Ryan and Melissa have a beautiful story of how their daughter came to their family. Below you'll find Melissa recounting the first time they heard of their daughter, how they met her for the first time, and what it looks like for two families to come together to love a beautiful girl who shares their love.
As we have brought you all along on this journey with us, it is only fair to allow you to read the ending of this chapter in our life.
We received an email from our agency on June 5th. The email stated that there was a birth mom and dad due via C-Section on June 16th...We told the agency that we wanted to present our profile to the couple on Saturday (June 6th). By Tuesday afternoon (June 9th), we still hadn’t heard anything. At this point we figured we hadn’t been chosen. As the last day of school was winding down and we entered into the last hour of school that day, I received a text from our adoption coordinator (Chelsea) that read, “I hope you’re free for lunch in Washington on Friday with the birth parents, they picked you!” Time literally stood still for what seemed like an hour (I’m pretty sure it was about 10 seconds). That text, those words, took my breath away, as these are the words and this is the situation we have been waiting and praying for for years. Thank the Lord my desk chair was behind me because I fell into it. The next hour (the last hour of school) was a complete blur. Thank you to a few special coworkers/friends that witnessed this all happen and kept this secret. Ryan and I didn’t want anyone to know because the “match” with the birth parents was contingent upon them meeting us and still wanting to move forward. Friday was June 12th and the baby was being born on the 16th. We didn’t want to buy anything because if they didn’t like us, it would all have to go back. We arrived for lunch on Friday and anxiously awaited the arrival of T & D (we’ll use their initials). Long story short, they are incredible people. So genuine, kind, and both have a wonderful head on their shoulders. We shared a lot and talked a lot about their desires for their baby and just got to know each other. It was an instant match and we all left feeling very at peace.
We loaded up the car Tuesday morning and began the drive to Washington to meet the little girl who “might” become our daughter. I’m not sure Ryan and I said much to each other on that drive. We were both so nervous we just physically couldn’t talk. Phones were blowing up from family and I just couldn’t talk to anyone. I was in the zone! We arrived on base and checked into the visitor’s center where we had to go through background checks in order to obtain a visitors pass. Think of the DMV and the waiting that takes place there, and you have the visitors center at Ft. Lewis. Chelsea, from our adoption agency, met us there and helped navigate the remainder of our day at that point. Meanwhile, birth mom’s surgery kept getting pushed back…and pushed back…and pushed back. Our nerves were through the roof. I felt like I was going to puke, for real. We waited in the Birth Center waiting room for a LONG time. We all made small talk, but really I couldn’t think about anything else besides the reason we were there. Ryan would rub my back and remind me to breathe. Thank God I married this man. Finally, a nurse came out and asked if we were ready to meet our girl.
I think I was walking about 100 miles per hour down the hallway whispering (yelling) to Ryan to hurry up!!!! Who leisurely walks the halls in this moment? Ryan does, that’s who. Anyway, we walked in the room and the birth mom (T) was holding her daughter and birth father (D) was standing beside them. We approached the bedside and I just froze. Ryan held me close and we held her baby’s hand and shared a moment with this couple. I didn’t know if I should take the baby from her or what I should be doing, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen. T leaned over and physically placed her baby in my arms. I just could not bring myself to physically take her away from her and I am eternally grateful to T for continuing to show me how strong she is in heartbreaking situations. I just melted in that moment. We each took turns holding the baby and we all snapped about a million photos of each other, together, and individually. It was a moment that is forever imprinted in my memory. We are so thankful for that uninterrupted time with T & D.
The remainder of the night consisted of talking, switching rooms, eating food (Ryan was on meal duty and he did not disappoint any of us), while all along feeling the intense fear that they might choose to parent her.
We even discussed names together. We liked the name Brynn Lee. Brynn is just a name we have loved for a long time and Lee is my mom’s middle name. We were pretty set on this name. We asked them if they had a name in mind. They both became very shy. One of them worked up the courage to say, Alaura. Okay, then her name is Brynn Alaura…period. While we want to honor my mom, we also feel a significant need to honor the two people making this possible. Plus, how cool is it for Brynn to know that her birth parents took part in naming her? The birth parents love her name and they call her “Brynnie-Bear.” I’m pretty sure that adorable name is going to stick.
That night, T asked if I would be her support person in her hospital room (stay the night with her and Brynn). She really wanted her, Brynn, and I to have time together, just us. Now I’m going to admit, this request was scary for me. What if she doesn’t like how I handle Brynn at night, what if it doesn’t go well, seriously just scared. On the other hand, I was incredibly honored. I will say, the past few nights us 3 girls have spent together are irreplaceable. We talked about the adoption, about our lives and families, shared funny pictures, and best of all we got to work together as a team to take care of Brynn. Her 2 mommies had the opportunity to care for her together on her first two nights in this crazy world. Such a special time. As time went on, I noticed T begin to hand more responsibility and trust over to me when it came to Brynn. She got to see me love her and care for her and she would openly tell me how lucky she feels that she found us for Brynn. I don’t think she will ever know how much those words mean to me. She tells Brynn that her mommy loves her so much (referring to me). I have never had anyone call me mom and it was seriously a dream come true. Again, in the back of my mind, I continued to wonder if we would leave the hospital as a family of 4, or a family of 3…even with all of those reassuring words. I think we reassured each other’s fears over and over again that night.
Today, June 16, we woke up and T said she was ready to sign papers for her and D to relinquish their parental rights to Brynn. It took until about lunchtime for notaries, social workers, and agency reps to arrive. Ryan and I spent most of the morning out of the hospital room in order to give T & D time with Brynn alone. When signing time came, Ryan and I went and sat on a bench outside. I was a disaster. In that very moment, the only thing I was thinking about was how while my dreams are coming true, a woman who I respect and love is about to grieve the loss of her child. I couldn’t do anything but cry. My happiest moment was filled with so much heartache as well and I couldn’t get my emotions under control. I must have said a million prayers for her on that bench to find peace through her grief and to know in her heart that Ryan and I will love her baby and care for her with all of our heart and everything we have. About a half hour later we got a call that it was our turn. The rest as they say is history. Today is the day that marks when Ryan became Brynn’s dad and I became her mom. Jacob is already the best big brother ever. He just loves her.
As I type this blog, I am looking at T sleeping. I hope she knows how much I respect her and D. They gave Ryan and I a gift that nobody else in this world could ever give us (including ourselves). In this moment we each have something the other wants. They desire the stability required to raise a child, while we can offer stability but can’t have a child of our own. Together we make the perfect team for Brynn. She will always know this family. She (and they) will never feel loss because they will always be in each other’s lives.
As we all leave the hospital tomorrow, it will be tough. I can’t imagine what T & D are feeling and my heart is breaking for them. What I can do is be the best mom I can possibly be to their Brynnie-Bear. They are entrusting their most precious gift to us and we promise to take good care of her.
All great stories always have to have a moral. Here’s what I have learned. I learned that my original adoption plan sucks. God had his hand in every second of this adoption. I learned patience. I learned to trust. I learned to let go of what is out of my control, and I learned to be in tune with the small signs from God I was given along the way. It wasn’t until I did those things that my plan was completely transformed…and a little girl, who was never part of “my” plan, is the one who is about to change my life. In fact, she already has. From the second I held her after she officially became my daughter, every ounce of hurt, pain, frustration, and hopelessness along this challenging journey to parenthood completely vanished. It all literally vanished when I held her.
For more of Ryan and Melissa's story, find it here on their blog, Our Adoption Journey.
Photo credit Erin Tole Photography