Six years ago, my husband and I were accepted into the Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge adoption class. What an exciting start to a long journey that had actually started many, many years ago when I had met my husband, then boyfriend, of quite a few years. We had many conversations of how we would be married and how many kids we would have and what sports they would play and what their personalities would be like. Back then, it didn’t seem like such a real possibility. I knew that I would never be able to carry a child. But, finally, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel!
We went into the adoption classes fully believing that we wanted a closed adoption. After hearing horror stories of adoptions gone awry and seeing one too many Lifetime movies depicting the negative parts of adoption, as well as hearing many concerns from family members, a closed adoption seemed best. Our beliefs started shifting after seeing different videos in our classes. The turning point was when we listened to a birthmother tearfully tell her story of how she had to place her third child, her first son, up for adoption because of financial reasons. The birthmothers’ stories of placing their children for an open adoption all had one theme: they wanted to be able to know their child was okay. My husband and I agreed that was a very minimal request for such a life-changing reward.
Then, out of the blue, our social worker called us about a birthmother who wanted to meet us. We met with our social worker the next evening to get more answers on the situation. We were told her name was Sara, something that would come to mean our angel to us. Sara wanted to meet us and we needed to decide, based on her personal background, if we would want to meet her as well. We contacted our social worker 2 days later and said “set it up, we definitely want to meet her.”
We went into our social worker’s office to go over a few things before we would be taken to meet Sara. Kyle and I were so nervous. As we were walking to meet Sara, my palms were sweating and I felt like I was going to faint; I didn’t think I could walk into meet this person who held the key to making our family complete. I felt like my life was riding on our impression to her.
I remember meeting Sara like it happened yesterday. She was very calm and confident. We quickly came to see that she had nothing to hide; she was very honest and still is today. After a few minutes of questions on both sides, Sara whispered something to her social worker and then she stood up and handed me a picture of an ultrasound to which she said “Here is your baby.” These were words that I certainly did not expect to hear. I immediately started crying as we all started hugging each other. The whole moment seemed surreal and even talking about it now; those feelings come welling back up.
The next five months went by rather quickly. We were able to attend all doctor visits and ultrasounds. Sara and I would email and Facebook back and forth. We even shopped for baby items on a few visits. This was everything Kyle and I had hoped and dreamed for with an adoption.
On the day of Lillie Sarabella’s birth, Kyle and I were a part of the whole process. I was able to be in the delivery room and then Kyle met us immediately in the room next door. Two days later, we left the hospital with a beautifully perfect daughter. Our family was now complete!
We know that our adoption story is not the norm. We decided on an open adoption after hearing stories from birthmothers, as well as coming to understand the benefits of an open adoption. The most basic benefit would be that we are always able to contact her birth family if we have any medical questions, which we already have utilized. The most important aspect is that Lillie will never have to question why she was placed for adoption or question if she was loved by her birth family. She has known them since birth, plus we always talk to her, in toddler ways, about how she “grew in Sara’s tummy because Mommy’s tummy had a bobo.” She understands that, for now. We know there will come a time when more information is needed by Lillie but we are happy and confident knowing that we have the love and support of her birth family to help answer them. We will never have to worry that Lillie will turn 18 and decide to run off to find her birth family in search of answers. Lillie will always know that her adoption is not a secret, it is something to be celebrated. Many family and friends still question our open adoption but we simply state “This just means more people to love Lillie and how can that be a bad thing?”
Sara gave us a gift that no one else could and we will forever be grateful to her. We email, text and mail pictures ever so often and Sara, as well as some of her family, also visit occasionally. The whole relationship is based on respect and boundaries. We truly believe this relationship will help Lillie to understand her birth story and to always know how much she was and still is loved by all.
Jennifer Miller is a stay-at-home mommy to Lillie Sarabella and wife to her high school sweetheart and best friend, Kyle, for eight memorable years. While happy with their family that included their 12 year old black lab, Kobe, Jennifer and Kyle knew that their family was not complete. On December 15, 2009, Jennifer and Kyle’s lives were forever changed when they welcomed their beautiful daughter, Lillie Sarabella, into their lives through the benefits of open adoption. Life has not been the same since Lillie was born and is definitely more fulfilling and fun with her in it; Jennifer and Kyle thank Sara, Lillie’s birthmother for the gift of parenthood. While also managing her duties as a wife and mother, Jennifer is also assists her husband with his small business and is an advocate for open adoption.