Air Date: 6.27.17 She Chose Us to Adopt Her Baby
You can read the transcript below, or you can listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Jennifer : Hi and welcome to Adoption Focus. My name is Jennifer Jaworski and I’m a social worker with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoption Associates premiere talk radio blog show.
Adoption Associates was founded in 1990, and we specialize in both domestic and international adoption. We provide private adoption services throughout all of Michigan with offices located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills, and Saginaw. Anywhere in Michigan, you can find a connection to Adoption Associates. Adoption Associates brings knowledge, support and understanding in adoption. Adoption is not only our specialty, but it is our passion.
One of Adoption Associates’ commitments is to this weekly radio show to help educate and support adoptive families, birth families and the adoption community. So, we’re very glad that you’re listening in today.
I am super excited to welcome to today’s show Sarah. Sarah, are you with us?
Sarah: I am. Thank you for having me.
Jennifer : Yes, good morning! I have eagerly been awaiting this morning because this is a topic that we haven’t discussed before on our podcast and I think that it’s a topic that is of such great interest to a variety of people. And so, today we’re going to explore a little bit, Sarah, about the experience that you and your husband, Justin, are just entering into. And the title of today’s show is She Chose Us to Adopt Her Baby. And getting that phone call and all of that that comes with it. So, I’m shall not spoil it anymore from here, but thank you very much for coming on today.
Sarah: Yeah, you’re welcome.
Jennifer : It was just five short weeks ago when you got the call, as we say. Anyone waiting to adopt knows what that means and what the call is, but I am referring to the day that you found out that a birth mother had selected you. She decided that she wants you and your husband to adopt her baby. What was that like?
Sarah: Oh my gosh. So, it was a few days before Memorial Day weekend, and we were working around the house and getting ready to go camping. And so, anybody who’s been camping knows that there’s a lot of work to do beforehand. So, we were pulling up our camping gear from the basement, making grocery lists and all of the stuff we had to do that day to get ready to go.
And so, my phone rang, and it was an unknown number. It was a local number, but it was an unknown number. And so, I thought I’d let it go to voicemail, and I just sort of kept packing.
And then, I heard my husband’s phone immediately ring on the other side of the house, and he didn’t get to the phone in time to answer it, but it was the same number. And we were like, who is this? And we sort of jokingly said to each other, oh, what if it’s something with adoption? And we sort of laughed about that. And then right after we said that, my phone rang again. And so, I’m like, oh my gosh. I need to pick this up. And it was you, Jennifer.
And so, you told us that there was a woman expecting a baby and she saw our profile and selected us to adopt her child. And we were in complete shock. I think our eyes were bugged out, our jaws had dropped. We were practically in disbelief. And I remember telling Justin, go get me a piece of paper and a pen. I was trying to find something to write down, because you had so much information that you were telling us about this birth mom Amber and her situation. And I think you and I were on the phone for about 20 minutes or so, and then … Gosh, we got off the phone. I realized I was shaking I was so excited. I was just pacing around the house trying to decide what I needed to do first and it just took me a while to, sort of, bring my emotions back down.
And finally, I told myself, okay this baby’s not coming tomorrow. And I had time to focus on just what would be happening in the next week, which would be meeting Amber. So, I would probably best describe those early feelings as just cautiously optimistic.
Anyone who’s journey to parenthood has included infertility, there’s unfortunately a great deal of experience with hope and disappointment. And I think, while we were very excited, part of me was just bracing for that rug to be pulled out from us because we’ve just had so much experience with that roller coaster of up and down emotions. But, honestly, from what you told us about Amber, it really helped us through those feelings because you told us how excited she was with making this adoption plan for her baby, and really how motivated she was. And that sort of helped quiet down those thoughts that we were having of what if this also doesn’t work out. So …
Jennifer : I’m really glad you mentioned that, Sarah, because that is something that I think a lot of prospective adoptive parents don’t understand, and kind of are in awe of that the birth mother wants us to be excited. It’s a little confusing, I think, at first. And, I am feeling very fortunate to be the case worker here, helping you with your adoption and assisting Amber through her process. And one of the things that I know that Amber wanted was to hear back from me after I had made that first phone call to you guys. She had asked me several days, I think maybe in a row, had you called them yet? I didn’t call you immediately. There were some things that needed to take place before I could call you and she was eager to hear about the conversation that we had and to hear about your response as well. So-
Jennifer : Which is super sweet of her and very common with women who are making adoption plans. They want to know that the family is excited and kind of how they took the news too. So-
Sarah: Right, right.
Jennifer : I’m really glad that you brought that up.
Jennifer : What initial information do you remember learning about Amber and the circumstances of this potential adoption? And is this the information that were wanting at that stage in that initial phone call?
