My friend Lechelle recently adopted her first baby. Adopting a baby is almost always a long process and filled with lots of hard and stressful moments. I asked Lechelle to share her story…
Kelly and I met in college. He was working on his generals and I was nearing the end of my degree in behavioral science and somehow we ended up in the same honors psychology class. It was a small class of 8 so we all got to know each other very well, but it was Kelly and I who became fast friends. I didn’t realize until the end of that semester that all the nudging, kicking, whispering, and hanging out were all because Kelly had a crush on me. It took a long distance summer of talking on the phone daily, writing letters, e-mails, and postcards, and missing him terribly to help me realize that I had it bad for him too. In May 2006, a year and a half after meeting, we married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.
Six months later we moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where I took a job as a legal assistant and Kelly worked on two bachelor degrees as he prepared to apply to dental school. And then it hit me – the baby bug. One day I was minding my own business, content on being a childless wife for a few years, and the next I was getting teary eyed over how adorable those little newborn diapers were. We were concerned that we weren’t in the financial position we hoped to be when starting our family, so we prayed about it and asked if the timing was right. We felt inspired that the Lord wanted us to start right away.
I was fortunate to get pregnant quickly; it only took 6 months. We were so in love with this little spirit and his itty-bitty body. And then came the night I had unexplainable, uncontrollable sobbing. And then the next night – all that blood, running every red light to get to the hospital, entering a hospital pregnant but leaving with empty arms, burying a body that was unbelievably small and so much heavier that I would have imagined, and coming up with his name. Miscarriage sucks. To me, I had lost my vey real child. Dealing with that and the aftermath was difficult for us.
In the weeks following losing our first baby we brought up adoption often, but we didn’t feel the need to commit to anything yet – we were still grieving. Three months later we were suddenly pregnant again.
I laughed and cried over that pregnancy stick. We took advantage of every moment with her, we called everything we did a “family” trip, we were determined to have no regrets and waste no precious moments. Kelly was convinced this one would be different, but I had a quiet feeling of dread that something would go wrong again. For three months we had blood work every other day, meds that made me sick and dizzy, and reassurances from our doctor that everything was fine. Until the ultrasound when the only thing our sweet technician could say was “I’m so sorry”. We buried her in the same cemetery under the same tree as her brother.
At this point we were living in a world of sorrow. Everyone responds to miscarriage a little differently. Some people go through it with their heads high, dignity intact, and a resolve to try again. We were the other end of the scale, we were a complete wreck mourning our lost babies. We knew we were a family and the Lord would make all things right someday, but we were feeling the pain. There is something about tragedy that can either draw people closer together or tear them apart. Thankfully we leaned on each other and somehow survived.
In the days that followed our second loss there were permanent tearstains on our cheeks. Then Kelly began saying magic words “when we adopt…” and the world became bright again. We took it to the Lord in prayer, and he responded with an answer of peace, comfort, and relief. Adoption brought us hope again. It brought secret smiles that something wonderful was going to happen. One week after our second miscarriage Kelly made the appointment with LDS Family Services to talk about adoption.
We were so excited about our answer to adopt; we couldn’t wait to tell family and friends. Adoption had taken us from our dark place and filled us with a bright hope for our next child, we wanted to share our new joy with everyone. The Lord had made it very clear to us that adoption was his plan for us. Having this new joy in my heart made me spill to everyone I met, regardless of how well I knew them “Guess what? We are adopting! Isn’t that wonderful?” But I neglected to realize that to many people in our families and circle of friends, it appeared we were making a rash decision without going through the typical infertility efforts to have a biological child. Family and friends questioned our decision and even tried to convince us to change our plan. One individual even confessed to me that the general consensus was that I was crazy, had a pregnancy phobia, and was pushing Kelly into adoption. I have to admit that when I heard that it made me furious. Here was my husband who had felt every heartache I did, stayed strong for me when I couldn’t, dug graves for his two precious babies, and now he was being told he was a pushover in the most important decision of our lives. I had to be reminded that they didn’t get that spiritual confirmation that we did because it was a matter between the Lord and us only. If we hadn’t known so deeply that this was God’s plan for our next child, then the good intentions of those we loved would have nagged us until we swayed.
