*Although we have told significant portions of Clara's story, I haven't gone through and written it out from start to finish and I really wanted to do this for Clara's personal history. Hence, there may be some overlap between this series of posts and previous posts.
Clara's story really begins on August 28, 2010 when I got home from work before Paul and felt a very strong prompting to kneel in our living room and have a heart-to-heart conversation with Heavenly Father about the future of our family. I was filled with love and hope and a sure knowledge of what I needed to do after I said "Amen." I went straight to my computer and pulled up the LDS family services website, input our zipcode, and found the contact information for the caseworker closest to us. Within minutes, I was talking with a caseworker about an adoption plan, acquiring initial paperwork, and getting reference forms for our friends and ecclesiastical leaders. If Paul was shocked when he came home from work to find me printing off questionnaire's and making lists of what needed to be done even though we hadn't planned to begin the adoption process until January once my maternity benefit kicked in, he didn't show it. Instead, he started scanning driver's licenses and gathering tax returns and signing his name next to mine in blue ink on the forms that would hopefully lead us to our child.
Two weeks later in Texas, Clara’s birthmother learned she was pregnant.
Paul and I spent hours and hours completing the frustrating paperwork that any adoptive parent can tell you is both annoying and exciting to fill out. The process was intrusive and involved interviews and home studies and parenting education hours. The wait to get approved seemed endless. We spent the Fall of 2010 building our adoption website, our online profile with LDS Family Services, gathering photos and writing our story, and ordering pass along cards. Just before Christmas we went public with our plans to adopt and asked all of our friends and family in our Christmas cards to start looking for potential birthmoms for us. Everyone who received a Christmas card also received multiple pass along cards, even though we knew we still wouldn’t likely be approved for a couple more months.
When Paul’s Grandma Madge saw our pass along cards she said “oh, it’s too bad you chose that picture – it is not very flattering of the two of you.” Grandma Madge is truly an individual and we love her quick mind and honesty. Everyone else was very complimentary though, so we didn’t take the criticism to heart.
January came and went and by then it had been over 5 months since we had begun the process. Finally, in early February, 2011, our fingerprint forms came back from the government and we were officially approved to adopt a baby. Our profile went live on the itsaboutlove website. Right around that time, Kayli – Clara’s birthmom – was reaching her decision that she would place the baby that she had been carrying for more than 5 months.
Just about a month after our profile went live, Paul and I received an email from a girl in Texas named Kayli, expressing an interest in getting to know us better. Kayli explained that she was pregnant with a baby girl due in May and that she was looking for the right family for the baby - the family that this little girl was meant for. Here are just two lines from her email to us:
In no way do I want to intrude or try to "co-parent" as some people are inclined to do. To see her grow through pictures, emails, etc. and some face-to-face meetings would be a dream come true. I feel very strongly that this baby was meant to come through me to be someone else's blessing.
Full of faith, Kayli wanted her baby - a girl, she knew - to be sealed in the temple for eternity to a mother and a father who loved her. So Kayli had met with a caseworker and begun looking through profiles online of hopeful couples praying for a miracle child. I won't tell all of Kayli's story because really, it belongs to her, but I want to highlight her goodness, strength, and faith. She exhibited these qualities in all of our communications. Kayli is a woman of grace, beauty, and courage, and we hope with all of our hearts that Clara inherits many of these qualities from her. We have had many, many questions about the openness of Clara’s adoption and all I can say is that it is easy to have such an open adoption with a person like Kayli. Of course we want Clara to know and love her Kayli.
The first few emails back and forth were tentative and heartfelt - neither party wanted to say anything that might be too prying but it was obvious that there was a strong connection on both sides and we wanted to get to know each other better. Kayli explained that she was just about to turn 20 and was going through a divorce. She wrote about how she had been raised in a home where family prayer, family scripture study, nightly dinners together, and family home evenings were important and she wanted that for this baby. Paul and I told Kayli about how we had been hoping and praying not just for a child, but for someone like Kayli. It had always been important to us to pray for our childrens' birthmothers as well as our children. We wrote about what our lives are like together and how we love each other and were ready to make a home for a daughter who would be so loved.
Through our emails, we discovered many mutual interests and similarities from the important to the silly. We bonded over a shared love of travel and adventure through conversations and exchanged photos of trips to Europe, and Paris in particular. We talked about attending the temple and how Paul and I have made it a priority to go each month and how Kayli is preparing to go there herself. There was a lot of talk about the different foods we love and favorite family traditions or vacations. Kayli asked if we could talk on the phone and we said yes.
Up next, the phone call and Clara’s name…