How it All Began...
How did you decide to adopt a baby?
We had been going through infertility treatments for 14 years. We always thought about adoption, but wondered, who would choose us? There is nothing special about us. We don’t have the biggest house or the highest paying jobs. We can’t send a child to private school. As our heart longed to be parents, we started looking into adoption agencies.
Why did you choose to work with Angel Adoption?
We looked for agencies that connected the adoptive family and the birth family. We loved that Angel’s founders had been through the adoption process. They would understand our fears and help us walk through the uncertainties. We loved reading the success stories and looking through those who were waiting. They looked like us. They weren’t standing in front of expensive homes wearing clothes we could never afford. It gave us hope that maybe we could adopt, too.
What were your feelings as you began your adoption journey?
We were scared, nervous, and excited, but mostly overwhelmed. It consumed our every thought. Would we get a call tomorrow or will it be years from now? What is open adoption? How do we support the birth family? How do we get support? How do we support each other? How do we wait?
How did your friends and family react to your decision to adopt?
Through the years we were pretty open about the struggles we were going through, and so many people supported us. When we told people we were researching adoption, they were thrilled. Again, they supported us, and they helped us raise funds. They also shared stories of people they knew who had adopted and asked if we wanted to connect with them. Our answer was always yes. Every story is different and we wanted to gain as much information as we could.
What was it like meeting the birthmother for the first time?
Nerve-wracking. We had built an amazing relationship where we talked every day, but it was still scary to meet. We met at her house with all her family. I, Jackie, am an easy-going, social person, but I wanted to be strong and show her I would be a good mother. Blane is introverted. He was very nervous. In the end, being ourselves is what made our birthmother feel comfortable. She wanted to see herself in us.
Did you choose an open or closed adoption?
We chose an open adoption. Honestly, we chose it for a better chance of connecting with a family. We didn’t know it could be this amazing. If a birth family had chosen semi-open or closed, we would have been fine with that, but now we can’t imagine those options. They are our family. We love them no differently then our biological family.
Describe receiving the call that your baby was being born and traveling to meet him.
We grew close with the birth family and knew our birthmother was going to be induced. As it got closer, we tried to keep our feelings in check. We didn’t want to get too excited. Even as we loaded up the car and traveled 1,000 miles, we prayed the whole way there.
Describe the experience of finally meeting your baby.
It was the most beautiful, miraculous thing we have ever seen. Nothing gives justice to the precious gift that is giving birth. I, Jackie, had not expected to be able to see anything. I wanted to give our birthmother her privacy, but I ended up in a spot where I was holding her leg. Blane was in the room as well. When she started to push and I saw his head, everything else went still. I only saw him. I was in shock thinking, this is real! Our son! His birthmother grabbed my hand and I remember grabbing her hand back and balling. I got to cut the cord and then hold him skin to skin. I just stared. Nothing else mattered. We had hundreds of people waiting on an update, but it didn’t matter. We just wanted to soak up as much time with him as I could.
What is your relationship like with your baby’s birthmother?
FANTASTIC. We love her. Not just for our son, but her as a person. We took a chance on each other and opened up and got very close. She supported us while we supported her. We miss her dearly. Walking away from her in the hospital was by far the hardest thing we have ever done. We didn’t want to leave. We still talk to her daily. Since we became friends, its not all about our son. It’s about our day, family, friends, and anything you would talk to a friend about.
What were the biggest challenges of the adoption process?
Not having control. When will we get the phone call? Once we get the call, when should we reach out? What should we say? When will she contact me back?
The unknown. Did we say the right thing? What does the future look like if this is the right match? What don’t we know?
Failed connection. Hearing that it happens to most people is not comforting, yet helpful at the same time. Knowing the person you are trying to connect with might not be it is really hard, but you still put yourself out there. It still hurts if they choose a different path, but you try to make sense of it. Then you go back to waiting.
Adoption can be a lengthy process — how did you get through the wait?
We did a lot of research and prayed. Oh, did we pray. I, Jackie, read books and blogs and watched videos, anything I could soak up. I asked others how they got through the wait. We joined support groups to help us learn more of the process. The best piece of advice was to do one thing a month for the adoption. Whether it’s a parenting class, reading a book, or talking with someone else who had adopted. It helped me feel in control.
What advice do you have to share with other adoptive parents?
Find people that support you and lift you up. This might not be anyone you currently know! You will want someone who understands the process. There will be trying times. You will want to be heard and validated, but you won’t want to stay in a state of sadness and confusion. This could even be a counselor or therapist. Find these people before it gets rough.
Immerse yourself in adoption culture. We joined an organization that provides adoption education to schools and communities. This really helped us understand the perspectives of birth families, adoptees, adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and what kids are hearing.