BrightSide and I were married almost ten years before T-man joined our crew.

It floors me when I think about that now.  A decade together as a married couple before our first child joined the family.  That wasn’t exactly our intent, but I’ll tell you what…thinking back on our time with the kids so far and what I’m sure is yet to come, it’s a damn good thing we had that long to get our feet on solid ground before wading into these parental waters.  Kids can bring on the challenges, y’all.

We’d planned (HA!) to be married about five years before having kids so we’d have time with just the two of us.  You know that famous saying “Man makes plans, and God laughs”?  Yeah, it was pretty much like that.  We could have timelines and intentions until the cows came home, but in the end our plans didn’t matter one bit.  Life’s funny like that.

Today I want to talk about how we met T-man.

The adoption process is filled with twists and turns.  Not like an unexpected pregnancy where surprise! a couple of lines appear and you’ve got about nine months to prepare for a baby.  It’s more like after taking the deliberate step toward becoming a parent you begin a cumbersome process that can have a big fat “who knows when this will finally happen” timeline.

Disclaimer:  Our only experience is with domestic adoption through an agency, so everything I describe has to do with that.  I have no idea what things are like with private or international adoption, adoption through surrogacy, or adoption through the foster program.

Once we decided we were ready to follow this path we begin with choosing whether to pursue domestic or international adoption.  The most logical choice for our family was domestic. International adoptions often require impromptu travel with extended stays abroad, and that simply wasn’t feasible for us.

We thought that was the biggest decision we would face; we had no idea it would be followed by an endless list of other choices to make.  Who did we feel prepared to parent?  What age child would we consider adopting?  Would we be willing to parent multiples?  We agreed with our agency’s position that adoptive parents should be open to either gender but there were several other questions they needed us to answer, including what race(s) we’d be ready to include in our family as well as considering the full spectrum of special needs.  This was a checklist of everything from birth defects correctible by surgery to lifelong disabilities.  Completing that application demanded a long, hard look at ourselves and what we truly felt we could handle as parents.

After making what seemed like a million decisions for the agency, then the paperwork really began. We started working on a home study, which is basically an assessment of your entire life. Professionals visit your home as well as evaluate your family and relationships to determine what kind of child they feel would be the best fit.  We tracked down birth and marriage certificates, got physicals, and had the police take our fingerprints and do criminal background checks.  The home study process is extensive, exhausting, and can take anywhere from two to six months.

(Just a brief pause here where I remember that LOTS of people have babies by simply getting knocked up.  But whatever.)

Once we had jumped through the legal hoops of being approved as parents then we could move forward with the agency.  My super awesome sister (whoop! whoop!) used her talents to help me create our books for the birthmothers.  This was basically a scrapbook of our life — how we met, our home, our life together, our families.  It included lots of pictures of the people who would be in our child’s life and the kinds of things our family likes to do.  So it was pretty much the most important first impression EVER.  No pressure, right?

We finished our books, sent them to the agency, and then we waited.  And waited.  And tried to live normal lives.  While we waited.

That was a tough time.  I’m not so great with the patience thing.

Looking back on it now we really didn’t have that long of a waiting period — they began showing our books to birthmothers in January and we got a call about T-man at the end of that May.  It just seems like an incredibly long time when you’re in limbo, unable to move forward with your dream until someone else hits the start button.

When we got a call the last week of May telling us that a birthmother had chosen our family we were thrown into a tailspin of preparations.  We’d thought we were ready, but we weren’t prepared for T-man himself so we had to do a couple of quick fixes.  Like his car seat: we had one for newborns but T-man was 10 months old and 20 pounds, so BrightSide took it back to the store to exchange it.  (I’m sure THAT was an interesting conversation with customer service: “Yes, ma’am, the car seat IS for our child, but when we bought it we didn’t know what size our child would be.”)  We had the basics but didn’t go all out…nobody says it out loud, but no one wants to face a house filled with baby paraphernalia if the adoption falls through.

Three days later we found ourselves driving two hours to the agency to meet our son and his birthmother.  It was a terrifying drive — I was nervous and nauseated the entire way.  I was heading toward the most important job interview of my life and suddenly felt completely unprepared.  We talked with T-man’s birthmother for quite a while that morning before moving to a conference room to wait.

When the adoptive parent liaison walked into the room I could tell something was wrong.  She explained that we wouldn’t be able to take our son home, that the birthmother wanted to pray about it over the weekend.  And, just like that, my heart broke.  Intellectually, I knew it was the best thing for both of us, that she needed to be absolutely sure she was making the right decision, but all the logic in the world didn’t help.  I cried most of the way home.

It was a very long weekend.  We were in contact with the birthmother by e-mail, so she would send us questions as they came up for her.  This boy wasn’t really ours yet, but we found ourselves describing how we would raise him, what his faith life would be like, and how we would answer his questions about the adoption.  Every time I hit ‘send’ my heart clenched, worried that this would be the answer that convinced her we weren’t the right couple.

At the end of the weekend we got the agency’s call to come the next day for our son.  After what had happened on Friday, though, I was afraid to really get my hopes up.  It wasn’t until we arrived at the adoption agency and they began transferring his belongings to our car that I realized this was it, we are finally going to be parents.

This is what we looked like as we waited in the agency’s office for T-man to arrive:


The feeling of jittery anticipation is impossible to describe.  You can see the excitement on our faces, but I was so nervous as we sat on that couch.  Our entire lives were about to change, and the woman changing them was going to walk through the door and hand us our son.  I couldn’t even begin to process it, and I remember telling BrightSide that he had to accept the baby from her.  There simply was no way I was going to be able to handle that.

Time seemed to stop when we saw T-man for the first time.  His birthmother carried him through the door and I caught my breath — all I could think was he’s so beautiful.  He had soft, curly hair and the most beautiful brown skin, and when BrightSide reached for him he settled into his shoulder like it had been shaped especially to hold him.  It is truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen…

So this is how we met T-man.  It was a very long journey that brought us together, but I have absolutely no doubt that we ended up exactly where we were supposed to be on that May morning: in a quiet room with a very brave woman, holding our beautiful son.