“As a child and throughout my adolescence, I never imagined my wedding day or the gown I would wear. I never gave my profession or biological children any thought. I had always dreamed of adopting and knew without a doubt that I would do it someday.
‘Are you okay with adopting in the future?’ I asked my husband Ben when we first started dating at the ages of 19 and 21. Because for me, that’s a deal-breaker.’ I realised it would be not very sensible to date someone who didn’t have that desire, and I wasn’t going to spend my time. It seemed clear to me that it was in my future. I’ve never been so certain that something was meant for me until now.
I wanted to adopt before having biological children after we married. I was dead bent on the notion; it was the life I had always imagined for myself. But when I told Ben about it, he didn’t think it was the proper time. I was torn, conflicted, and irritated. We argued back and forth, and he made some good points. We both knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to bear biological children, so I felt why not give it a shot? If we couldn’t conceive, I could get everything I wanted by adopting! But God had different ideas, and we were pregnant within a month. I was SHOCKED when I found out I was pregnant since it wasn’t what I thought God had planned for my life. Where had my adoptive child gone, who had been a part of my heart for so long? This wasn’t supposed to happen! I decided to give it to both God and Ben. I needed Ben to be just as enthusiastic as I was. I began fervently praying that God would give Ben the desire in his heart to guide us to the proper time and to the child God already knew would be ours.
I was inundated with a love I didn’t know could exist once our baby was born. I immediately had a strong desire for another child, and we became pregnant when she was just three months old. We both thought we needed a break after our two children were born only 14 months apart. I was still praying for our adoptive kid a year later, and I experienced an early miscarriage before becoming pregnant with our son Lawson.
Looking back on those years of development, I can see why adoption wasn’t the best option. I can see my inexperience with parenting and how immature I was. Now, as I look at our family, I notice how well everyone fits together in the appropriate order. But, more significantly, I can see how far I’ve progressed. Our relationship has matured, and my heart has shifted. I’ve become softer and more sympathetic toward others, and I’ve learned to prioritise others and their needs before my own. I’m no longer a 20-year-old who thinks she knows what it’s like to be a mother, but a mother of three who faces those obstacles every day. I’ve experienced the reality of self-sacrifice and the unconditional love that comes with it.
Ben and I were casually discussing another child in our daily lives. Ben reached across the table, grasped my hand, and told me he thought we should adopt one night while we were out on a much-needed date. I was on the verge of passing out right there in front of everyone. I had been praying for five years that God would guide him in deciding when to adopt. I had a hot flash, was on the verge of passing out, and kissed him! ‘Are you sure you’re ready to do this?!’ I had to ask. Yes, he agreed!
I returned home and began researching agencies right away, interviewing over a dozen in one week. I decided on American Adoptions after two weeks of searching. We began the home study process, and in less than a month, Ben and I completed all of the classes and mounds of paperwork. We focused on finishing it as soon as possible because I KNEW our baby was somewhere out there. We went live with the agency at the end of August, when our paperwork was completed. Every month, our profile was presented to 30 or so pregnant women, and it was excruciating to know that an unknown number on my phone could be ‘the call.’ We received the call on December 15, almost precisely six months after that life-changing date night.
I recall sitting on the couch after getting all of the kids to rest time, enjoying the peace, and reflecting on what a wonderful day it had been. I stepped over to my phone on the counter when it rang, saw an unusual number, and knew right away it was the call I’d been waiting for! When I picked up the phone, a woman informed me that a birth mother had chosen Ben and me to parent her child, and she was due TOMORROW.
