How it All Began...
We have first hand-experience with adoption. Courtney was adopted by her family, and she grew up with her sister who is the biological child of her parents. She had a wonderful experience being raised by her family and has a close bond with her sister. We know a lot more about adoption because of their experience. When we got married, we knew that even if we had a biological child, we would consider adopting a child as well, especially since Clayton worked with an organization that worked with at-risk youth, which sparked an increased interest in adoption. Courtney was also excited to be able to have this shared experience with our child.
When our daughter turned four years old, we started getting the urge to grow our family, and we knew it was the right time for us to adopt. We partnered with Angel at the recommendation of our local social worker. It turned out to be the best decision. Angel supported us every step of the way and allowed us to make connections with expectant mothers we would’ve never found otherwise.
An Emotional Rollercoaster
We were really excited when we put up our profile, and almost immediately, we connected with an expectant mother. We were full of hope, and our family shared in our joy. They helped us get everything we needed for the nursery we were getting ready for our twins we were expecting.
Then it didn’t work out.
We felt such a huge emotional letdown and didn’t open the nursery for months as we grieved. But we kept on making connections. We were making connections every couple of months with expectant mothers, but these never worked out. Slowly, we learned to manage our emotions through the process.
One day, we connected with another expectant mother who was interested in us. We connected with her over a period of several months and felt more confident this was the one for us. We got the call that the expectant mother was in labor, so we embarked on what would be a twelve-hour drive down to Florida. We had our five-year-old daughter with us and told her we were taking a trip to Disney World and hopefully making her a big sister too.
The next morning, after a brief stop for rest in Atlanta, we received a phone call. The birth mother had found a distant relative for her baby. It didn’t work out. We were exhausted, eight hours from home, and now afraid to disappoint our daughter too.
Miracles happen when you least expect them. Amid our own emotions, our daughter showed us just what we needed to do to pick ourselves up emotionally. She said, “That baby is just not ready for us yet. Can we go to Florida anyway?”
We both smiled at her response and decided we needed to take a family day to heal before we drove back. We did some sightseeing in Atlanta. We went to the aquarium, which was great but not quite Disney World, but all three of us had smiles on our faces on the drive back.
All through our adoption journey, Courtney’s mother would keep reminding her that keeping her emotions in check was the key. After all, they waited six years for Courtney’s adoption to be finalized. With these reminders, we both were able to keep our perspective when we connected with Carson’s birthmother. For three months, we communicated with her over text. It was always very good, and we were hopeful. For a while, we relied on the adoption attorney to give us information about her. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, we received a phone call she was in labor.
We were in the kitchen preparing for our family gathering, but we immediately packed and went to Ohio, where our daughter was being born. We didn’t know what would happen when we got there, but our attorneys were really responsive and told us what to do. We had a casual dinner at the Waffle House on Thanksgiving evening then found a hotel and checked in for the night as we waited to see when we could go to the hospital.
The next morning we were impatient and drove around until we arrived at the hospital parking lot. We waited until we found a caseworker who knew our situation. She told us we could visit the birthmother and our baby. We spent that night at the hospital with baby Carson.
The first time we met Carson and held her in our arms, we were so happy, but we were hesitant to really sink into the joy. We knew the difficult part of waiting for transfer of custody was coming up, so we remained cautious.
The Day That Life Changed
While we were waiting for the transfer of custody, Courtney’s nervous energy had her doing laundry and running on the hotel treadmill. It was her way of dealing with her emotions. After one of her trips to the laundry room, we received a text message from the attorney. “It’s done. You are Carson’s parents now.” We couldn’t believe it. In our minds, there should’ve been fireworks because we worked so hard for this moment and waited for so long.
But there wasn’t. Instead, we FaceTimed with our daughter, who was spending the time with her grandmother back home. The four of us talked and marveled at our new daughter, Carson. At that moment, all of us finally felt free to bond with the baby. We all felt whole, as if we knew our family was finally completed.
We knew our lives had changed in a profound way. Our daughter had a sister now, and we had the family we always wanted. Our dream of adopting a child who needed us as much as we needed her was fulfilled.
Adoption Makes the World Better
Despite our difficult adoption journey, especially the emotional ups and downs, it was so worth it. We get a lot of friends reaching out asking us about the adoption process now, and we think if more families considered adoption, the world would be a better place. The experience is truly eye opening and has opened our lives up for so many different experiences.
The adoption coordinator from Angel said, “Be excited but guard your heart.” That’s one of the best pieces of advice we received. The lows of the adoption process can seem really low, but just like our daughter helped to keep us on our optimistic path, family support can be crucial.
No matter how much you are caught up emotionally in this process, in the end, it’s about getting “a” child. It’s not necessarily about getting “that” child from that specific expectant mother. In retrospect, everything we went through led up to the right child for us. It’s easier if you are simply taking one step at a time on this journey.