Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Miracle #8-Coming Home

Hi ! My name is Sandi and I met my husband Scott in 2004 . We fell in love and got married in 2005 . We always wanted a family and it was not happening so we started seeking out other options . We did research and decided that we wanted to think about the possibilities of IVF . After much consideration we decided to not do IVF at that time . We waited for awhile and then we started looking at an Adoption Agency . We applied and got approved to go to the next step of being invited to an orientation day . We wanted to start right away but needed to wait for the next one a month away in February 2012. We went through orientation and then started working on our paperwork . We thought oh no how will we ever finish all of this in a timely manner . We worked hard every day to accomplish this and waited for our homestudy . Our homestudy came quickly and then we waited some more . We got our official approval letter 3 weeks later after fingerprints , homestudy , and orientation and paperwork were completed . We were now working on our family profile for expectant families . We were beyond thrilled and started working on things for the nursery . We were told we would most likely be parents in 12 or 13 months . This was the best news !! We waited and waited ! Finally after about 11 months our profile was shown for the first time , but wasn't chosen . Heartbroken , we wanted to know what we had done wrong and why the birth mom didn't like us . We were told it was not us and that the right birthmom would chose us . It was many more months before other opportunities would present itself, but those didn't work out either . We did our homestudy again as it had to be done annually and thought we were getting closer but not yet . Finally, we got a call in December of 2013 that a birth mom was choosing between us and another couple . My heart just pounded out of my chest . She was a mom with an 18 year already and had some health complications and they were not sure if she would make it through delivery . We all said a prayer for mom and baby . We were asked by birth mom's counselor to provide a few more details about us and she would be deciding soon . After 2 more weeks we got the call that we had been chosen to be parents to a sweet baby girl in May . So we waited and prepared and were just so happy we couldn't stand it . Right before the baby was due we had to do another Homestudy Update because it had been another year . We found out the next morning and about one week before the birth that this was a boy and she had not been honest about health or anything and was not going forward . We were devastated . It was so painful but we ended up moving forward and then received our baby girl from the hospital in June !!! Our caseworker called us and asked us if we wanted to come pick up our daughter that afternoon !!! After a few delays we had our baby girl at 5 days old home with us !!!! This baby girl is our family and I truly love her and her birth mom with all my heart !! I hope one day she will want to meet us and meet our sweet girl that we both love and cherish . Hopefully, she will see we all have a part in this amazing little girl's life who is now 17 months old . I get so excited to send pictures and updates and cherish the day when I get the message that birthmom has picked them up and cherishes them as much as us . After the long wait and failed match our little miracle is finally here where she is the light of our lives!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Miracle #6-Adoption saved my life

Being adopted saved my life. It made me become a different person. It made me give up the notion that no one cared for me. It made me realize what family really was. It made me have to become something. It changed me for the better. This is my adoption story. 

My brother and I were not born into the greatest circumstances. Our birth mom was addicted to drugs and as such we were not properly cared for. At about 3 and 4 years old my brother and I were taken from our family and placed into the system. 

When I tell people my story they always mention how hard it must have been being in foster care. For me, I have never thought of it being hard. Instead it was a way of life. It wasn’t weird that every few months I would change homes, every few months I would have a new mommy and a new daddy, every few months I would I have new brothers and sisters. To me it was just a way of life. 

When my brother and I were first put into foster care we were placed together for a time, but it didn’t last, eventually we were split up. I still remember a lot of the foster families that I stayed with. I dont remember them all by name but I remember them by memory. There’s the family that took me hiking in the mountains, the family that built snow caterpillars with me in the winter, the family that took care of me when I had the chicken pox, the family that took me on a picnic, the list goes on and on. These families will forever be branded in my memory for their kindness towards me. I admit that not all memories were good but the majority of them were. To this day I am still friends with two my foster families and I love them so very much. 

When I was about 7 years old a woman named Lisa came to visit me while I was at one of my foster families. I had heard that she was going to be adopting my brother Jacob. Little did I know she would be the last person that I would ever call mommy. I was adopted in December of 2000. 

My adoption story didn’t end there though. My parents spent many moments helping me to get through the trauma I had been through in such a short life. I dont know how many times I yelled at them to take me back to the agency and that I didn’t need them. I remember one specific time when I was about 8 years old, I was standing in the hallway of my home completely furious. I didn’t think about what I was saying and I yelled at my mom that I didn’t need her and she could just take me back, her job of taking care of me was done. I remember she looked at me deeply and said, "Taija we are never going to take you back! This is your home now." That memory still means so much to me. I realized then that my parents were in it for the long haul. No matter what tantrums I threw or mischief I caused I was theirs, forever and they were mine.  

The purpose of my aunt’s blog is that adoption is an option. I think many times people may think that there is no way they could be so cruel to give up their child for adoption. The thing is giving up a child for adoption is not cruel and it definitely does not mean you don’t care about them. In fact, giving your child up for adoption when you know that you don’t have the means to provide the life you wanted for them is one of the greatest sacrifices you can make. I am where I am today because I was adopted. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Miracle #5- A Hidden Pregnancy

 This is my story about adoption. Well, it’s PART of my story that is now 16 years long and still going! I haven’t shared much about this over the years. It is an experience I’ve kept fairly closely guarded, discussing updates over the years with family and a few close friends.

