It all started with an email.
After four and half years of enjoying our sweet daughter Claire, it was time to put our names into the hat to adopt again. I had completed the necessary paperwork for the same agency that we adopted Claire, updated our adoption album, and the “waiting game” had begun. As with our adoption of Claire- you can wait a week or you can wait a year, but there is always a wait built into the adoption process –always. So I was surprised when we got an email so suddenly from our social worker letting us know that there was a birthmother, due soon, who was interested in beginning a conversation with us about adoption. But there was a catch: this birthmother, although carrying a healthy baby boy, had overdosed on medication very early in her pregnancy. Would we still be interested in her seeing our album?
I asked Erik what his thoughts were. He said: “Well, Claire’s birthmother drank heavily for nine months straight and God protected her in the womb. So let’s trust God again, and go for it.” We said yes, and to make a long story short, we met with beautiful Kristin, hit it off right away, and she chose us to parent her baby boy! Our little family of three was over the moon with excitement!
The baby boy, whom the birthmother had named Logan, was born without a hitch and was a beautiful, healthy baby boy indeed. But according to Virginia state law, the birthparents have 25 days to change their mind about the adoption, so we could not adopt him right away. Erik, Claire and I excitedly started a nursery and bought diapers and formula, all the normal things expectant families do.
Our excitement was tempered somewhat when we approached the 25 day mark. We heard from our agency that the birthfather had registered himself on website called the Virginia Putative Father registry. What did that mean? That’s when our social worker told us some bad news: it seemed the birthfather did not want his parental rights to be terminated and would most likely contest the adoption. Oh no! There was a court date in two months and we would know more then. My social worker told me guardedly: “I will be honest with you Heather. This is not a good sign, but don’t give up hope. We need to see what happens in court. Maybe he will allow this adoption to go through after all.”
After two difficult and nerve-wracking months, the phone rang. It was our social worker, asking us to drive down to the adoption agency to meet with the birthfather, as he had requested a meeting with us. We were all hopeful that this was a good sign, and we met with him a few hours before he was scheduled for court. My first impression of the birthfather, I’ll admit, was very positive. He was tall, very handsome, and seemed genuinely nice. We chatted back and forth for about an hour or so, and I thought we had a great connection with him. The meeting went well!! The crazy part was that he was due in court that very day, and had to make his decision in literally about an hour from the time we met with him!
I vividly remember him leaving the office and walking out to his car (I was watching from a window). When he got to his car he started anxiously pacing back and forth.
“Hon, look at him,” I said to Erik. We watched him pacing for several minutes before getting into his car to drive to the courthouse. “That’s not a good sign.”
We were driving home when we got the call from our social worker. She told us that the birthfather had indeed filed for custody of his son, and would not allow his parental rights to be terminated!! She told us that this was most likely a closed door as Judges very rarely, if at all, rule against a child’s biological parents. The birth father was ordered to complete a home study and come back in six months. He also had the option to begin visitation with Logan.
Our social worker said we should consider this a closed door. After hanging up the phone, we both started to cry buckets of tears right there in the car. I couldn’t believe that our adoption had just fallen through! It was a long drive home.
After mourning our loss for a couple of weeks, we decided to go back into the waiting pool at the adoption agency so other birth mothers could review our album, but they were hesitant to start communicating with us because they knew that Kristin had chosen us, and we were all in limbo until the second court date, which was scheduled for six months from that time.
Remember what I said about the fact that there’s always a wait built into every adoption? Well that’s where our wait occurred – right there in the middle of the story — for six long months.
What we didn’t know was that God was working behind the scenes, in unexpected ways, using everyday people to accomplish His purposes.
During the long six month wait, there were a lot of people in limbo. For starters, our poor birthmother was caught in a time warp, trying to decide if she should parent her son, even though she felt that adoption was in his best interest. In the end she decided that she would parent Logan if it came down to it, rather than allow him to go to the birthfather, as she knew things about him that led her to believe that he was not a good man. Kristin remained strong and resolute during the whole process and didn’t give up hope that good would come from this difficult situation.
