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Our Open Window/infertility and adoption part 3

 

Kalle hospital photo

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DISCLAIMER:  For those of you are are offended easily, you may not want to read this excerpt of the story.

“Within this agency, our client base is largely teenage girls, with a few young adult women.  You need to put a portfolio together of you and your husband and daughter that would be appealing to a teenager.”  

Those were the words that were spoken by the social worker to my husband and I when we first met to discuss adoption in October of 1997.   I was upset.  I was  pissed off that I would have to sell myself to a teenager, basically beg them to let me have their baby.  Inside my mind the sarcasm was over flowing (and those that know me well, know I don’t do sarcasm.)  “I’m so glad you guys had sex and got pregnant, so I can ask for your baby because I can’t get pregnant even though I waited to have sex until I was married! Maybe I was wrong in waiting!!”

I know……..it was bad.  It took me a few months to get over myself and my pride and realize, because of these kids, I will have another baby.  They came to my rescue in more ways than one.  They helped me me a better person because I learned not to be judgmental of people and their circumstance.  I learned that everyone makes non-ideal choices but their choices led to our fortune of obtaining our second daughter.

In March of 1998, I felt a bit better about our situation of infertility and decided that I was ready to submit the paperwork for the adoption process. I was a bit worried about some ignorant stereotypes that go along with adoption:  unwanted, unplanned, unusual, etc…. and I didn’t know if I was ready to answer people’s questions, “What’s wrong with you?”  “Why can’t you just have your own?”  When you grow up thinking that you get married and live happily ever after and then your story takes a wrong turn, you start to feel unworthy of regular /normal life.  I admit to thinking, why can’t I just be like everyone else?  But we decided that we would go forward with faith that it was the right thing for us to do to expand our family.

In today’s society a lot of  people have accepted adoption as normal,  more than when my parent’s were kids or even when I was a kid!  I remember two specific people that I knew growing up that were adopted.  One was a boy my brother’s age and the other was a beautiful girl just a few years older than me.  I always admired her.  She always had nice clothes , and wore the coolest earrings and it was the 80’s, so fashion goes without saying!  She was on the high school drill team and to a Teeny Bopper in middle school, that meant everything.  One thing I appreciated about her was, she paid attention to me which I thought was unusual because she was older.  Even after graduation she would come into the restaurant with her boyfriend where I was a waitress and she always tipped me well!  I never once thought she was weird or unusual even though she was a different race than her parents.

As adult, at this specific time in our married life, there were a few families that we went to church with who had adopted several children, some of which were interracial.  The kids seemed fine and well-adjusted and the parents couldn’t have been happier.  I was and am so grateful for not only them being part of my journey of acceptance of adoption as well as their friendship and showing me that is was normal, I would never feel ‘regular’ but it was normal.

Even though we didn’t know exactly when our baby was coming and we didn’t have 9 months to prepare for the arrival of our new addition I had a feeling in my heart, that some may call a prompting from the Spirit, that told me our time was coming.  On June 14th 1998 I recorded this in my journal:

“Two nights ago, I woke up to help our oldest daughter get back to sleep, after she did, I couldn’t.  I had this deep pounding  in my chest and my mind was filled with thoughts of getting our baby.  I really felt strongly that I needed to prepare every needful thing.  I was excited and still am.  I thought to myself, maybe I will get all the things ready for girls camp, and then I won’t end up going.”

My husband’s summer family reunion was a difficult time for me.  One sister had just given birth a couple months prior and another one was miserable and pregnant as it was so hot.  I know she tried not to complain and I tried to have patience when she did as I thought to myself, ” I would love to say I was miserable right now.”  And she knew it so she kept it to the minimum.  But seriously, who wants to be pregnant in the dead of summer?!  And I had just received news from my brother that his wife was going to have a baby.  It was almost too much for me to bear.

I was telling my cousin my woes as I was preparing to leave for Girl’s Camp the next day.  (At the time, I was the Camp Director for a group of about 15 girls and we were going to be leaving on a week-long outdoor camp with tents and latrines and cooking over the fire.)  I turned to Kristin and said, “Dang it!  It’s my turn!”  Seriously, the phone rang within minutes.  I swear the symphony started and the angels were singing “Ahhhhhhh” from the high ‘E’ note.  I answered the phone.  The conversation that I recorded in my journal on July 9th, 1998 went something like this,

Me:  Hello? (I didn’t have caller I.D. back then)

Caller:  Hi!  Is this Sister Taylor?

Me:  Yes, this is she.

Caller:  Sister Taylor this is Brother Perry from LDS Social Services.  I have some good news.  Your baby has been born!  Can you be in Las Vegas tomorrow by tomorrow afternoon?

