Christmas Day

On Christmas Eve, we left dinner at our aunt and uncle’s house and said “We’re going to sleep in so hard tomorrow. It’s our last Christmas without a kid, so we’re going to be lazy and SLEEP IN!”

Famous. Last. Words.

adoption story

5:30am PST - We woke up to a call from our case manager on Christmas Day. Apparently she had already tried to call twice, but my phone was on vibrate and we slept through it.

“She’s in labor! Get here as soon as you can”

I think I’ll always have the flashbulb memory of me sitting straight-up in bed, hitting Nabil to wake him up, and replying “like is it real labor? Or just Braxton Hicks?” I was still in a daze and thinking: it’s two and a half weeks early. It can’t be real, yet. Can it?

“Nope, it’s real. She was admitted at 3am this morning”

Nabil and I shot out of bed, started looking at flights, and found a Southwest flight at 7am that still had two seats available. Nabil shouted from the next room “There’s no way we can make that” (it was already 5:45am). “Well, we’re going to have to try. Southwest is nice. Worst case scenario, we’ll tell them our situation, and they’ll get us on the next possible flight.

Flight booked.

Next we grabbed our half-packed bag, threw out the sunny-weather clothes and scuba gear that were packed for our trip to Mexico (planned to leave a few days later), and haphazardly grabbed a few outfits for Chicago, winter weather. We had been gifted a few newborn clothes and a co-sleeper, so we threw those in a suitcase too, and called an Uber. Since it was Christmas morning, the closest car was 20min out. “We’re just going to have to drive and pay for short-term parking. Syd, can pick it up when she flies in late tomorrow night”. Luckily the carseat was already in the car, or we would have forgotten that.

We called family on the drive to the airport. Woke up some of them with the exciting Christmas news, left messages for others, let Nabil’s sister and brother know that we wouldn’t be able to make it down “…because we’re going to get OUR SON!!”

6:15 am PST - We pull up to curbside, I dropped off Nabil to check-in our luggage and swung around to park. “Our bags may not make it, but thanks to TSA-pre, I think we will!”

We made the flight!

The next four hours were an anxious, surreal, slow, fast, nervous, excited, blur. We texted some friends and family, and just kept looking over to one another and saying, “We’re literally on the plane to go get our son right now!”. Mind blowing. Of course we couldn’t sleep. I watched a few movies, but I can’t even remember what they were.

1:00 pm CST - Somehow all of our luggage arrived with the “late check-in” tag and all — even the almost forgotten carseat. When the Uber driver picked us up from the airport he was a bit confused with the empty carseat and no kid. “Oh no! I thought you grabbed him"!” I know, we’re terrible, but he thought it was funny too after the initial shock and dismay from a seemingly, real life Home Alone situation.

Got to the hospital, checked-in at the front desk as visitors, and found the delivery room. His birth-mom was doing great, progressing slowly (only 1cm more since we took off), and feeling nothing below the waist. We were so relieved that we made it there in time. We were excited that we were going to be there for our son’s birth — that we would be able to tell him as he’s growing up that we got to see him be born, that we’ve loved him since the second he came into the world happy and healthy.

After chatting a bit, we decided to go grab some cafeteria lunch before they closed early for the holiday. In all the rush and excitement, we’d barely eaten. I wasn’t really hungry, but stuffed down half of a soggy sandwich and granola bar anyway. Nabil ate one rubbery, chicken tender.

We finally relaxed a bit, and chatted with our case manager more. “He may not even be born on Christmas Day. Lots of first-time labors take a long time. He may be a ‘day after Christmas baby’”.

adoption story - waiting

3:30pm CST - Our case manger got a text from her counter part (his birth mom’s case manager) that she’s progressing quicker than expected.

“Hurry back up here, she’s 10cm and about ready to start pushing!”

