Single 24-Year-Old Adopts Siblings Born Addicted To Drugs

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Researching Adoption

“On January 9th, 2020, I got THE call that would forever change my life. Let’s rewind a little bit to January 2017 when my partner at the time and I were researching all of our options to potentially adopt in the near future.

We were looking at homes and planning which rooms could be nurseries. I was so ready for it all. However, my partner had other plans…with another woman. I felt my entire world come crashing down.

I had to not only grieve our relationship ending but also the loss of a future I had dreamed of for so long.

smiling adoptive mother wearing grey long sleeve and teal polka dot scarf with glasses
Courtesy of Kathleen

Fast forward to January 2018. I woke up on New Year’s Day with the sudden realization that I spent an entire year feeling sorry for myself.

Why did I waste so much energy feeling sad about a relationship that was never that great in the first place? Why did I put my life on hold? Why am I waiting until I find the ‘right one’ to become a mother? Wait…can I do this on my own? Can I provide a loving home without a partner or father for my child?

Heck yes, I can! I am a strong independent woman who has longed to become a mother her entire life. I CAN DO THIS!

The research began. First, I had to figure out what type of adoption journey I was ready to take. I went to an informational meeting to learn more about foster care adoption.

As much as I wanted to adopt every child we heard a story about, I knew I was not emotionally ready to take on the goal of reunification. My heart kept leading me back to Domestic Infant Adoption.

I was only 23 at the time, and there was only one agency in Michigan that would work with a single parent under the age of 25. I officially began the process by attending orientation in February 2018. From there the paperwork started.

Holy smokes, the paperwork! Background checks, fingerprinting, physicals, drug testing, financial statements, etc. I purchased books, attended webinars, and started following social media accounts that represented different adoption journeys.

white baby onesie with domestic adoption parenting guide book sitting on top
Courtesy of Kathleen

Adoption Process

My biggest task was preparing for the home visit. Anyone that has experienced an adoption home visit will tell you not to worry about cleaning and organizing every inch of your home. The social worker will not check to see how dusty your shelves are, or look to see what you have stuffed into the junk closet.

However, when you go through this process, you feel like you have to do everything perfectly in order to live up to the highest standard and be approved as a parent in the adoption world. The only goal of the social worker is to make sure your home is safe and full of love.

In May 2018, I successfully made it through my first home visit. I cleaned every inch of my home, wore a special dress, and even made some tea and snacks for the social worker. Adopting as a single parent, I felt like I needed to try even harder to impress her. When it was over, I could finally breathe and relax. That didn’t last long…

baby nursey for adoptive daughter with grey, white, and blue accents
Courtesy of Kathleen

The following months consisted of more paperwork, meetings, classes, and countless phone calls with my social worker. In August 2018, I was finally approved as an adoptive parent and placed on the waiting family list. The key word here is ‘waiting.’

I’m sure some families luck out and are chosen quickly. However, I knew I was going to be waiting awhile. Most birth families looked at my profile, saw that I was single, and moved on.

I completely respected them for it. They wanted what was best for their child, and nine times out of ten that required a two-parent household. I kept myself busy setting up the nursery while I waited, and waited, and waited…

In May 2019, my social worker called. A birth mother in Chicago chose me to adopt her baby boy due in July! The next day I talked to Mama T on the phone for over an hour. She invited me to meet her in person and attend her next ultrasound appointment.

That night, I bought my train ticket to Chicago. I was able to see Baby Boy’s face on the ultrasound and hear his strong heartbeat. I immediately fell in love. Mama T asked me to come back for her delivery.

My mom and I made plans to travel to Chicago a few days before Mama T’s induction date so we could catch up with family and settle in before the big day. Up until travel day, Mama T and I were in constant contact. I told her about our travel plan and invited her to lunch.

Then, she suddenly stopped replying to messages. My calls went straight to voicemail. I reached out to the local agency branch, and they hadn’t been able to get ahold of her either. The induction date came and went. We never heard anything else from Mama T.