A Hidden Pregnancy

I had a religious upbringing. Not the picture perfect family, but what family truly is? My father left when I was only a few years old. Three days after my seventh birthday my mother married my stepfather and I became the youngest of the six kids that marriage blended together. We were active, church-going people. As the youngest, I maintained the stereotype of being outspoken and attention hungry. I was also a people pleaser. I never wanted to be the cause of contention in the home. I was, and still am, a very hardworking young woman who pulls more than her own weight and rarely complains. 

I was a natural leader at a young age. I even held the role of class president within my young women’s group at the time I got pregnant. I did my best to uphold that outward appearance as a good girl, loving and trustworthy. I was, as far as everyone else knew, a really GOOD girl. Looking back now, I know I WAS a good girl, I just lost hold of good judgement from time to time.

I remember feeling an enormous amount of guilt when I’d behave in a way that was contrary to my good reputation. After all, I had been taught that I shouldn’t have premarital sex. I honestly believed in abstinence then and do even more now. I was crippled with fear that I might have gotten pregnant (I lived a sheltered life but I wasn’t completely stupid!) I told a couple of my closest friends that I felt bad about the situation and was hoping for some support as I worked to right my wrongdoing. Instead, one of my friends snapped and chastised me, asking me how I could be so stupid and careless. How could I have done that?! 

I felt ashamed and empty inside. I was disappointed in myself and did not want to let anyone else down. So, after another month passed, lapsing what should have been my “time of the month,” I went into absolute denial that I was pregnant. I didn’t tell a soul. I literally sucked in my stomach from the moment I woke up, until my head hit the pillow each night. I stopped eating regularly. I worked at a frozen yogurt shop and some days all I would eat was a little cup or two of white chocolate mousse. 

Every ounce of effort I could muster went into hiding my shame and my growing bump. I felt hopeless. I felt completely worthless. I was overwhelmed with depression and painfully alone. Only my boyfriend, the baby’s father, knew I was pregnant. I cut myself off from the world and for someone with my personality style and love of attention and friends and chatter, it was awful. Complete emotional torture. 

The mindset I was in was one of the darkest places I’d ever been. The very thought of telling anyone put an un-swallowable lump in my throat. There was just no way I could bring myself to do it. I would never have believed that anyone would support me and love me through the process. Why would they? I didn’t even love myself. 

Going to Planned Parenthood

When I felt the baby moving inside my belly I had to, at least to some extent, come out of my cocoon of denial for moments at a time and consider the magnitude of the situation I’d gotten myself into. I still had no inclination to tell anyone close to me that I was pregnant, but I had heard of a place I could go. As a scared, lonely, overwhelmed young woman with nowhere to turn, I headed to Planned Parenthood. After all, this wasn’t MY plan and I needed some guidance to determine what all my options were. 

Naively, I went into the clinic, expecting a myriad of options and hoping for a listening ear from someone who was in the business to help women like me. 

I filled out my forms and waited for a short while in the lobby. There were a handful of other women in there, all avoiding eye-contact with each other. 

It wasn’t long until I went back into the exam room. I’d taken a pregnancy test in a bathroom in the hall on the way back and passed it off to an employee. The woman did an ultrasound with no volume on and the screen turned away from me. She was nice, but not very conversational. She excused herself for a few minutes and returned to inform me that I was measuring at almost 22 weeks and that I was farther along than what they would normally terminate. 

The word made my heart sink and my mind race. I hadn’t been considering aborting the baby, and honestly, I wasn’t really sure what was involved with it anyway. She explained in very basic terms how the procedure would work and that they would need special approval to move forward if that was what I chose to do. I could FEEL the baby moving in my body. For me, personally, I absolutely couldn’t choose to abort this baby. What I needed was some information about how to get through the duration of the pregnancy. I left without any offer of prenatal information, and the option of adoption was never mentioned. 

Devastated, and just as confused as ever, I went back into my cocoon and focused on surviving each day as it came to me. Often times I was so mentally checked-out that I felt like I was standing outside of myself looking in. I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t know how to exist as this sham of the girl I once was. I was positive that if I opened up to anyone I would be judged and ridiculed. In my mind I had failed my family, and friends, and church leaders because I wasn’t the perfect, happy, picture of righteousness they all thought I was. I couldn’t bring myself to let them down or to burden them with my troubles. 

I graduated high school five months pregnant. I kept myself very busy, working two full time jobs. I dressed my expanding body in the frumpy work uniforms and blah late 90’s fashion. I enrolled in college. I tried to pretend everything was normal. 

Somehow, miraculously, I kept everything under wraps. Just as a few friends were starting to question my weight gain, and wondered why I was declining all invitations to gatherings it happened. I went into labor. 

In the wee morning hours of Sept 29th, 1999 I began having contractions. I’d been sharing a bedroom in my parents’ house with my older sister, sleeping on the top bunk for the duration of the pregnancy. I carefully, quietly climbed down and curled up on the bathroom floor and waited for what I was certain would be my own grisly death. Even while I was in labor I spent a good couple of hours convincing myself this was all a terrible dream. 