While the next hour was a rush, I have a handful of really clear memories from being in the delivery room:
+ I remember holding his birth-mom’s hand so she could squeeze during contractions, and having to un-hold momentarily to wipe off our mutual sweaty palms.
+ I remember studying all the Dr’s faces intently whenever his heart rate would dip to see if it was serious or not. Thankfully, it never was.
+ I remember the smell.
+ I remember looking at our son’s birth mom, being so thankful that she chose us, thankful that she wanted me in the room, and being so scared that she was going to change her mind when all of this was over.
+ I remember the nurses and doctors coming in the room from the hallway while chuckling and saying “Is that the dad in the hallway? I think he’s nervous. I offered him a chair to sit, and he said ‘I just can’t sit right now’”.
+ I remember seeing his hair more and more with each contraction and then seeing his whole body pop out in one fell swoop.
+ I remember cutting the cord: it was tough, yet swishy
+ I remember joking and laughing throughout the whole thing. I remember being in complete awe of his birth mom. She was so calm, lovely, and confident throughout the entire process. Maybe the strongest woman we’ve ever met.
+ I remember watching his birth mom hold him for the first time. I would stare at him and then back at her staring at him. I was (and am) so excited to be a part of their story. We feel so honored that she chose us as parents, but with all that excitement and gratefulness, came so much anxiety and fear with each new, progressing step that something would change. She could change her mind at any point until the papers were signed. We wanted to be a part of each step, to know him from the first second, and to bond, but with every deeper connection comes a greater risk of pain if it’s taken away.
+ I remember watching Nabil meet him for the first time after delivery. We were both feeling the same excitement, and the same fear.
+ I remember watching him be bathed and annoying the nurse as I took a dozen photos.
+ I remember saying goodbye for the night — to our son and his birth mom, hoping hard that everything would stay as planned and we would see them all again tomorrow.

Adoption Announcement

Oh man do we have some big news …the life changing kind of BIG NEWS!

We’re adopting!!

…like a real, human baby! AND it’s happening MUCH sooner than expected!

For the last year or so, we have been filling out paperwork, filing documents, getting fingerprinted (three different times), and background checked (four different times). This past fall we were told that we were finally on the (two-year) waitlist for international adoption. We didn’t expect to hear too much more until March of 2020.

And then one night we got a very unexpected call form our case manger. She told us about a birth mother in the mid-west looking for a family that matched ours to the T. We couldn’t believe it. It seemed so perfect. Our case manager said that if we wanted, we could write her a letter and see if she felt the same way.

So we did!

In fact, we wrote a long letter (7 pages), with a lot of photos (of course). We told her about us, about how we've been together for sixteen years, how we’ve always talked about adoption, how we want to grow our little family, and why we thought we would be the best fit. And then we waited (very nervously) to hear back.


We are seriously beyond happy, and are so looking forward to being a little family of three. In a few short weeks our life will completely change! We were anticipating to bring home a toddler, but we will actually be bringing home a newborn! ...and we have no baby things yet. We were expecting to have two years to save and prep, but we have FIVE(ish) WEEKS!

It’s like the best curve-ball/holiday gift we could have ever asked for!

“How can we help?”

We have seriously been blown away by all the support that has been shown by our friends and family. We feel so lucky to have such an amazing community who have gathered around us for support. Honestly, we wouldn’t even have gotten this far without this sweet group.

To the people we have told so far about this story, often the first question (after shock and delight) is “how can I help?”.

It is not easy to ask for help, and (fortunately) there are very few times in life where we have really, really need a little help. This is one of them.

We have generously been offered so much baby-stuff from many of our friends who have had kids, and it’s all very appreciated. It has made all the initial planning feel sooo much lighter. Not only does it help to point us in the right direction (there’s a lot of stuff), but it also helps to ease some of the financial stress of having to buy so much stuff so quickly.

Adoption itself can easily cost upwards of $40,000. Between agency fees, legal fees, medical coverage, and travel costs, the lump sum adds up quickly, and although we have been saving and have already had some support from generous family, we could still use a little help.

We’ve added a “go-fund me”-type cash fund on our registry page (link below). We so greatly appreciate any and all moral and financial support throughout this journey.

oregon adoption-1.jpg
oregon adoption-2.jpg

“are there more deets?”

