How do you continue on the journey to adopt after two failed adoptions? How do you respond to inappropriate comments like “how can someone give their baby away?” Angela, an adoptive mom shares how they came to the decision to adopt, their difficult journey, their faith, and what they learned along the way.
You can read the transcript below or listen to the podcast by clicking here.
BLOGTALK RADIO (AIR DATE 6.19.15): Having Faith – A Conversation With Angela an Adoptive Mom
Connie Going: Angela, can you hear me now? Hello?
Angela: Hello. Connie, can you hear me?
Connie, are you there?
Connie Going: Hello, Angela?
Angela: Hi Connie, can you hear me now?
Connie Going: Hi Angela, I’m so excited. I don’t know what we did, but I think we fixed it. [inaudible 00:06:51] Just be patient with us, we are going to get this technical part taken care of.
I’m just so excited and I wanna thank everyone for tuning in. Angela, thank you again for your patience.
Angela: Of course.
Connie Going: I’m really excited … I did do an introduction about the program, I’m going to do just a really quick one in case it did not get on the air.
Welcome to adoption focus.
Adoption Focus is Adoption Associates radio cast all about adoption. I’m Connie Going and I’m an adoption associate consultant and I’m excited to be part of such a wonderful weekly show.
I will share with you inspirational, educational and thought provoking adoption stories.
Adoption Associates is a Michigan licensed adoption agency, which has been practicing since 1990 and has had over 5000 adopted placements. They are time tested in both domestic and international adoptions, and it has offices in Jenison, Farmington Hills, Lansing and Saginaw areas.
Adoption Associates is a hands-on adoption agency whose pledge is to help each child and parent through the adoption process.
Adoption Associates utilizes the most up to date software, innovative software to support their passion for adoption.
I’m gonna say again I’d like to thank Angela, and just welcome her. I wanted her to share a little bit about her story because truly Angela you have been through so much. You and your husband Jim are now wonderful, happy adoptive parents of … how old is your little one?
Angela: She is 17 months old this week.
Connie Going: Such a fun age.
A little bit about your journey because part of your story to me, it really stood out [inaudible 00:08:42]. You had so much faith when I spoke to you.
Angela: We did. Yeah, I’m sorry.
It wasn’t an easy road, the one thing I like to tell anyone who’s considering adoption is there is no normal adoption story. It’s a different situation for every single person, their journey is different. But I can guarantee you at the end of the journey you will find the child that is supposed to be yours. That’s what we kept holding onto, was that, and that God had a plan and He was gonna connect us with the child that was eventually supposed to be ours.
Now looking back I can tell you that’s definitely what happened. We have the most amazing daughter that certain people even say she looks like us, which is really funny. But … we started our process back in 2009, we met and we got married in 2007. I was in my later 30s by that point, we knew that we wanted children, so we started trying right away. Like most couples who end up going down the adoption path we went through a lot of testing and trials and, “Am I pregnant this month?” Lot of medication and different things to try to make it happen and it wasn’t gonna happen.
We started investigating to figure out what our next step was gonna be because we both just knew we wanted to be parents more than anything. We decided to start investigating adoption. I can tell you we went into with so many just preconceived notions. As we got to the education of it, it was just the education very enlightening. It’s no longer a taboo subject, like it was many, many years ago. We learned a whole lot.
I will say and the agency told us … I thought they were silly at the time but in hindsight I can totally agree cause they wanted us to just quit watching Lifetime television. You’re gonna see all of those crazy stories, there’s a lot that goes into it and it’s an emotional roller coaster from day one. You have to prepare yourself for that.
We went through everything, got our home study all done, all of our background checked, approved and we were in December of 2009, it’s when we officially went on the list. They hit that list and we’re just like, “Okay, I’m here, this is it. We’re gonna get a baby.”
Connie Going: Angela, let me ask you. How long was that time period from the time you went to Adoption Associates and you were ready to go on the list?
Angela: I think we went to our first meeting with them in March or April of that year. We took some time to decide, it could have gone quicker than that.
