World Adoption DayIn celebration of the 1st ever World Adoption Day on November 9th, Doog News, as an Ambassador for this exciting event, has invited friends who are connected to adoption in a variety of different ways to submit writings about adoption. Between now and November 9th we're excited to post these stories to give some insight into what life is like when it involves adoption. We encourage you to follow along and read the various postings whether it's about a family who has adopted a child, to someone who was adopted, to the perspective of an adoption counsellor, and even a family who has decided to adopt and now waits and wonders if and when they'll be parents. In all of these stories there is one common factor: love. Please join us on this celebratory journey as we lead up to World Adoption Day.
Today’s post is a personal one. As you may know, Doog News is run by us, Mike & Rebecca, a husband and wife, who started our family this year through adoption. We have waited years to have a baby and the journey was not what we expected but we’re so pleased to finally be parents and that’s why we are so passionate about adoption. As we are so grateful for adoption and for our incredible birth mom, today we are sharing our story in celebration of the 1st ever World Adoption Day.
This is our story.
How We Became A Family
We’ve always known we wanted to be a family. We both love kids and couldn’t think of a better way to spend our lives than by raising a little one through this amazing world. After years of trying, there was a point when we had to come to terms that it probably wasn’t going to happen. But life takes us on some unbelievable twists and turns, and who knew that one day our family would be created through an amazing gift from a young birth mother in the Southern United States who we now consider a part of our family.
Trying to Start Our Family – The Heartache
After marrying in 2007, we had always assumed that we would get settled and then become parents. That’s just what you do right? We made sure we were on the same page as far as how we wanted to raise our children, made sure we were set up in a home, and both had good careers. But like so many older couples (ok well not that old but in our 30’s), it just wasn’t happening.
It took a few years to finally get pregnant and we were elated, but cautious. It’s finally happening, we are going to be a family! We had a feeling the pregnancy wasn’t going well, but you chalk those bad days to morning sickness or just being tired. We both remember the day we went for an ultrasound and watched as the technician searched for the heartbeat. We waited and stared at the little monitor but the technician didn’t say a word. Eventually they asked us to go to the waiting room and we knew it couldn’t be good news. The doctor came out and told us that the pregnancy had ended. We drove home silently, still in shock. When you are trying to start a family, a miscarriage is perhaps one of the toughest events you can face. There is the excitement of the pregnancy as you start to picture what your upcoming life is going to be like. You think of names, what your baby will look like, and even what the nursery will look like. But then suddenly, that is all over.
After the first miscarriage, you put up walls when you do manage to get pregnant again, so as not to get your hopes too high. The additional miscarriages didn’t get easier, but neither were the monthly negative pregnancy tests, the ovulation tests, daily temperature taking, surgeries, procedures and pills. Part of our difficulty with fertility is that Rebecca was diagnosed with endometriosis. A very painful disease that can cause infertility and at the very least make it very difficult to get pregnant. And every month when her cycle arrived, we not only endured the upset of no baby, but she also felt excruciating physical pain that often meant she was in bed for a couple of days dosed up on painkillers. It was not a fun time.
Also, oddly enough, one of the toughest things that stirred so many emotions was simply watching TV and movies. There’s a lot of stories of pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and happy births on TV, and of course there is, that’s such a huge part of life. But watching it was so difficult. Many, many tears were shed over the years reliving the losses over and over. Also hard was hearing about friends and family getting pregnant. Of course you’re happy for them, but you can’t help but feel the pain that it’s not happening for you. Certainly we are not alone in this but it sure is a lonely time. Sadly, miscarriages are not something our society openly talks about so you go thru the high and then the low and then carry on. And then there’s seeing a pregnant woman. That in itself was hard too. One day we were in Babies R Us buying a gift for a friend and seeing all of the baby stuff and many pregnant women in the store really overwhelmed Rebecca to the point that we had to leave. It sounds silly writing it now, but that was the emotion we were dealing with at the time.
So eventually you convince yourself that not having kids is ok. It’s better this way. You tell yourself about all the free time you will have without kids, you think about what you’ll do with that extra money you won’t be spending on a baby. Maybe it means more travelling, or a bigger home. We’re very lucky to have so many friends with little ones and we love being “Aunty” and “Uncle” to them, so we made sure to see them often and made ourselves believe that would be enough. For many it is enough, just not for us. We had so much more love to give. We needed to be a Mommy and Daddy. We also knew that if we didn’t become parents, we would always think about what could have been. There was no better purpose in life than sharing it with a child. We wanted to go on those trips as a family. We wanted our free time to be spent with our son or daughter. Anything less than that would have felt like an unfulfilled life for us. We did not want to regret not having a family.
Adoption Was Our Path All Along
One of the things they teach you early on in the adoption education is that adoption comes from loss. Loss for a birth mom as they make their adoption plan and trust a family of usually strangers to raise their child. It’s also about loss for the adopting family because of miscarriage and the battles with fertility. But also, adoption comes from a place of extreme love. A birth mother who loves her baby so much that she makes a plan to give that child a future she feels she can’t. And love of an adopting family who have worked so hard and gone through so much heartache, but with one goal in mind. They want a family. The adopted child is a child that is so loved and so wanted.
We had discussed adoption early on in our marriage and always knew it was an option we could pursue. Mike comes from a family of adoption, as both his brothers were adopted. He’s always known this and to him it made no difference. They were his brothers. Rebecca always envisioned her family would include adoption, but like so many couples, it’s not top of mind when you are first starting out. Six years into our marriage however things changed. Rebecca was in a leadership course and one of the exercises the class did was visualizing what their life would look like in the future. While most in the class were focussed on career, Rebecca had a different but very clear vision that day and it was us holding our baby. She came home that night determined that adoption was our path and it always had been, we just had to go through what we went through to get there. The very next day we made an appointment with our local adoption agency and started our process. It was time to become a family. We had waited long enough.
