Less than two weeks ago, which have felt like a blur and overstuffed with love, our lives changed. We became Dads. Now that Sydney Diana is here, we are so excited to share her adoption story.
Deciding on Adoption
Our family’s adoption journey began years ago. We talked about having kids long before we got married, but our path to children felt far from certain.
That talk only piqued when we tied the knot – friends and family immediately started asking when and if we were going to have kids. Our answer was always the same: “If we can afford it. Adoption is expensive.”
Like most people our age, our student loan debt is significant. We highly value our education, but saving enough to afford an adoption (or surrogacy) was a challenge. Despite that, we were determined to try. (Note: Many adoptions can be done affordably through DCFS and the foster care system. We discussed this option at length, and it didn’t feel like the right option for our family. Though it’s the right option for many!)
Early in our marriage, we made some financial decisions and began saving more. We said “no” to certain things that we would’ve loved to do. We planned to take years saving the necessary agency costs. In late 2016/early 2017, we met with an attorney to learn more about adoption and things we needed to do to start our family.
After discussing all of our options, he said, “If you can make it work, private adoption can be one of the best options.”
As we left the meeting we laughed off the private adoption option. Who would we possibly know that would want to place their baby for adoption, and with us? Well, if you’re ever considering adoption, let me just say, your network is much larger than you would ever think.
The Text Message
On December 21, 2017, we received this text message from one of our close friends: “So, this is huge, but are you still thinking about adoption? I know a young woman who is pregnant and her ideal home for the baby is with a gay couple. Would you be interested in meeting with her?”
Our mouths dropped.
It almost felt like a joke. A text message that was too good to be true. We planned to adopt in a few years. Not now. But of course, we were interested.
About a week later we met with the prospective birth mother, we’ll call her K in this story. We had no expectations going into that meeting. It was sort of like a first date. We told her about our families, how we met, our interests, and why we were interested in starting a family. K was quiet but engaged. We left three hours later, feeling content.
Then we waited. Again, with absolutely no expectations.
Several weeks later, on Super Bowl Sunday, my phone rang. It was K. She began by saying, “I’ve met with several families and I’d like to place my baby with you and Brian.”
I almost immediately started to cry (and I’m not the crier in this relationship. Ha.), but I held it together. She continued on and told me she was having a girl. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that she would trust us with such an enormous decision. Brian was out of town at a work conference and couldn’t receive phone calls. Once I was off the phone, I texted him. Typical millennial, right?
At this point, K was about five months along and still in her second trimester. Because our adoption was private, rather than through an agency, we had an opportunity most birth and adoptive parents don’t get, the chance to get to know one another. We periodically grabbed dinner or a movie and she invited us to each of her doctor’s appointments. Falling in love with Sydney was easy, it happened the first time we heard her heartbeat.
We cautiously shared the adoption news with close family and friends during those months. Like all prospective adoptive parents, we did it to protect ourselves. But we also wanted to protect K’s privacy. This was her pregnancy and we wanted what was best for her. If she changed her mind, we would support her.
As the months wore on we nested. Boy, did we nest. Creating Sydney’s nursery was one of the best things we did in advance of her arrival and it was one of the most enjoyable projects we have done together as a couple. We’ll share her nursery in the next couple of days. We sought to create a space for her that made her feel special and like a member of our family. We hope she’ll grow up to love it.
K was due May 25, but as with many first-time moms, she was a little late. As a result, the doctor began the induction process on June 3 and she went into active labor on June 4. Yes, a full 10 days after due her date. Looks like Sydney is already pretty comfortable setting her own agenda and living life on her own timeline.
June 4 is significant in our family. Not only is it our wedding anniversary, but my mom and two sisters have perfectly spaced June birthdays: June 8, 12, and 16 (birthday-palooza!), so June 4 made perfect sense for the first grandbaby. June 4 also happens to frequently coincide with both Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back (which plays a significant part in our love story), as well as Utah Pride (if you’re going to have two dads, why not have a birthday parade too?!).
