This is my second official guest post. The first is where I shared Lorne’s story of how he built an app to help kids understand money. I only share a story when I think it’s a worthwhile read. Today, I have exactly that! A great story of love and adoption, from Joshua Schmaderer, over at The Confused Father. If you are considering adoption, I hope this story helps you see the reality of it (but also that it is very doable)… and be sure to go read my first post on our adoption. Here’s Joshua…
I believe that who we are is the result of the experiences of our lives. Our characters are shaped by our interactions with others and the challenges we face as we travel the roads of our lives.
I am an engineer by trade. This can be easily traced back to my parents. My father is an engineer and my mother is a math teacher. They made sure that our daily childhood life was full of physics and numbers. Always making sure to challenge us to think, “why did that happen?” whenever a teachable moment came to pass.
I am also a husband. This is because I found an amazing woman, my wife Erin, who saw me for who I was, and accepted me for all my strengths and numerous faults. She encourages me in all the things I do (including giving me the confidence to make my first post on a website other than my own) and improve on the areas where I fall short.
Most importantly though, I am a father.
I am a father because three strong and selfless women found it in their hearts to bless my wife and I through the adoption process. I have a lower than normal sperm count which has prevented my wife and I from being able to have children in the traditional fashion. Ironically, we had already begun the adoption process before we were even informed of this problem.
How Our Adoption Story Started
In the spring of 2016, my wife, Erin, lost most motor function in both her legs and was forced to use a cane or walker in her day to day life. She had been battling multiple sclerosis for more than 6 years at that point and it had finally gotten bad enough she couldn’t keep up with it any more.
Her specialist informed us of a new treatment option than had just been approved by the FDA that she thought might be able to help. A drug called Lemtrada which is a mild form of chemotherapy designed to more or less reset the immune system. We decided to give it a try as it was really our only viable option. Reading through all the paperwork about side effects and medical disclaimers there was only one thing that caused us to hesitate.
We had been casually trying at starting a family for around 18 months at that point and were already starting to worry about infertility.
The chemo meant we would have to put off trying anymore for 16 more months.
After making the decision to move forward with the treatment, our next decision was to start the adoption process. For those of you that have never adopted, the process basically consisted of filling out a mountain of paperwork. We (mostly Erin) tried to stay ahead of the game and by the end of the year we had all the forms validated, our home study approved, and we were officially in the adoption pool.
Then we waited… And waited… And waited…
Because that is what you do during that part of the process.
While we were waiting, we built up our furry family to keep us company, ultimately ending up with several goats, pigs, rabbits, and dogs by the time we finally got the phone call that there was a birth mother interested in us, which happened in July of 2017.
The Birth Mother Didn’t Want to Sign
Our meeting with the birth mother went well, as her and Erin quickly became friends.
From that point forward Erin visited the birth mom as much as she could while we waited for the birth of hopefully our first child.
On November 16th, our daughter was born and my wife was the first one to hold her after the C section.
I wish the story ended there.
In Kansas, the birth mother can legally sign as soon as 12 hours after she delivers the baby. Well, during those 12 hours, doubt crept in and the birth mom refused to sign.
She still thought she wanted to place the baby, but for various personal reasons, she needed some time to think it over. She had not signed the paperwork two days later when we left the hospital, but we still got to take our little girl home with us.
Finally Getting the Signature
For two weeks, we took care of and came to love this little being that had appeared in our lives seemingly like magic. By the time our lawyer called us with the news, Erin had already made the list of things we would have to send with her when we gave her back to the birth mom.
After hearing the paperwork was signed, Erin was so relieved that her built up stress broke into a 101.5-degree fever by the time the lawyer made it out to us.
We signed the final paperwork in the emergency room at the hospital.
Gabriella Marie had been our daughter in our hearts and minds since the moment we met her. When that paperwork was filed the next month, she was ours in the eyes of the US government as well.
Adopting Our Second Child
Having always talked about wanting a larger family and knowing that adoption takes time, we wanted to throw our names right back into the hat.
Once again, we were met with surprise as we learned that most agencies require that you wait six to twelve months before reentering their pool of active candidates.
So, there we were, waiting again.
Granted it was a lot easier to wait while watching our little girl grow up.
The next 17 months seemed to fly by in an instant.
A call came in one spring afternoon from one of the first agencies that we had ever signed up with. Honestly it had been so long since we had heard anything out of them, we almost forgot we had an active profile there.
We had been chosen by a birth mother again; this time in Nashville Tennessee.
We traveled down to meet the birth mother, and while it was not a great connection like we had with our daughter’s birth mother, the possibility of another baby finding its way into our home was all it took for us to keep pressing forward with smiles on our faces.
Interstate adoptions are more expensive than same-state adoptions, so we started planning to make up the difference in our budget.
We were blessed by our church, family, friends, and kind-hearted strangers that I will never be able to thank enough. With a few fund-raising events we had enough to comfortably move forward.
But God laughs in the face of the plans of men.
He had a surprise waiting for us that we could not even imagine.
One night my sister called to tell me someone asked her if we were still hoping to adopt a baby. A friend of one of her friends had seen our story on Facebook. She was thinking about placing the baby she was pregnant with for adoption and wanted to meet with us. It is an understatement to say that we were overwhelmed, mostly with joy and a little with fear.
Erin and I have talked since before we were married about how much fun we thought twins would be and (spoiler alert) they are. We had been praying for another child and God had answered with everything we could have hoped for and more. We talked for an evening making sure that we were both on board for the potential challenges that we would have to face in order to pull off both adoptions at once.
Challenges of Simultaneous Adoptions
Our lawyer assured us that there would not be any problem with doing both adoptions simultaneously and told us we could work out the financing after the fact (another topic heavy on our mind).
Time passed quickly as we prepared for the challenges we were about to undertake and before we knew it Erin, Gabriella, and I were on a plane destined for our futures.
Sebastian’s birth was not without its own complications.
There is a less pretty side to adoption that I will not go into here but to make a long story short after 10 days in the hospital recovering from drug withdrawal, we were able to move into an Airbnb with our new little bundle of joy.
There was paperwork that had to be filed with the State of Tennessee before we could legally take him out of the state. Unfortunately, I was out of paid time off even after being gifted some by my wonderful coworkers, so Gabriella and I returned home to check on life here on the farm while Erin and Sebastian stayed where they were.
Luckily, the lawyer we were paying on the Tennessee side had her ducks in a very straight row. After three days home, I was on my way back to the airport to pick up Erin and our new baby boy.
There was no time to rest though. Upon Erin’s arrival home we were less than a month out from the expected delivery of baby number three. Even though there was seven weeks between the birth of the two of them, in my mind it felt like we drove straight from one hospital to the other. Simon was born healthy, happy and with a full head of hair.
His adoption was straightforward and stress-free compared to the first two, but he has made that up in other ways since then, as most babies do.
In a little over three years, we went from being told we should put off starting a family to having three happy, healthy children.
This is the experience that made me a father. Now as a father I will do my best to give these children the experiences they need to become the people God wants them to be.
More About Joshua:
Joshua is a father to three beautiful children, an engineer by trade, and a blogger with any free time he has leftover. He loves to share about his life, projects, and adventures on his blog, theconfusedfather.com. Join him there to read about the fun and mishaps that come with adoption, a miniature farm, and life.
Further Bible Reading
Further Book Reading
- Honestly Adoption by Mike and Kristin Berry
- The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden & Crystal Hass
- The Whole Life Adoption Book by Thomas Atwood & Jayne Schooler
- Adopted for Life by Russell Moore