My husband, Tony, I and started dating in 2008 and were married in 2011. Even before we got married, we both thought that we wanted lots of children. Since we were both in our mid-thirties when we got married, we starting trying to conceive right away and were excited to learn I was pregnant just 3 months after our wedding. We thought we were on our way to having a large family when we were blessed with the birth of our son, Owen, shortly after our first anniversary. When Owen was about 6 months old, we started trying to conceive our 2nd baby, but after many months of trying with no success, we decided to talk to my OB/GYN. We had been tracking my cycles, and she determined that my hormone levels were a bit off, so she prescribed Progesterone for me to take in the 2nd half of my cycle, as my post-ovulation cycle was really short.
We continued to be unsuccessful in conceiving, so I saw a specialist, who also agreed that there were issues with my hormone levels, so he put me on Letrozole to try to stimulate my ovaries to work more effectively. Because we practice Catholicism, trying IUI or IVF were not options for us, so we leaned toward supplements and prescriptions to help us conceive. When we first saw this doctor, he suggested that we have Tony tested (just to be sure he wasn’t the issue), but I remember him commenting that he probably wasn’t the problem, since we conceived Owen so easily. Tony finally got around to getting tested about 6 months later, and when the doctor called us, his first question was whether Tony had dropped his sample, as it was completely abnormal. His sperm count was fairly low, and of the sperm that were present, only 20% of them were moving. Of those 20%, an even smaller percentage had good morphology. We honestly didn’t believe the results, so we decided to do another test, which sadly came back with similar results. Our original specialist sent us to another doctor, who told us that even if we wanted to try IUI or IVF, we’d have to use donor sperm for the IUI, and IVF would be fairly difficult because of Tony’s low numbers. He essentially told us he wasn’t sure how we ever got pregnant with Owen, and then told us to get a good ovulation test kit and pray for another miracle – we were completely devastated, as we really thought this doctor was going to give us some sort of solid plan for conceiving another baby.
We had started to think about adoption throughout this process, but hadn’t pursued it any further than starting to look at different agencies. After getting this news from the doctor, though, we decided to actively pursue it, as we really wanted to grow our family to more than one child. We looked at several different agencies, but the minute we talked to one, we knew it was the place for us. We went with a local agency, who we felt had a good ratio between number of expectant mothers versus waiting families, and we sent in our initial application to start a domestic infant adoption on April 1, 2015. We moved fairly quickly through the Home Study process and went active on the Wait List on July 23, 2015. Less than 2 months later, the agency announced that their numbers for 2015 were much lower than they anticipated, and they had done 5-10 less adoptions in 2015 than in the previous year. Since they averaged 20-25 a year, this was a huge disappointment to us. However, the agency planned to do a large marketing campaign, which they hoped would produce more expectant moms.
At the end of 2015, we learned that the Executive Director of the agency was retiring, and our agency would be merging with another agency. Our initial hope was that this would mean more exposure for us, thus reducing our wait time. What we didn’t know was that the new agency had several families on their domestic infant wait list, but they didn’t really focus on growing the list of expectant moms, which meant that we were bumped really far down on the wait list, as there were a lot of families on the new agency’s wait list that had been waiting longer than us. We had initially been told that the average wait time was a year to a year and a half, so because we were still in the beginning of that wait time, we went about our day-to-day business waiting for the call that we had been matched. In June 2016, I called our agency and asked them how many times we had been shown so far and where we were on the wait list. I was shocked to find out that we had only been shown 2 times in almost a year, and we were number 26 on the wait list (we started at number 20 on the original agency’s wait list, so in a year, we had dropped by 6 families). I was heartbroken and felt like our agency hadn’t been entirely honest with us.
Thinking that if I became a “squeaky wheel”, it might help us be shown more, I started calling every 2-4 weeks with the same question – how many times have we been shown and where are we at on the wait list? We slowly started to be shown more, but still weren’t getting picked by any expectant moms. After the Asst. Director of our agency left suddenly in October 2016, I found out that she had been the one that was in charge of which families were shown to expectant mothers – I hoped that with her leaving, we might be shown more, but continued to have frequent discussions with the new Director. By the end of 2016, we had started considering talking to a Consultant, if only to increase our exposure to more expectant moms. I had also discussed updating our current profile book with new pictures of our family (since Owen was almost 5 and looked much different than he did when we created our original book when he was 3).
On January 11, 2017, I was driving down the road, when I got a call from our agency. I had just exchanged emails with the Domestic Adoption Manager earlier that morning regarding our new profile books, so I thought she was calling about that. Imagine my surprise when I found out they were calling me to tell me that we had finally been picked by a mom! She was about 28 weeks pregnant with a boy. She had fallen on the ice and was experiencing some pre-term labor, so they wanted to get her matched right away. Since she lived in a different state, we talked to her over the phone on the January 13th, with the hope that we would visit her and meet in person prior to her due date in early April.
The following weekend, she went into active labor, but thankfully, the doctors were able to stop her contractions and she was put on bedrest. We spent the next 3 weeks waiting for “the call” that would tell us that the doctors were going to go ahead and deliver our son. Late on February 10th, I got a call from her saying that the doctors were going to go ahead and take the baby, as she was in labor and was progressing. I woke Tony up to tell him the news, and we agreed that since we wouldn’t make it for the actual delivery, we’d wait until after Owen woke up the next morning to leave. Since the baby was going to be born nearly 8 weeks early, we weren’t sure how long we were going to be gone, so we wanted one last wake-up with Owen before we left.
Elijah was born at 2:50 am on February 11, 2017, and we arrived at the hospital about 12 hours later. Thankfully, he was very healthy, just small, and was only on oxygen for 2 days. He was in the NICU, as he needed to be able to maintain his body temperature, and learn to eat before he could be released. He and I bonded in the NICU for just over 3 weeks (Tony drove back and forth 3 times during our stay), and he was released from the hospital on March 6th. Tony was there when Eli was released, and the three of us remained in the state until we were cleared to leave the state and come home 3 days later. We finally arrived home on March 9th and started our journey as a family of four – even though we got home late, we woke Owen up so that he could finally meet his baby brother.
While we were waiting, I often wondered why our wait was so long (nearly 1 ½ years). After meeting Eli, his birth mom, and her family, I now know why we waited – we were meant to be his parents. We have an open relationship with his birth mom, and while we haven’t seen each other since she left the hospital, I exchange texts with her about once a week. We hope in the future that she will be open to visits, as we’d love for her and her family to be part of his (and our) life, but we are letting her guide that relationship so we make sure she’s comfortable with everything.
We aren’t planning on actively pursuing another adoption, but are completely open to it should that door open once again – we love being a family of four with our two boys. Even though it was a crazy journey with lots of ups and downs, we are so happy that we decided to pursue adoption and were blessed with our son, Eli.