How’d we get this lucky?
My beautiful 6 month old daughter is rolling around next to me, after refusing to go to bed and sleep. Instead, she looks at me and laughs. She’s awesome. The thing is, even though my husband and I both knew from quite a young age we wanted to adopt one day, we never in our wildest dreams thought we’d be blessed with her. How’d we get this lucky?
Before I tell you about our adoption journey, let me tell you a bit about who we are. My name is Tehillah, and together with my husband, Skillie, and our 3 year old daughter Malkah, we live in the Boland. Skillie and I met on Faecbook, which is pretty embarrassing to admit, but hey, it seems like that’s what the kids do these days. We got married a year after we met, and expected Malkah two years after that. Our dream was to have a big family, we even joked about having 8 kids. I can honestly say that after two kids we might have to adjust that number a bit!
When Malkah turned 2, we started talking about our next step in bringing another baby into our family, and we both felt that adoption was the next step. Its not a feeling we can explain, I mean, there were no sign saying we should adopt written in the sky, we just both knew. On my side of the family there is 3 adopted cousins, and seeing the way my aunt and uncle raised them to be the amazing people they are today, it just awoken something inside me to be open to adoption. After friends of ours adopted a year before us, they put us into contact with Procare and we had our first meeting in August 2016. I still remember the feeling as we sat down with Eloise, our amazing social worker, and she started sharing with us what Procare is all about, and what the adoption process is like. As she spoke, it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest, and peace about our choice to adopt came over me like a warm blanket.
One thing that stood out to me was when she said they’re not trying to find the “perfect baby" that will suit us, but instead they’re trying to find the right parents for each child. We realised again how birth moms, and dad’s for that matter, are some of the strongest people you’ll ever meet. This is not the easy way out for them, they’re truly putting the baby’s needs above their own. Its the most selfless and the biggest sacrifice, I believe, any parent can make. How incredible are these women who make such a hard choice for their children? And how blessed are we to be trusted with this role as parents for these kids.
Our adoption experience was such a positive one, and I can truly say that its because Procare took such amazing care of us AND the birth parents. We always knew exactly what the next step would be, what we had to do to prepare and always felt fully informed.
We had a few meetings with Procare, followed by a home visit, a group session and attended the Arise Adoption conference - all this really equipped us with a lot of information to prepare for what would soon change our lives. Like with any child, adopted or biological, nothing can really prepare you fully for what awaits, but having people with incredible knowledge, advice and blunt honestly talk you through what was about to happen, is so valuable. When we went in for our very last meeting early November, my husband was saying how he really thought that our daughter would only come home in the new year. I agreed, but really hoped in my heart that it would happen sooner. I felt so ready to be a mom again. We were told it was possible to be matched with a baby before the new year, but quite unlikely. We thought that seemed okay, because we had a crazy end of the year involving work. But it was proven, like time and time again that our timing is hardly ever the right timing. So they told us to go home, and be prepared to not hear again from them for a few months. They assured us that they were hard at work trying to match us, but we had to take a deep breath and sit back. This was quite tough. I remember waking up one morning around 1am, and I just started crying. I send a sms to my friend saying, I miss my daughter so much, even though I’ve never met her, she’s so deep in my heart already. Those few days before we got the call were really tough, but also so important to talk Malkah through what was going to happen soon.
Let me tell you a bit about Malkah. She’s beautiful and strong. I mean, have you ever met a 3 year old who will negotiate with you like she’s 13? I constantly find myself amazed at how strong willed she is, and blown away by her compassion and care for others. When we initially told her she was going to become a big sister, we explained to her that we were going to go see the 'Procare tannies' and they are helping us find our sister. We prayed for Mayah with Malkah often, and one day out of the blue, Malkah was telling her grandma how the 'Procare tannies' are going to go to heaven and God is going to give Mayah to them to bring down to us. Well, that is pretty much exactly happened. Gosh, I love how kids think! We also explained that sometimes brothers and sisters grow in the same tummy, but sometimes they grow in other lady’s tummies. She just accepted it, because this is the only reality she knows.
On the 9th of November we were out having pizza with the family when my phone rang. It was after 6pm and I really thought - what was the chance that Eloise was phoning me? When I missed the call I immediately phoned back, and after she said, “Hallo, Tehillah, its Eloise,” I started crying. She started saying that this was 'the call' and that we were matched with a baby girl. She kept talking and talking and I heard absolutely NOTHING. After about 3 minutes she paused and said, “are you there?” I could barely say yes, and she asked if I wanted to phone her back. It really was such a special thing to have my parents and brother there to share the moment. Skillie and I couldn’t stop crying and Malkah was historical with joy when I told her, “Die Procare Tannie het gebel” - her sister was coming home!
