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She Calls Me Mom: an Adoption Story

At church this morning, it felt like my heart would explode with joy when my 17-month old looked at me and exclaimed, “Mom!” I’ve waited for this day for a long time. There were many Sundays over the years where I would hide my tears as I wondered if I would ever be blessed with a baby of my own. The road to my daughter’s adoption was long and difficult at times, but so very worth it!

adoption checklist

The decision to adopt

This journey began about ten years ago when it became apparent that I most likely wouldn’t be able to have biological kids. Instead of attempting fertility treatments, it made more sense to adopt.

While it seemed simpler at first, we soon realized there were a lot of decisions to make.

Where should we adopt from? America or internationally? What age group? Boy or girl? What agency should we use? Open or closed adoption? What medical conditions would we accept?

South Korea it is

After learning that Vietnam and Guatemala weren’t options, China had a 7-year wait, and Ethiopia had become unpredictable,  we decided to pursue a Korean adoption. We took adoption training classes, paid the fees, and waited to be matched.

The dreaded wait

After only about six months of waiting, I received a phone call and a picture of a precious six-month old baby boy! I had a son! I couldn’t believe it. Reality started to set in as the next part of the wait began. We would need to wait eight more months before the Korean government would allow us to go pick him up.

Because of political issues, eight months became ten months which eventually became 16 months.

Let me tell you, that part of the wait was especially hard. I struggled to come to grips with the fact that my “baby” was growing up across the world in a foster family, and that I would be lucky to get him home before his second birthday.

What kept me going were the photos and video updates we received every few months or so. Those photos were immediately framed and decorated my walls.

After nearly 16 months of waiting, something major happened in my personal life (that was out of my control). This event made it impossible to continue the adoption process. I was devastated.

Domestic open adoption?

A few years later, as I was sitting in church with my new husband and two step kids, there was an announcement about a Denver adoption agency looking for families. The idea of domestic adoption always made me nervous. You have to be “chosen” by the birth mother.

By this time, I was approaching 40 years old and had been through a divorce. These insecurities flooded my mind. What if we went through the whole process and never got selected? Or worse yet, what if we were chosen, and the birth mother changed her mind? I wanted a guarantee, but of course, there wasn’t one.

Let’s do it!

After praying about it for quite awhile, my husband and I decided to put ourselves out there. We took the classes, paid the fees, created the “Dear Birthmother” letter, printed out the family photo book, and prayed some more. And we waited. After a year of waiting we talked about what we would do if we were never chosen.

We had been on the list for 16 long months when I got the call from our social worker telling me that a birth mom had chosen our family! We couldn’t believe it and were even more shocked to find out that her due date was only a month away! We met the birthparents a few days later, and the “match” became official.

Preparationsbaby adoption

We told our family and close friends the amazing news. I made arrangements to go part-time at work. My good friend took me shopping for baby essentials. My stepdaughter organized the baby’s room and closet. I sanitized bottles and planned diaper stations. We named the baby!

The birth

The baby was born via planned c-section. We were super nervous as we drove to the hospital that morning. To be honest, it felt extremely unnatural to walk into the hospital room where the birth mom handed me her beautiful baby.

Dustin and I took turns holding, changing, feeding and burping her – all while we made lots of small talk with the mom. The next day was just as surreal as we spent the morning and afternoon in the hospital room with the baby, mom, dad, and two of their other kids.

It’s really happening!

Before we left the hospital that evening we all agreed that we would arrive early the next morning to bring the baby home. Up until that point I had been nervous that the mom would change her mind, but she was still on board with the discharge plan and even texted me sweet baby pictures later that night.

That’s when I finally let my guard down and got truly excited. I remember going to bed looking at the bassinet we had set up next our bed and feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t believe that after all these years, I was finally going to be a mother!

The phone call

As my husband was setting up the car seat the next morning, he realized he missed a call from our social worker. I panicked for a moment. Why was she calling so early? He called her back right away. When he looked at me with tears in his eyes as he held the phone to his ear, I knew. That baby girl wasn’t meant to be ours. The parents had decided to keep her after all.

Why?

Why would God bring us this far to have it all come crashing down? Wouldn’t it have been easier to not have been chosen in the first place? It was a rough time.

It was pretty agonizing to clean up the nursery and place everything back in the closet unused. We pretty much kept the bedroom door closed after that. Dustin and the kids were kind enough to return all the diapers and other baby supplies to Target as I was too upset to do it.

As often is the case, good things can come out of the most difficult times. We knew the baby would be growing up with a family who loved her. Dustin and I grieved together which brought us closer to one another.

It was during this time that I really sought after God and learned to lean on Him during this disappointment, longing and sadness. I did a lot of journaling, praying and reflecting, and had hope that one day we would be chosen again. Although, I hoped it wouldn’t take another 16 months.

Thumbelina

daughter adoption

Me with my daughter

Almost two months later,  we were watching a show on TV, and there was a holiday scene. For some reason it hit me hard, and I broke down crying. I told Dustin I was afraid I would never be a mother.

That night he prayed that God would send our “Thumbelina” (the nickname he had started calling our future baby) soon.  I felt blessed to have a husband who prayed, which helped me feel a little better.

The next day while at work I got another call from our social worker. Immediately after hanging up with her, I called my husband to share that we had been chosen again to be parents of a baby girl who would be born in just a few months!

He was as ecstatic as I was and asked what time the social worker had called. His staff has a prayer meeting on Friday mornings, and they were praying for our “Thumbelina” at the same time that our social worker called!

God’s reassurance

I was so excited, but also fearful that this birth mom might also change her mind. Could we go through that again? When I glanced at the “verse of the day” on my Bible app, my heart rate sped up as I read this verse: “For I know the plans I have for you…they are plans for good and not disaster…”

This felt very meaningful because this is the same Bible verse that we had included in our “birth mom letter.” It’s also the Bible verse that is hanging on the wall of our nursery. Even though I had read that scripture many times, I had never really noticed the following verse until that moment. It says this: “In those days, when you pray I will listen.”

I felt like God was directly telling me that He was indeed answering our prayers and that He had a plan for us, for the baby, and for the birth family.

Today

God answered our prayers through the selflessness of a beautiful birthmother, and we’ve spent the past 17 months cherishing every moment with our most precious daughter. Even though I had to wait a very long time to become a mom, I have learned that God’s timing truly is best. Our Stella Joy could not be more perfect for our family, and I thank God for her every single day. 

While I would love to share more about our journey and about how perfect our daughter is, I know this post has gone long enough! If you’re still reading – thank you! If you happen to be considering adoption or have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out! I would love to encourage you. While the journey can be long and intimidating at times, it is also so incredibly beautiful!

 

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4 Responses to She Calls Me Mom: an Adoption Story

  1. Avatar
    Gina December 5, 2018 at 6:24 pm #

    Love your amazing story and you!!! I pray for your family every day! Love,Gina

    • Angannette Smith
      Angannette Smith January 12, 2019 at 1:27 pm #

      Thank you Gina! So glad that God answers our prayers!

  2. Avatar
    Brenda Wojton December 6, 2018 at 5:43 am #

    Angannette, I am so touched by your story. Thank you for sharing and being a testimony to what God will do if we trust Him even through the scary, messy, painful things. He can turn ashes into roses! Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

    • Angannette Smith
      Angannette Smith January 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm #

      Thank you so much for the kind words!