During the home study process we learned about an adoption agency in South Carolina. We talked to other adoptive families and found out about the amazing experiences they had finding their family through this agency. And so it was decided. We’d go through the States as well.
Some of the most common questions we get on the process is “how long did it take?” For us it was 6 months of the home study where you learn all about adoption and do interviews with a social worker. After that you wait. The waiting is hard, I’m not going to lie. I think the most difficult part is that it’s entirely out of your hands. You could wait just a few short weeks or a few long years, however long it takes until the right birth mom connects with your book. We would contact our agency on a monthly basis and they would tell us that a birth mom had looked at our book that month, or sometimes they would say there were no viewings. So you begin to second guess everything, especially the contents of your profile book. Should we have left out the photo of our dog? What if the birth mom is afraid of dogs? In the end we decided we could only be us, and we had to let the universe work its magic. After 7 months of waiting we got ‘the call’. It will always live as one of the most vivid memories of our lives. Rebecca remembers looking down at her phone and seeing the words “South Carolina” which she interpreted as either bad, or amazing news!
The adoption counsellor from the States called Rebecca while she was at work to say that a birth mom had seen our profile book and had chosen us. She burst into tears. Within hours we were reading our Birth Mother’s profile, learning everything that the agency had learned about her life and family. In it she spoke about how she wanted her baby to have a mom and a dad. And that Mike reminded her of her dad. We both read the profile with tears in our eyes and felt a connection already. Who was this young girl who loved this little baby so much that she made this adoption plan? A few days later we spoke to our birth mom by phone as she was on her way to a doctor’s appointment. Her first words to us in her Southern accent were “Hi Y’all”. We loved her instantly. We only talked for a few minutes but it felt so comfortable so quickly. In the call she had only one request, that we have an open adoption that included updates so she could know her baby was doing ok.
We had already decided that open adoption was something we wanted. An open adoption is one where there is some form of contact with the birth family. Whether it be a few pictures a month and updates, or regular visits. It’s very different from the old days of adoption where there was no contact or information and records were sealed. I’m not going to lie, when we started the process and were first told about it, open adoption scared us a bit. But the more we learned about open adoption, we realized that this is the way it should be. It’s not about us and our insecurities, it’s about what’s best for our little one. And we felt that our child knowing her birth family, and not having questions about where she came from was so important to her well-being. As it turns out we love our birth mom and our new American family. And when she asked to have an open adoption with periodic updates? Well, we told her we’d be in touch often as not only were we gaining a daughter through adoption but also her and her family.
For many adoptions, the adopting family gets a call a couple of days after their baby is born and are told there is a baby waiting for them. We feel so blessed that we were able to be there for the birth of our baby daughter. Noelle Charlotte was born late on a rainy Thursday night and we were there for her first breath in this world. Rebecca was so honoured that our birth mom asked her to be in the room for the birth. She got to experience the miracle of birth, something she really wanted to do, and even got to cut the umbilical cord. Such an amazing experience: for us, and for our daughter, as we can tell her about her birth when she is older. We were there right from the beginning, full of love.
In our courses on adoption and attachment we learned that sometimes there is not a connection right away with your adopted child, that sometimes you have to be patient and work at it. But we were in love from the first moment. When the nurse handed Noelle to Rebecca and she brought her over to me waiting at the door, we saw our little baby girl swaddled tightly in the white hospital blankets. Looking into her beautiful blue eyes we saw a lifetime of family experiences together. We saw our daughter and we were in love.
If you are hesitating on adoption because perhaps you are worried that you may not love a child that is not biologically yours, we are here to say that you can put that worry out of your mind. It really makes no difference. We love this baby girl as much as humanly possible.
We Are A Family
We are a family now. Rebecca, Mike, our beautiful daughter, and of course, our amazing birth mom. We share our daughter’s big moments, and the little ones too, with our birth mother on a regular basis including the ups and the downs. And she shares with us her incredible accomplishments since having this little beautiful girl, like going back to University. Accomplishments that may not have been possible right away as a single mom. We can’t wait for the day when we can all be together again. So, to the brave, amazing girl who made us a family, you gave us the world when you entrusted this baby girl to us. We hoped and dreamed for so long to be a family, but nothing could have prepared us for this amazing little spirit. We see our birth mom in our daughter’s beautiful smile and the way she giggles and laughs at the world. We thank our birth mom for making us a family. A family that also includes her.
People often comment to us how we are doing such an amazing thing by giving our daughter the life she has. We don’t look at it this way at all. We aren’t giving her a better life. We are giving her a different life, but who’s to say she wouldn’t have had an amazing life where she was before adoption? We feel blessed that we are able to share our lives as a family. We are forever grateful to our birth mother for choosing us. For us, adoption was just another way to start a family. All the heartache, pain, and struggle is what brought us to this amazing little person. Without those experiences there would be no “Us”. And what we realize now is that it was all meant to be.
Today is the 1st ever World Adoption Day and to celebrate we’ve posted our smiley face high five photo here and also on social media. Please join us in celebrating family and post your photo and be sure to include the hashtag #worldadoptionday. To find out more about this celebration visit WorldAdoptionDay.org.
Thank you for joining us this month as we celebrate adoption and a huge thank you to all of our contributors for sharing their very personal stories. You can read all of the Doog News adoption stories on our site here. If you have any questions about adoption please don’t hesitate to ask us. And if we can’t answer it, we’d be happy to point you in the direction of someone who can. We are very grateful for adoption in our lives and we hope you’ve enjoyed this series of stories on adoption. We wish you a Happy 1st World Adoption Day and of course a Doog News Day too!
Doog News is proud to be an official Ambassador of World Adoption Day.