Happy 1st Birthday Ezra!

A Year of Ezra!

A Year of Ezra!

Wow, a whole year has passed… really?  It seems like this has been the fastest year of my life.  It seems like just yesterday that that little baby was still in T’s belly.  It seems like just yesterday I fearfully attended doctor visits with her and made trips to the hospital for amniotic fluid checks, wondering what day he would come and would she really be able to let him go?  I can’t imagine the pain she had, even knowing the choice she made was going to allow her the ability to give more to the children she was parenting and to him at the same time.  What kind of selfless love is that?  The strength in her and J’s choice astounds me.

So as I celebrate his day of birth, I also will be taking a moment to mourn their loss with them.  I thank God every day that through the miracle of open adoption I get to share him with them still.  They can see him periodically, text or call when ever they want, follow him daily with the countless pictures, videos and statues I post on Facebook.  I am thankful that when the day come that he starts asking questions, he will already know the love they have for him.  They hug him and kiss him and tell him they love him every time they see him.  He will already know them and his biological siblings, before he even knows how to verbalize his questions.  He’ll never have to search.   How amazing is that?

As Ezra has reached this giant milestone of turning ONE today, (*sigh, cry, weep, sniffle, smile, cry again*) I want to thank his first parents for trusting us and our family to love him as much as they do.  Not a day goes by that we don’t think of them.  This year has been such an amazing journey for us.  Our family has grown in ways more than just being a family of 4 now.  We have learned our strengths, our weaknesses and our endless love for each other.  We have watched this little, once helpless infant, learn to smile, “talk”, crawl, feed himself, test us, giggle, and now walk!  He now enters toddler-hood!  A new phase and a new stage.  Where has time gone lil’ man?

Happy Birthday Ezra Joseph! You are loved by more people than you will ever know or understand.  You are our precious little boy and the child that completed our family.  I love watching you with daddy and your big brother.  You are an awesome kid and I can’t wait to watch you grow into a young man just like I have watched Isaac over the last 12 years!

Stay tuned for birthday cake and party pictures.  🙂

Failed Match Stories

ImageIt’s an unfortunate, painful event when an adoption match falls through.  While most of us adoptive parents believe strongly that a woman should have every right to change her mind and parent her child if she wishes, in many cases it is going to be okay and even GOOD for that child to be with her.  A lot of times she goes into an adoption plan thinking she doesn’t have the resources (money) necessary to parent the baby, but with love and number crunching, she often finds she can and will make it work.  While that scenario hurts the adoptive parents who had gotten excited and invested time and money, we ultimately rejoice in her decision to parent.  We know that the loss for her and the child in adoption is far greater than the loss we suffer when she decides to parent. 

So what about the cases where the expecting mother has no intent to place her child?  I have run across friends and support group members recently that have had failed adoption matches because of fraud.  Women who go through private adoption instead of an agency and prey on adopting couples for money.  Then there are women who want to believe that they fully intend to place their child for adoption, but will never end up going through with it.  Some of these women are only “found out” after it comes to light that she had a baby shower!  Some go all the way to the end of the pregnancy saying they want to follow through with adoption, they “KNOW” it’s the right thing to do, they “CAN’T” keep the baby, etc. But with that scenario there are often so many signs that the adoption plan is not going to go through.  If you try to address it with her, ask the social worker to talk to her, or try to help any way you can, she may get defensive and lash out.  What do you do? 

I have been at a cross road of wanting to tell my FULL story of what happened in our failed match (from my perspective, I’m sure her side of the story is very different), but I still feel very vulnerable.  Even though I eventually cut ties with her and try to not interact, social media and the internet seem to have a way of keeping people connected through others.  This creates a lot of stress for me, not because I don’t want to run across her, but because I know that everything I say is scrutinized.  Sometimes I don’t want to be the bigger person.  Sometimes I want to just rant and say exactly what is on my mind.  No holding back. 

One of my friends did just that on Facebook today.  My friend is not Facebook “friends” with that first match nor is her profile public, so the first match will never see the rant my friend posted… but it was GOOD! It made me question, why am I protecting her?  Why are her feelings more valid than mine? 

Today when I tried to console another friend on her adoption Facebook page with a comment about how sometimes matches fail before the expecting mother even knows it’s failing, because she is destined to keep her baby, but is still insistent that she plans to place that child because it is her “plan”.  I said that even though it’s very painful, it’s okay when that happens, because her child that is meant for her WILL come to her.  Apparently our “first match” also follows my friend’s adoption page and she didn’t like that I referred to her as my “first match”.  She went on to say that I had no clue what she went through, even if I thought I did.  What about what I went through in all those months?   What about what I went through the months that followed?  These are the things I’d like to say out loud, to put my feelings into words, to tell the story. 

