I’ll never forget that long-distance Skype call my boyfriend and I had; it was when I knew he could definitely be my husband. During this particular long-distance date-made-easy-through-the-internet, I had shared with him the importance of adoption in my future. I smiled when he confirmed adoption was something he saw for his future, too. That began our adoption story.
About a year into our marriage, we decided we wanted to try building our family. We were living off of fundraised income as it was, so fundraising for adoption fees did not seem to be in the cards. Knowing to conceive and carrying a biological child would likely be challenging due to endometriosis and blood clotting disorders, we decided to begin trying.
After about a year of trying with no sign of a baby, we thought, “Why not look into the process of adopting an infant?” We knew we wanted to adopt, and though we were quite ignorant, we decided to dive in. At the time, no one in our community had adopted or been involved in foster care; our exposure and knowledge surrounding foster care was limited, which made us avoid it.
We emailed back and forth with an adoption consultant and were about to sign on with that agency when I found out I was pregnant. (Side note: stop what you’re thinking. I did not get pregnant because I finally relaxed or because we were pursuing adoption. I FREAKING PROMISE).
Due date: November. We told our consultant we would like to begin our adoption process in August, a few months before our biological baby was born.
As we waded through grief and the tiny thousand losses associated with miscarriage, we also picked back up on the adoption process. No matter what happened, we’d pursue both as planned.
A few months later, when my pregnancy test turned positive, I feared our adoption would be put to a stop. I feared people’s ignorant comments. I feared people questioning us, challenging our decisions. I feared never being chosen by a mom making an adoption plan. I feared another miscarriage.
And yet, life continues.
With an unethical job let-go, a big move, a brand new and high-risk pregnancy, and a fresh adoption home study, we took life day by day.
The morning I was twenty weeks pregnant, there was a baby boy born and posted to our agency’s website. Despite our lack of funds to pay the fees, we talked with the agency worker and ended up presenting ourselves to the birth mother. Her son was two days old, she was a few states away, and she hadn’t connected with any families yet.
When our agency worker called us back letting us know she chose us as her son’s parents, my world froze and my heart raced. We have a son in another state who’s been born. I touched my belly and let our other son know he gets to be a brother before he’s even born!
I quickly called all of the grant organizations and let them know of our situation; they had already denied us months ago, but I pled with them to reconsider. And reconsider they did! We were awarded three different grants, one of them a matching grant.
Our family purchased our airfare and travel, people sent gift cards and pizza deliveries, the next week my blog hit record views, and my PayPal filled up to ensure the adoption fees were paid.
Meeting our son and his mom for the first time, right there in her hospital room, was one of the most overwhelming, unforgettable moments of my life. It was then and there that I fully felt the absolute tragedy of what was happening. Breathing oxygen as though it was molasses, I couldn’t imagine what was going through her mind. When we locked eyes for the first time, no words were exchanged, but there was confidence infused with pain that I’ll never forget. She’s the strongest woman I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, and it would be a tragedy to tell our son otherwise.
A few months later, I birthed our second son, giving us the beautiful chaos of two baby boys within five months of one another.
Hey, while we’re here, let’s end the whole “She got pregnant after adopting” myth okay? We had always hoped and planned to do both, and I’m unsure why society is so incredibly hooked on connecting the two. Adoption medically and literally has nothing to do with conceiving biologically. (Read: Adoption Is Not A Means To Pregnancy)
Since the adoption of our firstborn and the birth of our second sons, we have had a total of four more kids in our home through foster care. Two of those four remain in our home, for now.
I often say that I get the best of adoption. Because I do. I get the sweetest end of the stick, and I never want to forget that. As an adoptive parent, I can choose to recognize that and advocate for my child and his birth/first family and the multitude of others living similar experiences…or I can pretend like I don’t, become victim-minded, and be constantly defensive.
Adoption has shown me all the things I thought I knew, but I don’t. It has humbled me and made me courageous.
I hope that I forever sit and listen and learn from others in the adoption community, particularly those living the other pieces of the experience. Moreover, I hope to be an aid in helping restore biological connections and finding ways to mend our very broken system. If I do anything, I hope it is to uplift the voices of adoptees, people of color, and birth families.
Adoption, you are tragic and broken, but I’m unendingly grateful for you. You exponentially expanded our family in endless ways. Thank you.
This is our adoption story.
Watch the documentary created by JAW Creations about the Brenner family here.
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Facebook @NatalieKBrennerConsidering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.