We assumed that she chose to parent her child, but felt shame telling me. That was 100% her choice. Of course, I was heartbroken. Grieving a child that will be raised by someone else, and was never really ‘yours’ to begin with is a very weird process.

I took about a month to work through things with my social worker, and then went back on the waiting family list.

My profile was shown many more times, but no one chose me. I started to fall into cynical thinking. ‘This is never going to happen for me,’ I said to myself. The rest of the year was kind of a blur. I went through the motions. Emails from my social worker no longer felt exciting or hopeful. I didn’t decorate my house for Christmas because why bother?

On January 6, 2020, I received my first email of the year. My social worker was asking if I would like my profile shown to Expectant Parent E. After reading through the details, I said yes (like I always did) and moved on with my day.

This was the 20th time my profile was shown. I wasn’t jumping at every phone call or obsessively checking my email. I was now trying to embrace the ‘it will happen when it’s meant to happen’ mentality.

Welcoming A Baby

On January 9, 2020, I was going about my usual day. I finally checked my phone and saw a missed call from my social worker. She left a voicemail saying she had an important update and to call her back asap.

My thoughts started racing: ‘Wait, was this really happening? Did someone choose me? Don’t get too excited, it might not work out. Holy smokes, take a deep breath and call her back!’ Expectant Parent E chose me!

On January 15, 2020, I met the birth family of my future children. I was so nervous, but we quickly connected and felt comfortable with each other. Mama E was due any day at that point. She didn’t know if the baby was a boy or a girl, so she asked me what names I had in mind.

I told her my first choice for a girl is Roselyn because my middle name is Rose. She gasped and said her middle name is Lynne! It was meant to be! We exchanged numbers and left lunch feeling confident.

Adoptive mom in green sweatshirt holding newborn adoptive daughter on chest
Courtesy of Kathleen

On January 28, 2020, Rosy was born! This beautiful baby girl was going to share the middle names of her birth mother and adoptive mother. I immediately felt so much love and respect for Mama E and her family for choosing an adoption plan.

I could sense their love for Rosy, and the pain of knowing she wouldn’t come home with them. I truly started understanding the beauty of open adoption.

Rosy was born dependent on substances, so she was admitted to the Special Care Nursery with a plan to treat her withdrawal symptoms. Mama E’s family was there often to check on Rosy and support me through the process. I knew I wanted to try my best to maintain this relationship for the sake of my daughter and her entire birth family.

Adoptive newborn receiving treatment through tubes in hospital
Courtesy of Kathleen

Navigating Parenthood

After Rosy came home, the real journey started. I was navigating doing this whole parenting thing without a full-time partner. I luckily had the support of my family and friends who rallied around me during the hard times.

Rosy was in and out of doctor’s offices trying to work through some more lasting effects of her withdrawals from birth. Basically, her neurological and GI systems hadn’t quite caught up to where they were supposed to be yet. She couldn’t regulate her temperature, and she could barely keep a bottle down.

At around five months old, I started seeing some major improvements. She was crawling, babbling, eating solid foods, and getting into everything! I finally started to settle into parenthood so I could relax and enjoy it all.

In August 2020 I received a phone call from Mama E. She wanted to tell me she was pregnant, and she didn’t know what to do. We talked through all of her options and I said I would support her through whatever decision she made. At the end of the call, she asked if I would please consider adopting this baby. I almost fainted.

Rosy was only six months old at the time. Part of me wanted to say yes right then and there, but I knew I needed to stop and think about it for a few days. After about a week, I told Mama E yes! I couldn’t deny the opportunity for Rosy to have a biological sibling in our family.

So, the paperwork and home visits began again…

Adoptive mom playing with toddler daughter wearing a pink shirt and rainbow flower headband
Courtesy of Kathleen

On September 9, 2020, Rosy’s adoption was finalized! We didn’t get to have a big fancy day in court. We woke up, got dressed, and logged into Zoom to meet with the judge. When he declared that I was officially Rosy’s mom I started crying.