Connie Going: Okay.
Angela: We wanted to investigate, make sure we are working with the right agency, we checked around, talked to other people to get references. It took us close to nine months before we were on the approved list. But it can certainly be done faster. A lot depends on the parents, do you go get your background check done, do you get your fingerprints done, all that kind of stuff. There’s a lot you have to do as well to help move that along. [00:12:13]
Connie Going: Absolutely. I respect that you took the time as you were … one of the things that really impressed me was that you started a blog when you began your journey, you were ready to announce it. You were seeking out education, and support system, which in adoption is so important and you put your heart out there and you shared your story as it was happening.
It was pretty therapeutic for us because there are a lot of ups and downs. One minute the agency is calling you and saying, “Wow, we’ve got a mom looking at your profile.” Then the next minute they’re like, “She picked somebody else.”
You’re up and you’re down, it’s a long roller coaster ride. We did have a couple of links with birth moms that didn’t end up working out for us and those are probably the hardest thing in the world to go through.
In those cases we were linked with the actual birth moms while they were pregnant. We had communication with them, we formed a friendship with them, they were part of our family at that point because we were gonna have an open adoption with them.[crosstalk 00:13:32]
Connie Going: You’re awesome, you can do this without me.
I wanna know how you chose open adoption, why?
Angela: I can tell you at first when we went to the first meeting and they started talking about that I was like, “Nope. Nope. Nope. I don’t want open adoption.” Partly because I’d seen all of those Lifetime movies and you just have this horrible image of what’s gonna happen. As we went through the process and learned more about it … and I actually have since made friends totally outside it, its random, who were birth moms, or who were adoptive parents … When you start seeing the whole thing unfold, for me, the realization was that as long as everybody respects the rules, that the more people that love that child the better. The ability for the child to be able to ask those questions, because they’re gonna have ’em. When they get old enough to question, “Why didn’t my mom and dad keep me?” They can get answers to that. Or, “Why do I have red hair and you don’t? Where did that come from?”
Connie Going: [inaudible 00:14:49] understand Angela. That’s what I think [inaudible 00:14:51] is one of the reasons, and one of the hopes that we with this show and having you share your story is helping other families. Helping birth mothers understand that it doesn’t have to be … it can be what you want but how healthy open adoption is.
Angela: Yes. It very much can be. Again, as long as everybody respects the rules I think it is definitely good for everybody. I think it allows the child to … teenage years are really tough on kids, so that when these questions can come up. It gives them a sense of understanding and a sense of acceptance to why this occurred, and that can really help their self esteem a lot. That additional support and my gosh what’s wrong with that?
Connie Going: That’s so true, it’s so true. I think that as a parent you would do anything for your child and with that giving them part of who they are genetically, giving them part of who they are, just where they come from. They don’t have [crosstalk 00:16:02]. It’s just so healthy. It can be [crosstalk 00:16:08].
Tell me a little bit about your first birth mother, that was just a very hard time for you guys.
Angela: Yeah, that one was really difficult, he was actually in a different state. My background is marketing so when we started this adoption process, I’m like, “I’m gonna get our name out there. People are gonna find us.” So, we started the blog, Facebook page, we had postcards printed out and just handed them out everywhere with links to our Facebook page, how to find us, and contact us.
This lady actually came to us from out of state and she was acquaintance of a family member. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to work with Adoption Associates really in this case because she was in the state that they don’t practice. That made it a little challenging in itself cause we were kind of trying to feel our way through it all on our own.
We talked on the phone and we started texting and talking frequently. I flew down several times to meet her, and visit her, and get to know her, and try to kind of form this relationship and … we thought things were going on great. We were working with an agency an attorney down there and we were helping her financially with some things that she needed. We had everything planned, the nursery was all set up and we were ready to go.
It came to her due date and she went past. She went to see her doctor and she’d keep in touch with me and how she was feeling, what they were saying. Then we finally said … she contacted me and said, “Okay, I’ve got the date, they’re gonna induce.” We said, “Awesome.”
