"The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother"- Anonymous

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Letters to You: Hopeful Family Spotlight: The Walker Family

We were selected as the spotlight family over at Letters to You (a WONDERFUL blog written by K, a birth mother who shares her journey through adoption). I'm so thrilled that K is sharing our story with her readers!!! Please check out her blog and read about her story!

Weekend Special: Hopeful Adoptive Family! The Walker Fam

Cat has been amazingly patient with me in getting this post ready and up! But after 2 weeks of delaying-- it's finally here!! After you read about them here, head on over to their blog and check her out. She's hilarious and exceptionally honest :)

Who are these people??
Steve and Cathy and their son Gus!

Here are five interesting things about Cathy:
1) I am a twin (I have a twin brother)
2) I can wiggle my ears
3) I speak fluent Pig Latin
4) I’ve been an Elite Yelp member for three years straight and I’m quite proud (2010, 2011, and 2012)
5) I was a Scholastic Teacher Advisor for two years and I am currently a member of the Scholastic Mom and Dad Squad! I get to review children’s books and they post my reviews online and in the Book Club flyers!

Here are five interesting things about Steve:
1) He has traveled all over the world and yet his favorite place ever is home
2) He’s a HUGE Cincinnati Bengals fan and has been since he was a little boy
3) His favorite car is the Ford Mustang
4) He reads the newspaper every single day
5) He went to Space Camp TWICE as a kid!

How, when, where, etc did you and your spouse fall madly in love?
We met online (love@aol.com which is now match.com) in 2004. He was on my “hot list” and so I sent him a wink. His profile heading was “Are you looking for your prince?” so when I messaged him, I said, “I’m looking for my prince!”

He got me as one of his “hot list” matches and had saved my profile. When I first saw his picture my first reaction was, “He has cheeks just like mine!” :-)

We ended up Emailing and IMing for about a month before moving to talking on the phone. Through emails and IM chats, we really grew close and I felt like I knew him more than anyone else. I shared things with him that I hadn’t shared with anyone else and he did the same.

We decided to meet after a month of communicating and decided to go to Mass together. On March 6, 2004, I drove to his apartment and we headed to Mass together. While we were in church, he held my hand. I was smitten. We went back to his apartment and made dinner together and spent the entire night laughing and it just felt like the part of me that had been missing my whole life was finally there. For the first time ever, I felt whole.

We have been inseparable since our first date. We got engaged in September of 2005 while camping with friends and I was totally not expecting it at all. It was perfect and while it wasn’t “romantic” it was totally us.

Our wedding was on July 8, 2006 and we got married in the Bahamas. We were married at noon, both of us were barefoot, and we said our vows while standing on the beach. It was the most incredible experience. Within an hour of being married, we were lounging in the pool sipping tropical drinks as man and wife.

Have you adopted before?
Yes! We adopted our son Gus in May of 2010.

Share your journey to adoption. Why now? Why adoption? What has helped get you through your journey?
As soon as we got married we started trying to build our family. It was fun and exciting at first, and then after several months of no success, it because worrisome. I read the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” and we started charting EVERTHING.

Through charting, and taking my temperature every morning, we realized that I was not ovulating regularly. I took all my data (almost a year’s worth of charting) to the doctor to find out what was the problem. I had blood-work done, lots of tests, internal ultrasounds, and found that there’s nothing wrong. I’m just not ovulating monthly (but I do ovulate). Her advice was to keep trying and hope that our timing would be perfect.

We tried for five years. It was agonizing and I had repeated visits to the doctor to find out if there was something else going on. It was determined that I have “unexplained infertility.” I’ll never forget the feeling of desperation each time we took a pregnancy test. We had the hopes and dreams of it being positive and our lives changing forever… only to be met with a negative test, and feeling destroyed.

The endless tears, depression, and stress on our marriage was taking its toll. We knew that we could overcome anything placed before us, but it was so hard to be denied the one thing that we both wanted more than anything in this world. We KNEW we’d make great parents and knew we could give so much to a child. We just didn’t know why it wasn’t happening for us.

Neither of us wanted to go through the IVF route. Not only is it super expensive, but more often than not, painful, and leads to multiple failed pregnancies. We didn’t think we could handle anymore setbacks and disappointment. We decided that instead of putting ourselves through that, we’d adopt. We both have adoption in our families and had talked about adopting at some point in our marriage, so it wasn’t too difficult of a decision to reach. We knew there was a risk of a failed match, and knew that at any time, a birth mother and father could decide to parent, but it was a risk that we were willing to take.

We started the adoption process in December 2009 with an agency in North Carolina (where we were living at the time) and finished our home study in March of 2010. We became an official waiting family in April of 2010. We shared our “live” profile with friends and family on Facebook and via email.
At the end of April, we went to MI (where we lived before moving to NC and where I was born and raised. While on vacation, my cousin contacted me about our adoption profile that I had recently posted on Facebook. Her coworker’s niece was pregnant and looking to adopt, and my cousin had shared our profile with them. They loved what they saw and wanted us to adopt the baby.

We were SHOCKED. Our agency wouldn’t work with us because the adoption would be taking place in another state, so we used an attorney. My cousin had called us on May 3, 2010 and we were told that the birth parents didn’t know the gender, and the baby was due at the end of May/beginning of June.