At long last I finally gave in. I was in so much pain. I’d moved myself to the hallway floor and readied myself for the world to end. I called out for my sister. She came out of our room and stood over me in a panic and yelled, “What’s wrong?!” I told her I needed her to take me to the hospital. I was having a baby. 

A Child is Born!

At 8:58am, a 7 lb 2 oz baby girl emerged into this world. I had never seen something more beautiful in my life. She was strong, and healthy, and heavenly. I felt a rush of emotions. I looked at her and was consumed with love. I stared at her intently. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

When the nurses were talking to me about the baby it finally came up that I wasn’t planning on keeping her. I felt in my heart that she wasn’t mine. They assumed an adoption was already arranged and complimented my decision to choose adoption. When I told them I didn’t have a family picked out the wheels started turning immediately. 

I was the talk of St. Luke’s maternity ward when they heard about the girl who hid her pregnancy and was just now picking out a family! 

The adoption agency was quick to respond to the call, and I had a delivery of family profiles in my lap within a couple of hours. 

I carefully read through them and looked at the photo collages. I had no idea how to pick a family from this mountain of strangers, but I forged on. When I finally came upon the profile of my baby’s family everything changed. I felt a surge of emotion again, and a very distinct calmness wash over me. I knew they were the right family!

Everything moved fast from there. She was born September 29th and placed in the arms of her parents on October 3rd. The intimate details of those few days are very precious to me. Those moments I had with this sweet baby are burned into my memory. I can still feel the warmth of her tiny body as I held her late at night in the hospital. I can picture her big dark eyes looking right into mine. We have a very special connection. 

Moving On

After my daughter was placed for adoption, I quickly went through the motions of moving on. I tried diligently to go on with my life and swept the experience into a quiet corner. My private little corner. I never wanted to bother other people with bringing it up even though I thought of my baby daily and wanted to talk about her often. I journaled a lot. And cried. And broke up with my boyfriend. 

I hate that it is referred to as “giving up” your baby for adoption. That sounds so negative. It sounds like defeat. Unless we can give it the modern “Pinterest” style angle of up-cycling an item and repurposing it for future use. That is a definition I can get behind. My choice to “give up” my baby was truly giving her an upward opportunity for life that I couldn’t give her myself. It was the life she was meant to have. And she completed her family.

Now, Here We Are...

Sixteen years have passed. I’ve thought of her daily, and I’ve gotten to be a part of her life as she has grown up. When I was in the thick of this experience, I couldn’t even begin to imagine the life I would have now. I’ve been married now for fourteen years and I have three kids of my own. Enduring this experience has been a continual blessing in my life. I am grateful that I was able to bring this wonderful, talented, gorgeous young woman into the world, and more importantly, to be the vessel to bring her to her parents.

This is a little piece of the puzzle in my life that I am still working to complete. My mission in sharing this story has become clear, although I don’t have all the answers, yet, of what should come of this. I only hope that it can spur more conversation about adoption. I hope it can open eyes and hearts to the beautiful gift that adoption brings into the families who cannot have children themselves. 

We live in a time where a lot of conversations are happening about accepting ourselves and loving our bodies and individuality. I think about this experience I’ve had, putting my love for that tiny perfect little human above my own needs and wants, and I feel an ultimate sense of self- worth. 

To check out the extended cut video, connect with me at http://adoptionanotheroption.com/adoptionanotheroption 

Get the full story in my upcoming book, Not My Plan scheduled to release on National Adoption Day - November 21st, 2015.

Music in video, used with permission - “Where I Belong” by Hannah Nichole. https://youtu.be/W8YZq3w8D80

Monday, August 31, 2015

Miracle #4- Two for one

I decided to name this post "two for one" because I want to share two stories. One story is about my own adoption and the other is about the choice that I made to give my baby the opportunity to a better life, that I couldn't provide. Adoption truly is a miracle. 

I know that this is a forum to discuss adoption as an alternative for children at or before birth but I want to share the story of my adoption that occurred when I was 9. This experience helped lay the foundation for my core belief that we had the opportunity to choose our families. I believe that our Heavenly Father gave us the choice of families we wanted to be with and that it is up to us, in this life, to accept or reject decisions we made in the pre-existence. 

When I was born, I was born to a loving mother and father who were seemingly happily married. They already had a two year old daughter together.   I'm sure at the time it seemed like the perfect family was beginning. However, as life sometimes throws curve balls, my mother and father divorced when I was two. Both parents found other partners and got married. My father married a woman with a daughter from a previous marriage and they had two more children together. My mother married a man that had no children. I remember having the thought that a lot of divorced kids have of hooray, two Christmases. 

After my father's two sons were born, our visits with him became increasingly distant. Distant both in time and value. My sister and I felt out of place in their family. Even as young kids, it was apparent to us that we didn't belong. At the same time, the increasing love and fondness we felt from our step dad was exponentially growing. We knew from the time that we met our step dad that there was something different and yet familiar with him. 

