“I can’t believe your kids are adopted, you never write about it,” a reader recently said. She then inquired why I don’t share more about this fact. She thought being open about my family’s story more often might help others who do not have a smooth route to parenting.
Pam and I are open about our adoptive family. In the throes of life, it’s not something we think a ton about, however. We are raising our boys, now 13 and 12, as we would if we conceived them naturally. Families are built in all sorts of fashions, and our journey was made possible through adoption, unselfish birth mothers and a lot of faith.
It’s been many years since I have shared our story. If it helps others struggling with starting a family, I am happy to relive the journey.
Both our boys were adopted at birth in Pennsylvania. They both know it. They know where they were born, the circumstances surrounding their early lives and the backgrounds of their birth mothers as we know them. We are unaware of anything about their birth fathers. I am incredibly proud of their individual stories as well as our quest to become parents.
Pam and I were married in January of 2007. Our journey to trying to have a baby started a little before. Like so many couples out there, we were unable to conceive the “natural way”. As a result, we went the invitro fertilization path, which was an expensive and painful experience for both of us, particularly my wife, who had to endure sensitive procedures and prescription drugs, including needles to her stomach.
After countless trips to and from Baltimore, we were unsuccessful. After some months of healing and introspection, we found ourselves in the car heading to Philadelphia to an adoption agency. A tremendous amount was learned throughout the rigorous home study process, which evaluates the prospective parents and their lives to determine if they are fit. After about a year of paperwork and interviews, we were approved in late 2007. We were in the game.
Within a few months, we were informed we had been selected for placement by a birth mother in Florida who was to have twins. Unfortunately, the adoption plan failed, as the birth mother changed her mind after they were born, and we had the anguishing task of driving home from Florida with two empty car seats in the backseat. It was on this trek that I fully understood the phrase, “Give it to God.” Adoption is a spiritual thing. It was calming during an emotional time of heart break to accept God is with us on our journey. Our faith allowed us to move forward.
I will never forget calling our agency while Pam was taking a stint driving home from Florida. I let them know what had happened, and there was nothing said of meaning. It was business. Looking past the callous nature of the call, I told them we are now looking again for a future match. We were giving it to God. We were matched within a few months in a scenario that would eventually lead to Beckett being born in West Chester, Pa. on May 12, 2008.
Pam and I were given a wonderful gift by his birth mother of being in the delivery room with him. Due to the close relationship we built with his birth mother, Pam was first to hold Beckett after he was born and I had the honor of cutting the umbilical cord. It’s a treasured memory. We were, and are to this day, so thankful for being blessed with that unique opportunity to welcome our son into the world. I remember fondly the unique feelings at the time because of the symbolic meaning behind it.
Actually, Carson’s birth mother also was to afford us that opportunity, but he was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and we were simply not able to get up there fast enough to see his birth. We missed it by a couple hours, so our first glimpse of Carson was in the hospital’s nursery through the glass window. I remember both of us wondering which one was him and being so excited to hold him for the first time. Little did we know at that time the path he would lead us down into the special needs world. His gifts are many, but his challenges are real and demanding. We certainly never could have imagined how his life would play out standing in that hospital on Nov. 5, 2009.
Both our kids had rough starts. They both born to women who were involved in methadone treatment programs for opiate addiction. Therefore, they were both born addicted and had to be weaned through a program of oral morphine doses. Though their lives unfolded differently, Beckett was much sicker at birth than Carson. Beckett did not unclench his fists for months.
While both births were moments of happiness, concerns over their health took over, as he spent weeks in the hospital with complications. All the while the legal process of the adoption had started. There were critical milestones at 48 hours and then 30 days that had to pass, as the birth parents could change their minds legally and keep their babies. Though it occurred in Florida, it did not happen with our boys.
Our story is one of overcoming unfavorable odds and breaking through barriers that stood in our way to becoming a family. It’s what my kids represent in the big picture. In the short term, I just wish they would make their beds and brush their teeth without being ordered to do so.