Vision Statement: Strengthening Eternal Families by Promoting and Defending Adoption and
Increasing our Involvement in the Community

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Marty & Brigette's Story

All in the lord's time:
Marty & Brigette’s Story of Infertility and Adoption

Marty and I had “that” conversation early in our dating relationship.  The one where I told him that I had PCOS and that having children may be difficult.  I knew right away that he was a special person when he reassured me that the Lord would take care of us and that he wanted to be there through the thick and thin of it all even if that meant going through the major trial of infertility.  He definitely kept that promise!
                Marty and I were married three years when we started trying to conceive.  In preparation, we set on a journey to better our health.  I worked very hard for months and lost sixty pounds, knowing that losing weight would help tame my PCOS.  My best friend and I worked out every morning and cheered each other on through the grueling workouts!  My friend was also preparing for another pregnancy and wanted to get her weight down because she has complications with her pregnancies and carrying her little ones to full term. 
                We let our doctor know our desire and he told us to try for three months and if nothing happened to come see him.  We did not get pregnant. (side note: My dear friend got pregnant their first month trying.  I am here to tell you that you can be so genuinely excited for someone else and still hurt inside all at the same time! I also know that each person will be called to bare different trials.  This friend has had to endure so much during her pregnancies to get her babies here and also lost her sweet daughter who came too early and lived for only seven precious hours.  We all need to be more gentle with others and realize that each of our trials are meant to refine us in specific ways and it does not help us to dwell on other’s blessings relative to our own discouragements.  The Lord wishes to bless us and does not intend for us to always suffer.)  Sure enough, we found ourselves in his office getting lab work done while we pursued a more aggressive approach in getting pregnant.  Our lab work showed that I still suffered from PCOS, which they had diagnosed in college, and Marty actually had two factors of concern as well.  The doctor thought we would be perfect candidates for Artificial Insemination (AI).   After a series of shots of Progesterone and Clomid for me, we diligently followed the doctor’s orders and showed up for our first AI with a lot of hope but a lot of anxiety too.  The procedure was not that horrible but the waiting was!  And then our worst fears were confirmed when I started my cycle and it was evident that I was definitely not pregnant.  The doctor then decided to take me into surgery so that he could diagnose better what else I might be dealing with and remove any endometriosis and cysts on my ovaries.  He thought we would have the best chance with AI if everything was “clear” and ready for conception. 
                We continued to do AI’s for the next six months straight and we honestly felt like we lived at our doctor’s office.  Lucky for us, we adored our doctor and he took such great care of us which was such a blessing.  Our life was consumed by shots, medicine, ultrasounds, procedures and waiting.  Oh, the waiting was horrible.  We were always hopeful, always praying for that miracle, and then always full of disappointment when each AI failed and we found ourselves still not pregnant.  We were worn out, and knew that with each AI, our odds continued to diminish.   It was {TIME} to take a break.  A long break.  (sidenote:  This was a huge low for us.  We felt defeated, forsaken, and completely exhausted both mentally and emotionally. I remember crying as Marty held me wondering if that void I felt in my heart would ever go away.  I remember sitting next to him and literally feeling like there was something physically missing.  I remember hitting an all time low and dealing with thoughts that I may never have the blessing of motherhood.  Bitterness would sometimes seep in but mostly despair.  We didn’t know why our righteous desire was not being fulfilled.  We found ourselves surrounded by amazing couples having children.  We found ourselves surrounded by people who weren’t planning on getting pregnant but did and were frustrated with the timing. That made us angry.  Oh, if only that could have been us.  So, at this point in our journey,…we were done!  Done with being let down over and over again.
A little over a year later we approached an infertility specialist recommended to us by a dear friend who had very successful outcomes with In-Vitro.  While this was super expensive, we decided that we had to try everything if we wanted to get our family here.  We eventually rented out our home and stayed in my parents home so we could put away every dime for the expensive procedure.  After consultations, lab work, prescription regiments, we found ourselves four weeks away from paying for the procedure and starting the process of In Vitro.  Our life’s savings would rest on this ONE procedure and we were hopeful, but anxious nonetheless.  We had so much confidence in our doctor and felt very lucky to have been working with him. 
