This is a piece written for us by a member of the infertility, loss, and adoption community.
My name is Lindsey and my husband’s name is Jim. We met at work and fell in love. We always knew we wanted kids. He is one of five kids and I am one of four; we only knew big families! We got married and started trying to have a baby right away. We knew we were meant to be parents and wanted three or four kids. Good plan, right? No.
We tried, month after month. We tried everything! Take Mucinex, take aspirin, no sugar, stand on your head (okay, not really). Every month we were disappointed and discouraged. All of our friends were getting pregnant left, right, and center—why not us? So, we went to see a reproductive endocrinologist. We had everything tested. I went on a strict diet and took several medications to improve our chances of success. Nothing. I had surgery to remove endometriosis. When I came out of surgery, my husband had to tell me that I had a bicornate uterus. This meant that there was a septum in the middle of my uterus. It was the worst news I could have received. There was not a good chance of a healthy pregnancy. I was devastated but I also wouldn’t accept it. So, we had 10 IUIs and two rounds of IVF. The IVFs were so hard. The doctor made it sound like we really had a shot. But once our embryo formed, it just died. Every time. Maybe on day three or four, or even on day five. But they all died. We were heartbroken.
I kept going back to knowing we were meant to be parents. This had to happen, right? What to do? Adoption! I was excited and scared, my husband was hesitant. Would it feel like our baby? Would it be the same? What if the birth parents changed their mind? What about the cost? Would our families accept this baby?
I made an appointment with an agency and we met with a woman named Hillary. When we walked into her office, she had a whole wall of baby pictures. I knew we were in the right place! She told us that she only did open adoptions. Open? No. We wanted closed. She gave us some books to read and a home study checklist and we went home to think about it. Jim and I panicked, and then we researched. Open adoption means that the adoptive and birth parents know each other. We learned that it is better for the child and their self-esteem long term. So, we agreed. We completed our home study (which included being fingerprinted at the police station for a background check, creating budget worksheets, reading several books, and having a home inspection). It was a long process. We also made a book about ourselves for birth parents to look at when they were picking adoptive parents. We second-guessed everything! We wanted to “look” perfect, but settled for being ourselves.
Then it was time to wait. Just work, save money, be sad, and wait. That was probably the hardest time of our lives. Putting ourselves out there and then waiting for someone to pick us was so hard. We put our story on the website for our agency. We had our books at every adoption attorney in the area. Wait. Wait. Wait. After a year of waiting, we were very discouraged. Then came The Call!
“A baby! Due in six weeks… The birth mother is in North Carolina and she wants to talk to you… Don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl… There isn’t much prenatal health information… Are you ready to be parents?”
We were so ready! There were a number of red flags, but we didn’t bat an eyelid. That night, my husband and I wired money to a networking agent (a middle man between agencies) and talked to the birth mother. She was shy, scared, nervous…and so was I. She had a thick Southern accent that I could hardly understand. She’d had several other kids that had been taken away or adopted by family; she wanted to meet us before the baby is born. We got the baby room going, ordered furniture, bought a car seat and some clothes, and booked our flight to meet her.
She was beautiful; I felt like I had known her forever, but also, like I didn’t know her at all. She had a lot of secrets, some drug-related, that she didn’t want to talk about. I was okay with that. We had an understanding that if she didn’t want to tell, I would not ask. Jim and I flew home, glad that we had met her but also exhausted by the emotions of everything. Two days later, she was in labor, so we headed back to North Carolina to meet our baby. It’s a boy! We weren’t there when he was born, but they took some pictures right after. We heard him cry over the phone for the first time. As soon as we held him, we knew he was ours!
Reality set in quick. The birth mom signed away her rights and checked out of the hospital just 12 hours after giving birth. As soon as she was gone, the nurses and doctors let Jim and I know that the baby had drugs in his system and was going through withdrawal. His heartbeat was high, his respiration was low, and he had a cleft palate which made feeding him difficult, sometimes impossible. We were grateful he didn’t need to go to the ICU and never needed Methadone, but he cried for almost a week straight. We were mad that the birth mother would do this to him; he wasn’t even a day old and someone had already hurt him. The silver lining was that the only way to get him to stop crying was to do skin-to-skin, which jump-started the bonding process! My husband and I had to stay in North Carolina until paperwork was filed in both states, so we took turns in the hospital. Our son was almost always lying on one of us. He was our miracle, and we were going to fix it.
Finally, the paperwork was completed and we could go home. Our families couldn’t wait to meet him; everyone was so supportive! We had showers and “sip ‘n’ sees,” days filled with complete happiness.
We had our son’s cleft palate repaired when he was a year and a half. He had speech therapy to help him use his mouth correctly, but hit all of his milestones early. We mailed pictures and letters to his birth parents once a month. They would call if they needed to talk, and I could call them if I had a question. We were Facebook friends. Then, one day his birth mom posted a picture of herself with a very pregnant belly. I couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t she tell us? Was she mad at us? I emailed her to say we would be open to adopting the new baby. I let her know that I trusted her decisions, but we were open. She emailed back saying yes!
Baby #2 was due in a month. We dusted off the car seat, moved furniture, prepared for travel, and savored our last few weeks as a family of three. It was another boy! This time was so much less scary: We knew what to expect. She knew what to expect. He did have drugs in his system at birth, but never went through withdrawal. He has been a happy, chunky baby since the day he was born!
Brothers. We have two sons and, biologically, they are full brothers. It’s amazing to me. These boys have healed our hearts in every way imaginable. At first we were worried it would be weird having children that weren’t biologically ours, but it’s amazing! They surprise us with their spunk and energy every day! Everyone says they look just like us, but I see their birth mother’s eyes in their eyes, and their hands are their birth father’s hands. I am so glad I know their birth parents so I can tell them these things. They love to hear their birth stories, but they don’t like to talk to their birth parents. I think it is just too much for them to process at ages two and four.
Our family is complete! We went from thinking we needed three or four kids to thinking we wouldn’t have any to having two amazing kids that I couldn’t imagine life without. Adoption is amazing and so is the human heart…full of forgiveness and love. Now, you’ll have to excuse me: “Superman” (Baby #1) needs help with his cape and “Captain Cold” (Baby #2) is potty training!