We jumped in the car and drove down there cause we wanted to be there and she wanted us there. That’s just conversation we have had all long. We get down there with all this stuff loaded in our vehicle, car seats and baby stuff, and my family comes in to be there to help support us during this time.
Our attorney contacted us the day that she was supposed to be induced and let us know that she had spoke to him at the hospital and apparently this birth mom had delivered ten days earlier.[inaudible 00:18:25] indicated to the hospital that she was gonna keep the child.
Connie Going: Wow.
Angela: So, yeah. We still have a lot of questions about that situation, but it was … that was very, very tough for us. To be out of state, we had driven down there, we had to drive back with all of this baby stuff in our car. To a nursery that was set up for nothing. We prayed a lot and I will say, my parents were there and obviously they wanted to comfort us but afterwards my mom commented that she noticed how my husband and I kept going to each other. There were times when he was weak and I was there for him and vice versa.
I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. She said that she knew then how strong our marriage was because we were relying on each other and our faith to get through that difficult time.
Connie Going: You guys had to rely on each other and it’s such a huge loss and, to me, I compare it to the loss of a child in the birthing process.
Connie Going: As you [inaudible 00:19:43] to take your child home. Just because that child was not biologically yours, you were in labor and that was to be your day. You can’t take away from how impactful that loss is on your lives.
Angela: It was very tough.
Connie Going: It made you guys come closer together, you sought strength in each other.
Angela: Yeah, we did. It made us a little leery, we were very cautious moving forward from that obviously. The agency rallied around us, I can’t say enough about how awesome they were for us during this time because obviously we were gun-shy at that point. They continued to work with us, we drove home with this car load of this baby stuff and found some way to unpack. I couldn’t open the nursery door for a very long time. We just left the room set up, we just left the door shut.
Then, they contacted us again in June or July of that year, so this is still 2013. They had a birth mom in the state of Michigan here, who was expecting and she had picked us. It was cute cause our case worker was like, “We had some very real conversation with her, and just let her know what you guys had been through and that we don’t really wanna make the call unless she’s a 110% sure.” They were doing everything they could to protect us.
We met this young girl and she almost became like a little sister to me because we bonded quite quickly and we met her mom, we’re sharing family recipes. We were very close. We had a lot of conversation about her situation and she really wanted us to understand why she was doing this, and it had nothing to do with the fact that she did not want this child, or that she did not love this child. The extenuating circumstances just were not good for her to be able to do it at this time. She felt a lot of guilt about that and I could tell, her and I talked about it a lot.
We were being cautiously optimistic that this was gonna go through. We opened the nursery door again and started doing some work on the nursery. She had us come to … we went to doctor’s appointments with her and ultrasounds, heard the heartbeat, brought home ultrasound pictures. We were planning how often we would get together because she was in the same state. We wanted to get together more frequently, and we had met her mom and the family. They were good people, we were just thrilled at the possibility of kind of being able to be extended family with them. We knew how wonderful it was gonna be. We knew it was a little girl … for our daughter to have them as her extended family, that they would always love her and support her, and how badly they really wanted to be part of her life despite of what was going on.
Connie Going: So you had everything planned out Angela? You had everything planned out and you had this great interaction with the extended family … what month did she come, did she select you, what month of her pregnancy was she in?
Angela: She was six months along?
Connie Going: Okay.
Angela: We still had a few months, and we spent quite a bit of time together. Frequent … to her doctor’s appointments and all of that. Everybody was on the same page, her mom, her family were all very supportive of the decision. They met us, they liked us, that was important to her. My husband actually reminded her of her father who had passed away. That was one of the reasons she had picked us in the first place, was when she saw his picture, it reminded her of her dad.
There was a lot of connections with this family and with this group. Needless to say, we were elated, starting to get excited again and get back on this rush. Although we did caution our friends and family, we tried to keep reality checks with them, anything can happen, we’re not having baby showers until after the baby is born and comes home with us. Cause everybody wanted to buy us gifts.
