Led to LifeLong
After years of prayer and conversation, we found ourselves led to adoption in order to become parents. We were referred to LifeLong by mutual friends who had previously adopted through them, and it felt like a natural fit.
Early in the process, we were excited. There seemed like there was so much to do and easy steps to follow: first, our profile; second, our home study; and third, the celebration with friends and family. It was so easy to have hope in the beginning, and while our hope never wavered, the wait definitely tested both our patience and our faith.
Learning to Trust
Close to one and a half years into our contracted time with LifeLong, we received the call we had been so desperately waiting for: Our profile was chosen by an expectant mother who was early in her pregnancy and considering adoption. We reached out to her immediately and very quickly understood this relationship would be like nothing we’d ever experienced before.
In our early conversations with the expectant mother, we were asked some tough questions about our core beliefs, and we knew our answers were either going to be right or wrong; it was clear there was no in between. We knew this might be one of our only opportunities for her to get to know us before she made her decision, and we felt it was a disservice to everyone if we weren’t honest in our answers. We were up front with her about how we felt on a number of issues, both personal and political, and answered her questions truthfully. We found our beliefs aligned closely with hers and that this relationship had potential. We believe our decision to lay all our cards on the table helped her feel a lot less judged so she could start to trust us. We spent the majority of our communication over messenger apps as she wasn’t yet comfortable speaking with us on the phone, and we wanted to respect her. Although she was early in her pregnancy and we were aware there was a lot of time in front of us with a lot of uncertainty, it allowed us time to build our relationship.
We spent close to three months continuing to get to know each other before we were able to visit in person. Early in the summer, we were finally able to make a trip to meet our expectant mother and spend a long weekend together. To say we were nervous is an understatement; it felt like there was so much riding on our time together. Thankfully we had planned to go bowling together, so we had an activity as a buffer. Once we were able to relax and start laughing together, we were able to make a true connection. During our visit, we were able to meet some of her family, which came with a different type of pressure, but it felt good to meet more of our potential child’s birth family.
As summer progressed, it was a lot of holding our breath. We continued to communicate, and we were able to video chat with her from doctor appointments. She had started introducing us to her doctors via video as “mom and dad,” and while it felt good, we knew there were still risks. We were hesitant to make travel arrangements too early, but once we found out she was going to have a scheduled c-section, we knew it was time to start booking our flight and hotel.
We chose to fly in a couple days before the birth in order to help us and the expectant mother settle. We knew she would have a recovery period ahead of her, and we wanted her to be as comfortable as possible.
The morning of the delivery was quiet. It was a nerve-wracking drive to the hospital, but we were reassured that we were where we were meant to be. We had to lean on our faith and take a deep breath, reminding ourselves that God wanted us here at this moment regardless of the outcome. We were there to support someone who needed a support system.
There was a sense of disbelief at the hospital that this was actually happening. We were able to assist her with the paperwork, let the nurses know what she needed, and prep her for surgery. The expectant mother had requested that Kirsten be in surgery with her, and it was incredibly special for her to be the first person to meet our daughter, Hattie. Shortly after her birth, Miki was able to meet Hattie, and we were able to spend some time together as a family of three before we joined Hattie’s birthmother in her room.
After our discharge from the hospital, we were able to see Hattie’s birthmother one more time before we headed home. It was a nice chance to say goodbye and take some photos together. We knew she had five days to choose to parent, per her state law, and while we didn’t think that was a choice she would make, we didn’t let our guard down until the end of those five days.
Wanting What’s Best
The language on Hattie’s adoption documents reads that we have a closed adoption with her birthmother, but we are thankful that is not true. We have always wanted what is best for both Hattie and her birthmother, and right now, that is having contact with each other. We previously had regularly scheduled video calls, which have, in time, turned into sharing an online baby book and video-chatting when her birthmother requests. Hattie’s birth grandparents also have access to the online baby book, and it’s become important to us that Hattie understands how loved she is by everyone in her life.
The adoption process did not come without its own challenges. Waiting was difficult, trusting was difficult, and the lack of control was difficult; however, having our support system was integral to our success. They were there during the wait, and they have been there for us throughout our journey as new parents.
One of the most beautiful takeaways from the adoption process that we have learned is that adoption allows you to grow your family without choice. We are able to choose our friends and we are able to choose our careers, but through the adoption process, we were chosen. Under other circumstances, we never would have met Hattie’s birthmother and never would have been allowed the opportunity to welcome such an amazing woman into our lives. Our lives have been enhanced because of Hattie’s birthmother, and that’s not a choice we would have had access to without adoption.