I learned a lot about myself as I interacted with others on the topics of miscarriage, infertility, and adoption. I learned just how hot-headed I really am. I learned that I can change. I learned how to forgive quicker, how to look past the words and see the intentions. I learned to lean on my husband and the Lord when it felt no one else understood, and I found comfort. I learned that I can stand my ground and I won’t deny what I know to be true.
It takes a lot of time and paperwork to adopt. We had extensive questionnaires, medical reports, background checks, state registries, home visits, and creating a profile for birth parents to look at. It’s a lot of work and very invasive. We had to tell strangers the most intimate details of our lives. To top it all off, our paperwork was handled by a sweet 80-year-old secretary who was less than competent and made the process drag out for months longer than necessary. Although we knew all these steps were necessary, it also reaffirmed to us how committed we were to carrying out the Lord’s will for our family’s design.
There was a relief that came when we were finally approved. But we still felt the push to do more. We wanted to do everything in our power to help God lead our baby to us. We created our own website and pass-along cards. We held pass-along card parties, where friends came over and addressed cards and envelops forwarding our cards to friends and strangers. We signed on with an adoption advertising facilitator. And when we had exhausted our efforts we felt like finally everything was in Heavenly Father’s hands. We had done all we could do and we had to trust him to take care of the rest.
The months dragged on. Often we would ask each other “How big do you think our baby is? Where do you think our birth parents live? Do you think they are looking for us yet?”. Sometimes when I was feeling discouraged, I would go baby shopping. As I picked out a new baby outfit I would tell myself I was an expectant parent, and a little smile would make it’s way out.
We had a few prospective birth moms contact us by e-mail; the correspondence went on for a few days or a few weeks and then it dropped off. It really didn’t faze us when we didn’t hear from them after a while, none of them had felt like “the one”. And then it got harder. We had a very close call with a sweet birth parent couple, but after emotional tear-filled prayers we didn’t feel good about it so we asked our caseworker to close contact. That was one of the hardest decisions of our lives, but we didn’t want a baby, we wanted our baby. We wanted the baby the Lord meant for us to have, and we knew we had to have his confirmation when he or she came.
In the meantime through all of this I was preparing my body to breastfeed. Even though we didn’t have our baby in sight, I knew the longer I prepared the better my chances were of being successful. I always knew I would breastfeed my babies. That was a parenting decision that wasn’t going to change simply because I was adopting. So I did my research and found the plan that was best for me. I started taking a high progesterone low estrogen birth control consecutively and a lactation inducing drug called domeperidone. My boobs grew and were sore, just as they felt when I was pregnant. I stayed on this plan for months, hoping it would someday pay off.
In January 2010 we had been on our adoption journey for a year and a half and we wanted to take the matter to the Lord again. We wanted reassurances that this was still his plan for our family. After a week in fasting and prayer we got our answer to press forward with faith, it was in his hands.
Meanwhile, our S searched through every online profile LDS Family Services had and favorited ours. Then, without showing him her favorites, she asked her caseworker, Devin, to pick his top choices for her. Devin asked caseworkers in the surrounding area to send him profiles, and our caseworker Sam sent ours along with a dozen others. When Devin showed her his top five paper profiles and she saw ours in there she didn’t even look at the other four.
S took our profile home, kept it for two weeks, prayed about it, showed her family (who loved us), and felt absolute peace the whole time. This happened during the same time that Kelly and I were holding our special fast and prayer. When S’s peace was consistent and she felt her prayers were answered, she told Devin to let us know we were chosen.