I don't have a lot of memories with my biological father. I don't know if I could really even describe what he looks like. I do however remember a Saturday afternoon when I was 8. He came and picked my sister and I up and took us to a park to tell us that he wasn't going to be our dad anymore. I remember us all crying together and I remember hearing my sister asking what we did wrong. I remember having the brief feeling that he didn't love us. I then was comforted by the feeling that he did love us but knew that we were truly meant to belong to our new step dad. We hadn't done anything wrong. We just weren't meant to be his. 

Soon after we made the trip to the courthouse were we stood before a judge who held the decision of whether we could be an official family. I remember him asking my step dad if he really wanted to be our dad. The feeling of love coming from him that day was palpable. It was the last time that step was ever associated with MY dad. 

The saying goes that anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad. That saying was written for me and my dad. I know I was meant to be with my dad. From day one, he has been the greatest example of kindness, love, generosity, forgiveness and compassion. Growing up, he was very stern and direct which is part of his charm. Sometimes friends would confuse his directness as mean but it was meant to keep us on the straight and narrow. He was always very encouraging and welcomed us to do what we wanted as long as it was within the rules. His rules were very simple: 1. Be where you're supposed to be. 2. Do what you know is right. And 3. Don't do stupid. Easy enough, right. As a teenager, I would learn that simple rules can be the hardest to follow. 

As long as I can remember, I have always been girl crazy. I don't know why I was burdened with it as an adolescence but I always felt the need to have girlfriends. My sophomore year of high school I met this beautiful, outgoing, popular, smart, very funny junior and I was smitten. Even though we didn't date right away, I think we both knew kind of early in our acquaintance that we were somehow special to each other. About a year after we met our relationship turned to romance. 

During one of our earliest dates, I remember hearing the most haunting statement I had ever heard when she said, "I can tell that you are going to be trouble."  I remember thinking that I knew that would haunt me for life. I remember thinking that we should have ended our romance right there.  But we didn't. 

We continued dating and after a few months we had a suspicion that a baby was on the way. We were both horrified of what our parents would think. How could we let this happen?  Together we went to our local planned parenthood (or planned party hats as it was referred to in her checkbook) to confirm our suspicions.  We were told that we were going to have a baby and that we should probably tell our folks.  They were talking crazy talk. How could we tell our folks that we had done this?

After the next several months we talked about telling our folks but always chickened out. I had day dreams that we would have the baby, get married and live happily ever after. She graduated high school and we went through the summer together. She was planning to start college and I was gearing up for senior year. All the while we were holding our little secret. It still amazes me that we were able to continue through "normal" life without anyone knowing. 

One September morning I was getting ready for school when the phone rang. The phone often rang early but on this morning I knew what the call was. I answered the phone and it was my girlfriend's sister (my mom and her parents were out of town at this time) who didn't say anything other than, "we are at the hospital and you might want to get down here."  I hung up and went to my dad and told him that I needed to not go to school. He asked why and all I could tell him was that it had something to do with my girlfriend. He didn't push it any further because he trusted me. How could he trust me when for the past 9 months I had deceived him?
I went to the hospital in time to see the most perfect girl I had ever seen be born.  It was one of those magic moments where nothing else matters except for that exact moment. It was also a moment where I felt almost every possible emotion that could be felt. I wasn't sure which emotion to let out so I eventually just let them all fly. Joy, anger, love, fright, companionship and betrayal were all there. 

We had some discussions along the way about how we could best care for this baby.  We both knew all along that adoption would be the answer but just like telling our parents, we were too afraid to start the discussion to make it happen. Once the baby was born, there was no more putting it off.  Our church offers social services as a program and they have support for things like addiction, mental health and family services. After the baby and mother were resting from birth I made the call to family services. 

Bryan was wonderful on the phone. I told him everything. I told him how we hadn't told our parents yet and that we had this perfect healthy baby girl and that we didn't know what to do. He told me the first step was to come clean to our parents and that he would be right over.  I then called my dad and told him. As you can imagine, it didn't go well. In retrospect it went probably better than it felt at the time. He was upset and told me that it was something I needed to figure out on my own. He was upset in that he was disappointed that I hadn't been honest with him and that he felt sorrow for me but he never got angry with me. 

After a short while Bryan came to the hospital with a packet of info. Included in the packet was a file with potential adoptive parents. I hadn't realized that we actually got to pick who would belong to our baby. That feeling was so humbling. We carefully read through the letters from parents who were desperate to have a baby in their family.  We came across a letter from a couple that had already adopted a little girl and we both knew that they were the ones. It was another one of those moments of perfect clarity. 

We spent the next 24 hours together as a temporary family. We cried a LOT, we prayed together we talked and we delayed reality. Eventually our parents came back to town and were able to spend time with the baby as well. Even though they were upset, they showed so much compassion. They knew how heart broken we were because they were as well. 

Our time in the hospital came to an end and our baby was taken away to get ready to meet the parents that she was destined to be with. The parents that we knew she belonged to and to who her parents and sister had been waiting for.   We had one more opportunity to say goodbye to her when her parents and us met together at the adoption office. As soon as I saw them I again knew that they were meant to be together. The love in that room was so strong. I couldn't help but think about that day at the park when my biological father let me and my sister go. I felt that pain again but this time I felt what it must have been like to be him.  I realized for the first time that he loved us so much that he wanted us to be with our real dad. He knew that we weren't his, he was just a vessel to get us to where we belonged. Just as we were the vessels to complete our babies family. 

