The Owens Family

The Owens Family

Brielle's Story- Our Adoption Adventure

Adoption is love. When we made our pass along cards to give out to people, that is what was on the front of our cards. The love we had for our unknown child gave us the strength to keep going. I have never in my life witnessed a greater love than I did on the day that Brielle was placed into our arms by her birthmother. We love our children, and that love feels identical for both of them.
After the birth of Paige, we hoped for more children. But we knew it would not be easy. We dreamed of the day when Paige would have a sibling to connect with. Our feelings started to get our attention more and more. We had  Frozen Embryos that we wanted to give a chance at life so we knew that would be the next step. During the next year, we attempted 2 Frozen Embryo Transfers. It was different than our previous fresh cycle of IVF that we did the first time. Although physically these procedures were easier on my body, they were just as difficult emotionally.

We had always considered adoption and we never saw it as the secondary path to parenthood. Suddenly  those feelings became stronger almost like they wouldn’t leave us alone.  It was a little confusing to be in the middle of all this so we decided to visit with our local case worker for LDS family services.  We explained to him that we had Frozen Embryos and hoped to continue fertility treatments, but we were also considering adoption and wanted to learn more.  We were experts with treatments, but not with adoption. When we were sitting in his office I noticed a painting of Joseph the Carpenter instructing Jesus as a young boy in carpentry.  I thought of Joseph.  I thought of how he must have been such a wonderful father and how he must have loved Jesus fully.  I felt in my heart that adoption was in our future.  I just didn’t know when.
Both of our FET’s were unsuccessful and it broke our hearts.  We felt responsible and protective of every embryo and put forward all of our faith in hopes they would survive.  We knew that because the embryos had been frozen, they were weaker and had less of a chance of a successful attachment.  Doctors gave us a 20% chance of survival. 

