Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 4

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 4 of 6

For Dominic.

It was in the late afternoon of August 28 when your birthmother contacted me and said she was going to the hospital because she had been having labor pains. Your father and brothers and I grabbed our luggage that we’d only partially unpacked, said a quick good-bye to the B family, and drove into downtown Houston. We went directly to the hospital that she’d told us weeks earlier was where she planned to give birth. But, upon our arrival, we could not find her anywhere! The hospital staff had no record of her, and she was not answering my messages as I tried to contact and find her. For an hour, we sat in that hospital lobby, wondering where she was and what had happened.

Finally, our adoption social worker called us and told us that we were at the wrong hospital.  He had found out only a few minutes earlier that in her desperation, your birthmother had gone to a different hospital, one closer to her home, knowing that the birth was imminent. By now, over two hours had passed since I’d heard from her and I was heartbroken that I was not with her, helping her through the ordeal of your birth. We also knew that it was likely that we would now miss that most special moment…the moment of your arrival. Leaving home two weeks early in order to be present for that moment in time, only to be denied it, left a painful sting. We loaded back into our vehicle and drove north through the busy downtown area as the sun began to set.

As we drove to the correct hospital, my phone rang. It was a friend of your birthmother. She said that your birthmother had asked her to call me to tell me that you had been born. Then she said that your birthmother was having some kind of emergency and that the doctors were with her. Due to the bad cell phone connection, I could barely understand what she was saying, but I could tell that it was serious. Your birthmother’s friend said that she could not stay at the hospital with your birthmother because she had to go to work. This meant that your birthmother would be left at the hospital alone until we arrived, and it made me feel so sad to know that she had no one else there with her.

Soon after, we arrived at the hospital and ran straight to labor and delivery. We were greeted by locked double doors and a phone on the wall. I picked up the phone and a nurse answered. I explained to the nurse who we were and why we were there. In turn, the nurse briefly and abruptly told me that your birthmother had experienced life-threatening complications and was no longer responding. The nurse said that the doctors were still working on her, and that when they were finished, she would be moved directly to ICU. Because your birthmother had not had the chance to inform the hospital staff of her intentions and who we were before her medical emergency, we were told that neither we nor our social worker could have any contact with her or with you.  We were not even allowed to look at you through the nursery window. Our only hope was that your birthmother would regain consciousness and be able to set the record straight. 

And so, this is how the night that you were born ended. We were all left alone with only God’s angels to surround us. You were alone in the nursery, under the care of the nurses; your birthmother was alone in ICU fighting for her life; and your father and I, your brothers, and our social worker were left sitting alone in an empty hallway, looking out the window at a dark night.  Everything was completely out of our control now and we had to surrender it all to God’s holy will. My heart sank as I tried to hold back the tears. This was not the birth story that I had imagined. Feeling completely helpless, we turned around and went to our hotel, heartbroken.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 3

Addendum: This part of the story takes place in Houston, Texas. We were there at this time last year, and we met many kind and supportive people who shared in our adoption experience.  Please pray for them this week as they bear the impact of Hurricane Harvey. 


This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 3 of 6

For Dominic.

On August 11, 2016, we packed our bags and started driving. From our home to Houston, it would be 1,000 miles. We had never made such a long car trip with your brothers, and we had never been to Houston. We had no family or friends in Houston, and were placing all faith in God that he would help us along the way. We were leaving a week before your due date, because we had been given the impression by your birthmother that you would be born ahead of schedule. Anxiety and fear kept trying to creep into my heart, and I would frequently remind myself that God was in control.

And as we trusted, God led the way. As we made our journey, we were blessed with the kindness of your father’s aunt and uncle. They graciously took us in and allowed us to stay at their home for as long as we needed. They lived at the half-way point of our long journey, and became a much needed respite. And even though our visit had been unplanned, God worked out all the details so that our stay with them was not only possible, but also a blessing to us all.

The other great blessing came in the form of the B family. Friends of a friend, they’d heard about our plight and offered us a place to stay while we waited for you to be born. Located just outside of Houston, they opened their home to us and gave us refuge while we waited for your birth. Feeling a little uncomfortable about accepting their offer, we promised to stay for only a day or two, assuming you’d be born on or ahead of schedule. Little did we know when we accepted their invitation that we’d actually be staying with them for 10 days! Yet, in spite of this, they were so understanding and accommodating of our predicament. In a sense, their family adopted our family while we waited to adopt you, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. They became our home-away-from-home and were the family we really needed during one of the most challenging times of our life. They really showed us what true Christian love looks like as they "welcomed the stranger" (Heb. 13:2).

