Our First Gotcha Day Anniversary: A Look Back At Our Adoption Story

Adoption is an incredible experience. When we found out we couldn’t have any more children, we turned to adoption to complete our family. I never could have imagined the ride we were about to embark on.

Newborn domestic adoption is a very lengthy, expensive, and emotional journey. Luckily, adopting a baby here in the United States can be compensated in tax refunds by the government (federally everywhere, and statewide if you stick to your state). So if you fear that you cannot afford it, look into your options. Grants and loans exist. And while carrying the loan payment is hard, it’s totally, of course, worth it.

As for the rest of it, I’ll share our story with you now. We first spoke to our agency in February of 2017. By July we had completed all of the paperwork, home studies, inspections, and classes that were required and were ready to go! We went live (were posted on the agency’s website) and then……..we waited.

I can’t explain that wait to you. I think it’s something you really and truly have to go through to understand. Other couples were chosen, why not us? Was our biography bad? Were our pictures bad? What did they have that we didn’t? What if we never get chosen? What if we get chosen tomorrow? What will our baby look like? We tried to prepare. What if our daughter was born addicted? How would we handle that? What if she was a different race? How could we be sure that she would be able to embrace and experience her own culture in this area and with a white family? I spent hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Pondering every scenario my mind could possibly conceive. I researched, and researched and researched. I tortured myself with questions. It was hard. It was really, really hard.

The social workers at our agency told us not to prepare. Not to buy her clothes or toys. Not to prepare a room for her. Because it would be all the more devastating if we never brought her home. For the most part, I obeyed this command. I did allow myself a few little cheats, however. For one, we already had the boys. That meant that we had a lot of the big stuff like a bassinet, play yard, highchair, etc. And I distinctly remember buying her a dress once when I was out shopping. It was so adorable that I just couldn’t help myself. I confessed to my husband who was, as always, so supportive. He said it was good to have the dress. It represented hope and possibility of what could be. And we bought clothes. I am a very Type A, control-freak personality. Not knowing if or when we would get a baby was torture for me. I had to, in some way, prepare. So we went to garage sales and got some baby girl clothes. I filled a couple of totes, and then I put them in storage. I figured, that way, if it happened fast, we wouldn’t be bringing her home with nothing. And if it didn’t, we could just donate them and not be out a ton of money. The other thing we did was create a registry. I had spent hours researching baby formula (I nursed my boys so I was new to the scene) and finally chose one. So we registered for it, and other things like diapers, wipes and pacifiers. That way, again, if it happened fast, we could run there and not even have to think. It was already all planned out. I also, of course, added some adorable girly stuff to the registry as well. I mean, come on, I’m only human.

Months went by. We were presented with several opportunities to try for a baby, but none of them seemed like the perfect fit for us. The holidays came and went and still, no baby. I thought a lot during those moments of childless couples in the world. How much more difficult was this wait for them? I had my children to distract me. I already had little hands to hold and faces to kiss. How much more trying would this time have been if I was wondering if I’d ever be a mother at all? And I though about all of the birthparents who were choosing adoption. How difficult was this for them? How hard would it be to choose adoption for your baby? Thoughts constantly ran through my head if I didn’t keep myself extremely busy and preoccupied.

And then came Spring. We were presented with a couple of opportunities that seemed like they could be a good fit, and both times the birthparents chose other couples. Not us. And even though the agency prepared us for this rejection, explained that it wasn’t us that was an issue, that the families chosen were just a better fit, I couldn’t help but wonder if we had done something wrong. Maybe we didn’t seem friendly enough in our letter to them? Maybe our pictures weren’t good. All of the old worries flooded back each time. Thank God for my husband. He’s so laid back and relaxed – and everything that is the opposite of me that I needed so badly throughout this entire process. He kept me from freaking out and being overly anxious. I kept telling myself to be patient (NOT my strong suit).

As we rounded the end of July, we reflected on the fact that it was exactly a year since we had completed everything and gone “on the market” so to speak. We had one more year left, and then our homestudy would expire, and we’d have to decide whether or not we wanted to pay to reinstate it, or let our dream go. Every July, on the last Sunday of the month, we have a family reunion on my mother’s side. It’s a wonderful day, and I can remember last year, sitting at a table with my cousins and Aunts, and talking. I told them about our adoption journey and how we were doing so far. I remember thinking about it on the way home, wondering where we’d be the following year. Wondering if the waiting ever got easier. And then, when we got home, we got an email.

A healthy, beautiful baby girl had been born that morning. Her birthparents contacted the agency and let them know that they were interested in creating an adoption plan for her. Now, this email went out to probably 40 families. Just like all those which came before it. I was excited, but tried not to get my hopes up. We wrote our letter to them and submitted it, and then…we waited.

