Our Road to Choosing Adoption
We have been together for almost 20 years. We never could have imagined that same-sex marriage would become legal. We never dreamed we would be able to grow our family through adoption. About eight years into our relationship, once Brian had finished his residency, we began discussing the possibility of growing our family through surrogacy or adoption. We made a decision to get all of our “ducks in a row” and started doing research on which option would suit us best. Adoption was very high on our list as we have known many people who have adopted. The impact we have seen in their lives and the lives of their children was profound and something we longed to experience. After months of going back and forth, while on a date, Brian insisted that we just had to make a decision. We discussed both paths and made the decision to move forward with adoption and began looking into our options. We were pleased to find the adoption community had grown to include a diverse group of adoptive parents. We assumed we would have to go through a religious organization, one that didn't approve of our “lifestyle.” Upon our first interactions with the LifeLong staff, we knew we had found the right place.
Once we signed on, we were beyond ecstatic. We never ever thought we would be where we were at that moment, able to grow our family and have children. This process changed our dynamic as a couple and the way we talked about life. We were allowing ourselves to dream of the future, and all the endless possibilities. When we shared the news with our family and friends, we were met with a bit of shock and lots of questions. “You can actually do that?” was a common one we heard. Once the initial shock wore off and everyone understood that yes, this was allowed and a true possibility, the support and love came pouring in.
An Unexpected Journey
We were both so excited to be growing our family and were not really prepared for the wait that followed all of our initial work. We knew every adoption journey was different, but the wait was definitely something we struggled with. We had one brief interaction with a birthmother about a year into our contract. Ultimately, it was short lived, and she and the birthfather decided to parent. Throughout our two-year contract, we experienced many ups and downs. We were losing hope as our end date approached, and we had reached a point of complete frustration. When talking with LifeLong staff, they always renewed our hope, but as the contract came to a close, it was more and more difficult to keep that hope alive. We asked for a call with LifeLong staff and were met with the surprise of a lifetime. Within a span of seconds, we went from frustrated and hopeless to getting a call saying a birthmother was due any day and was interested in us as the adoptive parents. Mike received this call from LifeLong while traveling for work and spent time retaining lawyers between flights. He called to tell Brian what happened, and he was in disbelief. We were both nervous and held our breath for the next couple days, waiting for word the baby was born and the birthmother was certain of her choice. Then the call came; she was going to have the baby within the hour. We were packed and ready to go and got in the car to make the 2.5-hour trip.
When we arrived, we still had little to no information on the birthmother, but as we walked in, we were met with kindness and joy from the hospital staff. They asked if we wanted to meet OUR baby! Even though we were about to meet this beautiful baby, we still had not fully accepted this was actually happening. We were waiting for the other shoe to drop, and we were scared of letting our guard down. We did our best to hold back from becoming too emotional at this time because we couldn't bear the thought of this all being ripped away from us. As we walked toward the NICU, we heard a wailing cry, and when we got closer, a nurse turned toward us and said, “Here is your baby, and he is hungry!” We were allowed to immediately hold him and feed him, and the hospital staff had already set us up with our own room. They truly went out of their way to ensure we had the same experience as “traditional” couples. The moment they asked us who wanted to hold the baby first, the floodgates opened and the emotions overflowed. Before we knew it, we were doing skin to skin and holding OUR baby in our arms. The indescribable joy was so overwhelming and foreign to us.
Within a span of 48 hours, our lives had been turned upside down. We had our son in our arms; he was perfect, he was ours, and we couldn't have loved him any more from the second we laid eyes on him. The birthmother had not chosen a name and instead asked us to choose one. We respectfully obliged as we welcomed our son, Caleb, into our hearts and home. She wanted to have a closed adoption, and we never got the chance to truly know her. We are forever grateful for her selflessness and the gift of life she has given us.
Challenges and Advice
To be completely honest, the only way we got through all the waiting was because we never gave up hope at the same time. We had family and friends who were on the ride with us, and they would check in and divert the conversation if it was headed toward giving up. Having a circle of friends that wouldn't allow us to lose hope really helped us.
If we could share any advice from our experience, it would be to surround yourself with people who are fully supportive of your journey. They are the ones who will help you get through the tough times and not allow you to give up. The last thing you need is another voice telling you it won’t happen. Being able to check in with LifeLong staff during this process was also crucial for our journey. The support, understanding, and empathy they showed us throughout the entire process was invaluable. It’s oftentimes at the start of the journey when support is there, and then it fizzles out. That never happened with staff at LifeLong. They were always empathetic to our frustrations and made us feel like we weren't alone on this journey. We never felt like a number; we felt like family. We cannot wait to come back for our next adoption journey.