So do I?  Do I say them?

Why should my feelings be less valid than someone else’s?  I get it… Adoption is an unthinkably hard decision.  But, I didn’t make the decision for her, she came to me after the decision was made.  It totally sucks when your friends and family abandon you and don’t support your decision.  But, I did support her in both the decision to place her child and the decision to parent her child.  Why does she get to lash out and call me out by name on Facebook, when all I did was try to help another person going through a tough time? 

Our situation can be a bit more challenging because our story (or a version of it) was told on national television.  But, really, the show wasn’t all that popular.  Not many people make the connection that we are the people on that episode 6 months ago. So she is only drawing attention to herself as being the one I was talking about, not me.  And while we are at it, let’s point out a fact my friend who ranted about this today stated, she signed up for the show, no one forced her to tell the story on national television.  No one would have a clue who she was or who my first failed match was with, if it wasn’t for that show. 

Part of me wants to protect her and not tell all the dirty things that happened in our relationship and match that failed. Or all the things that followed that prompted me to end the relationship I once cherished.  The other part of me says, why should my good name be tarnished and people think that she did nothing to me? Why shouldn’t they know the reasons behind my decision to end our friendship, when so many times I publicly vowed to be there for her?  Right now it looks as if I backed out on my word, that I am just a bitter, hurt person that should be thankful for the child I have now (which I am by the way, beyond thankful for Ezra) instead of still mourning the loss of the first baby. 

I have a voice… should I use it? (Is this a rhetorical question? I don’t know. hahaha)

 

Choosing Adoption

Choosing Adoption

Sarah Baker | November 11, 2013 | 01:14 PM

Along our journey many people have asked us, “why adoption?” There are many ways to become a parent. Most people find that natural pregnancy is the means to expanding their family. When pregnancy doesn’t come easy, people may resort to more time, fertility treatment, artificial insemination, IVF, surrogacy, sperm donors, egg donors, etc. Adoption isn’t for everyone, so it’s understandable that this question may get asked. However, sometimes the questions is just out of curiosity to learn your story, other times people ask “why adoption?” with a tone that implies it is not the choice they would make. Early in my life, I felt drawn to adoption.

When I decided it was time for me to start my family, there were restrictions to adoption like age and years married. I also didn’t have the big bank account to fund my adoption, so we pursued getting pregnant. Pregnancy happened quickly for us; in fact it was the first month we tried. I am glad I was able to experience pregnancy, but it wasn’t without complications, despite my young age and good health. I had HORRIBLE all day sickness for months. About the time my appetite came back, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Then came the hand and ankle swelling, my eye sight worsened several times and I had to keep getting new scripts for contacts. My entire birth plan went out the window; 48 hours of intense labor, an emergency C-Section and all night long hemorrhaging… but I had a perfect 8 pound 8 ounce baby boy, Isaac, to show for it all. I knew after that, adoption was the only way I could add to my family again.

Fast forward few years and Isaac’s dad and I decided to divorce. We are still great friends, we just married very young and grew apart as husband and wife. We ended our marriage to save our friendship. I then met Joe and as we were getting to know each other, I told him my story of giving birth to Isaac. I told him I didn’t know if it was possible for me to have more. He said it didn’t matter to him either way. If it was unsafe for me to have more children, then we would adopt or not have any more, but he wasn’t going to let it stand in the way of us being together. WOW! He’s a keeper right?!? After we were married, I saw how wonderful of a step dad he had become and my need to parent a baby with him began to overwhelm me. We looked into adoption, but were again overwhelmed by the price and the wait that it may take for us to become parents. We started “trying” to get pregnant. Honestly, I figured it would come quickly. But after a year, then two, we realized something was wrong. We were both tested and found out that we were both infertile. My eggs didn’t release, I had hormonal imbalances and massive fibroids and his sperm were deformed from a Varicocele. Even using IVF with sperm washing would be slim for us to conceive. We did not want to spend money on something that was not a guarantee when we could put that money toward adoption instead. We did not have a burning need to have biological children, just children. It was the experience we craved not the DNA.

We started saving money and learning about all types of adoptions and gathering information from various agencies. Many times we felt defeated and unable to move forward. We were overwhelmed with the information we got from agencies and the financial stress of it all. During that time we continued on with our lives and each month I secretly hoped I was pregnant, just because it seemed easier, despite how I knew it would probably be a miserable pregnancy based on my first experience. It was 4 years into our marriage that we decided to stop looking at adoption passively and start pursuing the plan. It became very exciting and scary. We started telling people our plans and asking for support.

