Preface: Here at Madeline's Box we are always looking for ways to connect to our customers and readers. I wanted to start a series called:"Real Moms, Real Stories" Basically I'm on the hunt to find mamas out there who are willing to share their personal story with the motivation to possibly help someone else. If you have a story ( any story! Birth story, loss of a child, sickness, etc, and how you dealt with it or how you're dealing with it now), please e-mail me at email@example.com.
So many of us often think: "I'm the only woman in the world that feels this way." I'm a big believer that by sharing our experiences, there will always be someone who will be strengthened by hearing it especially if they're experiencing something similar. We all face difficulties every single day, no matter how big or small... they matter. My hope is to uplift, encourage, and help one another.
xo Heather ( owner of Madeline's Box)
This first story comes from a dear friend of mine named Katy. Her emotional story about adoption will tug at your heart strings:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey y'all! I'm Katy. I'm a Coloradan living in Texas, who loves refinishing furniture, running, and breakfast foods. Ten years ago I married my high school crush/best friend, and we have three amazing kids. Madison is seven- she's sassy and imaginative and has the vocabulary of a 15 year old. Graysen, four, wears a cape daily and generally only answers to "Clark Kent."
" I hope that our experiences can bring encouragement and hope to someone who needs it."
Emery is our sweet, happy 8-month old, and we are all head over heels for her. Getting those kids here into our family was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. It was crazy and scary and humbling and incredible all at the same time. I've struggled back and forth with sharing our story-- I know many have been through so much more-- but I hope that our experiences can bring encouragement and hope to someone who needs it. We had so much love and support through our journey of grieving and waiting, and I want nothing more than to pay that forward!
"Both deliveries were terrifying and traumatic for me."
My first two pregnancies progressed to severe third-trimester complications and emergency c-sections. Both babies were born early (one weighing 5 lbs and the other 4 lbs, 11oz) and both spent about two weeks in the NICU. Both deliveries were terrifying and traumatic for me. Each was also an amazingly poignant spiritual experience in my life. My babies are miracles. It's a miracle that I am here to mother them.
My son's delivery ended in an emergency hysterectomy. I was stretched out on a cold metal table, my hair in a net and my husband in scrubs behind me. A nurse brought our little four-pound baby close by my face, and I had just enough time to touch his tiny head before she whisked him off to the NICU.
"As the implications of this started to sink in, I looked at my husband, who had tears on his face (I've known him since he was 16 and I've only seen him cry twice)."
The next thirty seconds are burned in my memory. When I think back on it, it's as if that moment slowed and separated into fragments, those seconds coming at me one at a time in slow succession. "Kathryn..." my doctor said (only my mother calls me that, I remember thinking, and only when I'm in trouble). She quickly and flatly explained to us that I had a condition called placenta accreta--the placenta had embedded deeply into my uterus and couldn't be separated-- and I was starting to hemorrhage. Then she told us the situation was urgent and they were going to have to remove my uterus. Just like that. As the implications of this started to sink in, I looked at my husband, who had tears on his face (I've known him since he was 16 and I've only seen him cry twice). They made him leave the operating room. The anesthesiologist said something to me-- I don't remember what-- and then I was asleep. When I woke from surgery a few hours later, my doctor told me what to expect with recovery, asked me if I wanted to see my uterus (I didn't), and that was that.
How did you deal with the emotions / knowledge that you weren't able to have anymore of your own children?
To be honest, it wasn't as difficult as I was expecting it to be--at least not at first. All the answered prayers and little miracles surrounding the events leading up to our son's birth far outweighed any feelings of loss. Yes, we were shocked. Yes, we were sad. But we were so grateful for the two beautiful kids we did have. And we were busy with a new baby! It wasn't until months later that I started to grieve, in little ways, and I didn't even realize it was happening until a friend pointed it out to me. I had stopped going to baby showers. I came up with an excuse, every single time. I didn't feel jealous or bitter, I just didn't want to be there. Once I realized why, I could talk to people about it-- my mom, close friends, other women with infertility. And it got better with time. There is so much community, and so much comfort and healing to be found in each other!
