Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Adoption, Elliot and Me!

Hello Friends!

I am not sure how many of you caught my brief mention on our last What's Up Wednesday post, but we adopted out sweet Elliot.  We just celebrated her 4th birthday, which makes me reminisce about the day she became ours! Today marks the 4 year anniversary of signed paperwork!

I don't even know where to begin to tell you this story! Let me start by telling you a little family history. Adoption in our family is a bit of a tradition. My Dad was adopted. I was adopted. And we had many reasons for adopting Elliot into our family. 

My Adoption Story

My Family
For me, I have personally had a wonderful experience as an adopted child. I was extremely lucky in many respects. My family was (still is!) supportive and loving. Well...except my Brother, who always liked to point out he was the only blood descendant, mostly because of our multi-generational family business. To which I pointed out, since our Dad was adopted as well, neither of us were! It was mostly all in jest, with some sibling rivalry peppered in.

Anyway, most people don't know that I was adopted. But not because it was taboo. I am happy to tell anyone about it and sing adoption's praises, but it just generally doesn't come up in daily conversation.  I greatly appreciate my family supporting my adopted child identity and my curiosity. I love my family more than anything, and I think they know/knew that. (I say "knew" because I only have my Mom left, as both my Dad and Brother have passed away.)

Since I was born before open adoption was really a commonplace occurrence, I had to wait until I was 18 to request my non-identifying paperwork. I decided to wait until I was 19 to open that door because as an adopted child, you must be prepared for literally any response once you open it. You have to be secure in yourself to know that no matter how your birthparent(s) react, you still know you are loved and wanted by your family. It is truly not a reflection of you as a person.

It took a few more years, but I have reached out to both my birthmother and my birthfather.  I am SO glad I did. 
My Sister Heather, my Mother, me, and my Brother Jason

My birthmother and I have a good relationship today and I have so many other family members on her side that I love. Believe it or not, you've already "met" sister, Heather!  She is the perfect example of what makes me so happy I began my search. I love all of my birth family. They are all so lovely and welcoming. We visit with them at least every other year!
My amazing grandparents at their 60th Anniversary!

Last Family Pic at Lambeau Field, 2013
(Elliot was asleep in her carseat 5 feet on the other side of the photographer)

My birthfather has not been in communication because of his life situation and I completely respect that. I hope that one day, I will be able to meet him, but I am in a place that whatever his decision, is fine with me.

Elliot's Adoption Story

It is hard to talk about Elliot's adoption story only because I respect Elliot's privacy and her birthmother's privacy. But I can tell you from my perspective. We do not know Elliot's birthmother. We never had the opportunity to meet. I doubt she would ever read this, but if she, or any other birthmother out there is reading this, please know, as an adoptive mother, how very grateful I am for your decision.  I know everyone's circumstances are different, but I cannot imagine the emotional impact this must have on your life. We are truly grateful for your sacrifice, and I am doing the very best I can to give Elliot the best life she can have.

If you follow our blog, you know Elliot is the youngest in my family. We have two older boys that are biologically mine and my husband's. We really wanted to have another child. Ideally, a daughter. We had some fertility issues and went the IVF route twice. It was definitely a challenging process. And I know that is a massive understatement. The number of appointments, mental/emotional stress, financial stress, hormone fluctuations...all make it very difficult. We got pregnant after round 2 and were OVERJOYED! At 9 weeks pregnant, which in the emotional toll of the  IVF time warp feels like 6 months, we lost the baby.

It took a little while to recover, physically and emotionally, but my resolve was renewed. I had always considered adoption as a way I would have liked to welcome a child into our family because of my wonderful experience. I felt a drive to have another child and to "pay it forward" in a weird way. We had friends who had used Adoption Information Services with great success. You can click to see more, I won't go on and on about it, except to say that they were wonderful and they quite literally changed our lives.

After close to a year of preparation, paperwork, interviews, home study, background checks, physicals and a failed adoption, we learned about our sweet Elliot. Long story short (partly the privacy reason), we were matched! A short 2 weeks (earlier than we expected!!) later, we got the phone call that Elliot's birthmother was in labor. 
On the way to get Elliot! Boy, did we get some weird looks pushing around an empty stroller!

We immediately booked a flight to where Elliot was born and met her the very same day. I cannot even describe the exhilaration and nerves of that day. It was one of the greatest days of my life. #obviously!
The First Moment We Saw Elliot!!

Instantly in love!


Our next hurdle was to wait (every state is different) the 48 hours waiting period for her birthmother to legally sign her rights away. At any point during that time, despite the fact that we had cared for Elliot since the moment we met her, the birthmother could change her mind and we would have to give her back. Talk about a nail biter! Sort of like the IVF time warp, I swear that was the longest 48 hours ever. #timestoodstill Thankfully, the time passed and Elliot became ours. We still had to finalize in our city once we arrived back home, but...she was OURS!

She made our little family complete.  We had to wait a week to cross state lines with her. We got the green light and flew back home within hours. 

We all love her so much, and can't imagine life without her. It is interesting raising a girl. She really is so different from the boys! Trina gives me lots of good tips!! 

As for talking to her about it, we have tried to be very open about the fact that she was adopted. Doc McStuffins has helped! Her family adopted a baby girl earlier this season. We have talked about it before that, but I think that explained/showed adoption in a way that I couldn't.

I still don't know how to answer questions she will ask about her birthmother. We know some information, but in this day and age of social media, I worry about her seeking out a connection before she is able to get to a place where no matter what the result is, she knows without a doubt, we fought long and hard for her, she was VERY much wanted and loved more than words can express. She truly is a gift to our family and we are forever grateful to have her as the last piece of our crazy family puzzle!
Happy Birthday, Elliot!!!

So Much Love!

I hope you enjoyed reading our adoption journeys. I know this can be a sensitive topic, but I believe adoption is a truly beautiful thing rooted in love for all parties involved. It doesn't get much better than that. I just might be the luckiest girl in the world. 

If you have a comment, or an adoption story to share, please do! I would love to hear it! I find everyone's story fascinating!


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