Scott & Samantha's Story : Our Adoption Journey
Our adoption journey started the way many others have: a desire to have children and grow our family. When we met almost 16 years ago and were discussing what our future together looked like, we both agreed that adoption was going to be a part of that.
I had multiple family members who were adopted both internationally and domestically, as infants and older children. When I was in college, my cousins, who adopted a sibling group of three, invited me along to many of their initial agency meetings, so I felt I had a decent idea of what that process would look like.
After we got married, I gave birth to our first child three years later. We were completely enamored with our son, loved watching him grow, and helping nurture his desires and talents.
However, when we were ready to add another child to our family a few years later, we encountered some unforeseen fertility issues. It was a frustrating road block to how we had anticipated our family journey to look, but looking back, this struggle allowed God to open up doors to multiple other blessings we never could have expected otherwise.
I’ll never forget the day that adoption was the most firmly set on my heart. I loved working with children, so I began helping out as a Sunday school teacher. During a sermon one Sunday, our pastor discussed how we need to be more intentional in how we serve our community by going where our talents and desires were strongest. He referenced a passage in the Bible about caring for widows and orphans. It was in that moment that I decided that’s how I wanted to focus on serving God, by serving others. That night I looked up different volunteer opportunities with foster and adoption agencies and came across an opening for data entry with Christian Adoption Services. I spent the entire summer there, weekly updating records electronically. I had some amazing conversations with the staff.
Earlier that year I struck up a friendship with a new coworker and she opened up to me about her difficult childhood. She ended up being placed in the care of a foster family after her mom died, where she developed a life-long relationship with her foster mom who made an impactful difference in her life. Her story, coupled with our pastor’s recent sermon, put it on my heart to look into becoming a foster parent.
I talked to my husband that night about this calling to open our home to children and families that needed help. We wanted more than anything to be parents again, and we began studying up on and looking into different foster and adoption agencies. We scheduled meetings with all of the ones in our surrounding area and talked to multiple friends and families who had experience with each one. I remember talking with one supervisor about our desire to “foster to adopt”. She tenderly explained to us that “foster to adopt” was a naïve and overly romanticized thought process and not really “a thing”. She couldn’t guarantee that any child placed with us would be available for adoption and that reunification is the ideal goal for these families that they are helping.
We had so much to learn, but our hearts ultimately were on serving our community and being parents again in whatever capacity we could manage. We ultimately decided to become a foster family with the same agency my co-worker had been with. It was an amazing, difficult, humbling, and eye-opening experience. We ended up being foster parents for almost 5 years and took in a total of 4 long term placements during that time. We grieved and celebrated alongside them as they were either reunited with their birth families or adopted by extended family when reunification wasn’t attainable.
After our first two placements were reunited with their parents and left our home, we decided to pursue adoption simultaneously. Since I already had experience with CAS and was impressed with their Christ-centered mission, we contacted them right away. We had already been through all the background checks, home inspections, continuing education, frequent share and support groups and completed mountains of paperwork with our foster agency; had formed relationships with birth families, and alternatively, experienced caring for a child where their families weren’t involved or participating in their lives for a variety of reasons. Because of all this, the process of adoption didn’t seem so scary or intimidating to begin.
We felt more than ready. We thought we knew what we were prepared to get into and the potential difficulties that we might encounter and highlighted our preference of an open adoption. Our son was four, going on five years old at this time. He really wanted a “brother or sister that stayed with us and didn’t leave”. We had the extra room prepared, all the gear, clothes, crib, etc. We decided we wouldn’t announce our adoption plans until we matched with a family. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. For six years we sat on the list of families waiting to adopt. Nightly we’d pray to God to match us with expectant parents. We didn’t expect to be matched immediately; we were pragmatic. We believed God had a plan for us and it was all going to be right in His time, but in truthfulness, it was disheartening to go so long without being matched. We thought there was something wrong with our profile. Were we not good enough? Was there something wrong with how we were presenting our family? Were we too “weird” or “nerdy”? We’d ask “God, I know you have perfect reasons and timing, but why is it taking so long?” We took comfort in reading the story of Sarah and Abraham, sought the support of other adoptive families, and continued to foster more kids during this time.
We kept in regular contact with our social workers and they let us know that there was a lot of interest in our family, but ultimately most of the expectant women who were looking at our profile book decided they wanted to parent instead. Being foster parents for a while, we knew that was great! Keeping families together was a goal with which we were familiar! On a few occasions we had been presented with time-sensitive special situations, but for one reason or another, one of us wasn’t comfortable with it and we knew that both of us needed to be on board. If we were going to make a lifelong commitment to another family, it had to be an enthusiastic yes from the both of us. On one hand we were so happy these women were able to find and receive the support they needed to choose life and parent their children, but on the other, we felt the ache of not being matched. It was bittersweet.