Through the blessing of a semi open adoption, I've been able to receive pictures, letters and videos of this amazing girl. Every year that passes, feelings change. I still think about her constantly. I wonder if she ever thinks of me and if she does I wonder what she thinks of me. I still have sleepless nights and lots and lots of tears. However, unlike the beginning, the tears of sadness are being replaced with tears of pride and joy. It is so obvious with every correspondence how much better her life is because she isn't with me.  She has all of her birth mom's great attributes mixed with a bit of me and her parents touch.  She is so amazing and I feel so blessed to be a part of the miracle that is her.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Miracle #3- Brandi's Story

When I was an infant, my two older brothers and I were taken from our parents and put in the foster system. Our biological parents struggled with drug and alcohol addictions that prevented them greatly from providing for us. Due to their addictions, our biological parents were also physically abusive. I will always wonder about my birth parents and if they have been able to clean up their lives and be happy, contributing adults in society. But, I will never, ever let my adoption be viewed negatively, as though I am less than all others. My birth parents were given the choice to clean themselves up and go to rehab in order to maintain parental custody. They chose otherwise and felt like that was asking too much of them. In light of that, a judge terminated their parental rights and made us "property" of the state. Though I live with scars that are on my face that are constant reminders of my infancy full of pain, I do not live with emotional scars. I was only twenty four months when my adoptioin was finalized. My parents, the two who chose to not only adopt me, but my two brothers as well, are amazing people. They chose to adopt the three of us together because, after all we had been through, they felt it would be incredibly fair to not have the opportunity to grow up together. My dad is the most hard working man I have ever met and my mom has the sweetest spirit who taught us to find the good in things.

 In a world where evil is so prevelant, my parents CHOSE me. I struggled with my adoption as I child and one question always lingered. I wondered why it was so hard to love the one person that should mean the world to them. As time went on, I realized that I already had that. I found that the minute that those two, caring people chose to take me into their home and into their lives. I found my forever family on December 10, 1994. 

Some adopted children will take their past and repeat it and others, like me, will learn from it and be better because of it. I am grateful for my experience for so many reasons. One of those reasons is because it taught me how to be a great mommy to my baby boy. It taught me the things that I NEED to teach and tell my son. I am forever grateful for that. I want my son to know he is loved and he does. I know he would know that if I hadn't had my experience, but it adds a fire to me to ensure my son, and future children, live an extroardinary life. That can never be repaid.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Miracle #2- Hannah

Hello there! My name is Hannah. I was born September 29th, 1999, and I am adopted. I love my adoption story, and I love sharing it with others, so here I am, sharing my story once again. I hope as you read my story, you will be able to see what it really means to be an adopted child in circumstances like mine.

I have always been very open about the fact that I’m adopted. It has never been something I was ashamed about, it was just part of who I am. I have had several conversations with my teachers at school, friends, or just people in general, and they have told me that it is so cool how open I am about being adopted. I think my being so open about it starts at a very young age. I have always known I was adopted. I am often asked when my parents told me that I was adopted, but I honestly don’t know. My sister and I were both adopted and we were always raised knowing about it. When we were little, in our basket of books, we had two children's books about adoption. We read those as often as any other story. I think being open about being adopted from the time I was little has been part of the key reason I am so open and comfortable about being adopted.

Often times, when I tell people that I’m adopted, they give their sympathies with “I’m so sorry,” and “you must hate your birthmother.” And I always am so confused and upset. Why would I hate my birthmother? She made the biggest sacrifice for me. She decided to place me for adoption not because she didn't want me, but because she loved me so much, and knew that what I deserved she couldn’t give me at the time. People don’t seem to understand that adoptions are often times made solely out of love. I understand that some adoptions aren’t as beautiful as mine was, but it seems that the overall view of adoption is often looked at with such negativity, and it kills me because there is not one fiber in me that is upset that I was adopted. I love my birthparents beyond words and have always thought of them as sort of like my own personal heroes. They made the hardest choice they could have to place me with a family, and by doing that gave me everything they couldn’t.

