In January of 2014, Sarah started writing letters to her child’s first mother. In the letters, she shared stories about her own mother, anecdotes about her husband, and her prayers for the mother who would change both of their lives forever.
Married for almost ten years, Sarah and Doug started the adoption process in 2013, although they had known for awhile that adoption would be in their future. After sharing with their families that they wanted to adopt, they set up a family blog to share what they had been learning about the adoption process. The private blog detailed helpful information from books, their home study training, and different classes they attended. They wanted to not only prepare themselves, but prepare their parents to be sensitive to the complexities of adoption.
Sarah and Doug represent the next generation of adoptive parents.They are honest about their expectations and committed to raising a child who understands their adoption story. To prepare for their adoption, they read, talked, and then read some more. The prospective parents discussed serious issues such as their level of comfort with an open adoption as well as more practical issues like discipline. Sarah advises that one way to successfully prepare for adoption is to tackle any potential issues before they happen. When asked if she comes across blogs or comments that discourage adoption, Sarah says,
“Adoption is not about being comfortable as an adoptive parent. I think it’s critical for me, as a prospective adoptive mother, to read these posts. I think these posts may be the most important things I read in this entire educational journey. My goal is to learn from these voices who are bravely sharing their stories. Their sharing empowers me to anticipate some of the challenges they bring up as I raise my child, to avoid some of the pitfalls altogether, and to acknowledge and APPRECIATE my child’s need to express his or her frustration with and hurt from the adoption experience.”
Also, Sarah and Doug don’t see their adopted child as a way to fill in the place of where a biological child should be. The couple see their future child as an extension of his or her birth family, and for them the adoption process is about “adding an entire branch, with its own offshoot, to the family tree.” An open adoption means sharing with the birth family the opportunity to see their child grow and thrive.
For most prospective adoptive parents, waiting is the hardest part. While waiting, Doug and Sarah had a few close matches and even had a match fall apart. To put things in perspective, Sarah told herself that she didn’t want to rush the process because she knew that the birthmother would be making “an enormous, heartbreaking decision beyond comprehension.” Each day she tried to live in the moment and prayed that the mother meant to place her child with Sarah and her husband would be making a decision in full confidence and peace.
On January 1, Sarah wrote the first letter to her child’s first mother, and on March 2, they finally met. Frank was born on February 20, and after delivery, his mother chose Sarah and Doug to carry on her son’s life and legacy.
In the days following Frank’s birth, Sarah and Doug were able to bond with their new addition and simply marvel at the miracle of life. Above all, they were profoundly grateful to Frank’s birth mother for the life she had entrusted to them. Of the experience, Sarah says, “Never in my life will I forget the moment this beautiful woman placed her baby boy in my arms before walking out of the nursery and said, ‘Look at you–you’re a natural. I knew you would be.’ Frank, your birth mama loves you so.”