Beginnings: Cobbling the Path
The spring of 2012 marked the beginning of a journey down a new and uncharted path to become a mom. The path to motherhood already proving to be much more difficult than originally anticipated, I apprehensively asked a colleague who recently adopted her daughter about her experience. Looking back, that conversation now represents the first stone in what has evolved into a beautiful, albeit rocky at times, cobblestone path that brought me to my daughters. I remember describing my adoption journey in the early days as turning over a new stone, only to discover several more layers of complexity beneath the surface.
In the beginning, we really knew nothing about adoption, and we definitely didn’t know how to think or talk about it. It was overwhelming and confusing and emotionally taxing at times. But we forged ahead—and found both solace and motivation in the opportunity to actively do something every day to get us closer to parenthood. It was so different from the feelings of the previous year: days, weeks, and months filled with anxiety and an overall sense of powerlessness associated with the pursuit of parenthood through medical intervention.
It was liberating to tell friends, family, and co-workers about our ambitions to become parents through adoption compared to treating our previous attempts like secrets that needed to remain private. It was fun to apply what I’d learned after years in the marketing field to storytelling that was deeply personal. It was uplifting to receive support from near and far, from strangers to acquaintances, to close friends and family. Most of all, it was both surprising and inspiring to find a vast community of adoptive parents, attorneys, social workers, medical professionals, consultants, birthmothers, adoptees, volunteers, and many others who were more than happy to provide their guidance, experience, and expertise along the way.
Across all of our discussions and interactions, we heard a common theme: Adoption is complex. We also learned that every adoption is unique and unpredictable, and should be entered into without judgment and with eyes wide open. We have experienced firsthand that the decision for birthparents to place their children for adoption is rooted in love—a selfless, difficult, and brave kind of love.
Looking Back: Gratitude for the Unsung Heroes
Early on in our adoption journey, I had a strong sense of commitment to open adoption and an even stronger desire to meet the prospective birthmothers of my future children. I recall explaining to friends and family that I wanted to be able to tell my children one day that we were chosen to be their adoptive parents. Nothing directly influenced this commitment. It was just a gut feeling.
To this day, I am so thankful I followed my gut.
On December 20, 2013, my husband and I met our oldest daughter’s birthparents two days after she was born. On August 18, 2017, my husband and I met our youngest daughter’s birthparents, two days before she was born.
While these two couples live 1,200+ miles apart and may likely never meet, they have so much in common. They chose us to parent their daughters. They exuded courage by opening their lives and hearts to us and provided us with a deeper understanding of adoption from their perspectives. They provided us the opportunity to raise two girls, born to different parents in different states, as sisters in our family. And as the months pass, the sisterly love is STRONG!
Both times, we never knew what to expect. We never had a plan. We walked into each opportunity they offered us and embraced every moment with gratitude and respect. And in both experiences, we learned more than we could ever imagine. Both couples expressed deep love for their daughters. Both couples shared their reasons for choosing adoption and for choosing us. They were all honest, open, and vulnerable, and made us feel comfortable. Both couples introduced us to extended family. Both couples revealed how difficult this decision was for them and how much they love, and will always love, their baby girls. Both couples opened our eyes immensely to a part of the adoption process that’s often not discussed. And they served as foundational influencers of my passion for this path to parenthood.
While these are both incredibly happy stories for us, adoption is a bittersweet experience for all involved. The openness of our daughters’ birthparents provided a glimpse into a decision-making process that is likely one of the hardest they will ever have to make. They demonstrated heartbreaking courage and exhibited the bravest and most selfless kinds of love in their decision to place their baby girls with us for adoption. And we are honored to this day to have been chosen.
I’ll close with a glimpse into the authenticity and sincerity we were exposed to through open adoption: The night we brought our youngest daughter home from the hospital, we received a heartfelt text from her birthparents thanking us, ending with, “We really feel like you two are the perfect choice, and I hope that we are able to stay friends even though we come from two different ways of life.”
We read this that night and were taken aback that in the midst of this emotional experience for them, that they were thanking us. And all we could think about was how thankful we are for them and the gift they’ve given us. We’re the lucky ones. We will be forever grateful to the birthparents who chose us to parent their daughters.
This article is dedicated to the birthmothers and birthfathers who made me a mom. I am forever thankful for the selfless and brave decisions of both of my daughters’ birthparents to choose us to be their adoptive parents.
By Julie Kelleher