All this time, from June when we first learned of you until we arrived in Texas, I had been corresponding with your birthmother. She was always so sweet and gracious and would send me photos of you in her belly. When we learned of your gender, she was hopeful that we would be happy and of course, we were!  When your father and I chose your name, I was hopeful that she would like it and she did! She even replied that “Mateo” was a name she had been considering for you, and I considered that a little sign from God that we were on the right path.

As your due date approached, my correspondence with your birthmother became more frequent. She was having health issues related to the pregnancy and was struggling just to walk. After your due date came and went, she began to have more discomfort and was having too much swelling in her legs and feet. Through the agency, your father and I gave her the means to visit a local health clinic, but they did little to help her and kept sending her back home. A week passed past your due date and still, you did not come. She became more distressed and our prayers for her and for you were becoming constant. She visited the hospital ER, but they, too, sent her home, telling her to return in 3 days. We feared that would be too long for her to wait. We asked all the saints and our prayer warriors to intercede for us. As the time crept ever so slowly, I had a very heavy feeling in my heart that something was not right, and I feared for you and for her.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 2

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 2 of 6

For Dominic.

One by one, the months went by, and we still had no leads on any adoption situations. In January 2016, we completed our home study again for the fourth time. In spite of the trials we’d already been through, our love and desire to adopt again never wavered. However, by this point, it had been over three years since that October in 2012 when we’d prayerfully decided to adopt again and by now, our dream seemed like only that…a dream. Added to the pain that came from so much waiting and rejection now was the added pain of losing the support and encouragement of our extended family and friends. Any excitement felt by others had long subsided. Our plans to adopt again were never brought up in conversations anymore, except between your father and me, and we were beyond discouraged. In the years that we’d been waiting, other family members and friends had conceived and given birth, sometimes more than once. We watched as other adoptive families were matched with birthmothers after only a few weeks or months of waiting, while our 3-year wait began to drag into four years.

In a nutshell, we were losing hope. Had all the prayer and effort been for naught? Did we misinterpret God’s desire for us? Why would God ask us to wait so long, especially given our age? We had no choice but to trust the calling we felt so strongly. But because our age was a factor for us, along with the accumulation of our adoption expenses, we decided that we would keep trying, but only for one more year.  Ina strange way, it felt good to know our waiting would be over at the end of theyear, and we worked hard on accepting that however the year ended, it would be part of God's plan for us. We were now very weary under the weight of what had become a another cross to carry.

Six more months went by, and we continued to present our profile to a few birthmothers, only to be rejected again and again. Then, one day, a message came to us from our adoption consultant. “Just for you,” our adoption consultant told us, because we had been waiting for so long. In this unique case, your birthmother had asked her agency to make the match for her, and in their mercy, the consultant and agency had given us first chance because we'd been waiting the longest.  A baby, due due in two months. Were we interested?  Yes!  Of course! We had been waiting so, so long for this moment. Could it be real?  We dared not get our hopes up.

It was a Hispanic baby, we were told, gender unknown, to be born in Houston, Texas. We contacted the agency and felt good about the situation. “Lord, help us make the right decision,” we prayed. A few days later, on June 24, 2016, we were officially matched. It was your father’s birthday, and the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Little did we know then that this saint would play a major role in your birth story.

The preparations began for your arrival.  The nursery was painted and we told our families the good news.  Unfortunately, they were hesitant to believe our news could be real. After almost four years, they’d lost all hope, so instead of sharing in our joy, they responded with apathy and doubt. But your father and I refused to be robbed of the joy we were feeling in our hearts as we prepared to meet you. Hope was all we had, and we were going to hold onto it until the very end. We counted down the days, and put up the baby crib.Your brothers talked excitedly about having a new baby brother. We were all so ready to meet you, and we put complete trust in God’s love and protection as we prepared to make our longest journey yet.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Born On A Sunday (An Adoption Birth Story) - Pt. 1

This story is long because this journey was long. Four years long. I share it here for Dominic, but also for all those who may still be on the long road to adopting. May it bring encouragement to all those who are patiently waiting for an answer to their prayers.
Part 1 of 6

For Dominic.

This is the story of how you came to us, your birth story, or as some would call it, your adoption story. But mostly, it is just a story about waiting and praying and not losing hope in God, who hears all our prayers even when he doesn’t seem to be listening.

You may believe that your birth story begins in August 2016, but for us, the story of how you came into our lives began many years before you were actually born.

For your father and I, your birth story actually begins in October 2012. October has always been a sentimental time of year for your father and me. It is the month when we were married, and it is also the month when we lost our first child (whom we named Francis) in 2006. In 2012, it was the month when we would have been welcoming a baby that we’d lost 8 months earlier. So, that particular October was a little difficult for us as we struggled with an emptiness that had become all too familiar during much of our marriage. For some reason, our family still felt incomplete even though we had two beautiful sons. We began to wonder if God was asking us to adopt again. We knew we had more love for another child and so, after much prayer and discernment, our hearts began making a place for you and from that point on, our wait for you began. Little did we know then just how long that wait would be.

