices for herself or her unborn baby.
I was standing in the living room 6 weeks pregnant with our miracle baby, and she asked me if I’d be willing to help her take care of her baby, due in about 4 weeks. She wasn’t sure if the hospital was going to allow her to bring her baby home. She needed help and I was more than willing to help her.
One sunny Saturday morning, I got a call from my aunt saying Krysta was in labor. ‘It’s a boy, Landon Blake. 6 pounds, 10 ounces. Blonde hair and blue eyes. Perfect in every way!’ Things seemed to have gotten better and it was believed by all of us the baby would be with her. I was now 10 weeks pregnant and everything was going well with my pregnancy. I decided to go visit Krysta and the baby in the hospital that same day. I had already bought a few things for the baby so I took her a diaper bag full of new blankets and outfits. Sadly, the only thing this little baby had were the things I brought him. He didn’t even have a bed or a real home. Krysta didn’t have a car, a job, or even a car seat.
I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on him when I walked into that room as he laid in the clear plastic bassinet. The nurse was changing his diaper and I instantly wanted to hold him. Krysta allowed me to put his first outfit on and then I held him and kissed his beautiful blonde hair. I felt an instant connection with this tiny, little soul. It was a beautiful day and I’m positive that angels danced the night Landon was born.
2 days later, I got a call Krysta had failed a drug test at the hospital and Child Protective Services intervened. They allowed Landon to go with some of her friends that night because Krysta thought CPS would allow her to stay there with him. That was not the case and the placement was not ideal. It was very clear these people were not a good fit. I knew what I needed to do and there was zero hesitation in my bones.
A few hours later, I was on the phone with my husband asking him to go get a baby bed because I was bringing a baby home! I didn’t know what he was going to say. I was terrified he would say no, but all he said was, ‘Okay, what kind of bed do I get?’ He didn’t bat an eye. He was willing and able to do whatever it took for a baby he had never even met. I didn’t know how much I loved my husband until I saw how much he loved that little boy. Neither of us had a clue about how to raise a baby. We were terrified, but it felt right. It truly was love at first sight.
The three of us quickly became a family. It was an instant bond and we both felt happiness and peace we hadn’t felt in a very long time. Krysta would visit Landon as much as she could, but she was in no condition to raise him on her own. She selflessly knew that. She was sad she couldn’t be the mother he needed but was so grateful I could. We met with the bio dad at a jail. I was 4 months pregnant with a 2-month-old sitting behind glass, terrified he would want Landon and fight us over custody. He most graciously said he wanted Landon to be with us and have the best life possible. The biological parents of our son made the most selfless and loving decision to terminate their rights.
I remember calling my mom and telling her how bad I felt. She didn’t have a lot to say. She couldn’t stand the thought of us losing him. I thought this whole time she was protecting me but really, I think she was protecting her own heart, too. She was instantly connected with this baby boy and would have done anything for him to stay with us. She offered to help pay for any adoption expenses and she wanted it to be official as soon as possible. I couldn’t help but notice her anxiety about it all and multiple times, I would tell her it would all be okay.
During this time, my mom and bonus dad were sick, both fighting cancer. Landon was what kept them going. My mom was adamant about a closed adoption and didn’t see the benefit of Landon and Krysta having a relationship. I researched adoption and how to make this as healthy as possible. I read open adoptions are best. Telling the child all along they are adopted, celebrating adoption, and allowing a healthy amount of contact with the bio family. I’ve always had so much respect for Krysta and other birth mothers. The hardest choice in the world is to give a piece of your heart away. I pray my mom found an unspoken peace about birth mothers and adoptions during this time in our lives.
At the ripe old age of 6 months old, Landon became a big brother. Our second son, Jett was born. Our IVF had worked. We prayed to God for one baby and SURPRISE, we got two! Our family is now complete with Landon, Jett, and baby sister Leighton Jane, LJ after her two brothers. She and Landon have a very special bond and he is fiercely protective of her. Landon and his brother are the best of friends. They love hard and play hard every day. Our family was complete and our adoption story had sweet closure … or so I thought.
Life moves on and the world turns upside down at times when we least expect it. Little did I know, life had another surprise in store for me AGAIN involving adoption. Except… I wasn’t the mother this time. I was the sister. Unbeknownst to me, my own mother was, in fact, a birth-mother. I found out I had another sister the very night my mother died. She kept the secret from me for 35 years. As I sat there in total disbelief and mouth gaping wide-open, all of a sudden everything about her feelings with Landon and his adoption made sense. It all came together in that shocking moment. Literally, my mother died and 2 hours later, I was now the youngest of four, not three! I sat there trying to let it all sink in. I had just lost a piece of my soul that night and here she was, giving me a piece of it back. The only explanation for this was divine intervention. It hurt her too much to speak of it, but I felt her saying ‘Here you go, Amanda. You three, go and find her.’
The adoption of her first-born child hurt her so much she never spoke of it and never wanted me to know. I’m going to be honest: It killed me. I’m not sure I will ever get over it. Back then, she didn’t have a lot of choices. I actually wrote a sweet post about Krysta and adoption month a week before my mom died. I pulled it up on her iPad so she could read it. She didn’t say much, but I pray she was able to receive some peace about her child she had given up so long ago.
My sister April did some investigating and was able to locate our long-lost sister. She wrote her a letter a few weeks after we lost my mom. Turns out, we grew up about 50 miles from each other. Somehow, April was able to get enough information from vital statistics. She received a callback! We were pretty sure it was a match based on the birth certificate numbers. Both copies that each sister held had the same number. It was a match! I wanted to be 100 percent sure before I dove in headfirst. I had just lost my mom, and I couldn’t handle any more disappointment. My brother and I decided to wait until we had definitive proof.
4 weeks later, we had the results. It was a match. AncestryDNA was able to show the genetic relationship between us. We were so grateful to have found our sister, but at the same time, we were so sad she and my mom were never able to meet. She looks so much like my mom. The minute I saw her, I knew. I knew deep down this was my sister. We have all met her once individually and once as a whole family. She came to visit my mom’s house and it was a wonderful day. I’m looking forward to our future together and learning more about the wonderful life she lived and the amazing loving family that she grew up with.
Adoption was never part of my plan when I was younger and planning my so-called ‘picture perfect’ life. That’s the beauty of surprises sometimes. You don’t expect the blessings, but once they are received, you wouldn’t change a thing. Things are meant to be this way. I can’t change the past nor the regrets of things that could have been. What I can do is develop a relationship with my sister and move forward with the surprise blessing my mom sent us all the way from Heaven. I was meant to be Landon’s mom and I was meant to find a sister. It’s not very often someone gets to experience both sides of adoption, and I have the utmost respect for bio families as well as adoptive families. It’s so unbelievably crazy to experience love’s greatest miracle twice in two completely different ways. No, it wasn’t my plan, but sometimes the unexpected can actually be the biggest blessings we never knew we needed.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Rucka of Granbury, Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. 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
Read more stories about adoption:
‘Enough. Let’s take a break.’ Having kids wasn’t just a silly dream. I KNEW this was it.’: Woman details infertility and embryo adoption journey, ‘She’s a gift’
‘Any chance you’re interested in adopting a redhead?’ We went from 0 to 3 kids. Two weeks later, we were pregnant.’: Couple battling infertility become parents to 10 after miracle pregnancies, adoption
‘My baby is supposed to be with you.’ I thought it was a scam. She had every right to keep him.’: Couple battling infertility pursue open adoption, ‘It’s been so beautiful’
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