Our story starts about four years ago when we first started the adoption process. We did some research and signed up with a local office of a national agency. It took about six months to get “live” in their system, and we were just one of 400+ couples/people trying to adopt via this agency.
We had an 800 number and an email address where potential birth mothers contacted us directly. We dealt with a lot of silence and a lot of fake birth mothers for just about a year before we got our first real potential birth mother.
S was just 20, from Arizona, but was living locally for the time being. She was in a really bad situation as she had two small children and was pregnant with her third (in her seventh month when we matched). Her home situation was really just unsettled and full of chaos. As she contacted us directly via the number, we had a lot of calls at all hours of the day and night. She would also go MIA for days on end and send us into a panic. We hung in there and unfortunately, just a couple weeks before the baby, a boy, was due, she had a miscarriage. We never were able to get the details.
We jumped right back into it and again had a lot of silence and fake calls and about a year and a half later were contacted by another potential birth mother, V. She was 18, from Missouri and was about five weeks away from her due date. We flew to Missouri to meet with her, her family and her boyfriend. We spent the day with them and they were all truly wonderful. We thought this was “the one” and flew home feeling great. It was going to be tricky as our agency wasn’t licensed in Missouri and so we’d have to hire and pay for a separate attorney and social worker to handle things. We would also have to live in Missouri for at least two weeks while all of the inter-state adoption paperwork was signed and filed in both Missouri and Indiana. It was stressful to try and figure all of these pieces out, but we were navigating it. Robyn had just accepted a promotion at her workplace and her workplace was also going through a massive reorganization. When Robyn approached her new boss with this news and a plan on how it would all work out (it involved Robyn working remotely for those weeks we lived in Missouri with a newborn and then working from home for the next six weeks. If that didn’t work or was too much, Robyn agreed to use all available vacation days and take six weeks unpaid FMLA, as her company did not offer any type of paid maternity leave for adoptions) her boss was not supportive. As that point, things fell apart and we were not keeping promises we made to the birth mother and we dropped out of this adoption.
From there, our agency took us out of live rotation and we really thought we were finished with trying to adopt. However, it just didn’t seem like it was over. We talked a lot and went to counseling and realized we wanted this. We communicated with our agency and had to jump through A LOT of hoops to finally get reactivated–mind you, we’d paid them more than 20K at this point. We both had this nagging feeling that this wasn’t the agency for us. We were still just one of 400+ couples/people trying to adopt and it felt like too much had transpired to have everyone be unbiased. We talked to some friends who had started with an agency, but dropped out when they unexpectedly got pregnant. They really spoke highly of them. I called that agency and signed up for an information session.
We went to the info session in January, we paid a fee and signed up for the big daddy, officially session for February. We were all in at that point. We took that February session, and were live in their system two weeks later–mind you, this took six months at our former agency. Two weeks after that, the agency contacted us with a birth mother that wanted to meet us, L.
We met our adoption coordinator, Alli, and L at a restaurant for breakfast later that week. L was in a rough situation, she was 21 had two other small children that weren’t living with her, but with her estranged mother. She had contacted the agency when she was pregnant with her last baby but backed out at the last minute. She was currently homeless and couch surfing–the agency was trying to find her a more permanent, safe place to live. We had good conversation and hit it off. L even had ultra sound photos–we’d never had those from any birth mother. It was nice, there was View A and View B… WAIT A MINUTE, it’s TWINS! GIRLS! We were delighted, to say the least.
L’s life was very chaotic and we were so glad that the new agency was the front line with all of this. We only heard things we needed to. Robyn went with Alli and L (Alli would always pick L up and drop her off) to doctor appointments–weekly at this point–and aside from being small, the babies seemed to be doing well. Baby A would even jump all around when Robyn would talk. Alli, L and Robyn would go to eat after the appointments and Robyn would get extra food for L to take with her so she would be sure to eat. During this time, the man that L named as the father signed away his rights to the babies.
L had been having some contractions and had to go to the hospital in Mid May–her due date was mid July. They were able to stop the contractions and gave L two doses of steroids during the couple days she was in the hospital.
On June 3rd, we got a call from Alli that L was in a lot of pain and was maybe going to go to the hospital again and that she’d be in touch. We didn’t think much about it, as it had happened before. About an hour later, we got a frantic call from Alli that this WAS IT and to get our butts to the hospital! We got there just in time and Robyn suited up for the delivery room.
It was an emergency c-section, and babies were struggling to breath, but luckily the steroid shots had worked well on their lungs. We stayed at the hospital until late into the night. L was doing well, the babies were stabilizing in the NICU. They were both 3.2 pounds of fight.
