If someone would have told me 14 years ago that I would meet my soul mate on a silly little telephone dating service and we’d go on to have nine children I probably would have laughed out loud right before fainting from shock. You see, all my experiences as a single mom with my then four-year-old daughter led me to hope for another child, eventually. But eight more? Not very likely.
Scott and I met on a Thursday, he proposed after six months and just a year later we were saying “I do”! Right away we discussed expanding our family. Unfortunately as it should happen, doctors soon informed us that the possibility of our conceiving naturally was also very unlikely. To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement. I struggled to understand, I cried and prayed every night asking…no, begging God to please allow me to give my husband a child and daughter a sibling. But it seemed no matter how hard I prayed, my prayers went unanswered.
After returning home from a trip to visit family, I couldn’t stop thinking about a conversation I had had with my aunt who happened to be a foster parent. They had just been placed with a beautiful baby girl they would soon be adopting. Adoption…hmmm…could we? We had so many questions that it was all so very overwhelming. We spent any free time researching adoption options and praying for guidance though I think we already knew where our hearts were being called.
In December 2003, we decided that foster care would be the best match for our small family. It not only would allow us to give back to our community by creating a safe place for children but it also meant the opportunity to have another child in our home and if it lead to adoption…we couldn’t wait!
In January of 2004 we started our foster parent training for ten weeks! At times I wondered if all the red tape and hoops were worth it or if we’d ever get through the classes as the weeks seemed to drag. However, I could feel the light at the end of the tunnel. We finished our classes, received our license, and on Good Friday we received our first call from DHS. My heart skipped a beat…it was really happening!
“There is a sibling group of five but we need emergency placement of the younger two boys,” the voice on the other end of the phone said. Wait, what? Two boys?! But we said only one! Instantly my excitement faded to disappointment (remember I was new to all this).
We cautiously agreed to give it a try, and into our lives stepped two of the cutest little boys we’d ever met: Noah, age three, and his little brother Chase, 22 months. Almost instantaneously these two captured our hearts, and it wasn’t very long before I knew that if the chance arose I wanted to have them in our lives forever. Perhaps it was fate, perhaps it was divine intervention, I don’t know, but what I do know was that the boys’ “short” stay with us turned into adoption.
Now in a perfect world, I could probably have ended my story right there; a story book ending with a “and they lived happily ever after” as a closing comment. But as I’m sure you’re aware, ours is not a perfect world. We decided that although we were done adopting, the need was so great; we would continue offering foster care and emergency placements. More and more, we found our lives being enriched and hearts being captured by each of the young charges that we were blessed to have come to our home.
This was a very hectic time in our lives, yet I inwardly loved the excitement that these changes brought. Within weeks of the legal adoption of our sons, we received a phone call from their previous case worker informing us of a new development in their birth family: the imminent arrival of a new brother and an immediate need for a foster placement upon his birth.
There was no question, how could I deny my sons and this new child the possibility of being together? So after less than a year, our family grew yet again with the addition of Baby Garrett.
Then, just 11 months later we were surprised with another call concerning the arrival of another newborn brother, Hayden. Born with a cleft lip, drug exposed, and premature, this little guy had a rough road ahead, but he was as much ours as our other boys.
I have to admit that it is at this stage of the game, people started to question my sanity, and there were many times I too was amazed and overwhelmed at the twist and turns that our life had begun to take. But there was something within me that truly felt these children needed to be kept together. I have to use this “heartfelt” assurance as my excuse for adopting four-month-old Ashton the following year and another newborn brother, Curran, in May 2009.
Three years passed, we were settled, and life was going well. Then one day I received an unexpected Facebook message from the boys’ birth mom asking if we’d consider adopting her unborn baby.
We had every reason to say no—not enough money, not enough time, etc. but somehow things seemed to fall into place and the following June we found ourselves in a hospital waiting room awaiting the arrival of our son, Bryer.
In October 2013 our soon-to-be seventh son, Zayn, was born premature, drug exposed, and diagnosed with Down syndrome. It’s been a little over a year now, and I’m truly amazed and in awe at the pure joy this little boy brings to our family. He teaches us patience and unconditional love daily and I can’t imagine life without him.
For us, adoption was initially just a means to complete our family when having a biological child seemed impossible. But it has become so much more to us. It has opened our eyes, widened the horizons of our family, enriched all of our lives, and brought us so much love and happiness.
Our family is complete through adoption. If there is anyone reading this and considering adoption, please know that all your efforts and all the heartache will be worth it the first time your little one calls you “Mommy/Daddy.” Don’t give up!
Melissa Groves is a mother of nine and one of this year’s Angels in Adoption, an award given annually by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.