Should we attempt more fertility treatments?  I didn’t feel bitter towards any of the procedures, doctors or even the experiences.  I knew the realities of the medical side, and I was grateful for it still.  We had Paige.  But we knew it wasn’t the right time to attempt it again.
Soon after our second failed FET, Jake was in a car accident.  It could have been very serious, but miraculously, he was not hurt at all, even though he was driving at 60 miles per hour.  After his accident, we were reminded what was most important to us.  Our eternal family.  We were ready for adoption.  We knew without a doubt that another child was coming and we needed to start preparing. We felt ready to tell people of our hopes to adopt.
Something pushed us to move very fast, and I did all I could by asking friends that had experiences with adoption to share.  I discovered a whole community of support for adoptive couples.  I was amazed and encouraged.  I did not have the same kind of support previously for our treatments because they are more private by nature.
We decided to not be shy about spreading the word.  We told family and friends.  I made 250 pass along cards and gave away almost all of them after a month. I started an adoption blog.  Each time I would write something for the blog, I felt the right words coming to my mind.  I decided to add a slideshow of pictures that could capture our personalities.
I have to confess that at first I was worried that birth parents may not be interested in us because we had a biological child.  I was worried that some people may not understand that we would love all of our children the same.  I realized that Paige had a greater capacity to love than anyone else I knew.  She was our world.  Someone else would love her too, and would recognize that she was going to be a wonderful big sister.  She went with us everywhere to our appointments with the case worker, and she was a big part of our adoption journey. 
One day someone contacted me on our adoption blog.  This woman found our blog through a friend and was touched by our story.  She was an adoption advocate and worked with birth mothers.  She created her own blog, and spread the word about us.  Birthmothers and expectanct mothers read the blog and gave us encouragement. Some of them even contacted us and were interested in our family. I learned from their perspective.  I would find myself thinking of the difficult circumstances that they were in and what they shared with me.  My heart ached for them and I wanted whatever was best for their circumstances to work out.
We were contacted or learned about 4 possible adoption situations but they did not work out.  We did not lose heart because for one reason or another we didn’t feel right about it.  Adoption wasn’t about just having a child, it was about having OUR child, and we prayed for the people we would come in contact with that would change our lives forever.
Then one day my life changed forever by a letter.  I had a very close friend, T that made the decision to serve a mission for the LDS church.  She was serving in the Washington DC south mission.  I read the back of the letter.  My friend T told me to wait to read this letter when I was in a quiet place.  I got the chills.  I felt like this letter was what I was waiting for.
I put Paige down for a nap and read the letter.  T was a very close friend of mine that knew of our infertility struggles and was one of the few people that knew of our recent failed procedures.  I explained how we had been led to adoption and our hopes for another child.  I even sent her a pass along card with a Christmas card I mailed to her.  In the card I said “I know you cannot pass this card along, but I wanted you to be a part of this.”
She told me that she had been teaching a discussion to a young man who was going to be baptized.  His friend, D was there with him during the discussions.  She was an 18 year old member of the church and had been her whole life.  She has a wonderful family that allowed this young man to receive the discussions in their home.  While T was teaching, she felt prompted to ask D about God’s love.  D remained silent.  This stumped my friend T.  She said at this point something took over and she told D that she knows of God’s love because of the people He put in her life.  She started to tell D all about me.  For some reson she even told her about our infertility struggle, and our hopes to adopt.
When D heard about us, she perked up.  She asked questions.  But she didn’t tell T she was pregnant.  T happened to have our pass along card and decided to give it to D. She is a very petite person and she was hardly showing in her pregnancy at 6 months along.  She was also having a hard time accepting that God did love her because of what she was going through.  She had already been working with a case worker and her bishop for months with LDS Family Services.  She was considering adoption for her child, a baby girl, and had not yet found the family that she was praying would come into her life.
D spent the next day looking at our adoption blog.  She loved Paige.  She loved reading about how Jake and I love each other.  She is Hispanic and is from El Salvador.  She loved the picture of Jake serving a mission and playing with the children in Ecuador.  And she was hoping for a family that loved the culture.  She wanted her child to speak Spanish and she asked T if Jake spoke Spanish.  T was happy to say yes.  D finally told T about her pregnancy.  She told her that she already knew that we were the right family and she wanted to speak to us.
T spoke to her mission president and explained the situation, being very careful not to break any missionary rules.  He is a lawyer and he knew that there is a lot of paperwork that has to happen before an adoption, so he allowed and even encouraged this birth mother to call us through my friend T.
The day after I got this letter, D called me. She was anxious to talk to me.  I was nervous but I was ready.   Jake arranged to come home early to be a part of the conversation.  We spoke so easily with D.  She seemed steady and calm.  I was so impressed with her.  Jake spoke Spanish with her and even Paige wanted to talk to her.  D told me over the phone that she already knew that we were what she had been praying for.  This baby was supposed to be ours.  We felt like D was supposed to be a part of our lives too. 
We decided to fly to Virginia in 2 weeks to meet D and her family.  We had NEVER been more nervous about anything.  As soon as we met, our hearts felt at peace.  This really was right.  We all felt it.  We went to lunch, we laughed and we shared family pictures. I was amazed that I had so much in common with D.  We are both super girly, we love ballet more than anything, we both love to sew,we have a soft spot for animals, and we had identical hopes and dreams for our daughters. D needed reassurance that the adoption would be open and that she would be able to see the baby again and be a part of her life.  We wanted the same thing.
Now we needed to get ready.  We had a lot of paperwork to do and only about 2 months to get it all done.  We had not even committed to working with an adoption agency yet, but now we knew what we needed to do.  D was working with LDS Family Services so we would to.  We finished everything required with just 2 weeks to spare before the baby came.
We continued to connect and have contact with D.  She told us the birthfather (who was not the boy being baptized) was in a relationship with her for 2 years. When he found out that she was pregnant he wanted to marry her. But the relationship fell apart.  D felt that marriage would not last.  He decided to relinquish his parental rights before Brielle was born.  We later met the birth father and could easily see that he loves Brielle very much.
D wanted me there for the birth, and we really hoped we would make it but babies seem to have their own time table.  D was one week before her due date.  She was measuring small and the doctors determined that the amniotic fluid was low, and she would need to be delivered that day. 
When we got word, we packed up our things and booked an overnight flight.  We took Paige with us.  We did not know how long we would be in Virginia and we could not stand the thought of being without Paige so she came along.  It was a difficult flight for her, but I was proud of her.  This was Paige’s first sacrifice for her little sister.
We got off the plane and went straight to the hospital with no breaks. D was still in labor after 15 hours.  I got a text that D was about to deliver just as we were pulling into the hospital parking lot.  I ran to labor and delivery.  I asked the nurse before I entered D’s room.  She went in and checked and explained that D had just delivered the baby 5 minutes ago and was now with the doctor.
Even though I missed the birth, I knew it happened the way it should.  D needed to have some private moments with the baby and I respected that.  I wanted that for her.  I smiled to myself when I thought that maybe this little girl waited for us to get there to be born. 
D asked me to be in the room as soon as she was ready after the doctor’s worked with her.  I saw that D was shaking from the effects of the epidural.  I cried for her and rubbed her legs. I remembered my own experience with pregnancy and labor.  I saw what she had done for this child.  I was in awe of D’s strength.  The nurses told me that this labor was one that stands out because it was so calm and peaceful. D told me, “I am so glad you are here.”  D asked me to hold the baby.  I cried and felt like there never was another baby so beautiful.  (Except maybe Paige)I think my words were, "She looks just like you.  She is so beautiful." I was overwhelmed by the natural love that came to me and I knew that this girl was very special.

