When Love Takes You Home ~ creating a family through domestic adoption

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I first met Deborah Titus, on the evening I brought her family a meal. They had just come home with their 5th child, their 5th domestic adoption. We attend the same church, but had only met briefly once before. I remember when I got in my car and left, my heart was so full from just talking with her on the sidewalk. I was inspired by her then, and after sharing this post on my blog, I’m more inspired by she and her family, than ever. Their story is one of trusting God, one step at a time, while He works to give you the desires of your heart.

Our first son Jacob was born almost 15 years ago. It was a very intense time for us as I had just gotten out of the hospital after a very bad experience with in-vitro fertilization and something called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. I had been very sick and so saddened to not be pregnant. My mother-in-law called to tell me about a baby who had been born to the niece of a friend’s friend. I pretty much blew her off as she was always telling me about babies who were “available” to be adopted but they never were actually available. However, we decided to go to Atlanta for Thanksgiving and were very surprised to get a phone call from that birth mom asking to meet us in person. We drove to Tennessee to meet her and as soon as we walked in the house, she handed us this beautiful baby and said she had decided that we were the parents. We were thrilled but in a bit of shock, we had no idea how to parent a baby.

We headed for Florida with our baby facing forward in the car seat because we didn’t know any better! We expedited our home study with an adoption agency and flew the birth mom to Florida to sign the papers. We did the first home study visit the day we came home from Tennessee. While we were meeting with the adoption counselor at a restaurant, my mom and some friends set up a crib and put out some baby things and made us look as if we were ready to parent. It was a bit of shock when we came home and had a crib up and ready to go. We tried to not act surprised so the counselor wouldn’t catch on that it had all been done on the fly. Our son was such a gift and we enjoyed every moment of having a baby. We were all set to finalize his adoption and the night before the hearing, we received a phone call saying that it was cancelled because our son’s birthfather showed up and stated that he wanted to fight for our son. I will never forget that moment and how it felt that the bottom was dropping out of my life again. The next day we met with another attorney who explained to us that birthparents have very strong rights and that we were in for a fight. I remember looking out the window and asking God, “What in the world are You doing?”. Here I had almost died from in-vitro, and I was given this beautiful baby and now I might lose him to a birthfather who really didn’t want to parent him but didn’t want anybody else to either. Thank God the birthfather quickly changed his mind once he realized there was more to it than simply saying he wanted the baby and we were able to officially finalize a few months later. Our son Jacob is now 15.

I remember when we first struggled with infertility, I would tell my friends that I wasn’t too sure how much treatment I would pursue because I was just fine with adopting. Several times they would encourage me to continue with infertility treatments because “You just never know what you are going to get when you adopt”.

I think back on those comments now and I laugh as I look at my beautiful son who is a star quarterback on his football team, a straight A student in all honors and AP classes, a kid who loves to be at church, and who is just a joy to be around and I think, “Yep, you never know what you are going to get!”

With Jacob we have also had the privilege of getting to know some of his biological family and he has been able to develop a relationship with his biological grandmother and other relatives. Jacob has even been to family reunions with his biological family. Again, I remember friends telling me that allowing the biological family into his life would confuse him but I felt that in his case, it was a good thing and I believe that having so many of those adoption questions answered by a real biological family has been very important to Jacob and it’s a big part of why he is so happy and confident.

I have learned that it is much more important to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit guide us through adoption related parenting questions than to listen to “conventional advice”.

I have a cousin who networks with a lot of adoption agencies and she knew that we wanted to adopt again. She called me when she heard of a girl who was pregnant with a baby boy. We had the joy of going to Texas and actually being present when our second son Isaac was born. Although we had a little more notice that he was coming, we still had our own adoption trauma as the night before he was born his birthmom informed us that she wasn’t sure who his birthfather was. The birthfather consent that I was so happy to have was virtually irrelevant. Part of us wanted to pack up and head back to Florida rather than face another birthfather fight but we knew that this birth mom did not have a backup plan and she didn’t have any way to parent this baby. I remember as we prayed through this situation, God gave me a Ginny Owens song “If You Want Me To

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reasons why you brought me here.
But just because you love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

It felt as if God was asking us to head into the unknown again and so we did. The birthfather never ended up being an issue but the adoption agency did. When our Isaac was about 3 months old, I was notified by the adoption attorney that the adoption agency handling the adoption had gone out of business and they had not filed the papers to terminate the parental rights and the birth mom had changed her mind. I could not believe that we were going through something like this again but fortunately, the attorney was able to get the papers signed and our Isaac’s adoption was finalized a couple months later.

Isaac is going to be 12 next week and he is a great kid. He is one of the most gifted athletes we have ever seen. He struggles with ADHD and Gary and I have learned a ton about how wonderful ADD meds can be as well as the challenges of medicating a child with ADD. I must say that I have grown more through the challenges Isaac has brought me than I have with any other experiences in my life and I am so grateful for him.

