Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day filled with love. And the love a mother has for her child is unlike no other. Whether that mom is a biological mom, adoptive mom, or birth mom, the bond between a mother and her child is something that will always exist. Our road to adopting our oldest son felt like it really started on Valentine’s Day nine years ago. That was the day we met the woman who was going to grant us the privilege of becoming parents for the first time. But like any great love story, everyone must have their ups and downs.

We had driven down the night prior and stayed in a hotel to make sure we would be on time to meet the expectant mom who had chosen us. So that morning we got up, forced ourselves to eat some breakfast despite our nerves, and walked around the nearby mall just to distract ourselves. We met for lunch at a cute little Italian restaurant perfect for a Valentine’s Day meal.

We were super nervous, my husband and I, her mom and her, even our caseworker who had driven four hours for our meeting. We brought photo albums to share and show her a little more about us than just our profile. The ‘real’ photos, not the ‘we look perfect for our profile pics.’ We discussed our lives more in depth and learned a lot about what her family was like. (Surprisingly scarily similar to ours!) We talked about how we came to choose to adopt and how she came to choose to make an adoption plan. No tears were shed that meeting, but they were very close to the surface the entire time.

After about two hours we parted ways. We felt great. The meeting had gone much more smoothly than we could have expected. We genuinely liked the expectant mom and her mom. Our families had a lot in common and we very much seemed on the same page as far as our expectations of openness and what the future would hold. We drove away feeling optimistic that this woman may choose to place her son with us.

We started the 4 hour drive home. About 2 and a half hours in to the drive it was getting close to dinner time and we were getting restless. We decided we would stop further down in DeKalb and go to a restaurant we both knew from visiting friends there during our college days. We finally got in range of local radio stations, so we turned off the CD we had in (yes, CD, not an iPod!) and tuned into a radio station. That is when we heard the news. Just in, there was an armed gunman on the NIU campus and reports of shots fired. Everyone was to avoid the area and stay in their rooms.

We listened in horror as reports came in. Not only was it a horrible story, but we had family in attendance at the university. We didn’t know if any of our family was injured or if they were safe. As we drove by the exits leading to the campus, we were numb. And as we looked back on the joy and positivity we felt during lunch and it now seemed like a dream. As optimistic as we had felt earlier, it seemed like this had to be a sign that things weren’t meant to be.

We arrived home and unpacked. We got news from our family that all were safe. In the end the gunman had killed six people including himself. It was senseless. And seemingly unexpected by those closest to him.

We didn’t hear from the expectant mom for a few days. We wanted to give her space because the visit was emotional for all of us (in more ways than one it turned out.) When we did we expected to hear that she was having second thoughts. To our surprise she felt even more strongly that we would be the right family for her baby and she wanted us to come down again and meet her dad, brother, other kids and grandparents. We scheduled the visit without hesitation. And we agreed that this time, we would bring snacks and listen to CD’s the entire way…