Adoption after cancer

We knew we would adopt, so we felt no rush to go active with our adoption agency. Unlike many infertile couples who try and try to get pregnant, we were in a different boat.

From the day we said our “I dos,” we knew we could not conceive a baby naturally because of my colon cancer at age 17.

After four years into married life, we started to think about building a family.

The Adoption Path for Us

Although we’d planned to adopt all along, we were surprised by all of the adoption options. There was international, domestic, foster-to-adopt and private. It was all a foreign language to us, but something about international adoption gripped my heart.

We began researching agencies and talking to friends. I soon learned about country restrictions on international adoptions for cancer survivors. But, I landed on Ethiopia, and they didn’t appear to have a cancer survivor restriction. Soon, my heart was determined one day we’d adopt from there - I envisioned us as a multicultural family raising a beautiful dark-skinned baby.

Unfortunately, a surprising stage I colon cancer diagnosis came my way later that year after a routine, follow-up colonoscopy. (I didn’t have any signs or symptoms.) Because I’d just technically been diagnosed with cancer again, things changed.

Many adoption agencies want the adoptive parents to be at least 5-years “cancer free.” Our plans were interrupted, to say the least. 

Healing and Trying Again

Eventually, we accepted the unforseen path and began pursuing adoption again, this time it was domestic adoption.  

I found a domestic adoption agency without a  “cancer clause,” meaning if I had a clean bill of health from my doctor, they were willin gto work with us. They happened to be headquartered in Kansas City and it felt meant to be. I had a sense that Mike would know when it was time to submit our paperwork and begin the process.

But, he didn't really say anything.

September

Finally, one September afternoon it came. We had hit the road to head to southern Missouri and meet our newly born niece. With fields and Amish buggies passing by, I brought up adoption, hopeful Mike would know when to begin the process. 

“September,” Mike said. "Like THIS month!?" I replied, both frustrated and elated. 

We returned home after that weekend and got the ball rolling.

Friends who mentored us in all things adoption made sure we prepared for the paperwork process. We bought a file folder and began chipping away at each form.

Being organized and dealing with a flood of medical bills prepared me for the abundance of paperwork. All throughout the fall, we took small steps. The soonest we were told to expect a child was May.

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The January text 

Flash forward to a dark, cold January night. Mike and I had ventured out into the cold to visit our friends who’d just had a baby. We arrived at the perfect timing: feeding time. 

As we sat in the birthing center’s waiting room and stared at the posters and flyers surrounding us, something didn’t feel right.

Our paperwork was almost complete and we were going “active” with our adoption agency any day. Pregnant birth mothers were about to see our profile and consider us as future parents. I was mentally preparing myself to sit in another waiting room when our child was born, but I couldn’t fathom it. 

“I can’t picture us doing this - sitting here and it’s our baby back there,” I told Mike as we waited. He agreed - something felt off.

Our friend’s “new dad” smile broke our pondering as he waved at us down the hallway. We headed to their room and soon our arms became full with their new bundle of joy. I heard my phone vibrating in my coat pocket, it was across the room, but I ignored it until we left. 

While walking back into the cold and toward the car, I checked my phone and read a life-changing text message. Good friends were asking us to meet before church the next day… there was a baby who needed a home.

The 3-Week Whirlwind

We met with our friends and learned the story - their friend was taking care of his niece. She was three months old and lived in our city. Her birth mom intended to raise her but needed help. Her brother, the baby’s uncle, had peace from God about finding a family to adopt her. 

We’d immediately come to mind. 

Our friends were nervous to share this with us, knowing the opportunity was not at all what we’d prepared for. The baby was local. She was already 3 months old. There were personal connections and friends involved.

Yet it felt so right.

The eerie feeling in the hospital waiting room. The happenstance of having just completed our paperwork. And, the news that the little girl was biracial. It all added up.

We gave an initial “yes” that morning - we would be open to exploring the process. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, so we took the next steps with caution.

The next few weeks, we rode the adoption story roller coaster. We faced the same questions that come up in most adoptions:  Did the birth mom choose us? Is this going to fall through? Is this really happening? Are we ready?

But as each bend and twisty turn of events came, the details managed to work out and plans locked into place.

The day we received final confirmation - we were adopting this 3-month old little girl - our profile went active with our adoption agency. We immediately called them to take it down and let them know:  we’d found our baby.

Fortunately, the agency was all lined up and they reclassified our case to a “private” adoption. They lined up the social workers, lawyers and appointments both we, and the birth mom, needed to see the adoption through. 

From the January night we received the text, to the day we brought our daughter home, it was three weeks - the last day in January. Much, much sooner than when we were expecting.

As we cuddled our baby and held her tight for many weeks that followed, I shook my head at God’s amazing plan. Our beautiful bundle of joy had been born in September. 

Get the full story

Get the full story of Mae's adoption in Blush: How I Barely Survived 17.

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