“Do you intend to provide Mason with a lifelong and loving home?”
“Yes, your honor.”
Three moments stand out in our adoption journey: (1) the moment our son was born, (2) the moment the judge announced that we were Mason’s official parents, and (3) the moment we received Mason’s amended birth certificate with our names on it. If you were wondering, Michael is listed as the “Mother” on the birth certificate. Our government’s reluctance to use gender neutral terms, such as parent #1 and parent #2, on birth certificates requires its own blog!
But before we talk about the birth and final adoption of our son, we need to rewind, so settle in and grab a refreshment.
Part 1: Choosing the Adoption Agency
Our adoption journey started in the spring of 2013. We wanted to adopt a newborn baby. We first started working with a private adoption agency out of California. They were not licensed to do home studies in Nevada and so we had to contact a local religious-based adoption agency to do that part of the process. The home study is where the adoption agency comes in to your home to ensure it is a suitable environment to raise a child.
Upon contacting the local religious-based adoption agency to do our home study, they asked, “Why are you working with a private adoption agency? You can adopt a child through us.” We sat in silence at the other end and then said, “Well, we did not think your organization would adopt to a same-sex couple given your church’s stance against same-sex marriage.” The man on the other line excitedly said, “Of course, we adopt to gay parents. We would love for you to work with our agency!”
It might be taboo to talk about the costs associated with newborn adoption, but it is an important consideration! The agency in California would have cost us between $50,000 – $80,000. The non-profit religious-based agency said that most adoptive parents paid between $15,000 – $25,000. We did not have a wealthy family member waiting in the wings to give us money, so we chose the financially sensible option!
And so our relationship with the local religious-based adoption agency began. We were so excited to build our family. We pushed through the process quickly. If they asked for certain documents, we submitted them within hours of their request. We enthusiastically attended all of their required adoption classes and completed our home study. After the agency gave us the final seal of approval, we were officially listed as adoptive parents! This meant that pregnant moms who were choosing adoption for their baby would see our profile!
The brochure we created to tell birth-moms about us:
Part 2: Changing Adoption Agencies
Remember what the adoption agency said to us when we asked about their stance on working with same-sex couples? “Of course, we adopt to gay parents. We would love for you to work with our agency!” Well… that turned out not to be entirely true! Our adoption process came to a screeching halt in the summer of 2013.
In the summer of 2013, California once again legalized same-sex marriage (it was legal, then illegal, and then legal again). We had a domestic partnership in Nevada, and we had a commitment ceremony years prior in San Diego, CA with our family and friends. But, we wanted a legal marriage! So, when we read the news about California legalizing same-sex marriage again, we booked a trip to Long Beach, CA to get married on the beach!
After receiving our marriage certificate, we excitedly sent an email to the adoption agency. We wanted to let them know of our happy news. We were officially a married couple! To our surprise, the adoption agency sent us back an email stating that we needed to have a phone conversation.
“Mike and Matt… we need to terminate our relationship with you. Our agency is fine adopting to same-sex couples who are not legally married. But, our church has a stance against same-sex marriage, and now that you are legally married, we cannot provide adoption services to you.”
You read that right. The adoption agency that welcomed us with open arms kicked us to the curb. The director of the agency felt horrible for doing this but it was out of his control. To help us out, they worked closely with another religious-based agency in town (who was open to married same-sex couples) to ensure a smooth transition. They also agreed to keep our profile listed in their agency — if a pregnant mother from their agency chose us, they would refer her to our new adoption agency. For helping us out, we had to sign a legal contract stating that we would not sue or slander the agency.
If you have ever been blatantly discriminated against, you know how horrible it feels. We were devastated. Yes, it sucked that we lost time in the adoption process by having to change agencies, but that wasn’t our focus. I know it is cliché , but we are good people. It hurts at a very deep level when someone basically says, “sorry, you aren’t good enough…you are flawed…you are different…you don’t deserve to be treated as an equal to heterosexual people.”
But we picked ourselves up and moved forward with the new adoption agency in hopes of building our family.
Part 3: Matching and Meeting our Birth-mom
We were open to all types of adoption — closed, open, or semi-open. We preferred to have an open adoption though. This means that we could meet the birth-mom and maintain some form of contact after the adoption.
We matched with our birth-mom in late summer 2014. She was 19-years-old, was attending college, and was in the army reserves. She was in her 2nd trimester of pregnancy when she decided to choose adoption. She told us that she was not in a position to raise a baby. She wanted her baby to have the best life possible.
