by: Kelly Socia
For many of us, hopes, dreams and aspirations of becoming a parent don’t quite dissipate when told infertility is our dilemma. I speak from experience, as I recall that fateful day when I received a call from our doctor delivering us the debilitating news. The emotions that went into that evening and the days ahead surged an energy in us to go through whatever possible to ensure we would eventually be holding a baby in our arms. While our story isn’t quite the normal adoption journey, my hope is to educate, inspire and encourage anyone reading this seeking to adopt.
While fertility treatments can be draining emotionally, physically and financially, the question of “Why don’t you just adopt?” isn’t always an easy answer. My husband and I had always thought we would have one child of our own, and then adopt; the thought never crossed our minds that we wouldn’t be able to conceive on our own, and that adoption would be our only answer. Many of the exciting aspects our friends got to experience throughout pregnancy, delivery and even early days of being home with their newborn, were all things that we thought adoption wouldn’t quite afford us… and I’m thankful to say we were truly wrong.
When we decided we couldn’t bear another round of IVF and that adoption was officially our next step, the weight on our shoulders seemed to lift, and hope entered our hearts. We didn’t know the first step, and thus we consulted with the only friend we thought would have answers–Google. We researched for days, and quickly discovered we had many decisions to make throughout the process. Would we adopt internationally? Within the US? Or focus just within the state of Arkansas? What ethnicity was our preference, and what age were we seeking–newborn, toddler or child? How would we obtain our baby: boutique attorney, agency or non-profit organization? Note that fees range drastically depending upon your selection, and a list of all fees associated from start to finish can and should be given to you when you’re interviewing with organizations. Some questions really tugged at our hearts, and I quickly realized this process would be an emotional one. Would we be willing to accept a baby with an illness, or one that would potentially need surgery throughout his or her life? Would we be willing to accept a baby who had been exposed to drugs, alcohol or smoke during the pregnancy? What amount of exposure would we be comfortable with? I remember looking to my husband through tear-filled eyes, asking, “Why can’t we just have a healthy baby? These are all such tough decisions to make.” While the decisions were difficult, the end goal of having a baby truly kept us forging ahead.
As we narrowed down our options and decided we wanted a newborn within our own state, we also decided to move forward with a boutique attorney.
The hands you place your adoption journey into are very important and I encourage you to research heavily.
In my opinion, inquiring about their success rates (meaning the birth mother didn’t back out) and how they cared for the birth mother were two of the most important questions to ask. We made the appointment with our attorney and went in hopeful. While we’d done our research, we left that meeting realizing there were many items we still needed to do before we could move forward in the process. During the application process, we were forced to dig in deep and put our thoughts on paper as to why we truly wanted to adopt. I loved answering those questions, and my answers flowed easily. I remember crying and smiling all at the same time as I shared how we couldn’t wait to love, nurture, protect and instill strong values into a child of our own. These questions were a welcome reminder that this process was just that– “a process”–and a means to an end in eventually becoming parents. Part of the process is also completing a four-part home study with a social worker. We received a referral from someone through our church and, fortunately, Bruce was a true delight! I recall walking into his office, shaking his hand and laughing as he said, “Forgive me but I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you that this process will be incredibly intrusive.”
We quickly noted that our laughter was due to our comfort with intrusion, as IVF was definitely just that! We had several meetings with Bruce and he used that time to get to know us as a couple and as individuals. His questions ranged from what kind of marriage we had and how we handled conflict, to what kind of home we both grew up in and how our parents raised us. The last visit took place in our home to allow him to survey the type of secure home our child would be raised in. I love to host, and, in my research of the home study, I’d read that this is a great opportunity to cook and/or bake and really help ensure that the social worker feels right at home. The visit took place on a chilly spring night, and I thought homemade chili and cornbread said comfort better than anything. I even made homemade cookies! All of my preparation came tumbling down, however, when at the dinner table I noticed a strand of my own long brown hair in my chili. Much to my dismay, both my husband and Bruce noticed, too! Fortunately, laughter was a theme of the evening, and we wrapped up the study with Bruce giving us a hug and telling us that any child would be incredibly fortunate to be welcomed into our home and into our lives.
