The only thing I ever wanted to be growing up was a mother. I grew up in a large family and started babysitting for other families when I was ten.

It was not a surprise to me when I got pregnant on the first try. It was an extremely rough pregnancy. I was told there were medical abnormalities with my daughter, and I was sick every day. When I was a week past my due date, the doctor induced me. During the laboring process, my daughter turned transverse, and after a few failed attempts at turning her back, I had a c-section.

We had a perfectly healthy baby girl. After my delivery I felt like I was going to pass out, the nurse didn’t believe me when I told her. I was hemorrhaging and slipped into a coma. Three days later I woke up and was told I had had a hysterectomy and an IV infiltration, and I nearly lost my arm. The doctors left my ovaries in case we wanted to pursue IVF. There was no question in my mind that adoption was our path from that point on. I was talking about international adoption while still in the ICU.

I researched a lot and decided that adopting from Ethiopia would be best for us. Months later we were nowhere close to raising the necessary funds to do an international adoption. We had a hard time believing that we would be chosen domestically since we had a biological child, so we turned our attention to fostering.

We were quickly licensed, and as we were waiting for our license to come in, we were called on a 2 1/2 year-old-girl who would soon be available for adoption. We said yes and waited for our license to come in so we could meet her.

A few months later, this little girl moved into our home and became our daughter. My biological daughter became a little sister. Our girls are only 13 months apart.

Every day my heart fell more and more in love with this baby boy.

Our house was fun and full of life. I no longer feared that my daughter would be an only child. A few months after that, we were contacted about a newborn baby boy who was experiencing withdrawals from every type of drug imaginable. We were told that the birth parents would not have custody since the biological mother had previous children removed, and the biological father was in prison. There was a biological grandmother in the picture, but nobody was sure if she was going to be able to raise this child. We had a rough couple of months since the biological mother would periodically come to our organized visits, but usually, she just didn’t show. On top of all of that, this little boy struggled physically with his withdrawals.

Every day my heart fell more and more in love with this baby boy. At three months old, the day before my birthday, we got the call that grandma was officially no longer a parenting option, and they weren’t considering anyone else to parent. We were told that we would be allowed to adopt him! It was the greatest day! I couldn’t have been any happier.

We still had a lot of legal steps to go through. It wasn’t until six months later, when this little boy was nine months old, that we learned there was a very distant family friend who was willing to take him. The social workers assured me that they wanted him here with us because we were a loving home—the only home he’d ever had. I didn’t think too much about it. After all, this family friend wasn’t biologically related to the child.

I was told not to come to court as it may appear that I was trying to “steal” the baby. I listened to that advice, which is something I regret to this day. The magistrate ruled, against the recommendation of the social workers, that he be removed from us and placed with the “friend” of the family. I was in shock. How could I say goodbye to the son I loved so much? How could I hand him to a total stranger? I did. My heart will never be the same because of it.

A couple of months later we said goodbye to our son, the boy we loved so much. The boy who was so unhealthy when he came to us, yet so perfect and on track when he left. The loss came so intensely and so suddenly that it felt as if he had died. We tried fostering a few more times, but my heart just couldn’t take it anymore.

We looked into a private domestic adoption. We figured that we would have to wait for years. After all, we now had two kids. Again, we started the process and completed it as quickly as we could. Within a couple of months, there was not much left to do but wait.

Once again, as our home study was being written, we were matched. A new mother chose us to adopt her two-week-old little boy! I began calling everyone I knew! And I mean everyone. I was at the park with my daughter, and as soon as I hung up with one person, I called someone else.

Our social worker asked when we should meet, and I said at 4:00 pm. I needed to shower, get ready, find babysitters, etc. A few hours after our call, I got another call from our social worker. This new mother had changed her mind about placing her child with us. The biological grandmother had been strongly against the idea of adoption, but when she came to realize that this adoption was going to take place with or without her consent, she convinced the new mother to choose a family that didn’t have another child.

I was devastated.

Our social worker asked them to please meet us before making this final decision, but they refused.

The baby was placed went with a childless couple, and we went back on the waiting list.

Much to our surprise, we were matched within a month. This time the expecting parents were a couple of months shy of their due date. We didn’t know the sex of the child until they met us. They handed us a card, and I opened it. Inside was an ultrasound picture. It was going to be a boy! I was so excited that I started crying.

