When I was a little girl our neighbors adopted a baby from Korea. She was the most darling thing I had ever seen. It was then that my eyes were opened to the idea of adoption.
Later, when I was 16, I went on a tour of the Orient. I loved it and the experience changed my life – it gave me a new perspective of life in this big world. People there were sweet, giving and lived a very different lifestyle than I was used to. I began to love the colorful differences in people. Not just on the outside, but the inside as well.
Rush ahead to a time when I was married and I had a strong desire to adopt. When I told people about my passion they would respond, “Why would you adopt if you can make beautiful children of your own?” Good question, but I had to go by the feeling I had. I know it didn’t make sense, but sometimes deep within, something tells me it is right.
Christmas time, 2001, I started to feel strongly I was supposed to adopt a dark baby. I had 5 children. Over the next few months it felt like a bird, well a loud mouth parrot, was sitting on my shoulder squawking, “adopt, dark baby, now”. Ok, ok I got it. But where? My husband had heard so much from me and how right all of this felt, so finally agreed. I checked with my church and met with them about adopting a baby from another country. There were 4 countries to choose from. For the next month I researched these different countries and chose one- Kazakstan. I started to pray and pray and met with the church again to tell them my decision. They gave my husband and I papers to sign. For days the papers sat there and I couldn’t sign them. It didn’t feel right. Dead end.
I prayed for guidance. Where in the WORLD is this baby that I am supposed to adopt? Why do I feel it so strongly? I have 5 little cuties already. I could really be fine stopping here? No- the feeling was so strong, keep looking.
I took my daughter to a violin lesson and the student before us was leaving and in the arms of the mom was a cute black baby. I asked her a few questions about it and my mind started spinning. This baby was born in the USA and needed a home, too. I had an answer to get me on track once more- my baby was in the USA. It felt right.
I called 16 adoption services over the next few weeks. Yes the bird on my shoulder was getting louder and louder. ADOPT. Alright already!-I’m trying to figure this out! I spent hours and hours on my knees and in quiet places to listen. The answers came slowly as I needed them. I learned a great lesson this year about prayer for me. When I heard nothing, it meant no. Calling these adoption agencies opened my eyes. Holy cow- I didn’t realize that many of them at this time were “selling” their babies based on race. Very interesting. For me who saw people as equal, this didn’t sit very well and I started to weed out those that told me this is how they based their pricing. I would tell the agencies that I was not interested in a white child because I already have 5 of those. Mine was dark, but that could mean just about anything and I was open to that. I got it down to two agencies in Utah and decided to meet with both of them. I met the first one and they seemed fine. I didn’t have a feeling one way or another. This usually means no. Oh gosh if the next one isn’t right I’m at another dead end.
I called this agency and the lady asked that I come with my husband and kids to dinner at their home. Jane had some children of her own and had also adopted some. Off we went to dinner with our 5 kids and didn’t know what we were in for. Complete peace is what came about! Right when we drove up a young black toddler ran out of her door and up to me with her arms outstretched. I had never held a black baby. This sounds totally dumb, but you have to remember I live in Utah and didn’t know a black person. I picked her up and held her and thought, “she feels just like any other kid!” This makes me laugh to remember how I felt. All of us instantly knew that this company was the one to help us find our baby.
One interesting thing that happened was I told a few people my plans and I got the funniest looks, the strangest comments and some that were completely and openly against the idea. I went to the library and got a bunch of books to learn about raising a family with different races. For about an hour I read them and it was AWFUL! People’s homes burned, kids bullied and treated poorly in their community and some of this going on in my home town. I closed the books and returned them immediately. I worried that maybe I was putting a child in a bad situation? I remembered when I was in high school and the black kids didn’t seem to be bullied, but I wasn’t them. I asked my nieces and nephews who were in high school if the kids who weren’t white were treated bad and they said no, they are the popular ones. I knew this is what I was supposed to do, so I had to learn not to care what others thought, I kept my mouth shut, and followed my gut. Sometimes this is really hard to do, but this time it wasn’t- this was a very strong feeling.
We turned in all of our paperwork which was a big deal – we had a home inspection, background checks, etc. I didn’t specify anything- race, sex, etc. Now this was July 2002 and we were ready. Not sure what for, but we were ready. It all felt right. I had done my part and I put this in God’s hands.
In August I got a call from Jane. She said there was a baby born in California and told me what she knew about it. I instantly thought, “i will take any baby.” She told me to think about it and call her back in 5 minutes. Whhhhaaatt? I had 5 minutes to decide if this little person was supposed to be a member of our family? I went to my bedroom and got down on my knees and started praying. Instantly I felt sick. I knew for sure this was not my baby. I dreaded calling Jane to tell her this, but I did. I asked if this pushed me to the bottom of the list again and she said no. There is a specific home meant for these babies and they had to go with their feelings and then ask people to listen to their intuition.
