And to end this amazing series, today I'd love to share our 7th adoption journey. It's a heartfelt, beautiful and truly touching story of Hannah, her husband Aaron and their 16-month-old (and oh-so adorable) twins Cason and Grace...
Hi there! My name is Hannah Bunker and I run a little corner of the internet at Hannah Bunker with a blog called Everything Sunny Always. I write about my creative projects and my heartfelt and humorous outlook on the nutty, hard, and blessed events that happen in my life. I’ve written about our battle through infertility, our journey to adoption, and now our life as an adoptive, transracial family of boy/girl twins. My marriage counselor husband and I live in Houston - the most humid city on the planet (that’s only slightly dramatic) - and in addition to being a wife, mom, and writer, I’m a production manager for a local photographer. Translation: I’m creative and a computer nerd.
We’re often asked about our adoption story and how we became a family of four and I’m always excited to talk about our journey because it was an astounding series of events that still has me wondering, “Did that really happen?!".
Not Enough Eggs in the Carton
There’s this part of me that hates to talk about how infertility led us to adoption because that always makes it sound like adoption was our second choice. It wasn’t. It was always the first option, we just had to go through what we did with infertility to get there. We always said that we would adopt some day, but of course like most people who say that, we planned on having bio children first then adopt. But adoption became the top tier of our hearts and we realized that this was how we wanted our family to come together.
It was year three of baby making and no babies were being made. We had spent enough time at the fertility doctor, that we added them to our Christmas card list. Surgeries, tests, shots, inseminations…the whole gamut. Until one day Ms. M.D. said, “Your egg count is low. Your best chance to conceive is with IVF.”
My gut took a swift kick. I was only in my mid-twenties and there weren’t enough eggs in the carton already? All I could see were dollar signs and dreaded daily hormone injections. And my husband and I both had enough of me turning into The Hulk at the drop of a pin. But we wanted to give it a try. However, we didn’t want to go into mountainous amounts of debt. So we tried for an entire year to get into several IVF study wait lists so the cost would be diminished, but we had no luck. However, in that year of waiting we realized that we just didn’t feel like that IVF was for our family at that time. And we felt that we should grow our family through adoption.
Choosing to Adopt
Christmas 2012 we officially decided that we would adopt. We shared the news with our families on Christmas Day and they were emotional and ecstatic! Just as excited as if we had told them that we were pregnant which meant so much to us. In early 2013 we took an 8 week-long adoption education class with a local pregnancy center because before we even took steps to begin the process, we wanted to know all of our options and everything about how the process worked. From that class, we decided that we would either foster-to-adopt or go through a private agency for a domestic infant adoption. For all of 2013 we weighed between the emotional risk of going the foster-to-adopt route and the giant 5-figure cost of going through an agency. I didn’t know if my heart could withstand a foster situation at that point in my life, but we were also scared of the cost if we were to apply with an agency.
Choosing What Type of Adoption
With an entire year of praying and thinking and then praying even more, we decided that the cost shouldn’t stand in our way and we decided to begin looking at adoption agencies to pursue a domestic newborn adoption.
We kept this decision to ourselves as we started brainstorming fundraising ideas. That same week, we went out to dinner with some friends of ours. After dinner they said “We feel like we should give you some money to help with your adoption costs” and they handed us a check for fourteen thousand dollars.
Finding an Agency
Fourteen thousand dollars meant that we could actually start filing paperwork with an agency! So we found an agency that was a perfect fit for us and in late October 2013 we turned in our application while we continued to fundraise the rest through t-shirt campaigns, auctions, and raffles. By early December we were pre-approved and we had our home study scheduled to begin in January of 2014. The timeline looked like we would be approved and on a list of waiting parents by February 2014.
Then mid-December 2013 our social worker called us. She had just received a call from the birthparents of a set of twins who were looking to place their children into a loving home. She immediately thought of us since we were open to multiples and two hours before she was meeting with the birth parents, she called us to see if we were interested. “Are you serious?! ABSOLUTELY!” I quickly wrote our Dear Birthmother letter and she presented us to the birthparents.
While we waited for them to decide whether or not they wanted to meet with us, we fast tracked our home study to have it ready so we could be prepared for the twins to be placed with us should they choose us to parent. The home study that usually takes a month, we completed in 24 hours!
The day after Christmas 2014 we sat down with the birth parents. This is what we get asked about most when we talk to groups and panels about our adoption story. Everyone is always curious about meeting and talking with the birth parents. And we always tell the truth…it’s awkward. And it’s a little scary. For everyone…the adoptive parents and the birth parents. There’s so much weight to such a meeting while still trying to keep it casual. Casualty and weight are antonymous. You want to play it cool and understand how hard of a decision they are having to make while letting them know I. WILL. LOVE. YOUR. CHILD. FIERCELY. In all caps. You want a baby so bad, but we have to understand that they are facing such loss. And that’s so hard.
Sitting there face to face with the birth parents, my heart ached for them but was excited for us. I was trying to put up walls in case these weren’t meant to be our kids, but the truth is that we already loved these kids with every ounce of our hearts. And that love spilled over into their birth parents. And I confessed that. I confessed how much I loved these kids already even if they chose someone else. And I told them how much I loved them. How my heart just swelled for them. I felt like I took a chance putting my heart out, exposed for them to see my feelings about them and their babies, but I had to tell them how I felt. Playing it cool or not…all I could feel was love.
We left the meeting with a good impression. They asked for time to make their decision. We respected that. I allowed myself to get excited and look at cribs. While at Ikea after our meeting, our social worker called.
“Keep Monday afternoon open to sign the paperwork and bring the babies home.”
I cried. We had three days to prepare to bring our twins home. People poured into our home with presents and clothes, diapers, wipes, food, formula, gear…everything you could think of. We had everything we needed.
On December 30, 2013 we brought our twins, Cason and Grace, home at three weeks old.
A Year Later
Our kiddos are now 16 months months and it has been a blast watching them grow! Being a mom is the funnest, coolest, and hardest job I’ve ever had. A lot of people are curious about our life with twins; If it’s hard, what our routine is, and how we manage. The initial shock of having twins wasn’t too hard on me since I have twin sisters who are eight years younger than me. So I was well acquainted with life with twins from a very young age. The best way I know how to describe our life with two kiddos is that it’s a well-oiled machine. We’re very routine, methodical, and my husband, Aaron, and I are very much a team. We don’t have traditional 9-5 jobs, I work from home, and the kids are home with us so there’s a lot of communication and tag teaming between us when it comes to living in the day-to-day.
I think becoming a parent through any route with 9 months or 3 days to prepare, there’s still no way to figure out what to do until you do it. It’s on-the-job training. For four years I wanted to be a mom and I finally had everything I wanted!
And it was hard. Not that I expected it to be easy, I just didn’t expect to grieve my former go-anywhere-anytime-you-want type of life. And I felt extremely guilty for feeling loss - because these kiddos were depending on me and because my arms were finally filled when so many women out there still ached for a baby. But truthfully, it just takes time to adjust to the new normal. With one baby or two, 9 months of prep or one…it changes your life and getting used to that change takes some time even when you have the two best kids in the world like I have. (Side-note: I’m biased). Figuring out the new season of life once the kiddos came home was a big adjustment, but one I’m so blessed to be able to make.
Now, we spend our days feeling blessed that, after a long journey to create a family, we’re now a family of four.
Thank you Hannah for sharing your beautiful story!
P.S: Fancy more? Here are all the amazing adoption stories from this series. Enjoy!
(Photos by Athena Rochelle, Adam Nyholt, Londyn Layne Photography and Karen Jacot)