I still pinch myself sometimes when I hear “mommy” from one of my children.
After long years of praying through yet another fertility medical procedure, my husband Sean and I nearly gave up on the dream of becoming parents. We’d discussed adoption, but I think I clung to a tiny piece of hope that we still would have a biological child, as millions of people do every year.
When we chose to move forward with adoption, we were overwhelmed with questions: Where do we start? How do we know which agencies are reputable? Should we request a child from the United States or another country, and if the latter, how would we determine which country?
We decided to take a break, but after a few months, we gradually began to talk about adoption again.
Just before the holidays in 2009, Sean and I attended an informational meeting at a local adoption agency and decided to move forward, certain this time. The pre-screening process was only the beginning. A thick envelope of paperwork arrived, and again I felt overwhelmed. But once we started to gather and organize all the information we needed to supply, it became clear: We could do this! We completed the application process to adopt a child within the United States, and on June 10, 2010 we received official approval to adopt.
Exactly two weeks later, I was sitting at my desk at Monsanto when the phone rang. Our caseworker was calling to say a healthy baby girl was born the previous day, and her birthparents had selected us from the books of families pursuing adoption. She asked us to drive directly – that very day – to a town in the Midwest to meet the birthparents. And she said if all went well, we would be able to pick up the baby in a few days. In fact, she recommended we decide on a name for the baby and make an appointment with a pediatrician. I sat there in shock. My eyes flooded with happiness as I called Sean. Our dream was coming true. I thought to myself, “Is this really happening?”
At the time, I worked in the U.S. Seeds & Traits Customer Advocacy group. My manager knew I was going through the stress of the adoption process and she was extremely supportive. I felt fortunate not having to worry about taking time off, and that I could tell her on a Thursday that, if everything went as planned, I’d be taking leave for seven weeks beginning the following Monday. There also can be financial stress, so it was comforting to know I could use Monsanto’s adoption assistance benefit (Monsanto’s adoption assistance policy provides financial assistance of up to $7,500 toward the cost of adopting a child).
We picked up beautiful Anna on a Sunday in June. I enjoyed several weeks off work with her as Sean and I happily adjusted to parenthood. We felt so blessed with our baby girl, and with so many couples waiting, we decided we probably would not pursue another adoption.
Eighteen months later, in early January of 2012, I was in Hawaii for the American Farm Bureau Foundation meeting. It isn’t a meeting I usually attend, but I went to announce our new America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Monsanto Fund program. On my third day there, as I walked into the convention center, my phone rang. I was running late and didn’t recognize the number, so I let the call go to voicemail. A little while later I went into the tradeshow booth closet to check it and was stunned by the message I heard. It was our caseworker from the adoption agency. Anna’s birthparents had given birth to a baby boy – Anna’s brother – and they hoped we would adopt him!
I hyperventilated. I managed to pull myself together and call Sean. Within one or two minutes of the conversation, we knew our answer was yes, that we had been blessed with a son and a brother for Anna.
I was in a fog the rest of the trip. I felt so grateful to be surrounded by good Monsanto friends who supported me after I’d received such surprising news. We expedited the paperwork, I again gave a few days notice before requesting leave for two months – and we welcomed Benjamin to our home two weeks later.
Sometimes, there’s a plan for us that’s so much better than we could have ever imagined!