OK people. Are you ready for it? It's obvious I've left like 99% of you in the dark and judging by the comments on my last blog, you're feeling the confusion. What happened, Erika? You overshare about EVERYTHING...now you're going to go all cryptic on us about maybe you're thinking about adopting and now all of a sudden you're decorating a nursery? WHAT HAPPENED?? I know. Keeping things under wraps isn't usually my style, but I haven't really known how to go about this one while both a) maintaining privacy of parties that wish to remain private, and b) not oversharing, because I feel like the details and the context are really important. So I'm going to try to tell the story (or at least start), and I will still try to keep important details confidential, but I will not bother trying to not overshare, because...I don't want to forget. One day, maybe a soon day, I will have a screaming baby begging for my attention, and I won't have time to write down how he or she got here, and I don't want to forget because I don't think any of this is a coincidence.
First, a primer on independent adoption (also referred to as 'private adoption'). Just go read this, it will save me a lot of typing. If you are too lazy to do that, then I will summarize: you do not have to use an adoption agency to adopt a child (in 45 states, including Georgia). If you are pregnant and want to place your child with an adoptive family, and you happen to know that the Joneses down the street are looking to adopt, then the two of you can get together and make a plan for them to adopt your baby. Throw in a lawyer and some paperwork, and you're good to go. (Note: if you actually do find yourself in this situation, please let me know, as I am the "Joneses down the street" so to speak) This is the essence of independent adoption. Cutting out the 'middle man' of the agencies, and cutting out a whoooooooole lot of paperwork. There are pros and cons to both private and agency adoptions...feel free to check the above link for some of them.
So December 6 was a Tuesday morning and I was driving to work. I'm like 1 mile out of town, minding my own business, singing Christmas songs along with the radio, and BAM. Out of nowhere, this thought pops in my head: I want to adopt. I am done with infertility treatments, I want to adopt. I want a child, I want to be a family. I want a child more than I want a pregnancy. I want to adopt. I'm not kidding- it came from nowhere. And when I say it "hit me," I mean-- I am BAWLING. The emotions that rushed over me were unbelievable. This is exactly what I had been waiting for: for years now, I've been 'weighing the options.' IVF...adoption...IVF...adoption...pros and cons sheets, thinking it through, mostly wanting pregnancy more than anything. I have certainly been open to adoption. But I didn't really desire it. And I had prayed, on many occasions, that if adoption was what God had for us, I was going to have to want it. To want it more than pregnancy. I couldn't start an adoption journey halfheartedly. I needed to crave it.
So here I am, driving and crying and a hot mess because I felt like I suddenly knew what I wanted. I called Matt and he thinks I was probably in another wreck, what with the heaving and sobbing and all-- but no, I'm all "I want to adopt a baaaaabbbbyyyy..." and he's like "are you sure you're okay? Are you okay?" "Yes I'm fine I just want to adoooopppptttttt" and once he's convinced I'm not lying in a ditch somewhere, he's like "well then let's do it!" because he has been wanting this for years, unlike me.
So from that moment, we are people on a mission. We are going to adopt, so let's get this party started while the emotions are running hot! We research agencies. We start debating different things. I write a cryptic blog. We think. We plan. We don't really share it with many people-- not because we don't want to, but ya know...we're just busy. We're researching. And it didn't come up.
So Saturday morning, December 10, I wake up to a phone call from my mom. We were heading to Augusta later that afternoon for a wedding, so I wasn't terribly surprised to see her calling at 9am...probably wanted to tell us something last-minute to bring or do.
Well, not really.
As it turns out, the night before she and my dad had been at the rehearsal dinner. While there, they found themselves sitting at a table with an acquaintance they knew very casually: as in, had met a few times, but knew very little about-- and the not-knowing went both ways. They chit-chatted, and before long this gentleman (we'll call him Dr. X) was inquiring about whether they had any grandchildren or were looking forward to any on the horizon. My parents said that they did not; they would be excited when that day did come, but there were none in the immediate future. Dr. X asked again-- none? Neither Jake or Sarah? Not thinking about it?
You see, Dr. X didn't really know I existed. Like I said-- he was a casual acquaintance. He knew of my brother and sister because he'd seen them at events before. As far as he knew, those were the only kids in my parents' clan.
Well, since he was asking, my mom shared a little more. No, Jake and Sarah-- neither of them are thinking kids. But we do have an older daughter-- she and her husband have been married for over 4 years. And they would love to have children. They have been trying for a long time, but they have some problems, so they're sorting through their options. They are desperate to be parents-- and when it happens, we will be the happiest grandparents in the world. We can't wait for that day.
At this, Dr. X seems to relax. He smiles a bit. How long have they been trying? he asks. A year or two?
Well, no...it's been three, my mom tells him. They are waiting on a miracle. They are also considering whether they may like to adopt.
[IMPORTANT DETAIL: My mom didn't know about my revelation earlier that week. I was going to wait and tell her in person when we went home. So this was just a reference to our months-long back-and-forth about 'maybe adopt, maybe not' dilemma.]
Dr. X seemed to like this final sentence. Thinking about adopting, are they? I had a feeling they might.
He goes on to tell my mom some very interesting information, and I'm going to have to leave out a lot of details, but it goes something like this:
Dr. X has a job that puts him in a position to help 'matchmake' private adoptions. This is not his "job," and he receives no compensation. It is something that the Lord has led him to do for the last 25 years, and it is something he has a great passion for: placing babies with couples who long to have families. He usually has a handful of couples that he is working with, and when a situation arises where a baby needs a family, he prays about the situation and God nudges him towards the couple that are right for the situation.
I realize that if you do not believe in God or prayer, this probably sounds a little loco. If you're us, though, this sounds like the most amazing thing you've ever heard of.
He does this because he feels that the agency adoption system is so vast, expensive, and scary that it deters couples from wanting to even try. He has known many couples who want nothing more than to become parents, but are unable to because of infertility and then the (real or perceived) barriers in the adoption 'system.' And he comes upon birth parents that, for whatever reason, are also not interested in making an adoption plan through an agency. He puts 2 and 2 together...after a lot of prayer.
In 25 years, he has never had an adoption reversed.
He tells my mom a few more things, and also mentions that, as this is not his job, he truly cannot help very many couples: each situation is simply too involved and too time-consuming and emotionally draining. He frequently has couples approach him and seek his help, and he turns almost all of them down. He waits on the Lord to show him the couples that he is supposed to help, and that's all he can do.
"So I was wondering," he told my parents, "if your daughter and her husband might be interested in working with me. I want to help them find their baby."
To be continued...