Jacob and Gretal welcomed Anna into their lives when she was just nine days old. They knew they would maintain a relationship with the tiny baby’s birth mom, but they didn’t expect to eventually melt into what feels like a very large extended family with a very special connection.
Good Shepherd provided services to the birth mother during the adoption while working with Lutheran Family and Children’s Services to find the ideal adoptive parents.
How has the relationship with Anna’s birth family evolved?
When we set up our adoption agreement, we were going to have four in-person meetings per year and anticipated those being in public places like restaurants and parks. We envisioned sending letters and pictures every so often and getting together to celebrate Anna’s birthday.
But what we have found is that her birth family seems like extended family to us now. Anna’s birth mom, grandmother and uncle, plus grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews from our side of the family…we see each other on a regular basis and have been pleasantly surprised by the relationships we have formed. Whenever we get together, EVERYONE is invited!
If you were to give advice to a family who’s considering adoption or in the middle of the process, what would you say?
Try not to get discouraged when the process doesn’t seem to be going well. Most likely, lots of birth parents will look at your information and you will want each and every one of them to choose you. But YOUR child will come at just the right time. Pray about it, talk to other adoptive families about it, do whatever you need to help you feel better in the meantime.
I would also say to be open to all types of situations; you never know where the right fit will come from. I never dreamed my child’s birth mother would be sleeping in my house during a visit, but it has worked out really well.
Can you describe the moment you met Anna?
There is what’s called an entrustment ceremony, where those involved gather to share their love of the child. We met Anna when she was handed to us as part of that moment.
The moment was surreal, and with all of the other things going on, I don’t know that I can honestly say it was “love at first sight.” I was just happy she didn’t start screaming right away! I felt a sense of relief that we had finally made it to this point and also a little panic that now I had to figure out how to raise her. My husband was immediately comfortable holding her.
Once we were home that night and got to enjoy baby snuggles… that’s when we knew we had a keeper!
How did Good Shepherd assist you during the adoption process?
Anna’s birth mom did not have an adoption plan when she went into the hospital to give birth. At some point, she and her mom decided it was best to bring in an adoption social worker and the hospital called Good Shepherd. They worked with Lutheran Family and Children’s Services to connect with us.
Good Shepherd has given lots of support on both sides of the adoption – to the birth mom and to us – throughout and even after the process. They have also been very helpful while managing our relationship with Anna’s birth father, who was not involved but showed some interest after we had adopted her. We regularly send letters to Good Shepherd to pass on to him. He would also go through Good Shepherd should he wish to contact us or send letters to Anna.
We feel very blessed to have worked with two wonderful agencies and love that we still keep in contact!