It was February 1st. I was at work with 15 minutes left to go. I have to admit, when I got the call my first response was “ok, that sounds good”. I didn’t know what to feel. I was excited, but mostly I was nervous. I was nervous because I was scared that this was another false alarm. Even though Sam said it was a definite yes from S, I knew we had to get our own answer too and I was worried it would be another no. No’s can really suck. Kelly was on his way to pick me up and I had to tell him. I wanted to tell him in a cute way, but I was also feeling very cautious about how real this was. So I typed up ‘April 4th, St. Louis’, in huge letters across a page. Kelly picked me up outside my building and I held the piece of paper in front of his face. He was excited. And nervous.
We arranged to meet S on February 9th, at a stake center near her home in a town in the St. Louis area. Because of the snow and our anxiety we drove out there early and ended up getting to cruise the town for an hour. We wandered around Hobby Lobby to kill time. About 30 minutes before we were supposed to meet I had a mild panic attack and told Kelly I thought my heart would give out. He reassured me that Hobby Lobby has a difibulator so not to worry. So Kelly. By the time we were driving over to our meeting place at the church I was really freaking out. I get that way. I am really ok until five minutes before something major and I think I am going to die. So I told Kelly to be prepared for me to pass out or vomit when we meet S. He told me that was fine, just don’t pee my pants and embarrass us. Then he started to worry that if I passed out I would involuntarily pee my pants.
We walked in, around the building, and there they were at the very end of the hall. I saw S standing there, smiling, and all the panic slipped away. The peace I felt was OVERWHELMING, like Heavenly Father knew the exact moment I would need his comfort and he wanted to show it off for me. We had a strange and beautiful meeting with our S and her family. I kept looking around the room thinking ‘but we’ve met before’; everyone was just so familiar to me. We gave S flowers and homemade cookies, and she gave us a cd of ultrasound pictures. She was so sure it was us. We were so sure it was she.
Over the next few weeks we felt like we were dating S. We weren’t just in love with our little boy she was carrying; we were in love with HER. We asked questions about her, her family, everything, we were eager to know who she was. At the same time we tried not to be too eager, we knew she would be going through a lot and we didn’t want to overwhelm her.
Through our correspondence before the baby’s due date we let S know that we were concerned about how difficult this was going to be for her and we wanted to do whatever we was in our power to make things better for her. Between Kelly and I, we have five birth mothers in our families and we understood that S was going to go through a lot of pain by placing. We let S know that we were open to as much or as little contact as she wanted, and we counted any contact with her a blessing in our lives. We made sure to tell her often how much we loved her and how we would raise our little boy to be proud of his birth mother and the choice she made out of love for him. And we were completely sincere; I cannot emphasize enough how much we love our S and how much our hearts went out to her.
Three weeks before Baby’s due date we got an e-mail from the birth father, Z, telling us he was stopping the adoption. As upsetting as the news was, we felt prompted to just take things slow and continue the course. Peace from the Lord, talking with other adoptive parents who have been through similar situations, and our e-mails from S sharing her testimony that all would be well were a great comfort to us. Over the next couple weeks we got to know Z and love him. Z’s reasons for objecting to the adoption are personal, and to protect him from being misunderstood they are reasons that we will keep between us. We felt reassured often that pursuing this adoption was the Lord’s plan for us.
Z asked to meet us a couple days before the baby’s due date. By the end of our meeting he told us he would sign the adoption papers. When Devin told S about this she wasn’t surprised at all, her solid faith continued to amaze us, we knew the Lord was carrying her through it all and it brought us reassurance that he was aware of our S and her needs.
Our S had told us she wanted to see us at the hospital when she had the baby, our baby. We were thrilled. The Monday after Easter we were given word that S would be induced on Wednesday morning, April 7th.
Wednesday morning we woke up early. Our S was scheduled to be induced early, but we knew it could take all day for things to happen so we weren’t feeling too rushed. At 7am I got a phone call. S’s labor had started on it’s own late the night before, she was dilated to a 4, and she wanted us there. Then came the news that made me cry, S wanted me in the delivery room. She wanted me to be there for our baby from the very beginning.