We told our families about our desire to adopt again during our Thanksgiving holiday that same year. There was enthusiasm regarding the idea of us adding another child to our family, and our parents were excited by the thought of becoming grandparents again. We knew they would open their hearts to you.

That following December, we contacted the adoption agency that we’d adopted your brother through and were told that it would be a few months before they would be able to get the home study finalized. We were so anxious to get started! Soon after, we found out I was pregnant again, but shortly after, we lost that child to miscarriage, too. Needless to say, our desire to adopt after that loss just grew stronger.  After so much loss, we needed you in our lives more than ever, and we were convinced that God had a special child in mind for us through adoption.

Finally, in March 2013, our home study to adopt was finalized and our official wait to be matched with a child began. We had no preference regarding gender or race, and we were open to various adoption situations. We wanted God to lead us to the baby meant for us.

We waited that year, even delaying our move back to Kentucky from Missouri for a year for no other reason than to be able to adopt (each state has different adoption laws). We were optimistic that we would be matched with a birthmother within the year. We’d even completed a 54-day novena specifically for our intention to adopt again. I just knew that our Blessed Mother would not let us down! But when that year, 2013, came to an end and we hadn’t even come close to being matched, we felt another great sense of loss. Was God even hearing us? I asked this question time and time again. Knowing we could not put off our need to move back to Kentucky any longer, we allowed our home study to expire and relocated. Knowing that this move meant we would have to start the adoption process all over again felt devastating. I just couldn’t understand why God would ask us to start all over again if this was truly his will for our family.

The passing of time during the months after we arrived in Kentucky was agonizing because we were not eligible to adopt. I kept wondering if we were missing our only chance at adopting during this period of time that we were ineligible and if the baby meant for us been born and given to another family. Therefore, we were anxious to get approved again by an agency in Kentucky so that we could be back in the “waiting pool”.

After getting settled into our new home, we began contacting various adoption agencies again. With no knowledge of adoption agencies or laws in our new home state, this became a very frustrating process. One agency was very encouraging to us until they took our initial payment, and then they became very discouraging, and of course, the money we'd already paid them was non-refundable. Other agencies were nice enough, but did not agree with our Catholic beliefs and wanted us to sign “statements of faith” contrary to Catholic teaching.  Finally, after much prayer and searching, we were led to an agency that felt like a good fit. Working with them, we started the process all over again, and by the end of December 2014, we had completed another home study. 

It was a huge relief to be eligible to adopt again, and we prayed that our wait would not be much longer. It had now been two years since we’d made the decision to adopt. To hopefully speed up the process, we decided to hire an adoption consultant after being told by the consulting agency that they typically matched families within only a few months. So, we became excited and happily paid our fee. But they were wrong. Again, after paying our money, we found out that most of the birthmother situations presented to us by our consultant would have a “catch”. It was then that we realized that there was a darker side to adoption, and it was adoptive families like ours that often suffered the consequences. And although our consultant did show our profile to several birthmothers, none of them ever chose our family while other families were matched within a few weeks or months. It all seemed incredibly unfair. Over the course of that year, we gradually lost count of the number of birthmothers who looked at our profile. We were never given any explanation regarding why we were not being chosen, and as time went by, the sense of rejection began to feel overwhelming.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Feast of St. Dominic Update

Happy Feast of St. Dominic!

It's been a while...

Lots going on, too much really.  When you're too busy to blog, you're too busy, right?

Anyhow, I will get back to it, I hope!  I almost have Dominic's birth/adoption story finished and plan to have it up on the blog for his birthday.  But in honor of his patron saint's feast day today, I thought it might be fun to share a recent photo of our newest member.

It was a year ago this week that we set out on our thousand mile journey to Texas in anticipation of his birth.  I was so riddled with anxiety and concern and just thinking about it all again brings back so many memories.  Little did we know we'd be gone for 34 days!  So many miles, so many nights in hotels, so much apprehension.  It was both the best and the worst month of my life.  But of course, he was totally worth it all.  And in retrospect, we can see that God was with us every step of the way.

He's such a great little baby, soon to be toddler.  I can't believe how fast this first year has gone by.  Knowing he is my last (most likely), I want to hang onto every little moment.  But he is not having any of that and wants to walk and be able to do everything his big brothers can do!  They already get into squabbles over toys and he eats almost as much as they do.  I'm not sure how I'm going to keep up with it all, but just like the journey to reach him, we will take it day-by-day, and before I know it, all will be hindsight. God has been very good to us this past year, and I thank him and the intercession of many saints, especially St. Dominic, for it all.

St. Dominic, pray for us.