When my husband and I adopted our son, Ryan, it took less than a
year. A few weeks after completing our home study, we learned about
a high school student considering adoption, met her and her family
and she chose us to parent her baby. Seven weeks later, Ryan was
born, and two days later, we brought him home.
When we decided to adopt again, I was a bit naïve. I
thought it would be just a few months before we became a family of
four. But I was wrong. While we were considered by three pregnant
women considering adoption, all decided to parent.
More than 15 months later, I was burned out and
discouraged. Then a former student, Katie, called. She and her
husband wanted to adopt-could I meet her to talk about it? I had no
idea what the next 19 months would bring, but I'll let my journal
tell the story:
June 16, 2008: Had coffee
with Katie today. I'm excited for her, but so sad for myself. I
know I'm incredibly lucky-I am a mommy, after all, and I love Ryan
more than I dreamed possible. What about people like Katie who
desperately want nothing more than to be parents? Maybe asking for
another baby is just asking for too much.
Aug. 17, 2008: OMG! I got a
call from one of our ads, and she sounds great. … She's a high
school junior from downstate. "L" and I clicked right away. She's
from a small town she says I won't have heard of-wrong! One of my
best friends is from there. That's got to be a sign.
Aug. 24, 2008: "L" and I
have been e-mailing every day. I'm going to meet her this weekend!
I can't wait.
Aug. 25, 2008: "L" e-mailed.
She's changed her mind-she's keeping the baby. I'm crushed and
angry-at her, at myself. How could I get so excited in just a
Oct. 8, 2008: Talked to
Katie tonight. She's really upbeat-she's had two possible leads and
is hoping to get "picked." I'm just numb. Erik and I have agreed to
stop "trying" by the end of the year and move on as a family of
three. We're both 42, after all, and we have to draw the line
somewhere. But I keep hoping something will happen before
Dec. 14, 2008: I spoke with
"N," a pregnant girl who knows a family friend. We met her in
person-she's shy, seems very committed to making an adoption plan.
The baby's father supposedly doesn't care what she does.
Jan. 3, 2009: It's been
weeks since we met "N." Nothing. I guess maybe we're
Jan. 5, 2009: "N" called!
She asked if we would adopt her baby boy, who's due in March. We
are thrilled! I'm taking her to the doctor next week.
Feb. 19, 2009: Where do I
start? This is so hard. "N" isn't as mature as I thought, and she
has some mental health issues that worry me. Plus I'm afraid that
she may be smoking (and maybe doing other stuff) while she's
pregnant. She is going to the doctor regularly (I take her) but
sometimes I want to back out. The baby's father has consented to
the adoption, but I am still nervous.
Feb. 26, 2009: I felt the
baby kick! Things are becoming real. … We've told everyone we're
"expecting" again, and it's been so fun to get new baby stuff. And
Ryan is so excited about being a "big brother."
March 7, 2009: "N" had the
baby! We're waiting to meet him once she's ready.
March 9, 2009: We met Connor
James (the name we chose) today-he is healthy but tiny. I held him
and he was content in my arms. "N" told me he screamed when anyone
else held him, and I thought, "Well, that's because I'm his mommy,"
but I don't say it out loud. It was incredibly hard to say goodbye
to "N," but I told her whenever she's ready to visit, we're ready
too. When we were waiting for him to be released, our caseworker
called. "N" has changed her mind. She's keeping the baby. I
couldn't even speak-I just looked at Erik and shook my head. We
left the hospital without even being able to say goodbye to
March 13, 2009: What can I
say? I really thought this was it-that he would be our son. I cry,
a lot. My heart just hurts.
May 14, 2009: It's been a
rough couple of months, but I'm working toward peace. I've talked
to friends, seen a therapist and prayed a lot. I think I'm finally
ready to "move on" with our family of three.
May 25, 2009: My "baby"
brother Mark's wife, Lyndsi, is pregnant! I'm truly happy for them,
and I told them they can have all of our baby stuff after they move
this summer. That feels right.
June 17, 2009: I must be
crazy. I just had lunch with "K," who knows Jodi, Ryan's birth mom.
"K" is pregnant and knows all about our family. She says she knows
she wants to do an open adoption, like we have with Ryan's birth
parents. "K" is tall, cute, funny, smart. … We have a great lunch.
