Isaac came first. He was forty-eight hours old when he left the hospital as our son. Our lives were instantly changed by this amazing little gift wrapped in the all-too-familiar hospital blankets and little hat.
Elijah came eight and a half months later. He was our son the moment he was born. We didn’t have to wait forty-eight hours for him to legally be our son.
Our lives were changed again.
Isaac was a gift from someone we knew–the junior bridesmaid from our wedding, now seventeen. We grew up calling each other sister even though we weren’t related.
She was pregnant, but she wasn’t confused. She knew what she wanted to do.
She knew who she wanted her baby’s parents to be.
John and Wendi. Us.
I held the phone, shaking, as her mother asked me if John and I would consider stepping in and adopting her little boy–a little boy who had only been living in her womb for a few weeks.
Such a long wait. So many things could go wrong. She could change her mind. She could lose the baby. These were all the things we had been trying to avoid when, after ten years of marriage and infertility treatments that ran the gamut from Clomid to IUI to four failed IVF cycles, we had closed that book and decided to adopt internationally.
No more disappointments. No more broken hearts. We’d pay our money and leave with a child. Domestic adoption scared us. Adopting from someone we knew scared us.
We chose China, and after paying a third of the money, watched helplessly as the wait time grew by months and then years. Defeated, we put aside our hopes of parenthood. We bought a high maintenance Dalmatian and decided to be a family of two and a dog for awhile.
That’s when God stepped in. That’s when Bri and her family decided we were the perfect people for their perfect little boy. Would we adopt him?
On May 7, 2008, we walked into a hospital ten hours from our home and met our son for the first time.
When Isaac was just six weeks old, I became the story no infertile woman planning to adopt wants to hear. I was eight weeks pregnant with no infertility treatments at all.
On January 31, 2009, Elijah Luke joined the world, just eight and a half months after his big brother.
Now a mom of an adopted and biological son, I feel compelled to tell my story to anyone who wants to hear it. Not the story of my boys. But the story of adoption. I feel compelled to answer the question every person considering adoption worries about. Will I be able to love this child as much as a biological child?
I’m here to promise you that yes, you can and yes, you will.
I write this for those of you contemplating adoption. Maybe you are contemplating because you cannot have your own children, like me and John. Maybe you are contemplating because you feel your own biological family is complete and you’d like to add to it. Whatever the reason, if you have contemplated adoption, you have probably asked yourself whether you can do this. Will it feel the same? Will you bond the same?
I remember asking my husband this question before Isaac joined our family. My husband laughed and said, “Wendi, look how much you love your dog, and he is not even a human being!”
My two children have turned into four children–two boys and two girls–all of whom occupy a different piece of my heart in a different way. No more or no less.
I look at my children now, three from my body and one from the body of a young woman I love immensely, and I can tell you with complete confidence that I love these children as equally as ever.
Meeting Isaac is a moment I will never forget. It was surreal to see this little person that someone was giving to us to raise and parent and love forever. And meeting each of my biological children as they entered the world was an event that occupies a special place in my heart as well.
I got a phone call from Isaac’s doctor’s office yesterday. They called and said, “We’d like to speak to the guardian of Isaac John Kitsteiner.” I replied in the affirmative by saying, “I’m Isaac’s Mom.” Isaac’s Mom! That’s me! He’s my little boy. He has a birth family that loves him immensely, but I am the one in charge of him. I am the one following him on every step of this awesome journey. The fact that I got to “know” him after he emerged in the world instead of before really means so very little to me.
Today, Elijah will tell you that his big brother Isaac was adopted twice: once by us and once by God. Ephesians 1:5 tells us God decided to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. The New Living Translation even goes so far as to say, “This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”
I couldn’t say it better myself.
Isaac likes to remind us that he has a lot in common with Superman and Kung Fu Panda. And Jesus. And Moses.
They are all adopted.
Just as we are adopted children of our Heavenly Father.
Wendi Kitsteiner is a former city girl now living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee with her husband and four young children. She is passionate about the causes of infertility, adoption, and keeping it real as a mom. You can follow her at flakymn.blogspot.com or becauseofisaac.org.
Photograph © Wendi Kitsteiner, used with permission