Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Miah's Adoption Story

When I asked for blog requests, I got several wanting to know about Miah's adoption story. I've offered in the past to email the whole story out to you which I've done, but it seems like there are still more wanting to know so I'm gonna go ahead and paste it all here for your reading pleasure. If you've gotten the email...this is the EXACT same thing so don't bother reading it again for more details. Sorry to those who have to hear it again, but I surely don't want those who HAVEN'T heard it to go without. I love sharing!
I have shortened some names to only initials for privacy's sake. We do NOT have an open adoption with Miah's biological family but we DO keep in touch with his foster family (they're regular blog stalkers *wink*). We are very open with Miah about being adopted. He's very proud to say that he grew in my "heart" instead of my tummy like Jake, Koko, Penny and Baby A. He talks about "my foster parents" all the time. Usually it doesn't make much sense but I think he likes to say he HAS foster parents because the other kids don't! It's funny :)
A few weeks ago he was busy either watching TV or playing toys and he randomly came up to me and said, "Mom, I wish my foster parents didn't make bad choices." I corrected him saying that his foster parents did NOT make bad choices...they were great examples to him and that he MEANT to say "M" his biological mother. He listened intently to my explanation and then just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yea...her." and then continued on with his playing.
We intend to continue explaining things to Miah as he get's older and can understand more and more. We also feel that even though there are details about his past that are unsettling, he deserves to know because they ARE his past...a piece of him. We will always be as open as he wants us to be about everything.
ENJOY!

All my life I knew I wanted to adopt. When I was in high school, a church teacher of mine adopted a baby boy from Russia. Because I was in his class during this process, I got to witness each exciting moment of their adoption story. It was awesome, it left a HUGE impression on me to adopt as well. I watched the videos the Russian orphanage would send this teacher’s family and I would see ALL the many children who still needed homes. It hurt my heart to see these children, knowing that probably half of them would not be adopted because they were older. These children would go on to live lives they would have never wanted for themselves as prostitutes and drug dealers, thieves and alcoholics.

When I married Austin we discussed the adoption topic and it was something we both wanted for the future but we knew that then was not the time to pursue those dreams. By 2003 I had two kids biologically and had started my business. Everything was going so smoothly until I started getting those motherly feelings of it being time to have a new child. I knew that with my business, I wouldn’t be able to support my family like I needed to if I had to stop doing parties to have a baby. Still, the feeling persisted and I started to look into other options for having a child. I thought that maybe it was time to finally take that step toward adoption.

In 2004 Austin and I seriously started researching our options in adoption. We thought that since Austin had lived in Russia for two years and knew the language fluently, it would be neat for us to adopt from Russia or Ukraine and have that tie to the child’s country. The cost for international adoption was outrageous, but we knew that Heavenly Father had prompted us to adopt at this time, and he would provide a way for us to find the child who was meant for our family. We did numerous fundraisers to start raising the money, we joined adoption groups who had or would be adopting from Russia as well, we sent out flyers to friends to help us, but still the strain grew too much. By the end of the year we were so frustrated with what LITTLE money we had earned over the past year that we gave up. I was so upset and depressed thinking that I KNEW we were supposed to adopt. I was mad that after all we did, road blocks continued to fall in our path. Austin tried to help uplift me and remind me that we can have more children of our own, but that didn’t help. I knew, being the mother, that we were supposed to adopt. I just didn’t know WHY it was so hard for us to achieve this.

In February of 2005, I had a friend email me about our adoption process to see how it was going. I went on to tell her that it WASN’T going and about all the junk we had been through the last year. Coincidentally, she had a friend who she spoke with on occasion who had adopted 2 children from Texas. She began to tell me how Texas has more children in foster care than almost any other state in the America. I started to get excited, but remembered that in the beginning of our adoption process I had already researched domestic adoption and was told by CPS workers that they only have large sibling groups, or children with severe health issues. Both of these, Austin and I were unable to care for at that time. Still, she insisted that I get in touch with her friend and look into this. She sent me her contact information and from that point, I corresponded with this friend about domestic adoption. I started to realize that this may be the best option for our family. Once I got all the information about how it works and what we needed to do, I sat down with Austin once again to discuss everything. He was so excited about the new plan. We prayed to know if this was the path we should take and we knew within our hearts this was right. In March 2005, we made our official decision to begin the process of domestic adoption. Little did we know, a sweet little baby boy named Gilberto Jeremiah was being born in Dallas that same month.

