Homegrown with Hope: Family shares lessons from adoption

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This Homegrown with Hope continues our series on adoption. A local couple shared their experience of putting in the work and holding out hope. They also share some helpful tips for others going through the adoption process.

"I think we just kept on looking at her, thinking, is this really real? Is this really happening?"

Nancy H. describes the first moments with her daughter.

Nancy and her husband, Brian, hang onto their babies like a dream they don't want to wake up from.

"Wow, we can't imagine our family without her," Brian said.

Fortunately, they don't have to imagine life any other way now. After years of waiting, they belong to each other.

"Some of the best things are worth waiting for," Brian said with a smile.

Their hopes were born long before they ever started the adoption process. Nancy gave birth to their son after rounds of infertility treatments. They knew they wanted to keep adding to their family.

"We tried for about three more years afterwards without success," Nancy shared. "We had several more losses during that time. It just got to be the option we looked into as far as how to expand our family."

They came to The Village and Lutheran Social Services in Bismarck, where social workers helped them get started with informational sessions. Brian and Nancy agree those session were the most helpful resource to begin their adoption journey. They heard experiences from other parents, felt encouraged by their adoptive families, and learned so much information about costs, timeframes and the many pieces that go into a successful adoption.

Then came the paperwork, background checks and fingerprinting. Brian and Nancy produced references, medical records and a whole lot of patience. They knew there was no guarantee for how long they'd have to wait before hearing from a birth family. Some birth families contact a family months in advance, others find out on much shorter notice.

Brian remembers the moment Nancy picked up the phone about three years after their paperwork was submitted to find out a birth family chose them. They, then, went to meet the birth parents in-person.

Finally, the time came.

"We got a call right before midnight. She was born on a Friday night. She was born out of town, so we drove there," Nancy recalls. "We got to see her when she was an hour old. We got to hold her. We got to see her first shots and her weight."

Brian and Nancy were overwhelmed with love for the little girl they met. They visited with her birth parents but held some reservation when they took her home from the hospital.

"Of course, the apprehension. Are they going to change their mind? That was still int he back of your head," Nancy said.

The termination of parental rights took about a week to go into effect. When it did, the cloud of uncertainty had lifted for this family.

"That was really great because then you knew it was a sure thing," Brian said. "It's like having a lottery ticket, and we matched all the numbers, finally."

Brian and Nancy also want other parents to know that not every employer recognizes adoption as a qualifier for paid family leave plans. That leaves some families scrambling to make up the cost of taking time off for their family. If your family is considering adoption, they encourage you to check into the details of your workplace benefits and seek help from the many resources in the community.