Thursday, December 29, 2016

Adoption Story: Mike and Helen

I knew the moment I first talked to Helen she had a sweet spirit. Her family has an amazing story and they had a beautiful daughter who was adopted from Ethiopia. I knew even then the story of how their second baby would come to them would be just as amazing and beautiful. Walking with Helen and Mike, I was often in awe of their strength and their faith. And no less astonished at their perseverance and commitment to the process of continuing to grow their family through adoption... 

When we adopted our daughter 3 years ago from Ethiopia, we were positive that we will adopt from Africa again. We felt that this is a way to maintain a connection to where we come from. We are both originally from Africa and came to the US for education and career advancement (yeah, long story). Adopting domestically was not in our radar. That changed when I met my dear friend JJ. We started to meet for coffee often. We discussed all things adoption and I shared with her our desire to adopt. She shared her adoption story with me and her positive experience with Susan. I was very ambivalent with going domestic. However, international adoption from most African countries was not going well. The agency we almost signed on with was closing its doors. When I heard this, I called JJ again and we sat for a long time for coffee. This time, I was all ears. By the time our coffee date was done, I was all in. 

After we signed on with Susan, she started emailing situations to us. One evening, Susan called us about a birth mom who was a week from delivery and was specifically interested in a black family. We asked to be presented. 2 days later, Susan called us to let us know she had chosen us and that meant we had to be in Las Vegas as soon as possible. We did exactly that and we were on cloud nine when we met the birth family. We could tell they liked us and the feeling was mutual. 

We were there when the baby was born. He was beautiful baby boy. We were crying tears of joy. The next day, it seemed the birth family were ambivalent regarding the adoption plan. However, the birth mom told us there was no way she was going to change her mind. She was just having difficulty processing her feelings but was set on the plan. That changed on the next day when they decided to parent. Though we knew it was a bittersweet moment, we were devastated. Our 3-year-old was crying. We felt defeated. We felt hopeless. However, many people sent us messages of support as soon as they learned of what happened. Many prayed for us. Susan called and supported us along the way. We started reflecting more on the pain of birth parents. In some ways, I could see the pain of what it feels like. Adoption is indeed bittersweet. 

Slowly, our hearts were getting better. This is the season when we learned to truly trust in God. Even though we had so much support, we felt somehow alienated. I remember one evening telling my husband that I was so happy the mom had decided to parent, yet I had tears in my eyes on my own sadness. My husband reminded me that is the reality of adoption. We started wondering if we will adopt again. If it falls through again, will we survive? Will our daughter survive? 

The next day we got a call from the same agency of a little boy who was already born; would we consider parenting him? We told the agency we would get back with them at the end of the day. We wrestled with the decision. We felt like it was too soon to take a leap of faith. But somehow, I felt something inside my heart. I talked to my husband. That evening we said yes. The next day we were in Las Vegas, the same city we had vowed never to return to. By the time Thanksgiving came, we had been with our baby for 2 days and we were bonding and falling in love with him. When we met his birth mom, we were extremely nervous. In my heart, I had a mix of many emotions. I felt her pain and the scene of what had happened two weeks prior came replaying in my head. Secretly, I started questioning if we were deserving of this perfect child. 

As we sat across from each other in a Mexican restaurant and over fajitas, I decided to tell her how I felt. She smiled at my eyes and assured me she was sure this is the plan she wants and she is happy that we are the people to raise her son. Somehow, it was as if the weight in my heart had been lifted. She was at peace. We were at peace. Yet a little lingering sadness was in the air.

As I look at my son now at a month old, I am amazed with the journey that took us to him. I feel an incredible connection to him, so strong that I can't explain. I don't feel lucky. I feel blessed. I think of his birth mom almost every day. I am sure she thinks of him too. We are incredibly blessed to be his parents. Our almost four year old is so in love with him. Just yesterday, as I watched her giving him a bottle (with their father closely supervising!) I was overwhelmed with all the feelings. The story of God's redemptive love. My daughter looked my way and said, "Daddy, Mommy is happy crying again!"

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