Our S had a long day ahead of her so we spent most of the time waiting with S’s family. They are wonderful and we love them very much. I am so grateful that we had that time to get to know them better. Watching S go through her experience felt like watching one of my sisters, I feel like she is one of my sisters. At 4:45pm Boston was born. 7 lbs, 10 oz, 20.5 inches long. Being in the delivery room with S and her mom when he was born was one of the most sacred and spiritual experiences of my life. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of how selfless S was in giving us that personal priceless gift, to see my son be born, to watch him take his first breath, to be able to tell him I was there when he arrived. One of the nurses cracked the door open so Kelly could stand outside, hear Boston’s cries, and see him when he was brought over to be weighed and wrapped up.
Typically with newborn adoptions, the two days between giving birth and signing placement papers is a sacred time that birth mothers choose to spend with their baby before placing. We trusted our S to do what was best for her and the baby, and we let her know that we would be as near or far as she desired. It was our S’s desire that we have that time with Boston. Because of our S’s wishes for us to be there for Bo from the beginning and always, we were given everything. My efforts to induce lactation were successful and I was able to nurse him just minutes after he was born. I loved how our hospital appeared to treat S and her family with total respect and concern (I checked with S’s mom to make sure). They really took care of her, not just medically, but they were also very emotionally supportive of her and her wishes. They treated us exactly as new parents. We got our own hospital room. Boston stayed with us the whole time. Every nurse we met was kind to us and our S. We had sacred experiences with S and her family that will be carried always in my heart.
Two days after Bo’s birth our S signed the placement papers in private with her family. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for her. Boston was released from the hospital into our custody and we drove straight over to introduce him to his birth father, Z. Z held him, loved him, and signed the papers.
Boston needed a home visit from the hospital the day after he was released from the hospital, so we stayed a night with S’s family friend. Then Kelly had to return to dental school and I was on my own. Because of state adoption laws, Boston had to remain in St. Louis a few days and he and I stayed with a friend’s family. Then due to ridiculous laws that had me sick over it, Boston was scheduled to go into foster care for a while – but the amazing foster care family invited me to stay with them. So many blessings, one after the other. The Lord was showing us his hand in our life and we were amazed. Two and a half weeks after Boston was born I was able to bring him home.
As Boston’s mama one of my greatest joys is to have my son loved. Outside of Kelly and myself, the person on this earth who loves him more than anything is his S. I have wept knowing this woman who loved my son so much, sacrificed so much of herself, and has gone through so much pain, to give him everything she knew was his. Am I going to turn my back on someone who gave herself for my son? How can I look my Boston in the eyes and tell him I abandoned her to her grief knowing I could have eased it? I can’t do that to him or her. I love them both too much.
We are so happy that both of Boston’s birth parents wanted an open adoption. We love them and are so blessed to know them. We have blogs for each of them that we update weekly. We also keep in contact by e-mail. Best of all we have been privileged to visit with each of them in person. What is it like having an open adoption? It’s like having more people in our extended family who love us and Boston.
No words can adequately describe the joy I have to be Boston’s mother. It is everything I dreamed it could be. His smile, giggles, cries, ups and downs, all light up my life. My arms are no longer empty, my heart is full. This quote by an unknown author comes close to how I feel “You are the poem I dreamed of writing, the masterpiece I longed to paint. You are the
shining star I reached for in my ever-hopeful quest for life fulfilled. You are my child.
Now with all things I am blessed.” And to watch my husband and son together? My heart sings.
The journey to find our child was long and painful. So many times I wondered when would it make sense, when would I see the Lord’s plan for me? Now I see it. Now I understand. So many things we went through, the timing of our family planning, the baby losses, the waiting, they all led to us being prepared to be Boston’s parents, the greatest joy we have ever known. Even the heartache, the yearning, the tears, the pain, all taught me how to be a better person and kept me close to my Lord. As a couple we grew closer than we could have imagined, we grew as individuals, we learned we could do hard things, we learned what it meant to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, we learned to be still and know. I am grateful.
It was all worth it.