Posts tagged ‘birth mom’

A Birth Mom is A Hero | Mae’s Adoption Journey

A Reflection

Few people have to make a harder choice than a birth mom.

Unplanned pregnancy. Decisions to keep the child. Only to in the end, give it away.

That’s probably the most Christ-like scenario we have on this side of heaven.

Many who adopt fear the birth mom.

TV doesn’t help. Crazy stories invoke fear that your baby won’t be yours anymore.

Even beyond that, having a birth mom in your life is a reminder that the baby isn’t “yours” in the first place.

But ultimately, isn’t that the same for everybody though? No child is truly “ours” if God is the originator of life.

I’m thankful for our birth mom who is in the truest form, a hero.

She made a selfless sacrifice so that her beautiful girl would have a good life.

I can only hope that if I was in a similar situation, I’d have the strength to make the same choice.

The choice that mirrors the love of my Savior.

January 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

January 15 – Activation Celebration | Mae’s Adoption Journey

By around 8am the next morning, I had an email in my inbox. My heart started racing as I anticipated questions that were to come.  I thought about our previous meeting with the birth mom all night. She must have too. I got my “game face” on and opened up the email. To my surprise, a short note started out with

“I believe you and Mike will make great parents … and I feel blessed to have met you both.”

Wowza, and that was it. A night ridden with questions of how long this process would take, and wondering if the birth mom connected with us were answered within just a few hours. She had peace about us raising her little girl. She wanted us to be her parents. And after just seven days after we’d heard of the possibility to adopt a baby girl, she was going to be ours.

I called Mike into our bedroom and showed him the email. We hugged, mouths open wide at the shock of how fast everything had gone. And then finally the smiles we’d both been holding back came out. We were beaming.

Sharing the News

My friend Amber who was staying at her house with her hubby has always had a knack for coming into town at just the right time. She’d been with us to weddings, showers, birthdays, family funerals – all usually unplanned. So it was fitting that she was with us when we received an email from a birth mom asking us to adopt her daughter. We shared the news with her and then hid out in our room for a bit to type up a long novel to many close friends and family members.

Some of them had known about the events of the week, but some of them had no clue about what was going on. So to explain our upcoming life change that would be happening in a matter of three weeks … not nine months … we started out with an email. Replies flooded in with “Congratulations!” and “OMG!s.” This was the real thing.

Celebrating with an Activation Celebration

The Lord works in mysterious ways, and one that continually blows my mind is timing. Weeks earlier some of my closest buds Amy & Ashley had asked if they could throw a shower for me. I initially said “no way,” following all the adoption manual’s cues when it came to this sort of thing. Any sort of shower was highly discouraged until the baby was home with us – there were so many things that could fall through. They advised we wait.

However, the girls insisted and still asked to do a little something. It didn’t have to be a “shower.” They came up with the idea of an “Activation Celebration.” They knew our activation papers were coming soon and that when we did get the call, gift cards would be handy. The original thought was that if we were chosen by a birth mom in a different state and needed to travel, at least we’d have a way to buy the baby some needed items. So I agreed to them throwing an “activation celebration” where we’d have just gift cards as gifts … and no baby games.

I felt so honored and started looking forward to the celebration. The girls had been planning it for several weeks before the date. Little did we know that the very date they chose for the celebration would fall on the same day I would receive word from a birth mom that sealed the deal motherhood was knocking at my front door – and soon. Like in a week or so.

Let’s Party And Keep A Lid on It

Although the shower had some of my closest small group friends there, only a handful of them still knew about the baby, much less the email I’d received earlier that morning. My moms were there too, but they also kept quiet. All of the news throughout the week had been so tentative, we’d proceeded with caution each step of the way. So, we followed suit on this evening. Just to be safe. We celebrated a “Baby Burgess” and had an amazing time with Thai food, wine, cake and nursery room mobile making. And as each time somebody mentioned Baby B, some of us kind of smiled. Because we actually had an idea of what she looked like… and knew that in all actuality, she was already here.

January 15, 2012 at 10:27 am 3 comments

January 14 – The Wrench | Mae’s Adoption Journey

Some have described adoption as a journey of ups and downs, twists and turns. Yet the day after we’d told our parents we’d be adopting only get to get another “hiccup” along the way didn’t exactly feel like another “twist” in the story. Instead, it felt like someone had just thrown a heavy wrench at us.

Life Resumes … For A Few Seconds At Least

Almost a full week had gone by since the first text about a baby and in a matter of days I was involved in a process to adopt a four-month old. Although my heart still raced at the thought, I had more peace that things were getting “in place.” Our adoption agency was giving us the cues. We were in “wait until you hear back” mode.

