Meet my great friend, Mary Beth! As apart of our new Motherhood series on ALFS, she is going to walk us through what it was like adopting her two beautiful daughters, Hannah and Eden. There are many love stories that lead to becoming a mom, and I am so thankful to share hers.
1. Ok, walk us through what it was like getting the call about Hannah.
I have always said that getting the call about Hannah was like whiplash into motherhood. I have known since I was twenty-one years old that getting pregnant would be nearly impossible for me and I have adopted siblings, so it was never a question of IF we would adopt, but when. I was actually in the middle of an IVF cycle when we heard about Hannah. My husband’s aunt knew of a girl who needed to find a home for her baby. She was due in two weeks and was anxious to talk to us. We felt skeptical, nervous, excited, and like this was an out of body experience. We picked up the phone and called the number his aunt had given us. We spoke with Hannah’s birth mom and decided that we wanted to meet. I called a local adoption agency that we had looked into and the ball started rolling very fast. It all made so much sense and seemed so chaotic all at the same time. I was going to be a mom… in a matter of days. It was also Christmas time and my little brother was getting married in Arizona. We felt hectic and crazy and like there wasn’t enough Diet Coke or coffee to get us through the mounds of paperwork we needed to do before she was born, but we also felt a huge sense of peace that this was the baby we had been praying for for so long.
One of my favorite phone calls during that crazy time was actually to Courtney who spilled the beans that she was pregnant with B! We had talked a lot about wanting to grow our families and it was happening for both of us!
2. I can’t imagine the emotions that went through those first few days of her being born. How did you keep it together?
That time with her at the hospital, waiting for her birth mom to sign paperwork was one of the most stressful times in my life. I swear it aged me 10 years. For me, I had to just tap into my faith and remind myself how far we had come in this journey. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and I just spent every minute of that week praying and trusting. My husband, Josh was a huge source of strength to me as well. We were able to pull together and help each other be strong. When one of us started to feel overwhelmed, the other one would take over and be an anchor. I never would have made it through without him by my side.
3. You’ve raised Hannah to understand a bit about her birth mom. Was that something you wanted to do? Had to do? Is it difficult?
We are very intentional about making sure Hannah knows that her adoption was a love story. Her birth parents loved her so much that they did the most selfless thing possible and chose her happiness over their own. We want her to know that from a young age and always want that to be an open conversation in our home if she ever has questions. We have an open adoption with her birth family and we love it. We send them pictures, talk on the phone, and see them a few times a year. Some people think that is intimidating but for us, it has been healing for everyone. Her birth family gets to see her grow and sees that she is happy and healthy, and we get to have an open relationship with our daughter about where she comes from. We also love her family and we have seen what this adoption has allowed in their lives. Her birth mom was very young when she had her and we have watched her work very hard to make something of herself because she wasn’t home raising a little one. We are secure in the fact that we are her parents, but we want her to feel loved by everyone and to know that we all are willing to do whatever is best for her. As she gets older, we will give her more control over that relationship, but for now it is the perfect balance and we are really grateful that her birth family is willing to be a part of her life.
4. Explain the adoption process of Eden. I’ve heard of couples being on lists for years and years and you got a call for a second within three years. (!!!)
Eden’s adoption process felt like it took a lifetime. After adopting a baby in two weeks, it is hard to go through the normal process of adoption. We worked with an agency in IL, but after waiting for 18 months, we decided that we needed to be more aggressive and proactive with finding a good match for our family. We hired a consultant who delivered (literally!). We were picked 2 months after signing on with the adoption consultant and Eden was born 6 weeks later. There were times that I wish we had made that move a little sooner, but Eden is our baby and the timing was perfect.
5. How did the birth process of Eden vary from what you went through with Hannah?
No two adoptions are the same. With adoption, you are dealing with hearts, feelings, and emotions, and they can change in an instant. You have to work very hard as the adoptive family to be yourself and to care for everyone involved. Hannah’s birth mom was young did not know what to expect from any of this. We spent a lot of our time with her talking about her future and helping to paint a picture for her of what life could be like if she decided not to be a teen mom. We had to be selfless when it came to holding Hannah and showing our excitement about her life because we didn’t want to hurt her birth mom.
Eden’s birth mom was older and had another child. She was aware of what she was going to experience, but also what she could do for me as Eden’s mom. She included us in everything possible. She made sure I was the first person to hold her and feed her. She invited us into the experience and always made a point to make sure we knew were we stood with her. She viewed this adoption as her chance to give life to a family who couldn’t do so on their own. We were able to express more of our excitement and love for Eden around her because she made it very clear that that was a part of her motivation in placing her baby with us.
The experiences were night and day, but both processes were very special as we saw them as a chance to not only grow as a family, but to invest in the lives of these very special women.
6. Were you ever worried about bonding with your girls? Or was it instantly natural for you?
Bonding was something I always worried about. I spent hours reading about bonding with adopted children and I have been very intentional about doing what it takes to make this happen. For instance, we are the only ones who feed our girls for the first year of their lives. Research shows that babies associate being fed with being loved for and having their needs met. We want our girls to see our faces and know that we will provide all of that for them.
Loving them instantly was not a problem at all, but bonding with them was something we have tried to be very intentional about.
7. Do you have advice to give to others seeking adoption?
DO IT. It is not for the weak, but it is so worth it. Adoption is the most beautiful gift in my life and I encourage anyone interested in it to consider it. Opening up your heart and home to a child who needs a good life is rewarding and incredible. It will challenge you and try you, but it will make you stronger and better. I would also strongly advise anyone seeking to adopt to do your research before picking an agency. Make sure that they will be your advocate, that they are actively closing adoptions every year, and that they are professional. There are a lot of organizations out there and not investigating them will cost you both financially and emotionally.
8. Your girls are so completely precious. Can you describe each of them in one word?
Hannah is tenderhearted. She cares for others more deeply than some adults do. She is constantly surprising us with her thoughtfulness and kind heart.
Eden is sweet. She looks at me with those big huge brown eyes and I am hers. She smiles easily, cuddles up close, and just makes you forget all the heartache we’ve experienced to have her in our arms.
Thank you, Mary Beth, for sharing your story with us!