We waited about four weeks until I texted the attorney to check in. We’d been warned the process could take 1 – 2 years, so we knew weekly check-ins wouldn’t be happening. The attorney informed me that he’d actually shown our profile book to a prospective birth mother just two days prior, and she’d decided to go with another couple. As I read the text, tears streamed down my cheeks. Through all the excitement, preparation and research to ensure our profile book was incredibly appealing, it never dawned on me that a birth mom would look at our lives, our love for each other and the oh-so-cute pictures of our wonderful dogs and then choose someone else. Let me pause and say that I mean that with true humility… within the process you honestly forget that you’re being reviewed against other couples. In the grand scheme of it all, this is a great benefit to the birth mother, as this allows her a good selection process to feel comfortable and secure about who she’ll be placing her child with. While our attorney only had 5 couples at a time, my husband and I decided we wanted to cast a wider net and thus began looking at agencies. Agencies are the primary choice for many birth mothers, and we knew our chances would be greater, and hopefully our timeline much shorter.
It was a chilly Friday in January when we made our way to Little Rock to meet with the agency we’d chosen, and I could hardly contain my excitement. In my research I’d completed in the early stages of our decision to adopt, I’d felt so certain about an agency I’d found, whose mission statement aligned so succinctly with our own strong faith and beliefs. After two hours of meeting with the owner, we were certain we’d found the woman who would help us find our baby! In fact, her program was so successful, she confirmed we should be paired with a birth mom within a year, at most. We completed their application within a few days, and quickly followed up with them to ensure our name was “in the mix” should the right birth mother come along.
Unfortunately, agencies are a bit different and they conduct several background checks and studies of their own before accepting you into their program; thus, we had at least 2 weeks before we would hear back. A few weeks passed, and one random Thursday night, around 7:30, my husband and I sat down to unwind from the day and watch TV. My phone rang and illuminated a number I wasn’t familiar with. I assumed it was a telemarketer and, after hesitating, decided I’d go ahead and answer. Much to our surprise, it was the owner of the agency. She made small talk and then said, “I have great news, you’re officially accepted into our program!” She quickly followed that up with, “I have more news: I have a birth mother that I’d like to pair you with.” Excited and nervous, we exclaimed that that was great news, and before we could get out another word, she said, “I have even more news: it’s twins, and she’s due for a C-section next Friday!” I put her on mute and shouted, “What?!” as my husband burst into laughter. As our unbelievable luck would have it, that C-section would be coming much sooner. She started contractions about an hour later and we would need to give our answer by 9:30 that night. The anxiety and energy surge we’d both felt during that initial call calmed down and, after praying and talking it over, we knew with certainty that we desperately wanted those babies in our lives.
When we signed up to adopt, I recall many thoughts going through my mind. Will the birth mother let me be in the delivery room? Will she let us cut the umbilical cord? What do hospitals allow for the adoptive parents? Will we get to spend a lot of time with the baby while in the hospital? When we arrived at the hospital at midnight, we were taken straight into a room and treated as if I had delivered the babies. A nurse walked in and said, “Mom and Dad, you have two very healthy baby boys. They are both around 6 lbs, and they’re doing great. We’re getting them cleaned up now and we’ll take you to them in a few minutes.” She also confirmed the birth mother was doing great. The process was beautiful. I didn’t feel, nor was I treated for a moment, as though I didn’t give birth to those children. I remember God slowing my thoughts so I could truly take in all that was quickly transpiring around us. I can say nothing will ever compare to the feeling we had when they placed those babies into our arms. Beckham Isaiah, born at 11:43pm, and Liam Crosby, born at 11:45 pm, were placed into our arms at 12:30 am Friday morning, and time seemed to stand still. My husband and I took in every second of it as if it were our last and we couldn’t believe the time had finally come–we were officially a mom and dad.
The agony of adoption is the waiting, as you can never be certain when that call confirming you’re matched with a birth mother will come. The joy, however, is the moment when you receive that call. The last 8 months have been filled with so much joy that I could write a novel documenting the fun and laughter we have experienced. Becks and Liam have changed our lives in ways we never dreamed possible, and they have completed our family beautifully. I can only pray that, for those reading this and considering adoption, you feel as though some of your questions have been answered and your faith inspired.
While our story isn’t the typical adoption story, the same details apply, and that is this: a loving birth mother made a very tough decision, but did so to ensure her babies would have a great life. Daily we seek to honor that tough decision and ensure they’re incredibly well taken care of and that they know just how loved they are. Little do they know, they honor us and show us how loved we are, as Becks says “Dada” and Liam smiles and says “Mama”.