Sarah: Right, right. Yeah. So, again, I made sure I had something to write it down because you had so much information. But, some of the general information that you gave us was a little bit about her medical history. Her family life. But most importantly, why she was making this adoption plan for her baby.
She has three other children that she’s currently parenting and she’s been struggling a long time financially. And that the addition of another baby into her family would be impossible for her. We also learned about the birth father, and how she’s not in a relationship with him and gets no support from him, was another, sort of, piece of that puzzle.
And then, you also told us about her family. So, her mom and her dad and her kids and how supportive they were about this adoption plan, as well. And so, we also found out that her kids played a big role in selecting our profile, which really meant so much to us, that, sort of, family was on board too with this adoption plan.
And I think you also told us about, sort of, her plans after the adoption, too. She wanted to go back to school. She wanted to get a job and, sort of, her goals after this adoption, as well.
Jennifer : That’s great information to have, I’m sure. So, even though you had not met her, officially, at that point, it sounds like you felt that you had a pretty good bird’s eye view of her life and circumstances and what led to that decision.
Sarah: Yes, absolutely.
Jennifer : Great. It’s common, for the first step after getting that initial call, to meet with the birth mother. That is a decision that is up to the birth mother to make. And oftentimes, that’s important to women to meet the family they’ve selected. And I know that you and Justin did just that, because again, I was fortunate to be present for that as well. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Share with our listeners what that was like for you and, kind of, how that whole process played out.
Sarah: Yeah. So, that was about a week after our first initial phone call. And so, during that time, it was sort of like this period of anticipation. It sort of felt like a combination of a blind date and a job interview, sort of all wrapped up into one. We didn’t really know how to prepare for it emotionally, because it’s nothing that we’ve ever done before. [crosstalk 00:08:45]
Jennifer : We know that job interviews and first dates are very nerve wracking, so.
Sarah: Right, right. [crosstalk 00:08:52] Right, right. We were just so, so excited to meet this wonderful woman who was placing all of her trust in us to raise her child. But that is a very intimidating prospect at the same time. There’s a degree of pressure that, sort of, comes along with that. So, our plan was to meet up at Olive Garden for lunch.
But, before we did that, we had our match meeting with you. You had come to our house to, sort of, go over her medical records in a little bit more detail and we talked about what to expect at that first meeting and in the weeks to come here. We signed some forms to make the match official. And then, I remember during our first phone call you had recommended a little bit of an ice breaker. So, you said a great way to do that is to bring a photo album of some extra pictures that you can show the birth mother and, sort of, get the conversation rolling.
And I know that anybody who’s made an adoption profile realizes it’s hard to summarize your life in 35 pictures. I mean, you, sort of, have to be really selective and there’s things that get left out and things that you want to share that there’s just no space to. So, we selected more photos to bring with us to help, sort of, break that ice. And Justin and myself were high school sweethearts, so we wanted to include a picture from high school, from our homecoming dance, which was our first date, which, it’s just, sort of, funny to look back on that and see how young we were. Some goofy Disney pictures. One in silly Christmas shirts. Anything to, sort of, help diffuse the nerves.
So, we, sort of, printed out a bunch of those and put it in a photo album. And we also wanted to provide Amber with a small token of our appreciation for meeting with us, and since we didn’t really know her yet, I know that you gave us some direction as far as maybe what we should get for her. You had gotten to know her a little bit before you even called us, so that helped us, sort of, figure out what we should bring for her.
And I also love to bake. So, I wanted to bring some home-baked cookies with us, as well, just to bring her something. Everybody loves cookies. So, we got to Olive Garden a few minutes-
Jennifer : [inaudible 00:11:04]
Sarah: Yes. So, we got to Olive Garden a few minutes before Amber did, which, sort of, just meant we were sitting there nervous. Every single time somebody walked up to the door, we were looking out the door. Is this her? Is this her?
And so, Amber came to lunch with her youngest daughter. So, we gave her a big hug and we asked the restaurant just for a table, sort of, a private table so that we could talk. It was a pretty big lunch date, so we wanted to be as private as we could.
So, we all sat down and it was awkward, but I think I said something to her like, I hear you’re as nervous as we are about this meeting. Because I know that you had told us that she was also very nervous about this meeting happening. So, just some common ground there to, sort of, break the ice. So, we gave her the photo album and we looked through pictures, and it really helped, sort of, get the conversation rolling. And it also helped to have her daughter there. Kids have a way of diffusing awkward situations-
Jennifer : Right.
Sarah: By the things that they say. And just, sort of, being able to focus our attention elsewhere, too. But during the meeting, we really calmed down a lot after getting over that initial, sort of, meet and greet. And I remember sitting there thinking, wow, I can’t believe we are sitting here with this woman and she wants us to parent the baby she’s carrying right now. I just remember going through my head, like oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening.
Jennifer : Very surreal.
