Winding Roads Always Lead to the Most Beautiful of Places – Our Adoption Story

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My mother doesn’t lend advice often.  It isn’t for lack of caring, or for lack of good advice to give.  She feels that if someone wants advice, they will ask.  Despite our many years apart from each other, the advice she has given me, her love and unyielding support in our adoption, have been nothing short of amazing.

Knowing nothing about current adoption laws and processes, I’m sure there were times when she just didn’t know WHAT to say.  But if I needed her anytime (day or night) she was there.  Sometimes she would ask questions in effort to understand better.  Other times she would just be there to listen.  Adoption is not easy.  Sometimes it is so CRAZY hard that sometimes…well, you just need your mama.

“Sweetie, winding roads always lead to the most beautiful of places.”

In adoption, it sometimes feels like that path is never going to lead anywhere.  Sometimes?  No.  It feels like that on most days.  Whenever I get discouraged in our wait, whenever I am going through something and feel “stuck” because I can’t find the right way, I ALWAYS think of this.

I once read something that stated (paraphrasing) something about how if you understood the magnitude of the blessing, you’d understand the struggle.  It’s the same theory, really.  If life were always easy, we wouldn’t learn much from living.   If you haven’t learned anything in this life, you haven’t lived.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 19. I had wanted nothing more in LIFE than to become someone’s mama.  NOTHING.  This diagnosis stunned me.  I was so young.  My husband (at the time) already had a child.  I was a woman.  This was why I was created, right?  It was way too much for a 19-year-old girl to process, really.  The more I read about endometriosis, the more terrified I became.

The doctors told me that we needed to start trying to have a baby immediately (if I wanted to be a mother) because it may not happen if we didn’t move quickly.  I think I knew deep inside that it wouldn’t happen the “old fashioned way”.  Still we tried.  We did fertility drugs, the whole shebang. I prayed for a miracle baby and I didn’t get one.

Fast-forward years later to when this marriage turned horribly wrong.  I still had no child. Things had changed.  Suddenly I was grateful for my struggle.  Children would have made me being able to escape this situation so much harder.  It would also have tied me to him for my entire life.

In 2004 I divorced my abusive husband.

The emotions were raw, real, conflicted.  There were so many, many factors.  I was happy to be away from his grip.  I was sad to have left this marriage because I always had believed that marriage was FOREVER.  But mostly…I was heartbroken.  I had to walk away from a little boy who looked to me as his mama; this same little boy whom I called my own.  I had watched grow from a wobbly toddler to a charming pre-teen.  My heart was in a million little pieces for so very long.  I didn’t think I would ever survive that loss.

I ran.  (Previously a habit of mine that I’m proud to say I’ve outgrown.) I moved from my teeny tiny town in Ohio to Columbia, South Carolina.  I was starting over.  I had a new job, new friends, and it was there that I first laid eyes upon my Corey.

Corey was there for me from day one.  He lifted me up.  Our love for God and his belief in me are what kept me moving through the next year.  We were married a year later in Georgia, June of 2006. I loved my new life.  I had an amazing husband. I had met some fantastic forever friends.  But in all of this something was still missing for me.

My heart still longed to be called, “Mama”.  I longed to BE someone’s mama.  I longed to hear tiny footsteps in my house and to be awakened 20 times a night.  I wanted it more than anything I have ever wanted in my life.

Corey and I started trying to have a baby shortly after marriage and as expected, it never happened.  Enter an additional infertility diagnosis: PCOS.  We discussed adoption and honestly, it seemed so right.  Adoption was never foreign to us.  We grew up with adoption very prevalent in both of our lives.

We signed up for foster care parenting and a year later (yes, a year) we were approved. In and amongst our wait with DFCS, we had three possible adoptive situations from outside of the system.  One was a little boy that we nearly parented.  To this day, he carries the name that we gave to him.  Two weeks before he was born, his mother chose to parent.  Two weeks after that, I held him close to me in his grandmother’s home.  I knew I still had to keep going.

“Sweetie, winding roads always lead to the most beautiful of places.”

We placed 312 inquiries on waiting children when we were foster parents.  Out of those 312 inquiries, we received 12 responses.  Each and every one of those responses was the same.

“Thank you for wanting to help children.”

We didn’t understand why.  What good was “wanting to help children” if no one was going to help you do so? We were SO open with what situations we would accept. Why were we being denied?

A few of the social workers did contact us directly, explaining that they weren’t receiving word back from our local office and without their response, it can go no further.  We fought so long to get someone to listen.  Phone calls unanswered, emails ignored, on and on (and on and on).