Secondly, it was a long wait for Kristin’s parents, who were wondering how the story was going to turn out. In order to burn off nervous energy, Kristin’s dad took matters into his own hands and started to dig into the background of the birthfather. He met with some folks, followed up on some rumors, and hired a Private Investigator. What he found was very disturbing: it turned out that the birthfather had a serious criminal background. The birthfather was not a good man, and Logan’s grandfather was determined to keep Logan away from him. They actually wondered if Logan’s birthfather really even wanted Logan, or if he just wanted to have some sort of twisted power play over Kristin. Logan’s grandfather diligently gathered documentation to use against the birthfather in court.
It was also a long wait for the adoption agency and Logan’s foster family, as they had only signed up for the typical 25 day foster care timeline. They were wonderful people, however, and loved Logan as their own son.
It was also a long wait for poor Logan, who was in limbo in foster care, awaiting his forever family, whoever that would turn out to be.
Of course, it was a long wait for us, too. So we did what most Christians do when they don’t know what to do: we prayed. Erik, Claire and I prayed diligently, many of our friends and family prayed, and Kristin’s mother was continually praying for God’s will to be done for sweet Logan.
After nine long months of waiting and praying, everything came to fruition one cold day in February when the second court date finally arrived. We were all on pins and needles, wondering what the Judge would decide. Erik was at work but I was at home praying non-stop when the call came through. It was our social worker.
I could actually hear the joy in her voice when I picked up the phone: “By a miracle of God, the Judge ruled against the birthfather and terminated his parental rights!! Logan is yours! We just need to schedule a Placement Day and then you get to take him home!!”
Our little boy lost would now be able to come home to us forever! I called up Erik at work and we both started crying on the phone together (spontaneous, intense crying is built into every adoption as well).
But how did this happen? Why did the Judge rule against Logan’s biological father? It turns out that there were three main factors. First, the birthfather failed to complete his home study and didn’t visit Logan even ONE time during the six month period. Secondly, the birthfather did not have a parenting plan in place. Thirdly and most importantly, the Judge accepted the criminal background information on the birthfather that Logan’s grandfather was able to provide to the court. It was clear to the Judge that Logan being parented by his biological father, in this case, was definitely not in Logan’s best interests.
Two weeks later our little family of three drove down for the Placement Ceremony!
The Placement Ceremony was a wonderful, emotional, joyous celebration. Unfortunately, Logan cried and screamed during most of the ceremony, but his crying did not diminish our joy at becoming his parents. Logan became our son on February 13, 2009.
In the years since, we have been privileged to enjoy an open adoption with Kristin and her parents. We love them as if they are a part of our family. We’ve visited them and they have visited us. Logan knows his full story and knows and loves his biological family. Open adoption has really worked for us and has been a blessing for Logan.
I recently called Kristin’s dad for the writing of this post. I thanked him for doing his part in Logan’s story, and I asked him if he thought his investigative work played a role in court that day. He answered very simply and humbly: “I don’t think the adoption would have gone forward without the information we were able to bring to the court.”
“You saved a life,” I told him directly. “In my opinion, at least. You changed the course of a human life.”
In conclusion, I want to specifically single out Logan’s beautiful and amazing birthmother Kristin for remaining strong for nine uncertain months, and for giving us one of the best gifts we could possibly receive. We cannot imagine life without our active, funny, intense, deep, sweet, sporty, smart, and big-hearted son. You are amazing Kristin and we love you. You are family!
As I look back on the story and see how many moving parts had to perfectly coincide for the miracle of Logan coming into our family, I am so very grateful to God, for making everything turn out the way it was supposed to be for everyone. I am so glad that not only is Logan a part of our family, but Logan’s entire biological family is now a part of our family, too.