D asked for Jake to come in and he came quietly in with Paige.  I held Paige while Jake held the baby.  He held her in his arms and cried.  He said, “I feel like I’ve known her always.”  The spirit in the room was so strong, I would describe it as blinding.  I could not hold back my own tears again.
Paige saw the baby and we tried to explain to her that this was the special baby we had told her about, but she was more interested in D.  She remembered D from before and she loves her. Paige wanted to crawl up on the hospital bed with D.
We had chosen Brielle’s name together and were so happy to have a beautiful face with a beautiful name.  Her name means “God is my strength” and D and I both thought that was perfect. D spent 2 days with Brielle in the hospital and 2 days at home.  She cherished that time and we spent a lot of the day just holding and adoring Brielle. We got to know the family even better and tried to comfort them through this difficult decision.  We grew closer in our relationships and the love and respect we have for D is just as it is for anyone in our families. Even after the placement of the baby, we continued to have several visits with Dayana and her family.

We were in Virgnia for a total of 3 weeks and 1 day.  We could not leave the state until all paperwork went through the state of Utah and the state of Virginia.  Because of a fluke (a different story) D's case worker had trouble getting all of our paperwork in.  We were there much longer than any of us had planned and it was a shaky time for us, but we were able to deepen our relationship with D, and we were also able to visit and spend time in the Washington DC and Virginia area, somewhere we had never been.  As another added miracle, my little brother Kevin happened to have an internship in the same town that D lived in for the summer.  He had a furnished home he was renting and allowed us to stay in.  We felt so fortunate to have some family there at this special time.  And my older brother Tony flew from Idaho to sight see in DC when we were there. My brothers are awesome and both of them came with us to meet D!  They instantly saw for themselves how special these people are.  It felt good to connect my family with D's family in more ways than one.  D's mother told my brothers that they are part of their family.
D placed Brielle in our arms on May 16th, and on this day I became a mother again.  That day is difficult to describe because the emotions are still so fresh.  I will NEVER forget the courage that D had that day.  Placing Brielle was the hardest thing I have ever seen anyone do, but she did it because of her immense love. We can never express our gratitude properly for this gift.
I am holding Brielle right now and thinking of all the people that love her. Our life is so much sweeter because she is in it.  Saying we are lucky and blessed is an understatement.  This experience has changed us forever.  We have witnessed true love in action. And the love we have in our home has multiplied.  All because of adoption.


Abish said...

What a wonderful story! I'm so happy for you guys. She's beautiful!

Alexis said...

Thank you for sharing that story. I really needed that today.

Maureen said...

Aww, I'm crying like a baby! What a beautiful story, and what amazing women Brielle has in her life!

Tarah said...

I didn't think it was too long, at all! You and I both know it could have been way longer! I love that D! She is my hero! I am a big fan of that T too! What a gal! What a MIRACLE! You deserve it, Jan!! You are the BEST! Give my baby kisses for me! Love you!

Audrey and Geoffery said...

I'm sitting here crying like a baby and I know that this couldn't happen to a more deserving family! I couldn't be more happy for anyone. She is soo beautiful and she is so lucky to have such a wonderful mother. Good luck with everything!