I think the most common misconception about adoption is that the babies are always sent to an orphanage or to a foster home, and often times, adoption is referred to as “throwing the baby away.” In fact, one time when my sister and I were getting check ups at the doctor, the nurse was asking us questions about our health and stuff, and one of the questions, my mom said something to the effect of “You know, we don’t really know because they are adopted.” And the nurse looked at my mom in awe, and said “Really? Who would just throw away beautiful babies like that?” I have never felt like I was simply thrown by the wayside, it was a very carefully thought through decision. My birth parents chose my family.  Both my birthparents and my sister’s birthmother said that none of the other files of potential adoptive families felt right, but when they read my parent’s file, they knew that my parents were the perfect fit for me and my sister. Maybe people just don’t realize that the world of adoption has changed hugely for the better since the 1950s where babies were taken from their mothers and the doctor or agency chose who the babies would go to. Fast forward 60 years and adoption is so different.  Birthparents not only choose the family for their babies but can have as much contact with their child as they want.  There are a lot of different adoption plans, closed, semi-open, open. It is all up to the people who surround and love that child.
My adoption is semi-open, which means that I don’t ever see my birthparents in person, but we are still in contact. We write letters back and forth annually, which I have always loved doing. My birthparents didn’t stay together after their decision to place me for adoption, but they are both married now and have their own kids. When I was about five, my birthfather was told by the agency that I was adopted through that he wasn’t allowed to write letters anymore.  We don’t quite know why he was told that but we lost contact with him for about 9 years, and we had no idea why, but last January, we got a call from our bishop (like a pastor or priest if you aren’t familiar with the term) that he had just got off the phone with my birthfather, and that he was wondering if he could start writing to me again. So, last year was the beginning of that new chapter in our lives. I have loved seeing pictures from both of my birthparents, and seeing how well their lives have turned out.
Trying to decide what to say about my birthmother is one of the hardest things, because she has always been there, always part of my life, always constant. I looked forward to her letters and packages that come around my birthday every year. I have always thought of her as like a distant relative and her kids as the little cousins in the family. I love her so much. I have always held her on a special pedestal in my heart. In one of her first letters to us, she expressed how hard it was for her to place me for adoption, and I found myself in tears reading them. On the last page of  the first letter written directly to me, part of the paper was wrinkled and thinned, and she had drawn a little arrow to it saying “Pardon the tear stain.” It was so sad. I know that what she did for me was in no stretch easy. I’m sure she questioned if she was making the right choice at least a couple times leading up to me being born. But as time went on and her little family grew, I am sure that the miracles and blessings following my adoption are innumerable.
In the first several letters from both of my birthparents, they both made it a point to explain to me that they both loved me so so much, and that if circumstances were different, they never would have let me go, but it was because of their love for me that they decided to place me for adoption. Reading those letters sends me in tears, because I have no doubt in my mind that they loved me beyond what words can say, and that knowing that they couldn’t give me the life that I deserved, they knew adoption was the only way for me to have that. My birthfather wrote me a letter shortly before my first Christmas, and told me that the Christmas before, he wished to be with my birthmother, and for that Christmas, he wished to hold me again. But like my birthmother, he was also blessed with a wonderful spouse and kids. 

There is not a day that has passed since I was old enough to really think or ever will be a day that I don’t think of my birthparents, and the priceless thing that they did for me. I know that the family they chose for me is my family, and that my birthparents made the right choice to place me for adoption, even if it was unimaginable how hard it was for them to make that choice. I am so grateful for adoption, and that I was able to be placed in my family. Without my birthparents, I never would have found my mom and dad, and my sister who is my favorite person on this planet. I can’t wait until the day when I can meet my birthparents face to face and tell them how grateful I am for all they did for me.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Miracle #1-Katelyn's story

This first story is dedicated to two wonderful people.  First to my sweet daughter Katelyn.  This is her story and she glows with happiness every time she hears it.  I love you sweetheart.  You are truly an amazing daughter.
I also wish to dedicate this to another.  In all good stories there is a hero and this one is no different.  The hero in this story, whom I love with all of my heart, is Katelyn’s birth mother Marie.   Without her bravery and absolute selfLESSness I wouldn’t have this story to tell or my daughter to cherish.  Marie, we will always have a strong connection, a powerful bond in the beautiful girl that we share.  Two mothers and one daughter-three hearts bound together for eternity. This is our story…

From the time I was a little girl as far back as I can remember I just loved babies.  Anytime my mother would bring a new arrival home in the form of a brother or a sister I became a little mother hen.  I prided myself on knowing how to hold a baby “just so”.  I didn’t even mind changing a messy diaper! My favorite thing to do was to sit in a rocking chair, babe on my shoulder, and rock back and forth patting a tiny back to the rhythm of my humming.  From my earliest memories I dreamed of one day cradling a sweet little infant that was mine and would call me mommy.

I started babysitting for other people at a very early age, 10 years old.  I guess people would observe me with my siblings and felt I could handle the responsibility.  I became a very popular babysitter and loved every minute of it.  I think I was so good at it because I actually enjoyed the kids and I would play with them.  Life was even better if the family had a baby to tend.

As I grew into a teenager with a busy life my love for children didn’t diminish.  As I grew closer to graduating high school I had a difficult time deciding on whether to attend college or not.  The only thing I ever dreamed of was becoming a wife and a mother.  I didn’t have an interest in any other career.  I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I didn’t feel I needed a degree to do that.
Luckily I decided to go.  I realize now that obtaining a college education is so much more than a degree.  The college experience is valuable and rewarding.  A lot of growth takes place in those years.  I was fortunate to find a major in an area that I love and felt I was pretty good at…children! I graduated with a degree in Professional Preschool Education.  Not only was this something I enjoyed but it would allow me to run a business out of my home and still be with my own children.

In May of 1998 I became a bride.  Half of my dream joyously came true.  I married a wonderful man who loved and cared for me very much.  I just knew the other half of my dream would quickly become a reality and I would begin my perfectly happy life.  In my naive mind I assumed that shortly after we were married we would have the wonderful news to share that we were expecting.