I was not expecting to be emotional because I knew I was going to do the process all over again next year. The only way I can explain the feeling is my heart felt like it was going to burst. I waited so long to be blessed with this beautiful baby girl, and now she shared my last name on her birth certificate.

Sibling Birth

The excitement started building as I thought about adding another sweet baby to our little family.

It was very surreal to be a part of Mama E’s pregnancy from the beginning. I was trying to help take care of her and send her meals whenever I could. Now that I was simultaneously trying to care for my future child, I may have gotten a little carried away.

It was amazing to be able to see those early ultrasound pictures, and even better when Mama E called to tell me it was a boy! It all started to feel very real.

ultrasound of baby boy before he is born
Courtesy of Kathleen

On March 11, 2021, Anthony (AJ) was born. With Covid cases back on the rise, Mama E could only pick one person to be there with her for the C-section. She could’ve chosen her mother or her boyfriend, but she chose me.

With visitor restrictions, she wanted to make sure I was able to see AJ right away in the Special Care Nursery. It was so beautiful to be in the room supporting Mama E while witnessing my son’s birth. A few hours later, I was able to see him in the nursery.

When I walked in I immediately recognized one of the nurses who took care of Rosy the year before. Thank goodness Nurse Michelle was there when AJ’s withdrawal symptoms started. She held me as I sobbed watching his fever spike while he had uncontrollable tremors. They started the morphine treatment an hour later.

adoptive mother in blue mask with newborn resting on chest
Courtesy of Kathleen

I really struggled to compose myself and find a way to help support Mama E while she was recovering. There was a deep anger inside of me after seeing AJ struggle, but I knew she was struggling too.

I mustered up all of the compassion and grace I had in me so I could balance being there for both Mama E and AJ. About a month later, AJ came home from the hospital and we started this journey as a family of three.

Adoption Journey

Needless to say, navigating two kids under fourteen months wasn’t a walk in the park. My best friend and casual boyfriend at the time, DJ, was coming over almost every weekend to help. He would do dishes, take Rosy to the park, or rock AJ to sleep so I could shower or take a nap.

I kept falling more and more in love with him, and things started to get more serious between us. He treated my kids as if they were his own. DJ moved in with us a few months later and became a full-time dad.

On November 4, 2021, AJ’s adoption was finalized. Rosy, AJ, and I now shared the same last name and officially became a family (on paper). I remember feeling such a sigh of relief. My adoption journey was over.

All of the paperwork, meetings, home visits, and adoption fees were behind us. It was finally time for me to enjoy my family to the fullest instead of worrying if there were going to be any more hiccups or red tape to jump through.

toddler sister sitting with newborn baby brother sleeping in lap
Courtesy of Kathleen

The beauty of open adoption is that this didn’t mean my children’s birth family was no longer in the picture. They became an extension of my own family. While it can be difficult to navigate at times, I will always try to make sure the connection between us stays strong.

In June 2022 I got to marry my best friend, and my children were able to be a part of it. There is something amazing about the way life works out in exactly the way you need it to sometimes.

There were many challenges along the way, and I questioned my choice at times, but once I met my children all of those doubts and fears melted away. Every folder of paperwork, every hour of training, every stressful home visit, every bump in the road… every single minute of waiting was worth it because it led me to my two beautiful children.

I wouldn’t change a damn thing!”

adopted brother and sister wearing matching red thing 1 and thing 2 onesies
Courtesy of Kathleen
adoptive mom getting married to partner under wedding arch with adoptive children
Courtesy of Kathleen

This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Kathleen of Michigan. You can follow her on Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

Read more stories here:

‘Don’t you want a child of your own?’ I do have a child of my own. She’s our child in every sense of the word.’: Mom shares grief and anxiety in international adoption journey

‘You need to place our child for adoption.’ How could he ask me to do that? I was totally alone.’: Birth mom becomes part of son’s adoptive family, ‘The moments we share are priceless’

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