As we wrap up National Adoption Month, we would like to leave you with a beautiful story of how one adoptive family survived the wait and made it to their happily ever after. Susanne and her husband Sean adopted their little boy, Dylan, through American Adoptions in 2012. Now, Susanne has shared with us the story of their amazing journey into parenthood.
Having a family was something we considered to be an inevitability, a complete “given.” Of course we’d have children, why wouldn’t we? Don’t all people grow up, fall hopelessly in love, go forth and multiply? But after several failed infertility procedures we started to wonder if a family was truly in the cards for us. We started to question a lot of things in fact, wondering what mistakes we made along the way, why our bodies were failing us, and even whether we were failing each other. But thankfully we didn’t languish very long in our sorrows. In fact, it was my husband Sean who was the one to pull us up by the bootstraps, dust us off, and made sure we acknowledged the pain but also looked toward the future. “We’re going to have a family, I promise you that. There’s a baby out there who needs us the way that we need them. And I’ve got to say, there’s something really beautiful about people finding one another.”
Hindsight Is 20/20
I think back on those words now, and on that difficult period in general, as I watch my two-and-a-half-year-old son Dylan asleep in my arms, and I desperately wish that I could go back and comfort that sad couple. I wish I could tell them “Stay strong. Have faith. It’s all going to work out just the way it was meant to be.” I wish I could tell them not to be so hard on themselves, that these struggles are in fact fleeting and that in no time they’d be elbow deep in baby poop, toddler tantrums, and bargaining with their spirited son over eating his vegetables. The hindsight we are graced with when the adoption process is complete can be very therapeutic, but we know full well that it’s not easy when you’re in the thick of it. We know there are just some mountains that everyone has to climb, and there’s no right or wrong way to climb them, you just have to keep moving forward. But what we can tell you is that on the other side of that mountain is a truly miraculous view. Those of you who have been there know that view, and know it’s worth every moment it took to get there. And we are here to tell you, you will get there.
We knew we were in good hands the moment we called American Adoptions, and were confident it was the solution we were looking for. The wait wasn’t easy, as I’m sure many first-time parents will attest, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to calling my Adoption Specialist, Angie, quite often! But not only was she patient, she was honest and she was correct. All along when she said it would all be worth it, and that it was just a matter of the right people picking us, she was right. And in September 2012 when we got the Match Call it all made sense. Every tear, every doubt, every “WHEN IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN?!” melted away in an instant. During our first call with the Birthparents we learned about the things we had in common, about the dreams they had for this little boy, and why they picked us. We had a chance to express our gratitude, and even shared a few laughs. To hear afterwards that Jack felt strongly he made the right choice was an incredible relief, and we looked forward to keeping in touch as Haylie’s February due date approached.
When It Rains…
Naturally when a child is born, one is on a business trip. It’s Murphy’s Law, or at least it’s our law! I was awoken at about 2AM on February 6, 2013 in my hotel room in Boston, hurriedly packed my bags, and trekked two and half hours home to Connecticut in the snow. Sean and I finished packing for our trip to St. Louis, and started making our way to LaGuardia Airport in NY. Just as we arrived at the terminal, we received a message that the baby had been med-flighted to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, and if possible we should redirect our flight there. We had very little information to go on as to why that happened, and all we could do was focus our energies on getting to where we needed to be. We finally arrived at the hospital later on that afternoon and were escorted to our sweet baby boy in the NICU. The doctors and nurses couldn’t tell us much as Haylie had delivered by C-section and hadn’t yet signed any documentation allowing us medical details, but they comforted us as best they could. He was hooked up to so many wires and machines, frankly we had no idea what would lie ahead, and we just had to have faith that the story would end happily.
Once the necessary paperwork was signed, we were informed he had a very traumatic birth, and that he came out unresponsive. He suffered a few seizures in the nursery, and the Regional hospital he was born in felt it was best to transport him to a hospital more equipped to handle his medical needs. The doctors and nurses at Mercy were simply amazing, attending to his needs as well as ours. The hospital social worker was able to get us into the Ronald McDonald house nearby, in case his stay ended up being long. In typical Dylan fashion, he started to turn a corner very soon, and within a week was weaned off anti-seizure medications, was symptom free, and began devouring all of the infant formula in stock. We were told that we had every reason to expect he’d have a full recovery and that he would lead a completely normal life. What could have been a month’s stay was just a little over a week, and in no time, we were in our hotel room awaiting ICPC, snuggling our sweet boy and watching late night Rock-u-mentary’s on The Eagles as we began our first 2AM feedings.
The Road Home
Having avoided a major (20+feet) snowstorm on the way to Missouri, we were of course bound to hit another one on the way home. We got the call that we were able to return to CT and made the split-second decision to pack our bags, book a flight, and get home before Kansas City got buried in a foot or more of snow. Sean booked the flight online while I scurried around packing bags and checking us out of the room. We flew over to the airport, Sean dropped Dylan and I off at the terminal with the bags and went to return the rental car. I quickly scanned the Departures list and had a moment of sheer panic when I couldn’t find our flight. Knowing we had no car and no hotel, I calmly called my husband and asked him to confirm the flight number. At that moment, he realized he had booked our flight home, but it was for a MONTH LATER. I scooped up my sleeping son, made my way to the ticketing agent and begged for mercy. After paying a significant upgrade to get the last three tickets out of Missouri to an alternate airport, we were almost home. Did I snarl at every person who sneezed on that flight? Yes. Did I care that we sat next to the smelly bathroom? No (well, maybe). But we were going home! We left as two, but returned home as a family of three, and had quite the story to show for it!
These last two and a half years seem like a blur. Dylan has met every milestone and is the happiest, most precocious toddler there ever was. He’s smart, funny, curious, and knows exactly what he wants. He makes us marvel every day at how lucky we are and how divine this process truly is. We could brag on for pages to his birth parents whenever we send them pictures and letters. While we don’t hear back from them, I respect their need for privacy and have faith that they smile just a Iittle whenever they receive them. There are no mistakes in this world, of that I’m sure. Everything happens for a reason and we are led to exactly the things we are meant to have. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Keep the faith…