What surprised me the most was the intense emotion and grieving that came LATER. Graysen was two before we discussed adoption seriously, and nearly three before we actually began initial paperwork with an agency. It was then, when my baby was no longer a baby, and I wanted another baby, and I couldn't have a baby. That's when it hurt the most, and it totally took me off guard. And then again months later when we matched with a birth mom, and I had no control over what was happening to my baby prenatally, that just about killed me. It was devastating that I couldn't give to her what I'd given to my other kids--what a woman is SUPPOSED to provide for her growing child. I felt very broken. Not whole. But I felt bad talking about it, because I didn't want to complain. One day my mom suggested that maybe I hadn't let myself grieve the hysterectomy yet, and I thought that was silly, because it had been so long. But she was right, and when I finally let myself be sad about it for a while, it was like ridding myself of a weight that I'd carried for years.
How long was the adoption process for you?
It was relatively fast for us-- about two and a half years total from our first discussions and research to adoption day. We explored several different options, and even started the process a few times, but the timing just wasn't right. Ultimately, circumstances led us to a private agency here in Texas (we have every confidence this process was guided, and that agency at that particular time is exactly where we were meant to be). Eight months after we sent in our initial application we were matched with an expecting birth mother. Emery was born six months later. We brought her home from the hospital at four days old, and at six months old we took her to a courthouse where she became ours legally and officially!
Where is your sweet adopted baby girl from?
Emery's birthmother is from Houston, Texas. She delivered in a hospital on the beach in Galveston. When we went to pick her up, we had to wait four days before relinquishment papers could be signed. Those were four of the longest, most agonizing days of my life, so I'm glad we got to wait it out in a beautiful little town on the coast.
What was it like the day you legally adopted her?
It was a big ol' party! There were cookies and punch in court and the judge gave stuffed animals to all the kids. There were nine other families with us in the courtroom that day, and it was just plain happy. There was some sense of relief and finality, but honestly, it didn't feel like much changed for us. She'd been ours from the day we brought her home.
What advise do you have for mothers out there who are having a hard time adopting? What about those who aren't able to have anymore children?
I don't know that I'm qualified to give advice-- I know families who have had much harder struggles with infertility and who have waited much, much longer to be placed with a child (and my heart breaks for them!)-- but the biggest thing that helped me was finding a solid support system. I desperately needed someone to help me through the heartache and the hoping and the waiting-- someone who "got it." My sister-in-law, who also adopted after two biological kids, was an incredible support for me. We joined an "Expecting Family" adoption Facebook group. I talked to everyone I knew who had connections to adoption. I had very frank and open conversations with friends who are adopted themselves, and asked them all the hard questions and the things nobody talks about. I also had that one friend--you know, the one who asks you how you're feeling about things every single day, and listens to you hash out the same fears over and over again, and cries with you and never ever makes you feel guilty for being an emotional basket case (you NEED that friend).
For those who may be having a hard time adopting, I'd suggest looking into other options you may not have considered. We were extremely concerned about the prospect of a private agency, for financial reasons. It was not cheap. But it turns out we were able to do it all without going into debt (which was very important to us). There are so many resources available. There are so very many people willing to help. We did a few fundraisers and were ASTOUNDED at the response. If the cost of a private agency is scary to you, don't be afraid to look into it anyway. Apply for grants. Ask your employers about adoption stipends. Volunteer for foundations and network with others in the adoption community. People come out of the woodwork to help you; it's very humbling. In our experience, and that of friends who have adopted, the wait is typically much shorter with an agency.
Another option is Foster-to-Adopt. There's a whole different set of pros and cons to it, but fostering is almost always quicker placement and much less of a financial risk. It's not for everyone-- I knew after one orientation meeting that it wasn't right for us-- but we know many people who have had wonderful experiences with foster-to-adopt.
However you decide to pursue adopting, SOCIAL MEDIA is key. Tell the whole world you are hoping to adopt. Join groups, make a website, make a video and share it everywhere. After launching our first t-shirt fundraiser on Facebook and Instagram, we had three different people approach us about potential birth moms. Cousins of my parents' friends who I'd never met were reaching out to us. The more people who have your story, the better!
Overall, we had an overwhelming sense that the right baby would be ours, no matter how they arrived in our family or how long it took. Clinging to that hope, especially on the hardest days, is what got me through the waiting. The wait, the uncertainty, the risk, the unknown, all of it was too much for me sometimes. But the day we brought our little Emery home, it was all one hundred percent worth it. We don't know how we ever got on without her!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Katy! You can visit her on Instagram: @willowbeachroad and see more photos of her beautiful family.
Are you a mom with an experience you feel would help other mamas? We are ALL about uplifting and helping others around here. Your experience could touch the hearts of many. We'd love to hear your story for a possible feature. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and send us a brief summery to firstname.lastname@example.org.