50 Stories of Hope #9: Tommy and Lara’s Story

STORY 9/50: Tommy and I first began considering adoption in our early 30s, after working in an orphanage on a few mission trips. I had an acquaintance who had placed her baby for adoption through New Life. When we learned what a great experience it was for her as a birth mom, we knew it was the right place for us and started the process.

Our first time meeting Ava*, Zack’s birth mom, was nerve-wracking. We wanted to make a good impression and establish a strong connection. We had so many hopes and dreams for this baby who wasn’t even born yet. The conversation flowed easily as the social worker opened the meeting in prayer and prompted discussion for us to get to know each other.

A few weeks later, Ava was in labor. We rushed to the hospital and spent the evening walking the halls, getting to know her even more. We were honored and blessed that she asked us to be in the delivery room with her as we hadn’t expected that.

During the hospital stay, we scheduled when Ava would feed Zack and when we would. Feeding Zack seemed to help her say goodbye. When it was time for Zack to come home with us, New Life conducted a beautiful entrustment ceremony for all of us. It was Bible-based, emotional, and an important part in our journeys. On one hand, we had so much joy, but we were so sad knowing how hard it was for Ava.

When we discussed openness with Ava, she decided she wanted an email with pictures and updates just once a year. I was anxious about having “too much openness” and was relieved at her request to limit how often we contacted one another. It’s funny how things change and how our view of open adoption gradually transformed.

Eventually we became Facebook friends so she could see more updates, and as Zack grew older, God put a desire in our hearts for him to know her. Things had changed in Ava’s life, and she also wanted to see Zack. We got together when Zack was five years old. It went extremely well, and we had such an appreciation and unexplainable love for each other. From that point on, we started getting together a couple of times a year and meeting more of Zack’s birth family.

Our relationship with Ava and her family has grown over the past years. Zack is proud of being adopted and knowing his heritage. He enjoys knowing members of his birth family, and it’s a comfort to know there are so many people that love him and pray for him. It’s important for him to know where he came from, who he looks like, who his siblings are and what they are like, and that Ava truly loves him. We have fun asking questions and seeing similarities in looks and traits.

It’s also been fun to see Ava light up when she sees Zack. I know it’s been comforting to her to know Zack is growing up well-adjusted and happy. Last year, on his 16th birthday, she called him when he was at a basketball game. As soon as he saw she was calling, he left the game to talk to her. She couldn’t believe he did that and the grown-up conversation they had. She called me crying after that conversation, saying how remarkable he is and that we were the best parents. We then argued with her that she was the best and that he’s remarkable because of the legacy and sweet spirit she’s given him. We both laughed and cried about the love we share for him.

Knowing what we know now, it’s hard to believe we were skeptical about an open adoption. I see our families being intertwined forever. We are blessed.

*name of birth mother changed for privacy