Within a couple of weeks, the expecting mother had to go on hospital rest. I visited her as much as she wanted me to, and during this time I fell more and more in love with them. I was so excited that they had agreed to an open adoption because I couldn’t imagine not having this amazing couple in my life.

The expecting parents had changed their minds.

Weeks went on with the same routine. We all knew that the baby could come at any moment, so we were all on guard. Then one day I got a knock on my door. It was our social worker, and I knew what had happened the second I realized it was her.

The expecting parents had changed their minds.

I started crying instantly. She wanted to tell me in person, and she wanted to watch my daughters as I cried. The expecting parents had been told that they may never be able to have another child. They made the decision that was right for them, and I was never angry at them. I was sad for the friendship that we lost (they told the social worker they wanted to cut off contact), and the little boy we never met, but loved so much.

We were once again back on the waiting list.

Two weeks later our foster agency called and informed us that there was a baby girl available for adoption. They wanted to know if we were interested, and we were very excited. We brought home our foster daughter from the hospital that same day. My heart melted, and I never put her down. We had experienced so much loss, and now we had what we had been longing for. We had home visits from the investigative worker, but eventually, our case was handed over to an ongoing social worker. It wasn’t very long afterward that we were told that the biological parents decided to parent, and the state was planning to back that decision. We were heartbroken yet again.

We had been removed from our adoption agency’s waiting list because we were 100% expecting to adopt this little girl. We called our adoption agency and explained the situation. They put us back on the waiting list. I was in total shock when we were instantly considered by an expecting couple. We were one of two couples they wanted to meet. Our agency strongly discouraged them from doing this, but they were adamant. They wanted to meet us both to decide who would parent their son.

On the day of the meeting, my husband and I were so nervous that we became scatterbrained, and locked our keys in the house. My husband had to break a window and climb inside to get the keys so we could make it there in time. We were the first couple they were meeting. They would be meeting the second couple right after us. Our meeting was awkward, great, and funny.

But we left thinking they weren’t going to choose us. We had three girls at home. One of those girls was only a month old. We told them that we didn’t know the future for our foster daughter, but if she ever became available for adoption, we would like to adopt her. They said they were okay with that. We didn’t think they would choose us, but we were still nervous. We didn’t know if or when we might hear back.

We were hoping to have more time to make our decision.

It didn’t take long before our social worker called us to say that they chose us! I was in shock. I was hesitant to tell the foster agency. A couple of weeks later our adoption agency informed us that would need to choose between our foster daughter and the expecting parents’ son.

We were hoping to have more time to make our decision. The expecting parents weren’t due for a few more weeks, but while we were trying to make our decision, they went into labor early. It was time to make our decision. I called the foster agency to fill them in on what was going on, and they told me that we had one hour to make our decision.

We chose private adoption.

I then got a call that this tiny boy was born, but we were not welcome to the hospital that day, unlike we had planned. The biological parents wanted time to bond with the new baby. I am so grateful that my husband has been such a solid rock for me throughout this process. I fully expected a call at any moment from our social worker telling us they had a change of heart.

The following day we did get a phone call. The biological parents were soon to be discharged from the hospital, and they wanted us to come to take over custody of the newborn baby.

The call came. We said goodbye, and the day that should have been filled with total excitement was replaced by a day full of guilty feelings. I saw the pain that our son’s birth parents felt. I knew they were having a very hard time letting him go. We have a very open adoption and we meet many times throughout the year. We talk very often via phone or Facebook.

Adoption is not for the weak. It is a hard road.

Because I am a crazy person, when our son was nine months old, we decided that we wanted a fourth child. Two days after we were officially on the adoption agency’s waiting list, our son’s birth mom called me to tell me she was expecting again. I went over to her house, and we cried and talked. She knew we were waiting for another adoption, and we began talking about her options. I told her that this was a new baby, and she needed to reevaluate everything all over again. She was the one who would need to decide between parenting or adoption. I told her not to tell us one way or the other until they were 100% certain of their decision. Regardless of their choice, we would be there to support them throughout their journey.

We called our agency and told them to not show us until our son’s birth parents made a decision. On Mother’s Day, they called us to say that they had indeed decided to place this child as well. We were so excited, and it was an amazing journey. We all found out the sex of the baby at 16 weeks—another boy!

Adoption is not for the weak. It is a hard road. If you keep your eye on what you want most—to be a good parent—it will work, but maybe not how you thought it would. For the many adoptive parents I know, the path was often hard and never easy, but so worth it.

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