It typically took a week to hear in an email that a different family had been chosen. Those emails were hard to take. That rejection, while in no way personal, feels like a dagger through the heart. It’s hard to take. So this time, I was prepared for it. I didn’t expect to be chosen. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be. I had it in my head that they wouldn’t want us. It’s like breaking up with someone before they can break up with you. It’s stupid and unhealthy, but it’s self preservation.

Sunday night I sent our letter. By Wednesday I hadn’t heard anything, and knew she wasn’t ours. I prepared for the email that I knew was coming. Instead, on Wednesday evening, I received a phone call from the agency. The birthparents had chosen us. They chose us. Out of all of the people who wanted that baby more than anything in the world, they picked us. I started sobbing. I remember vaguely having a conversation with her, but I can’t really remember what we said. I just remember crying and pacing while I talked to her. At the end of the conversation my best friend walked into the room. As soon as I hung up the phone she asked, “Did you get a baby?” I nodded, still crying, and she ran to me. We hugged, jumping up and down, and cry-laughing like children. I then showed her the text I got from the social worker, a picture of our daughter.

I immediately called my husband, took a screen shot of my text with the social worker, and sent him the picture of our baby. I was shaking. I remember that. And then, instead of being excited, I got really scared. What if they changed their minds?

The social worker had explained that they were going to wait until the following Monday to sign the paperwork. Which meant that they had until Monday to change their minds. It was Wednesday. And let me tell you, those were the longest, most emotionally exhausting 5 days of my life. We also had explicit instructions from the social worker. Buy newborn diapers, an outfit to bring her home in, formula, a few bottles, and nothing else. These were the bare necessities, and nothing was certain yet. We did as we were told. But come on. We also bought a few of the things on our registry. By then some of them were on clearance and I was afraid they’d be gone. So with the assurance that we could return them if we didn’t get our baby, I filled that cart up and we carted it all home. I left it in bags and put it in storage. And then we just….waited.

Monday finally came and the time that we were to go to the agency arrived. My husband and I packed up the diaper bag and made the (almost) hour drive to the agency. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were told to be there at 1:00, even though the birthparents wouldn’t be there to sign until later that evening. When we arrived, she was there. Her foster mother had brought her to the agency so that we could meet her. We spent the next several hours holding her, feeding her, and talking to her. We were in love. And so, of course, the monster in my brain was stomping around, scaring me. Wondering what would happen if her birthparents didn’t show up. Or what if they did, but they changed their minds at the last minute. What if they wanted to meet us? What could I possibly say to them to thank them for choosing us? How can you ever find words for something like that?

The time finally came. The social worker said that they had arrived, and she and the attorney were going down the hall to meet them. I gave her something we had picked up for them. A card, thanking them, and 2 small tokens. The first was a ruby necklace for her (our daughter’s birthstone), and for him, a silver picture frame and a giftcard to shutterfly, so they could print out pictures of the baby if they wanted to. Let me tell you, in those moments, I could feel my heart beating all throughout my body. I went from elation to panic to nauseous about a thousand different times. Then I noticed that my husband was acting very out of character. He was cleaning the room. Lifting up cushions, checking under them to see if we’d dropped anything, packing the bag, throwing away trash, etc. It was the absolute first time in our 12 years together I’d actually seen him nervous.

Finally, finally, the social worker returned. The papers were signed. It was done. Once we signed, we would be taking her home. They didn’t want to meet us. They couldn’t see her. It was just all too hard for them. A little piece of my heart broke for them right then, and I don’t think it will ever be the same. I think about them every day, and especially today. I had wanted so badly to meet them. To thank them. To reassure them that they could always see her if they ever wanted to. To promise that we would always be there if they wanted us in their lives. But that moment wasn’t to be. And that’s OK. I did need to mourn a bit, in all honesty. It’s difficult to explain, but I really had wanted to know them, and for them to know us. But I understood, and I empathized, and I still had hope that, maybe someday, we would meet. So we signed the papers, and then, we brought our daughter home.

So it’s been a year to the day since we got her. We didn’t technically adopt her until March of this year, but this is the anniversary of the day that she became ours. A day I will never, ever forget. Her birthmother and I text from time to time. She’ll check in every once in awhile and see how things are going. It’s always nice to hear from her. We still have yet to meet. My hope is that we will, someday. That our daughter will grow up knowing her birthparents. That she’ll never question their love for her, or the sacrifice they made for her in choosing adoption. But even if they never want to meet us, I’ll still tell her the story of how she came to be ours. Of how God’s plan miraculously came to be, and of just how lucky she is to have two sets of parents who love her more than anything else in this world.

Our daughter, wearing that dress I bought when she was still just a dream for us.


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