We finally decided to call it quits in the spring of 2011 (we didn’t officially terminate until later, but this was when we decided for our family we needed to move on).  It was a hard call for us.  It felt as if we were giving up on our child and it was heartbreaking.  We prayed that we hoped this was the decision we were to be making and at that point…we left ourselves open, but took a breath as we handed it to God.

Exactly two weeks later we received a phone call that would forever change our lives.  The father of the baby mentioned above had a twin brother.  This brother called my husband and asked if we were still trying to adopt and asked if we would be interested in this baby.

YES!   We researched like crazy, contacted an attorney, and we waited.

We met our April in March of 2011. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as awkward as we had imagined.  She told us why they were considering placement, what her plans were on openness (she wanted completely closed), it went very smoothly. Corey and the father had known each other for many years and the father’s mother was particularly close to us.  April already knew a great deal about us walking in.  This wasn’t about us.  This was about her and the plans she was making for her child.

We listened to every word she said.  We took it all in.  Our hearts shattered into a million pieces as tears fell from her face.  She was so, so strong.  I knew she wasn’t one to cry.  I could tell.  That broke my heart even further.

I wanted to tell her no.  PLEASE don’t do this.  Do not cause yourself this pain.  You will be okay.  I want to be a mother more than I want to breathe, but you will FIND a way to do this.  SOMEHOW this WILL work out for you.

And it did.  But in a way that all of least expected, and in a way that is nothing short of God jumping in and answering prayers…giving hope, love, and peace in a way that only He can give.

We didn’t know if she was still placing.  We didn’t know if we needed to plan for this baby, give up hope and move on, or which way to turn.  Corey was as cool as a cucumber on the outside, but I know he was as conflicted as I was inside.  I was an emotional mess.  A planner by nature, this was torture for me (and a great lesson on patience). J

“Sweetie, winding roads always lead to the most beautiful of places.”

The call of confirmation came to us about a week before Logan was born.  She was still in.  The birth father had signed off his rights.  She was being induced the next Friday.

The hospital staff was AMAZING.  They were there for her.  They were there for us.  The adoption plan was in full effect.  We had our own room and she wanted him to be with us.  It was all so planned out and we were so glad for that as we were emotionally full of chaos.  But there it was.  She still wanted a closed adoption.

We waited in a room down the hall from her.  She was having a complicated cesarean and under complete anesthesia.  It was a long, long surgery. As the nurses came running down the hall to grab us they snatched my camera.  It was happening.  He was here.

“Okay he is here and he is BEAUTIFUL. Now we have to run because we PROMISED her that you would be the first to hold him after he was cleaned up.  You need to wait right outside of this door.”

I didn’t think my legs would hold me as we stood outside of that door.  I remember leaning on Corey and hearing him quickly draw in his breath at that very moment.  As he placed his arm around my shoulder and pulled me in, tears flooded my eyes.  We looked at each other.

“He is here,” Corey said.

“We are parents, Mr. Palmer,” I gasped.

I remember the door opening SO slowly.  I saw the nurse come out carrying the camera and snapping photos.  And then I saw him.  OUR BABY all wrapped up and squinting in the lights.  And they placed him in my arms.

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April texted me when she awakened from her anesthesia.

“Can you send me a photo?”  My heart leapt for joy.  YES.  She is still talking to us.  This is good.

“Aww…He looks just like me. Can you send one with his hat off?” HAHA! Of course.  I didn’t know what all of this meant.  Was she changing her mind?  Was she okay? At 3am I received a knock at our hospital room door.

“She wants to see him.”

I was so in love already.  We had been through so much.  I had waited so long. Yet truly, this was still her baby. Corey was awakening and I was just sitting there…stunned.

“Okay,” was all I could muster.

That walk to her room seemed an eternity.  As they opened the door, I saw hospital staff everywhere.  I saw her daughters lying on the sofa in her room.  Then our eyes met.  I didn’t realize then the magnitude of that glance.

“Sweetie, winding roads always lead to the most beautiful of places.”

She bypassed Logan and went straight to me, threw her arms around my neck, held my face in her hands, and smiled.

“Oh Honey, “ she said.  “I’m never taking him away from you.  I could never do that.  He is yours.  I just need to know he is okay.  I need to see him.”

Cue the crying from everyone in the room, right?  Yes.  It happened.

She held him in her arms and told me how beautiful he was.  She congratulated us.  She kept saying how happy she was for us. WAS SHE FOR REAL? Surely she is covering her pain.

Here she was, placing her baby with another family, and she was sincerely happy for us.  April isn’t one to mince words.  If she says it, she means it.   We went back to our room and placed tucked our son into his bed.  And we held each other until dawn.

She visited several times while we were in the hospital.  Each and every time it was so perfectly beautiful.  I knew her heart was breaking.  I remembered the day I left my stepson behind.  I couldn’t imagine THIS.  Yet here she was, loving on us.