                Then,… we went to the temple.  Marty and I were invited by some friends to go the temple and have dinner with them.  We were excited to see our new friends and be in the temple and feel the spirit.  After our service in the temple, Marty and I sat side by side and offered up independent prayers.  I remember feeling very peaceful and happy to be there.  While praying, I felt strongly that I needed to call upon the Lord for help with our In-Vitro.  At that moment, I had the distinct impression that we were to cancel our In-Vitro immediately.  I was remarkably overwhelmed and didn’t understand.  Again, the impression came that we most definitely should NOT do In-Vitro.  Instead, the word adoption kept replaying in my mind. I began to cry, feeling so uncertain!   Marty and I had never really talked about adoption before that.  We felt pretty confident that we would do In-Vitro and obtain our family through medical intervention.  I started to question the Lord in my prayer and He reassured me several times that it would be okay and that we were to adopt.  This kind of thing has NEVER happened to me before!  I have never had an answer to a prayer come so directly and with so much clarity.  I was inundated with so many different emotions.  I turned to Marty who just sat there smiling at me so I asked him what he was thinking.  He let me know that he had some thoughts but he felt strongly that I needed to share with him what I had felt and learned so that I would know that it came from the Lord and not him.  I started to cry immediately and mumbled the word adoption.  Marty is a very sensitive person and this moment was no exception.   He just wept and we both knew that our Heavenly Father was so mindful of us, and had let us know what was in store for us!  Independent of one another, Marty and I had the same impressions in our prayers that day.  It was {TIME} to change our plans and follow the Lord’s plan.  We canceled our In-Vitro that very next day and called LDS Family Services.
                  It took us about a year to move through the process of getting approved for adoption which we felt very comfortable with.  There were a few hurdles and delays and yet we felt that the Lord was leading us along at the pace we needed to be going.  We were so thrilled and so excited about adoption.  It felt like home to us; like we should have always been doing it. At the same time, we did realize some of the fears we would have to deal with as well.  Would we ever be chosen to parent another’s child?  Would we be able to bond with that child?  How do we hand over all of our control and exercise complete faith in the adoption process?  How will it feel to wait,…indefinitely?  Although these anxieties surfaced on occasion, for the most part we felt complete faith and I in particular didn’t find myself trying to control every aspect of this process like I had with the infertility treatments and procedures.  This was a {TIME} where Marty and I felt so confident that we were doing exactly what the Lord wanted us to be doing.  
                We were approved for adoption in March of 2007.  Now, it was {TIME} to wait and be patient.  Little did we know, what was in store for us.  In May, Marty was hired by CES to be a seminary teacher.  In hind sight, we would learn that this timing and where he was placed was a critical part of the Lord’s plan for our family.  Marty was one of twenty-seven who was hired that year when initially they had over a thousand applicants to the program.   It is very typical for new hires to be placed out of state, so we were very surprised to find ourselves in a teaching position in our hometown. 
                In June, Marty was scheduled to attend training for all CES teachers in his area.  Many of his colleagues were aware of our hope to adopt because he was a new hire and they allow new hires to introduce themselves at length.  Marty was not afraid to let people know we were hoping to start our family through adoption, and this might have been one of the most important things for us in the end.   One of his colleagues approached him (he actually taught Marty seminary in high school) and asked how adoption was going.  Marty responded with a positive attitude and just said we were basically waiting at that point.  His colleague then asked if we would ever be interested in twins.  Marty was shocked and immediately said yes.  His friend went on to share the story of his neighbor who was set to adopt twins and he and his wife got pregnant.  Not only that, they had found another couple for the birth family and they got pregnant too!  The birthmother was nearing 34 weeks and the family was trying to locate a family to adopt her twins.  Marty immediately called me on the phone.  It was definitely {TIME} to get excited! 
