My husband and I always knew we wanted children after we got married and trusted God would not give us more than wecould handle. My trust in God, however, would waiver at times. We were practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP) and most couples we knew practicing NFP had very large families and were homeschoolers. We, on the other hand, were both going to work and were not planning on homeschooling.
I graduated dental school and entered residency a year after we were married. Then I entered into private practice. We bought our first home and were more than ready to start our family but nothing happened. Month after month and many negative pregnancy tests were taken and nothing. I knew my cycle and did my charting to no avail. After speaking to my doctor, he said we were trying too hard and recommended I stop charting. I continued to trust God and prayed and finally did conceive. We had our first child, Claire Elizabeth, on April 30, 1997. On the way home from the hospital while we were buckling Claire up in her car seat, my husband was so excited and asked when can we have another baby. He is one of six and wanted a large family. I was open to life but knew it was God’s timing and I wasn’t getting any younger.
As Claire started preschool at 2, we desperately wanted more children. But, again, we could not get pregnant easily. We saw a fertility specialist but wanted to follow the Catholic Church’s teachings. I read books, prayed a lot, and took supplements. Nothing seemed to help so life continued and we waited. We started a house renovation and in the middle of that project, our home was burglarized. During that very dark time of feeling unsafe, violated, and taken advantage of, I discovered I was pregnant. Suddenly all of that sorrow was turned into joy. We had our son, Christian, on July 27, 2001.
One Friday night we were invited by our daughter’s friend’s parents to a fundraiser for a Russian orphanage. The orphanage was very poor and needed a lot of basic items. At the event, they had pictures of babies in iron cribs in very bad living conditions. The family hosting the event said that when they took their baby from the orphanage, the workers asked for the baby’s clothes so they could use the clothing for another child. That is how little they had. This moved me.
I could not stop thinking about the pictures of these children and asked my husband on the way home from the party if we could go to Russia and adopt one of those babies. My husband is very level-headed and quickly reminded me that with us both working and having two small children at home Russia was not a great idea. I accepted this. Little did I know that God had another idea and we did not have to go far.
The morning after the fundraiser, Rodney did his Saturday morning ritual and got frozen coffees for us and donuts for the kids and I read the newspaper. A large full-page ad from Catholic Charities was in the paper announcing an informational meeting to “Come learn about the process of adoption through Catholic Charities.” I asked my husband if we could go to a meeting about domestic adoption and he immediately said yes.
At the meeting we learned about the open adoption process. A social worker from Catholic Charities was there who had married one of my husband’s fraternity brothers from college—we had an instant connection which was very nice. An adoptive mother spoke and told us her adoption story and then they asked us to fill out an application if we were interested. We filled it out and were later told that we were accepted into the program. We attended classes on weekends to learn about open adoption.
There are so many myths and misinformation about open adoption, it was comforting to learn that it is a safe and loving way tokeep the relationship of the birth parents in your adopted child’s life. I kept praying to God that if it was meant to be it would happen. If not, I told myself that we had 2 kids and were very grateful. I kept thinking that no one would pick us, we already had 2 kids. Was I selfish in wanting more children when many couples in our group were childless and I could see the pain in their face? The social workers kept telling us it is not “if it will happen” but “when will it happen”. We had to trust that God would put the right baby in our lives at the right time. Then hurricane Katrina hit. Our lives and homes were turned upside down. We came back, rebuilt, and waited.
We had put together a scrap book of our life. Pictures of our family, our extended family, our house, our vacations and a glimpse into our everyday world. Birth mothers would view these books to pick the family for their child. We continued to wait.
During my holy hour I had a conversation with God and reminded Him that my 40th birthday was coming up in September. I begged God to decide on a child for us if it was His Will and if it was meant to be before I turned 40. I did not want to be an old mom! God sure does have a sense of humor…He heard my prayer loud and clear and got busy.
We got “the call” from Catholic Charities at the end of August that we had been picked by a birth mother. She picked us because we had 2 children and did not want her child to be an only child. Her due date was 9/11/06. We met her and her mother. Caleb Daniel was born September 6, 2006 and we brought him home September 12, 2006.
I turned 40 a few days later on September 30th! What great timing God has !!!
After Caleb came home, we had big plans regarding our open adoption. We knew it was healthy for the child to know he was loved and placed for adoption out of that love and the more people to love your child the better. Our birth mother, however, did not want contact with us at first and we were crushed. I would send monthly pictures and updates to the agency. They held them until our birth mother was ready to accept them. It felt like an eternity and I kept praying for God to give her peace about her decision.
My prayers were answered in a hair salon. When I sat in the chair, my hairdresser casually asked what is new with me. I told her we had recently adopted a baby boy. She visibly became choked up and teary and I thought it was happy tears for me. She finally got herself together and said she had placed a baby boy up for adoption a few years ago and it just brought back a lot of emotions. I explained how our birth mother did not want contact with us and she said to give her a year to grieve. She said she is still grieving but knows she did the right thing by her child and gave him a better life. She was young and unmarried and not mature enough to be a mom. She advised me to give our birth mother more time and so we did. I thanked God over and over for the hairdresser telling me exactly what I needed to hear. God sent her to me when I needed to hear that because I was heartbroken for my birth mother. So, again, we waited and gave her time to heal.
Catholic Charities reached out to our birth mother on Caleb’s 1 year birthday. She said she was ready to see him and meet with us. We met in the lounge area in the Catholic Charities office—the same office where we “got” Caleb on September 12. We call that his Gotcha day!
We would keep our relationship going for a few years. We loved going out to eat to celebrate her birthday or his and we would get together at Christmas. She introduced us to her fiancé and were invited to their engagement party and wedding. She became pregnant and then we lost contact with her again. Every now and again I would send her a text but then her number changed.
I know in God’s timing we will connect with her again if and when she is ready. I am grateful for the contact and memories we have to share with Caleb of her. We keep a photo of her in Caleb’s room and pray for her often. She is our hero for making such a selfless decision and choosing life for her unborn child when she wasn’t able to parent.
Adoption has been such a beautiful blessing for our family. I truly see God’s hand in the perfect timing and placement of Caleb with us. Caleb even inspired another adoption when he was a few weeks old. He was his brother’s show and tell for the letter C. One little boy in the class told the teacher that he wanted a baby brother or sister and told his mom that Caleb came to his class. The mom reached out to me and learned that we had recently adopted him. She and her husband had suffered with infertility and now have an adopted daughter from Catholic Charities too!
My hope and prayer is that one day abortion will not be an option and adoption will touch many more families and be widely accepted as a way to grow a family. It is such a blessing for everyone involved.