Thursday, September 22, 2016

Adoption Story: Mike and Gayla

Today you have the gift of getting a glimpse into an entire adoption story. From the very beginning of wrestling with fear and doubt, the process of presenting to expectant mamas, getting "the call" you've been waiting for (and almost missing it!) to meeting their baby for the very first time. Today Gayla shares their story and even includes details of their NICU stay, their 4 year old, and wrestling with openness with the birth family. Mike and Gayla started with Christian Adoption Consultants in April, were home study ready in May, and met their son in July, just 24 hours after hearing about him!

Mike and I have have known that we wanted to adopt for a second time since we adopted our oldest son four years ago. We wanted at least two children and when our son came into our lives we thought in a year or two we would start the process again. Two years passed and then two more came and went. There was always a reason not to start the process.

My husband was certain that he wanted to grow our family. I always thought I was certain as well, but there was a point just last year when I was not sure that I was ready or would ever be ready to adopt again. Our journey four years ago was the biggest blessing and I would never change what or how it happened, but it was far from perfect or easy. For our first adoption we were matched right away with a birthmother who was pregnant with twins only to have that adoption fall through. Of course God had a plan because our son was born just two short weeks later. He was what they call a “stork drop” in the adoption world. He had been born, his birth mom made an adoption plan and chose us to be his parents.

We went to the hospital when he was three days old and nine days later took him home. It was the best blessing in the world! It is amazing how your child makes their way into your arms. We wanted more than one child, but as time went on the timing never seemed right. Doubt and uncertainty set in about how to fund the adoption, what it would be like raising two children, and finding the right time in our lives. As Mike and I seriously started discussing adoption again last summer, we decided we would start the process in the fall.

However, when the fall came I was not ready. The doubt was still there. We continued to discuss it because Mike knew that he was ready and he felt that now was the right time. After the holidays I began to pray about adopting again. I was really uneasy and worried a lot about it. Finally, I prayed one night that God would let me know in some way that the time was right, and the next morning I was completely at peace with adopting. That is when I knew our baby was out there and waiting for us. 

Mike and I reached out to the local agency we had used with our first adoption and started the home study process. Mike had a friend at work who had recently adopted with the help of CAC. His friend highly recommended Susan and CAC  and also the agency they had gone through to adopt. We talked with the agency and then set up a meeting with Susan. After meeting with her at a local restaurant over Mike’s lunch break, we knew we wanted to go through this journey with Susan on our side. She was very easy to talk with and she answered all of our questions. 

Fast forward through two months of finishing the paperwork needed to became an active family. At the end of May we were in Florida on vacation when we received an email stating that our home study was complete. Yay! We were excited to start this journey. As I was tucking our four year old in he said to me that maybe our baby would be born in Florida. He continued to say that for the next month and a half. Maybe, just maybe he would be right...

After our home study was complete and we chose agencies with Susan's help, we began seeing birth parent situations. The process was overwhelming at first. Previously when we adopted we simply filled out a sheet on what we were willing to accept and then our profile was just shown. We didn’t see the situations beforehand and didn’t necessarily know when our profile was being shown. This time we were being shown situations in advance and given the choice of if we wanted to present. The summaries were pretty detailed and provided a complete picture of what was going on in the birthparents lives. We saw situation after situation and nothing seemed like a good fit. We did not present our profile to a single situation during that first month.

We began to question if this was the right way for us to proceed but the next situation Susan sent up we decided to go ahead and show our profile. Later we discovered the expectant mother had chosen another family. I was not surprised, but I would be lying if I said I was not disappointed. The feeling of being rejected is a hard pill to swallow. Even though I know that is not the case and that baby was not our baby, I had to remind myself God had a plan and I just had to keep my faith.

Well God did have a plan! Later that morning after we had received the email saying that we had not been chosen, another situation came from Susan. As I read through the information, I knew that we had to present. My husband just happened to be home that morning so we were able to decide together after talking through it that we wanted to present. He went off to work, I got our four year old settled, contacted Susan and the agency letting them know we wanted to present our profile and set off to type a letter to an expectant mother who could possibly be in labor and delivering a baby very soon. As I sat down to write the letter, I was nervous and felt that I needed these words on this piece of paper to convey to her how much we wanted this. In addition to wanting to parent this little baby boy I also wanted to know her and have a relationship with her. I had to step away from the letter more than once and I even sent Susan an email asking for her to pray that I find the right words. I wrote the letter from my heart, sent it to my husband and Susan to review, and then sent it to the agency. I was anxious to hear something because they were going to present profiles to her either that afternoon or in the morning. Luckily, we had a busy evening planned with my husband’s family to celebrate mine and my niece’s birthdays. We had a great evening and I went to bed not even thinking about the situation we had presented to. Actually, I fell asleep rather quickly and slept soundly which is not ordinary for me.

