New Jersey residents, Matt and Sue, were introduced by a mutual friend who was also Sue’s college roommate. After a time, the two got married, became a family, and wanted to expand their family. Sue had always wanted to adopt, likely stemming from her passion for diversity, inclusion, kindness, and giving back. The close relationship she forged with Matt’s daughter from a previous marriage, Sophia, made her even more sure. Matt was also excited by the idea, and adoption was the option they considered seriously.
Sue and Matt began the process of trying to adopt. With the help of an independent social worker who specialized in adoption, they set out to explore different agencies to learn about their options. They came across Adoptions From The Heart (AFTH) and were drawn to the agency. AFTH’s breadth and reach, placement ratios, and supportive staff are what sealed the deal. AFTH social workers Kyra and Jess went above and beyond throughout the process; they were quick to answer any questions the couple had along the way, offer professional advice, or even just provide support.
One Monday at 3:45 p.m., Sue received a call that was going to change the rest of their family’s lives. Their AFTH social worker Jess asked Sue, “Are you sitting down? You’ve been placed and you have to be in Chesapeake, Virginia, tomorrow by 2 p.m., and you can’t be late!” Sue exclaimed, “What!?” followed by a lot of questions and excitement. Even though social workers advise adoptive families that their placement can occur anytime, when the call actually comes, adoptive families are filled with excitement and jitters every time. In other words, they go into full “parent mode.” Jess advised Sue to book a hotel, gather their things, and to start driving as soon as possible. However, there was one problem: Matt was traveling back from New York City after taking Sophia to a doctor’s appointment. Sue immediately called Matt with the exciting news and told him to hurry home.
On the Move
They went to Target and purchased a bassinet, diapers, wipes, etc. The pair filled the car with all of the baby essentials. Sue’s father stepped in to help and booked them a hotel in Virginia to stay at while on their journey. After all their running around, they finally set out to Chesapeake, at 4 a.m. By the time they were approaching their destination, they realized the car was filled to maximum capacity and couldn’t fit the baby. They quickly stopped at the hotel to check-in and drop off their things to make room for the baby.
At 1:58 p.m., just making the 2 p.m. scheduled time, the couple arrived at the AFTH agency in Chesapeake. They walked in and heard crying and knew that was their baby girl. Their new baby girl, whom they named Lily, was placed in Sue’s arms and immediately threw up. “When she threw up, I knew she was mine; it sealed the deal,” Sue laughed. Aside from Lily’s welcoming introduction, Matt and Sue were amazed by how beautiful she was. “Her inner beauty radiates her outer beauty,” said Matt and Sue.
Back to the Hotel
Under Virginia adoption law, the birth mother has the right to change her mind and regain custody of her child within the first seven days after giving birth. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or ICPC for short, puts a delay on traveling over state lines for a period of time as well. Therefore, Sue and Matt had to stay in Virginia for those seven days, living in the hotel with Lily. When Sue, Matt, and Lily returned to the hotel, they immediately spoke with the hotel staff about why they suddenly had a newborn in their care. The hotel staff was floored by their story and took a third off of their hotel bill. The hotel’s sweet efforts didn’t end there. Multiple times a day, staff members would knock on their door to check in on them and offer their services. One day later during their stay, they were called down to the hotel’s main floor. Upon arrival, they were in awe of what they saw. The hotel staff set up an entire baby shower for Sue, Matt, and Lily. They provided them with gifts, food, and balloons to celebrate their new family member. The hotel knew their seven-day stay was a stressful time considering the Virginia adoption law. They wanted to make the family’s stay special and to help alleviate their stress.
Home Sweet Home
The seven days came and went, which meant Lily was officially apart of Sue and Matt’s family. Lily had quickly bonded with the couple, and the three of them traveled back home full of excitement. They were particularly eager to introduce Lily to her new big sister, Sophia. The family has transitioned into life as four, and they enjoy every second of it. They like to take Lily out to the park, festivals, the beach, the farmer’s market, basically anywhere where there are family-friendly activities. Lily is a social butterfly, who smiles and waves at everyone, and loves to make people laugh. “Lily has your personality!” said a friend of the couple. “That just tells you how friendly and goofy we are,” said the couple in return.
Like most parents, Sue and Matt have thought about future advice to give Lily as she grows older and experiences life. “Have the confidence to know who you are and be who you are. Also, always know you are loved and supported.” Sue and Matt are very passionate about ensuring that Lily completely understands that she is adored and holds an important part in their family. “Even though she didn’t grow in my belly, she grew in my heart,” said Sue, who has become an advocate for adoption in her personal and professional life. The Fortune 500 company that Sue works for was chosen by the Dave Thomas Foundation as one of America’s 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces. In turn, her company chose Sue as its Working Mother of the Year, an honor Sue uses to spread the word about how wonderful and rewarding adoption can be.