Four years ago I was a recently divorced woman in her early [30s] struggling to find my way. I knew God was calling me to be a woman quite different than who I was at the time. I remember literally looking in the mirror one day and sobbing at the woman I saw. I knew I was not the woman my heart desired to be. I committed to changing my life and making a life that was fulfilling and one I was proud of. Over the next year, I changed jobs and bought a ‘fixer upper.’ The house I bought would require extensive work to transform into my vision and most of which I would have to do myself in order to afford it. The house was a large 4 bedroom home…which I told my friends at the time was meant for ‘more’ even though I really didn’t know what ‘more’ meant.
Just a couple weeks after moving into my new home while in the midst of half-torn out floors, ripped out cabinets, and unending paint projects, I received an email from my pastor at church. Honestly, I only read them occasionally, but this time my interest was caught by an informational session about foster care. I did not know anyone who fostered children or who was raised in a foster home. I really knew nothing about it, but my heart felt called to learn more. When I proceeded to ask my mother, who was helping me with the renovations, ‘Would you go with me to this informational session about foster care?’ She said ‘WHAT?!’
After lots of warnings and discouragement that this new house and new job were more than I could handle and that fostering a child was the LAST thing I needed to be doing at the moment… she went with me to the session. What I heard that evening about foster care gave me chills and scared me, but it also pulled at my heart in a way I couldn’t stop thinking about. I continued to pray and work through the idea of taking on children of trauma as a single full-time working woman. After lots of contemplation, on Mother’s Day of 2015, I completed my application and took the next step to [become] a foster mom and beginning a new adventure.
Fast forward to a year later with my 4th foster child, a 13-month-old baby boy, who was filling my heart with so much joy and helped me to realize I wanted a longer-term placement and potentially one to stay forever. Up until then, I had really only focused on temporary placements but was cautiously open to fostering-to-adopt if the option presented itself. At my caseworkers next home visit, I revealed my desire to be a child’s forever home (or at a minimum a long-term placement for a year or more).
Just a couple weeks later, I had a voicemail on my phone in the middle of the [workday] from my caseworker about a baby boy who had been abandoned at the hospital and was likely to be a foster-to-adopt situation. He had drug exposure, but was not showing signs of withdrawal and would be ready to discharge the next day. I immediately called her back and said ‘I want him! Give me five minutes and please don’t call anyone else.’ I frantically called my mother and asked her to come live with me for the next few months to help make this happen. I had no idea how I would be able to take care of a 14-month-old and a newborn all by myself, so I knew I needed help.
Thankfully my mother was willing to help, and just 24 hours later I walked out of the hospital with a beautiful and tiny 4-day-old baby. He was named ‘Baby Boy’ since his mother had left just hours after birth and not provided him with a name. Without much time to ponder names, I looked at the list of baby names I had been collecting over the years and decided to give him my top choice ‘Grayson’ because by God’s grace I now had a son (potentially for forever).
The next  months were scary as we searched for his mother and father, but the information left at the hospital never led to anyone. No one answered the ads posted in the newspaper or came back to the hospital in search of the boy that had been left that day. Part of me was relieved that no one came forward so that he would be mine forever with no opposition. But there was always a pit in my stomach about one day having to tell my son no one showed up at his termination hearing. No one came looking. While my little man had been prayed for and longed for by me since I was a child, I still knew that discussion would be one I would dread for years.
“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” – Jody Landers
Finally, on the day he turned 11 months old he legally became Grayson and I officially became a mother. My heart broke that day in both joy and sadness but little did we know our adventure together was just beginning.
Grayson struggles both developmentally and physically from his drug exposure, so while I knew our family was not complete yet, I decided I should wait until he was at least a year and a half before taking in another longer-term placement (which I hoped would be a girl). Multiple calls and emails came in over the next couple of weeks about potential placements since my home was now open again, primarily for emergency short term placements. Even calls for little girls, but my heart kept telling me we just aren’t ready.
Less than two weeks after the adoption, I received a call from my caseworker in the middle of the workday. After asking me how we were doing post-adoption, she began to tell me about an emergency placement they had for a four-day-old baby girl with drug exposure. She was at the same hospital as Grayson and was needing placement that afternoon. I could feel the fear inside me and the chills in my body. I was overwhelmed at the thought. Yet the feeling also told me to keep listening and to consider this placement. Something was different about this one.
I know over the next 10 minutes and subsequent phone calls I made that afternoon, the phrase ‘I know I am crazy, but God is telling me to say YES’ kept coming out of my mouth.