I decided to resume my schedule and keep a meeting with a former co-worker about a possible freelance opportunity with his new company. It was something new to focus my anxiety upon. Although we were friends, I was meeting downtown with one of the largest Kansas City companies about a possible side-job. Nervousness took over, and my mind wandered to things other than a baby.

Crisis. Panic. Think Quick.

As I’m reminding myself of the route to downtown and merging on the interstate, I received a phone call from Scott. I answer with excitement, wishing him happy birthday. He quickly says thanks, but then gets a serious tone in his voice. He’d just talked to a panicking Nick. Apparently, after Nick spoke with his sister about adoption she called a Christian adoption agency before she called ours. That agency was bringing a couple out to meet her … and the baby … in just a few hours.

I laughed because there was really no other response to the news Scott had just given me. I thought we’d hit the speed bump a few days earlier when we realized the decision for adoption hadn’t ultimately been made. But this was a whole new side of unexpected. And instead of being handed a baby, now I was now being asked to fight for her against another Christian couple who also wanted to be parents.

What Do We Do??

I was less than thrilled to hear this news, yet something in me that wanted to panic, didn’t. At least not yet. I took a deep breath and talked through the game plan with Scott.

In our profile for the agency, Mike & I described ourselves as a dedicated Christian couple. We chose not to work with a “Christian” agency to cast our net as wide as possible, so I laughed at the irony of the situation. Nick was sold on having me & Mike adopt the baby. He was confident in our marriage, personalities, faith, home and our future – and he knew we would be the best place for his baby girl. He just needed his sister to also see that. And in order for us to not only show her, but to “beat out” another couple now in the running, we needed to meet her. And quickly.

I’d been waiting to hear back from the agency and held off making any personal contact with the birth family on my own. However extreme times called for extreme measures. And we needed to break the “rules” and meet her. Tonight. All plans were tentative until I talked with Mike. I desperately tried to get in touch with him while running in to my meeting.

My Most Embarrassing Meeting Ever

Face flushed, heart racing, I found the building and ran through the glass doors to meet my friend. I tried to find a simple way to answer his usual “How’s it going” as we greeted one another, yet I couldn’t hold it in. I quickly caught him up to speed not just with life in general – but the past 20 minutes – and what I was in the middle of dealing with. Thankfully, he was more of a friend than former coworker and understood my lack of focus and necessity to take phone calls during our meeting. By the time we wrapped up, I barely understood how his complicated industry worked – although he’d done a great job in explaining it. I did, however, have an OK from Mike for our evening plans and a text to Scott with the go-ahead to move forward.

I was so embarrassed, I’d never been that unprofessional before. However, this was a life-changing day and luckily my friend could see that. I quickly hurried back to my car just in time for the short breaths and nervous shakes to begin. I needed to start praying, and to get myself calmed down.

Praying Praying Praying

In a rush I went and got Mike from his grandma’s house where we’d originally planned to be that evening and we both hurried home, leaving the extended family questioning our sudden cancellation for a family dinner. I once again felt bad yet had no other choice. I had to get home. I needed to be with Mike. And we needed to pray.

Everything in me felt horrible. I didn’t want to fight. This wasn’t supposed to be a competition. And even as it was, the other couple we were trying to appear “better than” were also solid Christians who would be providing a loving, God-filled home too. Yet in my mind, I had to put us on different teams and figure out how to win over the birth mom if indeed this baby girl was for us. I had no other strategy than prayer.

With only an hour until we needed to leave, Mike and I laid on our bed and he read through the Psalms. We prayed for God’s comfort and his sovereignty. We knew that He knew the plans and the outcome of the evening. And we had to trust that even if this didn’t work out, He had good things in store for us.

Meeting the Birth Mom

Under the advice of Scott, we threw a few baby toys in a bag that we’d gotten from our excited-to-be-grandparents for Christmas. He thought it might help to show we were really ready for a baby. We headed to Nick’s house which was the meeting place of the night, driving carefully along the iced streets. Scott & Patti met us in the driveway. Although it was Scott’s birthday, he offered to be there since we still didn’t really know Nick all that well. We took him up on the offer.

Walking through the front door, we suddenly were greeted by Nick and then saw her.

She was beautiful.

We’d only seen pictures through a cell phone, but that didn’t give it justice. I walked over to the pink bouncy seat where a baby girl was snugly sitting in her green sleeper, content and watching the room fill with people. I noticed her brown eyes and sparse curly hair. And before I got too fixated, I turned around to see her birth mom coming down the stairs to meet us.

