Finding Out

As fall approaches, the air fills with the smell of pumpkin spice, the leaves start changing colors, and the days become shorter and colder. I’m also reminded that three years ago, I placed a child for adoption. The emotional effect of adoption is different for different people. For many, there’s a correlation between adoption and pain. For myself, though, I feel so blessed, loved, and lucky to have been able to find the right home for my sweet child.

As many adoption stories go, I was pregnant, alone, and scared. I was terrified to tell my parents I was pregnant. To tell my mom, I actually cornered her at her job and made sure there were other people close enough to see but not hear me. When I dropped the bomb with my mom, I wanted to be safe from her smothering, because I’m sure all parents want to smother their young, unwed children.

When I was four weeks along, the fear of “what now?” hadn’t hit. I just wanted to think of names and plan my life as a mom. I had been running from probation for almost a year, and I never thought I would get caught. But life caught up with me: I was caught stealing and put in jail. I made a poor choice, and it earned me a six-month sentence. In jail there isn’t much to do but talk, play cards, watch TV, and walk in circles.

I found myself obsessing over the thought of being nearly seven months along by the time I left jail. It seemed the only logical thing I could do was place my child for adoption. I was broke, single, and homeless. I had no way to provide for this unborn spirit. My belly grew week by week, and the realization that I was having a child was imminent. I was forced to realize that I could not possibly provide for a child when I had no plans to grow up myself. I had no permanent housing, I had no vehicle to use, and I could not have given the child all he or she needed.

By the grace of God I was given a reduced sentence. I served 71 out of 180 days, and I walked out of jail with this new hope and a tiny, little bump. I started to make real goals about finding the couple meant to love and care for this little bean inside me.

I remember my first doctor appointment so vividly. When I was in jail I didn’t want to be handcuffed, shackled, and publicly shamed, so I waited till I was five months along to have my first ultrasound.

As I lay on the table, with my mom standing at my shoulders and holding both my hands, I witnessed this child inside me, all 10 fingers and toes moving so beautifully. I saw her little profile, and I learned it was a girl—baby girl Ava, as I would call her.

I started to feel her flutter, and my love for her grew daily. I knew in my heart I was not to be her mom. I felt a connection with her, but I didn’t associate it with being her mother; I knew I was supposed to deliver her to the right family.

Searching

My search started with LDS Family Services. I met a caseworker who took me in, cried with me, laughed with me, and most of all inspired me. She sent me home with a list of names and websites. The search had begun.

With heart in my throat and tears ready to stream at every profile, I started my search. Profile after profile I found myself connecting, laughing, and loving every story I read. My parents joined my search with me, laughing alongside at the cute, tender stories. Some even brought tears to my parents’ eyes.

I searched day and night. I was relentless; I needed to find someone to adopt my baby! I was getting further along and showing now. I needed to find a family to share this miracle with; I didn’t want to go through it alone.

The day came when I found a profile, and my dad had teared up over their story. He loved them and wanted me to choose them. I told him I wanted to look at one more, but he picked the couple and told me I’d like them because they had tattoos. As I looked at their profile, I saw the smile in their eyes. I saw the way the man looked at his wife, and I loved him for that. I wanted him to love my daughter the way he loved his wife. I needed them. They were the ones!

I called the agency I’d found the couple through and made it clear I wanted them. My excitement turned to anxiety as I chatted with my couple and spilled my heart to them. I needed them to love me the way they would this new baby, but as my due date approached, I found myself not feeling right about the family I picked to place with.

The heartbreak was horrible. I knew I was taking a child away from them, and I was so close to being due that I feared I would have to take my little girl home and place her after birth.

I made myself sick with the stress, and I dreaded making the phone call. I didn’t want this family to hate me. I knew just how badly it hurt me, and I could only assume it would hurt just as badly for them.

I decided to sleep on my choice and call the caseworker to explain it to her when I woke up. The next morning, I woke to a phone call from the caseworker. She told me my couple wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t the one to have to break the horrible news; it was a mutual agreement. Still, I felt so guilty, and I hurt so badly for them. I cried, wondering if they would ever forgive me, if they would ever have a child in their life. As broken as I felt, I had to keep searching for a couple. My little girl needed her family, and I needed the closure.

Finding My Baby’s Forever Family

A good friend had me look at some people she knew. We sat there scrolling through Facebook pages. We laughed at the silly pictures of women and smiled at their families looking to fill their hearts with children. We eventually scrolled past a picture of this adorably tiny woman and her huge husband and two precious children dressed as Star Wars characters. This lady had other pictures of her running for causes, dressing the kids up in costumes, and doing adventurous, fun things.

We hopped on FaceTime and called her. It was just to chat and see if she had any advice for me, since she had three birth moms and had been through a failed adoption before.

I wasn’t wearing any makeup. I was puffy-faced and teary-eyed and expecting to have an emotional chat with some stranger about following my heart and moving forward. She answered her FaceTime and greeted me with a huge smile and a warm hello, followed by the sweetest giggle I had ever heard.

I felt so shy, but I introduced myself and started to pour question after question on her. With the sweetest grace and kindness, she answered all my questions about home studies, living arrangements, her husband, her kids, her lifestyle. Every question anyone could ever ask, I asked.

I held one giant question back. I wanted so badly to scream out, “I love you! Adopt my baby, please!” but I held it in. Three hours of chatting like we were old friends, lots of laughs, almost some tears on my end, and I knew.

I had found my couple. Even without knowing her husband, I knew her soul well enough to know I needed her to love my daughter. After a couple quick phone calls and a night without sleep, I showed up at her house with her best friend, who took pictures; my best friend, for support; and a poster saying, “I just met you and this is crazy, but I really like you, adopt my baby!”

For her boys, I had a Darth Vader pillow and a note that said “A Jedi arrives December 2014.” As I walked to the door, I felt an overwhelming rush of love, hope, and peace. Ushered into the home, I stood there with the sign and balloons at the bottom of the stairs, and I waited. I held my breath as I watched the mother of my child come down the stairs, fresh from the shower, with a unicorn sweater on. As she saw the balloons, the photographer, and the sign, she smiled, giggled, and hugged me.

She called her husband down the stairs, and he smiled and gave me the most reassuring hug I have ever felt. My heart was still. The love was overwhelming in the most beautiful ways. I had found my daughter’s parents. The days all ran together after that. I was meeting their family, I was being introduced to their friends as their birth mother, and they had a name for my daughter: she was to be named Norah Hope Redfern. Thirteen days after asking them to adopt, I was in labor. A mere 26 hours later, out popped the most beautiful creature.

Norah Hope graced this world on November 25, 2014, to the proud parents Josh and Lindsey Redfern. I have never been happier in my life to see this beautiful little girl grow up in such a loving environment. I have never once doubted that Norah belongs where she is placed. As hard as adoption is, I am so thankful for it. Because of adoption, my daughter has a mom, a dad, and three of the most adoring brothers ever.