I was on the verge of passing out right there. My stomach was flipping, and my mind was racing at a million miles per hour trying to process everything. How would we go to the birth mother’s house in one day, who would watch our other children, and how much money do we owe in legal fees now?! These were only a few of the thoughts that ran through my mind. But I was giving it my all and maintaining my composure on the phone. She stated that she would conference call Ben onto our call to all hear the specifics. I was in a panic at this point. Ben was working at the time in a job where he was so overworked that he never answered his phone. I put her on speaker and texted Ben 50 times in two minutes, demanding that he ‘ANSWER YOUR PHONE!’ CALL FOR ADOPTION!’ I was hoping he’d respond since I was on adrenaline and knew I wouldn’t communicate all of the information correctly if he didn’t. On the fourth ring, Ben responded. As the woman began to tell us about our baby and his biological mother, a big breath of relief washed over me, and she asked if we accepted the match. We both felt he was the one right away, and we said YES at the same time, thousands of miles apart. She asked us what we wanted to name our boy, and I told them I wanted to name him Miller, after my grandfather and all of the males in my family. We were promised that further information would be available soon, and the call came to a close. It felt strange to hang up the phone and sit alone in my living room. My life was changed entirely and permanently by a phone call.
This was the start of the most intense emotional roller coaster of my life. We were urged to wait until the birth mother was admitted to the hospital before booking a flight. It was just days before Christmas, and we had three other children at home. We continued with our lives and the planned Christmas parties, but our suitcases were packed and ready! The baby was due on a Friday, but that day came and went, and by the time Saturday and Sunday rolled around, I was about to burst with excitement. Finally, on Monday morning, we received word that she was having a C-section and that we needed to board an aircraft immediately away.
That evening, we were on a red-eye trip from Seattle to Houston, where our son would be born. We knew from the start that our adoption was in God’s hands. We were working with a national agency, and we could have been matched anywhere in the US, but we have matched just 2 1/2 hours away from my entire extended family and my parents’ home. Not only that, but my parents were in town for the holidays and were able to care for our children while we were gone. Everything was coming together!
We landed in Houston completely weary around 5 a.m. As we filled up boxes with a pack ‘n play and an infant car seat, but no kid, we got a lot of glances and even more questions at baggage claim.
We rushed to the hospital, where I was supposed to phone the agency and inform them that we had arrived. They then contacted the biological mother, who gave her permission for us to enter. When we first arrived, I assumed that someone from the agency would greet us and assist us with the process. I hadn’t realised we were entering a room alone to meet the birth mother and potentially our son.
I’d never felt so jittery in my life. I was trembling and clutching Ben’s arm. We buzzed the entrance to enter the maternity unit, and as soon as the doors opened, a nurse greeted us and led us to her room. We knocked anxiously and lightly on the door. After hearing a ‘come in,’ we entered the room and saw our son’s birth mother for the first time. She was lying in bed with a beautiful baby boy in her arms. That’s when it hit me again: this baby isn’t mine yet. He’s hers, she’s holding her son’s heart in her hands, and the love was palpable. ‘Do you want to meet your son Miller?’ she asked as I gravitated toward her. I scooped him up in my arms and gazed at the cutest chubby-cheeked infant I’d ever seen. But I couldn’t get my heart away from his birth mother. She had told the agency that she wanted us to get Miller and take him to a different room. But once we met, we clicked, and Ben and I spent the next two days getting to know her. We stayed in the room with her and Miller for 12 hours every day. We’d cuddle Miller, but I still had the impression that he belonged to her. I could see her love for him, and I started to adore them both.
It wasn’t the magnificent scene I’d imagined in my imagination when someone would place my son in my arms, and I’d experience the motherly love I’d always imagined. I had instinctively cut myself off to protect my heart, and I had been devoid of emotion for the majority of the time. I didn’t want to love him as if he were my own and then have her change her mind, so I opted to love both of them. I felt compelled to be there for her, and if she selected us to be Miller’s parents, we’d have years to spoil him, whereas she would only have 48 hours. I also knew how beneficial it was for babies to feel and hear their mother’s touch and voice, and I wanted Miller to have that experience. So we sat in her room, taking turns holding Miller and giving him our full attention.
We’d talk about everything: our past experiences, Miller’s prospects, siblings, and so on. I absorbed everything she taught me about caring for his skin and hair like a sponge.