Having gone through one that didn’t work out even though we thought it was going to we really were trying to be real abut the possibility that this may not happen regardless of our connection with her. We prayed a lot about the situation and that whatever God’s will was, was gonna be done and we knew we just had to find the way to be okay with it no matter what that was.
We also used this, at the time, to do a lot of education to other people and we did that on our blog. We talked a lot about adoption etiquette, which people don’t really understand what that means. There’s just some things you really shouldn’t say to an adoptive parent, or the birth mom.
Connie Going: What were some of the things … and then we’re gonna get back … what are some of the things that should not be said to an adoptive parent in your opinion?
Angela: You should never say to adoptive parent, “Do you have any real kids? Do you have any kids of your own?”
Connie Going: Yes.
Angela: “Yep, this one right here. Don’t know what you mean by that.” You don’t ever want to say to them, or to the child, “I can’t imagine someone giving up their kid, why didn’t their parent want them?”
There’s typically a lot that goes in behind the scenes and it’s not a very quick or easy decision. It can also be very hurtful for a child to hear things like that. [00:26:17] to be very cautious about that.
And then of course we had numerous amounts of advice about what we were doing wrong and why we weren’t conceiving on our own.
Connie Going: It’s amazing, I think that I would love to have an episode to where we had a couple of callers call in and we had this discussion, some adoptive parents call in. So maybe we’ll return to that because I think we could really help educate the world about how to be more sensitive.
Angela: Yes, we learned a whole lot for sure, and were amazed by the things that were said to us. Anyway … back to our second birth mom there.
She had her birth plan, we knew when she was due and we were all excited and ready to go. A couple of weeks early she called us, I was actually on my way home on a Friday evening, and she said, “So, do you wanna meet your daughter tonight?” And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, what’s going on?” She said, “Well, you know, it’s nothing bad, don’t freak out or anything but I’m leaking fluid, and they wanna go ahead and they’re gonna do a Cesarean tonight. How quick can you guys get here?” She is several hours away from us, so I race home and I tell Jim, “This is the call, like, this is it.” You don’t have the emergency bag packed yet like you normally would, so we’re throwing stuff in the car and racing. We won’t talk about how fast we went cause we wanted to be sure we get there.
Connie Going: Absolutely.
Angela: We get to the hospital and we’re in the waiting area with her family and we’re all talking, and excited and all this. They do the Cesarean, everybody gets settled in the room and she says it’s okay for us to come in. Her mom was there and pulled us aside and just said, “She is very delicate right now, please just be aware of that.”
We were very cautious to try and not just come in and make over the baby. We knew very much that this was really, really, really hard on her. We went to her first when we went in the room and we hugged her, asked how she was doing, had conversation with her for a little bit before … she then said, “Here she is. Do you wanna see her, or do you wanna hold her?” So we did and we oohed and aahed and we took some pictures of us with the baby, of all of us with the baby. We did all of that kind of stuff that you would normally do.
It was getting pretty late, so we said, “I’m sure you want some rest. We’ve got a hotel room in the area, will come and see you guys tomorrow, but if you need anything you know how to get in touch with us.” That type of thing.
The next morning we went and she had mentioned that she had a craving for the candy, the hot tamales so we went and bought a big bag of those, just some fun stuff to take. We got to the hospital and the nurse said, “I’m sorry, she doesn’t wanna see you.”
Connie Going: Wow.
Angela: We were a little nervous, a little concerned, and the nurse was wonderful. She had dealt with adoptions before and she set us down and said, “I understand how you’re feeling, it’s my job, obviously, to protect my patient. This can be a really tough time for them, so just give her some space.” She said, “I’ve seen this happen. At the end I’ve seen ’em go through, and I’ve also seen ’em not go through. You do need to brace yourself, but she does need some space.”
We were fine with that. We went back to our hotel, we tried to occupy our minds [00:30:10]. Ultimately, we got to see the baby one more time the following day.
On Monday, when she was discharged our case worker was with her at that time and called us and said, “You know, she is sorry, she’s decided she’s taking the baby home.”
