**To celebrate National Adoption Month, I am posting some of my journal entries (written in the midst of our waiting) to try to give a clearer picture of what it's like to adopt.
February 12, 2011
A week ago (last Saturday), I had a very sad day. I just felt empty inside, aching for our baby, wondering when it would happen. I was starting to lose hope and faith. I lay on the bed and just felt so very discouraged. I prayed fervently for Heavenly Father to send me some guidance.
Later that evening, I started surfing adoption blogs. I like to read adoption blogs sometimes because they help me realize that there are lots of women out there who understand what I am going through, and reading their stories gives me hope that something will work out for us in the Lord’s time. I read a blog post by a girl named Brittany who said that, after months of waiting, she got a phone call at work one day from LDS Family Services. She said that when she saw the Caller ID, she just knew that they had been chosen by a birth mom. Before she even picked up the phone, she “knew.”
I filed that story away in my memory. Sometimes I hear stories like that with adoption—that birth mothers "just know" when they’ve found the right family, or adoptive couples "just know" when they read that special email contact. I’m never sure if I can totally believe those stories. Are they just exaggerated because human beings love to feel like there is great meaning in all of our life experiences? To be honest, sometimes those stories almost freak me out a little because they set such a high expectation of what it “should” feel like. I start to think, “If I don’t get a lightening bolt answer like that, does it mean it isn’t right?”
Anyway, reading Brittany’s story didn’t make me feel freaked out; it actually made me feel a little better because she did end up getting her baby, and it reminded me that I will too. That, plus prayer, scripture study, and a good talk with Ryan and Natalie Dayton, left me feeling much better. In fact, all day Sunday and Monday, I felt really peaceful. I almost felt like it was a premonition that something was coming—very soon—and I almost half expected to see “the” email in my Inbox each time I checked over those couple of days.
Well, I was right. Something was coming. But it didn’t come in the form of an email; it came as a phone call.
I was driving home from work on Monday (it was February 7, for the sake of posterity), and I looked down at my ringing phone to see an area code 801 phone number that I didn’t recognize. I immediately thought, “This is probably a birth mom.” But then I thought, “That’s nuts—how could it be a birth mom? It’s not like our phone number is published with our adoption profile. How would a birth mom get our phone number?” But for some crazy reason, I really felt that I “knew” it was going to be serious news about our adoption. (I don’t know if it was the story from the blog I’d read or what.) After deciding that it couldn’t possibly be a birth mom, my next thought was, “Maybe it’s a case worker in Salt Lake telling us we’ve been chosen.”
When I answered the phone, an obviously nervous young woman said, “Hi, is this Rachel?”
I answered, “Yes it is,” and my heart started to pound.
“Is now a good time to talk?” she asked without identifying herself further. As soon as she uttered those words, I knew without a doubt that it was a birth mom.
“Yes, this is a good time to talk,” I said, holding my breath a little.
I don’t remember exactly what she said next. All I know is that it came out in a tumble of words—like she had been holding them back for quite some time and was rushing to get them out. I remember hearing “Katie….related to Ryan…I want to give you my baby.”
I literally could not speak. A million thoughts flashed through my mind: “What is the appropriate response right now?” “Is the baby already born?” “Is this really happening??”
I sputtered for several seconds. You may think that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not…I literally sputtered, “That’s—welll---wow, that’s---that’s…” and then I burst out, “That’s wonderful!”
HOW LAME IS THAT??????!!!!!! “That’s wonderful!”??? Really, Rachel?! That’s the best you could come up with in response to some of the most important words you will ever hear in your entire life? I think I followed it up with, “Wow! I don’t know what to say! Thank you!” Oh my gosh, I was a babbling idiot!!
At that point, I swung my car over to the side of the road. I couldn’t drive and have a conversation like that one I was about to have. (For the record, I was pulled over on Eggert Road, just a few blocks away from home.) As she and I continued to talk, the details unfolded. She is 16 and lives in Utah. She is Ryan’s second cousin, but we've never met her. Just after she had found out that she was pregnant, she saw Sally’s Christmas card, which said, “We ask friends and family to pass along Ryan and Rachel’s name if you're aware of any potential adoption situations that might be promising for them.”
Apparently, she just stumbled upon the Christmas card, and after she read those words, she never considered anyone else. She hadn’t even seen our adoption profile or our blog, and yet she had already picked us. I am totally amazed by that. After all of the time and effort we poured into the “perfect” profile, it was God that guided her to us, not our own efforts. It is a miracle. When I had asked Sally to mention our desire to adopt in her Christmas card, I wasn’t sure she would do it. It is a little awkward to put in a Christmas card, but I got the idea because Grandpa mentioned it in his Christmas letter to friends and family, so I thought why not ask Sally to mention it in hers? (Thank you, Grandpa, for the idea!!!) But she did do it (though she admits now that she was a little hesitant), and it turned out to be the miracle we needed!!
