This blog post was written by a CPO adoptive father and we appreciate his perspective.
Starting a Family
We started discussing adoption before we got married.
Christina was adopted and she wanted adoption to be a part of our future family. I agreed. It sounded like an excellent plan to me, after we had a couple of “our own” kids.
Six months after getting married, we decided we were ready to try to have a baby. We were in it for the long haul. However, in my mind, the long haul meant it would take up to six months for Christina to get pregnant. After over two years and no pregnancy, we decided we needed to seek professional help to get pregnant. We looked into fertility treatments, but the cost and uncertainty was a drawback. We decided to start exploring adoption a little earlier than originally planned.
Thankfully we had some good friends at church who had explored adoption and had specifically looked into open adoption. They loaned us some literature and shared with us what they had learned. We had so many different lines of thought. Did we want to pursue fertility treatments that may not be successful? Did we want to look more into adoption and the cost involved? Was open adoption as scary as it seemed initially? My mind always seemed to go back to “what’s the worst that could happen with each scenario?”
Christina and I spent a lot of time discussing the options, praying, asking for advice, and being frustrated with our situation. It was hard to see God’s hand at work in our lives as our friends were getting pregnant around us. It sucks to be simultaneously excited and saddened by your closest friends’ great news.
Eventually Christina and I came to the decision to pursue adoption.
We looked at several agencies in the area and the adoption types they offered. We looked at international adoption, closed adoption, open adoption, foster-to-adopt, etc. I probably took into consideration the financial cost of each option more than Christina did. It probably isn’t the best criteria to focus on when adopting, but it is something that needs to be considered and discussed. We settled on open adoption through Crisis Pregnancy Outreach.
The idea of being chosen by a birth mother to be the parents to their child sounded very noble to me at the time. We were more than a little concerned that we would be chosen by a birth mom who would try to take advantage of us or change her mind. Or that a birth father would step in and refuse to let an adoption go through.
Nevertheless, during a major winter storm (that snowed us in at our apartment) we completed our application and sent it off. I remember it feeling like forever from that day until we met Angela, but it really was less than three months. We know families who have waited years.
After one or two interviews with birth mothers who chose other families, Christina got a call about a birthmother who was interested in adoption and she would be at the birth mother support group that night. Christina went that night and was able to meet Angela.
A few days later we all met over a Mexican dinner for the “official” interview. At the end she let us know that she had chosen us to adopt her baby. She was approximately 8 months along so none of us had much time to figure out all of the details. Christina was able to attend some of the check-ups with Angela and go to support group with her. We also met with the birth father, Christopher, which was unexpected when we started the open adoption process. I had a stereotype in mind of what a birth father would be and that stereotype included not wanting to be involved in the process at all. That wasn’t the case.
Becoming a parent
The day after Memorial Day we met Angela at the hospital early in the morning so the doctor could induce labor.
It ended up being an all day event, but that evening with Christina and me in the room Angela gave birth to Sammy. One of my biggest fears about adoption was that I wouldn’t feel the same bond or love with this child that a natural parent would feel with them. The first time I got to hold him and see that beautiful face those fears left. We held Sammy, we passed him to Angela to hold, we passed him to Christopher, Angela and Christopher’s friends who were there for support held him. We all marveled at this amazing person who was now in the world.
At the hospital we weren’t exactly sure how to act. We wanted Angela to be able to see Sammy as much as she wanted, but we also didn’t want to force him on her if she needed some time. We erred a little too far on the side of not forcing him on her. Thankfully she had a CPO assistant there to advocate for her and who was able to ask us if she could spend some time with just Sammy. We dropped Sammy off with Angela and headed to the hospital cafe for some food. It was our first date as parents!
After a couple of days, everyone was released from the hospital.
We all went out the door together and pulled two cars around to the entrance. Angela got in one car and Sammy was placed in a different car. As I drove away with Christina next to Sammy in the back seat, Christina started sobbing.
I hoped it was a cry of happy relief after an emotional few days, but the truth was she was crying for the separation that had just taken place. It was a separation that allowed us to add a wonderful new member to our family, but it was also a separation of a mother and her child. Although open adoption is a great option and it can be healing for all involved, it never can fully resolve the separation that took place.
