First up is Katie and her adorable baby boy, Brooks. Here is their story!
A few words about who you are, what you do, where you live and what you are passionate about.
Hi you guys! Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I’m Katie, born and raised in beautiful Middle Tennessee. A few years ago I quit my day job to start a small jewelry brand that has actually bloomed into a full-time business. (I’m still in shock over that!) It’ called Dear Mushka as a tribute to my mother (who nicknamed me “mushka- little one with big eyes” ) and also to all our future little mushkas. It’s an everyday love story to this boy we adopted and to all our future children, too.
I’m passionate about telling people of God’s amazing grace, trying to be the best wife + mother I can be, and loving the people around me well! Oh, and guacamole. I’m passionate about that too!
When, why and how did you decide on adoption?
A few years ago I really just felt like God started tugging at my heart to adopt a child. It's not something we had talked about or considered before, but there are so many children in our world that need a loving family; why shouldn't we be some of the people to provide that for them? The idea was weird to my husband at first (we hadn't even tried to pursue biological children yet!), but he eventually got on board, too.
Because this was our first child, we both agreed we wanted an infant. Starting a family with an older child seemed like more than we were equipped to handle which was good to note; you have to know your limits! We were also passionate about loving a sweet baby from as close to home as possible and loving his or her birth-mother if the opportunity arose. Because of those reasons, we settled on a domestic infant adoption pretty quickly.
How did the process feel to you? The paperwork, the resources you used, the timeline, the emotional rollercoaster, the wait, the uncertainty?
We only knew two other families pursuing adoption so we asked them a lot of questions and then prayed that God would just make our next steps very clear. There are so many agencies out there - deciding on one seemed like the most overwhelming part, for sure. I had a friend recommend a consultant group out of Georgia, though, and once we talked to them it seemed like a perfect fit. Instead of being an agency themselves, they work with twelve agencies instead, so the chance of us getting a baby quickly was multiplied by 12! We were open to either gender and any race, which opened up more doors, too.
I also learned that most employees within the adoption realm are very helpful; they love when you ask questions and are more than happy to guide you along the way. I learned it was okay to just say “I don’t know what I’m doing! Help!” and trust them to give me our next steps.
The paperwork, home study, etc wasn't particularly fun, but it wasn't hard either. We had a long checklist of what we had to accomplish and we just kept moving through it one item at a time. I think it’s helpful to take a deep breath and just try to focus on the step right in front of you; otherwise, you might go crazy with everything that needs to be done and the uncertainty of it all!
I’ll also add that we loved the social worker who came to do our home study. Movies/TV tend to make that process seem daunting, but I think as long as your home isn't dangerous and your marriage isn't a mess, most social workers will be more than happy to approve you! Don’t be nervous.
When did you start sharing your plans with your family and friends? How did they react?
I think knowing when and what to share is a little tricky because so much is up in the air; you’re learning as you go and don’t have a lot of answers people want to know! But for us, we wanted to use our story to also encourage other people to adopt so we told people immediately and then used Facebook updates and blog posts the whole way through.
All our friends were extremely kind and excited with us, responding exactly as if (or even better than?) we had announced that we were pregnant. They threw us baby showers, quickly donated items they no longer needed, and held our hands along the way.
To be honest, our family was a little shocked though. I think some people view actual blood relation as most important and it took our parents a little getting used to. We also announced that we would be open to any race, and knowing a child might enter our family that didn't look a thing like us was hard on a few people. But ultimately, we knew it was right (and we were so excited!) which rubbed off on them, too!
How did the day of Brooks’ birth feel? What happened?
Well our story took a surprising turn! Just a few weeks before we went active with our consultant group we had friends from church mention a connection they had to a birth-mother placing her son up for adoption. He was coming soon and she wanted to know if we were interested. We, of course, said yes and were meeting a brand new baby boy in the hospital just two weeks later. The whole process was a whirlwind (we started the process in April 2014 and our son was born August 2014!) but we wouldn't have it any other way.