In domestic adoption, families who want to adopt choose an agency to work with. You can either choose to work directly with CPS, or choose a private agency that would give you more one on one attention and care. Austin and I chose to work with a private agency called The Arrow Project which we were referred to by some friends of ours at our church. We were told we needed to take the required courses, get a home study and then extensive background checks. Once we finished these things, we would be licensed as state foster/adoptive parents for Texas. We spent the whole spring and summer of 2005 going to classes and preparing our home for the all intrusive home study. By the fall of 2005 we were finally finished with all the required steps and were licensed as foster/adoptive parents. We were then ready to start the “looking” process of adoption.

This “looking” process was probably the hardest on me than anything else. When children are in homes that are inappropriate for them and the state decides they need to be removed, the are immediately placed in foster homes. Some of these children will only stay in these foster homes for a short time while their guardians get their life back on track. At that point, they get removed from the foster homes and placed back with their guardians. Other children end up staying in foster homes for much longer. If their guardians can not get their life back on track their parental rights are eventually terminated and the child becomes free for adoption. Sometimes, the children are considered “legal risk” which means they have a greater chance of becoming free for adoption, but there’s still that very small chance that the parent can get back on track and take the child back. Austin and I had decided from the beginning that fostering was not the best idea for us at that time. We knew that we would be leaving with the military in the upcoming years and we didn’t want to commit to being foster parents and then have to leave, forcing the foster children to be moved again. We both agreed that we were only interested in adopting. In this case we would be called about a child who was free for adoption and then go through a lengthy process of paperwork and time consuming junk to finally have the child in our home. On the other hand, we also agreed that if the situation was right, we would take on a child who was legal risk. This meant that we could be called at anytime, day or evening to take a child who had just been born with an unlikely chance of being returned to their mother. We would be given the choice to either take the child home and begin fostering the child in hopes they would become free for adoption. Or we could say no to taking the child, and let the state find another foster home for the child.

Austin and I had decided that we were open to children of any race and between the ages of 18 months and 5 years. We wanted to make sure that Jakob remained the oldest child in the family. Soon after we were licensed we began to get calls from our agency regarding children who were available for adoption. When this happens, families who are interested in adopting the child submit their home study to the child’s case worker. From that point, the child’s case worker would look over all the submitted studies and then choose anywhere from 2-8 families they think would be the best match for that particular child. These chosen families would be contacted through their agencies and then a meeting would be set up for an agency worker to attend. At the meeting, it’s basically an auction. Each agency worker is there to “sell” their family as the best match for the given child. The case worker for the child would make the decision on who they think is the final choice for the child and notify the agency. The family who is chosen would then be given the case file for that child which is basically a HUGE book of every piece of information they have on that particular child. Everything from phone calls, doctor visits, biological visits etc. etc. Everything the case worker and foster parent had witnessed regarding this child is documented in their case file. The family would read the file and then make a decision themselves to decide if this child is a good match for their family and is the child they want to adopt. Once the family says yes, it’s all down hill from there and visits begin.

Toward the end of 2005, Austin and I were chosen as a prospective family for a black little girl who was around 15 months. The girl was born addicted to cocaine, but her foster parents had raised her since birth and were able to get her through withdrawals as a baby. Although she was no longer addicted, she had physical issues that were a result of the addiction. Her muscles were tighter than most babies and she wasn’t flexible. She also had severe reflux issues that were a daily problem for her foster parents. Still, Austin and I were ecstatic about being chosen and we wanted to pursue adopting her. Over a period of a few weeks before the final meeting to choose the family for her, I grew very attached to this little girl I had never met. I felt as if I was already her mother and I wanted to hold her and take care of her so badly. We prayed that the right decision would be made regarding her family. Although we knew she would come with struggles, health issues and a chance of future drug addiction, we knew that if the case worker chose us as the family, it was meant to be and we would say yes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and another family was chosen for this baby girl. It was really hard for me to handle this because I wanted to know WHY we weren’t good enough for her. I had so many unanswered questions, but I had to remind myself that we had prayed for the right decision to be made, and us being the family for her was not the right decision.