                Marty and I talked for just a few moments and new immediately that we wanted to meet with the family mediator.  Marty’s friend made some phone calls and we were set to meet with the birth father’s sister who stood as a mediator for the family.  Previously, she and her husband had offered to find a couple for the birthparents as they were overwhelmed by the idea and at the time had no plan for placement although they ultimately knew they would at birth.  Really, their plan was to turn the twins over to the state at birth.  This sweet sister graciously asked if she could interview couples and at least determine the type of home they would be placed in.  We set up our appointment to meet with her for that very next day. 
                We were in shock at this point!  Could we really be adopting twins?  We knew we still had to meet with the mediator and go through an interview but we felt so much joy and hope!   We were also VERY nervous!   The mediator picked a local restaurant for us to meet.  Marty and I arrived early and it felt like eternity before they arrived.  We felt so much excitement but were overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and fear.  Would we be what they were looking for?  Would we say the right things?  How in a short interview can you possibly portray who you truly are and what’s in your heart?  They had never seen us and had never read anything we had written or published by way of a profile.  This was a blind interview, and we were so nervous!   It was definitely {TIME} to pray so that we could calm ourselves enough to speak without sounding crazy!  So we offered a little prayer and then they arrived.
                We introduced ourselves to the mediator and her husband and exchanged handshakes.  We were instantly comforted by their smiles and friendliness.  This didn’t feel so bad.  We were directed to a table and the waiter brought us all waters and gave us menus.  We felt so distracted by this waiter, which we think is funny in the end because we weren’t really there to eat.  Who could eat at a time like this?  We eventually did order salads or something but the rest of our time was spent answering questions. 
                We were asked about our families and our education.  We were asked about our professions and when they heard that we were both teachers, a huge relief came over their faces.  We soon found out that the most important thing they would desire for these twins was an education, something that many in their family were not afforded.  They asked us little questions that seemed less weighty.  We were having a wonderful time talking and getting along almost perfectly.  It seemed so easy with them.  We spent some time asking about the birth parents.  We learned that the birth parents were married and had a seven and four year old and were not planning on having any more children.  They were also quite destitute and couldn’t carry the financial responsibility of more children.  Once they knew they were expecting twins, they felt very strongly that they needed to place the twins.  Their wish was that their identity and our identity be kept completely private and that we never meet.  These were there exact wishes and this would be a very closed adoption.  We shared that we were willing to accommodate the birth family’s wishes fully.  We also learned that the twins were a boy and girl. 
The mediator then let us know that other couples were being considered and she wanted to know what we believed we could offer the twins.  At that time, Marty shared something so sincerely that touched all of our hearts. He told them that while we are both teachers, they would surely know that we would never have all the riches in the world, but if they were looking for a couple who would give them unconditional love for always, then we were that couple.  The spirit was strong, the room seemed to just fade away, and tears streamed down from all our eyes as we all shared in that moment.  We gathered ourselves and asked what else they needed from us.  They said they wanted to take a few minutes and left us at the table to go talk things over.  Marty and I held hands and didn’t speak a word.  I think we were both silently praying that what we felt was real, that the mediator would know too, and that this would become our blessing! 
                They returned after a short time with tear streaked faces and let us know that they wanted us to parent these little twins!  We were so overjoyed!  We immediately embraced each other and let them know how grateful we truly felt!  We shared more tears and hugs and left there feeling so amazing.  We walked out of the restaurant and wondered if this was really happening?  It was {TIME} to call the family!  We spent hours on the phone with family and dear friends letting them know our good news!  We felt completely engulfed in love and gratitude!   
                That very next day, our caseworker came into our home to complete our home study once again.  We had been living in my parent’s home for over a year to save up for adoption (In-Vitro originally) and had been renting out our home to come up with the savings.  When Marty was hired in the area, we knew we were meant to move back into our home so we set up a home study since we were previously approved in my parent’s home.  We couldn’t believe the {TIMING} Two days prior, we learned about the twins and now here we were getting our home study done to secure everything so all would be ready to complete the adoption.  We told our caseworker our good news and she was elated!  This adoption was designated, found through a third-party friend, and she couldn’t be happier for us.  She asked a lot of questions and gave us some needed input.  At that time, we planned to privately close the adoption because it was third-party.  We were a little anxious about this because we weren’t sure how much it would cost having to potentially cover the birth mother’s medical expenses if Medicaid was not approved for her.  We finished up our home study and promised our caseworker that we would be in contact with her when things developed.   In the meantime, she had made a connection with our agencies director to ask more questions regarding our adoption, which later became a huge blessing.
