Leigh’s Adoption Journey
It’s interesting how when we reflect on our life, we can see how things that really didn’t make sense at the time they happened totally make sense to our story now. For instance, I always loved dolls, and I mean the baby dolls kind, not the kind you put on a shelf and never touch. I was a little Mama from the time I can remember. Maybe I get that from my dad as even he had a doll as a little boy. But both of my parents taught me how to love, and they prepared me to be a mom.
The first time I can remember hearing about adoption was in church. Our faith community supported a home for children, and each year as the brochures were distributed and I saw the faces of those children who needed forever families, it touched my heart. It also planted the seed that would later grow into my own desire to adopt a child.
Oh, sure, I always thought I would grow up, get married and have children, but I never thought of it from the birds-and-bees perspective of giving birth to a baby. I never wanted to be pregnant. I just wanted to be a mom.
Fast forward through school and college and meeting the man who would become my husband, and then comes baby, right? Well, not exactly. My husband, Greg, and I never really tried to prevent my getting pregnant, but neither did we notice that I wasn’t becoming pregnant. We lived life, enjoyed each other’s company, and thought it would just happen when the time was right. But then 13 years went by and still no baby. And then the C-word came into the picture. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the treatment plan included a hysterectomy. And suddenly I was mourning the loss of my ability to get pregnant.
At first, we didn’t take time to grieve. We jumped right into adoption and applied with a local agency to get on the dreaded “list.” The list of waiting families. Only a few would be chosen to be on the list, and we didn’t make the cut! We were angry, frustrated, bewildered, and all the other emotions that you can imagine. Why weren’t we good enough to make the list? The answer is, we were, but this was not the way we were meant to receive our child.
One little fact that I’ve left out of my story till now is that my husband, Greg, is a Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister. He was serving a church in Iowa when I went through my cancer diagnosis and treatment. After that, we felt the call to come home to Georgia to be closer to our families. With some divine intervention, no doubt, Greg became pastor of the church where I had grown up as a child. You know, the church where the adoption seed had first been planted. It was a different building, but it was filled with many of the same church family with whom I had grown up. And there was one special person in that church family who became our guiding light on our new adoption journey.
Marcia Barker, founder of Adoption Information Services (AIS), was a part of our church family. Remember what I said about things “making sense?” Well, this made sense. We had our own adoption professional right in our congregation! We were finally where we needed to be. Greg and I attended Marcia’s monthly adoption seminar, which was held in our church at the time, no less, and not long after, we scheduled our first appointment with Marcia and AIS. We were so intimidated by the adoption process, but Marcia gave us hope. She told us we could do it, and she gave us the steps to follow. We were religious about it (pun intended) and were soon being presented with expectant mother opportunities. When we read Laura’s information, we knew. We knew that she was going to be our child’s birth mom. Thankfully, she chose us, and it was an official match.
After match, we had the opportunity to visit Laura in Colorado and go to an ultrasound appointment with her. And we fell in love. We immediately felt this intense love for Laura. It wasn’t just about the baby she was carrying, but it was about her and her loving sacrifice that would enable us to become parents. Of course, when we heard the baby’s heartbeat, we fell in love again. We were able to spend a few incredible hours getting to know Laura, her mom and her stepdad over an early dinner. Laura seemed like someone we had known our whole lives but had been waiting to meet. It’s indescribable.
We decided to keep in touch through the remainder of the pregnancy, which from the time we met, was supposed to be a little over 1-1/2 months. Laura and I emailed some (we did it old school back in 2004!), and she talked to Greg some, too. We had given her Greg’s cell phone number, and she liked talking to him. It was important to her that the baby boy (Oh, I forgot to mention it was a BOY!), was going to have a loving and supportive daddy in his life.
It was Memorial Day 2004, and Greg and I were off from work for the holiday. We went out to lunch, and over Asian food, Greg declared that our son was going to be born that day and that we should go home and pack after lunch. Mind you, we still had three weeks to go to get to the due date, but he was convinced. I scoffed, but we went home after lunch, and Greg began to pack. I watched. And then the phone rang. It was Laura, and she was in labor.
Laura gave birth to a health baby boy while we sat stuck in the Atlanta airport, trying to get out to Denver. She had wanted us to be there for the delivery, but it was not meant to be. We arrived in Colorado late that night and went to see her and baby Nate at the hospital. She was lovely and gracious and proud to present us with our son. And we all cried. Laura had made the ultimate sacrifice, and we had become parents.
We remain so filled with gratitude toward Laura to have our smart, precocious, tall and handsome son, Nathanael, in our lives.
When I joined the AIS team in November 2004, I knew I had realized my calling. I wanted to be a part of providing hope, love and support to other families who wanted to adopt. I have been so richly blessed to have been a part of so many adoption journeys through AIS, and I look forward to walking with many other families in the years to come.
Start your journey here.