We were devastated. We both just completely broke down, we just did not even know what to do. We weren’t sure where we were at that point, we were lost. We had already had our vehicle loaded cause we knew we were checking out of the hotel that day no matter what. We drove back to our home town and drove directly to our church. I got choked up again.[00:31:00]
We needed to talk with our pastor, we went through that horrible spiral effect that, I think, everybody does, “What’s wrong with us, why aren’t we getting picked, why does this keep happening, why don’t we get to be parents?”
There was a lot of things that run through our mind, you don’t mean to think bad things but you do in situations like that. You think there’s tons of people out there having kids every day who don’t love them, who don’t deserve them and yet we can’t. There’s a lot of struggle. We spent a lot of time with our pastor that day and many days thereafter to get ourselves through it. Shut the nursery door again and we talked a lot about the nursery. I told my husband, “I can’t take it down because that, to me, says we’re giving up hope. And I’m not willing to give up hope yet. I still believe God intends for us to be parents, but we just haven’t connected with the right child.” But, I did also fully believed that we went through the things that we went through for a reason. There were things that we needed to learn, that our family and our friends needed to learn in order for the perfect scenario to come into place.
Connie Going: Your faith is so strong and your husband’s faith that when I got the privilege of talking to you and hearing your story, I thought, “How would someone get through this? How would they still know that they are meant to be parents?”
It was just this deep faith that I saw and your ability to not give up. You just knew in your heart that your child was out there?
Angela: I did. I knew I was always meant to be a mom. I knew it was gonna happen sometime and for whatever reason those were not the right situations.
When you go to adopt you have to fill out a checklist and we struggled a lot over this because you have to say what ethnicities you’re willing to consider, drug use, alcohol use, mental illness histories. There’s all these things you have to go through and we both really struggled with that because it felt like we’re picking our baby. You get what God gives you when you do it naturally, so you feel like you’re going through this selection process. We had made our choices and after this last one we sat and we talked about it and I said, “You know, maybe we need to give up control and then quit trying to control the child that we’re gonna get. We need to give it to God and just say whatever baby you intend to be ours, regardless of its health history, or its ethnicity, or whatever, that’s the child we’re gonna raise.”
We had talked with our agency about removing restrictions and this opens it up because no matter what we put on the list, we were gonna get whatever child God wanted us to have.
Connie Going: Angela, I see that with a lot of adoptive families. In the process you learn to know yourself and you learn to know that sometimes by giving up the control, because it really is not a lot of control in this process.
Angela: No, no, there’s not.
Connie Going: It’s the ultimate act of faith.
We’ve got about ten minutes left so I want to hear about your daughter and the Safe Delivery Act.
Connie Going: [inaudible 00:34:58] Safe Delivery of Newborns Act.
So tell us a little about that because we so appreciate you sharing the hard times, but I wanna end on where you’re at today and how that happened.
So we made this great decision that we were gonna change our outlook and our criteria if you will. It was time for us to renew our home study because you have to that every single year. Our case worker was supposed to be at our house on that particular morning. I think we were meeting her at nine, or nine thirty, for her to do … cause they have to come visit your home and make sure you haven’t moved 8 million dogs in, or something crazy like that.
She comes and we’re waiting, and she sitting in our driveway and she hasn’t come in and we’re like, “Well, she frequently gets calls from birth moms, we don’t worry if she’s not exactly right on time.
She finally comes up to the door and it’s like, “I’m so sorry I’m late, I knew you guys have been waiting.” We’re like, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” She’s like, “Well, it might be for a good reason.” And we’re like, “What?!” Trying not to jump up and down. She says, “I just got off the phone with a case worker at a hospital and there was a child born this morning. Upon delivery, actually when the mom got to the hospital, the birth mom, but also upon delivery, she had found that was her intent to place the child for adoption. She wanted to do it under the Safe Delivery Act, which means she does not have to give any information whatsoever, and no questions will be asked. It’s a fabulous law, I wish more people knew about it because it would certainly prevent a lot of really bad stories that you hear about children.