                With our home study complete, we were moving forward with calling attorneys and getting all of our ducks in a row.  It was then that we received a call from our caseworker.  She had spoke with the director and he let her know that if our birth family consented to having LDS Family Services complete the adoption and assign a separate caseworker for them, that  they would be taken care of fully if Medicaid did not come through.  We would then only pay out the normal fees through our agency.  This was an enormous relief since we weren’t sure we could cover everything especially with a C-section and twins.  We called the mediator and explained the opportunity and she was overjoyed and felt that it was an answer to their prayers.  She told me that she was going in with the birth mother to a doctor’s appointment and she would call us with an update that day.
While we anxiously waited for the update, my sister and I spent the day making lists of all the things we would need to get ready for the babies.   It was pure excitement for all of us. The phone rang at about 4:30 (about the time Marty was getting off work) and I answered it knowing it was the mediator. We exchanged hellos and then she excitedly told me that the babies were here!  What?  Already?   Her words exactly were,….”You are now parents!”  The birth mother had gone in for her regular check-up and they were concerned about baby B’s heart rate.  It was too low, for too long and the baby wouldn’t respond to change in position or other treatments. They decided to deliver the twins by C-section immediately.  Both of them were taken to the NICU where they were monitored and taken care of.  They were healthy, strong, and adorable!
After getting all the details, I called Marty and with pure joy shared the news with him.   We were so anxious to get to the babies.   The birthparents wanted us to come quickly to the hospital.  Their desire was for us to hold the babies first and bond with them immediately.  We made it there in record time, not hitting one red light (miracle) and walked into the hospital with so much excitement and nervousness.  The birth parents’ case worker greeted us in the lobby along with the mediator and they checked us in at the appropriate station.  Every precaution had been taken so that we would not cross paths with the birth family, per their wishes, and we were not to know their names.  Like we said, this was a very closed adoption from the very beginning.  We made our way into a small room where we put gowns on and scrubbed every inch of our hands and arms.  It was surreal!  We hesitantly entered the NICU and followed the nurse to the twins. Could this really be happening? Then we saw them for the first time. She was beautiful with dark, long hair with her sweet little fingers in her mouth. Her eyelashes went on for days! He was so amazingly cute and so little. He was so quiet and sweet,…we already could tell. We just lovingly stared at them, cried, and gently rubbed their sweet little hands. Here were two babies and we were going to be their parents. It was a miracle. 

We eventually had to leave, which was very hard to do.  We had set up a schedule with the caseworkers dictating that we would come back in the evenings to see the twins while the birth family would spend time with the twins during the day until the birthmother was released after recovering from the C-Section.  We also found out that relinquishment would occur the next day at about 4:30 and we would then meet with our caseworker to sign papers as well back at the agency. 
Marty and I drove to his work that night, where he left his car, and then we drove home separately from there.  It was then that my fears and mortal self overtook me.  I started to question if I could handle this?  Were these little ones ours and could we take care of their needs whatever they were.  They were healthy, but they were nearly six weeks premature and we didn’t know everything they might face.  This was happening so fast and I was starting to question things.  I needed to pray earnestly to know for sure.  And so I did, and without any question at all, when I was done I knew undeniably that these babies were ours!  Little did I know that Marty was praying for me on his little drive home too.  He knew that I would have fears and he wanted to enlist the Lord’s help in letting me know what I needed confirmed in my mind and heart.  We went to bed that night filled to the brim with excitement. 