It was a mad scramble to find a replacement for my Girl’s Camp group, retrieve our other daughter who had been whisked away to the grandparent’s house.  It took two sets of grandparents to play leap frog and retrieve her for us and we met them along the freeway on our way to Southern Nevada.  Although we encountered a flat tire, a lightning storm and only 4 hours asleep, we managed to pull up to the adoption placement center right on time.

Las Vegas is a place where people go to win big and some do!  My husband I showed up to pick up our own jackpot, our baby girl.

Amber and Jeremy were out front.  We passed them as we walked up the sidewalk.  They looked over at us cautiously, probably thinking, “Is that them?”  They knew what we looked like because of the portfolio of our family, but we didn’t know for sure who they were.  The dry hot air choked at my lungs.  It was July and Southern Nevada can be a death trap in the summer.  The two kids were sitting under a tree in the shade and having a smoke.  All three of us, my husband and I and our four-year old daughter, walked anxiously inside.

We first met with the social worker and then went into a meeting room and sat down at a table. Soon, the teenagers that we saw on the front lawn, were escorted in. Amber was a freshman in high school and dressed in all black.  Her hair was some sort of unnatural red/black color and her eyes were a gorgeous chocolate brown. Jeremy  was a junior and looked like an all American athlete.  Dark hair and green eyes.   If you’ve never sat across from a couple of teenagers thanking them for allowing you to have a baby that they conceived out of wedlock, let me tell you it is very humbling.  My perspective changed that day.  Although I don’t recommend any teenager have a baby, without these two kids, we wouldn’t have our daughter.  In my mind I can still see the look of concern on both of their faces.  After introductions were made, (first names only) there was sort of an awkward pause.

I don’t remember how the conversation started I just remember that there was a lump in my throat that felt like a baseball and with tears in my eyes, I expressed my gratitude to both of them. Looking down, Amber nodded her head but didn’t say a word.  Her mom, Lynn sat off to the side and wiped tears away.  Jeremy asked us what we were going to name her.  They smiled and nodded with approval as we told them  Jeremy asked me and my husband if we were going to raise this little girl as our own, or would we tell her that she was adopted.  I immediately I said, “Both.”  Both kids seemed to relax a little bit and settle down into their chairs, probably thinking, “Okay, we made the right decision.”  John and I had decided long before, that we wanted our adopted daughter to grow up knowing she was placed into the family.  We did not want it to be an event where we sat down one day and told her, or worse yet, someone else tell her.  We didn’t want it to be a secret, because it wasn’t.

I asked them if they had seen the baby, and they shook their heads and Amber said, “No, it would have been too hard for me.” Once, again the lump came back thinking to myself that I wouldn’t be able to give a baby up for adoption.  How hard of a decision this must have been.  This is why it takes EVERYONE to make the world go around.

Then I handed them a gift.  Something from the church bookstore, a picture of Christ and a letter thanking them once again.  I reached out to Amber to hug her, which she allowed, although was not entirely comfortable in doing so. We agreed to send pictures and letters through the 3rd birthday and then that would be all of the correspondence until the baby turned eighteen.  Then they left.

It wasn’t until years later, that I have thought how difficult it must have been for those two kids on many levels.   I’m sure it was humbling for them in their situation.  Did Amber drop out of school when she found out she was pregnant or get a tutor until school let out for the summer?  How many pairs of eyes stared at her in public as they saw how young she was with a swollen pregnant belly? Was she shunned or ridiculed? How did this affect her parents?  Her siblings, if she had any? How strange it must have felt to have given birth without going home with the prize for the 9 months of work.  What about Jeremy?  Did those two kids stay in contact?  These are questions I’ve thought about and asked myself over and over. Those kids took a leap of faith by choosing us to be our daughter’s parents.

They didn’t know us, only from the pictures and questions we answered about ourselves. They knew we were of the same faith, but they didn’t know we weren’t judging them for the pregnancy.  On the contrary we were and are so grateful for their decision to carry our special daughter for us.  I look at this situation as an opportunity to have even more extended family. And now that our daughter is over 15 years old, meeting again with Amber and Jeremy is becoming more of a reality. It’s not something I’m afraid of, unless it will affect our daughter negatively.  I don’t want her to be rejected when she decides to go looking for them, as she has already made it very clear that she will. I hope that someday, when the timing is right, we will have the opportunity to meet face to face again.

I’ve heard my friends and my sisters say phrases like, “I just don’t think I’m done having kids yet.” or “We are DONE and we’ve taken permanent precautions!”  Well, I didn’t have control over getting pregnant or not but we did have control over whether we kept adopting so after a move to the state of California and feeling that some of our family members were missing, we again started looking into adoption.  Back in those days (sounds like we are pioneers!) after having adopted two children or given birth to two,  or a mix of both, LDS Family Services had a policy that members of the church had to seek adoption else where because there were so many child-less couples waiting for a baby.

We had no idea of where to start…….

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