Our Adoption Story
Vireo has been the greatest gift of our life! Many families try to get pregnant for years, go through invasive and expensive treatments, and lots of stress before coming to the decision to adopt. Many families who decide to adopt have to wait years before they are matched with a child. We just fell into it. We knew we wanted to adopt. The plan was to get married in March of the following year and to spend a year or two as a married couple before starting the process. However, God had other plans for us.
Nearly a year before our wedding date a friend of ours found out she was pregnant. I mean REALLY pregnant- 6 months along! That wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that we all had a conversation about us raising her child.
At first, we said yes! Of course! We love you and have looked forward to being parents all our lives! Then, she decided that she wanted to look at other couples because we are both only children with an extremely small biological family and said that we didn’t make the cut because we wouldn’t have anyone to leave him to if something were to happen to us. We were absolutely devastated. The first words out of my mouth were “What does blood have to do with family?” I couldn’t understand how she couldn’t see.
So, I went to Vegas with some friends and spent all my rainy day money thinking that a family was no longer an immediate possibility for us. One week after I got back she came to us and said she had interviewed several parents and couldn’t find a better mother than me or a father she liked more than Will.
She said she chose us because she knew if anybody could make it happen it would be us. She said she knew that I had the strength and drive to fight for her child no matter what. She began to tell me all the ways in which she sees me as the woman she wishes she could be. I told her that she could be anyone she wants and that all she has to do is decide what to be and go be it. She told me to stop being her friend for a moment and listen to what she was saying to me. I heard her loud and clear, but I never want her to think anyone is better than she is because they are not. She is so much stronger than she knows. One day she will realize it. I hope I get to see her then. I hope Vireo does too. I hope she sticks around. Right now, she is taking a break to get her life in order. We pray for her every day and hope that she comes back around to be a part of the family she created.
So, we started to research adoption. At first, we were told we couldn’t both adopt him because we weren’t married yet and that it would cost upwards of $12,000. We knew that he was coming soon and that we had to make a decision quick. Three days later we said no. There was no way we could raise that much money and didn’t want to do this unless we were both in it. It was one of the most devastating times of our life.
Meanwhile, lawyers just kept calling and reminding us that we couldn’t have the most precious gift in the world. I went through a whole phase where I cleaned our apartment from top to bottom and was bound and determined to live as though the opportunity was going to come again. I was bound and determined to be ready next time. I talked to a few people about what was happening and how we were feeling.
Marsha said that we should utilize the church and that we could get some folks together and have a baby shower providing all the baby’s needs. Olga used her resources at 211 to find ways to do this as cheaply as possible. Then, I went to lunch with Cheria. She was like wait a minute. You have wanted to be a mother for as long as I have known you, you have helped so many people, and we can make this happen if you want it. Is it even still a possibility? I wasn’t sure, but Cheria was ready to start a Go Fund Me for us. I spoke with our friend Clare who had recently adopted and she said they found out about their child in April and she was born in June and to let her know what we needed.
With all of this new found support and information I approached Will and he said let’s do it. We went to his birthmother’s house on the evening of April 21, 2015. I sat on the corner of her bed and asked if it was still a possibility. She perked up, handed me his ultrasound pictures, and said these are yours now. She hadn’t even looked for another home she was waiting for us to come back around. 33 days later she would go into labor.
During that time, we raised nearly $4100, completed a home study, took our pets to update their shots, completed physicals at our doctors offices, went to parenting classes, read parenting books, bought and acquired everything needed for his first year of life, found and retained a lawyer, and completely rearranged our home to make a nursery all while working full time. We took his mother to every doctor’s appointment, attended every ultrasound, talked to him in utero, cooked her 3 meals a day to keep them both healthy, paid her rent, got her plates and registration for her vehicle, bought her groceries, and stayed on call 24-7.
Our Go Fund Me read as follows:
“It would be a relief to my heart and mind for Carla to be the adoptive mother of my child to come. I know well enough about how strong-willed and determined this woman is to protect and seek for the best interest of my child. She can give him invaluable exposure to become cultured, intelligent, spiritual, creative, wise, humble, diverse, and the capacity to endlessly love.
As for a father, Will is an ethical gentleman, witty, open-minded, a positive and supportive man that would serve any nurturing need.
I’ve seen these two parents to have a personal dynamic, unlike any couple I have met with their yin and yang complimenting well. They also certainly have the support system and loyalty of a large collection of friends and family. I know it takes a village to raise a child. They have this.
I have a love for this child and know they can give him a positive future filled with the qualities I value. Help us to make this a blessing we all deserve to have.”
This is the reference letter Jen (our son’s mother) wrote for us to complete our home study. We haven’t much of savings as we have been working hard to pay down our debt and sell Will’s house in anticipation of our upcoming marriage in March. We planned to adopt in just two short years. Jen’s request came unexpected but is an honor and privilege we could not refuse. Unfortunately, we don’t have the funds up front. We thought we would until the person who was set to buy Will’s house last week was unable to verify his employment due to the tragedy of his boss having a heart attack. This was a huge blow to us as he will not be recovered until after our child is born. We are asking our community to come together and help us to bring our son home on his birthday (due date is June 14th).
