Feature: Miss Rice

My other friend Courtney selflessly is letting me do a feature on her! Here is her story...

1. I know you have mentioned in the past struggling to conceive a baby or trying to conquer the fertile hurtle hahahahah, sorry this is supposed to be serious. Can you explain to us what exactly was going awry or have you learned why?

Well, we just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, and we’ve both always wanted (and expected to have) kids. About 4 years ago we started getting checked. Ray was 33 and I was 34 and neither of us possessed an “ideal reproductive scenario”, but neither had the doctors told us that pregnancy was not going to happen for us. So we tried doing inter-uterine insemination (IUI) twice with no luck. So it came down to basically in vitro fertilization (IVF) or adoption as our options. So we continued to pray.

Ray was slightly more inclined to go the IVF route, but, along with the fact that neither of us handled the needles and shots so well with the IUI’s, we also knew it was just such a huge monetary gamble that had such low odds. We knew there were a lot of children out there that were already born (or were on the way) that needed parents and homes, and I felt we could be those parents. When it came down to it, we felt that the odds were better in the adoption department, so we sent for the paperwork. (Crazy when you think about your eternal family in the terms of “best odds”, huh?)

2. Has it been an emotional roller coaster for you?

Yeah—we were like most people and thought we’d conceive the minute we were ready to. But such was not the case, and weeks turned to months and months to years of waiting. Every month when I got my period we both got depressed for a week or so, then would gear up to try the next month. Sometimes I would just lay in bed and cry. Sob, really. Ray did wonderfully in comforting me while going through his own inner turmoil. It’s rough not having life go as you’ve always expected it would. We’ve been trying for over 6 ½ years now, but I haven’t given up hope that we will conceive someday.

3. What has helped you during sad times?

Definitely my faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the rough part otherwise. Family and good friends, as well as their awesome kids, have been a huge help as well. I have both a sister and particular sister-in-law who (thankfully) were very gracious when I poured all my love into their kids, desperately needing someone to receive my bottled up motherly affections! I really don’t know what I would have done without them. I also worked at Head Start for years and got to enjoy the children of the families with whom I worked.

4. You've adopted! Maddie is just darling, and so funny. What made you decided to try the adoption process?

Once we’d obtained the adoption paperwork and began filling it out, we realized it was no easy task for us. The paperwork was long and difficult for us to work on together. Our differences really came through in doing it, and it seemed to cause arguments whenever we would sit down together to work on it. So then we would avoid working on it for awhile. It was around this time that I felt like we should do foster care for infants while we waited for an adoptive child. So we went ahead and did the foster parent training, and began taking kids months later.

So here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Annalise was the second foster baby that came to us. (We eventually changed her name to Madeline, so I will address her as such.) Around the time that Madeline came, Ray and I had completed our adoption paperwork (yea!) and the necessary home study and were officially on the rolls of LDS Family Services, waiting for a birth mother to choose us. So life was good. Meanwhile I was taking Madeline to the necessary appointments and visits with her birth mother, as foster parents do.

A few months later I ran into her birth mother in a doctor’s office. As she held her baby in the waiting room, she began to talk to me about how she didn’t think it was going to work out to get Madeline back, and that she didn’t know what she was going to do with her. This went on for 10 minutes or, and against all I’d been taught in my foster parent training course, I finally blurted out that we loved Madeline and would adopt her if she needed/wanted us to! (Foster parents are under strict obligation to let our only goal be reunification with the foster child and her biological family. But I just couldn’t help myself—it was just too perfect! We loved and wanted Madeline so much.) Her face lit up as I told her this, and she said she was going to call the case worker and terminate her parental rights that day!

Well, as it turned, the State had never seen a case like this one—where the birth mom was voluntarily terminating her rights so that the foster family could adopt the child. It really threw everyone for a loop. Unfortunately, once a child is in the state’s custody—the birth parent has no say where the child actually goes once they terminate rights. So the birth mom canceled the termination and did everything she could to actually get her back. Once she did get her back, she allowed Madeline to always stay with us, and eventually gave her up to us for adoption.

5. I've heard it's a loooooooong and expensive process, without revealing #'s, is this true?

Yes, it is true--although I think we got very lucky with our unusual situation. From the time Madeline’s mom chose us to adopt her until the actual court documents were filed and sealed it was a little less than 10 months. I think it’s a lot longer for some people. It was painful to wait at the time, never sure if the birth mom would actually go through with it and allow us to adopt Madeline. There were things she would say occasionally that really made us wonder.

I think the financial side of it was probably less money than most end up paying, because we didn’t actually go through an adoption agency and have to pay fees to them. Basically there were attorney’s fees, some state filing fees, and then the home study they used from the one we did with LDS Family Services, which is $1000. So, we really lucked out in the financial aspect of the situation.

6. Do you have any advice for any other women who are struggling, or contemplating adoption?

I don’t think there are any coincidences. I believe the Lord’s Hand is over all aspects of our lives. And when we really strive to turn our lives, even the little details, over to Him, we see how very involved He is with us and the things that happen to us: good and bad. It’s really all about having faith, and so that is what I would encourage anyone to do that is struggling in this or any area. Exercise your faith, and TRUST Him in all things. Alma 37:5 teaches that as much as we trust Him, even so much will we be delivered, and I have learned this to be true.

Waiting six years to become a mother was a real struggle for me, but I believe that there were things I needed to learn from that experience. It’s so important to not give up, and to not expect things to happen on our timeframe. We don’t see the big picture that the Lord sees, and that’s why we need to trust in Him. Running into Maddie’s birth mother that day was clearly not a coincidence—I knew that the moment I drove away from that doctor’s office. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and do your part, and the miracles will come.


mrsmonje said...

I loved this feature!! I dont know why I liked it so much but it was amazing! Thanks for doing these :)

KPost said...

What an inspiring story!

Shawn AND Chelsey said...

What a neat story! I love it!! They are a BEAUTIFUL family!!!

Courtney said...

Suzi: I am so honored you would choose to feature me on your awesome blog! Thanks, friend. I miss you.

I am also honored that anyone would sit and read the whole thing! I just did, and (10 minutes later!) am sorry I don't have the skills to be more concise!

Matt and Amanda said...

I really appreciate this story and can relate to Courtney. We have been trying to get pregnant for five years now and it is so heartbreaking when month after month we realize it hasn't happened for us yet. I am glad to see that she has gotten her miracle and I pray and have faith that ours will come soon too. Thanks again for the wonderful feature!

Mama Corleone said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! That is amazing. What a woman.

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