‘He got to meet his little brother for the first time. He had waited a long time for this moment. Adoption is beautiful.’

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“Our journey through adoption has had its emotional ups and downs, but we wouldn’t trade it for ANYTHING. From a failed adoption, to what appeared to be an insurmountable expense, we weren’t sure we could stick it out for the long haul, but we did, and we are excited to share our experience and story with you.

Just over a year ago, we went through the adoption process for an independent adoption. In other words, a birth mom reached out to us, and then collectively we went to the Gladney Center for Adoption in Ft. Worth, Texas, together, so they could facilitate the adoption on both of our behalves.  We completed our home-study, did our background checks, and crossed all other T’s and dotted all other I’s in the process. The day came, and our son was born. We were at the hospital just after his birth mom had delivered. We watched his first bath, we watched his footprints be taken, and we were discharged from the hospital with him. We took him home and cared for him for just about 6 weeks. At this point, the birthmother decided she wanted to parent her child, and there was literally nothing that could be done. We always knew this was a risk as we awaited the termination of the father’s rights without the birthmother ever relinquishing her rights.

This period of time was devastating to our family, but especially to our 9-year-old son. This was his little brother. This was the baby he woke up to every morning, rubbing his feet, helping us feed him, talking to him about the future and what we were going to do for the day. To say he was a total wreck is a complete understatement. It took time for all of us to heal, but we knew we had to start that process. We immediately scheduled a trip out of town to reset as a family. When we came back from out of town, we decided to check in with a fertility specialist to determine what was causing us not to be able to conceive on our own. All along, we thought it had to be because of me, because my wife Jenae had given birth before to our son. Back up two years, I adopted our son in a stepparent adoption after his biological father signed his rights over. I’ve been in his life since he was 2 years old, and I have known Jenae for a little over 20 years.

Sara Liz Photography

After talking to a fertility specialist we actually found out our struggle to get pregnant was due to scar tissue from Jenae’s C-section with Maddex. We discussed fertility treatments, and decided not to rule it out until after we met with Gladney again. We had been asked over and over to come through orientation to see how Gladney truly works. We were told all along that our original scenario with adoption was not a normal one, and in fact was the absolute worst case scenario. So we went to Gladney and attended orientation one afternoon. We sat in our truck in the parking lot after orientation and just looked at each other. We both knew. Gladney is where we were meant to be, and adoption is what we were meant to do.

In our first failed adoption, we were very transparent. We shared all of the ups and all of the downs with our family, our closest friends, and anyone that followed us on social media. Our thought was that it takes a village, and if for some reason something were to happen, we would need our support system. Well as you know, that something did happen, and we absolutely would not have been able to get past the situation without that support. So, when we decided to move forward with adoption again, we let EVERYONE know. We knew again that it would take our entire village to make this happen. The outpouring of love and genuine support was indescribable.

One of the biggest and immediate hurdles we had to get over was the initial ‘sticker shock’ of what adoption costs. We immediately applied for grants, loans, scholarships and everything in between. We basically thought of everything we could to raise money. Jenae even came up with a design to print on a t-shirt for a fundraiser. We are super fortunate that we own a t-shirt printing company here in East Dallas, so our ability to print shirts at a low cost would serve us well. Jenae whipped up a design of a Buffalo print with the words, ‘oh, give me a home’ cut out of the middle and the Bible verse 1 Samuel 1:27 ‘For this child I have prayed.’ It was our goal to create an adoption shirt that didn’t just ‘scream’ adoption. We created the shirts, posted them on our social media and ultimately raised several thousands of dollars.

Sara Liz Photography

Once we became an active waiting family in the adoption process, we made our profile book and really started pushing the t-shirts to get to our final financial destination. We would randomly receive phone calls where we would be asked about certain birth mom situations. These phone calls would detail potential children we could bring into our home. We would be briefed on drug/alcohol usage of the birth parents, potential mental health issues, and other pertinent background descriptions. After every phone call, we were told to take some time and think about this situation and whether or not we wanted our book to be shown to the birthmother. Without hesitation, we ALWAYS said yes. We knew when it was our turn, the right child would come our way. There were several times where the birthmother ended up picking another family. As hard as it was to be told she had picked someone else, we were ecstatic for that particular family, that birth mom and ultimately that child, as we truly felt that is where they were meant to be.

When we received the phone call from Gladney that they wanted to show our book to a birthmother who had already given birth, we were excited and very nervous. All other scenarios we had been called on were for children who weren’t yet born. Having an already born child meant a shorter period of time to get ready and prepare for a little one. We talked with our birth-mom on the phone and then met her for lunch one day to really get to know each other. She is an amazing young woman who is destined for big things in life, and we truly can’t wait to watch her succeed in her endeavors.

On the day we took placement, we drove to the Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth, met our amazing transitional parents, and then signed paperwork. Back up a tad; after our son was born, and while we awaited all of the legal paperwork, he spent approximately his first month with a Gladney transitional family. These families are the angels of Gladney. They care for these children as their own while paperwork is being filed and completed, and they do it all on a voluntary basis. Okay, back to where we were. We met our transitional family, signed the last bit of paperwork and then headed to the placement room in Gladney. Placement for us included the birthmother bringing her son into the room where we got to meet him and hold him for the first time.

Sara Liz Photography
Sara Liz Photography

I can’t begin to express the emotions that came over all of us, especially my 9-year-old son. Throughout the entire process he asked questions, wanted to know about each scenario, wanted to know if he might get a baby brother or sister, and what their names might be. To see the pure emotion on his face when his new baby brother came in the room is something I will never forget.

Sara Liz Photography
Sara Liz Photography

We spent the next hour or so talking with the birth mom, holding our son, laughing, crying and starting the bonding process. We assured her we would love this child, care for him, and be the best parents and big brother that we could. We had also agreed well beforehand that this would be an open adoption with two visits a year. We reminded her in this moment that it was not goodbye, but a see you soon.

And then the hardest thing happened. We watched as she gave our son one more hug and a kiss and then left the room. My emotions finally got the best of me watching her walk out of that room. I could not imagine the emotions she was dealing with, the strength she had, and how she must be feeling. It was a very hard moment. On the one hand we were so excited to complete our family, but on the other hand we felt for our birth mom and her feelings. Even our son was worried. When I told him the birth mom would be the one bringing his brother in and handing him to us, he asked why she had to do it. He said, ‘Won’t she be sad?’ His love and genuine compassion for all parties involved truly touched all of us that day.

Sara Liz Photography

Now we are home, adjusting to life as a party of four. We are all learning each other’s habits, sleep schedules, feeding schedule, and what makes us warm and happy. Tonight at dinner we discussed how lucky we are to have the village around us that supports us, loves us, and encourages us ALL OF THE TIME. We have been humbled by this experience and every step of the entire process. We now hope to be a sounding board to families as they experience their own adoption journey. The only way we know to show our gratitude is to try and reciprocate that love to other families. We hope to be able to help in any way possible, whether it’s through printing shirts for other families, praying for them, or answering Facebook messages. We just hope to be a part of someone else’s village when they need it!”

Sara Liz Photography
Sara Liz Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by The McCrossen family of Texas. Do you have an inspiring adoption story? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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