  • It’s a BOY

  • He’ll be born in Chicago

  • We’ll bring him home to Portland in late Jan/early Feb

  • Baby Z is due Jan 12th

  • We’ve met the birth mother, and she is amazing: smart, funny, & beautiful


“Tell us more about adoption!”

We have always been, and plan to always be very open about adoption. We’re happy to answer any further questions that you have about adoption in general and how we’ve been navigating it so far. Below are a few of the most common questions we’ve received.

“What’s the likelihood that this will go through?”
Domestic adoption can sometimes be pretty up in the air. Sometimes birth parents and adoptive families seem like a good match and then something falls through; birth parents change their mind, adoptive parents are overwhelmed or intimidated. Each state has their own laws and requirements to maneuver as well. In Illinois, birth parents are required to take 72 hours (minimum) before relinquishing their parental rights.

In our particular situation, we are feeling fairly confident that things will go as expected. It seems to be a good match both from our perspective, and also what we’ve heard from her (the birth-mother’s) perspective. We’re giving our situation a 95% chance of everything going as planned. That being said, there is still a chance things could change. If that happens, we will probably need some time to grieve and process before sharing more details.

“What does the process look like?”
Well, there are two main types of adoption: international and domestic. To be honest, since we first were going down the international adoption path, we are still learning to navigate domestic adoption.

In both processes the agency needs to ensure that they are giving both birth parents and adoptive families significant counseling and information every step of the way. That also means that they need to ensure that all adoptive parents are able to provide a safe, stable home. For us, the bulk of the process so far has been filled with paperwork, appointments (physical & mental health, background checks, fingerprints, homestudy visits etc). It has taken us about a year to get everything in order just to be able to get onto the waitlist. Often from the child and birth parent prospective, adoptions can happen quickly. From the adoptive parent prospective however, the initial process can be very tedious and loooooonnng.

We are going through Holt International. They have been really fantastic for resources and information throughout the whole process.

“What is ‘open adoption‘?”
Back in the day, most adoptions were “closed” meaning that birth parents had no contact with the adoptive parents or the kiddo for the rest of their lives. Research and extended adoptee surveys has shown that having contact with and/or knowledge about birth parents helps to give kids closure and a stronger sense of identity as they grow.

The level of openness can vary between each family. Sometimes it’s a letter and a photo once a year, and sometimes families and birth parents celebrate holidays and birthdays together.

Here are a few good resources if you’re interested:
Open Adoption is the New Norm
Managing Shifting Expectation in Open Adoption Over Time

“What about the birth parents? Are you going to share more about them”
We are still learning how to navigate each piece of this particular situation. We want to be respectful of the birth-parents’ own process and their privacy. We plan to share some details about this with those who are close friends and family. It’s not a secret, but we feel that it’s mainly our son’s story to tell. We will definitely be sharing everything with him as he grows up, and in the end it will be up to him (and the birth parents) how much, and what details he feels comfortable sharing with others.

So while we plan to be open about much of the adoption story, this part may stay a little blurry. It’s important to us that all parties involved stay safe and protected.

“$40,000 is A LOT of money! Where does it all go? What does that include?”
Tell me about it. lol. Yes, adoption is expensive.

There are a lot of smaller costs that add up quickly as well as large pre- and post- placement fees. Payments go towards legal fees, applications, background checks, agency fees, multiple homestudies, travel costs, birth parent expenses (i.e. medical), etc. For more specifics, our agency, and most others provide a complete list of expected fees on their site.

One of the things that was really important to us when we very first started this process was finding an agency that we felt was reputable and trust-worthy. Our worst fear was that something would come up 5-10 years after placement that would alter our family yet again. We wanted to choose an agency that we could trust to take care and organize all the tedious paperwork, trust that they were giving us and the birth parents honest and reliable information about all options, and that they would be able to hold our hands throughout the process. We understand that organizations cost money to run, and good, reliable employees need a decent salary for their own living expenses. Agency fees and placement fees are in part paying for just that; reliable, trusted work being done.