(Quote by John Lennon)
Two years ago, life forever changed for my husband, Chris, and I. We were in our early 30’s and finally getting serious about THE TALK. You know, when you get to the age that everyone and their sister expects you to have kids. And when you honestly respond that you aren’t sure if you even want to have kids, they give you THE LOOK. The look that’s somewhere between extreme abdominal pain and being completely and utterly flabbergasted. The look you receive when you are the reason for extreme disappointment.
After years of receiving this look, Chris and I finally decided to begin talking to adoption agencies in September 2016. We still were unsure if kids would be part of our lives, but we had not ruled kids out. However, one thing was for sure. Pregnancy was not an option. And not because I couldn’t get pregnant or because Chris couldn’t impregnate me. No. I have never in my life wanted to have a creature growing inside of me. I can recall watching a video of live birth in biology class and deciding right then and there that being pregnant was not for me. Coupled that with all the awful pregnancy stories of friends and family, I determined that I could show my toughness in other ways. No need to prove myself by giving birth to a living creature.
Just as I had no desire to grow a baby inside of me, I also had no desire to have a newborn. Chris and I were looking to adopt an older child. And in the adoption world, that typically means older than nine months. Chris and I were also set on adopting domestically.
As Chris and I began talking with adoption agencies, we were told that going through private adoption was typically intended for families looking to adopt a newborn. And we discovered that going through the state and adopting an older child could take years of uncertainty, paperwork, foster care and a host of other hurdles. No thank you.
After three months of searching for a good fit, we determined that it was time to take a break from looking at adoption agencies. I assumed that when the time was right, we would know.
Life is on a billboard.
In March of 2017, on my way to work, I passed a billboard for an adoption information session at an agency we had not yet spoken with. It was an agency I was somewhat familiar with, so Chris and I decided to go to the information session the following week.
Attending the information session on March 21, 2017, would forever change our lives. But we didn’t know that yet. That evening, we learned more about adoption options that the agency offered. From newborns to international adoption, they offered more options than any other local agency we had spoken with. We left the meeting, stopped at a local pizza joint, had a beer, and discussed if we were ready to talk with this agency about adoption.
We decided sure. Why not?
Life is not always what you’re told.
The next evening, I emailed the adoption agency and let them know we were interested in learning more about their adoption options. I also told them that we were looking to adopt an older child, not a newborn. I received a reply the next morning. They kindly let us know that they don’t typically adopt children domestically that are older than 6 months. If we wanted to go that route, we would need to go through their international adoption program.
Great. Here we are again.
The adoption agency offered to schedule a phone call with us to discuss international options. The person we were speaking with was going out of town so we scheduled a phone call for April 3. Again, we decided sure. Why not?
On April 3 at 3pm, we spoke with the adoption agency. We told them what we were looking for, and they in turn told us what options we had if we worked with them. Yet again, we were told that unless we were looking for a newborn, we would have to go the international route. We asked for more information but knew that international was not the path we wanted to take.
We said thank you and hung up. A couple days later, we received the information about the international adoption program and the preliminary application. We decided not to fill out the application. We determined that maybe this was a sign that this just wasn’t the right time for us to adopt.
Life is at the speed of sound.
On April 13 at 9:21am, I was sitting in a marketing conference. I was listening to someone from LinkedIn talking about being social online. The presentation was fine, but apparently didn’t keep me fully engaged.
At that exact time, I received an email from the adoption agency. They had just had a mom come to them looking to release her three girls for adoption. The girls were ages 5, 2 and 9 months. I immediately forwarded the email to Chris and added only one word: “Thoughts?”
Chris replied with two words: “Wow – what?”
From there, we reminded one another that we decided three was our max and determined that yes, we were indeed interested. I spoke with the adoption agency later that afternoon and learned that we needed to put together our family book over the weekend. The birth mom would be given the book early that week. She was looking to release the girls for adoption immediately and would make her choice after she received the family books.
I sent our family book to the adoption agency on Tuesday. At that time, I learned that we were one of only three families who would be providing a family book to the birth mother. That week, the birth mom viewed the family books. And by Friday, we had been chosen to be the girls mommy and daddy!
Life is all the emotions.
At that point, I felt like the previous week had been a whirlwind. We had been considering taking another break from looking to adopt, we were then sent an email out of the blue asking if we would ADOPT THREE KIDS, we had 3 days to put together our family book, and the birth mom had chosen us to be mommy and daddy to three girls she had given birth to. Again, ALL IN ONE WEEK.
If that week felt like a whirlwind, the following two and half weeks were like living inside a tornado, tsunami, hurricane, earthquake and massive flood. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
And by the way, we had never told any of our friends or family members that we were looking into adoption. Why, you ask? Because I knew my parents would be so excited that I didn’t want them to have to go on an emotional roller coaster if the adoption process took years. I didn’t want to get their hopes up only to be let down last minute. I thought waiting until we had applied, done a home study and were approved was the logical thing to do.
It was time to throw logic out the window.
The night we learned we were going to be mommy and daddy, I called my parents who live 300 miles away to let them know I was coming to visit in a couple days. Of course, they were highly suspicious but I didn’t want to tell them over the phone. They deserved to have some kind of in-person announcement.
Life is all the things.
On Sunday, April 23, I drove to my parents house alone since Chris had to work the next day. I quickly stopped and picked up three Beatles shirts in the girls sizes for my mom, three candies for my dad, and three home goods for my sister. Although my sister wouldn’t be there, the three theme seemed appropriate.
Five hours later, my parents and I were on a video chat with Chris and my sister. My dad opened up his gift and immediately said, “There’s three.” My mom then opened my sister’s gift for her. My dad looked at my mom and said, “There’s three!” Then my mom opened her gift with the three Beatles shirts in the girls sizes. And my dad said, “There are three girls!”
And the hugging and crying and questions began.
All the questions. And we didn’t have many answers. But with all the love and excitement, we knew the answers would come.
Life is love.
On April 28, we received word that the birth mom had terminated her rights as the girls custodial parent. And that our five-year-old would be coming home with us in one week, May 5. We were now mommy and daddy. It was time to go into overdrive.
That evening and every day for the rest of the week, we prepared the house until exhaustion set in. We had dozens and dozens of friends, co-workers and church members come to our house to make it a home for three girls. Our church supplied more items and more food for us than I can acknowledge or that I even know about. Our co-workers helped take items we no longer needed to the thrift store. They helped baby-proof the house. They picked up and dropped off items we needed. Everyone brought us food. And everyone brought love into our house.
On May 5, we first met our five-year-old – BW – and brought her home with us. And on May 8, MW and SW walked into our house and our lives forever. We were officially the Willard Family of Five.