When Isaac was 1 and Jacob was 4, I received a call from my cousin asking if we would be interested in adopting baby girl twins who had been born at 28 weeks. I immediately said yes and then informed Gary that having girl twins had always been my dream. We were on an airplane to Texas the very next day and came home with our little girls two weeks later. We had gone from a family of 4 to a family of 6 overnight and without any advance notice. We were blessed by lots of family and friends and nannies during that very intense time of life but to be honest, it’s all a blur. I remember thinking that if I could just get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep I could function. Gary and I both developed a very strong addiction to Starbucks as we parented 4 children under the age of 4. My girls are now 10 and they are the most wonderful little girls in the world.

My husband and I were at a place where life was starting to seem “easy” but I still felt that God had more for us. God was starting to open my eyes to the needs in foster care and the fact that so many little black boys were growing up without a family and without the same opportunities that my kids took for granted.

I happened to tell my cousin that “someday” I wanted to adopt black boys so that they could grow up in a family and have all the advantages our other kids had. Of course she took “someday” to mean today and she made a profile for me and sent it to an adoption agency. My husband and I had wanted to take the kids somewhere for spring break and we debated about going to the mountains as we had done before but I really wanted to go to the Keys since we had never gone there. The day before we were leaving, we received a call from an adoption attorney and she said that she had received a profile from us and that a birth mom had selected us. I told her that was nice but that I really only wanted to adopt a little black boy. She told me that I was in luck because that’s exactly who he was. She was meeting with the birth mom in Miami the next day to sign the papers and it just happened that we were going through Miami the next day on our way to the Keys.

We met our son and his birth mom at a Chick-Fil-A in Miami. (Isaac told the neighbors we adopted a kid from Chick-Fil-A). I’ll never forget looking at his little face as he sat there with his birth mom watching us walk in knowing that we were likely going to be his new family. I hope that someday he can tell me what that felt like. His birth mom explained to us that she had an 8th grade education and because she wanted more for her son she was choosing adoption. We stopped back in Miami on our way home from the Keys and we picked up our newest Titus and brought him home.

Elijah James became an official Titus this Sept. 11th but again, there was trauma in the process. For some reason, there was a delay in getting his birth mom to sign away her rights. When the time finally came, she had some concerns that she would never see him again even though we had told her that we wanted an open adoption. After she signed, she had 48 hours to change her mind and she did. Our attorney received notice in the mail that she had changed her mind. By this point, our son was loving life as a Titus and was afraid to even to talk to his birth family out of fear that they would make him go back so I informed our attorney that the birth mom would have to be the one to break the news to this precious child. The next day, Gary and I drove with our precious child to Miami. We arrived in the dark and the rain and were told to go to his birth mom’s apartment which was in a very dangerous part of town. I remember feeling a few moments of panic but we had a whole team of friends and family praying, Gary and I both felt God’s presence. We also felt the spiritual battle for this child. We went to the apartment and just seeing us was enough to reassure the birth mom that we were serious about an open adoption and so she signed the papers and we were good. The next day was Mother’s Day and we asked the birth mom if she would like to go to lunch and she readily agreed. We asked where they would like to go since there were cousins and an aunt and grandmother.

They picked Hooters. I thought they were kidding but turns out, they weren’t and we spent Mother’s Day at Hooters! I took a picture and sent it to my attorney and said that we were “redefining Mother’s Day at Hooters”.

I have learned so much in the few months that I have been the mom to a black child. Our friends and family have been so supportive and welcoming of Elijah. I love to watch Elijah with his friends as I can honestly tell that the color of his skin means absolutely nothing to them.

Our Elijah James is now blossoming every day. He came as a little boy who was afraid of everything including going outside to play. He didn’t know how to swing or swim or even play tag. He is now a star student in Kindergarten and a very gifted basketball player who is already being recruited by YMCA coaches for their teams because they can tell he is good. This child is absolutely precious with a kind heart and a very gentle spirit and we feel very blessed.

Comments

  1. I have known Debbie since we were roommates together in college. We clicked as soon as we were thrown together into a room with 2 other hormonal young ladies. She has been one of the most fun, delightful, accepting humans I have ever known. She and Gary certainly have proven that a family can be made any way God choses for us. I am soooo proud of her.

  2. I love this Titus family, they have helped my heart to heal from the grief of being a birthmother and longing for the child that I knew I could not give a good chance at life. I lost my birth daughter to a tragic death before having an opportunity to know her, in her adult life. But with the strength of God my birth daughter did the most special thing that a birthmother can do for their child and give her own son a wonderful chance at life with a family that fully trusts in God. This Titus family has shown me that my decision I made 33 years ago was the best thing I could do for my daughter. I truly understand that God has been in complete control even when we are in our lowest point of life and can make you whole again. Thank you for providing a wonderful loving home for all of your children we need more Godly parents like you two.

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