Our adoption stories are nothing but God's handiwork. We started the process to adopt in May of 2000 while we lived in North Carolina. We went with a national agency that had an office in NC, but was based out of California. In August we were matched with a young lady that we actually knew from teaching her in Sunday school while we lived in Utah. We were there for the baby's birth, but after a couple of weeks the parents decided they could not sign the papers for the adoption.
During the time we were away from home waiting to see if the parents were going to actually move forward with the adoption, my husband was very sick with pneumonia, which ended up being much more serious than just pneumonia. Less than two weeks after we returned home with no baby, my husband was admitted to the hospital, having major surgery and being placed in ICU and then spending another 10 days in the hospital. I was so scared that I was going to lose him too. I thank God that He provided my husband with a wonderful surgeon and they were able to help him.
We took some time after my husband's hospitalization to focus on his recovery and then grieve for the little girl that we did not have before we jumped back into the adoption process. Because things had happened so quickly and our match was with someone we knew, we never did our "Dear Birthmother" letter. I think it was May of 2001 before we had an approved letter.
After receiving no phone calls, we finally received a phone call from our agency the first part of January 2002 telling us about a birthmother that was due the end of February who had just had a failed match and wanted to know if we wanted them to show her our profile. They said because she was due in two months, they would only send her profiles from a couple of families. We told them to go ahead.
A couple days later we received a call from this birthmother. She had chose us. We were so excited and had to get busy to get things ready. We flew to California a couple of weeks later to meet her and allow her to meet us in person, plus have a meeting with the agency to discuss the adoption plan. It was a very busy weekend and she was certain she was going to place the baby. We learned that she had three older children who lived with her mom.
After we went home we started getting the nursery ready, making arrangements for our dog to be boarded while we were gone, having people watch our house and get our mail - all those fun things when you're going to be out of town. We also started looking at travel arrangements and hotel accommodations for when the time came as well as notifying our employers.
In the six weeks between the time we came home and the due date of the baby, there were multiple times that we could not reach the birthmother at the numbers she had given us because she would move. It was a very stressful six weeks and based on our previous situation, we began to wonder if this was going to happen. I spent many phone calls with our counselor crying and not sure if we could move forward. She encouraged me to keep going and wait to see what happened when the due date came.
On February 28th, I received a call from the birthmother's friend saying that she was at the hospital in labor. I called our counselor and she told us to start getting ready to travel. I left work and began finishing our packing and changing our plane tickets to fly out the next day. Later that afternoon, about 4:45, we received the phone call that our son was born. We were so excited. I could hardly sleep that night! The next day we began the long flight to California. I called the hospital and talked to our son's birthmom before we got on the plane. She told us that the nurses said it would be okay for us to come to the hospital as soon as we got into town, even though it would not be until about 10 p.m. that we would even land at the airport.
We did go straight to the hospital and this is the first time I was able to see our son, Caleb Alexander:
This is an absolutely horrible picture of me, seeing it was actually 1 a.m. North Carolina time and I'd spent seven hours on an airplane!
Caleb spent five days in the hospital and then was discharged to us. His birthmother was resolved in her decision and signed all the necessary papers when she was asked to. We even had to do it a second time due to the fact that there was some mental health questions and we found out that she needed to have a psychological exam performed before actually signing the papers. So we had to hurry and get all of that accomplished.
We were told that it could take weeks to get the necessary ICPC paperwork approved, which meant we had to stay in California until that happened. It so happened, that because our home study would have expired while we were in California and would need to get it updated as soon as possible, we were actually able to receive a conditional approval and leave California to go home to North Carolina within a week of Caleb being discharged from the hospital.
It was wonderful to be able to go home with our little boy!
We know that had things moved forward with the little girl, that we would not have Caleb. And while we have had numerous challenges with Caleb, as you can see if you read through the rest of blog, we know without a doubt, that it was God's plan for Caleb to be our son and He will help us through whatever challenges we have.
When Caleb was two we started talking about adopting again. With the cost of adoption, we just didn't feel like that would be a possibility at that time. We started looking into adoption through the foster care system, although we didn't want to foster children. We weren't sure that we could open our home to a child and then have the possibility of having to send that child back home or to another home. So we contacted our local foster care agency about just adoption. We learned that we needed to take a 30-hour training class over a period of 10 weeks in order to even begin the adoption process. In January of 2005, I called to schedule us for the training and was told that the February class was full and was placed on the list for the April class. I asked to be put on a waiting list for the February class and was told that they did not do that. However, a few days later we received a confirmation letter and we were scheduled for the February class.
The first night of class, my husband was supposed to be out of town, but his trip was cancelled at the last minute, so he was able to go with me. We knew of a couple of dates where my husband would not be able to go to the class and we were told we could find another class and find out what weeks they were doing the weeks he missed and attend those classes to make it up. We learned at that first class that you were only allowed to miss two classes during the weeks (even though you had to make up the class). If you were going to miss more than two classes, you would have to begin the entire class over. My husband and I looked at each other and were thankful that he was there that night!
The class was for people that wanted to foster, foster to adopt and just adopt. As we all got to know one another, we would all talk about what our plans were. Due to Caleb begin three, our thought was to adopt one child who was younger than our son. We were told that it would probably take a couple of years for us to be able to complete an adoption based on our limited desires.
Our classes were completed in April and we began the process of our homestudy. Because the agency had our previous home study, our worker used that to help her complete our new one, which saved a lot of time. She was able to get it done and approved by the end of May. Right after we received notice of our approval, we received some information on a little girl, who was 20 months old, had been in state custody since the day she was born and eligible for adoption. Our worker asked us if we wanted to have our home study submitted for her. I told her yes. She cautioned us that there would be a lot of interest in this little girl and that we should not get our hopes up, especially since we had just had our homestudy approved.
About three weeks later we received a call that we were one of six families that would be staffed at a "Best Interest Staffing," which is where they would decide which family would be this little girl's forever family. We learned that the staffing would be held while we were on our way back from vacation, but that was not a problem. Our worker again cautioned us on not getting our hopes up. She said it is very uncommon for families to be selected on their very first best interest staffing.
We had taken vacation and went and spent some time with my husband's family in West Virginia. On the way home, we stopped and saw my Great Aunt before in Ohio beginning our trip home. The day that we left Ohio to begin the trip home, we stopped in Casey, Illionis at Hardees for lunch. Caleb was very rambunctious after spending all morning buckled up in the car and we were focused on trying to get him to eat when my cell phone rang. I noticed on the caller ID that it was our worker. When I answered the phone, the first words out of her mouth were, "You have a daughter!" I started screaming, my husband keeps asking me what's going on, Caleb's going crazy and everyone in the whole restaurant was staring! I will never forget that moment!
I've just realized that I am missing a whole bunch of pictures on my computer - oh boy. But here is one of the first professional pictures we had taken of our little girl:
On August 12th, 2005 we signed the Adoptive Placement Agreement and began the process of moving towards finalization.
Here's a picture of the kids together:
Now, remember how I said we weren't sure if we could foster. God sure does have a way of changing your mind and hearts. We began fostering children in July of 2008. It's been a frustrating, but rewarding experience. We were placed with a little guy who was two weeks old in February of 2010. He's going to be one on Sunday. He is a blessing and such a happy baby. We are waiting (not so patiently) to have a paper submitted so that they can move forward with our home study. We have been told that because there's no biological family that are interested in adopting him, that because he has been with us so long, we will be the only family considered.
Here's our little guy:
We are planning to adopt more if that's what God desires! Time will tell!