Well a few months went by and hmmm…I guess it takes a little longer than I thought.  Six months comes and goes but “don’t panic” I tell myself.  It takes the average couple a year to get pregnant.
When a year turned into two many of our friends were announcing their happy news.  I would receive it with a smile on my face and an ache in my heart.
As two years turned into three it started to become unbearable.  What was wrong? Wasn’t wanting a baby a righteous desire? I knew I would be a good mother.  I was very confused.  I felt like the one thing I had always dreamed of was falling out of my reach.
Time kept plodding on and I was left with my aching empty arms.  After awhile I felt numb.  It was so painful to look at my friend’s babies as they joyfully added children to their families.  
The question that kept running through my head was “WHY?”  Was I not a good enough person? Would it happen when my husband was out of school? Was there something I was suppose to learn first? If only I had the answer maybe I could bear it easier.

It was always Christmas time that I would gauge that another year had gone by and still no baby.  I can remember some years exactly where I was sitting down to eat Christmas dinner when I would look around the room at all the new babies born that year and I would think to myself “Not this Christmas.  Maybe next”.  I didn’t realize until later just how much those thoughts would mean to me.

Shortly after our 7th wedding anniversary I suddenly had a feeling that it was time.  I remember my husband sitting in a chair and I was kneeling on the floor in front of him with my arms folded across his knees.  Through tears I expressed that I felt it was time we looked into adoption as an option to start our family.  I was surprised that it felt so right and so peaceful because we hadn’t delved very deeply into infertility treatments yet because we were poor struggling college students.  Now that Wayne was so close to graduating and had a job already lined up we would be able to afford testing to find out the reasons why we were not conceiving.  But my heart was telling me strongly that we needed to inquire about adoption.

A few days later I called the social worker in the state we were moving to.  I explained to him we were moving there in a month and we were interested in adopting.  He said that was great and that he would take our names down and contact us in a year and a half so that we could start our paperwork.  What?  We had already waited 7 years and now we had to wait another year and a half just to START the paperwork and then wait who knows how long until we actually got a baby.  I was devastated.  
Luckily out of the blue I remembered that his name, which he said at the beginning of our conversation, sounded familiar to me.  I asked him if he had ever lived in a certain town.  He said “yes”.  I asked him if he knew my mother and I mentioned her name.  He said of course I know her and then he called me by my first name and exclaimed. “I remember you.  How the heck are you doing?”  We chit-chatted for a few minutes and then he said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll call the agency there where you live and if they can help you get your paperwork started and have at least one interview with you guys before you leave then we will take you right away as a transfer.”  WOW!  We had found a loophole or should I say a little heavenly intervention caused me to remember his name and it was all good from there.
To make a long story short we moved to our new town, finished our paperwork and were approved for adopted 7 months later.
As soon as we were approved we were told the average wait was a year and a half for a baby.  Okay.  I could wait a year and a half longer.
One month later (three weeks before Christmas) I was away for the weekend with my mom.  We were headed back quite late.  I was staring out the car window into the dark when a thought came into my mind. “Your social worker called while you were gone.  There is a baby on the way.” I quickly corrected that thought “No! Don’t be ridiculous! It’s only been one month since we were approved.  We still have over a year to wait!”  The thought came again. “Your social worker called while you were gone.  There is a baby on the way.”  This time it came with a very intense feeling.  I tried to cry as quietly as I could as I stared out the window so my mom wouldn’t hear me.
I arrived home at 11:00 pm.  I walked through the door and hurried to find Wayne.  When I finally located him the words rushed out “Did anyone call while I was gone?” He said “No” I questioned him again with a furrowed brow “Are you sure no one called while I was gone?” He again told me that no one had called.  I looked into his eyes and thought “He is not telling me the truth” but that wasn’t like him.
I went to bed very confused.  Why did I have that thought and why were the feelings that accompanied it so intense?  I still had the feeling as I went to sleep that Wayne was not being honest with me.
The next morning before Wayne left for work he came and grabbed me by the hand and told me he had something to tell me.  He led me to the couch and sat down facing me.  With my hands in his he told me that our social worker had called while I was gone.  A baby was due in two weeks and the birth mother had chosen us.  The flood gates burst.  Sobbing I said “I knew it! I knew he called!”  Wayne said he knew that I knew.  He could tell that I felt something was happening, but as late as I got home the night before he knew that if he told me then neither one of us would have gotten any sleep, so he decided to wait until morning to tell me.  He was probably wise in that decision.  
I called our social worker that day and he told me to write a letter to the birth mother so that she could get to know us a little better before the baby was born.  I sat down to write the letter and found it very difficult to put into words what I was feeling.  How do you adequately express to someone your gratitude in choosing you to raise her baby?  This was not a puppy she was finding a good home for.  This was her baby.  The feelings I felt were overwhelming and humbling.  
I started off by expressing my love for her.  Already I felt a strong connection to her.  How could I not?  Soon she would become a mother but then turn around and make me one, something I had dreamed of all of my life.  I remember telling her in the letter that it was neat her baby would be born close to Christmas because every year something about Christmas made me think “Not this Christmas. Maybe next”.
In the weeks before she delivered all that I could do was pace the floor and cry.  It was all so overwhelming.  My fondest dream was so close to becoming a reality and yet so far away because she still had a chance to change her mind.
Two weeks went by and we didn’t really hear anything.  Our social worker said that hopefully no news was good news.  Before we knew it Christmas day came.  We hadn’t heard anything in the negative so we were still hoping.  We spent the day pretty much like any other Christmas, enjoying our families and the festivities but inside I was a bundle of nerves.  The not knowing was so hard to bear.
We headed home quite late and arrived at about 11:15 pm.  There was a message on the machine from the hospital Wayne worked at and he had to run there really quick to take care of something.  It had been a long day and I was tired so I went to bed.  At 11:30 the phone rang.  I got up to answer it knowing that it would be Wayne telling me he would be detained for awhile.  The voice on the other end was not Wayne.  It as a woman explaining that she was a social worker from our agency in another state.  She apologized for calling so late but she had a birth mother there who didn’t want another Christmas to go by without me knowing that this was the  Christmas and we had a daughter.  I was speechless!  This only thing I could do was sob. She went on to explain that the baby’s birth mother had gone into labor earlier in the day and she kept telling the nurses to please do everything they could do to insure the baby would be born on Christmas as a gift to me. It was amazing that in her hours of pain and difficulty she was thinking of me.  The only thing I can remember saying was to tell her thank you and that we love her.
I got off of the phone and Wayne still wasn't home.  I had just received the biggest news of my life and was standing in an empty house! So I did the next best thing.  I called my mom.
Shortly after I sobbed out the news to her, Wayne walked in the door.  I hung up the phone and crossed the room to hug him and tell him we had a little girl.
The next morning we left  to get our little one.  During the car ride we pretty much rode in silence.  The thought that I had a baby girl consumed me and it was too painful to try and think of anything else.  
After a stop at Walmart for diapers and a few other things we were lacking we arrived at the agency.  We rushed in quickly (it was all I could do to keep myself from running) and met the social worker in the lobby area.  It was after hours so she was the only one there, all except for one bundle of joy whom my eyes were searching for and couldn’t find.  She told us to follow her and led us down the hall to a door.  Opening it she said “Wayne and Leanne, I would like you to meet your daughter.”
Across the room a car seat was on the floor.  I don’t think it took me more than two steps to get to it.  Kneeling down I reached in and miraculously in my hands I lifted out a beautiful tiny newborn.  I looked into her face and in one instant all those years of pain were gone.  She was mine.  The bond was instantaneous.  It was amazing.
As I held her Wayne looked at her and softly with a voice of awe said “She’s so cute”.  She was beautiful.  I had never seen such a sweet little round face before.  She was perfect.  The next moment was humorous and it kind of broke us both out of our state of being awestruck.  We remembered the social worker telling me on the phone that the baby had a lot of black hair so Wayne pulled off her little hat to see it and went “AHHH what’s wrong with her head?” She was so new, not even 24 hours old yet and she had quite the cone head still.  I laughed and assured him that it would go down.
We didn’t spend much time at the agency.  I was anxious to check into a motel and start our first night together as a family.  When we walked into the motel room I was very pleasantly surprised to see it had a rocking chair! Of all the luck.  My first night as a mother with my sweet daughter and I could rock her the way I had always imagined it. (I have yet to stay in another motel room that has a rocking chair.) God didn’t even leave that little miracle out.