K allowed us into the delivery room for Sydney’s birth, which was amazing. She was such a rock star through the whole thing. She was in active labor for more than 15 hours before the doctor decided a C-section was in both her and the baby’s best interest. After they took K back for surgery, everything happened so quickly. They told us it would take about 30-45 minutes for surgery, but it felt like five.
Sydney Diana was born at 11:34 p.m. on June 4, 2018, at 8 lbs 2 oz. and 21″ (but she lost a few of those quickly thanks to her conehead). Brian and I were some of the first people to see her and in that instant, it felt like time stopped. Up to this point we’d selected a few names and had one we liked most, but Brian wanted to meet her first before we settled on it. The first thing he said when we walked in the room was, “That’s her. That’s her name.” I’ll never forget it.
A few notes about Sydney Diana’s name. We had time of our life on our honeymoon in Australia, so that’s where Sydney originates. (For those who know me really well, you know that my favorite TV show of all-time is Alias and the show’s main character is Sydney Bristow. No, Sydney isn’t named after Jennifer Garner’s best role, but it doesn’t hurt to emulate a strong, fearless CIA operative either.) Her middle name, Diana, references both Wonder Woman’s alter ego, Diana Prince, and Princess Diana; a powerful warrior and a graceful, giving princess – everything we could ever want for our sweet daughter. Princess Diana also died the same year as my dad. As a kid, I always connected those events emotionally – I distinctly remember thinking about how Princes William and Harry must miss and love their mom as much as I missed my dad. So, for me, in a very subtle, roundabout way, this was also a way of remembering him.
But back to Sydney’s birth. We left the hospital that night around 3 a.m. on the morning of June 5. In Utah, birth mothers have 24 hours following a child’s birth to relinquish their parental rights. In preparation for this day, we read a few adoption stories and blogs and were prepared to worry as soon as Sydney was born. As with most things, almost everything on the Internet is gloom and doom. But that wasn’t our situation. Leaving the hospital that night, we were calm, comforted and completely stress-free. We trusted K, she trusted in us, and even if she did change her mind, we knew everything would be okay.
An Amazing Hospital Experience
The following few days were nothing short of life-changing. K spent the next morning and early afternoon with Sydney in the hospital. We’d discussed this in advance and wanted to be sure she had the time she needed. We arrived back at the hospital around 3 p.m. the next day. Somewhat to our surprise, the hospital was very adoption-friendly. They had a room set up for Brian and me to use and were very attentive to our needs.
However, because our situation was so open, unlike most adoptions, we spent most of our time in K’s room with Sydney. We just talked and passed the baby back and forth. K also asked to meet some of our family, so Brian’s mom, my mom, and two sisters all happily met K and Sydney in the hospital.
It’s hard to describe the emotions from those two days in the hospital. The nurses and staff were incredible. When you’re two men in a conservative state getting ready to adopt a child, you prepare for the worst. You are ready for a snide remark or the cold shoulder. But everyone we encountered embraced us. The nurses were amazingly supportive of K and even complimented us on what great parents we would be and how loved they knew Sydney already was. One of the nurses has a brother who was adopted, another had a story similar to K’s, a third is sisters with a friend of Brian’s. There were so many things that felt like fate and so many hugs and happy tears.
Life with Sydney
Sydney’s adoption is open (just like the pregnancy!), which means K will get to see her grow and thrive. We believe this is the best-case scenario for everyone, and that the more love to go around for our little girl, the better.
These have been an eye-opening last few weeks and we are so grateful to K for giving us the most the most incredible gift: a chance to celebrate Father’s Day. Her poise, strength, generosity, and grace in face of some really challenging obstacles have been nothing short of inspiring.
As long as things go as planned and expected, a judge will finalize Sydney’s adoption by the end of 2018.
Reflecting back on those bleary-eyed days at the hospital, our time there was a sign. Out of every room in the hospital that week, no room had more people in it than Sydney and K’s. So many love Sydney already. She has a large tribe rooting for her, lead by her Dads, who cannot wait to see who she’ll become. We love you baby girl.