Adoptions don’t always go according to our plan and expectation. As with everything in life, we can make our plans but ultimately the Lord determines our steps. Tim and Judy’s adoption story is no different. As you will see, a happy expectation can turn sour in an instant. But, we need not to fret. God has a plan and purpose much bigger than ours. He sees every tear, disappointment, and fear. We just need to trust Him.
Enjoy my friend Judy’s adoption story. She has a HUGE heart for adoption, those of us going through the woes of infertility, and God’s unique plan for us ttc’ers.
Related Post: Guest Post: Judy & Tim’s [Infertility] Story
The journey to parenthood can have many twists and turns. After several years of infertility treatment, we decided that adoption was going to be our best option. We’d even said before we were ever married that if we had any trouble conceiving, that we’d adopt, so God was planting that seed early!
We were connected to our adoption agency, C2 Adopt (formerly Coordinator’s 2), through our meetings at Resolve. We met with a social worker and began the process. The idea of a home study, including each of us writing our autobiography, was daunting but we pushed ahead. All the paperwork and background checks were completed in just a few months and we were ready.
We chose Parental Placement adoption which means we were able to search for birth parents that are looking to make an adoption plan for their unborn child. Three months after our paperwork was complete, we had a match. This birth mom had one child already and was pregnant with a girl, due in March 1996. Tim and I met with her in December 1995 and really hit it off. I was thrilled that I was able to go to all her doctor appointments. Hearing the heartbeat, seeing the ultrasound (I was able to take home a video of it to show Tim) and having ongoing conversations with this birth mom was such a wonderful experience.
Excitement at home involved setting up a nursery. Pink threw up in that room! As we got closer to March the doctor planned on a day to induce labor so that we could know the day and all be there. March 11, 1996 was the day our baby girl (who we’d name Lauren Elizabeth) would be born.
Through my research on adoption, I was trying to keep costs down. (It is possible!) We had been referred to an attorney who was also a professor at a local college. We were amazed at the reasonable cost and once we’d made a match with the birth mother, we contacted her to start putting together the legal paperwork. As the birth date neared, part of her work was to find the birth father and get his consent. She made the contact and we never anticipated the outcome.
From what we could gather at the time, the birth mother had not told the birth father about the pregnancy. Once he found out, he would not sign away his rights which meant the adoption was off. We found out on March 7, four days before she was born. I had been planning to be in the delivery room and just like that our lives were upside down. People are sometimes scared to approach adoption because the birth mom (and in our case the birth dad) can change their minds in this stage. In retrospect, we’re glad she changed before the birth instead of in the first 15 days after her birth, when the baby was already in our home. (Virginia law states the birth mom can change her mind for any reason in the first 15 days after birth.)
My parents were heading to Myrtle Beach the very next day and invited us to go with them. The unplanned vacation was what we needed to attempt to decompress. Our church had been involved through our whole process and when this all happened, they didn’t know how to comfort us. When mother’s day rolled around, I wasn’t going to be in church when they were recognizing mothers. That was supposed to be my first Mother’s Day. We invited Tim’s brother and his wife to go to Crabtree Falls for the day to not focus on Mother’s Day.
Not long after, we had to pick ourselves up and carry on. We still wanted to be parents and knew that God’s plan would get us there. We approached it a little differently and sent our profile out to social workers at hospitals all across the state of Virginia. Then we prayed and waited.
Days after we got home from an Outer Banks vacation I received a call from our social worker while I was at work. A social worker from a hospital in Newport News had called to let her know that a 17 year old girl had given birth to a boy (September 22, 1996) and wanted to place the baby for adoption.
The call came on Wednesday and we were on the road to Newport News on Friday. In between, shopping! We didn’t have a car seat yet and we still had a pink nursery which needed to be blue! On the way to Newport News, we had to come up with a name. Tim’s brother and his wife drove us there and helped with names. At the hospital we met the birth mom and her mother. The birth mom signed to allow us to take the baby and we headed home.
A few months later the full waiting period was complete and we legally adopted Tyler Anthony Mustian. His birth mother had chosen Anthony as his first name when he was born, so we decided to use that as his middle name.
With parental placement, it’s an open adoption and you decide how much communication to have with the birth parents. Tyler’s birth mom and I exchanged letters several times during Tyler’s early years and I would always send her pictures. As time went on, we lost touch and have only exchanged a few emails during Tyler’s teenage years.
Early in 1999 we started talking about adopting a second child. This time we did an online profile. It took longer to connect with someone (nearly a year) but we were patient and obviously busy parenting Tyler. In May 2000 a young black woman reached out to us and wanted us to parent her unborn baby girl. Even though Tim and I are white, she chose us because of our background/upbringing and because of Tyler’s ethnicity.
Tim, Tyler and I traveled to New York in June to meet her and her 5 year old daughter. She wanted to proceed with us. We were very excited and exchanged many emails and phone calls before the birth date. We decided I would travel alone, when the time came. The doctor knew the plan and decided that August 8, 2000 would be the day. I boarded the Amtrak train in Richmond, VA and traveled to New York. The birth mom met me and went with me to the rental car place and was a tremendous help in navigating New York traffic! Due to her medical insurance, the birth would actually be at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut (about 20 minutes from Yonkers, her hometown).
I drove her to the hospital on the morning of the 8th and was there the entire day with her. I watched her get her epidural and endure the contractions. Looking back I realize that I never grabbed her hand to help her through any of that. I was apparently in shock and stayed over in the corner. A little over 8 hours later it was time for delivery. Again I was in the corner and I certainly had the doctor’s same view!
My attorney had prepared all the paperwork that needed to be done while I was there. This birth father was in the picture and he came and signed everything as well. The social worker at the hospital helped us get everything done/notarized. A day later I brought Kendall Elise Mustian to my hotel room and got ready to return home. Again the birth mom was with me all the way. We were in the rental car and then a bus and then finally to Penn Station to catch the train home. Our friends, Dave, Janet and Mark Lynch had brought Tim and Tyler to the Richmond station to meet us. Apparently 4yr old Tyler was running around the station saying “Mom’s bringing home my sister!”
Adoption is beautiful and you shouldn’t let anything (including cost) deter you.
Remember, you and your husband aren’t biologically related. You adopted each other and made a family. Adopting kids is a great extension of that!