Brooks ended up being a week “late” so his birth-mother had to be induced, which was a huge blessing. We were able to drive down to Alabama and be at the hospital the whole time, rather than getting a 'he’s coming!' call in the middle of the night. All day long we paced around and tried to stay busy, but we were so ready to meet our son! He was born in a tiny hospital that had a waiting room right across the hall from the room he was born in. We heard his first cries, got to carry him to the nursery, watch the nurse clean him up, take his weight, etc. It was absolutely incredible and honestly, an experience even most mothers don’t get! They’re usually recovering in bed, but I felt fine ;) The hospital provided us a room to stay in with him that first night so I immediately got to do all his feedings and care. They even accidentally took my blood as if I were his birth-mother, but that's another story haha.
After your son came home with you, was there an adjustment period or did you feel the connection with him right away? How was it for your husband and the rest of the family?
You know, I love this question because honestly, I was secretly worried that the connection I felt with Brooks would always be lacking a little; I would certainly love and cherish him, but maybe there would always be something I was missing out on compared to my relationship with a biological child? But as soon as the nurse placed him in my arms I immediately felt like I was being handed my child who had been gone from me for 9 months. He felt as much like mine as if I had given birth myself. It was incredible! Later that night, when everyone else was asleep and he woke up to eat, it was up to me to feed him. He opened his eyes wide, looked into mine, and it was like we both just knew that we’d have one another forever.
I think my husband and the rest of our family felt the same way, too. Brooks was born in Alabama which just happened to be the state my husband is from. He has a lot of extended family there so we were quickly bombarded (in the best way) with family and love. We had to stay in the state until all the paperwork cleared (this ended up taking only a week!), but were able to stay with Aunts/Uncles and show Brooks off to his new family immediately. The thought of adoption can be daunting, but when that child is actually seen and held and loved you realize just how normal it all is.
How is life nowadays? (Has adopting a child been what you expected so far?)
Life is absolutely amazing. Truly, I don’t think that things are any different than if we’d made him ourselves. The only differences are probably in relation to medical care. His name hasn't officially been changed yet (birth-mother’s usually name babies in the hospital and then you change them later) so when we go to the doctor they have to call him by his other name for insurance purposes, which is a little confusing and weird. We also don’t have a lot of medical history on him (we know nothing about his birth-father other than that he was African American) so that might present problems in the future, but right now he is healthy and happy and we can’t imagine life without him! We've loved sharing his story with others and are so thankful that God made this part of OUR story.
Do you have contact with the birth mother? Would you like to?
Robert and I really wanted to have that opportunity, but Brooks’ birth-mother wanted complete closure, which we understood. One day that might change, but for now this is where we are and honestly - I think that has been helpful in us feeling like he’s absolutely ours. We know a few things about her, though, and can’t wait to tell him what an incredible woman she was and how much she clearly loved him! One of the coolest part of the story is that "Brooks" is the only boy name my husband and I could agree on, and it turned out that this was Brooks' biological great grandfather's name, too. His birth-mother gave him this middle name even before she knew we'd chosen it! We can't wait to tell him that.
Are you planning on having more children in the future?
Absolutely! When we started this adoption process we thought we’d adopt Brooks and then try to have a biological child next, but now we think we might adopt again. The whole process is just so beautiful. It’s such a clear picture of how God adopts us into His family and we we’re thankful for the opportunity to share that with others.
And any other aspects of your journey you’d like to share with us...
I think I just want to say that there are a lot of fears associated with adoption, but not every adoption story ends in grief! It took us less time to adopt a child than if we’d made a baby ourselves and we ended up with the most beautiful, healthy, joyful son. There are certainly stories that tell of long, drawn out adoptions but I've never heard adoptive parents say the fight wasn't worth it. So keep going! One day you're going to have that child in your arms and all the energy, time, and money you poured into getting him or her home will seem like nothing.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to our story. If you want to follow us along you can find us on Instagram here or here, or my blog or Twitter :)
Thank you so much, Katie for sharing your beautiful story! xo
(All photos by Katie)