She said that’s what she wanted to do and the case worker at the hospital, the social worker had been calling agencies and fortunately had connected with ours. In most cases you’re selected by a birth mom, but in the case of a Safe Delivery, or what they also call a Gift Baby where a mom doesn’t wanna make a choice, the agency then picks whoever has been on the list the longest that matches the criteria. Our case worker said, “I’m 99.9% sure that it’s you guys, but I have to wait till I can get in touch with my director for confirmation.” And she’s like, “I left her like 18 messages this morning but she’s in a meeting, and blah, blah, blah. We’re just gonna sit down and we’re gonna start to update the home study cause they have to have that regardless.”
So here we’re all trying to get through this and we’re just nervous, and every time the phone rings we’re jumping, every time her text goes off we’re jumping. She’s getting more and more information from the hospital, we found out it was a baby girl, and that she was completely healthy, there was no sign of drug use at the time of birth in the mom or the child. We’re getting all this just exciting news, and we’re trying really, really, really hard to stay calm. Finally, her director calls and said, “Yes, it is. They are the ones on the list. It is their child if they want it.”
We all just started crying, I can’t even describe that moment.
Connie Going: Angela, all this time you had prepared to go and have your child and when you were least expecting it …
Angela: For sure.
Connie Going: … it was your child.
Angela: Yeah. There was our amazing daughter.
That was ten o’clock that morning … I’m sorry …
Connie Going: Tell us a little bit about your daughter.
Angela: We got to the hospital about 3:30 that afternoon, they brought her into the room, all the nurses on the floor brought her. There were cameras going up everywhere. Everybody was crying, it was just a very emotional afternoon. There was this perfect, beautiful little girl, just laying there with the biggest eyes wide open just looking right at us. We couldn’t get her out of that little bassinet fast enough. We spent the entire two days with her, we were able to get the room at the hospital. I did not leave that room, at all. My husband had to go out and get food, he’s like, “You wanna go eat?” I’m like, “No, I don’t leave this room until she is leaving with us like, she can’t go out of my sight.”
We brought her home two days later, we’ve known her since the day she was born, she’s known us since the day she was born. There’s not a single person who won’t tell you that she looks just like my husband, and so much like his mom when she was a baby, it’s amazing. She is precocious, she is independent, and she is … she’s amazing. She is beautiful and smart and she is the funniest person she knows. She cracks herself up all the time.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, she just turned 17 months old. Every day is a new adventure with her at this point and she’s learning. There are no words to describe how much we love that little girl and how honored we are to be her parents.
Connie Going: And how blessed you are, how incredibly blessed you are. I am honored that you shared and are able to be here and share your story because helping others know that there is hope and having faith is so important.
Angela: You will get the child that’s meant to be yours, we have no doubt about that now.
Connie Going: If you had to give the message before we wrap up, if you had to give the message that would be to everyone out there, what would that message be?
Angela: It would just be have faith and trust in God’s plan. That’s been my mantra for my whole life but it really, really came to fruition in this situation. Have faith, you will get connected with the baby that is meant to be your child, the one that’s supposed to happen. In the meantime just pay attention and learn from the lessons cause there’s a lot to be learned during this process, too.
Connie Going: Yeah. I kind of wanna end that piece there because I want listeners to think about that, to hold onto that.
In the world of adoption, like I said, it really is the strongest walk in faith. I personally have that very experience, as an adoptive mom and having a privilege working with families like you.
Agencies like Adoption Associates, I really want to share with everyone out there that they are agency who truly cares. Our tag line is We Care.
For those of you who don’t know, their website is www.adoptionassociates.net
The call in number is 1-800-677-2367
The Safe Delivery Act, which I feel is so important for really everyone to understand in Michigan. The number for that is 866-733-7733, spread the word and spread the message.
Angela thank you so much for being our guest and sharing your story. We truly appreciate it.
Angela: Thank you.
It was my honor to be involved.
Connie Going: Thank you. Take care now