We had been married a little over a year when we found out I had fertility problems. After a false positive pregnancy test, I went to the doctor for prenatal visits only to find that I was not pregnant, and it would be very difficult for me to become pregnant.
David and I didn’t have the money we’d need for infertility treatment. I tried to convince myself it was OK. I was young, and figured that there was nothing to worry about, it would just take a little time to get pregnant.
I starting putting everything I could give into my work. I picked up every hour I could to add to my paycheck. Dave picked up odd jobs in and out of the state and sacrificed a lot to make sure we could save money. After another year passed, we went back to the doctor ready to start infertility treatment. I thought we could just try this for a few months, end up with twins or triplets, and get back on track with our happy life together.
It didn't work out quite like I had planned. The meds made me feel horrible. My treatment was very expensive, so even though I felt terrible, I went to work every day and tried to put on a good face. I told myself that I would be sick if I was pregnant, so this was just like an extended pregnancy. It was just part of the process. The months continued on with no pregnancy.
I worked every moment I could to save up money for the next month’s treatment. I picked up every minute of overtime. I picked up a second job. This continued to be the story of our life for the next three and a half years. Our family was very supportive, but it didn’t seem to matter. Dave and I were exhausted and depressed. In the end we had given our doctor an entire year’s income, and the only thing we got in return was sickness and heartache.
Our doctor retired, so we did too. He referred us to a new physician, but it wasn't right for us to continue. We made the decision that we would stop our infertility treatment. Dave and I had talked about adoption, but I think we needed to learn more about families before we felt a confirmation of this prompting. It hadn’t really been something that had felt right to both of us at the same time. After our 6th wedding anniversary, it finally felt right. I don’t know how to explain it. David and I each felt it on our own, so when we talked about with each other we knew we were ready. It just hit us one day. Our baby was coming. We didn’t know when, but we finally knew how. It wasn’t from pills or injections or procedures. Our baby was coming to us through adoption. And we had never felt happier. It wasn’t the “next best thing.” It wasn’t the “last resort.” It wasn’t a temporary fix until we could get pregnant ourselves. It was THE thing. It was THE way our family was going to be built. We didn’t want someone else’s child – we wanted our child. And when we realized it, we started to find joy again. We went to the adoption agency immediately and starting filling out the paperwork. The hole that had been a part of our family was beginning to fade.
We hit a few rough patches along the way, but looking back - there is no doubt that the road was paved exactly right for us.
Dave was accepted to law school in Florida. We knew this would cause us to be ineligible for adoption for a while, until the new home study was completed. As soon as we moved, we saw a huge increase in the number of times our profile had been viewed. We heard about people who were looking at us. Our case worker had accidently left our profile online, even though it was supposed to come down as soon as we moved. People were still looking at our profile. We recieved some contact from a few amazing women. We felt so very blessed just to know that people were looking at us, and very blessed to have met such amazing women along the way.
On August 18, 2009 I came home to find an e-mail that changed our lives. The amazing person on the other end wanted to know if we lived in Logan or Florida (so I instantly knew she lived in Utah – other people would have said Utah or Florida), and she wanted to know if I would be staying at home with our baby after placement. I let her know the bad news. We lived 2500 miles away in Florida, and I might have to work after placement (temporarily).
I never expected to hear from her again. But she wrote back.
We didn’t know if she would give birth to our child, but we felt completely overwhelmed with gratitude to have her as a part of our lives. We knew that even if she didn’t choose us, she would make the right decision for her and this baby. We knew that even if she didn’t choose us, we would look back on this moment for the rest of our lives, and know that our Father in Heaven is looking out for us. It was a testimony to me of how right adoption can be. The more we got to know each other, the more humbled I became. It was like we’d known each other our whole lives. We continued to e-mail back and forth, sharing stories and thoughts.
Because I had to work extra shift before Christmas, I had been awake for well over 24 hours, and finally laid down to sleep on Christmas Eve at about 9:00am. By 11:00am David came into our bedroom and woke me up. He told me we had received a package from Sterling. It said it was from “Santa”.
I was wide awake immediately. It was truly like waiting for Santa. It didn’t really matter how tired I was, there was something in this package that would mean a lot to me. The package said, “Do not open until Christmas Eve.” I was pretty frazzled, and didn’t want to informally rip open a package, even though I knew it was already Christmas Eve. I tried to remind myself of the ups and downs of adoption, and thought that maybe she sent us a box of chocolates or a CD or a fruitcake or something. I didn’t want my emotions to be all over the place. I was tired and emotional, and wanted to be ready for whatever was in that box. Whether it was a simple gift or something more, I wanted to be ready. I got up and took a shower. We walked the dog and played Christmas music. We waited until 5:00pm when we decided we were ready.
Sterling had sent us the most incredible Christmas gift we could ever imagine. Inside the box, there was a pair of little fleece jammies, a homemade baby blanket, a willow tree figurine of a family, and CD of her singing “From God’s Arms, to My Arms, to Yours.” We cried so much we couldn’t speak. We didn’t say a word for over two hours. We held each other in our arms, and cried more tears than ever before. Every bit of pain we’d suffered over the last eight years was not just gone, but replaced with complete happiness. Of course we were excited and overjoyed, but we were also humbled, honored, and felt a heavy responsibility. We knew we had been trusted with something sacred. A family.