That’s when the questions started. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on our plans to adopt. People would tell us about how their sister did IVF, how their aunt had a closed adoption, how we should adopt from another country, or through foster care, how once we adopt we’d get pregnant, or how we may not get chosen because we have pets, we have another child, we have a small pond in our back yard, a two story house, etc., or how we wouldn’t be able to bond with the baby because it’s not really “ours”. Then there were the questions of race, gender, drug exposure, etc. Everyone had something to say about the method we decided to become parents. I am sure many of these questions were from lack of knowledge or concern, but after hearing them over and over and sometimes more than once from the same person, it became offensive to us. Like our decision wasn’t respected. Like we didn’t have a large enough mental capacity to have talked to our doctors or made our decisions based on facts.. Adoption was in our hearts and we felt that was where our child was growing. We felt alone and that these questions would turn into years of feeling like our child wasn’t accepted.

Luckily, with some prayers and tears, we were able to talk to the people closest to us and understand where they were coming from and educate them on our choices. When our son was born, he was welcomed into the family with loving arms and many joyful tears. He is treated no different than the other children in our family. He IS their brother, cousin, nephew, and grandson.

I still get asked why we decided to adopt by people. Our answer, we just wanted to be parents.

To follow our adoption more, “Like” our facebook page at www.facebook.com/OurAdoption

When a Match Falls Through

When a Match Falls Apart

Sarah Baker | September 13, 2013 | 02:00 PM

This is how our first match fell apart (from my perspective). Adoption is so beautiful, but the ride isn’t always smooth.

This is how fast things can fall apart. It’s been a really difficult subject for me to talk about. We went to visit the expecting parents in their home town in September of 2012. During that visit we had a scheduled 4D sonogram. Our birth mother also had signed us up for a TV show. The producers and camera crew were there to spend the weekend with us and document our story. It was an amazing weekend… but emotions were high and many things came up that were red flags that this adoption may not be everything we and the birth parents were looking for. Our previous visits we stayed in a local hotel. This visit she invited us to stay with her so we could have more time together. We had grown into more than just a “match”, we were friends. We left feeling closer to both of them than ever, but also had concerns that we weren’t on the same page all the time with what adoption is.

The birth father never fully supported the idea of the adoption. He is 15 years older than the birth mother and has 3 children. She is the mother of a wonderful little boy, whom she gets no financial support for from his biological father. She convinced the “birth father” that together with 5 children they would NOT succeed and adoption was the best plan. He reluctantly signed papers that would terminate his rights as long as she was moving forward with the adoption. During that weekend visit, on and off camera, he told all of us that he was becoming more comfortable with the idea of adoption, but would still prefer to keep her. It was very difficult for my husband and me to move forward knowing that this father wanted to parent his baby. But we also wanted to support the birth mother, and let’s face it; we wanted a baby that she wanted to give us. That’s when we found out they were going to want more involvement in the child’s life than what we were prepared for. The father wanted custody returned to him if we were to both die and he wanted us to return with her yearly for a father/daughter dance at his church in addition to the many other visits a year we were offering, plus a lot of holidays spent in their home. This we were terrified of. If we are being honest here, we felt it may threaten our bond with the baby as her “parents”. We also didn’t want to commit to something, living so far away, that we may not be able to stick to. Broken promises, I assured myself, were much worse than hearing the truth at the beginning. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the opportunity to express the “truth” until it was too late.

The birth mother, young and not truly wanting adoption, seemed to also be having a hard eliza bellytime with separating herself from the baby. She called the baby by the name we chose and referred to me as “mommy” when she would tell me that “Eliza” was saying goodnight to me each night. But, she had loved and cared for this child in her womb for 7 months and was now forced with the very real fact that she chose adoption. Meaning someone else would be parenting her baby girl. This was something she was having a very hard time with. Almost daily I worried about her emotional attachment AND the one I was forming to the baby as well. We provided her with a counselor of her choice so she could work through what she was feeling and help her come to a decision she was comfortable with. I fully believe that if a mother wants to move forward with adoption, then that should be supported. But if a mother wants to parent her child, then she should have that option without feeling guilty for making the decision. I checked in with her all the time, making sure adoption is what she wanted. She always assured me it was. But, I felt I needed to prepare for her to change her mind anyhow. Gut feeling I guess. I couldn’t talk directly with her private counselor, but I often reached out to the one provided to her by the adoption agency. Whenever I was concerned for her mental stability or how she was handling her choice, I made a quick phone call asking the agency to check in on her. Sometimes, I knew I wasn’t the right person for the “birth mom” to talk to.