Anyway, Katie didn’t tell her parents about her pregnancy until she was out of her first trimester. When she did finally tell them, about two weeks ago (she is 15 weeks pregnant now), she also told them that she is sure about adoption and that she wants the baby to go to us. At that point, she still hadn’t even seen our profile and didn’t really know anything about us. Amazing!
Katie’s dad called Sally and told her that he knew of a young woman who was pregnant and considering adoption. He asked her if Ryan and I were still looking to adopt; he asked about our personalities and if we were willing to do an open adoption; she gave him our blog and profile web addresses.
At that point in the conversation, he said, “Sally, it’s my daughter.”
Apparently, she immediately started to cry. She was overwhelmed with emotion thinking about how Katie's dad must be feeling. At the end of the conversation, he told Sally not to say anything to us. He said, “This is totally Katie’s decision; I will give her this information, and then we will let her decide.” So Sally didn’t know for sure if anything would come of it or when they were planning to contact us. I’m sure she was dying!
A few days later (Monday afternoon), Katie herself called Sally and asked for my cell phone number. Sally chatted with her for a minute, but Katie didn’t confirm whether or not she had picked us. So Sally was waiting by the phone when I called an hour or two later to tell her the happy news! :)
Anyway…that was kind of the background story…back to my conversation with Katie: I think I was super awkward because I was caught so off guard by the phone call. When I’ve talked to other birth moms, I’ve had notice, so I’ve brainstormed questions in advance, prayed for guidance, and felt really composed and peaceful. During this phone call, I was grappling for things to say and ask her--I knew I had a million questions, and yet not a single one came to mind. I found out that she and her boyfriend, Drew, are still together but recognize that they can’t raise a baby when they’re both so young.
I told her that we’ve had a lot of adoption disappointments, and the last few months have been really difficult. She said, “I know—I read a lot of your blog. After I read about what you’ve been through, I decided that we couldn’t contact you until we were totally positive. We needed to make sure that both sets of parents were on board. We just told Drew’s mom this weekend, and she is supportive of adoption and excited about you guys, so we decided to contact you and move forward.” I am blown away that she has thought all of this through and is being so considerate of our feelings. She is youngest of all of the birth moms we've talked to, and yet she seems the most mature and compassionate.
I am sitting here trying to recall the rest of the conversation, but it is blurry. I think I was in shock. I did get her email address and phone number so I could follow-up with her later after I’d processed everything. It was just such an unexpected turn of events. It’s not very often that a situation renders me speechless, but this one honestly did.
After I got off the phone with Katie, I immediately called Sally. I was talking through everything with her while also trying to make dinner for a lady from our church who just had a baby. Because of my excitement, I was not multi-tasking very well, so I finally gave up on making dinner and drove to the grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken, bagged salad kit, and French bread and then dropped it off to the family. I still hadn’t seen Ryan since 7:00 in the morning, and as I drove home, I got a little giddy thinking about how I would break the news.
When I got home, I couldn’t stop smiling. Like really cheesily grinning. You’d think he would’ve noticed something was up, but he didn’t seem to notice anything was out of the ordinary. I sat him down on the couch and told him. He was amazed and excited and shocked, just like me.
The first two days, I’d say the news didn’t really sink in. I told a few people, but I am just more guarded in my excitement after what we’ve been through. On Thursday, I got a really amazing email from her in which she answered a lot of my questions and really opened up to me. As I read her words, I just started to love her, and for the first time, I let myself get really really excited. I stayed up late writing a lengthy email reply, and after I was done, I snuggled into Ryan (who was sleeping peacefully beside me), and I kept saying, “I’m so happy, Ry! I’m so happy!”
Today, though, I must admit that I feel worried and terrified. I don’t want to be—I just want to be happy—but she has six months to change her mind, and I am so worried that she will. Though she claims she is certain, she can’t feel the baby inside of her yet. Should I really trust my heart to this situation? Should we really take down our adoption profile and proceed with faith in this opportunity? Is this worry and fear going to consume me for the next six months? (The baby is due August 11th.) Am I going to worry if I don’t hear back from her for lengthy spans of time? Will she want to communicate with me as much as I want to communicate with her? How can I support her and be there for her? How do I know if I am being too pushy?
These are the questions that occupy my mind now.
It’s been a good week—an exhausting week in a lot of ways—but I think our baby is really on his/her way to us. Oh how I hope he/she is!!