Finding Their Way to You

Adoption. Some people will hear this word and immediately correlate it to infertility-a last resort for those who have struggled for years to conceive. Often the two go hand-in-hand, and the vast majority of birth mothers prefer to place their babies with families who have no children, or at the very most, one child. A lot of adoption agencies throughout the country will even specify that they will not accept a potential adoptive family who already has several kids. So, why would a family with five biological children of their own and obviously no problems in the conception department choose adoption to grow their family? Well, I’m glad you asked.

My name is Linsey, and I’m what you can call a “fertile myrtle.” My husband, Tony and I had our firstborn daughter in February 2008. Then, our second daughter came in November 2010. Lots of life happened between November 2010 and May 2014 when our third daughter was born. Her birth marked the end of what we thought was an exceptional ability to “space out” our children. I became pregnant at four months postpartum with number four, our first boy, who was born in July 2015. And before he turned 2, I was pregnant again with number five, our final baby girl born in May 2017. If you’re bad at math, that’s three babies in exactly three years. Whew! Needless to say, eight weeks after number five’s birth, the husband practically teleported himself onto the snip-snip chair at the urologist, thus ending the reproduction chapter of our story. We. Were. Done.

Or so we thought...

Fast forward to September 2019 while on vacation in Florida with our complete, healthy family of seven. Out of the blue clear sky (shameless George Strait plug), my husband approached me with the idea of adoption. Let me be clear. Adoption has always been something I’ve been curious about. I have always loved seeing families adopt babies and children and reading their stories. But, personally, it was always just a pipe dream for me, like winning the lottery or going to the bathroom alone. It was never something I ever envisioned for myself or my family. Until that fateful Florida night when my husband planted the “what if” seed. Now, how many men do you know who have already created five children of their own and have undergone the big “V,” AND STILL WANT MORE KIDS?! Believe me when I say this man has a heart of gold for children and I am one blessed lady to call him mine. After the “seed” was planted, we had some of the most in-depth and emotional discussions we’ve ever had as a married couple. Before I knew it, a path I never thought my life would take, turned into something I longed for. Four months of very important discussions and prayers later, we signed with an adoption consultant agency in January 2020, and I just knew we would meet our new baby soon.

Ezra, Georgia, Nora, Vera, Ava and Luca Francis

Then COVID-19 happened.

Throughout quarantine/lockdown, we filled out mounds of paperwork, which included some pretty personal information about our lives and our children. We took some online classes that educated us on the prospect of adopting another race, or a baby with special needs, or a baby who was exposed to drugs and alcohol, or all of the above. Our preferences were wide open, which meant we would accept ANY baby, no matter their circumstance. Completing the paperwork and background checks took three months. It was a process I truly felt would last forever. COVID-19 really caused a delay in having our home study completed, and that was a MAJOR step in the adoption process. But in June 2020, we were finally approved and able to apply to agencies. No one tells you how extensive the application process truly is. Since we were working with an adoption consultant group, they guided us in our profile design and pointed us towards the right agencies. Our particular consultant group only works with agencies in adoption friendly states, which means, once the parental rights are signed away, it is irrevocable. It is a done deal. We applied to agencies in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Utah, and Arizona. Finally, we were considered an active waiting adoptive family with eight agencies. We just knew our match was coming.

But instead, we received seven “not yets.”

I have never been great at checking my email. I am one of those people who can have a red bubble, with a four or five-digit number on the mail icon of their home screen, and not be bothered by it one bit. But after we were active with a few agencies, we had situations emailed to us that matched our preferences, and I became a fervent email checker overnight. With every situation, I immediately envisioned that one being our baby. Some situations just weren’t for us since the birth mother would specify a strong preference for a family with no children, so we would pass. We said “yes” to seven, though. Seven different situations that all said “not yet” to my family. You don’t know rejection until you submit a beautiful magazine with pages and pages about you and your husband and your children, with perfectly posed professional pictures of your family that basically scream “CHOOSE ME” ... only to be told “no.” Imagine doing that seven times. It was defeating. I had to come to the hard realization, and it didn’t happen overnight, this wasn’t about me or my family. It’s about a birth mother who is making the single greatest sacrifice in the name of love. It’s about a birth mother who loves her baby so much and is putting their needs before her own. It’s about a birth mother who recognizes she is unable to care for the life inside of her. It’s about a birth mother who is choosing life for her unborn child.