We wanted to call her. We could barely speak to each other, and didn’t know how to thank her in a way that didn’t sound trite – so we called our parents first. Dave tried to talk to his family, but couldn’t even speak when they answered the phone. They were extremely worried, and thought some enormous tragedy had hit. Dave has never been the type of person who is at a loss for words. He passed the phone to me, and I choked out a brief sentence or two about the gift we’d received. We cried with them for a while. We hung up the phone and cried some more. We repeated the same thing when we called my parents. We took a walk along the beach trying to gather our thoughts. We finally decided that we would send Sterling an e-mail. We knew it was impersonal, but we thought we’d send something simple. And we didn’t want to cross any boundaries by calling her on her cell phone. Our plan was to say something like: “Wow. We want to call you, if that’s OK (once we gain our composure).” We knew it was pathetic, but based on our prior attempts at conversation, we thought that would be the best we could offer right then.
We opened our e-mail to find the next amazing treasure. Sterling had e-mailed us. She told us that she’d hoped we’d opened at least one Christmas gift, and asked us to please call. We did. I wish I could say we offered some eloquent thank you. I wish I could say we said something of value. But I quite honestly don’t remember a single word that we said. But I remember her. I will forever remember hearing the sound of her voice. I could hear something in her voice. It was pure and sincere. She had given us the greatest of all gifts, and although I know it was not easy, I knew that she meant it. I knew that she had made this decision for herself, because she had felt a confirmation that it was right. I am so grateful to her. She made a completely selfless decision, and has changed our lives forever. This person, who was a stranger months ago, was now one of the most important people I’d ever meet. She is more than a best friend to me; she is a part of our family.
The next two months were full of sleepless nights, excitement, panic, joy, and exhaustion. We tried to think of everything. We packed our bags in case she went into labor early. We scrubbed the entire house several times over. We trimmed the dog’s nails as short as we could. We stayed up late and woke up early, making lists of things we wanted to remember to do. The time flew by, and dragged on at the same time.
Sterling was induced on Saturday morning, February 20th, 2010, the same day we flew out to Utah. She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy at 5:31pm. He was 8lbs 2oz, 20 ½ inches long. We were in Chicago for our layover when he arrived. She called us to let us know he’d arrived safely. We cried some more. We found our own corner at the airport and called our families to give them the update. Sterling sounded amazing. She didn’t sound exhausted from the hours of labor, although I’m sure she was. We spent the night at my parent’s house, and went out to the hospital the next day.
We hardly slept at all that night. We waited anxiously to meet our son. It was an amazing thing to think about – MEETING our son. Our SON. Wow. Years of waiting, and now he was here. Not in our arms, but he was here. We repeated this same conversation for hours – but it still overwhelmed us. We drove out to the hospital at noon the next day.
We knocked on the door. We were very surprised that Sterling opened the door. She was up and walking around in the hospital room. She looked beautiful and calm. Ben was in the room, sitting on the couch with the new born baby in his arms. He looked like he was in heaven – cherishing every second with this little guy.
We looked has his long, piano player fingers. Sterling pulled off his hat so we could see the short brown hair that covered his little head. He was perfect. This moment was perfect. Everything about it felt right.
We got a call from Sterling’s case worker the next day. She asked us if we would be able to be to placement at 5:30 that night. What a silly thing to ask. This was one of those moments we’d waited for our entire lives. We wouldn’t have missed it for anything. In fact, we showed up for placement an hour early. The clock seemed to barely move. I’ve never felt a longer hour in my life. Dave and I both had butterflies in our stomachs. We hadn’t eaten anything all day. Our mouths were completely dry. At 5:20 we called her case worker to see how she was doing. The case worker asked if we could come at 5:45 instead. We sat in the car. We looked at the gifts we’d picked out, and felt like they were very inadequate.
The caseworker told us it was time. David and I sat with the case worker for a few moments in the office, as she outlined the rest of the evening for us. We were so grateful to have someone keep the night moving. Every moment seemed difficult, and we were so grateful to Sterling’s case worker for her strength and experience. It was one of those bitter sweet moments that life offers us. We saw a close friend of ours have a part of her torn off and given to us. She gave us the most precious gift in the world.
We had a very spiritual evening, and exchanged stories and hopes. Ben and Sterling stopped and looked at each other. Ben nodded, and they both stood up. David and I stood as well. In a single motion, we embraced and Sterling placed our baby into my arms for the first time. Time stood still again, as I looked into my arms to see the long awaited, perfect little being that was entering our family. He was a perfect fit into the spot in our lives that had been missing. We had been waiting for him. Not waiting for a baby. We were waiting our whole lives for this baby, our son, David.
After more hugs and heartfelt words of love, Dave and I were left with little David in the conference room. It was our first moments together as a family. We cried some more, as the realization of everything we’d been through together sunk in. It had all been worth it. Every tear cried, every pain felt, every moment of longing was worth it. In a single moment, the pains we had suffered were replaced with joy that was even more exquisite than our pain. Our lives will never be the same. We have truly been changed by what we have experienced.
Our adoption was finalized on August 11, 2010. We went directly from the courthouse to the Orlando Temple, where we were sealed together as an eternal family.
We know our adoption story is not over. In fact, we know it is only beginning. We have an open adoption with our son’s birth parents. We are so thankful for Ben and Sterling, who have lived their lives so that we know they will be an influence for good on our family. We have no doubt that they will teach our son the principles of the gospel by the choices they have made. We have no doubt that they are leading and will continue to lead exemplary lives. We are grateful for the experiences that we have been blessed with. We feel like the Lord was looking out for us, specifically. He created the perfect family for us. We know that the ups and downs will continue throughout our lives, but we look forward to facing those challenges as a family. We have learned so much about trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, and hope that our story can bring hope to others around us.