At 6am my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and it said it was a call from Florida. We live in Missouri so actual calls from Florida are not normal for us. At first I thought about not answering thinking it was one of the many “you have won a free vacation” calls I have received from a Florida number. Then something finally clicked (or I actually woke up!) and it registered it was a call from Florida where the agency that presented our profile was located. I answered the phone nervously and was greeted by an amazingly pleasant voice telling us that the birth mom had chosen us and we have a baby boy! He was born last night. What??? Did all of this just happen within a span of less than 24 hours!? The next several hours are a little bit of a blur. We rushed to start packing, gathering documents, booking travel arrangements, finding someone to watch our four year old, and calling our family and close friends. We were on a plane by 2:45pm and landed in Florida at 6 pm. We had an hour drive from the airport to get to the hospital and were greeted with a warm smile and hug from a lovely social worker from the agency. She took us back to where our son was. It was love at first sight when we saw him; he was perfect. We named him Mason.

The next three weeks were hectic with a NICU stay. Mason was moved to another hospital an hour away and there was a lot of uncertainty about how long we would be staying. We were unsure how long the NICU stay would be and then how long ICPC would take after Mason was discharged. Our older son, Blake, was at home with his grandparents and after a few days Mike flew back home to bring him to Florida for a long weekend visit. He was so excited to meet his baby brother. The NICU was great about letting him visit Mason. My sister was able to join us in Florida and keep Blake occupied while Mike and I were with Mason. After the long weekend Mike and Blake flew back home for the week and my sister left. It was a long week of being by myself in an unfamiliar area. Although the nurses and staff at the hospital were amazing, it was difficult being there without my family and friends for support. I made it through the week and Mike finished up the things he needed to do at work. Mike and Blake flew back to Florida and stayed the remainder of the time. We had a small set back that kept Mason in the hospital a few days longer than expected, however, while we were there we got word from the agency that we were free to go home after Mason’s discharge. Both states had expedited and cleared our paperwork. Such great news!

A few days later Mason was discharged. Even though we could leave that day we had agreed to meet Mason’s birth mom for dinner sometime after his discharge. We did not get to meet her at the hospital after Mason’s birth since she had been discharged before we got there. We knew that would be a possibility and that she didn’t seem to want much contact. After Mason was born the social worker from the agency called me to say that she wanted  to have a more open adoption and wanted quite a bit of contact. With everything going on at the time Mike and I were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of contact she was requesting, especially since we don't share this relationship with our older son’s birth mom. We of course wanted a relationship with her and wanted that for Mason as well. We knew we wanted her in our lives, but going from very little contact to the amount she was wanting was extremely overwhelming. However, after talking with Susan and looking at it from Mason’s birth mom’s perspective, we were able to find a plan we were both comfortable with. We decided that we would meet for dinner on Friday evening. Unfortunately, there was no word from her and we did not get to meet. We were so disappointed. Here we were worried a few days ago that we would have too much contact and now we were worried we would have little to none. We hope that will change and that as time passes and she begins to heal we will hear from her. In the meantime we will continue to reach out as we had planned and hope and pray that she will reach out on her end as well.

It's now been several months since we received our call that we were parents to a precious baby boy. It has been an adjustment for our sweet family of four, especially our four year old. But it has been an amazing journey. I still cannot believe how this all happened. How one day I was disappointed we had not been chosen to the next where we were hopping on a plane to be with our son.

Adoption is a hard and stressful process. Many people do not realize or understand how hard it is emotionally and financially. However, when your baby is out there, everything will fall into place like it is supposed to. God has a plan and he will help you along the way.

With both of my boys God did not always lead us down the easiest path, but he led us down the right one. Never give up hope and keep your faith in God. He has a plan even if you don’t understand it right now. He works in amazing ways!

Welcome to the world, Mason Harris.

Photo credit Lesley Platz Photography.

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