Friday, December 21, 2018

Adoption Story: Kyle and Liz

It still amazes me how every family that comes together through adoption has such an incredibly different story. A unique reason they chose adoption to grow their family, different twists and turns on the journey to their baby, and distinct details that make up their adoption.

When Liz first shared their adoption story, my first instinct was to shorten it a bit for this space for ease of reading. But I quickly checked my initial response: each detail is so significant to their story. Each step was one closer to their daughter. And each decision, heartbreak, and event, no matter how small, God sovereignly used as a part of the grand way he would make this family of three a family of four.

So today I have the joy of sharing, in all of the beautiful details, Liz's story of how their daughter came into this world and into their family.



Technically, I'm not sure when our adoption journey began.  Kyle and I had a brief conversation at some point about considering adopting when we were dating or engaged and we both agreed to consider it when we were ready to start a family. We had our first child biologically, but with some complications. I was admitted to the hospital for a few weeks when I was 28 weeks pregnant and ended up having surgery. Our baby boy was born perfectly healthy in October of 2015. After some follow up visits to multiple doctors, we found out we could attempt to have more children biologically, but no one would guarantee that complications wouldn't occur. We both agreed that when we were ready to grow our family again, we wanted to explore adoption.

We started with initial calls with a few agencies and found a local Christian agency that seemed to be a good fit.  The PILES of paperwork were daunting but we got to work right away and spent our evenings filling out all the forms. We were officially home study approved in September of 2017. One Sunday evening in January, we received an email about a baby boy who was born in downtown Kansas City. He seemed healthy but there had been heavy drug use during the pregnancy. We did some research that evening, but told our social worker that we weren't comfortable presenting to this situation. However, God really worked on our hearts that week and on Wednesday we called her back and said we'd like to present if it wasn't too late. We started preparing physically and emotionally to possibly bring home a baby Friday, but found out that we weren't chosen since we already had a son. We were heartbroken and didn't understand why God has us pursue this opportunity if it wasn't meant to be. However, it made us realized that although we were nervous to grow to be a family of four, we were ready to take on the challenge.  

Since our local agency was so small, we did some research on what other options we had to be able to adopt more quickly. That's when we found Susan and Christian Adoption Consultants. She was so quick to respond, answer ALL of our questions, and get us started. By the end of February, we were live with about twelve agencies nationwide. We finally saw a situation we were comfortable presenting to from Phoenix and found out a week later that the expectant mother picked us! We called the agency and accepted the match. The first week or so went by with lots of details to discuss, but we had plenty of time to work everything out since the baby wasn't due until August. Susan helped us with questions during the process, what to expect as we waited, and communication with the expectant mother and the agency. We hired an attorney and waited each week for our update call. However, after six weeks we were learning that the expectant mother wasn't following the agency's processes - she wasn't checking in when she was supposed to and was skipping doctor's appointments. We had about a month of waiting - calls and emails back and forth daily with updates on if she showed up for appointments. The agency was very patient with us and seemed to be taking good care of the expectant mother, which was the most important thing to us. Finally though, we got the call that our expectant mom wasn't happy with the agency and was walking away. They suspected she may have had a miscarriage and didn't want anyone to know. Regardless of the real story, we were heartbroken again. We took our toddler to dinner the night we found out, distracted him with French fries and discussed the possibility of not going forward with an adoption. We decided we had come too far and knew we still wanted to grow our family. Honestly, not only were we disappointed about the baby, but the financial burden of the failed adoption made the heartache worse. We had lost our match fee and didn't see how we were going to come up with that amount again.

I feel like our story defines the saying "don't put God in a box." When we had called our adoption attorney to tell him about the adoption plan failing and figuring out final fees, he told us that he does lots of private adoptions if we knew of anyone who wanted to make an adoption plan. We said, ok great, we'd be fine with that, but didn't really plan on advertising or actively looking for a baby in this way.

It was the beginning of April now and not a lot of new situations came up. When one finally did we realized we were pretty terrified of being matched and it failing again. We decided not to present for a while and prayed God would give us peace about the right expectant mother for us.  

One evening in the middle of April, my dad called. He had had a man from his prayer group visit him at work and ask how our adoption process was going since they had been praying at their church. He told my dad about his granddaughter who was 17 and pregnant here in Missouri. She and her family were considering creating an adoption plan. He encouraged my dad to have me call his daughter so we could potentially meet and discuss adopting their baby if we were interested. I then made one of the most difficult and awkward calls of my life. I called this woman and explained to her that my father knew her father, that my husband and I were wanting to grow our family through adoption, and that we would be willing to adopt their daughter's baby if they were willing to consider it. I emailed her our adoption attorney's information as well as our profile book. She said they were still very unsure as to what they were going to do, but said she would look at the information I sent. We didn't hear anything from them after that, but one Friday evening about 3 weeks later, our adoption attorney called and said the woman had called him and wanted to discuss next steps in creating an adoption plan with us! We set up a meeting with them for the next Sunday.