The rest is mostly a blur, but [four] hours later a baby girl arrived at my home. The caseworkers who brought her inspected our home and updated me on what they knew about her. Her drug exposure and medical condition was identical to Grayson’s so I thought to myself ‘You can do this, you have done it before.’ Shortly after they left, we proceeded to make dinner and settle in. I had a young woman living with me who was with me helping figure out how to manage two babies, setting up meal trains and gathering donations for baby girl clothes so we could survive the next few days.
As I reviewed the bracelets on the baby girl, I saw the first name of her mother matched the name Grayson’s mother had given to the hospital. ‘Hmmm, that’s funny their moms have the same name.’ I told my roommate. I continued to review the discharge papers from the hospital and when I came across the date of birth for her mother…I had to take a second look. It looked familiar. I asked my roommate to watch the children for a moment and I went to find Grayson’s paperwork. ‘Hmmm, that’s really odd the date of birth is only one day different than Grayson’s mothers.’ My roommate and I were looking at each other wondering if we were thinking the same thing. ‘Could they have the same mother?’
To give some context, Grayson is half African American with beautiful darker skin and dark curly hair. Baby Girl has a pale white skin tone with straight red-blonde hair. From first glance, the children looked nothing alike. Also, Grayson wasn’t even a year old. ‘Is it even physically possible?!’ I didn’t even know what Irish twins were before that evening when I found out that it definitely was possible.
I texted Grayson’s caseworker immediately letting her know I had taken a new placement and that she NEEDED to get assigned as the ongoing caseworker for this baby. I revealed that I had suspicions the two babies might share the same mother. And she, of course, thought, ‘She’s crazy!’
The next day I pushed the intake worker about whatever details she was allowed to reveal about the baby girl. The biological mother was interested in visits and wanted to regain custody of her. We also knew she but had multiple other children, some of which had recently been adopted in a neighboring county. I was able to determine there was a time frame between the mother’s last two known children that my son ‘could’ have been conceived and delivered. But again this lady thought I was NUTS.
So I waited anxiously until that Friday when I would take the Baby Girl to her first visit with her mother and I would get to meet her as well. I was beyond nervous; was I about to meet the mother of my adopted son whom I thought was lost forever?
I was shaking as I rode the elevator up to the second floor and immediately scanned the room looking for potential mothers. When we finally were introduced, I knew instantly I was looking at my own son’s birth mom. But at the same time, I had to act completely normal and not freak out! We continued some small talk and I asked her, ‘How many children do you have? And she answered just as I had hoped! One more than the county was aware of. So I asked her ‘How many boys? How many girls?’
Again, her answer was as I hoped… the missing child in the county’s records was a boy. Part of me wanted to just blab it all out in that moment and reveal this huge secret; I thought she was my son’s mother. BUT I did not thankfully. We only spent about [five] minutes together at that first visit and she was so pleasant and open with me. She had brought me candy and a gift for Baby Girl. She gave me small insights into her life that broke my heart.
She was beautiful just like my son.
I wanted to know MORE… anything I could to help unravel this mystery and this crazy miracle. I wanted to know for sure.
The next week, our caseworker was finally going to meet the biological mother. She was cautious and seriously thought this really can’t be. But she called me shortly after the meeting and said, ‘Katie, I think you’re right! Her story breaks my heart and I can’t believe it but I am 90 [percent] sure you are right and this is a miracle.’ About 45 minutes later she called me back and said, ‘Katie now I am 100 [percent] sure. We just found the last name she gave with Grayson’s birth for a relative of Baby Girl.’ I cried right in the middle of the job-site office as I hung up the phone.
What if I had said no? What if I had said yes to one of the other placements I had been asked to take just days before? What if Baby Girl had gone to another family? We would have never found her or Grayson’s mother. The connection would have never been made! I could not believe the miracle that had just happened. God had this plan all along but I had no idea this was what he had in mind.
That day I said ‘Yes’ to taking the Baby Girl I felt the strangest feeling. I don’t think I had truly until that moment felt [an] undeniable calling from God (or whatever higher spirit you personally might believe in). My brain was telling me to say ‘no’ because it made no sense and was not in my plans, but something inside kept saying you have to say ‘YES.’ It is a sheer miracle, once in a lifetime chance… call it what you will, but it is amazing that my children found each other. On December 28, 2018, Hannah joined our family forever and Grayson’s story has forever been impacted for the better now that he has another partner in crime that will forever be a part of his life.
And our adventure continues, because 13 months after Hannah was born their birth mother welcomed another baby boy into this world whom we are fostering with great hopes to adopt in the future!
Read the follow up to Katie’s journey HERE.