It’s 6:30am and the 3 of us are snuggled up on the sofa watching cartoons. My oldest son Royce… thumb in mouth and bink (blanket) securely in hand; his big dark curls fraying my view of the tv; and then Dutch, still swaddled in his blanket and still half asleep, completely peaceful. The warmth and closeness of their warm little bodies fills my heart and makes me feel complete. In these moments, I quietly smile to myself and can’t believe I have been blessed with these 2 miracles.
We have come a long way in such a short time…. Our story is quite remarkable if you ask me. Well, really if you ask anyone.
2015-2016 was both and exciting time and a challenging time. We were getting married, trying to start a family and living life to the fullest. Jeff and I could not have kids on our own so like many couples hoping to conceive, we enlisted the help of an invitro specialist. Of course, we had to undergo a series of tests only to be told that the likelihood of me being able to use my own eggs was close to impossible. Although I was disappointed in hearing that, I still longed to have the experience of carrying a baby. Our doctor recommended an egg donor and without a second thought I jumped at that chance. It didn’t matter to me where the egg came from because I knew I would be the one giving that child life and that this was our chance at having the family we always wanted.
It was a long and tiring process; both emotionally and physically for us. You always hear stories of the toll it can take on your body, mind and spirit but truly, no one can ever really prepare you for how it will affect you until you have gone through it yourself.
Round one of 2 embryos implanted, and then the longest 10 days of your life…. “Did it work?” I ask myself. “Did they stick? Are they healthy? Are we going to be parents? And what will he or she look like?” You abrade yourself with a million questions and in the end all you want to hear are those 2 magic words… “You’re pregnant!” Unfortunately, that did not happen for us… That time.
Round two… Here we go again. Feeling cautiously optimistic but also a bundle of nerves. And then there are those 10 LONG days… But wait, this time I feel something different. I think I knew it the moment it happened. I couldn’t wait out the 10 days and I took a pregnancy test at home.
I’ll never forget the moment… Early morning, sitting on the sofa holding that stick (trying not to stare at it the whole time) waiting for the second line to pop up. 2 minutes go by… not much change, my heart grows more swollen and I can literally feel every beat of my heart. 3 minutes go by… I look down again and there it is! A second pink line! Faint in color but none the less it’s there. I think I stopped breathing for a moment. I wait one more minute just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things and sure enough, the second line remained. At that moment, every moment of the long and sometimes painful process to get there, seemed worth it. We would finally have the family we always dreamed of.
I ran into the bedroom where my husband was still sleeping and gently tapped him on the shoulder… Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what I said or he said but I do remember thinking that I can’t believe this is real and the emotions both of shared in that moment, I knew I would never forget.
Day 10 we show up for an appointment that would confirm what we already happily knew. Those words though. So real and so comforting. “You’re pregnant!” What followed in the weeks after that were a battery of appts and lots of blood work. Now I was happy to be having a baby but when I got the news it was twins, I was literally at a loss for words. I thought to myself. “Twins? Really? Can we handle twins?”
Now Ill admit I was scared at first but I knew that saying that till this days resonates in my head. “God never gives you more than you can handle” …. I knew it was meant to be and that we were in fact supposed to have these 2 children to love and raise in this big and sometimes scary world. We put our fears to rest and we were on our way to being a family of four. My heart was fuller than I could ever thought possible.
Fast forward to 8 weeks…. We lost our babies. Those beautiful little beings that we had already envisioned our entire lives with… Gone. Just gone. My heart was broken. These are the details I won’t get into because they bring up some of the rawest and toughest emotions I have personally ever experienced.
After the loss, we both knew that we needed time. Time to mourn, time to heal, time to recover and most of all, time to regroup, Both individually and as a couple. We felt somewhat defeated and exhausted in regards to having a family. We couldn’t bear to go through this process again, physically or emotionally… What would our life look like without children…? We began to ask ourselves this question. We had a wonderful life before this and had plans to travel and live life to the fullest. Why couldn’t we just go back to this and forget the concept of having children.
We talked about adoption; but maybe down the road. Recovering and healing from this process takes time and we knew that with adoption, there was always the chance it wouldn’t work out either and could our hearts handle that old familiar heart ache once again. We didn’t have the answers but either way, we buried the whole subject and went on with our lives.
Months have since past. Back to home improvement, traveling and all the other things we loved to do. We had fun, lots of fun. We kept ourselves busy. But I think we both knew deep down that we hadn’t fully healed and that something was just different. I’m not sure that I knew what that different meant but I just knew it was not exactly the same. I felt in somewhat of a holding pattern… But what did that mean. Holding for what?
We decided that we needed a change in life. A new start, new environment, a new adventure. We decided that we would sell our home in Florida and move to the mountains of North Carolina. We had both visited there and always loved it. There was a sense of peace, a simpler life and a quieter life. I think after everything we had been through that sounded like the perfect escape and perfect change we were craving.
We were just a few short months away from putting our home on the market when I got the phone call; the phone call that would ultimately change our lives forever.
I received a call from my cousin who knew of a girl that was pregnant and wanted to find the baby a home. She was addicted to crack and knew she would not be able to keep the baby so when she heard our story from my cousin she wanted to give her child a forever home with us. Now when I heard all this, it came as a shock. I had to process it in my mind. I thought to myself how many people get a phone call like this who have been waiting their whole lives to be parents. I was both cautiously excited but more scared. “A crack baby??”