Complex Feelings and Hitting it Off

Trying to figure out how to be ‘real’ in such a moment was mind-blowing. I wanted to act interested in the baby – I mean I was interested in the baby – yet not overdo it. I wanted to focus on getting to know the birth mom, tuning into what she was saying, yet not overdo it and freak her out. And I had about one minute to figure out how to act, balance my focus of her vs. the baby, and get my face to not depict my out-of-control emotions and thoughts. Luckily, Nick helped break the ice.

As we began talking, I suddenly felt an ease and comfort with the birth mom. Mike would chime in here and there, too – helping keep the conversation going. Sure, anxieties were still there. Another couple had just been sitting on the same couch Mike and I were on, having this same conversation. Yet pressing through the awkwardness, I just started to get to know her. I wanted to know what she liked to do for fun, and what she was passionate about. We hit it off by having the same phone. She already knew a bit about us because of a profile sheet our agency had given her. She asked about our dogs and love of Dawson’s Creek. It was as nice and comfortable as the situation allowed.

As the “who are you” conversations came to a natural slow, we turned our focus on the baby. Nick offered for us to hold her, and so I slowly walked over and carefully lifted her out of the bouncy seat. Every emotion possible was firing off in every direction inside of me. I couldn’t believe I was holding her. I wanted to study her and know everything there was to know about her. I wanted to kiss her forehead and hug her tight. Yet – at the same time – I didn’t want to jump the gun. No assumptions made. I had to show respect – not ownership. We were one out of two couples vying to be her parents. And I had to remember that.

After holding her for a few minutes, I passed her to Mike so that I could continue talking with the birth mom. Thanks to Nick’s help and promptings, we started to focus on some baby-related questions once she joined Mike & me on the couch. I got to learn about the birth mom’s hope for the baby to be in a Christian home. I got some background on her relationship with the birth father. I got to ask questions. I got real, honest answers. And at the end, I felt comfortable that whatever she chose, everything would work out.

Photo Time?

It was getting late and the baby had crashed in our arms. I considered that a good sign, especially when I saw Nick’s mouth curl up and look of “awe” come over him. As the evening came to a close, the birth mom asked if she could take our picture with the baby. Hesitation flooded my mind and I told her I thought it might be best to wait on that. I knew she had a decision to make, and with respect to her, I thought we should hold off on any pictures until things were more final.

She seemed to understand, but as we kept on talking and the baby slept soundly in our arms, something in the back of my head told me to just take the picture. “If this is your daughter, and this is the night that you meet her, you are going to want a picture of this.” So after a few more minutes, I asked her if it was OK for me to change my mind. And we took a few pictures of what could be our first photo of our family of three on the couch…

The evening ended with an exchange of emails from the birth mom and myself. This had already become way more of an open situation than I thought I’d ever want; but in strange way, it felt very right. She’d wanted to ask me a few more questions after getting some rest and I told her I was up for that. We thanked her for meeting, Nick for hosting, Scott & Patti for supporting and shuffled out the door.

Waiting for More Questions

My best friend from college, Amber, and her husband had just gotten into town for the weekend and were spending the night at our place. I told her we had an unexpected meeting come up but that we’d be home soon. We finally got home and began retelling the story of the past 24 hours to them. They shook their heads in disbelief with us. And then we dropped it. There was no use in dwelling on it, so we had a great time relaxing and laughing – and not thinking or talking about a baby. All I knew was that things were still so much up in the air.  I was expecting to have an email from the birth mom in the next few days with a few more questions to answer.

January 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm 2 comments

January 13 – Agency Calls | Mae’s Adoption Journey

Once again, my head was spinning. This wasn’t a new occurrence though. In less than a week there had been several days where the room was spinning. It started with a text and then a meeting. Then it really started spinning after a decision. But after I hung up with our adoption agency the morning after meeting Uncle Nick, I knew this was all for real.

You Ready to Proceed With Adoption?

The previous night, we left meeting Uncle Nick with unsettled feelings. Excited, yet uncertain. The situation called for several more meetings and several more phone calls. Part of me dropped some hope once I realized the “this person needs to call that person” web that was to come. I figured something was bound to fall through. Yet the next day when I recognized the phone number of the adoption agency calling my phone, I new we’d made some progress.

Yet once again, blood surged through my veins. Nick had talked to his sister and she knew that adoption would be the best thing for her precious girl. It didn’t take much convincing, she was already there. She wanted what was best for her, as did Nick. He let her know about us. And she trusted him. So much so that by the next morning, she had already called our adoption agency and set up a meeting with them. They were calling us before noon to fill us in on the morning’s activities.

“Hi Danielle, we’ve already talked with the birth mom and she’s ready to move forward if you are. Are you wanting to move forward in this process and adopt this baby?

