How It All Began...
Paving Our Own Path
Adoption was always in the back of our minds as a family planning method, prior to even knowing we would struggle to have biological children. Joanna is adopted, so adoption never felt like it was too far out of reach.
When we found ourselves facing infertility, we started our adoption research. We initially met with a local agency, but it did not feel like a great fit for us. We found Angel online when we decided to start the process again and felt an instant connection. We were so excited and optimistic about starting our adoption journey.
When we shared with our family that we were moving forward with adoption, they were so excited for us. Bob is the youngest of four, and his siblings could not wait to watch their baby brother become a dad.
A Discouraging Start
After only one month of being active with Angel, our profile was selected by an expectant mother. We were both nervous and excited; it seemed like it was happening so quickly. We felt as though Angel had really prepared us for the conversation, and we were hopeful. Our conversations started off great, but the time between contact began to grow and our communication slowed. We were disappointed when we ultimately accepted this wasn’t going to be our time, but we were grateful for the opportunity and the experience it brought us.
It was one full year before our second opportunity. The wait inspired us to spruce up our profile with better photos; those that didn’t include so much of our faces being hidden behind sunglasses, in hopes that someone would select us again. The second opportunity was with a mother who had been parenting, and while we were open to the non-infant opportunity, she never responded to our outreach. Shortly after that, we were selected by a third expectant mother, and the start of our relationship seemed promising. She was open with us, sharing photos from her pregnancy, and we got as far as hiring attorney services. Once legal services were involved, we started to have concerns based on the expectant mother’s questions of us, and the social workers solidified them when we had further access to her background. We were advised to disrupt the opportunity, and while we were crushed, we knew it was in our best interest to no longer pursue an adoption plan with this expectant mother.
We were getting near two years with Angel and were questioning whether or not we should continue to move forward. It was nerve wrecking wondering if we would find that one connection with a birthmother. We knew we still had a strong desire to be parents and to provide a forever home to that special little one. We always had hoped the process could work even through the tough days, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to hold onto that faith, remain positive.
Supporting Her Choices
Only a couple months after our third opportunity, we were selected by a fourth expectant mother. After our first conversation with her, we knew this opportunity felt different. The expectant mother was engaged with us during the call and asking us questions, which hadn’t happened for us yet. We were all able to laugh together at one point because it was clear how nervous everyone was. We knew that based on her due date, our relationship would need to develop quickly. If we felt a good connection, we would be traveling soon.
When we initially connected with the expectant mother, she was living in a different state from her support system and was hoping to move home with her children to be closer to family. As she started to open up to us, we were able to see what a wonderful person and mother she was and how much she was trying to prioritize her health and family. We offered to purchase her and her children plane tickets to be back home to deliver the baby, and we felt really positive in our decision to help her.
Based on the expectant mother’s previous pregnancies, we flew out to her on her due date as she was expecting to deliver late. Just as she suspected, she ended up delivering one week after we got there. During our waiting time, we were able to spend time with her, and it was so great to meet her in person and have those shared moments together.
We received a text early one morning that the expectant mother was in labor and headed to the hospital. We headed to the hospital at a much more appropriate time and settled into the waiting room. While waiting, we met the expectant mother’s parents. It was understandably difficult for them to meet us, but they were supportive of their daughter and her choice. We were able to visit with the expectant mother during her labor process and meet the medical team that was caring for her. We wanted to allow her privacy, but we knew she wanted us to be involved with her delivery as well.
When it came time for delivery, the expectant mother’s dad came out to get Bob; Joanna was already in the room with her. She made delivery seem easy, and within minutes, our daughter, Emma, was born. It was surreal to be part of Emma’s birth. We had waited for this moment for so long; the joy, happiness and instant love we felt meeting her was unlike anything else.
An Emotional Stay
After Emma was born, we took our cues from her birthmother. She had requested to hold Emma first, and we were never going to deny her the honor. That afternoon, the birthmother moved to her own room with Emma, and she had asked that we provide her with some space. We didn’t want to overwhelm her, so we returned to the waiting room. We were then informed by the social worker that Emma’s birthmother did not want us to visit with her for the remainder of the day. We were devastated. We returned back to our condo with the worst-case scenarios playing through our heads. The next day, the social worker reached out to us again and let us know Emma’s birthmother did not want us at the hospital with her and Emma. She reassured us she still believed the adoption plan was moving forward, but that she needed some time alone.
We had no idea what to think or do. We had anticipated being at the hospital with our daughter, and now our minds were turning to thoughts of a possible disrupted adoption. We were in an unknown city, thousands of miles from home, and now we were consumed with many different emotions. We attempted to distract ourselves by shopping and going to see a movie while not giving up on the adoption plan but preparing for any outcome. We had the opportunity to text with Emma’s birthmother. It was clear she was grateful for us and things seemed positive including her sending a few pictures, but we were still anxious.
Two full days after Emma was born, we returned to the hospital for the birthmother to sign her parental consents. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. When we saw the crowd of people in the birthmother’s hospital room, our hearts went out to her. She was clearly emotional, and there was zero privacy for her or even space for her to breathe. Those that were part of our adoption, from the social workers to the hospital staff, and us, did everything that we could to respect the birthmother and her family. As heartbreaking as it was, we felt so much happiness as we drove away with our baby girl for the first time.
After Emma was discharged from the hospital, we settled into our condo for the first time as a family of three. Talk about so many new firsts from feedings, diaper changes, holding her, tracking her naps and feedings to some snuggles. It was a magical, yet terrifying time. For the remaining time in Emma’s birth state, we saw her birthmother and biological siblings every day, and Emma spent some alone time with her birthmother. We recognized how difficult this process was for her. While we had agreed to an open adoption, we were flying across the country in just days, and nothing would compare to holding her own daughter. Our trip home was uneventful but we found ourselves anxious while traveling and carrying all the gear through multiple airports all while ensuring that Emma was still cared for. When we walked into our home with Emma for the first time it was a wonderful moment we will always cherish.
Our Greatest Journey
Adopting Emma has been the greatest journey of our lives; she has completed our family, though getting to her was just that: a journey. We questioned the adoption process multiple times, and after the first year of waiting, as each month passed, we really started to wonder if we would ever become parents. Our humble advice is try to stay strong, believe in your dreams, stay connected with your support network. We now know our long wait was to prepare us for the most precious gift. We cannot imagine our lives without Emma and her birthmother.
We still have regular contact with Emma’s birthmother and have had video calls with her. She has been such a joy in our lives, and we are looking forward to in-person visits in the future. Without Emma’s birthmother and her loving choice of adoption, we would not have been able to experience parenthood and the love & happiness Emma has brought to our entire family and circle of friends.