Chad and Erin
We Don’t Have to “Have” Them to Love Them
Both as individuals and as a couple, Chad and I have a deep respect for how families come to be, for how different each is, and for the decision a couple makes about whether their family will include children or not. Before we got married, as we had conversations about having a family, we realized that both of us were incredibly open and comfortable with adoption if, for some reason, we weren’t able to have our own children in the “traditional” sense. “We don't have to “have” them to love them,” was sort of the attitude we both had.
A few years after we were married, we experienced two miscarriages, the latest in late 2012. Though it took us a few years to decide we were ready to start the process, we just knew adoption was our next step on the path we were set to take.
The Adoption Journey Begins
We started the “paperwork” part of the process in May 2015. We weren’t in a huge hurry, so our goal was to complete everything by the end of the calendar year. Once we moved into the “matching” part of the process (January 2016), we were informed within a week or so about three potential birth moms. We couldn’t believe how quickly things started to fall into place, but we realize now that the more open you are to the race, gender, and exposures, the more opportunities there are to find the right fit for your family. We decided we wanted to be considered for all three, and much to our surprise, we were chosen and matched with a birth mom by February 11th with a due date of May 22nd!
Our Hearts Break
We prepared for (as much as we knew how as first-time parents!) and anxiously anticipated that due date arriving as the weeks and months went by, but our path took an unexpected and tremendously painful turn on May 7th, the day before Mother’s Day and our 6th wedding anniversary. Coleen called and, through her tears and ours, told us that our soon-to-be baby girl was being delivered stillborn that morning after an otherwise healthy, basically full-term pregnancy. We were devastated in ways we can’t express and could not fathom any good reason for such an unreasonable thing to happen.
A little over a week later, Coleen was in town and asked to visit us at our home to talk in person and see how we were doing. After a thoughtful conversation (and more crying), she very hesitantly asked if we wanted to hear about a new birth mom that had been working with the agency. It’s very unlikely we would have felt emotionally ready to jump back in so quickly, but my dad was very sick with terminal cancer, and we knew the sooner we said “yes” to put ourselves back out there, the better the chances were that my dad would meet his grandson/daughter. After all, it wasn’t as if putting ourselves out there meant we would get chosen anyway.
Finding Hope and Joy in the Pain
Well, clearly there were plans for us that we didn’t understood at the time, but we were chosen by Amber, within days, due with a baby boy on October 9th!
Admittedly, we weren’t sure how to feel at that point. We were overwhelmed that this amazing young woman would see something in us that felt right to her. W we were terrified to let ourselves be vulnerable again. We felt immense guilt that we weren’t even done mourning the loss of our first adoption, but we held on to the hope that somehow, this was supposed to work out.
Within the week we were chosen by Amber, on June 1st, my father passed away, and though we’re so deeply saddened that he couldn’t keep fighting that cancer any longer, telling him we were chosen for a baby boy was one of the last conversations I had with my dad before his body was freed from pain.
Becoming Parents on the Highway
Fast-forward through weeks of tears, a health scare for Amber, the loss of Amber’s grandfather, which lead to scheduled and re-scheduled c-section vs. natural delivery dates, and October 2nd arrived. Coleen called around 12:30 pm CT to let us know Amber was at the hospital and that she would call if this looked like the “real thing.” No later than 12:45 pm, and our phones rang again telling us to get on the road as soon as we could. We packed the car and were on the interstate by 1:30 pm.
The trip from Bismarck, ND to Rapid City, SD isn’t a short one, nor should it be known for its stellar cell phone coverage, but at 3:05 pm MT at mile marker 158 on SD Hwy 79, we found out we were parents via a voicemail and text from Coleen.
It All Makes Sense Now
Arriving at the hospital, walking into Amber’s room, and being handed the most beautiful baby boy, Evin Liam, for the first time can only be described by the tears falling down our cheeks as we write this. It’s almost like everything we had experienced to that point – every ounce of pain and loss and anger and hesitation we felt – somehow made sense, because Evin became our son.
The hospital was kind enough to arrange for a separate room in the same wing of labor and delivery for us, just down the hall from Amber. We went back and forth between our rooms, took turns holding Evin, and met and took pictures with members of his birth family. He spent the night in our room, and both Evin and Amber were able to be discharged the next day. We walked out of that hospital together, just the way we started this, Evin, his two moms, his dad, and our miracle worker, Coleen.
Waiting to Go Home
We had been told to prepare to spend 10-14 days in South Dakota before the paperwork would clear both states, allowing us to go home. We’ll gloss over those 10-14 days and take you to Day 16 when we were finally given the go-ahead, but let us say one thing: There were 1,000 things going through our heads when we experienced a bureaucratic hiccup in getting our paperwork to clear. From deeply cherishing our bonding time alone and away from the world’s distractions to fearing the absolute worst, we felt it all.
Coleen and her staff worked so hard to clear up the issue, and thankfully, everything was fine. We made the drive back to Bismarck on October 18th, and we were never so happy to walk through the door of home.
Forever in Our Family
Because we’re still on the early side of seeing the placement process through, our interactions with Amber have been one additional in-person visit before we left Rapid City and sending pictures for her through the agency. We have no idea yet what to anticipate for our future contacts, no matter how much or how little, but any woman with enough love for Evin to give him the life he deserves and enough trust in us to provide it will have a place in our family forever.
We could offer advice to families considering adoption (and, at times, already sort of have), but honestly, there are no rules. There is no “right way” to feel when you choose and experience adoption. All the books and lessons and videos, while helpful, can’t prepare your heart for the good or bad that may come along the way. Coleen and the AAU staff made clear from the start that adoption is a roller coaster, so our most basic advice is to accept having very little control over the process itself.
Nearly everyone says the challenges of parenthood are worth every bit once you experience the insurmountable love you feel for your child. For some, that love develops before your baby ever arrives, or maybe the moment your baby is placed in your arms. For others, it takes some time.
With Evin, it was instantaneous and unexplainable. Becoming his parents, not by our own doing, but by the incredible generosity and love of Amber and the selfless work of AAU, is without question the greatest joy we’ve ever felt. We’ve found peace in the pain we experienced along the way, because in the end, it ultimately led us to him. He was it. He was always it. Evin was meant to be our son. We just had to wait to find him and for his birth mom and him to find us.
Chad, Erin and Evin
*All names used with permission.