Adoption was always something I knew I wanted to do. In college I had the opportunity to study abroad and work in an orphanage. I fell in love with the kids. Leaving them was hard and I knew I wanted/ needed to do more. Four years later I traveled to Guatemala for work. I fell in love with the city and the children. I was able to visit the special needs orphanage and my heart was broken for these children. In both Mexico and Guatemala, when I would arrive at the orphanages the children would smother me. They craved attention, contact, interaction, and mostly love. And they had so much to give. Their hearts were big and open even in the face of adversity. They just wanted what everyone else wanted: a family, someone to hug them and tuck them in at night, comfort them when they fall, someone to read them a story while sitting in their lap, and someone to tell them they ARE loved. My heart broke every day I left them, and then when I returned. I wondered if they ever found someone to love them; a family of their own.
When my husband and I started talking about having a family we knew we wanted to have a child of our own and then adopt internationally. From a Latin American country since we both spoke Spanish. After a few years of trying I was told it was pretty unlikely I would ever have kids and we knew that adoption was always the way our family was meant to grow. I grieved, but because we always knew we wanted to adopt it was easier to take the next step and look into adoption. Don’t get me wrong, at times I still wish I would know what it is like to have an ultrasound and see my baby’s heartbeat, to experience giving life to another person, but I love the gift the adoption is and the opportunity to be involved in such a precious thing. My husband and I decided to adopt an infant since you only bring home your first baby once. That means we went domestic. We were open to transracial adoption (for reference I’m Caucasian and my husband is Hispanic) and searched for an agency that would meet our needs, even though it meant going out of our home state. We worked with an agency that showed our profile book to about 8 other agencies in different states around the US. After a long process to enter the waiting pool (about 18 months), we were matched one week later. With TWINS! I couldn’t believe it. TWINS! I was over joyed, but then heard the circumstances. The couple was married and had one year old at home and weren’t sure they could handle two more. It just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel it would happen, so much so we never even asked the gender of the babies. We accepted the match conditionally, meaning other birthmoms could still look at our profile book since the couple was unsure. Three weeks later, late at night, the phone rang. It was an out of state number and I had all the numbers for the agencies and our social worker saved so I wasn’t thinking it was the call. But I answered and I am so glad I did. She told me we were matched for a little boy, and that the birthmom wanted to talk to me tonight! What? Tonight?! But Tony is working and its past 10 pm where she lives. “Call her anyways” is what I heard. I responded with a shaky “ok” and a “what do I say to her?”
Over the next few weeks we talked often with our birthmom (she has asked to remain anonymous). We developed a close relationship and she asked us to fly out for the birth, since she was going to be induced due to medical problems. YES! YES! YES! Of course I want to be there! I was so excited! I would get to see the miracle of birth. But Hudson came early and fast and we weren’t able to get there for the birth. We had to be in state for at least two weeks waiting for our Interstate Compact Papers to fly home and had plans to visit some of the sights with our birthmom. However, since Hudson was born prematurely, those two weeks were spent in the hospital, which had a weird loop hole: even though all papers were signed and he was legally ours, birthmom still had all medical rights. This meant we couldn’t visit our son in the hospital without birthmom and she had to be in the NICU. As a couple, we couldn’t spend time together with our new baby. It was a very hard and difficult situation on everyone. Our birthmom, who had planned to say good bye at 48 hours and then take time to grieve before we all went out for the first time, couldn’t. She had to be there, had to see us interact with our baby, the baby she just gave birth to, had to give the doctors permission to speak to us, watch the photographer take his newborn hospital photos with us, and put her grieving on hold. We had to put our bonding on hold and it became an awkward situation for all involved. I would be talking to my son, who I couldn’t’ hold since he was under billi lights for severe jaundice, and birthmom would talk. My son would turn his head to her voice. As an early childhood educator I knew this was a good thing; that he recognized her voice. But it hurt. It felt like a stab in the heart. Here I was taking medications and waking up in the middle of the night for the past few weeks to get a milk supply in so I could nurse and my son just turned away from to look for someone else; the only person in the world he knew. To make things worse, we were the ones driving her to and from the hospital to the hotel we were BOTH staying at. Her counselor was with two other birthmoms during that time that were giving birth. We all wanted to be a family, but we also needed our space, which we didn’t get.
Fast forward a few months and this grieve our birthmom had to compartmentalize, erupted. And she took it out on the only person she could and that knew about the adoption; me. I fought through it, was her punching bag, tried to set boundaries but also keep with our openness plan. Our agency told us to cut off all contact and change my phone number, but I just couldn’t do it; to her or my son. I didn’t want him to ask me why I didn’t try harder, why I didn’t fight to keep a relationship with the woman who gave him life. So I decided to fight, and to keep fighting for the relationship. After a few months, I was finally strong enough to set and keep boundaries. This was the best thing I did! After a few months of no contact, our birthmom had the time she needed to grieve and I had the time to focus on Hudson and form an attachment. We now text often, talk on important days, and are planning for her to visit. Even though our relationship wasn’t always easy, I am so grateful for our birthmom, for sticking through the rough times and not listening to others to end contact because we wouldn’t have the relationship we have now. We have trust, we check in with each other (and not just about Hudson). We have a relationship with each other.
But our adoption story doesn’t end there. We knew our family wasn’t complete and we had love in our hearts from another child. It was still weighing on our hearts to adopt internationally. Knowing we wanted our children to have the same ethnicity we changed from adopting from Latin America to Africa. After researching different countries we felt led to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We chose DRC for the process and the fact you could adopt independently with lawyers in country versus using an agency. This adoption is a completely different experience. We are currently waiting for a referral and are excited to see our family completed.♥ Kristie