After a difficult five year struggle with infertility, we felt God directing us to adoption as His plan for the creation of our family. Adoption was a brand new concept to us and we started this journey with many questions, much uneasiness, and a fear of the unknown. We didn’t know anyone who had gone through adoption and had no idea of what to expect the process or the results to be. After some research, we were connected with New Life Adoptions. Our church had supported the ministry and some people we talked to were very complimentary of the amazing work they did.
After attending an informational meeting at New Life and receiving a packet of information and forms, we found ourselves overwhelmed, apprehensive, and unsure of what we were getting into. People around us tried to give words of encouragement and “counsel”; however, as we learned from our infertility struggles, these words often had the opposite effect of what the person had intended. We truly felt like we had ended up in some distant world, a world no other person had ever been in or understood.
Our first home study meeting with our social worker (Amy) started a process of great change for us and our hearts! At that first meeting, one of the questions we were asked was about our feeling towards openness. As we were infantile in our understanding of adoption, we had not heard this term before. Amy explained to us that many birth mothers were choosing to remain connected to their children’s lives somehow. She shared that sometimes birth mothers are interested in simply a regular exchange of pictures and letters. And, she added, some birth mothers are interested in being more in their child’s life, maybe including picnics during holidays or other types of gatherings.
We thought we would go to the hospital, pick up a baby, and return home to live our lives happily ever after.”
This concept really rocked our world. We started this journey with thoughts of us going to a hospital and picking up a baby, not much different than picking up a package at the post office, and returning home to live our lives happily ever after. Now, this woman is talking about birthday parties and regular gatherings. Needless to say, we were very resistant to the concept of “openness” at first. Fortunately, Amy was patient and prayerful and she moved us through a process of understanding all the possible benefits that openness could bring to the birth mother, the child, and us if we were open to it. With the voice of the Holy Spirit (and Amy’s encouragement), we agreed that we would be open to some level of openness, possibly even including a meeting with a birth mother prior to or after the baby was born.
After completing the long process of getting our home study completed and approved, we received a call from Amy telling us an 18-year old birthmother (we’ll call her D) liked our profile and wanted to meet us. Knowing this was part of God’s plan and knowing He was in charge of this, we agreed to meet D. The drive to our dinner meeting (not to mention the days leading up to it) were the most nervous and uneasy we had ever been (or have been since). How awkward is this going to be? What would we talk about? Would she like us? Would she choose us? Again, Amy and D’s social worker did a great job of making all of us feel at ease and God’s hand was so clearly present in that time for us. We left feeling an oddly good connection with her. Fortunately, D felt the same way and chose us to parent her soon to be born child. No words could describe our exhilaration at this news and the prospect of becoming parents after such a long and difficult journey.
The arrangements were made and, after one additional meeting with D and our social workers, everything was set. At the end of the second meeting, we all had agreed our openness plan would involve pictures and letters a few times a year and no visits. This seemed very agreeable to us and now we were simply waiting for the baby to be born. We didn’t know then that God had different plans for us. During our meetings with D, we found out that D’s family was not supportive of her adoption plan and felt she should choose to either parent the child or abort it. D felt very adamant that she could not provide for the child as much as she felt was necessary and was not very interested in abortion. However, her family was unconvinced that adoption was a good option.
Around the time the baby was due, D went into labor (which ended up to be premature labor) and was admitted to the hospital. We received a call from Amy telling us D was in the hospital and would remain there for a day or two while they tried to induce the labor. Amy also told us all of her family members refused to be with her at the hospital because they didn’t agree with the adoption plan. The Holy Spirit clearly prompted us that D could not sit in that hospital room, during this difficult and scary time of her life, all by herself. We went to the hospital and ended up sitting with D for three days before Marcus was born and three days after he was born prior to his being released from the hospital. During this time, God really gave us an invaluable chance to get to know D, and her us. Although this was not at all part of our plan, it was a great sign of how our plans are not really important. After taking Marcus home from the hospital, we exchanged pictures and letters with D for a while. Eventually, we stopped hearing from her.
While we would very much like to see her, talk to her, find out how she is doing, and let her see how wonderful Marcus has turned out, we have respected her lack of contact and continue to pray for her and hope that someday we will see her again.
Our next child’s birth mother has represented an even different dimension of openness. We met with this 15-year old birth mother (we’ll call her M) and her parents (we’ll call them B and C) a couple times prior to the baby being born. We felt an immediate connection and comfort with M (and with B and C). Our openness agreement with M involved pictures and letters and expressed a willingness to do visits if everyone agreed to it. Wow, how God changes things! After our second child, Kadie, was born and prior to leaving the hospital, we had a beautiful entrustment ceremony facilitated by our social workers (Hannah and Kiley) where M symbolically placed Kadie into our hands. It was a special and impactful moment for all of us!
We have remained very connected with M and her family since. M visits a few times per year and we have a wonderful time with her. She invests in all of our children and has been a great addition to our extended family. We also became close to her parents. In fact, when M’s father passed away after a courageous battle with cancer a few years after Kadie was born, Brian was honored to be asked to speak at his funeral. Again, God’s plans are better and sweeter than our plans. We expect we will remain close to M and her family for many years to come and look forward to growing with her.
By the time it was time to meet the 16-year old birth mother (we’ll call her N) of our third child, we certainly had learned our job is to be open to God’s plan and to sit back and let Him be in control. We met N twice before Raegan was born and had a good connection. N visited a number of times after Raegan was born and we continued to try to encourage her as she worked to get on her feet. Eventually, we stopped hearing from her, although we do get small glimpses of how she’s doing on Facebook. Again, while we’d very much like to see her, find out how she’s doing, and let her see Raegan, we continue to respect her lack of contact and pray for her and that we will see her again when/if the time is right for her.
One additional thing God had in store for us with Raegan was adding a foster family to our extended family. Because N actually chose us after Raegan was born, Raegan was placed in the home of Mary and Wally, foster parents through New Life. We visited Raegan (and Mary and Wally) once or twice a week for three months until Raegan came home. They were so encouraging and gracious to us and definitely represented a wonderful connection that we were able to make during this journey.
We had no idea that God would make birth families such a crucial and special part of the adoption process.”
Our adoption stories have taught us that adoption is a process of vulnerability, faith, and hope that God has something better for you than you could have imagined. It is a wonderful thought to think God trusts us with these little lives for a time here on earth. What a huge responsibility! Adoption, for us, has allowed us to not take children or time for granted. We waited and prayed so long and so hard, we know now what a precious gift we have been given. Our connections with our children’s birth mothers, although varied, have been a very important part of the thread of our family. We have photos of all three birth mothers hanging on our wall with the pictures of those that are important to our family. We had no idea that God would make birth families such a crucial and special part of the adoption process. We cannot fathom going through this process without the wisdom, compassion, encouragement, and prayer of our social workers at New Life – Amy, Hannah, Kiley, and Britta. We were humbled to have our social worker rejoice and celebrate with us when our child was placed in our home for the first time. We are now praising and thanking Him and doing our best to honor the unspeakable gift of selfless sacrifice of our birth mothers by how we are raising our children.