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And Baby Makes Two - How One Adoptive Mother Found Everything She Ever Wanted

Kelli and Iona’s Story

As a single hopeful parent, Kelli knew that she would have some unique challenges bringing a child into her life. Therefore, it was surprising to her just how smoothly and straightforward her adoption process with American Adoptions went. While a pop-up adoption wasn’t exactly what she expected, she knows it all went the way it was supposed to — because she now has little girl Iona.

“It’s been a really cool experience, and I feel a part of something pretty unique and special,” Kelli says. “The amount of positive support I’ve gotten from people who have found out I was adopting or found out she was adopted has been a little overwhelming.”

Choosing American Adoptions

Like many hopeful parents, Kelli didn’t always have plans to adopt a child. However, having a desire to be a mother, and having not yet found a spouse to share that child with, she decided to pursue non-traditional family-building methods. She quickly ruled out assisted reproductive technology, as she knew that it was more important for her to be a mother than to experience pregnancy.

After looking at her options, Kelli decided that American Adoptions was the right agency for her, for several reasons.

“The biggest thing about American Adoptions was having the social work aspect for me and the mom; that’s the big picture here,” she remembers. “It was also being able to have an open adoption, even though that’s not our situation right now; that was important for me.”

Still, being a single parent wasn’t going to be easy, and Kelli knew that. Fortunately, her life was all lined up for adoption at the time; she was financially stable, her group of friends and family were increasingly having children, and she was emotionally ready for the ups and downs of the process. She knew many people affected by adoption, even a friend who had placed a child for adoption, and she was confident she was prepared for the unique aspects of the journey.

“I knew it was going to be hard,” Kelli remembers. “It was a lot of work, but I wouldn’t change anything.”

When Iona “Popped Up” Into Her Life

To combat the emotions of waiting, Kelli focused on her work, as well as taking advantage of her last opportunities for her life to be “just her.” She planned trips she was comfortable canceling, mainly to give herself something to look forward to other than receiving an adoption call. Because she describes herself as a planner, Kelli found she had to adjust while waiting for the unknown.

“I had to let go and just have faith that it would all work out like it was supposed to,” Kelli says.

Six months after she first went active, Kelli was attending a class when her phone rang. Soon after she missed the call, the same number called again, and her phone lit up with texts from family members. It turns out the agency, not hearing from Kelli, called her other contacts to make sure the message was relayed: A baby girl had been born in Las Vegas and was waiting for Kelli to be her mother.

“At that point, I just got up in the middle of class and left,” she says. “When I got the phone call, there was a lot to do, but it was step-by-step, which made it easier.”

Quickly, Kelli made plans to travel to Las Vegas from her home in California. Her daughter’s birth mother did not want any contact with either Kelli or her daughter during or after the adoption; in fact, she chose to keep her pregnancy and adoption a secret from her family and friends.  

After spending time with her daughter (whom she named Iona) at the hospital, Kelli drove up to Reno, Nevada, for the remainder of her ICPC wait. Again, quicker than she expected, her adoption was approved, and she was able to return home.

Today, Iona is a beautiful little girl that has completely changed Kelli’s life.

“She is like the easiest baby ever,” Kelli says. “She’s pretty laid-back, but she loves being where the action is… She definitely knows what she wants. She’s showing that more and more.

“I love having a little girl; it’s so much fun.”

Looking to the Future

Kelli admits that Iona’s semi-open adoption may make things a bit difficult as her daughter grows up. However, Kelli works closely with a therapist experienced in teenagers, which she believes will help greatly when Iona does start asking questions.

“She’s going to have a lot of questions, and I may not know what answers to give her,” Kelli says. “I hope her mom changes her mind eventually. I don’t think right now is a crucial time; I think when she’s older if she has questions — it’s for her, it’s not for me.”

Raising a child of a different race will also come with some challenges. While Iona’s hair has been the first challenge in her transracial adoption, Kelli anticipates others arising — but believes her community will be incredibly helpful in that lifelong journey.

“I live in an area that is pretty diverse, so I don’t think there’s anyone that would think she looks wrong here,” she says. “It’s about really being aware of her culture and heritage, and making sure she know her history on top of everything else.”

Right now, Kelli is just enjoying her new motherhood, forever thankful for the birth mother who chose her.

“It’s the one thing that I feel like I’ve always wanted,” she says. “The first couple of months, it was just getting used to the fact that I’m a mom. It’s pretty cool, and it’s definitely all it’s cracked up to be… I’ve never loved anybody like this.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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