I love this picture because it is from our daughters birth mom.  It is so touching to me because I know that in this picture she is giving her baby all the love she has for her as she tells her goodbye.  Marie was only with her baby for about 18 hours before they parted.  I cannot even begin to imagine how she felt as she kissed those tiny hands and cradled those tiny feet knowing that the decision she was making for her baby would mean a lifetime of being without her.  
I get very upset when people have the mind set that mothers who choose adoption are giving their babies away.  They wonder how anyone with a heart could ever do that.  I know most assuredly that it is because of these mother’s hearts that they make this decision.  There has never been a moment in time nor will there ever be that I doubt Marie’s absolute love for her baby.   As she said in the letter she wrote to Katelyn shortly after we received her “only through the love I have for you could I bear to let you go”.  That is what I firmly believe.  It comes down to love.  A love so sweet and pure that these mothers are willing to sacrifice what they want and are willing to feel deep pain in order to give their baby more out of life than they feel they can give at that time in their life.  It is the most unselfish and Christ-like thing I can imagine any one doing.  
Our sweet Katelyn will be 20 this Christmas.  She still calls me mommy sometimes.  It still sounds so good to hear.
I am sharing this story because adoption is truly a miracle.  As I reflect back on this story it is full of little miracles. God planned our story and didn’t leave out any details.   I know that every adoption story out there is so special to those who belong to them.  I am sure that they are full of miracles too.  
Marie is also a mommy now.  Whenever she holds her children close I hope she always remembers that because of her I am holding mine too. I am so thankful God had her heart connect with mine because one little girl’s heart depended on it.

Four years after we were blessed with Katelyn we were able to adopt again.  Another daughter, another mother.  Two more hearts bound to ours forever.  But that’s another beautiful miracle story…