I wish I could give you all a nice bulleted list of the mental checklist I had as we navigated adoption, but I can’t. However, I CAN tell you about three situations and how we almost became parents twice before we found our son.
Less than three weeks post home study approval we had contact through our caseworker. The expectant mother was in her 40s and the baby had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome but otherwise was healthy. This situation was coming from an outside agency that reached out to ours looking for couples who said “yes” to special needs children. We were blown away that we were approached so quickly and in the honeymoon phase of adoption, but were quickly pulled into reality when we started to research raising this little one. To be honest, despite being around 30 at the time, I felt naïve and wildly unprepared. There was no way we were ready emotionally for a special needs baby. In addition, the expectant mother wanted an openness that was more like co-parenting. In the end, we knew we couldn’t give her or her baby what they needed.
Mere weeks after the first contact we received contact from another expectant mother. She was expecting a boy and he had been diagnosed with Dandy Walker Syndrome. We went into research mode. I called my doctor and asked what he knew and what I could expect. He made a comment that stung and told me basically that he wouldn’t proceed. You see, Dandy Walker Syndrome isn’t very well known and there is such a wide spectrum of how severe or mild it can be. We knew Little Man would likely need a shunt to drain the fluid in his head and it was possible that he could pass away. If he survived birth, he would likely need a high level of care that I didn’t feel capable of providing.
Ty was all gung ho and ready to move forward, but every time we discussed this little boy we would end up in an argument. I began to feel resentful of Ty, yet yearned to meet this boy and be a mom and love on his birth mom. Ultimately, it came down to us reflecting, praying, and talking to each other and our caseworker to determine we weren’t this little boy’s family. There were so many things he would need that we didn’t know if we could provide. It broke my heart for us to say. He was placed with a couple who had older children—and the mom was a nurse. She had all the right training and was perfect for this little man.
I still think of these amazing birth moms and little ones all the time, and I hope they know someone out there is praying and loving them from afar.
Now that you know why we didn’t, lets talk about why we DID.
After numerous failed adoptions, we were at wits’ end. To be honest, I began researching surrogacy with embryo adoption. I’d priced it out and was okay with moving forward. Then “the” email came from RW. It was brief and to the point. We emailed back and forth asking questions and trying to get to know each other. After a short amount of time she invited us to her 20-week ultrasound! We were floored. Had she chosen us officially? Oh, we didn’t even care, we wanted to meet her and were honored that she was allowing us to be there. The doctor’s appointment fell on my birthday (which she didn’t know). We were all kinds of nervous and when we got to the doctor’s office, I remember telling Ty, “Do you think I’m nuts? I just want to give her a big hug!” He laughed and smiled at me.
From the moment we saw RW, everything was “familiar.” She felt like an old friend or a family member I hadn’t seen for a while. So did her sister. As the appointment progressed, we were introduced as the adoptive parents and welcomed by the staff. In the ultrasound, we got our first look at our son, LT. My heart swelled, and I knew he was our missing piece.
We continued emailing and texting, and one morning she told us she was in the hospital and we’d better head down. When we arrived, we rushed to give RW and her family hugs and waited until she invited us to meet LT. When we got our first look at him, it felt like my soul recognized him. As if it were saying, “THERE you are! I’ve been waiting for you for so long.”
There was never a moment when we felt confusion or questioned if we could care for him or have an open adoption with RW. From the very first second we knew that we would love her as much as him and we could honor her and make good on any and all promises we made to her and her family. Since placement, we have taken any chance we get to see them and have warned them on multiple occasions that they’re stuck with us because we’re family. Not “birth family” or “adoptive family without genetic relation,” but FAMILY.
I know I can’t be the only person that had those “ah ha!” moments where you absolutely KNEW it was right, so please share with me how YOU knew it was meant to be.