Sarah: Very, very much so. And honestly, what surprised us the most about the whole situation was how excited she was for us. And, Jennifer, you touched on this a little bit earlier, about how sometimes adoptive parents are cautious to show how much excitement they have because they know what’s the cost of the loss on the part of the birth mother. There’s some loss there on her part.
But, because you did want to make sure that we showed our excitement, so we, sort of, conveyed that to her. And that’s when she, sort of, kept saying how excited she was that we were going to be parents. It was just totally unexpected. I wasn’t expecting her to say that at all.
So, we asked her what it was about our profile that attracted her to us and she told us that she just knew it was meant to be us. She wasn’t really sure exactly what it was, it was meant to be and it just felt right. You could just feel all the love that she has for her children and this unborn baby and how she wants nothing but the best for them. And so,
Jennifer : Go ahead. Go ahead.
Sarah: Oh, I was just going to say a little tip for any future adoptive parents. So, one thing that I’m glad that we did during that meeting is that we brought our camera, and we took a picture of all of us.
I thought it was really important to have this meeting documented and pictures so that we could share those pictures with this child as she grows up. And she can see that we started this relationship and this is where it all started was this Olive Garden lunch. It’s just so important for this child’s life story.
So, I mean, it felt awkward to be like, hey, can we take your picture? We just met you. But, I’m so glad we brought the camera because it just captures the moment.
Jennifer : Well, and it captured it for Amber, too, because she wanted a copy of that picture, too. And I agree with you whole heartedly. Sometimes it can be a little bit strange. Hey, can we take a picture? And we see this happen often in these first meetings, but you’re right. It is a very, very cherished memory and event. And while we could have sat there and viewed this as a nice lunch and a first get to know you, you documented that, and that’s something that you’ll have forever. And I think it’s an excellent idea. I’m glad that you did that and it’s certainly something that we would encourage. If birth mothers or birth fathers are comfortable with that, then it’s certainly a very positive things to do.
Jennifer : It was a great meeting. And I’m wondering-
Sarah: It was a great meeting.
Jennifer : How you were feeling after meeting Amber. After that was all over and we all parted ways, what was the reality of that meeting like in comparison to your expectations?
Sarah: Right. So, we left the restaurant and our heads were swimming, which is probably why we forgot our leftovers on the table. We realized later that we totally forgot that at the restaurant.
So, our heads were just going a million miles a minutes, with just, sort of, repeating and re-playing everything that was just going on. And we were actually heading up north to go camping again that weekend, and so, we spent the whole trip just calling our parents and our siblings and letting them know how everything went.
It was the shortest two and a half hour car ride ever, because it was like we were doing all this and then, oh we’re here. The meeting was so above and beyond what our expectations were. You hear about the selfless love that birth mothers have when they make adoption plans for their babies, but when you see it in front of you, it’s a whole different thing. Especially when you are the ones that she’s chosen to parent her child, it was the most humbling experience, and we feel so honored to be part of this baby’s adoption plan.
Jennifer : Nice. Thank you for that. What were you and Justin hoping for after this meeting in terms of a relationship with Amber?
Sarah: We really wanted to form a relationship with, not only Amber, but with her other children as well. It was really important to us that her children got to know us, especially since they played such a big role in choosing our profile.
We felt that seeing us and being able to interact with us and form a relationship with us would really make this process a lot more real to them. Since we both live locally, it’s actually made it a lot easier to make these dates and meet up and we’ve actually met every single week since that first meeting. So, we’ve had picnics. We’ve played at the park. I mean, you name it, we’ve just been hanging out every week.
So, it’s been great getting to know them and we just love them all. We just really want this relationship to continue to grow and develop. So, after this baby’s born and placed, this relationship will still feel very natural, which I have no doubt that it will.
We just really want Amber and her kids to feel as though they’re part of our family. Because through this adoption, we’ve become part of each other’s lives. So, we just want that to continue.
Jennifer : Is this what you expected it would be like, Sarah, in terms of the first call and then the first meeting and this connection to Amber and this continued involvement and relationship that’s slowly growing? Is this what you had envisioned all along? What is that like for you in terms of the reality?
Sarah: It’s hard because this is our first adoption. This is our first baby. And so, it’s sort of hard to know what to expect. I mean, you do all the reading, and you do all of the, sort of, okay, it can go this way or this way. And it just all depends on the birth mother, really, and how her feelings are towards openness and being connected. But, it’s just … it’s above and beyond what I could have even possibly imagined. We just love Amber so much and we think she’s a wonderful woman and we couldn’t be happier.
Jennifer : I know that despite your excitement for this pending adoption, you are keenly aware, as is Justin, that Amber’s emotional experience is much different than yours.
Although she has voluntarily chosen adoption for her child, she is headed into a period of time in her life that will come with potentially great grief. How do you reconcile this?