A few weeks later, we got another call but this time it was quite different. A black baby boy had been born and the biological parents were not suitable to care for this child. A couple of their other children had already been taken away and they needed a home for this new baby boy. I got this call about 15 minutes before I had to be at a party. I frantically called Austin to make sure he was on board for this and he of course was. Once we said yes, our agency told us the baby was 3 days old and needed to be dropped off THAT NIGHT. We were told they would be coming by with the baby in a few hours and for us to be ready. This was MORE excitement than I can write here in words. I went in to do my party barely able to concentrate on anything but my new son who I couldn’t wait to see and meet and hold. The party felt longer than any other party I had done and when I got out I was ready to rush home to be there to greet our son. When I got in the car after the party, I had a voicemail on my phone. The message was that the case worker had decided that the child needed to stay with his 2 year old twin brothers who were already placed in a foster home. She said if we took the twin 2 year olds as well, that would be fine, but they would not separate the boys. Although we wanted SO badly to take all 3 boys as our own, both Austin and I knew that was way more than we could handle at that time. We had to tell the case worker no and move on. I can’t explain how hard this was to take in. I had already put into my thought process that I had a new son and then he was taken away. For an entire hour as I worked that party, all I could think about was him and how exciting it was going to be, only to be told that it WASN’T going to be at all. If it weren’t for Austin, I think I would have gone crazy, but he stood strong. He continued to tell me to be patient and to wait because there WAS a child out there for us and we just needed to let him find us and that’s exactly what happened.

On Friday the 13th of January 2006, I did a party for the "E." family in Waxahachie. I was scheduled to come as Belle, BUT because of some crazy Friday the 13th spell I was under, I screwed up and came as Cinderella instead. The mom was MORTIFIED!! Before I even came in the house, she met me at my car crying her EYES out about how her daughter loves Belle more than anything and how this is going to ruin her birthday completely. I’m sure you can imagine the guilt and embarrassment I felt at that moment. For a minute, I seriously thought about getting back in the car and just driving away. I felt like there was nothing I could do to make this better. Before almost beginning to cry myself, the mom’s friend came out to meet me and calm the mother down. She told me to go in there and do my thing the best I can and it would be fine. So that’s what I did. I went in and told the sweet birthday girl that Belle was sick and had asked me to come for her and the party went perfectly! The birthday girl was so precious and didn’t even think twice about the HUGE mistake I had just made. While I was at the party, I noticed none of the children matched their parents. Usually I wouldn’t say anything, but at this party, almost every single child was a different race than their parents so my curiosity got the best of me. At the end of the party I pulled the mom outside to once again, apologize. I also told her I would come back next week as Belle to make up for this huge mistake and the mom was more than forgiving. After that, I asked her if she was a foster mom or if anyone in the party was. From that point, her whole demeanor changed and she was SO excited to tell me about how all of her children had been adopted and all the other parents there were either adoptive parents or foster parents. I told her about me and Austin’s situation and what we had been through and how we were waiting for the right kid to come into our lives. She said she had been a foster mom for quite a long time and knew many friends who were also foster parents. She took our situation on as a challenge and told me she’d keep her eyes and ears open about children who were available for adoption that fit our profile; little did I know she was dead serious!

Two weeks after that, the mom of the party, Karen E., called me to let me know about a friend she had, Vicki G., who was fostering a little Hispanic boy who would be a year old in March. She told me they weren’t interested in adopting him because all of their children were grown and they wanted a home for him where he had brothers and sisters his age. She said they were extremely attached to this little guy and they wanted to find a home for him that they KNEW he would be happy in, instead of letting CPS find a home they would never know about. She gave me Vicki’s phone number and told me to call her because she was expecting my call. I was so overwhelmed with excitement, but also trying to hold back. I didn’t want to be excited about this one too, just to let it all fall apart once again.