I shouldn’t have been surprised at the question. It was one that I’d been asking myself all week. Yet something about having our adoption agency ask it put it in the major leagues. This was the real deal now.

“Yes, we will move forward.”

And with that, we were on our way. I quickly called Mike. He was in the middle of eating lunch with co-workers between classes. I had always tried to avoid calling him during school hours, not wanting to interrupt his teaching. But luckily I caught him at a good time. Making she he knew we had agreed to adopt a kid was sort of big news. Mike’s response was the same as mine. Surprised everything had moved quickly. Still in agreement to move forward. Happy. And probably more than anything, dumbfounded.

Time to Spread the Word A Bit

Granted, I was in shock that this was all real and happening. But I’d had five or six days to know it was coming. It hit me that Mike and I would be becoming parents very quickly, we had a daughter out there … and yet none of our parents knew any of this. So, although I hadn’t quite processed everything yet – I picked up the phone and called my mom. We needed to start telling our parents.

Telling Mom

My mom has always been able to take my phone calls at her job. Working in a school gives her the flexibility to put her kids first, even if we are, ahem, nearing 30. So, I called her school and asked the receptionist to find her. I needed to talk to her. In a grand opening statement where I stumbled over my words and such, I basically got out the gist of it: something’s been going on, everything is moving fast, there’s this baby, we’ve been put in line to adopt her, and as of this morning it’s real and looks like it’s happening. Mom’s response gave me a little comfort knowing that my reactions all week didn’t come from nowhere. She was excited, yet quiet, and mostly in shock. I could tell the room was spinning for her, too.

Telling Dad

Next up, I needed to tell my dad. Since his office is less than a mile from my house and his birthday had been the previous day, I thought it would be fun to somehow surprise him with a late birthday gift. I waited for Mike to get home from work and we slipped by his office. I’m sure when we walked in he thought we needed to talk about our cars or life insurance or something. But rather, we sat down across from him at his desk and proceeded to give him a gift wrapped frame. And then we began to explain to him that he could put his granddaughter’s photo in there. His eyebrows shot up. We started sharing the story again. Since I’d already had a first run with Mom, this one wasn’t as rough. Plus, Mike chimed in to help. Yet it was still stop-and-go and shocking. My dad is usually pretty calm and collected about everything … well except my colon cancer. So in his usual fashion he sat there, legs crossed (and shaking), hands clasped rested in his lap, head nodding as he took in our story. At first I thought he wasn’t surprised. But then I realized he was just processing. And at the end of our story, he got a big smile on his face. “I’m gonna be a grandpa!”

Telling Mike’s Mom & Dad

Last up, we wanted to tell Mike’s mom & dad together. Since we also lived just down the road from them, we decided to stop by once we knew Mike’s dad would be home from work. We knew this would probably already tip them off that something was going on. Years before we’d had a similar “drop by” experience when we told them we were planning to move to LA. We’d set this scenario up the same way, so they were excited to see us yet anxious to hear the “news” we had for them. I could tell they were hoping it was good. We didn’t mess around – we got right down to it. We began to share the story again about how a few days earlier, we’d received a text and had a few meetings and well – as of this morning – we’d agreed to adopt a baby girl. Reactions were the same. Excitement. Surprise. Little bit of shock. The super fun part was sharing that this little gal was just shy of two weeks younger than my niece. “They can grow up together!” I jumped at the thought. The reality had hit me once again in a whole new way. Holy cow, this was real.

Letting the News Soak In

After a long emotional day, we headed home to recover. We wanted to share our news with so many others, yet were exhausted and drained. We were glad all of our parents knew. We’d told just a handful of friends. We just needed to rest.

Before my eyes took their last blink, I reflected back on the day’s events. All of our parents responded differently (in a good way), yet they were all very similar. Cautiously excited. Surprised and shocked at the timing. Unsure exactly of how to react. Yet happy. And if we were being honest, Mike & I felt the same way.

It hit me once again that the journey of adoption is unique and different. There’s not one way it will ever be done. And most of the process is uncertain and requires great faith. There’s a typical pattern of responses when it comes to pregnancy or birth announcements. Even if they’re a total shock, most of us get what came before (that’s assumed) and what will come after. But with adoption, and especially our journey, there were no assumptions. We had no idea what had come before (only bits and pieces we’d managed to piece together) – and we especially had no idea what would come after. Nothing about adoption was familiar to us. And even if it would have been, each story has its own twists and turns and details to work out. And while I wasn’t saddened nor scared about the unfamiliarity of this process, I was just praying that I felt everything I needed to feel, and that this was right.

All we knew was that our lives were about to change. We handed the legal stuff and the details over to our agency. We asked our closest friends and family to be praying. And with that, we called it a night.

January 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

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