Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kal's Adoption Story

Kal-El Rashad

Kal is our first child. He's our little miracle baby! He was born to his birthmother ("K") in Georgia on March 12th, 2011 at 3:35am. He was 6lbs 13.8oz and 19in long. Head full of hair...and I mean full of hair. Gorgeous deep brown eyes set off by the most amazing little eyebrows. Cute little caterpillar toes! He looked soooo small to me! So tiny and so precious. I recognized him the first time I held him. I knew he was meant to be in our family and I felt overwhelmingly blessed that it was finally happening. It was so much to take in at once. We were so grateful to the birthmother who brought him into our lives. We probably would've never crossed paths had it not been for Kal's adoption, and God's hand was very evident in the process.

We had talked about adoption before in passing, but it took awhile before we actually took action. It was one of those things that we said we'd do in the future - that elusive future that no one ever gets to, where we store what we think are unreachable dreams and aspirations. We had been trying to get pregnant since we were married in 2004. We would see so many other people getting pregnant "so easily" and it frustrated us at how unfair it all seemed. After 4 1/2 years, I started looking into our infertility and trying to figure out what was wrong. I went to see a fertility specialist and got on fertility drugs to help stimulate ovulation. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Getting pregnant seemed like the easier way to go at first, so we kept trying... and failing. It was horrible. Adoption started becoming something I thought of more and more and more. Since it was something we wanted to do "in the future" and we were having trouble getting pregnant right now, why not pursue adoption now rather than later?

About February 2009, I dragged Zay to an Adoption Orientation meeting at LDS Family Services. It was very informative about how the process works, what resources we'd have available to us, and what expectations we should have regarding costs, etc. I was optimistic and was ready to just jump on board, even with the nagging feeling that we wouldn't be able to afford it and that it would be really difficult and really stressful. Zay was adamant that we should wait. I was finishing up my last semester at BYU, didn't have a job lined up afterwards, Zay hadn't decided on school plans for himself, and things just did not add up. We weren't ready financially. And we were arguing a lot. We had a lot to work on before we would be ready to jump into something so huge. Although it made me sad, I wasn't too attached to the idea yet... so we dropped it and said "maybe later."

After I graduated, I worked at home and had a lot of time to research infertility and adoption. The infertility treatments started making me ovulate more on a regular basis, but I still wasn't getting pregnant and the urge to adopt a baby was getting stronger and stronger. In November 2009, I convinced Zay to start the adoption process with me. And this time for real. We attended an Adoption Orientation meeting again, but this time we actually got the ball rolling. It still felt like a long-shot. Like it wouldn't work out or it would take a looong time for it to work out, but I knew it was what we should be doing. We worked on understanding the Lord's timing and being grateful. We worked on our savings and trying to be more prepared financially (not just for adoption expenses but for taking care of a baby expenses... getting the baby is just the first step!!).

We started all the paperwork, paid the non-refundable application fee, and we took our time. I struggled with the whole TTC thing because I was afraid it could get in the way of our chances to adopt. Adoption suddenly became my #1 priority and getting pregnant just didn't seem as important, if at all. I wondered what would I be missing if I never got pregnant? And I felt like if we kept putting off adoption, it would never happen. Why not do something today, because we won't always have tomorrow...? It was causing me great anxiety. Of course, Zay didn't feel this way. So that was added stress when I would try to think about pregnancy vs. adoption. Adoption would only work if we were both on the same page about it, so we struggled through the paperwork... constantly going back and forth... having loooong discussions about what we wanted out of life, what we wanted out of each other, what we thought was going to happen, etc. There was a lot of comparing and contrasting our differing opinions on these very important issues. We couldn't come to a conclusion for awhile.

Getting Zay to fill out adoption papers was a very slow process. He was still hesitant (I say "pessimistic," he says "realistic") about financial things and about adoption even working out for us. He didn't think we deserved it and we definitely could feel the inadequacy that the adoption process kind of throws in your face. It makes you feel like you have to be this perfect, ideal, loving family with no problems... when nobody is like that. We kept going, albeit very slowly. We went to our first interview with our caseworker and talked about a lot of these issues.

I finally had enough with fertility drugs and the whole process of trying to get pregnant in about March 2010. I was fed up with it all. So, we took a break with TTC and focused on adoption. We made tons of goals and worked on areas of our relationship that needed attention. Everything and everyday was a struggle. Mother's Day came and it felt like a suckerpunch to the gut. Trying to figure out how to get health insurance was a nightmare. Zay and I came to a standstill about adoption plans. We had to sit down with our caseworker and tell her we wanted to pause the process and get back to it later when we were on the same page again. I was grieving hard about it. I told Zay that I felt like there was a child out there that was meant to be ours and that if we waited too long we were going to lose that child.

