Grace's Story - A Story of Love & Adoption
Today marks the 2nd anniversary of Gracie's Day, the day she officially became a West. Here's her story.
A friend of ours who was adopted at a young age once reminded us that our daughter’s story belongs to her and no one else. Even sharing some of the most minute details with close friends and family can be too much. In many ways, adoption stories can be extraordinary, but they can also be heart wrenching and painful for adoptees and their families. With that in mind, it has always been our intent to be open, honest and truthful with both of our girls. We do our best to talk about adoption, birth mommies and birth daddies in ways they understand. As the years go on, we will continue to tell them more and more about their story, but it is and will always be their choice to tell their story.
So this story really isn’t about Grace. It’s about the struggle, self-doubt, and pain we experienced on our journey to meeting our eldest daughter Grace for the first time.
It was the Summer of 2013 at a friend’s wedding on the Maryland coast. They chose a tiny, no-name town, but I remember exactly how we felt being there amongst so many of our friends, their family and how unbearably hot it was. The temperature started to drop, and the wind picked up just enough that everyone was able to relax and enjoy themselves. If it hadn’t been for that tiny bit of wind, it’s hard to say whether or not this would be a story at all. The atmosphere completely changed and allowed us to wander off for no other reason then that the sun was about to set, so we took what ended up being a blurry, overly exposed photo together precariously standing on a rock as the sun was just about to fade away. We sat for a few minutes on that rock in silence, with only the sound of the music from the wedding in the distance behind us. Everything about that moment just felt right.
We had previously talked about wanting to have kids. In fact, it was something we both wanted to do, but the early 2000s weren’t as nice to us and those like us as they are now. Not only were there legal barriers that prevented us from adopting, but the financial cost was just too much. The idea of having children of our own seemed out of reach, and just that, an idea.
It’s hard to recall precisely what we said to each other that night, but I do remember talking about how much love there seemed to be between the bride, groom and their two families. Now, this isn’t to imply in any way that this doesn’t exist in our own families, but there was something extraordinary in the air that night. We wanted to have that and be able to share it with children of our own. That night, on that rock we made the decision to start a family of our own.
Not more than a few weeks later, on Father’s Day no less, we took the first step in that direction. For those reading this who have no idea what this process involves, it can be confusing, stressful, time-consuming and leave you questioning your decision to start in the first place. I can't tell you how many times I wanted just to give up. Whether it was the original attorney we worked with, the bureaucracy of the foster care system or even the loss of our first daughter Emma, there were countless moments of self-doubt and grief.
After we completed all of the training hours, background checks and home visits required to become a foster family the calls started pouring in. There is an incredible need for foster and adoptive families, and the pure volume of requests we received asking to care for a child temporarily was overwhelming. When we received the call for Grace, for whatever reason, we said yes. Something about her stood out to us. Less than 45 minutes after that call, directly from the hospital, she came home for the first time.
We fought hard for Grace. There were meetings with attornies, foster care workers and even court dates. We weren't required to be present for the majority of the court dates, but we made it a priority to be present. We wanted the magistrate or judge to see our faces, to see who we were and to see how much we loved this little girl and how important she was to us.
Our journey to becoming a family was difficult, but every single second has been worth the struggle, self-doubt, and pain. And you know what? We plan on doing it again.