My favorite part of Facebook these days is the memories.
I realized this week that it’s been 10 years since I opened a Facebook account, and I evidently posted an album of pictures that day.
At this point, Beckett was five months old and there was no Carson. The album featured photos from a variety of outings like the beach, Frontier Town, an annual trip we used to make to Emerald Isle, N.C. (where I planned to move evidently 10 years ago) and amusement rides. One photo was of me, Pam and Beckett in a courthouse in Chester County, Pa.
It was the day Beckett officially became our son as recognized by the states of Pennsylvania and Maryland. It was a celebration day. The photo brought back a wave of memories and reminded me of the anxiety we were facing at that point in our life.
Pennsylvania law allows a birth parent to withdraw consent to adoption within 30 days of the child’s birth. That passed unceremoniously for us one month after Beckett’s birth. That was a day we had long thought about as we read accounts where birth mothers have a change of heart and it’s not uncommon for a baby to be removed from an adoptive home on the 29th day because of second thoughts.
Therefore, the 30th day was the one that we had circled on our calendar. When that day came and went without any curve balls, we were able to breathe easily knowing he was our son and nothing would ever change that.
A few weeks later, we were in court in Chester County, Pa. for the official adoption proceeding, which was a light hearted and happy occasion with a casual and friendly judge. Being an adoptive parent himself, I remember our conversations well. While waiting for pictures to be taken, he said, “it won’t be easy, but it will be best journey of your life.”
Looking back on it, I wonder now whether he was talking parenting in general or parenting an adoptive child. There’s really no difference in my mind, but there are instances when we do remind ourselves there is a “nurture” vs. “nature” component at play here.
On the occasion of Beckett’s “gotcha day,” I thought it was germane to discuss adoption a little bit. I have talked about it in the past in a general sense in this space, but it might be helpful to other couples who may be struggling to have a family the natural way to hear our story.
Our adoption is semi-open with Beckett’s birth mother. We provide annual photos and updates, but that’s the extent of the communication. Beckett is fully aware he’s adopted. We made that known early on through books, pictures and stories about how God chose us to be his parents. We truly believe that. Adoption is a spiritual thing and it can be beautiful.
When she agreed to place her son with us, Beckett’s birth mother made the most selfless decision anyone can ever make in my opinion. Her story is complex. When we met her, she was living in a halfway house in Coatesville, Pa. She was enrolled in a methadone treatment program as a result of an opiate addiction problem. She had at that time a 4-year-old daughter (meaning Beckett has a half-sister he has not met) that she needed to focus on and make things right. Knowing that would be impossible with a newborn and the birth father not wanting any involvement, she contacted the adoption agency we were contracted with in March of 2008.
Life is all about timing and this is another example of that. Pam and I had just gone through the horrible ordeal of a failed adoption of twins in Florida. As we were driving north on I-95 with our two empty car seats, I couldn’t take the grief anymore. I called our adoption agency and told them we were back in the game. As luck would have it, and I like to think there was fate involved, a birth mother from outside Philly had just agreed to adoption for her son, who was to be born three months later. The only catch was he would be born addicted to methadone and would require significant hospitalization afterwards.
Of course, we then quickly became experts in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Believing it was meant to be, we looked past our concerns for short- and long-term consequences and told our agency we would like our profile package provided to the birth mother. She chose us as his parents.
From two years of unsuccessful invitro efforts to a failed adoption in Florida in March of 2008 to Beckett’s birth in May, it was a whirlwind few years. It was a tough journey, but our goal was always to have a family. We are proud of how we built our family, but everything about it was challenging. We made some costly mistakes along the way, but in the end adoption brought us Beckett and 19 months later Carson, who was born under similar circumstances.
In response to a question about makes you special, Beckett recently wrote, “I am adopted.” There’s a lot more to what makes him special, but I’m glad he looks at it that way.