Then one summer morning we received a call from CAS. Both my husband and I assumed it was them wanting to set up another meeting to redo our yearly assessments and paperwork and have us update our profile book. This would be our third one, and we had quite a few changes occur over the last couple of years. It was the weekend and we were getting ready to go out as a family to the fair. We expected it would be a quick call where we’d set up a few dates and then be on our way. But we didn’t expect the next words out of our social worker’s mouth to be “You were chosen”. My husband and I were both startled and looked at each other with bewildered smiles on our faces. “Wait! What? You’re kidding?!” Our social worker assured us it was true. The birth parents were both drawn to a large mural I had painted on a bedroom wall that we included in our profile book. They liked that we were nerdy; aspects of our profile that I thought might put off or dissuade expectant parents from our family ended up being a key part of why they chose us. We were beyond elated! Our social worker said they had been counseling birth mom for quite a while and she was firm in her decision to choose us to parent her child. They also stated that mom was due in the next 10 weeks and wanted to get a match meeting set up between now and then. We had met birth parents and families before for our foster care meetings, but this felt entirely different; filled with more anxiety, trepidation, and nervousness. They told us that the match meeting is often like a first date and that is very, very true! We wondered if she would like us or if we’d come across bumbling and awkward. And we probably were! A lot of the first meeting was a blur due to nerves, but the one thing that stood out to us the most was how sweet and amazing and easy to talk to Karisa was. She was so mindful and seemed incredibly informed about the adoption process. We felt almost immediately that this was the woman that God had been preparing us to wait for all this time. Our families met a few more times after that and each time we left feeling more confident and connected than before. My cheeks were left aching from smiling and laughing so much. We spent hours together even after the social workers left. We easily agreed on a name, goals, hopes and dreams she had for her child.
A month and a half after our initial match, and six years after we first submitted our application, our son was born. I got to be in the delivery room when he was born (which was a last-minute decision made by Karisa to include me; I felt so honored and touched that she allowed me to be a part of this intimate and emotional time) and got to cut the cord! It was an amazing experience. Our emotions were all over the place. I was in a state of joy and elation and couldn’t stop smiling! My husband was a blubbering, emotional mess when he first laid eyes on our son and was able to hold him. I don’t think I cried until we said goodbye to Karisa at the hospital after reading her hand-written letter to us, and the enormity of her amazing, loving, and selfless decision to place him with us rushed over me. It was a poignant moment in our lives that I will never forget.
It's been a few months now and I love the beautiful relationship we’ve continued to develop with Karisa. We feel blessed that she lives relatively close-by to us, so we’ll be able to meet up for visits with our children and spend quality time together going forward. We keep in touch by texting pictures and updates every couple of days and have met up for breakfast together. Our adoption journey was long (frustratingly so at times), but we never gave up hope and trusted in God’s timing, and I thank Him every day for bringing our two families together.
Karisa's Story: A Birth Mom's Perspective
As a 25 year old with a 5 year old little girl, I never thought I would be thinking of adoption. I got pregnant very soon in a new relationship and thought everything was going to be great. This was my chance at having the family I had always dreamt of. But life had other plans for me.
I started looking into adoption when I was 6 months pregnant. I knew my baby boy needed a better home than I could provide. I was a single mom of a 5 year old girl and that was already taking all of my time and attention. My mom and dad had passed away years ago and it was just me and my brother. I started by calling around to different agencies and seeing what's out there in the state I lived in. I found Christian Adoption Services right away and called them to set up an interview and see how the process worked. As soon as I met with them, I knew that was the agency I wanted to work with. They didn't pressure me into making a decision. They wanted to just talk and make sure that I would be making the decision for me and my baby that would support us all.
I started looking through the parent books and reading their stories. I picked out my top 3 families. Once I did that, I went with my top pick of the 3 and went with the family that my heart felt would be an amazing family to my son. I wasn't sure if I wanted a closed or open adoption so before I met with the family I sat down and really thought about what would be best for my baby boy and my daughter. I wanted my daughter to know her brother and I wanted to be in my son's life and make sure he knows me and my family.
When I met Scott and Samantha the first time, I was so nervous I had no clue what questions I should ask, I didn't know exactly how this was all going to work; what if I didn't like any of the families or they didn't like me? When meeting with Scott and Samantha, I instantly felt this good feeling. They were tender hearted and so easy going. They told me all about their huge extended family and how excited their son was to be a big brother. We talked about what I wanted and how involved I wanted to be with my son. They were so open to making sure I had a spot in their family and making sure I knew I would be able to watch my son grow up and have my daughter be very involved with her brother.
After the first meeting, everything got to be more and more real, I was so sad that I was placing my son for adoption, but I knew this family could give my son everything I couldn’t and more and I still got to be there for him and be in his life. I went into labor 2 weeks early. I was very nervous; what if I see my baby boy and can’t place him? Will it be too hard? I had mentally prepared myself as much as I could but there is nothing like giving birth to your child and knowing you will be saying goodbye.
Once Scott and Samantha got to the hospital, it reminded me why I picked them, why I was ok placing my son with them. They are so loving and caring and felt like my family already. The most beautiful part of my whole adoption process was when I had my son and I held him for the first time and Samantha was right alongside me, and we just stared at this beautiful baby boy that was born. And in that moment, I felt calm and safe with my decision. Not only did they love my son as much as I did but they were beaming with happiness and love. Seeing Scott as a dad has been so heartwarming, the way that he makes sure he is safe and cared for correctly. When I left the hospital and left my son behind, it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it also gave me closure knowing that he will have the family I always dreamed of, it makes my heart so happy. I am so thankful for the adoption agency and all they did for me, not only did they make sure to give me many options in my situation, but they supported me fully. During one of the hardest times in my life I found a whole new support system and friends.
By Katie Wussow & Sue Sikkink
Working with expectant parents who want to make a life-affirming decision. Preparing couples to grow their family through domestic infant adoption.