My heart became so much closer to God that day.  I have no doubt with every inch of my being that he was right there in that room throughout the entire stay.  He was holding her close.  He was holding us close.

So much has happened since that day.  We now have a very open (and so wonderfully perfect) relationship.  She’s visited us a couple of times and we have plans to meet with her again very soon.  We talk a lot via text, phone, and social media. Sometimes it is about Logan, but oftentimes it is not.  People sometimes ask me how we do it.

“It isn’t hard,” I answer.  “We are family.”

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We started trying to adopt again when Logan turned one.  We knew how long the process took the first time, so we tried to get a jump-start on our second child.  We started networking again. We had another possible match that fell through almost a year later.  We still kept trying, in and amongst that loss.  It seemed a little easier this time.  We were so grateful for Logan. The adoption drama is just a little easier once you have a child. The desperation of BECOMING a mother is gone. You still long for that baby with your whole heart, but you are calmer this time.

In July of 2013, we received a call from my best friend.  Her sister knew of a girl that was due in a month in Savannah, Georgia.  She is looking for a family to place the baby with as if she doesn’t, the child will go into foster care.  She would be born addicted.  We said, “yes” and we waited.

The call that t he baby had been born came to us around 8:00 am.  We threw everything into our car (including Logan) and headed straight for Savannah. We texted the mother along the way, but she was mostly just wanting to know when we would be there.  She said that the nurses know she is in withdrawal, but are holding off the actual testing because they don’t want to have to call DFCS until we are there.

Around 1:30pm we arrived at the hospital, anxiously awaiting our daughter.  We had everything in place.  We had our home study, the attorney was to be faxing the forms for her to the hospital, and we were going in to get our girl.

The nurse rang us into the desk and asked us what our reason was for being there.  We explained that we were the adoptive parents. Her face dropped.

The mother had fled the hospital and left the baby there.  DFCS had been called, as this was an abandoned baby. The nurses had switched shifts and not informed the incoming staff of what was happening in regard to the adoption. They were clueless.

Our little family turned around, walked out of the hospital, and left our daughter there for her to be placed into the system…until.  After many calls to DFCS, attorneys, and hospital staff meetings, we ended up being told that we had a month to get her to go up to DFCS and sign rights over to us.

But she was an addict. She wasn’t concerned anymore.  Her major fear was that she would be high and they would arrest her for abandonment.  I explained that there are laws in Georgia to protect her.  They can’t arrest her for leaving the baby at the hospital.  I explained that the doctors want to be sure she is okay (she just gave birth), and also…the baby WILL go into foster care (which is what she was trying to avoid) if she didn’t go back to the hospital or to DFCS to sign off rights.

Her fears were bigger.  Her addiction was stronger.  We drove home from Savannah that day with an empty car seat and we never went back for her.  She was in the system.

Logan asked about Ruby for many weeks thereafter.  He was only two and a half at the time.  That’s a hard age in which to explain something so adult, but we kept it pretty basic.  Ruby wasn’t there and we still have to find her.  Every time I told him, I said it through the lump in my throat.

To date, we are still looking for our sweet Ruby.   We have had a few leads that didn’t go very far for one reason or another.  We know she will come to us.  It’s just a matter of time.  Sometimes it feels like time isn’t on our side, but then again…that’s what we said two weeks before we got that call about our sweet Logan.

To that 19-year-old girl stepping into surgery for a disease that quite possibly made her infertile, I say this:

Sometimes in and amongst your pain, you don’t see the bigger picture.  You feel what is happening to you right now and that is all you have in your focus.  It’s natural.  That baby you always wanted?  He will come to you.  Some sweet nurse will place that tiny bundle of joy into your waiting arms and you will suddenly believe in love at first sight.  What feels like unanswered prayers?  Never underestimate God.  He knows the desires of your heart.  That infertility diagnosis will someday be your greatest and biggest blessing.  Someday you will step over shoes in the hall, listen to your sweet boy singing your praises as he goes to sleep at night, and look into the eyes of someone who adores you with all of his heart.

He will simply call you, “Mama”.

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2 thoughts on “Winding Roads Always Lead to the Most Beautiful of Places – Our Adoption Story

  1. I am a birth mom, and I just bawled my eyes out reading your story, it is so beautiful. You are so beautiful. I hope you guys find your sweet Ruby soon. I had an emergency c section with my birth daughter, and suffered from a serious endometritis infection, not the same thing you suffered, but I one day might not be able to have children of my own. It is a possibility, but my life has already been so affected by the beauty of adoption. We have a very open adoption, when I wanted a more closed adoption at first. I love the power in your words. Prayers and love to you and your sweet family!!

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