"Becca clearly had us in mind from the very beginning!"

Emily & Rafa, Illinois

We met when we were already in our late 30’s. Although we began trying to start a family as soon as we got married, time was not on our side. After a year of failed fertility treatments, we decided that adoption was the best way for us to form a family.

We began to research adoption agencies in our area, and soon settled on a well-respected local agency with a long history in the field. We appreciated the agency’s organized orientation to adoption and their careful home-study process. Nine months after we started working with them, we finished our home study, put together an adoption profile, and were finally able to join the agency’s “waiting family list.”

What we didn’t know was that in that time, adoption rates in the Chicago area had declined. Our agency was placing only about 2/3 the number of children in adoption as they had just two or three years previously, and as a result they had a long list of waiting families. Over the next 18 months, we had only half a dozen opportunities to have our profile shown to prospective birth parents, and none of the situations panned out. Although we had faith that the right situation would show up when the time was right, we were starting to think that we might be waiting another two or three years….That was when a colleague of Emily’s recommended Becca. Her adoption strategy – listing with multiple agencies simultaneously – made immediate sense to us, and we signed on to her waiting list.

We had only just completed Becca’s initial paperwork and were just about to schedule our first big consultation, when we got a late evening email from Becca! Her message said, “I have a potential situation I think would be a great fit for you guys – the birth mother is due to give birth by c-section next week, on March 15. Everything looks good but delivery is in New York…immediate response needed!” The attached profile looked great. The birth mother was from the Dominican Republic, a place that Emily had a lot of connections to through her work on Caribbean literature. And she was set to give birth in New York, a place we had both family and friends. But it was March 4th! The due date was…soon! Our initial response was, “Hold on – this is too good to be true!” but after speaking with Becca, we decided to go for it. We sent the agency our information, and waited eagerly to hear something.

Two days later, Emily got a call from the adoption agency: “Are you ready to be a mom?” We had matched! Now we had exactly one week to complete the paperwork for the birthmother’s adoption agency, tell our families, make arrangements to leave work, and make our way to New York with a one-way ticket. It was a whirlwind of emotions and tasks.

rg-adoption-consulting-emily-rafaAlthough we had been waiting to adopt for a while, we had tried to not over-prepare for the adoption. We hadn’t bought a crib or decorated a room, and since we were open to adopting a slightly older baby, we hadn’t even bought any clothes or diapers. Moreover, since the adoption agency we had gone through only worked with birth mothers in Illinois and Indiana, we had been imagining – and planning for – a “local” adoption. All of a sudden we’re making plans to get on a plane to travel to New York and meet the birth mother and stay in a hotel while we waited for the adoption to go through. What should we expect (or not?); how should we prepare? In addition, upon finalizing our paperwork with the birth mother’s agency, we discovered that the baby would actually be born in the small town of Sleepy Hollow, NY (of all places!), not in New York City, as we had been assuming. Having to find a hotel in Westchester county, a part of the state neither of us knew well, made the trip feel even more like a jump into the unknown. Luckily, Becca and our adoption counselors were there to support us, and there was so much to do that we didn’t have too much time to dwell on our worries.

It was stormy in Chicago on the day that we flew to New York. We got to the airport to discover that our flight had been cancelled and the airline was offering to put us on a flight to…White Plains/Westchester! A good omen, certainly. After a bumpy and delayed takeoff, we got into Tarrytown to have a late dinner of sushi (our last for a while!). We could barely sleep with nerves and excitement!

We were up early the next day so that we could meet our son’s birth mother before her surgery. We got to the hospital by 5am, where we met the counselor from the adoption agency, who would accompany us through the process. We were finally allowed to go to the prep room where we meet Mommie A. She was there with her brother, a very nice young man. The fact that we spoke Spanish eased things socially, but nevertheless, we all seemed a bit nervous and awkward. It wouldn’t be until we spent time together in the hospital after the birth that we would get to know each other better…We barely had time to say hello before she was taken away to be prepped for surgery. We spent several long hours in the hospital waiting room.

A couple of hours later we get called back…Mommie A’s brother was holding the baby, but he got up when we came in so that we could each take turns holding him. Our son’s eyes were closed, and he was so calm, while we were each flooded with emotion holding him. He was so small, so perfect…. Our son, our little peanut, our Miguel.

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