I felt this holy peace as the days went by, and I knew he would be ours. I had a gut feeling she would still choose adoption and us as her parents, but I was heartbroken for her. We were asked to leave the room after the 48-hour period had elapsed so she and her attorney could go over the paperwork. Ben and I were concerned once more, but I knew she’d do what her Mama’s heart said her was best for Miller, despite her sorrow. And that is exactly what parenthood entails. It prioritises your child’s health and future over your own.
Miller was already a favourite of mine. This was the child for whom I had prayed for almost 20 years. For me, love was never a question. But it was the deep, unwavering pain that caught me off guard. On December 22, we were seated on a bench outside when we received word that Miller’s biological mother had signed the paperwork and that we could return. I started crying, not because Miller was ours, but because I knew she had a broken heart.
We returned to the hospital and rang the doorbell. I was even more apprehensive about seeing her because I knew it could be the last time. When we entered her room, Miller’s birth mother was seated there, cradling not only her son but now ours as well. We all started crying when she saw us, stood up, and kissed Miller. She turned around and hugged me after placing him in the baby carrier that the hospital requires to roll the baby out of the room. As she wailed in my arms and tears streamed down my face, I attempted to be strong. We all started crying a little harder as she turned to hug Ben. It was time for us to leave before we knew it. Miller was carried out of the room, and we told her we loved her and that we’d talk soon.
We had to push our son out of the room and down the hall away from her while she stood there watching us and sobbing excessively. That’s when I lost it. I never cried during any of my births. I’m not a crier, but that day I cried more than I had ever sobbed in my life. While waiting for Miller to be released, we were moved to another room. I took Miller into my arms after the nurse shut the door. I began to sob uncontrollably with excitement for which I had waited and prayed for nearly my entire life. But, more importantly, I felt something completely unexpected at that time. I was overcome with grief for his biological mother. I cried uncontrollably for both of us. It was the first time I realised how much love and pain could exist in the same moment as I felt the obligation of being an adopted Mom.
I just wanted to take my baby home, sleep in my own bed, and start our life together when we got out of the hospital and into our hotel. We were told that we would have to wait a month or longer to leave the state with Miller because it was so near to Christmas. The agency advised us to settle in because we would be waiting long. We decided to drive to my parents’ place and stay in a comfortable environment. We could prepare our food and keep Miller safe from germs.
We settled in at my parents’ place and spent our time bonding with Miller, doing hours and hours of skin on skin, loving him completely, and getting to know each other. Christmas Eve had arrived, and my parents’ flight back to the United States was coming. We had to hustle to locate sitters for our children back home, and we decided that Ben would return to Washington to look after them while I stayed in Texas to wait for the state to clear us. God, on the other hand, had a different plan. Our agency called late Christmas Eve to tell us that we were cleared to take Miller home! A month-long process was completed in just four days! We couldn’t find a flight on Christmas Day, so we scheduled a flight for the next day. My parents and my Texas family were able to join us in celebrating Christmas. They were ecstatic to see Miller and show their affection for him, flooding us with baby clothes and gifts.
We boarded a plane on December 26th and flew home as a family of six. I was overcome by an amazing sense of tranquilly as soon as we walked through the doors of our house. We felt whole as Miller’s three elder siblings cuddled him and introduced themselves. We arrived home two days late, ready to enjoy Christmas.
Adoption is not a love affair. It’s a matter of life and death. Miller’s birth mother opted to give our son a better life, a family with a mother and father, and a life she couldn’t provide. I am grateful to her for sacrificing her sentiments for our son. We keep in touch, and I’m looking forward to the day when Miller will understand everything I tell him about his birth mother and the undeniable love she has for him.
I had been praying for Miller every day for the previous 24 years of my life. I had no idea who he was, where he came from, or how our narrative would unfold. But now I understand. Miller is mine, and I am completely his, and he is adored.”
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