National Adoption Awareness Month: Part III
|This baby was adopted by loving parents.|
As many of you know November is National Adoption Awareness Month, but for anyone familiar with the process of adoption you are aware of itÃ¯Â¿Â½year-round.
Actually, it is more of a struggle than awareness, every day filled with anticipation that the next time the phone rings it will be "the call," saying you have been chosen by a birth mother. Every night filled with worries of "What if no one likes our profile?" "What if we never get the chance to raise children?"
For my wife and me, our awareness of adoption came after four years of marriage and no children of our own. After studying the different ways adoption could be conducted we chose LDS Family Services as our means of searching for the missing piece in our family. Every hope filled couple, and every expectant family will have a different story, here is ours:
In March of 2006 my wife and I met with LDS Family Services and began the process of applying for adoption. It took months to fill out all of the required paperwork. We filled out forms about ourselves and our immediate families, interests, hobbies, education and personal background. We created a profile to be kept at all their agencies, with pictures of us, our families and our hobbies.
We answered questions about our abilities and willingness to care for a child who may possibly suffer from mental and or physical abuse or disease. After filling out forms about our own medical history we both underwent a physical examination by our doctor and submitted that as well, along with our permission for the agency to conduct a criminal background check. By the time this process was over I knew more about my wife than I had learned through almost a year of dating and four years of marriage, and I noticed things about myself I hadn't realized after 26 years of, wellÃ¯Â¿Â½being me.
Then we were approved for adoption by the agency and the waiting game began. Although we had regular contact with our agency, none of the regular "Hi, how are you doing" calls were ever as exciting as the times he would call to say that a child was being put up for adoption and we fit the needs of the birth mother.
But then weeks would go by without any news and we would slowly start to realize it wasn't meant to be. We would tell ourselves, perhaps the mother had simply chosen to keep her child, it was easier for us to believe that, than to think it was our profile that had discouraged the mother from choosing us.
Soon though, we would get another call and we would forget about our disappointment with our previous experience. This cycle would repeat itself for a little over a year before everything changed.
Father's Day 2007 was especially difficult for me and every commercial on TV stung a little when I thought that no one was every going to buy me a hideously ugly tie and I would love it anyway. That all changed the next day when we got a phone call from our case worker saying our profile had been pulled by a couple in Salt Lake City and they had chosen us to raise their unborn baby boy and wanted to meet us face-to-face in a couple of weeks. Our world was spinning; time sped up and slowed down all at the same time, we rejoiced and agonized over the next two weeks, until we met them.
We were led into a little room at the branch of LDS Family Services where we met them, at once all preconceived notions, about a mom who would be willing to give up her child, were shattered. Across from us sat a beautiful, articulate 20 year old girl and her handsome 25 year old boyfriend. We soon learned that each of them had a child of their own, from previous relationships, whom they loved very much and worked hard to provide for. Both of them held full time jobs and desperately wanted to get back in school to finish up their degree so they could better theirs and their children's lives. Both of them wanted to get into nursing programs and go on to bigger and better things. Although they both loved this unborn child they knew that they were not in a position to love him as much as someone else could.
Although they both loved each other, they were not married, and the thought of breaking up and leaving a child bouncing back and forth between two homes was not what they wanted for him. They wanted him to grow up in a stable home where he could love and be loved, and in a home where they could still know how he was doing.
They were already looking at another couple's profile when they saw ours, then they read further and learned my wife is Samoan and I am Caucasian. Our baby's father is Hawaiian and the mother is Caucasian, and at first glance the match seemed to fit well, as they read on in our profile they found more similarities than differences between us, and they chose to meet us.
I can honestly say I will never forget the day we met them, it falls third on my list of happiest days, after only my wedding and the eventual birth of my son. Over the next few months we kept in touch with phone calls and even text messages. One Sunday we drove up to Salt Lake for the mother's birthday party and got to meet her son and his son. We stayed for hours and got to know them better and would meet up again for lunches or dinners whenever we were in Salt Lake.
On Aug. 28, the dad called us to let us know they were at the hospital, and we went right up. Our son was born at 8:17 p.m. and over the next three days we met five generations of the mother's family and three generations of the father's family. Although a little awkward at first I think we have all become Ohana, the Hawaiian word for family.
Since his birth we have shared more meals with them and our son has been welcomed in by even more members of his father's family. We continue to send them pictures and letters and they continue to be a part of his life.
We chose a name for our son to help him always remember his parents and the path he traveled to get to us, he took his last name from me, his adoptive father, a Samoan name from my wife, his adoptive mother, and a traditional Hawaiian name to honor his biological parents and his place in our hearts. We introduce to the world, Sai'Peti E'po'mai'kai'ke'kua'o'kalani'ke'ia'ohana'aliif Merrell. Which translated means; "This blessing from God and heaven, given to our family from royal blood."