We anxiously waited for 5:00pm to roll around that next day.  We went to the agency and met with our caseworker who proceeded to go over the necessary items and paperwork to complete the adoption.  On record, we named our little guy, Ethan and we named our little girl, Nyah.  We were surprised to find out that our adoption was considered “AT-RISK” because the twins were Native American descendants.   Their birth father was ¼ Cherokee.  We also learned that we would need to obtain approval from three separate Cherokee tribes in order to finalize in the courts down the road.  We asked a few questions and our minds were put to ease.  Our agency would do everything in their power to help us obtain consent but we should in the meantime find any bloodlines in our families if there were any.  And then we signed.  It was amazing and official.  We were parents and this {TIME} we were rejoicing!
We returned to the hospital that evening and found an outfit and stuffed baby giraffes for both Ethan & Nyah. These were gifts given to them by their birth family.   We felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude for our birth family.  It was hard not to be able to personally share those feelings with them.  We felt so much gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who loved us and gave us more than we had ever hoped for.  We never dreamt we would have the blessing of beautiful twins to call our own.  What a privilege it has been from the very beginning to be their parents! With the paperwork signed Marty felt like it was time to call in the reinforcements and with the help of a close friend and family member, they placed gentle fingers upon their heads and gave our twins each their very first blessing.
We also realized very quickly that this joyous time for us may very well be the worst time of our birthparents lives.  We couldn’t even imagine what they were enduring.  It broke our hearts and we knew we needed to offer a prayer of gratitude and even more so a prayer for our birth family.  We knew the Savior could wrap his arms around them even if we couldn’t.
Two weeks in the NICU, lots of adventures in becoming new parents, and pure joy followed that miracle week. We literally learned about the twins on a Monday and by that Friday we were parents! It was a whirlwind of pure joy in those next coming months! We maintained contact with the mediator and sent updates to the birth family by way of letters and pictures without any identifying information per their request. Life kept moving forward and we considered ourselves the happiest parents alive! We had home visits with our caseworker and anticipated the day we would be able to finalize our adoption in court.  

   Initially, we were told that the tribes had approximately 9 months to approve our adoption at which point the statute of limitations would be expired.  We hired a lawyer when the twins turned 9 months and proceeded with the process to finalize. (a typical adoption is finalized in the courts 6 months after placement)
We received a letter in the mail from our lawyer informing us of our finalization date to be held on Apr. 28 th.  We were so excited ...assuming that we had the go ahead from the agency's lawyer in the matter of the tribes.  We decided to double check with the agency and make sure.  Good thing we did!  Even though we had heard from ONE tribe at that point, we still needed the two remaining tribes to send word. AND,...we were told that the 9 month time-frame did NOT apply and the tribes had unlimited time to respond. This was terrifying because we didn't know if the tribes would take a few months or years to respond.  We were so anxious to take Ethan and Nyah to the temple and bless them. At that point, we knew that we wouldn't be able to enter into the courts for finalization on Apr. 28 th

Marty and I decided it was time to ask our Heavenly Father for some help!  We invited our families and closest friends to fast with us.  Even our little nephews and nieces took part in the family fast.  Sunday, April 20 we held our fast and within 5 days we received word from our director that the two remaining tribes had BOTH sent consent.  Can you believe it!?  Two tribes, independent of one another, sent word within days of our fast!  We can't even tell you how blessed and humbled we felt!  The LORD heard our prayers and blessed our family with the most precious gift!   Our agency and lawyers worked all weekend to get everything in order so that we could keep our original finalization date! We called all of our family and close friends to share our news and invite them to the proceedings! One week later we were sealed to the twins in the temple and they were blessed that following Sunday. 

 The twins are now five years old and we are grateful for our journey in becoming parents now more than ever. They bring us so much joy and we feel humbled and blessed everyday having the privilege of being their parents. We are grateful for our infertility and for every unanswered prayer associated with that time in our life. Indeed the Lord had a more magnificent plan for us, one that we could have never dreamt of. It was in all His wisdom and in His timing that we would have our Ethan and Nyah, our most precious treasures! 


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