I'm excited but trying not to get ahead of myself.
Aug. 26, 2009: We sent
e-mails for a while, then "K" fell off the face of the earth. I
can't reach her, so I ask Jodi to talk to her. Jodi's the one who
called to tell me "K" had the baby … and is keeping her. I'm amazed
I can still be hurt like this.
Aug. 28, 2009: A young
couple has chosen Katie and her husband to adopt their baby who is
due in December. They're beyond excited, and she and I talk a lot.
She reminds me of how I felt waiting for Ryan to be born. It's
funny, but I think I'm ready to be done. I know Erik is. I pray,
not for another baby anymore, but for peace.
Sept. 7, 2009: We took all
the baby stuff up to Mark and Lyndsi. I had to leave when Erik took
down the crib, and sobbed in the garage where Ryan couldn't hear
me. I feel like I've given up, but I can't do it anymore. I tell
all our friends and family that we're moving on. At least my life
isn't on hold anymore.
Sept. 10, 2009: A friend
called me to tell me about a pregnant girl looking for parents for
her baby. She's due in seven days! Are we interested? Of course I
said yes, but Erik is not on board. After a long, emotional
conversation, he and I agree that IF she chooses us and IF she goes
through with the adoption plan and IF she and the baby's father
both consent, THEN we can go downstate and bring the baby home. But
neither of us is willing to meet another baby only to say
Sept. 19, 2009: I spoke to
"E" twice, and tried not to get excited. Good thing-of course she
kept the baby. I should call our caseworker and tell her to
officially (finally!) close our license. But I don't. It's called
denial, I guess.
Oct. 3, 2009: Katie called
this morning. I knew she'd been mentoring a young woman out West
who's expecting. Chaleigh wants to make an adoption plan (the
baby's father isn't in the picture), but Katie and her husband
can't adopt her baby-they're already committed to the couple who's
picked them. "Don't be mad, Kel-I told her about you and Erik,"
Katie says. I'm not mad, but I shake so hard my teeth start
chattering. She isn't due for three months! She lives in Idaho!
What am I thinking?
Oct. 5, 2009: I e-mailed
Chaleigh, and I was honest. I told her Erik's given up, and that
I'm pretty close to doing so, too. I told her about our family,
about Ryan, about how much we love being parents. A few days later,
she e-mails me back … with pictures! She is beautiful, thoughtful,
intelligent and funny, too. I love her already. I don't say
anything to Erik for quite a while. When I finally told him, he
wasn't excited. He's mad at me for pursuing this-he thinks I've
lost my mind.
Nov. 6, 2009: I flew out to
Idaho to meet Chaleigh and had a mini-breakdown on the way. I think
I have lost my mind. What am I doing in Idaho? But I believe God
brought us together and that her baby is going to join our family.
I never said that to anyone else, not even to Jodi. But Chaleigh
tells me she believes it, too. I come home and tell a few close
friends and my mom that we may have a new baby soon. Like Erik, my
friends aren't excited-they're scared about what might happen. But
I think this is it.
Nov. 7-Dec. 10, 2009: Katie
and I have been talking almost every day. We are excited,
terrified, elated, anxious, thrilled, fearful, often in the same
few minutes. I couldn't get through these weeks without her
Dec. 11, 2009: Katie's a
mom! She and her husband are spending time with their baby and his
birth parents in the hospital. I cry, but because I am so, so happy
Dec. 28, 2009: Chaleigh went
into labor this morning! It took forever for us to get flights, and
we're at the Minneapolis airport when I reach her by phone. While
we were flying over Iowa, she became a mom! Both she and the baby
are fine. I start bawling, and run to Erik, blurting out, "it's a
girl!" between sobs.
Four hours later, we finally make it to the hospital. Erik
seems calm but I'm a wreck. When we get there, I hug Chaleigh. I
hug her mom. We all cry. I can't even look at the baby. I'm too
overwhelmed. When I finally do, I just know-I had the same feeling
when I met Ryan. This baby in my arms is my daughter.
Kelly James-Enger is a former lawyer, a mom of two and a freelance writer.
See more of Kelly's stories here.
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