Angela was very patient and forgiving of us as we learned how to be parents and how to integrate birth parents into our family. We were able to get together several times and she got to see Sammy growing. After a couple of years, Christina and I felt the pull to grow our family again.
Stepping out in faith
Again we went the route of exploring fertility treatments.
Whereas the last time we explored fertility treatments we got the impression that it would be a bit of a challenge but not impossible, this time the door was slammed shut. I remember Christina rushing out to the car while I finished some paperwork at the front desk. When I joined her in the car there were a lot of angry tears.
Eventually we pulled ourselves together and went to pick Sammy up from the friends who were watching him and we took a trip to the zoo. We needed to take a break to mourn. It was difficult to do nothing when we wanted a baby as soon as possible, but it was necessary. It was part of God’s plan.
After about six months, we applied at CPO again to adopt. This time was quicker than the first. We barely had our application in when Christina got another phone call. She was at lunch with Angela (for her birthday!) when she got the call to schedule a meeting with a birth mother and her husband. Technically it was considered a drop-in because the baby was due within a few days. We met the birth parents over dinner that night and two days later we were with them again at the hospital for the birth! Then things got scary…
Life and Death
Abigail was born by cesarean section. During her birth she inhaled a large amount of blood and meconium and struggled to breathe.
She had to be resuscitated and eventually she was intubated and put on a ventilator to help her breathe. Unknown to anyone, Abigail’s birth mom was bleeding internally while they were transferring Abigail to the Children’s Hospital at St. Francis. We were being informed by Abigail’s doctor the long list of issues that she was fighting against in her first hours. It sounded bleak.
She was on a ventilator and they had lowered her body temperature and placed her in a medical coma to help slow down any potential brain damage that might have occurred due to a lack of oxygen. We were told she would be that way for at least 3 days and then they would start to bring her temperature back up and see how she responded. Eventually we made our way to the room they had set up for us. We were met by two CPO mothers who had personal experience with babies in the NICU. They prayed over us and told us it would be okay.
The next morning after visiting with Abigail and her doctor, we went back to the birth mother’s room only to find it empty.
After asking the nurses and having them confer on what they were allowed to tell us, we found out that she was in the ICU. When we tracked her location down she was also on a ventilator and unconscious. They had performed emergency surgery on her to stop the internal bleeding. It saved her life but a lot of damage had already been done. Thankfully her husband was there by her side.
We all spent most of the next few days at the hospital. Thankfully we found friends to keep Sammy for us while we spent time with a sleeping Abigail. Personally it was a dark time for me. I thought about things that I didn’t think I was capable of considering. I was mad. Mad at God and mad at Abigail’s birth parents, even though they hadn’t done anything to deserve that anger. I thought through some of the possible long term physical and mental effects on Abigail and how we would live with those. I wondered what would happen if we walked away.
I didn’t have any revelation from God assuring me that things would work out OK, but I know that God is the one who kept me in that hospital room with Abigail.
Those first few days she didn’t cry, she didn’t move, she didn’t open her eyes, and she didn’t even breathe on her own. Somehow God still knitted our hearts to her. I’m grateful He kept us there those first few days because walking away from her would have been the biggest regret of my life. It makes me ashamed to even type those words and know that one day Abigail might read how close I got to giving up on her.
Eventually Abigail woke up and I realized I was already wrapped around her finger. Her birthmother recovered fully and came to see her in the hospital. Finally, after four weeks in the NICU, Abigail got to come home with us.
Although 2020 has been tough, it has also contained two of my very favorite moments.
This spring we were able to get together with Abigail’s biological brothers, sister, and birth parents. It was pretty special to get our big, adoptive family together. Over the summer, Sammy’s birth father Christopher, who lives in California, came back to visit. He reached out to us and we planned a meet up. Sammy was able to spend time with his birth father and bio sister plus we all got to meet Christopher’s fiancée, Tara.
Angela remains a constant figure in our children’s lives. She is there for all of us and pours love into our lives. She often takes the kids out for dinner or fun events. We love having her over for movie nights, etc.
Adoption is never easy but always worth it. There have been painful moments, and I’m sure there will be more. We trust that God will continue to carry us through as he has in the past.