Things don’t usually go well for us. Things always end up working out- in the end. But it is usually a LONG road to get to “the end.” This had pretty much been a common theme throughout our entire relationship. Our short engagement ended up lasting 27 months. That 6 month deployment to Iraq, lasted 14 months. So, naturally, 2.5 years after Eric’s leukemia when we decided to start the adoption process we just knew we were in for a long wait. We did not, however, factor in Heart to Heart.
We had been going back and forth about foster adoption versus domestic infant adoption. After one more issue with the local foster care system we decided to pursue domestic infant adoption in January 2011. We started researching some agencies. Eric found Heart to Heart online, called and talked to Michelle, and then presented them to me. At that time you could see some of their available situations on their website. There were several listed. Out of them all, however, we were both drawn to one particular situation. T.C. was due March 19th in Georgia. There was nothing unusual about this adoption when compared to the others but we were both fixated on those few words.
We called Michelle back the next day to ask if we could be presented to TC. Her answer, of course, was yes if we got our application/profiles in on time. I stayed up that entire night making a photo book profile and completing our application. While we waited for the photo books to be printed we started to prepare for this baby. We just knew she was ours. We chose a name- Gabriella Ayanna (so her initials would give her a connection to her birth state.) We ripped the carpet out of what became the nursery and put down new floors. We bought a crib and painted the walls to match the bed linens. We even installed softer lighting. After all, this baby was due in less than 2 months! We didn’t have much time.
We overnighted our application and profile books as soon as they arrived. TC was matched that very day with another family. We closed the nursery door and started waiting for “another” baby. It took almost 2 weeks for our application to be approved. On February eleventh, while waiting to hear whether one expectant birth mother chose us, I just broke down. I left work sobbing. Something was wrong. I just knew it. This mom was not going to pick us. We were supposed to have our baby already. My husband took me in his arms and kindly reminded me that we had only been officially “waiting” for two days. (Of course that didn’t help. I insisted that something was wrong. I was supposed to have MY baby.) The deadline passed and that potential birth mom did not choose us. Somehow, we trudged through a few more days.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, an amazing woman was having an emergency c-section at 36 weeks pregnant. Her baby was born on February 11th and was very sick. The family she was matched with decided that they weren’t able to care for her, given her likely special needs. On February 16th as that perfect little angel was being dischared from the NICU we got a call from Rachel. She was our baby if we wanted her. She had to send us the medical records before we could agree but the second she texted me a picture my heart leapt with joy. This was her. THIS was the baby I had been waiting for. The one that had always been destined to be mine. The one that God had chosen for me- for us. We said yes!
Eleven frantic hours later at one o’clock in the morning on February 17th I held my Gabbi for the first time. She opened one little eye to peek at me just for a moment before snuggling deeper in my arms. While her Daddy slept, I spent the entire night staring into that precious face, holding her, and telling her how very much we loved her. When we met the social worker the next day to review the paperwork, it dawned on us. Our baby was born four weeks early. Her due date was March 19th and her birth mother’s initials were TC. THIS is the baby we had been drawn to from the very beginning- the one we decorated the nursery for and chose her name for. This was the baby who had drawn us to Heart to Heart to begin with. Talk about God leading us down the right path!
Gabbi grew into an amazing little girl. She is perfectly healthy, smart, and vivacious. She is a mini me in every way. We even have the exact same birth mark. There has never been a doubt in anyone’s mind that we were meant to be together. Eric and I threw ourselves whole-heatedly into parenting- cherishing every step of the way: loving every late night feeding, laughing at spit up-ruined clothes, and reveling in every single milestone. Gabbi was (and still is) our dream come true.
Of course, as soon as people hear that you adopted they ask, Are you going to do it again?” Our answer was always no. It went too perfectly the first time. The wait was only 8 days. This baby was perfect for us. It couldn’t possibly go as well a second time so, no- we weren’t going to adopt again. Unless, we always said, they called us with a sibling. We had read the other adoption stories. We knew that was a slim possibility. But, frankly, we just didn’t have that kind of luck. We were overjoyed with the child we had and were counting our blessings.
Again, though, we weren’t counting on Heart to Heart. Gabbi had just turned 15 months old in mid-May 2012 when we got a message from Rachel at Heart to Heart. TC was pregnant with a FULL sibling to Gabbi- due June 24th.
We were flabbergasted! Should we do it? Gabbi was still so young. Would she mind sharing attention? Can we handle two babies at once? Every second of our time was devoted to Gabbi. How could we do that with two? We went back and forth, made pro con lists, talked to everyone we knew, and prayed and prayed. We asked God for a sign that didn’t come. We even said no at one point. My heart grew heavier and heavier as TC’s due date approached. On our seventh wedding anniversary, Eric had a dream of two little girls sitting on a bench. One was just a little bit bigger than the other but they were so close together that their shoulders were touching. These were our girls. THIS was our sign. We both knew it. We wrote to Rachel immediately. We want her!
The very next day (three weeks exactly from when we first learned about her) our sweet, happy, energetic Genevie Anya was born. The next morning I held my second born daughter for the first time in her birth mother’s hospital room. She is the spitting image of her sister but completely different in every other way. We were so grateful to be able to meet the beautiful, courageous, and strong TC and her mother that day before we took our Genevie home.
Today, our Jenna is four months old and Gabbi is 20 months old. They have a connection that amazes me daily. It is unlike anything I have ever seen. Gabbi will wake up to tell me that Genevie is hungry and then a minute later Jenna will wake up to eat. If Gabbi hears her sister cry she stops what she is doing to run, as fast as she can, to her sister’s side. And, if Jenna is crying, it is usually because she can’t see her sister. As soon as Gabbi comes into view her tears disappear and her face lights up in that infamous smile. I think they even dream in sync- smiling in their sleep at the same time. We are so grateful for both of our baby girls. We can’t imagine our life without them and are forever thankful for Heart to Heart, and TC, for blessing us with more than we ever dared to dream for.
There is a song that I sing to my girls. It was actually our wedding song but it rings true for our beloved daughters, as well. “It was no accident, me finding you. Someone had a hand in it, long before we ever knew. . . . and I hold EVERYTHING when I hold you in my arms. I’ve got all I’ll ever need. Thanks to the keeper of the stars.” I can’t think of anything that describes our life more accurately.