August 14th I received a call from Jane again. She said she had another baby. She gave me some information about this baby- she was not born yet, but the mom was in the hospital in labor and they were looking for a family for the baby to go home with. She said the baby was bi-racial and was in Michigan. She asked me to call her back in a few minutes again and let her know if this was our baby. I was worried that I would feel sick again. I ran upstairs again and prayed. This time I felt peace. I talked to my husband and he asked me if I was sure and I said yes. So he called Jane back and she told us she would call when our baby was born and tell us when and how to pick her up. I was in the middle of a huge order for my company. I told my brother that I needed to get as much done as possible that day because I was leaving to go pick up my baby the next morning.
At midnight Jane called and said, “It’s a girl! They say she looks like she is wearing a wig because she has SO much hair.” The next morning she called to give us the details. She was in Detroit and we were to pick her up ASAP. My brother and I finished as much of the toy order as we could, and my brother took the kids to Grandma’s. My husband and I drove like crazy to the airport. We missed the first plane out and had to wait. I was sitting there thinking about all the stuff I could have been getting done and all the things I forgot while we waited. We had a car seat and the people at the airport were so confused. They said there is usually a baby in those. I told them we were on our way to get her. This was such an exciting day.
We had to stop in Kansas City and sleep there for the night. I was laying there at night just falling apart because I couldn’t get to my baby. I was praying she was being well taken care of until we got there. The next morning we made it to Detroit and found the hospital. They said the baby would be released at 10am. We were even an hour early! My heart was doing somersaults and I was pacing. Jane called and said she had a problem. My heart dropped. She said the mom had changed her mind. My hearts dropping more and more. My husband was staring at me and could see it in my face. The mom said she changed her mind and didn’t want to meet us. I was so relieved- I could understand that! I thought she was keeping the baby! I had to pick up my heart from the ground and breathe again.
At 10am they took us back to a birthing room and we waited and we waited. The nurse told us the mom was having a really hard time letting her baby go. I can’t imagine. That still brings big, fat tears to my eyes. What an incredible sacrifice this mom was doing for her baby. The nurse said the mom had not put her down since she had her except when the doctor checked her. I love that- she was well taken care of until I got there! Finally a man came in with our baby in his arms. He was bawling and so were the rest of us in the room. He said the mom couldn’t bear doing this, so he- as her boyfriend, not the birth father, was giving her to us. He kissed her head and said, “goodbye sweetheart” and handed her to me. I said, “tell her I will love this baby with all of my heart.” And he left the room. Both the birth mom and father signed away their rights and said they wanted to give their daughter a better life.
I was holding the prettiest little girl. The tears were streaming down my face, and my husbands, and the nurses! I couldn’t believe it. This is the most selfless gift I have ever been a part of in my entire life. The mom had 2 other children, so she knew exactly what she was doing and I’m sure that made the pain so much greater. I will be forever grateful to her and the birth father for this priceless gift. We knew what we were going to name her- Melissa. She had a ton of straight black hair. She didn’t look dark- they said she would get darker over the next few months and her hair would start to curl.
All the papers were signed and we walked out of the hospital with a new member of our family. People have joked over the years that this was the easiest birth for me and I will say it was nice to walk out of the hospital in levis and feeling fantastic, but it was the most emotional and spiritual 9 months of my life. It was not easy at all, but holding her in my arms made it so worth it. I couldn’t believe that the promptings for 9 months lead me to this.
Jay and I stayed in Michigan for a week until we had clearance to leave the state with Melissa. We had the best week – we toured and stayed with extended family and enjoyed this beautiful state.
It was so fun to bring our baby home and show the kids their new sister. It was awesome to see the shock on neighbors faces as they saw us put up a large sign on the garage, “IT”S A GIRL”.
The most amazing part of this journey was when Melissa was 10 days old. I was home alone with her and just loving every second and I felt an intense feeling come over me and I started to cry. I felt that Melissa and I knew each other before we came to this earth. We made a promise that we would find each other.
Over the years I think it’s so interesting to see how things worked out. Melissa and I have an incredible connection. Even when she was very young she could feel more than anyone else when I needed comfort or help. She has a super personality. I love seeing how genes (environment vs genetics) play such a huge role in peoples lives. She is now a teen and fun, loud, and makes us laugh all the time. No, Melissa is not bullied at school. No we haven’t had anyone give us problems or be disrespectful. She’s a girl- just like every other girl in our neighborhood. I am so grateful for her and this incredible experience for me and my family. She really has been a gift!