Meeting the birth-mom was one of the most nerve wracking experiences of our life. How do you prepare yourself to talk to a pregnant mom about adopting her baby? But upon meeting the birth-mom, we instantly felt at ease. She was sweet, kind, intelligent, funny, and beautiful. And, we shared a lot of similar interests.
“When I saw the picture of you two, I immediately knew that you were the parents of my baby. I decided to sleep on it for one more night before officially choosing you two as the adoptive parents. When I woke up the next morning, my cat had gotten in to the brochures of potential adoptive parents. Out of the dozens of brochures I had, my cat tore up only one brochure…it was yours. It was the sign I needed to choose you.”Birth-mother’s story of how she chose us as the adoptive parents for her baby
We established a relationship with the birth-mom over the next few months of her pregnancy. She sent us ultrasound pictures and we periodically communicated. She would tell us, “This is your baby…I am just carrying it for you.” Even though we remained guarded, we were excited about meeting our new baby boy.
Part 4: The Birth of our Son
In mid-November 2014, we received a call in the early morning hours. I looked over at my phone’s caller ID — it was the adoption agency. Our birth-mom was not expected to deliver for another 3 weeks but I knew this was THE phone call!
“Yes, this is Michael.”
“Good morning, are you ready to meet your son? The birth-mom is in labor and at the hospital. You and Matthew should drive to the hospital now because she is expected to deliver within the hour.”
We rushed to the hospital and ran up to the labor and delivery unit. The lady at the front desk was confused because she didn’t realize this was an adoption case. So, we sat in the waiting room until they could talk to the birth-mom. Finally, a nurse came out and said, “you can come in…the birth-mom just delivered the baby.”
This was it. This was the moment we were going to meet our baby boy. As we walked in the room, the birth-mom was sitting up in bed and a nurse was cleaning off the baby. Michael was in tears and ran over to the birth-mom — he embraced her with a huge hug. Then, we walked over to our newborn baby boy and looked down and fell in love. He was perfect. “Welcome to the world, son.”
Per Nevada law, birth-moms cannot sign away their parental rights until 72 hours after giving birth. During those 72 hours, Mason had to stay in the hospital. Except at night when we would go home to sleep for a few hours, we stayed with him during those 72 hours. It was the longest 72 hours of our life. There are many cases of birth-moms changing their minds and keeping their babies. We knew this was a possibility in our case as well. Although we were guarded, we couldn’t help but bond and fall in love with our son.
At the 72 hour mark, the adoption agency called Michael and said the birth-mom signed the paperwork. The adoption worker, the birth-mom, and her family were then in route to the hospital to congratulate us and say goodbye.
The memory of that final hour in the hospital when we prepared to bring our son home will last with us forever. The birth-mom and birth-grandma were at our side to help us pack and put Mason in the car seat. All we could think about was how selfless and amazing his birth-mom was for choosing us as the adoptive parents. We presented the birth-mom with a beautiful necklace with the birthstone of our son surrounded by diamonds. We shared many hugs and many tears with the birth-mom.
Mason’s birth-mom watched as we strapped him in the car. We gave her a final hug goodbye. She remained strong at this point and was not crying. She kept on saying, “Congratulations on your new baby boy! I am so happy for you!” As we slowly drove away from the hospital, tears welled up in our eyes. We looked back and saw a jubilant smile on her face as she waved goodbye to us. That is when it hit us…we were bringing our baby boy to his forever home.
Part 5: Adopting our Son
After bringing Mason home, we settled in to the routine of caring for a newborn baby. If you’ve experienced a newborn baby, you know the first few months are a rollercoaster. The love you feel for your newborn is indescribable. But you are also exhausted from being a hypervigilant new parent and not sleeping.
Although the birth-mom had signed away her rights as a parent, we still had to go through the legal process of adopting Mason. Per Nevada law, the adoption agency was the legal guardian. We hired a lawyer to file the adoption paperwork and then waited. Although the chances were very low, the adoption could still be disputed by the birth-parent(s).
In late spring of 2015, the final adoption day had finally arrived. At this point, Mason was already 6 months old. He was at that age where he crawled everywhere and was trying to pull himself up to his feet. We arrived at the courthouse with family and friends in tow. As we stood in front of the judge, she asked us if we were willing to provide Mason a lifelong and loving home and be his forever parents. With Mason in our arms, we choked back our tears and exclaimed, “Yes, your honor!”
A few weeks after the adoption court day, we received an envelope in the mail. It was the final piece of the adoption journey — his birth certificate. We opened it together and saw our names listed as Mason’s parents. We knew that we would be a forever family.
Love, M & M & M
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