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Sunday20 April 2014

Two Makes a Family

By Laura H

I have wanted to be a mom since I was 5 years old, so I never imagined that I would reach my late 30's and not be married or have children. I decided it was time to think about being a single mom. I heard a story on NPR about the number of children in the U.S., including many who were Black and Latino, who needed adoptive families and thought that's what I'm going to do. In the meantime, I did short-term foster care and learned about open adoption. I could feel my heart drop to my stomach. I really wanted to adopt a child from the U.S., but could I handle that? Now I can't imagine not knowing the birth mom.

alexandmom

The Wide Horizons For Children (WHFC) Domestic Program staff was up front about the challenges, but also reassured me that single people were typically matched as quickly as married couples. I learned another challenge in private domestic adoption was that matches often fell through before the baby left the hospital. Again I thought, could I handle that?

My first match came 3 weeks after my home study was approved and it did fall through. I was a little sad, but something hadn't felt quite right about this match - maybe I was just being guarded because I knew the chances of a match following through. I kept reminding myself how many other adoptive parents had told me that once your child does arrive, you can't imagine it could have been anyone else. So I told myself this must not have been the baby for me.

A month later, I got another call for a match with a baby in Ohio who was African American and due in 3 weeks. Something felt right this time, so I had to remind myself not to get too excited just yet. A week later I got to speak with the birth mother. I was excited and nervous. It was awkward at first, but she was quiet and easy to talk to. She shared with me what she wanted for her child and we talked about possible names. Talk about incredibly personal things to discuss with someone you've never met! I spoke with her a few more times before the baby arrived.

I got the call at work on a cloudy Wednesday morning that LaShawn's* water had broken. The baby was born before I stepped on the plane - a boy! From this point on, everything felt like a dream. I arrived late in the evening, so had to wait until morning to see LaShawn and this new little boy. I'll never forget seeing them for the first time. He was so beautiful with light brown skin and lots of black hair. I spent the day with the two of them at the hospital, holding and feeding him while chatting with LaShawn about our families and watching Ellen. We decided on the name Alex Malik, Alex being a name of two special relatives in her family. It was amazingly special to choose his name together. Before they left the hospital the next day, LaShawn's mother and aunt came in to meet Alex. I was so overcome with emotion at watching LaShawn say goodbye to Alex and so thrilled to meet her family, that I jumped up and gave her mother a big hug. A few weeks later on the phone, I said to LaShawn that her mother must have thought I was crazy. She laughed and said no, that her mother knew Alex was loved.

Alex

My sister and parents joined me in Ohio to take care of Alex for the 10 days before we came home. I was surprised how much I liked having a quiet place away from home to get to know Alex before coming back to Massachusetts to the excitement of our new life together. Once home, I talked with LaShawn every month by phone for a while. We haven't spoken recently by her choice, but I hope she will want to keep in contact in the future.

Alex is now a happy, outgoing 16 month old who loves running around, exploring electronic gadgets, and making everyone laugh. Working full time is a challenge, but my parents live nearby and are an incredible help. For someone who never imagined life as a single mom, now I can't imagine it any other way, and couldn't be happier.

* The birth mother's name was changed for her privacy.