Monday, March 19, 2012

What was it like for them? A Birth Grandma's Perspective

When people hear that Noah's birth parents and their parents came to Colorado for his sealing and blessing, they always seem surprised.  "What was that like for them?" they ask me. "Were they sad? Happy? What were they feeling?"

I wasn't sure, so I asked them.

They have given me permission to share their thoughts.  In the adoption world, we don't often hear from the birth grandparents, yet they are such an important part of the adoption decision and process.  Choosing adoption is a sacrifice for an entire family, not just for the birth parents.  And without strong family support, it is much more difficult for birth parents to go forward with their decision to place the baby for adoption and to heal from their grief afterward.

Today I will share what Drew's mom wrote about their experience; tomorrow I will share what Katie's dad wrote.  I think you will agree with me that these families are amazing.  It is very unusual for an adoptive couple to have such a close relationship with both birth parents, let alone their families.  We are so blessed.

I loved Drew's mom, Shanea, from the moment I met her.  When we visited Utah to meet Katie and Drew in March 2011, we picked Drew up at his house and his mom invited us in.  We all sat in the living room and got to know one another.  I immediately noticed her warmth.  She is full of laughter and love.  I was impressed that she invited Drew's younger brother and sister to sit with us as we discussed adoption.  It was obvious to me that their family shares with each other and supports each other.  Drew's father passed away just over two years ago, and I so admire the way that Shanea has kept her family united in love, despite the immense trial they have endured.

After a bit of small talk, the conversation got more serious.  With tears in her eyes, Shanea told us about her feelings in the weeks since she'd found out about the pregnancy.  She told us how much she loves Drew.  He was sitting there blushing, as teenage boys do, as she went on and on about how funny, kind, and smart he is.  (It was adorable.  I love hearing moms talk about their boys.)  Then, she said something I will never forget: "I love this baby.  Though he was unexpected, I love him so much.  I need you to tell him how much I love him--he can never doubt that."

Since that evening, just about one year ago, we've had a relationship with Shanea and her family that has turned out to be so much deeper and so much better than I think any of us could've possibly imagined.  The thing with open adoption is, you just take it one day at a time and figure out what works for everyone.  I am so grateful that it has worked for our families to remain so close.

With no further ado, here is a bit about the experience of a birth grandmother, in her own words:

Drew, his mom, his brother, and Noah
Noah is wearing one of the many adorable outfits that Shanea has given him! :)

I was absolutely devastated when I found out Drew and Kate were going to have a baby. I really thought their lives were ruined. I know this sounds dramatic, but I thought they would keep the baby and I knew they weren’t capable of giving him the life that he could have with parents in a better place in life. But when they told me they wanted to place the baby for adoption, this was difficult too. Who would raise the baby? Would they be good enough for Jeromy’s first grandbaby? What if I didn’t like them? 

They told me about this couple that they'd found in a Christmas card, and I was skeptical. Then Katie's mom called me, and she said the couple had a blog and an online adoption profile with LDS Family Services. When I read the websites, I felt the spirit of peace for the first time since I had learned of the pregnancy.  

I had never given Kate the respect she deserved. When she first started dating Drew, I wasn’t kind to her at all so I didn’t know her and I just assumed the worst. I’ve since repented and she said she has forgiven me. During the pregnancy, I grew to love Kate so much. She was so strong and steadfast. Drew, on the other hand, was not very considerate of her most of the time, and it was hard to mother him. Drew finally “stepped up” while Kate was in labor and started being the man he needed to be. And Kate was just amazing. 

Then when Noah was born, and I saw Rachel and Ryan with him and felt all the love in that room, I knew everything would be okay. I was very worried about Kate and Drew and how they would recover, but I never worried about Noah. When I try to explain this to people, they just don’t seem to understand. My family “gets it,” but others look kind of baffled. I have no worries for Noah. I know he is in the right place with the right parents. I love him more than words can say, but I don’t ache for him, and I really thought I would. I thought I’d have a hole in my heart and I would never recover, but I'm happy to say, I don’t. I am happy for him. He is where he needs to be. I love to see him, I love to buy him things, I love to see his expressions (they remind me of Drew), I love to hear about him. I’m grateful for Rachel's blogs and the pictures and videos. He really is the most loved baby on the earth, and this experience has been such a blessing and a testimony builder.

I was a little nervous about the temple sealing. I thought maybe I’d feel Jeromy there and it would be too emotional or sad. I did cry my eyes out but not because I was sad--it was because the sealer spoke about  families and our children and repentance, and I really really needed to hear those words in that place and at that time. I needed to know that my children and I can be an eternal family, even if we mess up a bit here and there. I was so happy for Noah, Rachel, and Ryan. I know that this is right. I know Noah belongs with them and I am not worried about anything. I’m not worried about where Noah will be after this life. He will be with his family. 

I don’t feel I’ve lost anything, but I’ve gained everything. I’m so so blessed.


  1. That was absolutely beautiful. I am so humbled and touched.

  2. You've done it again- another great lesson! She sounds like a wonderful woman. I can only imagine what this experience has been like for her.

  3. shanea is an amazing woman. i am so grateful that she is my sister and best friend. her kids were like my kids (until i had my own). noah is and forever will be part of our family. we love him so so so much. he is a little drew all over again. we are so grateful for the open adoption and grateful that we are still able to see him from time to time and keep up through blogging and facebook. there is one thing that is for sure: noah will be forever loved by so many people and so many families. when drew and kate were signing the papers and after i said good bye to noah at the hospital, i literally clung to drew and bawled. and through my tears i told him that he was doing the right thing, the most amazing thing, the most selfless thing by giving noah to you.

  4. Wow. WOW. That blew me away. What a gift for you to have that to read and for Noah to be able to read that someday as well. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Thanks Rachel for sharing this. I have learned so much from all the posts you have written about your adoption and the different perspectives. And I'm so happy for you! Congratulations on the finalization and the sealing! Noah looks so cute and happy!


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