Once we sell Will’s house and he finishes school we plan to release the money we raise back into the universe by donating to causes we believe in. We want to share our story with you and invite you to be a part of our child’s life. We will send a personal thank you to every person that donates along with a family portrait and an invite to our blog so you can follow along with our adoption journey, see the family your money helps to create, and find out where it will be donated in the future. We are excited to grow our family now albeit unexpectedly. This child is a gift to us that we want to fully embrace. After all, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans and often it is the surprises in life that bring the most reward.
I got a phone call on Memorial Day that she wasn’t feeling well. She had a rough pregnancy. She had high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. I took her to the hospital. The doctor said the baby’s heart rate was dropping every time she had a contraction and they needed to induce her labor. She was induced and in labor for 5 days before they finally took him via C-section. I think those were honestly the hardest days of all of our lives. I will spare you the painful details. Most are not mine to share anyhow. I remember suiting up to go into the OR. I was so anxious for the baby to arrive, but also very worried for his mother. I held her hand and spoke to her throughout the entire experience. I had the nurse take pictures as he was being pulled from her belly so that I could focus on taking care of his mother. I can’t describe to you the following moments.
The first time I saw him, the first time he cried his tiny little 6 lb. 13 oz. body was 19 inches long. He was born at 9:43 a.m. on May 29th. 38 days after our adoption journey began. 15 days earlier than full term. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever gazed upon. Through all that we had done, all that we had been through, and through all of our hard work we had always known that his mother could change her mind at any moment. We talked about what we would do if that were to happen. We had this nagging fear of the unknown eating away at us every moment. That all fell away for the both of us when we saw him. Nothing mattered but him. If she changed her mind we were prepared to give her everything we had for him and to help in any way we could. His livelihood is all that mattered. Our intent and his being was unconditional pure love.
The first time I held him was in the recovery room. They gave him to his birth mother for skin to skin contact. She held him for a while and then handed him to me. I held him in my arms and sang to him. I sang Face of God. The lyrics are as follows:
You are the face of God
I hold you in my heart.
You are a part of me.
You are the face of God.
You are the face of God
I hold you in my heart
You are my family.
You are the face of God.
Not long after that the doctors had to put him in an incubator because he couldn’t hold his temperature. Will came in just after they put him in the warmer. Vireo held his finger with his tiny little fist. I have never seen him more in love. We stood next to his warmer praying for him to be okay. He would spend the first 48 hours of his life shivering under a heat lamp. I would go in every two hours to feed him. I would watch as the doctors poked his tiny arms and legs several times trying to draw his blood. He would teach us more about what it means to unconditionally love another human being in the first 24 hours of his life than we will ever be able to teach him so long as we all are living. His mother asked to spend the third day alone with him as we went to our baby shower and since we would be taking him home the following day. We granted her wish. She asked me how we wanted to spell his name so that he could have the same name throughout his lifetime. We named him Vireo after a songbird. It was fitting. After all, birds are one very few animals that will adopt other birds as their own. Will and I bonded over bird watching and his mother’s artist name is Neversbird. The most I have ever paid for an original work of art is for a painting that she created the year before depicting a Phoenix and an octopus. I bought it because it reminded me of Will and I. In reality, she painted it because it represented her and Vireo’s birth father in her mind. We hung it over his crib. We had to remove two large paintings from the wall where we placed his crib. We hung that painting, put up a stick on of a tree and birds, and had this screw poking out that was begging for something to be hung on it. Will grabbed a bird drawing I had purchased for him a year prior since it would be fitting to the theme. We hadn’t so much as thought about that drawing since he put it on a random shelf. As it turns out, it was a drawing of a Vireo. That is just one of the many synchronicities that have occurred since we decided to adopt Vireo. Whenever we had doubt there was always something that let us know we were doing the right thing.
Having Vireo in our life has strengthened the bond with our biological families and drawn us all closer together. It has made our relationship as soon to be husband and wife that much stronger and impenetrable. Our church family has come together. Our friends came together. He has countless grandmas. That many more aunts and uncles. None of which are biological. We literally had over 100 people contribute to bringing him home in one way or another. People who couldn’t afford to donate gave us things we needed that they already had. People took up donations of baby items for us. I bring him to work with me every day and people come just to sit with us and be with him. We have an overabundance of love and a wealth beyond compare. We don’t have two dimes to rub together. We emptied out every penny we ever earned to bring our family together. Yet, we want for nothing that we need because our family supports us. We never knew love could be like this. This journey has taught us how to put love into action in ways we never understood. Love is the dinner made for us when sleep comes in 30-minute intervals. Love is helping us move into a bigger home with a newborn in tow. Love is helping us unpack, organize, and clean our home in 10 days to get us ready for our final Home Study. Love is watching our child while we sleep in your basement so we can get our first night of rest in 3 months. Love is volunteer babysitters. Love is an unexpected pack of diapers. Love is the money handed to us earned from your second job. Love is a $20 gift from someone who needs new shoes. Love is making/bringing us coffee. Love is handmade cards. Love is dedicating your favorite childhood book that you’ve kept all these years to a child you have never met, but love so much. Love is the way our community came together to bring us together. Love is Vireo. He is all the good things. We thank God for him and his mother every day. Just to watch him grow is the greatest blessing. So much of our parenting so far has been staring at him arm in arm, hand in hand, just next to each other asking the other if we ever knew it was possible to find so much beauty. The answer is still no as we are in awe of him. We are in awe of our life together. We are blessed beyond measure.
__Sallee/Piechota family, Indianapolis, Indiana