When we started this whole adoption process five years ago, we were naive, excited and so optimistic. We started researching agencies and began narrowing down which avenue of adoption we were able to pursue. We knew it was not going to be an easy journey, but the hardships we faced still knocked us off our feet. A lot of heartache, rejection, 5 years and 3 agencies later we have our son, who was completely worth the wait.
As you all know, we decided to adopt privately, through an infant domestic program. They educated us on the realities of adoption today, and helped us make a realistic plan in regards to exposure and openness with the birth family. We were told that most women who make an adoption plan for their baby do so because they are struggling with a certain vice, whether it be addiction, homelessness, a violent relationship or incarceration. We were also told to manage our expectations on the level of openness we would have with the birth family, and not to move forward with a situation unless we were comfortable.
Will and I talked through different scenarios and prayed that we would be matched with an expectant mother who wanted somewhat of an open adoption. Honestly we wanted a relationship with her that was within our own set of boundaries.
Payton and I started emailing in March after our agency put us in contact. I was so incredibly nervous that I would say the wrong thing or that she would find a reason to not choose us. It had been almost a year since we became active with our agency, and we had come in "second place" 4 times already with expectant mothers.
We exchanged photos and shared a bit about our lives. We found out in just a few emails back and forth that we had a lot in common. That afternoon the agency called us to say we were matched.
From then on out I mainly emailed with Payton's mom, who shared more of Payton's life with me as the entire situation was really hard for her. I remember checking my email like crazy and weighing everything I said in response. God used those emails to bond us together as family.
Fast forward 6 months...
As you all know, Payton wanted a closed adoption when we matched. She then decided she wanted to meet us and shared her desire to have a semi-open adoption. After Milo was born, our social worker told us that she wanted updates through social media and a visit once a year around his birthday. We had been praying for this (with the utmost respect for her wishes) because we knew Milo would benefit from a relationship with his birth mom. But I also realized that one visit a year would not allow them to truly know each other.
So we went out to Utah.
To say I was terrified would be an understatement. I knew it was the right thing to do, for Milo and Payton, but I was so unsure of how the visit would go. Walking up to her parents house that Saturday morning, I was so nervous I could have puked. We walked into the apartment and saw everyone sitting around the coffee table. Payton's face immediately filled with joy when she saw us and it filled my heart with peace. We all sat down and visited for hours and the awkwardness disappeared. Payton held Milo, fed him and rocked him to sleep.
We went to the park, just the four of us, and Payton walked us down the main street in her town. Her mom picked us up and showed us where they went to school, where they were building there new home, and all the cute neighboring Swiss town.
I don't remember a lot of details from that first day or even what we really talked about. I just remember how easy it was to talk to her and her family, and how much love and care they all have for Milo.
We went out for dinner that evening with Payton and her boyfriend, Simon. Milo puked all over both of them, which is his biggest sign of affection. We learned more and more about Payton and our love for her grew.
We spent the rest of the weekend visiting with Payton and her family. On our last day, we took Payton out for lunch and talked about her plans for college. This is a girl whose whole life got turned upside down because of an unplanned pregnancy. She made the hardest decision and chose to make an adoption plan for him, putting her wants and needs behind his.
She is incredibly selfless and brave and wants to change the world. I could not be more proud of her, not just as Milo's birth mom, but as the women she is becoming.
We prepared ourselves to be matched with a birth mom(family) that would either not want a relationship with us, or that would have something in her life that hindered any sort of relationship with us. God matched us with Payton, and no other birth mom could ever compare. We had no idea how much love and admiration we would feel for her. She is someone I completely admire and respect.
She is the reason Will and I are parents.
Today, Payton, on your birthday, as you start another year, we hope you celebrate all you have accomplished so far. We hope you continue to live boldly, and that you fiercely own your story, because it is beautiful redemption. Work hard at what you want to achieve and dream big. The three of us will always be here, cheering you on.
We love you and are so thankful to call you family.