We re-focused our energies on making goals. We made a Baby Bucket List - things we thought we should do before we continued with adoption plans. A lot of them were things that Zay thought we should do before we continued, but I knew we had to work together and be on the same page for this to work. I couldn't just forge ahead without him. I had to be patient with his reluctance and remember that there is a time and a season for everything. Something about slowing down and really thinking things through and making goals and deadlines really did the trick! Huge blessings started coming - there was a big one in the form of me getting an awesome job with health insurance. We started checking things off the list left and right. We were doing so well that Zay just said screw our goals - let's finish up this adoption process!!! At any hint of the word "go!" from him, I was ready! I sped us through the rest of the process. After interviews and paperwork galore, we were finally approved at the end of October 2010. Both of us were relieved!

We got our profile online with LDS Family Services and the waiting period began. Life continued on and I struggled with my thoughts on the death of a loved one. I just wanted to be happy and things just seemed to be so hard at this point. The uncertainty about the timeline of how things would play out with our adoption was starting to bother me. I wondered about how I could "market" ourselves so that a birthmother could find us faster. Although I had begun making fun of my infertility, it still hit me hard some days. I prayed for things to happen quickly with adoption so that I could move on and leave all the negative feelings behind, start a new chapter in my life, and feel like I had a purpose.

And they DID happen quickly! Barely a month of waiting passed before we began hearing from expectant mothers considering adoption. December 2010 was nervewracking! It was emotionally intense to navigate through the waters of "hoping to be chosen" and finding the right match. We were new to this as well as the expectant mothers we spoke with, so none of us knew what to expect or knew how to go about discussing such an overwhelmingly emotional topic without anyone's feelings getting hurt. I'm sure everyone's feelings got hurt. Ours sure did. We flew to Georgia to meet K in January 2011, only 2 1/2 months after getting approved. She wanted us to be the parents of her little boy! He was due in a month and a half!!

The next couple months were a whirlwind of craziness after being "chosen". I had a huge baby shower that got me super excited about everything! There was a lot to do to get ready! I was so nervous thinking ahead to the birth and how things would go down. Turns out, I had good reason to be worried and nervous. The adoption itself was a pretty traumatic experience. Nothing like I expected at all... much, much worse emotionally. But things turned out right in the end.

Our little man was finally here - the child we had been searching for for 6 1/2 years. He's absolutely gorgeous. My little booger-butt-boy (ha ha ha!), Kal-El Rashad. I'm a mom! My husband is an amazing father. Ever since we were finally able to bring Kal home to Utah, things have been so much fun and so beautiful. I love it all, even poopy diapers! I feel like everything we went through to find him and bring him home through the miracle of adoption was all for our learning and benefit. We are so much the wiser and so much more patient and compassionate from what we went through to start our family than if things had just happened "the easy way." God knew what we could handle and He knew we were stronger than we thought. We are happier now than we've ever been and it feels like a huge missing piece has finally come and made us whole, as well as changed us, humbled us.

We love Kal's birthmother and what she went through to provide for her child. Adoption is hard. It's not for the faint of heart - for the birthmom or the adoptive couple. It is intense and exhausting and painful. None of us knew how hard it would be until we lived it. K had to grieve a loss that was indescribable. But we all agree that it was worth it and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. It's all about Kal and the love we all share for him. As parents, Zay and I plan to always let him know how hard we worked for him (that he was wanted), how special and loved he is, and how being "adopted" just means he has a little more family than most! It's important to us for him to know his birthmother and know of her selfless decision, and to try to understand the circumstances surrounding his birth. I think the more open we are with him and with his birthmother, the better.

This has been the hardest thing any of us has ever been through. And for a moment there I wondered if I had the strength to do this a second time. But I think when the timing is right, we'll be ready to struggle again and fight with all the same intensity for a second child who we will equally love. Children deserve to be fought for and loved more than anything. They are definitely worth it.

- We finalized Kal's adoption in September 2011. A very, very happy day. :)
- We were approved to adopt again in January 2013. Here's to hoping for a second miracle!

1 comment:

  1. I was actually thinking about you the other day. This makes my heart soar. Congratulations.


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