We had JUST ordered our crib the day before (my parents bought it for us and it was being shipped to our house in NC while we were on vacation). We arrived back home from vacation on May 8th… the crib was there. Steve put it together on May 9th and we unpacked from our trip.

On May 10, 2010, while sitting in the car, while waiting to go into a Durham Bulls baseball game, we got a phone call from the aunt (my cousin’s coworker) that her niece was in labor! We freaked out and immediately headed back to the house to pack. We made some necessary phone calls, threw all that we could into a bag and drove 12 hours to get to the hospital for our son’s birth.

Our journey has been amazing. We have the most incredible open adoption and feel that we’ve gained another tree into our family orchard. Our son’s birth family is as involved and important to us as our own biological families are. We see all sides of our family equally and send texts, emails, pictures, and FB messages equally to all of them.

How did you come to the decision to do an open adoption?
My twin brother has two children with his fiancé. When his fiancé had given birth to their first daughter Lily, I had a feeling of so much love come over me. I was madly, deeply in love with my niece and couldn’t wait to meet her. We were still talking about adoption but had not started the process yet.

We’re her God parents and love her so much. While attending an information session with our agency, we were talking about the pros/cons of open/semi-open/closed adoption. I had a realization that my brother’s fiancé, whom I LOVE and ADORE, could decide at any minute to take Lily and leave Scott, and we’d never see Lily again.

It was a devastating thought. It literally brought a flood of tears just thinking about what it’d be like to know I had a niece out there and not ever get to see her, hold her, or know her.

That’s all it took for us to decide that open adoption was the only way for us to go. Not only does the baby have birth parents that are making a decision, but they have extended family members who are impacted by the decision they make to place the child for adoption.
The thought of having a baby and denying aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, and cousins the right to know them was unacceptable. We knew then and there, that we wanted an open adoption. Even if the birth parents decided not to have anything to do with the baby, we wanted the extended family to have the right to know them.

What is your ideal birthmom like? Describe your ideal adoption. Is it open? Closed? Do the birth parents live geographically close? Are they in another state? Are you hoping to adopt international, foster, or domestic, newborn?
Our ideal adoption situation would be to have a birth mom AND birth father in the picture. We’d love to have a situation where two people make a plan, choose us, and wants to be part of our family. We know it’s not always possible and the chances of a birth father being in the picture aren’t statistically great, but in our ideal world, that’s what we’d have. We feel that birth fathers are just as important as birth mothers!

Our ideal birth mom/dad would be 100% certain of their decision to place their child for adoption. They’d have the support of their families and would want their extended family members to be as involved as possible as well.

We’re really only interested in open adoption. The circumstances would have to be very particular for us to decide on a closed adoption. Otherwise, we only want an open adoption. We feel that in an open adoption, EVERYONE wins. While the birth mother/father are not parenting, and it’s a decision that they’ll have to face for the rest of their lives, in an open adoption that works, they get to be part of the child’s life forever and still hold a very important role in their life.

We’d prefer to be geographically close, but that’s not a must-have thing for our adoption of baby #2. We aren’t looking to adopt out of the country though, so it’ll be a domestic adoption. We live in Georgia right now and would love to adopt in the state of Georgia, but we’re open to other states.

When we adopted Gus, we were held in MI for TWO MONTHS waiting to get to come back to NC with him. It was so hard… hopefully if we adopt out of state again, we won’t have the same problems as we had the first time!!

We are hoping to do domestic newborn. Child number three might be through foster care… but it’ll be a while down the road before we go that route. At some point though, we do hope to foster-adopt a child.

What advice do you have for other hopeful adoptive families?
If you’re with an agency, don’t get wrapped up in what other people are doing and don’t get jealous when someone else has their moment. When we were first waiting, it felt so competitive and we felt jealous at times when we’d see matches happening or babies born to families. We’d ask, “Why not us?” I was checking the blog daily to see what was happening and if any new matches took place overnight.

We learned that God has everything figured out and it’s best to just trust in His timing. The baby that you’re meant to parent will come to you when it’s time.

I feel like I had an epiphany recently about this. Just because we’ve adopted doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt anymore than we’re infertile. A great friend of mine (she also adopted a child), posted a blog post about this and it was enlightening. I came to the conclusion that had I been able to conceive a biological child, there’d be no Gus in my life. We were meant to be his parents and had we had biological children, we never would know him. It brought a sense of peace and comfort.

While I think you need to let things progress as they’re meant to happen, if you’re waiting a really long time (over a year), do something about it. Share your profile with as many people as you can, network, post on Facebook, get your name out there. You have to be proactive and take some control… and don’t give up hope.

We’re excited to start the process again in 2012 and think that Gus is going to be an amazing big brother. He loves babies and as he gets older, he’ll only be more ready for a sibling. I love that he and his sibling will share being adopted with each other.

So how can you find out more about this awesome family??
If you're interested in reading more about their adoption journey, check them out at Here We Go Again

Or you can check out their adoption profile on Hoping to Adopt.org!

Cat is also wonderful about responding to email: Steveandcat@steveandcat.net :)

No comments:

Post a Comment