‘Hear me out, before you say anything.’ Those are the first words I heard. ‘It’s a girl and she’s due next month.’ I could barely speak.’

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“Hear me out, before you say anything. Those are the first words I heard when I answered the call from Faithful Adoption Consultants in June 2017.   What followed would change our lives and our hearts forever, our agency went on to say we showed your profile book without telling you, we all prayed about this case and felt you and the birth parents were meant for each other, we felt so strongly about this that we shared your profile amongst other families and the birth parents and their extended families unanimously choose you guys.  It’s a girl and she’s due next month.

We had been matched.  A rush of questions raced through my mind but the only word that would form was yes, without knowing details I could feel absolutely this was our daughter.  This was the child God always intended to be ours.  I called my husband at work, I could barely speak. I was tripping over my words, my husband cut me off mid-sentence and simply said yes, this is our daughter.  Before we hung up, I could hear him telling everyone around him ‘I’m going to be a dad.’

Our adoption story began long before we actually pursued moving forward.  Adoption has been a calling I felt from as early as I can remember.  My husband and I were just twenty-four when we met in Seattle and on our third date I told him about my desire to adopt, the only way I could explain it was that just as some women desire to have biological children, my heart had always been set on adoption.  To my surprise my husband had also felt a calling to adoption. We were married in 2006, shortly after the Army moved us across the country from Ft. Lewis, Washington to Ft. Benning, Georgia.  On our drive to the Southeast we talked a lot about our future and starting a family still not knowing God’s full plans for us but we knew he had planted the desire.

Z Michael Studios Photography

Years began to pass, my husband was hardly ever home, the timing never seemed right to start the adoption process and after the 14th deployment I was beginning to wonder if we would ever start a family.  After ten years of marriage we both agreed that God’s timing is always perfect and once we wrapped our minds around HIS will and not our own, we finally, took a step out in faith to start the adoption journey.

It took us a year to complete all the paperwork, interviews, adoption agency selection, saving and fundraising.  And then the wait began. We waited.  And waited.  Our profile was shown to birth mothers over and over and we were told no so many times that I stopped counting.  Every no, not you, was defeating, doubt was making a slow creep over both of us, why not us?  Is it because we’re a military family?  That we live in the South? Is this really what God wants for us?

Adoption is such a slow journey, everything related to it takes time, a lot of time and patience, looking back now I often think that in all that time and what feels like an endless wait God was preparing our hearts for the joy and the heartbreak that comes with adoption. From the call that we’d been matched to our daughter’s arrival everything moved in fast forward.  The birth parents wanted to meet us.  A week after the news that we’d been chosen we were sitting in a Barnes and Noble parking lot, I was a mess, a bundle of nerves, never before have I ever been that anxious. My husband took my hand and prayed over us in the car before we set out to meet the birth parents.

We did not know what that meeting was going to look like, how to act, what questions to ask, we went and found a table a few minutes before the birth parents arrived and spoke with the birth mother advocate.  She gave us a short overview of the birth parents and then they walked in and we greeted each other with hugs.  It is a surreal moment to sit across from the women that will give birth to your daughter. It felt heavy and light at the same time, we talked nonstop for 3 hours. Our conversation felt easy and natural. It was almost as if we had known each other our whole lives and yet we had just met. When we got up to leave our daughters birth mom said, ‘I’m so glad we met, you and Eric are exactly what I imagined you would be.’

Our daughter arrived much sooner than any of us expected, two weeks after being matched our birth mom’s mother called us and let us know that they would like us to be at the hospital.  The evening of our daughters birth we sat in a tiny hospital waiting room and waited. We did not get to see her that night, but we both knew in our heart that she would be ours forever and that her birth parents needed this time to be with her, waiting another day seemed such small thing in comparison to the gift they were giving us.

The following afternoon we met our daughter. We walked into the birth moms room and were welcomed by the birth mom and dad, the maternal and paternal grandmothers, there was a lot of laughter, tears and hugs. There are no words in that moment to express the weight of your gratitude or how deeply we felt their pain. All we could do was embrace them, cry with them and vow that we would always love them.

Erica Hartzog Photography
Erica Hartzog Photography

Our daughters birth mom asked us to be at the hospital when she left so she could say good bye to us, there are have been lots of hard moments in our adoption journey but this one, it broke us.  Our hearts ached for her, we stood there sobbing because this strong, smart and selfless birth mother’s deepest grief would be our greatest joy. There is no training, reading or guide book for that moment.  We felt shattered right there alongside her.  It was our daughter’s maternal grandma who brought us both close in a warm hug as she was leaving and whispered ‘go get your daughter’ before she left.

Erica Hartzog Photography
Courtesy Bridget Bohannon

We have an open adoption, when we tell people this we are met with looks of surprise, alarm and confusion, well-meaning family and friends ask us ‘aren’t you worried the birth parents will try to take her back’ ‘does that mean you are obligated to visit with them?’ and ‘If I were you I would try to limit too much contact with them.’

Jennifer Corcoran Photograhy

When people ask these questions I want to say you have it all wrong. Open adoption is not something to be feared. I get it, it’s a lot of unknowns and ‘what ifs’.  When we initially began the adoption journey we felt the same fear of the unknown, because we did not know how powerful and amazing open adoption can be. Having an open adoption has turned out to be one of the biggest blessings in this journey, when we said yes to our daughter, to the child we prayed for, we said yes to loving her birth family well and that openness has been honor and a privilege.

Kayla Dawn Photography
Kayla Dawn Photography

Adoption has surprised me in many ways, when we started out our focus was on the child that the Lord intended for our family and in the process the Lord has revealed himself in a very tangible way, he has shown us our capacity to love, to suffer alongside in our birth mom’s grief and to rejoice in the joy of being our daughter’s parents.  It’s heartbreaking pain and radiantly beautiful all at the same time.”

Amy Rae Photograhy
Amy Rae Photograhy
Amy Rae Photograhy

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bridget Bohannon, 39, of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Follow her family’s journey on Instagram hereSubmit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

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