I’ve been meaning to post our adoption story… to fill in the gap between finishing up our homestudy to bringing Owen home with us. For both Owen and his birthmom’s privacy, I am leaving out many of the details. Funnel and I feel like there are things about Owen’s story that should belong solely to him. One day he can decide to share more information about his story and his birthmom, if he chooses to.
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Mid-April, our social worker let us know that she was almost finished writing our homestudy and that we would be getting a letter any day to officially tell us that we were a “waiting family.” On April 24th, we got that letter in the mail, and we also got something even more exciting via email that same day – our first email about a potential “adoption opportunity.”
Our adoption agency matches families with babies in two ways. The first way is the way the majority of matches are handled: A birthmom will contact the agency during her pregnancy and create an adoption plan. As a part of the paperwork, she will fill out a social-medical history form about herself and the baby’s father. The agency will use that form to see which adoptive families would be a good match and would be willing to adopt her baby. Adoptive families can specify specific things they are and are not open to (race, gender, drug/alcohol exposure, medical conditions, family history etc) and the agency will show the birthmom only the profiles of families that would be a good match for her child. The adoptive couples are not informed when their profiles are shown – they are only informed if and when they are choosen by a birthmom.
The second way matches occur is less common and these are called “Adoption opportunities.” These happen when a family is needed to be found extremely quickly for a child. In these situations, the baby has already been born, or is about to be born. A mass e-mail is sent out to all of the waiting families with information about the child, and the adoptive families have to respond back in a very short window if they would like their profile shown to the birthmom.
The email we got that day was an “adoption opportunity” . My heart lept as I sat at my desk at work and read about a baby boy who had been born the previous day in the Cleveland area- a family needed to be found very quickly for him. We had a couple of hours to decide if we were interested in this opportunity. I called Funnel at work and told him about the email. We both were about to get off of work for the day, so we decided to discuss it when we got home. We poured over the six pages of information we had about the situation, and went back and forth on it. On one hand – this sounded like a great situation and we were so desperate to bring a baby home and be parents. On the other hand – we had planned on not getting matched for a few more months and were hoping to save up a few thousand dollars more. Could we really afford it yet? After much debate and prayer, we decided to just go for it. If this was our son, we believed that we would be chosen and that God would provide the rest of the money we needed. If this wasn’t our child, we would patiently wait for him or her!
We sent the email just minutes before the deadline and I immediately felt sick with anxiety. Would we get chosen? Were we really ready for a baby? Was I ready to be a mom? Was it possible our long-awaited-child was already born and waiting for us in a hospital? We immediately went into baby-mode. We got out the car seat that had been sitting in a box in the closet since the baby shower and tried putting it Funnel’s Acura. I looked through the nursery closet to see what else we may need if we were to bring a baby home. I made sure my camera batteries were charged and my memory cards were clear. While we knew there were probably dozens of families that had responded to the email, we needed to be ready just in case.
That night, as we watched a movie, I kept nervously checking my email and phone, not able to concentrate on anything but the thoughts racing through my mind. I got less than three hours sleep as I kept tossing and turning wondering what was going to happen. To be honest, I felt panicked.
When I woke up the next morning, an email was sitting in my inbox reading, “Thank you to everyone who responded to this adoption opportunity. A family has been chosen for this baby boy. We are thrilled for the new family!” A weird mix of disappointment and relief filled my body. That baby boy wasn’t our son.
A couple of weeks later – on May 7th, the day after Funnel’s 31st birthday, I got another email while at work about an “adoption opportunity” – this one was also a baby boy and the form said he was due the following day – May 8th. The deadline to respond to this situation was only a couple of hours from then, so Funnel and I were not able to discuss it in person like the first email. When he had a break at work, he called me and we talked about it, and we decided to respond that we were interested. This time, when I hit “send”, I did not experience the wave of anxiety and fear or the need to rush around and prepare things. I was glad I got that out of my system the first time around. I didn’t have much expectation of getting picked because I figured that tons of families would respond positively to the situation and I kept thinking of how frantic I was the last time around – all for nothing.
The next morning when we hadn’t gotten a call from the agency, I assumed we weren’t chosen and headed off to work. At about 10:00 that morning, my phone rang, and saw a familiar name and number on the caller ID – Kim, our social worker. In that instant, I knew. I knew what the call was about. I knew that this call was going to change my life. I knew that our prayers had been answered. And I felt the blood rushing to my head and my heart racing as I answered.
“Jen,” she said, “I have some exciting news for you. You’re going to be a mommy this Mother’s Day!” The rest of the conversation was a blur. I remember feeling dizzy. I remember I had to ask her to repeat things several times as I wrote down what she told me with a shaking hand. I remember saying, “oh my gosh” over and over again. And then she said something that made it feel really real, “Jen, you and Nate are going to meet the birthmom for lunch at Max and Erma’s at 2:00. It would be appropriate for you to bring her a bouquet of flowers.”
After we hung up, I dialed Funnel’s cell phone in a dream-like state. He didn’t answer. So I texted him, “Babe! We’re going to be parents! She picked us! Can you call me?” And then I felt awful for delivering this life-changing news via text.
And then I remembered I could call his store. He answered. ”Did you get my text?” I asked him. I was relieved when he told me he hadn’t seen it yet. ”You’re going to be a dad!” I told him. What a joy to be able to tell him that. I quickly filled him in on what I knew and we decided I would pick up flowers and then go home to get things ready while he tried to find someone to come in and cover his shift.
I rushed to my car and raced to Giant Eagle. There I found myself standing in the flower department, staring at a wall of gerber daisies, red and yellow roses and potted plants, overwhelmed. How do you possibly decide what flowers to give to someone that is going to give you the gift of parenthood and trust you with the life of their precious child? I finally accepted that there would never be a bouquet big enough or beautiful enough for that occasion, and I just picked the prettiest one I could find.
At home I struggled, as well, to pick out an outfit. I probably tried on 5 or 6 different outfits and styled my hair a few different ways before settling on something. I also rushed around packing hospital bags for Funnel, me and the baby. We knew so little about what the next few days could hold. We didn’t know if we would be staying overnight at the hospital, or if we would even be wanted at the hospital at all.
Funnel and I texted back and forth as I waited for him to meet me at home. One of his texts was another moment that made it all real: “What are we going to name him?” Oh my gosh…we were going to have a BABY! A baby BOY! To name!
Waiting for Funnel to get home was one of the many strange paradoxes the next few days would hold - I didn’t feel like I had enough time before our meeting with the birthmom to prepare, and at the same time, it was like the time waiting for Funnel to join me at home was just dragging by.
Already, the emotions, excitement and nervousness were like nothing I’d ever experienced. I knew we were in for an emotional few days.
( …to be continued… )