On Wednesday morning, I got a call that an expectant mom in Florida had picked us for her baby boy that was due in the middle of August. I immediately started crying out of frustration and confusion. The social worker on the phone assumed I was elated and continued telling me about how this birth mom loved our profile, our family life, and that we were the only family she had picked with no secondary choice like they usually do. They needed us to accept the match in 24 hours.  I hung up the phone bewildered on what was happening. We now seem to have 2 babies to pick from?  What was happening? Again, Susan was there for us, talking us through options on what to do since we were in the middle of the private adoption situation potentially taking place. We called the Florida agency back and explained everything. The agency was very gracious and agreed to give us through Monday to accept or decline the match.

Sunday morning, Kyle and I met the expectant mother, her mom, step-dad, and grandmother. It was nerve-wrecking, but oddly not that uncomfortable. We found out she was having a baby girl in August and left that day with an understanding that everyone wanted to move forward with this private adoption plan. As excited as Kyle and I were about this local opportunity, we were heartbroken AGAIN to say no to the expectant mother in Florida. We deliberated different options and outcomes, even trying to think of ways to potentially adopt two babies (in different states) in one month - probably not our best idea. However, we knew we needed to say no, and give everything we had to the expectant mother here in Missouri. We grieved the Florida baby for a day or two before we were ready to have an evening to celebrate our match with the local expectant mom.  

From there on out, we were able to be included in so much of our daughter's first-families' story. I was able to attend doctor's appointments, hear her heartbeat, see ultrasounds, and go out for ice cream with her birth mom and great-grandma to get to know each other better. They were the kindest people. When the birth mom was around 38 weeks, we found out that our daughter's birth father's family, didn't know if they were totally on board with the adoption plan. They decided it would make them feel better to meet us before they committed to sign anything. On a Tuesday afternoon, we set up to meet at a Dairy Queen close to the hospital so I could go to the birth mom's doctor's appointment after. To say I was nervous was an understatement - it felt like if I said the wrong thing, they could put a stop to the whole plan. However, almost as soon as I met our daughter's paternal first grandparents, I was put at ease. They were the nicest people and understandably wanted to discuss everything first hand.  It was - again - a strangely easy conversation. We're so thankful that we had time with our daughter's birth families.


Fortunately, we had met when we did. That Friday evening, we got that call that our birth mom was going into labor and she wanted us at the hospital. We had friends and family drop what they were doing to stay with our son as we packed our bags and drove to the hospital. We arrived around 10 pm and texted back and forth with our birth mom's grandmother. After about 30 minutes in the waiting room, our daughter's birth father and his parents arrived to wait as well. We all drank coffee and got to know each other better for a few hours. At 2:04 am, our daughter - Claire Elizabeth - was born.  We received the OK to come and meet her about 15 minutes later. We got to hold her and check on her first mom.  Everything had gone smoothly and everyone was great. The nurses ushered us quickly out so she could recover and took us to our very own hospital room. Since the maternity unit wasn't full, we were able to stay with our daughter in a room as if we had delivered her. Claire's birth father and his parents came back to meet her and take some pictures for about 30 minutes, and then went home to get some rest. While we were in the hospital, some of our birth mom's family came to check on her and meet Claire. They congratulated us, brought gifts, and were so kind. Our daughter's birth mother signed papers and was discharged early so we were able to leave the hospital on Monday with Claire with no issues.

This Christmas it's so surreal that she's here. We spent so many holidays, birthdays, and just normal weekdays, wondering when she would be with us. We're so thankful for God's faithfulness, sovereign plan, and perfect timing. God answered so many prayers with Claire and her first family: we prayed about our relationship with our baby's birth family before we knew them and it all went so smoothly. They are very special to us and it seems strange not to see them any more like we did before her birth. Also, He provided a baby close to us in the same state so we didn't have to leave our son for weeks to stay in another state. Finally, with the private adoption, because the fees looked much different, God provided all of the money we needed so we didn't have to take out loans.  

We learned lots of things through our adoption process. We found that working with adoptions professionals, like Susan, and the excellent attorney she recommended was invaluable. I also personally found it helpful to read and listen to as many adoption stories as possible. I could not get enough of all of the different ways people had grown their family. I felt like by doing this, nothing would surprise me or catch me off guard (ha!). Finally, we were surrounded by the very best family, friends, and church family anyone could ask for. They covered us in prayer, encouraged us, listened to us cry, brought us cinnamon rolls and dinner, and watched our son when we needed to go to appointments, finish paperwork, or just needed a break to process what was happening. 

In the end, we learned for certain, that even with all the hardships, God writes the best stories.

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