So, yes, she is entitled to be picky when choosing a potential family for HER baby, even if that meant saying “no” to us.

Several weeks went by and the process was weighing heavy on my heart. We wanted nothing more than to help a mother in distress and to grow our family, but the mental and emotional load was proving to be way more than I could bear. I was feeling like it just wasn’t meant for our family. But why would God put this so strongly on our hearts if it wasn’t something that was supposed to be? I was exhausted. I was defeated. I was mad. I was sad. I was all the things. 

Tony and Linsey Francis with baby Luca

Then, October 1, 2020 happened.

While our family was out for the day with friends at a museum, we got a situation emailed to us. An expectant mother had given up looking for a family for her baby because she had been rejected by so many. The rejections came because of her extensive alcohol abuse. She was 20 weeks along and had given the agency permission to find a family for her baby because she was exhausted. Alcohol exposure in pregnancy is scary, and in this case, we’re talking hard liquor, every single day. The effects of alcohol abuse on an unborn baby can range from learning disabilities, to facial deformities, to mental retardation, with a slew of disabilities in between. You have to be mentally and financially prepared for something of this magnitude. So, after reviewing the case, we told our consultant that because of the extent of the abuse, we would have to pass. 

Except, something was pulling on me that I couldn’t shake.

That night, while sitting on the couch with my husband, I turned to him and said, “The mother is telling the agency to choose a family for this baby. What if this is our chance? What if an agency pick is how we get chosen?” He agreed maybe we would have a better chance of being chosen by an agency, but the risk with the alcohol exposure remained. The 20-week ultrasound we were provided showed a healthy growing baby, but that was all we had to go on. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this baby was meant to be our baby, and thankfully, my dear husband trusted my instinct. We emailed our consultant right then, saying that we would love to be considered.

And then we waited.

Six days later, on October 7, we got the call from our consultant that the agency had chosen us. I wish I could accurately describe the amount of joy and relief I felt. I cried into my husband’s chest. We had our baby. The birth mother was in Arizona and had specified that she wanted this to be a closed adoption. Closed adoptions are rare these days. Most birth mothers prefer an update on their children either through email, phone calls, pictures, or even visits, but our birth mother didn’t want any form of contact with us. When you are in a closed adoption, you are not afforded the luxury of staying updated on the pregnancy. You are at the mercy of the caseworker for updates. For months, we fought tooth and nail for updates on our baby. With the alcohol abuse involved, not knowing how our baby was doing made for some very stress filled days.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

I had just gotten the little kids to bed and my husband was at volleyball practice with our 10-year-old when I got a call from our case worker. Our birth mom had gone to the doctor, and the baby was measuring small. She told me the baby was fine, but they were talking about inducing her Monday and we should be on our way to Arizona by the weekend. Talk about a jolt to your system! The baby wasn’t due until February 7, and with the lack of updates we had received, we assumed we had a few more weeks. We weren’t given any information at all as to why the doctors wanted to induce early. All we knew was the baby was small, and we needed to get to Arizona, so that’s exactly what we did. We loaded our family into our 15-passenger van and started out on a 16-hour road trip to Phoenix. Looking back, it was all a whirlwind, and it’s such a blur even now. I suppose I was operating solely on adrenaline. The fact that I was not completely freaking out, which is totally my nature, is beyond me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Almost exactly one year from the day we signed with our consultant agency, at approximately 2:00 pm, he was born. A boy weighing four pounds and thirteen ounces, he was tiny, but he was (and is) mighty. His little body was exposed to more alcohol before he ever took his first breath than an average 30-year-old, and yet, he passed every single test with flying colors. He baffled the doctors and nurses in the best possible ways and was discharged less than 48 hours later, joining us and meeting his new sisters and brother in our quaint little Airbnb.

We named him Luca.

Now home with us in Texas, his adoption will be finalized sometime this summer, around the time he turns six months old. He fits in so perfectly with our family. He has my husband’s hair and sneezes the same way his older brother does! I hear all the time that he is one blessed little boy to have us, but we are the blessed ones! One of my favorite quotes comes from Sheryl Crow, a fellow adoptive mom; “Little souls find their way to you, whether they’re from your womb, or someone else’s.” When you begin the adoption process, you will be told that you will have the baby that is meant for your family. You may or may not believe this, but I do. I say it is 100% true.

Our precious little Luca found his way to us, and I will thank God for the rest of my life that He chose us to be his forever family.

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