I had always told her we would like the baby to know them and see them “as much as possible”. Being that we live 4 hours away, both work and have an 11 year old son that is active in many school, sport and music activities, we thought they would understand that would probably mean a few times a year. After all, she already knew that we were already running into scheduling conflicts with our visits during the pregnancy. When we returned from our visit, everything seemed to crash and fall apart. She started asking a lot of questions, that I thought the agency had already clarified with her, but she was feeling the need to ask me directly. When I told her we could visit her 2-4 times a year and they could also visit us, she was devastated and it led to two solid weeks of her being very upset and angry with me. I tried everything to fix it, but it just wasn’t enough. She only heard what her emotions filtered. I told her it was ok if she wanted to keep the baby, because it felt like she was not happy with the amount she would get to see her if she went through with adoption. She lashed out again. She didn’t understand why I thought her emotions meant she wanted to keep the baby. To me though, that is exactly what she was saying. I wanted her to know it was ok.

I admit there were times I had a very hard time containing the anger I felt when she lashed out at me. She accused me of lying to her, leading her on, not trusting me and betraying her. It’s natural to get defensive when a person feels attacked. There were times I let my emotions get the best of me and I responded to her hastily. But, no matter what, it is understandable that a scared, young mother is terrified of this process and I am the best person to lash out at… I was, after all, the threat, the woman “taking” her child.

As things began to mend with us several weeks later, she found out that by switching agencies, (She switched because the agency and myself wouldn’t participate in filming us for the show having a mediated meeting to rectify our differences.) the consent form signed by the birth father was no longer going to be used and he would have to sign all over again. She was scared of what may happen because she says she still wants to move forward with adoption. The new agency began showing her adoptive parent profiles and she is telling me about them. This is what got us into this mess in the first place that blurred line of friendship and adoption. It hurt very much hearing about new families she was considering and picturing them with the baby I was just weeks ago so certain was going to be in my arms. We knew we were not getting the daughter we thought we were going to have. It became very hard to maintain a relationship with her when I felt sick to my stomach and so much stress and depression over this situation.

After time, and convincing my husband that this wouldn’t happen again, we moved on. We got matched again a few months later and we now have our beautiful son, Ezra. But that doesn’t take away the pain, the loss, the sadness, the anguish, the anger… Having never had a miscarriage, this must be the heartache that is felt? When the baby was born, she did decide to parent her. Her and my relationship took time to move forward, but we did try. It was just last week that I made the very, very difficult decision, that for my mental health and the happiness of my family, it was time to move on. I wish her well and hope that she succeeds in life and reaches all her goals. She has a beautiful daughter now. I wanted to remain in their life, but I realized it hurt me and stopped me from healing. It may have been a selfish choice to move on from our friendship, but one I do not regret… so far.

Is a failed match something you fear? Have you had one fail in the past? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Season Finale

Season Finale

“I’m Having Their Baby”

Sarah Baker | September 04, 2013 | 11:37 AM  (adapted from original post on Cincinnati Parent)

IHTB-collage2Reflecting where we were a year ago and filming the first episode of I’m Having Their Baby with the birth mother we were matched with and where we are today, I had no idea the happiness I would have now. While you saw on the first episode things did not go according to planned with the birth mother, we were matched again fairly quickly and now have our amazing boy Ezra. The second match came fast, but felt like forever while we mourned the loss of the baby we thought was meant for us.

Tonight, you will get a glimpse of what life is like with four of the families that were shown throughout the second season on the finale episode. We were lucky enough to be part of that. We are excited to share our happy ending. The production company came out and filmed at our home and around town with us in the spring. It has been a few months and Ezra has grown a ton since then. He has teeth, is sitting and crawling and eating “solids”. Wow, he’ll be 8 months old in a just a few days!

I have also grown, emotionally, a lot since then. While I have Ezra now, I was still holding on to a lot of grief about the loss of “Eliza” during the follow up filming. I am hoping that since I have been able to let some of that pain go since then, the episode will focus more on the happiness and joy we feel with the little blessing we have now. Ezra is a wonderful baby and I feel God had a plan when the adoption of “Eliza” fell through and Tory was able to parent her little girl, Bryleigh. I feel Ezra was the child meant for us. His personality matches ours and he fits right in. One child will never replace the loss of another, but he sure helps take my mind off it.

So, tune in tonight to the Oxygen Network at 10 pm (9 central) and please just ignore the fact that my hair is a mess in the restaurant scene and Joe trimmed his goatee way too short. I have no idea what footage they are using from the day, but by the time we got to the restaurant (which I saw in the commercial) I was a hot mess from filming all day long! Hahaha

If you missed the first episode, it will be airing right after the finale called Sharanda; Tory. Thanks for all your support!

To learn more about our adoption, follow us on www.facebook.com/OurAdoption