When you think of adopting, most people envision a healthy newborn that they can just swoop up and take home to live what they would consider a “normal” life. After all; they have done the paperwork, the home studies, the background checks, etc. and most of all, they have waited patiently in line like every other hopeful couple. But in this case with none of the above in place nor the thought of adoption anywhere in our minds (still recovering from the loss of the twins), We get the call everyone hopes to get. Well, minus the “crack” part.
So much to think about but we felt in our hearts that at the very least, we could educate ourselves on the long terms affects of a baby born addicted to crack. So, we did just that. Our research and ability to keep an open mind helped us make the decision to take the risk for this unborn child. I do not believe in coincidences.
We talked briefly with the birth mother and felt reassured that she wanted this baby to be raised by us and not become a lost statistic in foster care. She had no prenatal care, had no idea who the father was, didn’t know the sex of the baby and certainly didn’t know if it was healthy. Although this was all so scary to us, we knew we had to see it through and that this was our chance at being a family.
Everything happened quickly and we had no paperwork or adoption agency in place when we got news she was in labor. We were 3 hours away… Frantic and frazzled, we packed a bag and headed to the hospital where we would be meeting 2 strangers for the very first time. One of which, would ultimately become our son.
I’ll never forget the moment I walked in the room and immediately saw the newborn station with a single newborn diaper, a blanket and at the world’s smallest beanie. I looked over to the birth mother and I was literally speechless. Overcome with emotion we introduced ourselves. I remember the look on her face… relieved. Relieved that we were there and that her baby would have a loving home. I think at that moment no matter where or what we came from, we had an instant bond. She was giving us a gift and I was giving her hope.
I’ll spare all the labor details… A son was born. A beautiful perfect little creature. Although I did not give birth to him, it felt as if I had. It was instant… the connection, the bond, the love. The doctor asked who was going to cut the umbilical cord and the birth mother looked over at me with a smile and said “She will… She’s his mommy.” I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. I’ll also never forget what it felt like to hold this perfect being in my arms for the first time. It didn’t matter where he came from who he was. He was simply ours and we loved him with every fiber of our being.
Now here is the crazy part. We knew DCF would be called immediately after the baby tested positive. We also knew that with no real adoption documents in place that we technically had no rights to the baby. We were scared but we were there and from the moment we met him, we promised him we would take him home. So, with that, we got in touch immediately with Heart of Adoptions and told them our story and dilemma. To expedite the process and help us get temporary custody, they put us in touch with a social worker named Stacey. We reached out to her and she assured us she could help us get it done as quickly as possible.
Fast forward a few days. Our son is still in NICU being closely monitored and we are buying time. We are tirelessly working with the adoption agency and Stacey our Social worker to get the necessary paperwork, home studies and background checks done so that we could get temporary custody to take him home until we could finalize everything. Heart of Adoptions and Stacey were beyond amazing in making this all happen literally in a week. Anyone that knows anything about adoption knows how long the process typically takes to complete and just as that initial phone call we got about a baby was a miracle, so was the timing in which they got everything done for us to make this happen. Stacey our social worker stayed by our side, step by step ensuring that we could get everything we needed done, to be able to take home our son and keep him out of the hands of DCF. Stacey was very organized and attentive to our needs in the moments we needed her. She was able to make it all happen for us in a very short amount of time and for that, we will forever be grateful! We were able to take him home after a week and our adoption was final 4 months later.
The story should end there right? It doesn’t. Now there is no doubt we felt beyond blessed to have our son and felt that we finally had the family we always hoped for. We were at last complete. We would go on with our lives and raise our little miracle to be a wonderful man. We didn’t need anything else in life.
Our son was about 5 months old when we got a call. You wouldn’t believe. We couldn’t believe it. She was pregnant once again. Yes, pregnant again. Unlike the first call, this call made me feel differently. Not in a bad way though. I was already a mother. That’s all I ever really wanted. But the part that made me feel different was the fact that less than a year earlier, I was pregnant with twins. I had already envisioned a life with 2 children. It dawned on me at that moment that I was destined to have this second baby. It was as if God was giving us the two children we were meant to raise. A second miracle baby boy would be born into this world on January 22, 2018.
Today we have two happy and healthy thriving baby boys who continue to amaze us daily. To say we feel whole and complete is an understatement. Through the help and guidance of Stacey our social worker, we were able to enjoy the learning process of adoption and feel connected in a way we thought we never could. Stacey has become more than just our social worker. She feels more like family and we still count on her for advice. She loves to check in on the boys and see their progress and we keep in touch regularly.
There are so many more details and thoughts I would love to share but then I would literally be writing a novel so instead I want to leave you with a few words of wisdom based on our experience of adoption.
Adoption doesn’t always come easy, but its worth it.
Adoption requires you to not only have an open heart, but also an open mind.
Your social worker is your life line through the process so put your faith and trust in them. Stacey had the knowledge and power to make our dreams come true and she can for you too.
Adoption is about having a family. It may not always be the picture you painted in your mind, but it also might be better than you ever hoped for. I know for us, it was and continues to be the best part of our lives.