When we got to the hospital the next morning, things had changed. We were told to leave by the hospital social worker–L had kicked us out; however, L did ask for Alli to come be with her. We went home and tried to pretend that everything was okay. Late that night, L called us and asked us to come to the hospital in the morning.
We came the next morning and L was a completely different person and she was the L we had known these weeks. She was happy and excited about the adoption and had even gotten approval from the hospital social worker to sign the papers a day early. The papers were signed that afternoon and L checked herself out of the hospital–but not before we had all taken photos together and with the babies and gotten them developed and given a photo book to L.
We promised to keep in touch and set up a regular day/time that we would text her photos of the girls and updates. From there, we started to visit with the girls in the NICU 2-3 times per day. We did skin on skin contact–the only time they could get out of their incubators at that point– we brought in photos of us, snuggle blankets and would just watch and touch them through the incubator holes. They were starting to move in the right direction, but remained in their incubators for about two weeks.
Just about that time, we received notification from our attorney that two different people had filed to contest the adoption, claiming they were the actual father, not the man the birth mother listed. We were shocked, confused and devastated. We had gone from thinking everything was a done deal to everything being up in the air.
We immediately set out to try and get the DNA of the man the birth mother listed as the father. He was not super excited to be part of this as he’s fathered multiple children with multiple women and doesn’t have anything to do with any of them. Luckily our adoption agency and coordinator, Alli, was in our corner and they were doing everything they could to help. Alli and a co worker went to his last known address and caught him by surprise. They said no one would know that he submitted DNA and he finally gave the swab.
In the meantime, we were still seeing the girls and they were getting bigger and stronger every day. We were at the beginning of July and got word that one of them, Sutton, was going to be released. This was all we had waited for, but now we weren’t sure if they were ours and knew we couldn’t have them at home with us and possibly have to give them up. Our agency works with an organization called Safe Families. When they contacted Safe Families and explained our situation, they agreed to help. They found two families who agreed to each take one of our girls in while this worked out. We met the families and they were wonderful. They was relieving and devastating at the same time.
On July 3rd, Sutton was released and we drove her over to her family. They were so kind and it was just so hard. We set up a visitation schedule, knew that she would be safe and loved and had to leave her there. Many tears were shed.
That next week we had to divide and conquer so we could visit each baby regularly. It was hard, but things were going well and both girls were thriving. Then, a week later, it was Harper’s turn to leave the hospital. About that same time, we got word on the first DNA test and the man the birth mother listed as the father was a 0.0% match. We were absolutely devastated. We now knew there was a very real chance these girls were not going to be ours. At this point, we had to consider walking away and protecting ourselves, however, it was more important to protect the girls and make sure they were safe and being well cared for at this really important time. both were barely 4 pounds and really need a lot of care and attention. If we walked away, they would got back to the birth mother who was struggling, and continues to struggle, with drug and alcohol use, and we weren’t going to do that.
To try and protect ourselves and make sure we could go on living if our babies weren’t going to be ours we had to step away while we tracked down these three men who had filed for paternity, hoping that if we paid for the tests and came to them, that they’d give us DNA.. We set Harper up with her family and knew they would love her and take wonderful care of her. We then said a hopefully, temporary goodbye to the girls, knowing they both would be loved and cared for. More tears were shed, so many tears.
Our attorney was amazing is tracking these guys down. It’s mid July at this point and we’re trying to just get through day by day.
One man’s mother was involved and forced him to give DNA straight away and even paid for a portion of the test. After missing a couple of dates–none of the men actually filed the claims, it was family members–we got his DNA.
A few days later–during a wonderful night in Louisville that Todd’s team from work set up and paid for so we could just get away and enjoy ourselves–we found out that this man was a 0.0% DNA match. At this point, it was almost laughable, had it not been so freaking awful.
Our attorney set out to get DNA from the final man. He proved squirrely. It was his sisters that had filed the claim and he had even lawyered up. We’d contact the lawyer, the lawyer would contact him and then nothing. This happened a couple times. We then filed a court date with the courts to force a DNA test and made it clear that if it went this far, he’d be paying his, and our, attorney fees as well as for the DNA test, since we’d offered to come to him and to pay for the test. That got him moving after a few more days. We got his DNA and waited with baited breath.
Late on Friday, August 1st, we got a call from our attorney telling us this last guy was a 0.0% DNA match. We were in shock. SHOCK. Alli called us and said she’d been in touch with the family taking care of the girls–during the DNA testing period of about two weeks the families taking care of them just couldn’t bear to keep them apart so after being separated for a week, both girls were with the same family–and we were to be there at 9am shop to pick up OUR BABIES!
So, on August 2nd we got our girls and brought them home. It’s been crazy wonderful every day since.