When I was thirteen years old, I watched a report that Barbara Walter’s did on Romanian orphanages. I was truly moved by what I saw and I asked my mother if we could adopt one of the children. At almost 40, and with four of her own children, my mother said we could not, but someday, when I was old enough, I could adopt a child myself. I pretty much decided right there in that moment that someday I would do just that.
My second husband, Andy, will often recall our 3rd dinner date in which I declared adoption was something I had to do with my life and was non-negotiable. (I was 29 at the time ….. he was not …. and if babies were in the plans we probably needed to address it sooner than later.) Adoption aside, I still wanted more children, and simply put, I wasn’t about to waste time dating a man who had no intentions of expanding on his family. Perhaps I was forward, but I was passionate about following through with a promise I made to myself, and an unborn child, 15 years earlier.
As luck would have it, biological children were not an option with Sir Andy, and he seemed to be supportive of my desires and understood my need to be upfront about my future plans. (In retrospect, he might have just said yes to keep the younger woman in his life at the time ….) Fast forward two years to January of 2008 and we had begun our adoption journey.
It’s a brutal process. I researched agencies, adoption requirements as dictated by various countries, and we began our home study. Ultimately, we decided to pursue a domestic adoption for a baby girl of any ethnicity. (Our house was already crawling with testosterone ….. I needed to even out the playing field a little.) The agency was unsure of what to make of our situation, 4 kids already between us, and said they weren’t sure how receptive birth mothers would be to our family profile. (Most other couples looking to adopt had either no children or perhaps one ….) I put together what I thought was a great family profile and we were paperwork ready by the end of June. On August 20, 2008, about 8 months after starting the process, we received a call about a birth mother in Ohio the agency wanted to submit us to. She was 21 ….. she was having twins. Long story short, she picked us and Cameron and Cassandra were born on September 25, 2008, via c-section, while Andy, myself and big brother Zach waited in another room.
People often ask questions about the birth/hospital experience. The twins’ birth mother was extremely overweight, homeless, unemployed, young, and already parenting another set of twins she had when she was 18. She was very sweet, child-like, and at peace with her decision. She did not know our last name and the adoption was considered semi-open. I stayed with her in the hospital the first two nights following the birth. We took turns feeding them, talked about names and I learned about her family while she learned more about ours.
Did she cry? The only time I saw her cry was when she was in pain and getting out of bed in the middle of the night. She was very affectionate with the babies, cuddling them and talking to them sweetly. She called them her “little boos” and kissed their feet and tiny hands. I have photos of her with each of them in their rooms. She was a brave, emotionally strong young woman who wanted her babies to have a life she, at that time, could not provide.
I know her name, how to find her, and sent pictures on several occasions. We have not spoken since the twins were almost one. We decided that when the twins are nearing 18 years of age, should they want to contact her, we will reach out and arrange for that to happen. Cameron and Cassandra understand the concept of adoption but are not quite old enough to ask the tough questions. When Cassie was 4 she asked why her skin is different than mine. I showed her the photos and said she had grown in “her” belly and since she had brown skin, so did Cameron and Cassandra. At this point, it is just accepted that they grew in her belly and she wanted them to be with us.
November is National Adoption Month. I’m an advocate for domestic adoptions as we have so many children here in our country that need families. There is a false belief that choosing a domestic adoption means long wait times, and perhaps, for some, that is true. A little research and an open heart can go a long way in speeding up the process. Anyone looking for resources or more information on adoption can feel free to contact me ….. I’m happy to share more.
I’m sure I will post more about what I call “My Modern Family” on many occasions. The tough questions will come, and I hope I’m equipped to handle them. Family is family, no matter how we all come together. I am truly proud of how mine came to be, and forever grateful to the women who helped create it.