This all happened on the Wednesday, and we were able to go pick up Mayah the following Tuesday. How were we ever going to sleep for 5 nights?! Every morning we would cut out one letter of her name and decorate it with Malkah, and stick it above our fireplace. We printed out pictures of Mayah, and stuck them to the walls low enough for Malkah to see as she walked by. There were pictures everywhere, even in the bathroom, and we would chat about our little sister all the time. We dreamed with Malkah about what it was going to be like to have a new baby in the house. This really prepared her for what was happening, and she was counting down the days!
On the Friday we went in to meet with Eloise, the social worker who put together a presentation for us. This had all the information they had of her and the birth parents and after sharing with us what our daughter was like, we were able to see a few pictures of her. I can’t really put into word what that day was like, the only thing I can say is - an indescribable joy totally overcame us.
When Tuesday finally arrived, we really felt like we had no tears left to cry. We were all ‘cried out’ and we thought we were going to be able to keep it together pretty well the whole day. The 5 days we had to wait for her home coming was such a blessing because we felt like it prepared all of us. So anyway, we said goodbye to Malkah where she waited at home with her uncle and as we stopped at the house where we were suppose to meet, I felt completely paralysed. They had told us prior that both the biological mother and father wanted to meet us, and we had been praying that they would indeed show up. We walked past a room and through the window I saw two people sitting inside. I couldn’t make out their faces but my heart raced as I knew it was them. We waited in a room for a little while and were told that our baby was on her way, and that once she arrived, she would spend a few minutes with the birth parents, before we would spend some time alone with them. The front door opened and the lady who took care of Mayah from birth walked in with a car seat. From that moment, we were just complete wrecks. The 15 minutes we spent with the birth parents, were the some of the most incredible moments of my life. Yes, it was a bit awkward, yes, we felt like we really couldn’t say anything at all to explain how we were feeling and how much we would love that baby they just gave us. It was incredibly hard and beautiful all at the same time. The meeting with them went by quick, we spoke about our dreams as a family and they asked us some questions. We then prayed together and sat for a while just holding hands. I connected with the birth mom in a very special way, and I wish I was a better writer to explain to you exactly what my instant love for her felt like. I kept thinking, this day reminds me so much of the day Malkah was born, because you’re faced with feelings you’ve really never experienced before in your life, and its a feeling of being overjoyed and scared all at the same time.
Our daughter was brought into the room, and the birth mom kissed her and then handed her over to me. She was so tiny, all dressed up, and curiously looking at everyone in the room. I knew I loved her instantly, I didn’t feel bonded to her, but I knew that would come with time. That’s the thing, like with most things in life, it takes time. I’m so thankful to Procare and our amazing friends who kept reminding us to be patient and have grace with yourself and our new baby. When we got into the car and drove to the court where we had to get some paper work done, I just stared at this tiny little human, with a crazy amount of hair and chubby little cheeks, and my heart felt full. She’s my daughter. We might not share any genetics, but I hoped as I looked at her that she will one day understand just a little bit of how big my love for her truly is.
Coming home, Malkah was waiting anxiously. She embraced her sister immediately, and she’s been crazy about her ever since. We’ve really had it easy as Mayah is a very chilled baby, who slotted into our family so easily. We decided to do attachment parenting, like we did with Malkah. Mayah, now almost 4 months later, still naps every nap in our baby carrier and at night she sleeps in our bed with us. I pumped breastmilk for her the first few months as well, we bathed together every night and doing as much skin to skin really helped us to bond with her. It’s a daily commitment to invest time in our kids. Even when work is crazy and we’re sleep deprived, we always try, sometimes failing, to spend uninterrupted, technology free, time with them.
I really hope that our story will inspire someone out there to consider going the adoption route. There are millions of babies out there, ready to be taken into a loving home. I do think that adoption is not for everyone, but if you have even the slightest desire, you’re not making a mistake in taking a leap of faith, because a child will bless you more than you do them. Our daughter has been home for almost 4 months now, and the journey has been incredibly rewarding for all of us. We’ve been humbled by her, realising again that this life and our own lives are not about us. We have to die in ourselves every day and try to get up every day knowing that it might be amazing and it might be a complete dog show. Still we have to strive to put them above ourselves. We’ve grown as parents, and individuals and we’ve seen Malkah totally blossom as a big sister. I’ve seen my husband get up 6 times in one night and then get up at 5:30 am to make oats and coffee. I’ve fallen in love with my kids and my husband all over again through this joyous, amazing, crazy journey called adoption. Parenting is not easy, its not something to be taken lightly or brushed off as “the next step in life” - parenting is life itself. And what a great life it is.