Sarah: That’s a really tough topic. The truth is, is that this is new territory for myself and Justin, and that the dichotomy of the circumstance is real. Amber’s loss means our gain. And the significance of that is not lost on us. We know that Amber took a great amount of time and consideration in coming to an adoption decision. She’s asked for us to adopt her child, and we have such respect for her and we care about her so much.
We wish we could take away the pain that she might experience, but we also understand that it just may be a necessary part of Amber’s healing process, as well. So, for our part, we want to remain connected. We want to support her in any way that she’ll allow us. We will pray for her, and we’ll always leave the lines of communication open.
Jennifer : It is a tough subject. You really, kind of, spoke to that in such a great way, and hopefully our listeners can understand the empathy it’s obvious you have toward Amber. That empathy for birth parents is common.
There was a quote that a new adoptive mother had written or said that I ran across, and it said, “That was a terrible feeling to want to be a mother, and at the same time feel that I had hurt another woman who might have been a wonderful mother to this same child under different circumstances.”
And we know that Amber has the capacity to parent, because she is. But Amber has decided that she wants better for this child. She has chosen adoption for this baby for her own personal reasons that we have such respect and admiration for.
But, you’re right. Your gain and excitement in this parenting journey of your own, is a loss for her, and we want to recognize that and support her in that. And from the agency’s perspective, we certainly will, and from the adoptive parents’ perspective, it sounds like you guys are also prepared to do that.
I think this also leads a little bit, Sarah, to, kind of, this idea of balancing the fears of the adoptive family with the emotional needs of the birth mother. Do you have any thoughts about that? About how you’re going to do that or how you are doing that?
Sarah: Oh my gosh. We have just a lot of nervousness about these upcoming weeks and what they’re going to bring, but want Amber to know how excited we are about this whole process.
So, as we’ve been working with getting the baby’s room set up and other things we’ve been doing to get ready for baby’s arrival, we’re sort of in our super accelerated nesting mode right now. I just feel like we’ve just been rushing around trying to do all of this stuff.
So, we’ll text her pictures and we’ll let her know how things are coming on our end, which she almost always replies back how excited she is for us. She’s always so excited for us, which, again, like I said earlier, is just something that still blows me away.
We just want her to know that we’re all in, and we try not to think about all of the steps in this process before we finally bring her home with us. But, we just focus on the short-term things and what’s happening this week, what’s happening next week, and just try to take things in stride.
Jennifer : So, only a little over two weeks until Amber’s due date. How are things going currently? Are you and Justin finding your way in this relationship with Amber? And what are your hopes for the future?
Sarah: We have been so blessed to be able to go … Like I said, we live locally. So, we’ve been able to go to ultrasound appointments and OB visits, and it’s just surreal to see this tiny baby on an ultrasound screen, hear her heart beat, and know that we will be her parents and she’s going to be joining our family.
Amber’s been introducing us as the adoptive parents during these visits, which is just crazy to hear said out loud. Again, this whole situation has just happened so quickly that to hear all this happen, it’s just nuts.
Again, bringing cameras to document everything. I think I’ve brought cameras everywhere, just to try to document this whole process. Trying to journal things … You will forget all of these little, tiny details. And I remember, I think you were calling me after the Olive Garden visit, and you had said some things, and I’m like, oh wait, hold on, I want to write that down. I want to just make sure I remember all those details because you’ll forget them. So, I’ve been trying to, sort of, document all of those visits just so that we can remember all those the best we can so we can share this journey with this child as she grows up.
Our hope is that Amber will always be a part of our life and this child’s life, and we really do not want to lose contact with her. We hope that she achieves her goals for herself and her family and she continues her education, and we wish her luck in future jobs and career plans, and with her family as well and her children.
Jennifer : Well, it has been an honor for me to be a part of your adoption, and we wish Godspeed to both you and Justin and to Amber and this journey as it continues to unfold. And, you know, hopefully, at some point down the line, we can do a follow-up to this wonderful story. For me, the message here is this connection and relationship that’s developing and continuing to grow between you and Justin and Amber. It’s a beautiful thing.
Jennifer : I’m just so pleased that you guys have opened yourself up in that way and that Amber has been open with you as well.
Sarah: Right. Yes, I agree.
Jennifer : So, for those of you that are listening who would like more information on domestic adoption or Adoption Associates, you can reach us at 800-677-2367.
We are in … Great big thank you to Sarah for today, as well as to all of our listeners who continue to be in support of Adoption Focus podcast. We generally are live every Tuesday at 11:00. We’re going to take next Tuesday off in celebration of our country’s independence day. So, we will not be having a podcast next week, but will start back the week after that. So, we do hope that you’ll join us.
Sarah: You can also connect with us, if you’d like, through the web at adoptionassociates.net or find us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Sarah, once again, thank you very much for today.
Sarah: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Jennifer : For now, this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus. Have a great day everyone. Buh bye.