Many people have asked us to share our story because they or someone they know might be interested in adoption. So here is a very shortened story.....
After two miscarriages and multiple more attempts to get pregnant, Michael and I decided to truly pursue adoption. We felt and even talked about adoption before we were married many times. I have been going to Guatemala to work in an orphanage for years and felt like I would always adopt a child from Guatemala. I love the country and the people. Michael felt similar tugs at his heart to Ethiopia. So the decision was really a dream of ours from before we were married.
So when we began to explore the adoption process we started initially speaking to some people about international adoption. Late this past summer, I began spending hours online researching adoption agencies, policies, countries policies, and emailing and calling many random strangers about their story. There is quite a community among adoptive parents and once we entered that community it was amazing how people from one side of the US to the other are connected.
After spending a month or so praying and exploring, Michael and I (about the same time) realized that domestic adoption might be the best route for our family at this point. We knew for sure that the best chances of us adopting a newborn would be domestically but really knew nothing about domestic adoption or if it was even feasible for us (financially and with my cancer history). But I began moving in this direction and in September really spent a lot of time researching what domestic adoption was about, US laws, the process, and educating us on everything we could possibly learn. The more we researched, the more we prayed, the more we felt like this was the journey we should take at this time...we still feel like international might be in our future.
After talking to many strangers about their adoption journey, meeting with adoption attorneys here in Mobile, calling and speaking in depth with agencies, going through adoption preparation teleconferences, we decided to go with a consultant. We were very close to signing up with two different agencies and I really feel like the Lord steered us away from this. I believe now that it was exactly his plan and I feel like he protected us from months if not years of waiting, and too much financial risk and even fraudulent activity in the adoption world. There are so many positive blessings with adoption, but unfortunately so many negative things that go on as well in the adoption world.
But, we were still excited and knew this is what the Lord had for us. We officially began the process the first week in October and had our first homestudy visit October 6th. We did fingerprints and background checks the next day. We had our follow up homestudy November 3rd and were homestudy approved in mid November. We actually had our first potential situation or as Michael and I referred to them as "potential opportunity" the very day we were homestudy approved and exactly a month into our process. So many people ask about the paper work and we had heard so much about the mountain of requirements, but honestly it was not that bad. We thoroughly enjoyed doing it together. We gathered the entire paperwork requirements and composed all the documents we needed in about 4 days.
We had many different "opportunities" come our way and were matched for the first time in mid December with the baby due on December 24. We were thrilled beyond words and began on a mad dash to prepare a room for a little boy. We were about 9 days out from the due date when matched so it really was a race. We painted and moved furniture out of the room. We had nothing in our house except one Auburn onesie that was a size 12 month for a child. But, with my moms help we were ready to go with newborn clothes within a few days (or maybe hours) and had the room at least painted. We ordered furniture that would be in after the first of the year and got our travel system ready to go...
But, the whole time we were preparing we just did not have a good feeling about the people we were working with. We could not get straight answers and were left waiting for days on answers to some very specific questions. About 5 days before the due date, we were told the adoption would not be going through. We were devastated. Honestly, I believe it was just as hard but very different than having a miscarriage. Michael and I cried hard and often for days. Our hearts hurt in a deep way but we knew that we were still suppose to continue on this journey. The Lord had the perfect child for us in mind. About 4 days later we were called about another situation that dealt with a child that had been born that was medically fragile. Our hearts were immediately pulled in another direction and once again felt that by walking through this process the Lord protected us. We had a hard time getting exact details on this little baby's medical condition and were told a doctor was going to pursue adopting this baby as well. This was good for us in because we felt like our hearts were still healing.
Over the next 3 weeks, we had another situation that we thought was perfect and were matched and once again things did not fall into place. But through all of these situations, deep within us we did not have a complete peace that these were totally right. But, on January 26th while waiting to hear on two other opportunities we got a phone call. I was actually in the car with my boss on the way to lunch when the phone rang from an agency that we had loved talking with the past month. They told us about a little boy that was due Feb 14 and would like to present our profile book to the mom (this is the process with a domestic adoption) but they felt we would be her top pick. I got off the phone and immediately called Michael and told him and when I was getting off the phone I told him that this was it... I really think this is it. Well two days later they called and said we were matched! It was an amazing feeling because it just felt right.
After the phone call, we were told that there was lots more paperwork and they would email and call us on Monday. We were so excited to be able to tell family our great news and had the weekend to share. Michael painted the room again for the third time (light taupe to pink to khaki as the color changed with ever potential match we had) and we had the furniture in so we set it all up in the nursery. We bought bedding and had the nursery together within the next week. It was SO MUCH FUN. Our birthmom went to the dr on the following Wednesday and we were told her due date was moved back to Feb 23. This made us a little nervous as I was leading a trip to Guatemala on March 5th and wanted to be back in Mobile with my family after clearing ICPC. So the wait continued. We got updates every Wednesday so the next Wednesday we were told she was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. We were excited and told to get ready however the birthmom hung out for 10 more days at this exact place. We continued life as normal but keeping a close eye on plane tickets. We could tell you every flight from Mobile, Gulfport, and New Orleans to Salt Lake City throughout the day.
On Feb 13, we slept in and decided at the last minute to go to church. After church we were going to lunch with some friends to our usual Mexican restaurant and as we were walking in the door my phone rang. As soon as I saw caller id, I knew what the call was. Our social worker said the mom was in labor and she had progressed so quickly that they took her to a closer hospital. We immediately left the restaurant and headed home to find a flight. We knew the schedules and it was going to be hard to get there without driving to New Orleans. Instead of trying to book online, Michael called Delta and there was a flight that did not show up on any of our searches that left in 3 hours. As soon as we walked in the door to our house, we got the call that our son had been born. He was 6lbs 2 oz and 18 in long and we were told he was absolutely beautiful. We were thrilled but in a mad dash to book hotel rooms, rental cars, and flights and get there to get our arms around him. It went so smoothly. We packed and left for the airport with three very large bags, the stroller, and infant seat and base, a boppy seat, and some pillows. We were a sight to be seen as we walked through the airport but we were on our way. It was a very long 8 hours. People on the planes were excited for us as they all asked about all the stuff we were taking. All the way there people gave up their seats so we could sit next to each other. Not much was said between us other than we are parents and how excited we were but the smiles could be seen all over us!
We landed in Salt Lake about 9:30pm and had to wait about 30 mins for a rental car and then we were off. It was very dark and in a part of the country we had never been but we had a GPS. After about an hour drive we arrived at the incredibly nice hospital around 11pm to meet our son. The hospital and their staff could not have been nicer and made us feel so comfortable.
They wheeled in Mills and he was absolutely the prettiest baby I have ever seen. It was an amazing precious moment that I will never forget. I was sacred.
The social worker and agency in Utah were amazing. Everything went as smooth as we could have ever dreamed. Mills was released from the hospital and into our arms 24 hours after birth.
Many people ask how long our process lasted.. For us, from start to Mills being in our arms, was a little over 4 months. Yes this was fast. Unfortunately for some the wait is months to years. I don't know why it was so quick. I believe that the Lord had Mills in mind for us and we are grateful for the journey we traveled. I would love to help talk to anyone about our story and share everything we know. Adoption is a beautiful thing and we are blessed to be parents.