I of course, called Vicki that same night and was able to get more information about the little boy they had. The G.'s had been fostering for 17 years, but the last half of those years they had only been fostering severely handicapped children with serious health issues. They had a young boy at their home they were fostering by the name of Andrew. This sweet guy was very disabled and was placed in their home because his mother was not capable of taking care of him due to her drug and alcohol use during his pregnancy. When Andrew’s mother became pregnant again and had a baby boy in March of 2005, the G.'s were contacted to take the new baby brother of Andrew. Although the G.'s usually only fostered handicapped children, they wanted to make sure the two half brothers stayed together so they chose to foster him as well. They were given this new baby boy, Gilberto Jeremiah, 3 days after his birth and had raised him since then. They called this sweet guy, Jeremiah, who was now, the baby boy Vicki was trying to find a home for.

Jeremiah was born full term on March 2, 2005 in Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. When he was born, he tested positive for Cocaine, but he was not addicted to the drug. The biological mother, "M", admitted to using drugs during birth and because she had open case files with CPS, Jeremiah was immediately taken from her after his hospital stay. Jeremiah’s biological mother was given a family service plan that she had to follow to ensure getting her son back. "M" did a few visits in the first few months of Jeremiah’s life, but by August of 2005, she had stopped and no longer chose to follow the service plan to get her son back. Because of that, the judge decided to terminate "M’s" rights to Jeremiah on January 31st of 2006. At that time, he was free for adoption and could no longer be taken away by his biological family. This was right around the time I had contacted Vicki G.

After talking to Vicki we knew for sure, we wanted this baby boy in our family. We contacted our agency who sent our home study to Jeremiah’s case worker to review as a prospective family. Because Vicki had been fostering for SO long, the case worker listened to Vicki when she explained that Jeremiah would be best in our family. Still, the case worker had to follow the state rules regarding adoption and hold a meeting to decide which family would be best for him. Luckily, there was only one family in mind for Mr. Jeremiah…OURS! Once we were chosen I could finally relax! From that point we had to wait for silly paperwork junk to be done and filed so we could begin our visitations to finally meet the boy we had only imagined about.

On May 31, 2006 we had our first visit with Jeremiah and finally met his sweet little spirit. The joy in seeing our son for the first time was the greatest feeling possible. When I was finally able see this little guy, hold him, hug him, kiss him and smell him, my whole world changed. I knew without a doubt in my mind that Jeremiah was meant for our family. That little person I had only dreamed about was finally in my arms and mine forever, nothing would ever take him away. He was a long awaited answer to many prayers over the past 3 years and he was so much MORE than we could have ever asked for. On June 5, 2006 the visitations were over and he was placed in our home as our child. After a 6 month trial period, we were finally able to take Jeremiah to court on November 29, 2006 to be made legally ours with his name changed to Jeremiah David Lowe. The very next month he was sealed to our family for time and all eternity in the Dallas, Texas temple.

All in all it was a wonderful experience. Would I do it again? I don’t know. Sometimes when I look back I think adoption is more stressful and more emotional than a pregnancy with all the ups and downs along the way. I DO know that we were meant to be Jeremiah’s family and if I had to do it all over again for HIM, then YES, I would in a heartbeat. He’s a very special kiddo to me and he holds a special place in my heart because of the way he came to be in our family. There are so many “what if’s” I always think about. What if I had never gotten an email from my friend telling me about the Texas adoptions? What if I had never started my princess business and done the party for Karen E.? What if I had come to the party as the RIGHT character; would I have taken the time to talk to her about being a foster mom? It all reassures my faith in Heavenly Father and his plans for us. I’m grateful to be the mother of Jeremiah and I can’t wait to sit down and share his story with him one day.

28 comments:

Sommer said...

I love this story. It got me all teary eyed. I'm nowhere close to the point of raising a child, much less adopting one (having a partner sure helps in that regard) but this story gave me chills. I'll hope with all my heart that whatever path is right for me, I find joy like your family has! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

sandra schnittger said...

i have no words to express what a wonderful human being you are. You really brought tears to my eyes, i was really touch. I really appreciate your sharing , god bless you jess.

Mary said...

Just by seeing pictures of happy, sweet Miah, I can tell he is a special boy. He is lucky you found him and that he found you guys too.

Staci said...

oh gosh im totally bawling right now! I always wanted to adopt to but seems so far from my mind. You are truely inspiring though and what a lucky lil man to get to have such wonderful, loving parents. Thank you for sharing that!

