After being married for a few years, we were ready to jump head first into building our family – and it has been a whirlwind of emotions since.
Adoption was never a second choice for us, it was always just the way we would be parents. There were no fertility treatments, no tears after being told I could never have biological kids, no devastation or grieving. After a childhood illness at age 3 left me unable to carry my own child, I have always known I would be an adoptive mama and Jared embraced adoption too.
We adopted twice through self-advertising and marketing (often referred to as Independent Adoption). Harper’s birth family found us using Google AdWords, which directed them to our online adoption profile, and Kaylee’s birth mom found us on an adoption website. We know how rare this is and feel very lucky.
Our adoption story begins the day before Thanksgiving 2011. My phone rang and there was not a fiber of my being that was anticipating the call to be anything other than a frantic family member in holiday mode, but instead I was met with questions…
Are you hoping to adopt? YES
Will you travel to meet the birth parents? YES
Are you Christian? YES
Can we talk more later? YES YES YES!!
A few minutes on the phone and that was it. My mind had no idea how to compartmentalize what just happened as my heart pounded away in my chest. Only one month into our “wait” we received THE CALL that would forever change our lives. A few weeks and multiple calls later, we drove to Memphis to meet the birth family.
We were transplanted into another world. We were in a city we didn’t know, with people with didn’t have much in common with. There were moments of silence and moments of connection. Harper’s birth mom seemed reluctant, while her birth dad was engaging, if not intimidating. At the end of the weekend we went to lunch and were asked if we would parent their child. Hugs, tears and every emotion possible flooded that restaurant.
A few weeks later we found ourselves holding our beautiful daughter.
Fast forward to the summer of 2013. We endured an awful failed adoption with the same people who made us parents just 17 months earlier. Harper’s birth parents called and asked us if we would like to adopt the baby boy they were expecting in just 4 weeks. While we were not actively pursuing adoption at the time, we knew our family was not complete and of course we would adopt Harper’s full biological brother.
Both birth parents were incarcerated so communication was done solely through the extended birth family. We hurried through the home study update process and before we knew it, we got the call that the baby was coming! Once again, we found ourselves driving to Memphis, TN feeling excited, confident and overjoyed that Harper’s birth parents thought so much of us to ask us once again to raise their child.
Our excitement, however, was immediately crushed the second we arrived at the hospital. It was as if we were unwelcome guests at a party and everyone knew it except us. Since Harper’s birth mom was in custody, we could not be given any information. Our amazing lawyer arrived to help navigate the hospital staff that was clearly less than enthusiastic about our presence.
We sat for 3 days in the lobby of the hospital waiting for any type of word. The social worker at the hospital told us Harper’s birth mom had not mentioned adoption at all and claimed she did not know anyone named ‘Jared or Katie.’ We felt so helpless.
She was sent back to jail 2 days after the baby was born. He needed to stay in the NICU until a plan could be made. Four days later our lawyer advised us to head home and back to our daughter. Apparently family was stepping in and ready to take the baby home and there was nothing left for us to do. I sobbed the entire 12-hour drive home. We may never know what really happened. All we know, is there is a little boy living 3 states away who looks just like our daughter and he will always have a giant piece of our hearts.
I am convinced nothing in my life will hurt as much as that experience. I felt like I failed Harper and her brother. We were crushed and knew we needed time to heal from that devastating hurt and loss. I was a shell of myself for months after that. It was hard to explain to people.
How could I be so devastated over a baby I never held?
To this day, I get lost in thoughts of him and wonder if he is ok. He is just shy of 18 months younger than Harper and I wish with my entire being they could grow up side by side. I can find comfort in knowing that part of that heart breaking path is fused into Kaylee’s amazing adoption journey to us.
About a year later we felt ready to pursue adoption again. The night we updated our website, we received an email from Kaylee’s birth mom. The email was long, emotional and somewhat worrisome, but there was also a tone of honesty and trust in her words. She stated clearly what she needed from us, including finances, and that 2 other couples stopped working with her and she did not know why. There were questions about the birth father and who he was or whether he would approve of the adoption plan. Her family did not support her adoption plan and was angry with her for it. While we felt apprehensive, we processed it with an open heart and mind and sent her a response the following day.
I called our social worker the next day and the news she gave me left a pit in my stomach. She told me the same woman sent the exact same email to another couple at our agency, and even though she had every right to be talking with multiple families, our agency advised us not to continue on. The other couple listened, but we followed our hearts and continued to exchange lengthy, heartfelt emails. Exactly two months after that initial email, our daughter was born.
Kaylee’s birth mom wanted to be alone with her at the hospital and would call us when she was discharged. Our daughter was in the world and we were in a children’s museum playing with trucks. What a strange mental place to be. No calls, texts, photos, NOTHING for 3 days. Once again, we found were in a strange city, this time with a 2 year old in tow. We smiled, laughed and engaged our toddler, while my husband and I exchanged looks of worry, excitement and exhaustion.
We continued on like that until we were called to the hospital to pick up our baby girl. Her birth mom knew Kaylee more than we did. She held her for 9 months in her belly and 3 days in her arms, and now she was entrusting us to continue that love and care for her entire life. Kaylee’s birth mom is the strongest person I know. We are raising Kaylee to be just like her, fierce, loving and brilliant.
Fast forward 2 years to present day, and we are once again immersed in the search to find our third beautiful blessing. On good days, the excitement and hope fades away the frustration and anxiety. We have less time to devote to worry and stress which helps pass the time during our wait. Our girls know that we are praying for another baby to join our family. Harper remembers going to the hospital to meet Kaylee and she talks about what it will be like to meet our new baby. We explain to our girls that this is in God’s Hands and we continue to pray, which gets us through. The wait can seem impossible, but I look at our girls and remind myself that miracles do happen!