“I’m sorry Tom, but you are sterile and will likely never bear children.” I looked at my husband, devastated. After over three years of trying to conceive, thirty-six months of praying and hoping for a baby, the doctor’s words were like a punch in the gut. I barely listened as he proceeded to share other options for growing our family. The alternatives gave me little consolation at that moment.
Even though we still hoped God would bless us with a child, we put the stress of trying to conceive on the back burner and both dove into our careers. In the back of my mind, I never stopped imagining I would miraculously get pregnant. Even though my hopes were dashed each month, I continued to believe.
As time passed, Tom and I began considering our options and contemplated artificial insemination. We decided to proceed and discussed his physical characteristics that we wanted in a donor. I had no peace with our decision, but we went ahead anyway. I struggled with anxiety about what we might face in the future. I feared Tom eventually resenting the children. Or even worse, what if they end up hating us because of our decision, and tried to find their biological father?
I questioned if this was the path to parenthood we were supposed to take. As I struggled with my thoughts, Tom reassured me that the baby would still be part of one of us. When the second attempt was unsuccessful, I somehow found peace that we would not have biological children. I never told Tom, but his words actually solidified me not wanting to continue.
As we tried to settle into what we thought would be our life, my husband’s job moved us from New Jersey to Ohio in 2004, and then a year later to Michigan. As we approached our 10th wedding anniversary, we resumed discussing adoption. I think deep down we always knew that was how we would expand our family.
We contacted Michigan’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and signed up for their fostering and adoption classes. The two months of training consisted of examples and stories of possible behaviors and situations we could encounter as foster parents, along with the state laws we had to comply with. This training scared off a good number of people as some didn’t return after the first class. However, we were committed to moving forward no matter what we might face.
After we finished our classes, we anxiously awaited about six or seven months for our first placement. We received siblings: a four-year-old girl and a four-month-old boy. I fell instantly in love with them; we had them for a year and waited for DHS to confirm we could proceed with the adoption. But the biological father fought for his parental rights and regained custody.
When the children were removed from our home, I was devastated. I had raised them for the past year, and in my heart, they were my children. I went into a depression and was surprised to receive a call from DHS a month later in November 2008. The mother of the siblings we had just lost delivered another baby who needed to be placed with a family. We headed straight to the DHS office, and when the case worker handed Ethan to me, I immediately fell in love. He was a week old and born with heroin in his system; thankfully we didn’t see a lot of negative effects. We took him home and began our new lives together.
In March of the next year, we received a phone call from our caseworker with the case of a six-year-old boy. We were still caring for and getting adjusted to Ethan yet agreed to meet the boy and his aunt. Our first visit with him went very well. Seeing how Ballard cared for our Ethan made us quickly fall in love with him as well. We agreed to foster Ballard as well, as he had experienced traumatic issues from being separated from all his siblings and living in five foster homes. We adopted both boys that September 2009, thrilled that our family had doubled in less than a year.
As we were getting acclimated to life with our two sons, we received another call from DHS in 2011 about a newborn girl that needed to be placed with a family. Without hesitation, we went right to the hospital. Tom went in first to see her while I kept the boys, and then we switched so I could visit her. She was absolutely beautiful!!
The next day we went back to pick Amelia up. She was ten days old and had methadone in her system because she was also born addicted to drugs. Methadone made her sleep all the time and she was rarely alert. We had a scary incident one Sunday in church. I had just given her a bottle, burped her, and laid her back in her car seat. She started to choke and was unable to catch her breath. We called 911 and were taken by ambulance to the hospital. The medical team believed methadone was the cause of that incident, and it was discontinued immediately. We hadn’t seen her personality because she slept so much but once it was out of her system, she was always smiling and cooing, which brought us so much joy!
Six months later we were contacted by DHS for another placement. This baby girl looked as if she could have been our biological child. She was pale with freckles and red hair and reminded me of Tom’s childhood pictures. We knew we were going to adopt Amelia, and I did not have the same maternal feelings toward this baby. We told the caseworker that she needed to be placed with another family as we would not continue fostering after being blessed with Amelia. She was initially upset, but eventually found the baby a family who adopted her, and she’s doing well today.
All three of my children have special needs, Ballard has autism and ADHD, Ethan has ADHD and Amelia has some delays, possibly from her addiction at birth, and suspected but undiagnosed ADHD. We have utilized every service provided by DHS to ensure they have the correct medication, therapy, and additional services required to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Ballard is now working and living on his own, doing quite well for himself, and we could not be prouder of him. Ethan is a full-on force of nature – so smart and a go-getter. Amelia is working hard to catch up – both physically and mentally. She is very small for her age, but it does not stop her.
I would not change them for anything. God knew what our family needed to look like and it’s not the traditional family I had in mind at the start of my life with Tom. God showed me that I could trust Him, despite not understanding my present circumstances or knowing what the future held. I admit, I questioned Him a few times, since He knew how much I wanted to have a baby of my own. Even though I didn’t give birth to them, He gave me two babies!
I often asked why me? What did I do wrong? I have come to realize this was the plan all along. God knew how best to use Tom and me, and I’m truly thankful for that. Adoption it is not always an easy road, but it is a journey worth traveling.
PRAYER FOR MOMS:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I pray for all those reading our adoption story. I pray that it would be a blessing and encouragement to those that have adopted children, and encouragement to those considering adoption. I pray that you will use my story for your Glory.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
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