Chernobyl said...

I admit, I had looked at your family photo and thought - hmmmm...he doesn't look like them...hadn't Jessica written that he was Latino? Austin doesn't look Latino...
I try to follow a strict NOYDB policy so I just figured, whatever, he's her son, biological or not, end of story. That's an awesome story though. Thanks for sharing it.

Larman Family said...

Thank you sooo much for sharing this wonderful story. I have always wanted to adopt but never knew if the time would be right. Thanks to your courage and great example I see that I can build a relationship with Heavenly Father and He can tell me when the time is right.

Kris said...

Awesome story, thanks for sharing. We plan to adopt someday, too. It is something we both imagined doing before we even met.

Jill said...

I had wondered about this as well and I loved reading your story. Thank you so much for sharing.

kimmychan1967 said...

i'm so glad you shared this on your blog jess! i remember you going through most of this, but still had tears in my eyes reading the whole story. what a wonderful family you have!!!!

dena said...

you left out the part where you brought a BIG ole bag of goodies to every arrow training. it was like dora's backpack... seriously ... how did it all fit in there?! those were some rollercoaster days.

Froggylady said...

This is such a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing!

Dana said...

Thank you... It helped remind me about faith and prayer and how powerful they are...

Anonymous said...

sweet! very nice ...

Marnie said...

I love this tender story. Miah is blessed to have such an amazing family!

Queen Mama said...

I was one that asked for this, and I got more than I bargained for. Never in my life did I think I would be reading a blog that would have me literally sobbing like I am pregnant (which I am not, thanks for the facebook comment ;) ). You, Austin, your entire "Lowe" family, I absolutely adore you guys.

Sharing this with me, well, it just makes me have stronger faith that "everything happens for a reason" and that "what He wants you to have, you will!" The whole, if it's meant to be, it will be. Austin is a great, strong man to be your rock through this. I would think adoption would be ugh, stressful, like you said, comparing it to a pregnancy.

I am happy that Miah found such a great, happy, and loving home to be placed in.

I do have one more question, you know I am new to reading about the "Mormon" religion, and just your perspective, if you may, why is it that adoptions are "sealed" in the temple? Is this a MUST or just something that is practiced? Just curious

Thanks for sharing :)

kelly manz said...

this story is truly amazing and touching! you are awesome!!

Laura said...

Lucky Miah. Lucky you guys. What a crazy journey.

Giaellis2 said...

WOW! I finally read this and I was one who asked too! What a great story! Seeing you all together it really is obvious that he belongs in your family! You are an amazing, selfless, loving, wonderful person! I'm glad you stalked me ;)

The Burns Family said...

Wow, I never new the whole story...What an amazing one at that ;) He was definately the one to be in your family ;)

Riece said...

Even though I've already read this twice, I read it again. It's wonderful. Hurray for Miah.

Ashley @ Little Miss Momma said...

Thank you for sharing this beautifulo story {I type as I wipe away the tears}. This only proves even FURTHER just how strong you are! Didn't know i could admire you more--but I do!

Ashley @ Little Miss Momma said...

Ok, and now I am also wondering about this whole princess party business--how rad is that! Details plz

MommaKiss said...

THANK you for sharing! Such an incredible story for miah!

His siblings are lucky. And his momma and papa.

Ashley Eiban said...

Loved this story. Thanks so much for sharing! :D

Losing Brownies said...

Thank you for sharing Miah's story with us! I am such a strong believer in foster care and adoption and I'm positive this is in our future as well. It is amazing to read these stories and know that in my heart this is what we want to do too.

Jordan Streetman said...

Ben and I have been stalking your blog for like an hour...we have been talking about adoption and how you and Austin have handled it with Miah. I have always wanted to but Ben is a little more hesitant about it, after showing him this story that I had to search forever to find, he is now feeling much more excited about the potential of doing it one day! Thanks!

Autumn said...

Thanks for sharing. I am adopted too as well as my siblings. We've all had different journeys and we've all had different ways of handling things. I believe you are a really lucky with having a closed adoption though. We all have open adoptions and I feel like it is very rare that they can be functional and healthy.

Angel2 said...

I love your heart and this precious story. Praise God that you are all together!