‘I vividly remember the crazy looks I got with my huge pregnant belly and a newborn baby draped across my chest. I would stare too. It’s an odd sight, and honestly something I never imagined for myself.’

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“I vividly remember the crazy looks I got walking down the street with my huge pregnant belly and a newborn baby draped across my chest. I would probably stare too. It’s an odd sight, and honestly something I never imagined for myself. But, there I was about to have two babies three months apart.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I started the process of preparing our home and hearts for a foster baby. We already had three children, two biological and one adopted from foster care. Although we were excited about fostering and hopefully adopting again, we were also nervous about parenting four children. But, our baby fever had taken over our once rational brains, and so we pressed forward.

The foster care and adoption process is long and just as we finished jumping through all the hoops and meeting all the state requirements, we found out that we were pregnant. YIKES!

Did you know unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy? Even if you aren’t trying to have a baby? Well so did I, but I guess I just forgot for a minute. And so, plans changed. We celebrated this pregnancy, and the idea of adopting slipped away.

I was 6 months pregnant when I received a phone call asking if we could foster a newborn baby girl.

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Probably not, because diapers are expensive, sleep is important, and that’s insane. When the social worker realized I was pregnant, she told me that typically, they don’t place a newborn with a family that is expecting. So, we went on with life. I still thought about that baby. I would love to have another girl. I have always wanted twins, so two babies who were a few months apart could work. Maybe. But, rules are rules.

A few weeks later, the social worker called again. They had reached out to several families, but couldn’t find a home for the now seven week old baby. ‘Talk to your husband, and let me know. Oh, and can you drive three hours tomorrow morning to pick her up?’ This was crazy!  Who has babies three months apart? Also, I would have FIVE kids! That’s TLC reality show level nuts!

After talking, praying and having an emotional breakdown, we called back and said yes. We said yes to a baby who deserved someone to be excited about bringing her home. We said yes to lots of unknowns, to months of sleepless nights, feeding babies and worrying that we couldn’t be enough, couldn’t provide enough. We were zero percent convinced this was a wise choice, but it seemed like the only choice.

So, we drove halfway across the state to pick up a baby we had never met. Big brown eyes and tiny dimples looked up from an impossibly tiny face, and at seven weeks old this child was smiling. To see this beautiful, perfect and helpless baby, was to immediately love her.

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As soon as I held her in my arms, something switched in me. I knew we had enough because she had nothing. This tiny infant with her life in front of her deserved every opportunity this world had for her. I felt a responsibility to her and to the person she would grow to be, and I knew in that moment we could make this work.

The social workers told us that the birth mother and the maternal grandmother both had extremely low IQs, and that chances were this baby would too. At this point, I didn’t care. They could have told me she would have an arm grow out of her forehead, and I would have said, ‘Great! We’re ready to take our baby home now!’

We signed our names to a couple of documents and we left holding a baby that we had met only 10 minutes before. I was waiting for someone to come running out of the office and demand I give her back. It was surprisingly anticlimactic: sign here, here’s your baby, thanks for coming.

Our days with two infants weren’t what you’d imagine. When I think back on those months, I don’t remember being exhausted or overwhelmed, though I’m sure I was both. I remember being completely in love with those two babies. They fit together so well, and being their momma was a dream I never knew I had.

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I still remember exactly how she and her brother felt curled in my arms as I would sing them songs and they would coo in an effort to match my words. I remember how magical it was the first time they laughed together. I remember how much sheer joy they brought us.

And then there was the devastating phone call letting me know that we probably wouldn’t get to adopt this baby, who in our hearts was already our daughter.

I remember pleading with God, with social workers and anyone who would listen to please not take her away.

I do believe, from the bottom of my heart, that biological families belong together whenever possible. But the situation around our case left zero doubt that we were the best place for this baby. The social workers said that a distant relative would be taking our daughter. The relative was much older, single, no children, no job, living in poverty, but legally she had every right to custody. The case worker told she would be much better off with us, but that’s not considered in these situations.

My memories of those days revolve around fear and desperation. I talked to judges and lawyers and handfuls of social workers, who all assured me we had little to no chance to fight this.

I spent the holidays that year in a haze. I loved our time as a family. I tried to be thankful for whatever time we had together. But no matter how hard, I tried I couldn’t convince myself that it would be enough.

The thought of next year’s Christmas without her laughing while trying to pick ornaments off the tree was shattering.

But even more shattering was the idea that this precious girl could be cut off from opportunities we knew we could give her. We would work extra jobs, make sacrifices, and move heaven and earth to give her, and all of our children, whatever they need. Would she have the same promise in her new family?

I couldn’t bear the idea that she would be tossed into a life where there were no siblings to play with, no grandparents who loved her, and no father who would give her the world if he could.

Would this distant relative able to find her the very best schools and teachers and doctors to help with any issues or special needs she may have?

Would they sing to her and dance with her?  It was her favorite thing.

Would she wind up back in foster care if her needs became too great?

I couldn’t imagine her living a life with so many unknowns.

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The week before our court date where we were sure we’d lose her, the social worker let us know that the relative changed her mind. She would not pursue custody. Because God was so incredibly good to us, we were able to adopt our sweet daughter when she was 10 months old.

After all the months spent worrying, it didn’t seem real until the judge declared her legally and forever ours. No more social workers, home visits, or nights wondering if they were our last nights together.

On her adoption day, we gathered our closest friends and family and had an amazing celebration. It was the one of best days of my life. I have never been so relieved, so thankful.

It has been two years since we brought our girl home, and almost two years since our son was born. My daughter is the smartest child we have ever known. She sings and talks non-stop. She loves people and waves like Miss America everywhere she goes. She remembers everything she sees, and tells every stranger she comes across all about it.

She is so much more than the labels that were put on her. She is brilliant, and we don’t need an IQ test or a family history to tell us that.

My favorite part of being a momma is seeing my kids together, playing and falling to the floor in the middle of belly laughs.

I love watching the babies as they go bopping through the yard holding hands, and singing a song in a language only they understand.

Seeing my brown son swell up with pride when he tells people that his sister loves him so much, because they both have beautiful dark skin melts my heart. Seeing my big kids love on the littles, and the way they take so much joy in each other is enough to make me stop whatever I am doing and thank God for His mercy.

There have, of course, been hard times. There have been days where I was too busy to shower. We have been pooped on and spat up on more times that any human should. Our now toddlers have had epic tantrums in the middle of the grocery store. We have had tough days that ended in me curled up in a ball crying on my husband’s chest.

But, there has not been one single second of one day that we have regretted our choices. There has not been a day that has passed that I am not tickled to get to be her momma. I will live the rest of my life trying to be worthy of the title.”

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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hollifield of Momstrosity. It originally appeared on their blogSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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