By Sara Aud
When I think of our story, the story of how our family came to look, and to sound, and to love the way it does today, I realize that it appears nothing like the dreams I had as a child. All of my books told of a blushing bride and a handsome groom. These two lucky souls first met and fell in love. They then married at a sparkling ceremony on a beautiful September evening…a night full of dancing, and laughter, and cake (you cannot forget the cake after all). They quickly fell pregnant and moved into a beautiful home; and they lived the rest of their days in perfect bliss. And while our story certainly started exactly as you see it above, there were a few years where it seemed we might never make it to our happily ever after.
Despite my best efforts to study every aspect of every fairy tale, these books rarely delve into the hard truths of reality. In their defense, they could never have prepared me for the fact that even after a perfect pregnancy and an uneventful delivery, there are still times today when babies are born without heartbeats. Had someone told me that a 6 pound 12 ounce, lovely little lady would come rushing into our lives and turn our ideas of perfection upside down, I would never have believed them. I would have laughed uncomfortably and told them that such sad and awful things never happen to people like us. But they do, and because of that, our tale is quite unique; it is one of redemption, of grace upon grace, of beauty from ashes.
The tragic turn that our lives took following the birth and death of our sweet Emelia Claire continued on for quite some time. After becoming pregnant so quickly the first time, our hearts were broken and our heads were left confused when month after month there was one pink line where there should have been two. There were tears, there was anger; there were many times when I cried out to my Savior in agony and frustration. I begged and I pleaded with him to let me carry new life, to allow me to feel the sweet kicks of hope inside my womb. During those long weeks and months I kept hearing His harsh reply, “Never! You will never have a another baby!” Of course, hindsight being what it is, I can now hear my God so much clearer, “No, not never. Just not yet. Patience, I am creating the perfect baby for you. A child I will bring to you in a way you never imagined. This will be an experience you never knew you wanted, but this baby will be exactly what you need.”
And that, my friends, leads us to 1 year later. One year that, I have no doubt, will always be the hardest year of my life (or so I pray). I wish I could say the decision of how to grow our family was an easy one. It was not, but honestly no decision was easy the year after we buried our precious baby. I had to make the decision everyday to get out of bed. To brush my hair. To plaster a smile over my tear stained cheeks and to try and hide my crumpled heart. Meanwhile, my husband and I tried varying rounds of infertility treatments, knowing full well that stress, mixed with grief, was playing an awful role in our inability to conceive. We began discussing the idea of adoption during the cold parts of winter; where the long, dark days played tricks on my already sad psyche. We decided that we did not want such a big decision to be made hastily and moved it to the back of our minds. Finally, August (and Emelia’s birthday) rolled around, a month that I was dreading and longing for in ways I could never explain. I looked at my husband and told him the time had come, I wanted a baby…and I wanted one right then. I had an empty nursery and even emptier arms and they literally ached with longing. My husband readily agreed with me and I immediately started figuring out the crazy and overwhelming process that is domestic adoption.
Our first step was in hiring a consulting agency. I have no doubt in the integral role they played in us bringing home our second baby in such a quick and smooth manner. I am a huge source of referrals for consultants because I truly value their worth and I know they are constantly doing God’s work by being a representative and voice for adoptive families. They provided me with the resources I needed to begin the process and off I went like a tornado. The next 6 weeks were a complete blur; gathering criminal background checks, letters of recommendation, and creating a profile book. Who knew that gaining home study approval could devour every spare second of your time? We were finally adoption ready and became available to start presenting to situations on Wednesday October the 1st…and boy were we ready!
The next day I was elated when we received a phone call about a perfect baby girl due at the end of December. As I called my husband and nearly shouted out the details that I had been given, I quickly realized that the projected budget for this particular situation was significantly higher than what we had planned and what we were financially prepared to handle. It was with a sad heart that I called our consultant back and explained to her that we would not be able to present on this little one.
It was at that time that I went into my bathroom at work, and I prayed. I begged God and asked him to let me know if this baby was indeed ours, if this was a situation that I needed to reconsider… And let me tell you, I will NEVER forget the feeling that came over me. When I called my husband back a few moments later he calmly said, “you know what, call them back and tell them YES. There are so many families presenting on this situation, what are the odds of us being picked anyway?” So I did, and we were told that our profile book would be presented to the birth family the following Monday (definitely the longest weekend ever) and that we could expect at least a one week wait before receiving a decision.
Imagine my surprise when I had a missed call from our consultant on Monday afternoon, our books had just been sent out that morning. I quickly called her back, praying there were no issues. When she answered she quickly told me the sweetest words that I had ever heard, “Sara, you’re going to be a Mommy again!” I could use every adjective in the dictionary to try and adequately describe that moment and still I would not even come close to expressing the joy that was felt. The magic continued when I ran into my husband’s office and jumped into his arms, crying sweet tears of joy and sobbing, “we have a baby…a girl, another girl!” It was without a doubt, one of the three best moments of my life. Every bit as exciting as our two positive pregnancy tests (since adopting our daughter we have been blessed with a biological son), but with so much more love and sacrifice attached from a couple who we had never even met.
We spent the next 10 weeks preparing our hearts and home for our daughter. In addition we were getting to know our wonderful birth family in preparation for our girl’s arrival and the subsequently open relationship we prayed to have. It was truly a surreal time, and a time I treasure still today. It seemed like a lifetime had passed when we received the call that our daughter was on her way, 3 weeks early! We drove through the night like crazy people, only stopping for quick restroom breaks and guzzling caffeine to stay awake behind the wheel. Eleven hours later we arrived at a Florida hospital and ran onto the maternity ward, knowing that we very well may have missed one of the most beautiful moments of our lives…but then, that grace upon grace I mentioned earlier made a beautiful appearance. We entered our birth family’s room to find that we had arrived in plenty of time. I hugged our birth mother tightly for the first of many, many times and I held her hand as she delivered our precious daughter at 1:55 p.m.
At that moment, she looked down at her adorable and perfect creation and back up at me with tears in her eyes and with so much love that I thought I might literally burst from happiness (for me) and with sorrow (for her). I, after all, knew what it was like to carry a daughter to term and to leave a hospital with empty arms and a broken heart. Oh how bittersweet adoption is, even when you’re on the sweet side.
Fast forward again to 21 months later and our beautiful baby has quickly changed into a sassy, hilarious, and curly headed toddler. We take full advantage of loving her every second and we make sure that a day never passes without her being told how loved she is, and always has been, by her first family. We have maintained an open adoption and our situation is as close to ideal as you can get. We get such joy out of sharing our little girl with the ones who had such a vital role in making her just for us.
So, you can now see that our story may have changed; there was certainly more tragedy than we ever planned for. But isn’t that always how the best fairy tales go? We are incredibly grateful for our happily ever after, her name is Ellington Claire, and she is so much more than we ever dreamed.