Posted November 08, 2021 by Erin Deegan, Client of Adoption Services
When I had first met the Milks', I had already interviewed a lot of families. My social worker, Ellen (who is the absolute best), was determined to find the right fit for me. She could tell that I wasn't really clicking with anyone. When I first started the process, my thought was to give the gift of a child to a family who has not yet had a child. Ellen introduced me to lovely couples hoping it was their chance to adopt, but my heart was not with them. Some families weren't sure how they felt about open adoptions, and I wasn't ready to say goodbye forever to the human I was creating. After some conversations with Ellen, she turns to me and says: "There is this family who has adopted with us a few years ago, and I really think you would get along with the mom." I agreed to meet with them, and I am oh so happy that I did.
It was a super snowy day when we met at the Catholic Charities office in Parma. From the second they walked in, we connected. Angie and I just sat at the edge of the couches leaning in towards each other, laughing. Jim had this dry, sarcastic humor that just fit right into mine. They immediately felt like family. They talked about how they wanted me to be a part of this baby boy's life in just about every aspect. They even had a term that they used when describing their birth mothers: "Tummy Mommy." Having that openness right out of the gate really helped with my decision. I wanted him to grow up knowing just how much I love him and how I only wanted the absolute best for him, while also being there for him.
Erin and Angie
After that meeting, I knew in my heart they were the ones to raise and love on this little man. I was so excited to tell them! I went to the Hallmark store and found the cutest frame for one of my ultrasound pictures. I wrapped it up in a little gift bag and was ready to go. I texted Ellen and told her about my decision, and she was thrilled! I told her I wanted to tell them at their house and that I had a gift for them. She then texted me over their address, and I plugged it into my maps. I was in shock. I said, "Ellen, there is no way this is where they live." THEY WERE 5 MINUTES FROM ME! A hop, skip, and a jump! I knew we went to the same church, St. Collette, we had talked about that on our first meeting, but I didn't think they lived that close! It was amazing!!
Ellen met me over there, and we walked in. Angie was wearing butterfly wings with her daughter, Lidia, and Jim was laughing along. It was the cutest picture of a family just bonding and enjoying life. I handed Ang the gift bag, she opened it, and we all cried. From then on, I had gained a new family. They invited me over every Sunday for family dinners. At one point, we were on the couch, and Lidia reached over and put her hand on my belly. She had already felt a connection to her baby brother.
When it came time for the birth of this beautiful baby boy, I invited Angie to be a part of my birthing team. I wanted her to be included in everything, just like she was including me in everything. It really takes a village, and we were now a part of each others. In the days that followed, we really stumped people in the hospital. They graciously gave Angie and Jim a room down the hall from me so that we could all bond with Andy. We loved the idea of breaking the barriers and helping people understand that there is more than what meets the eye when it comes to adoption. It was truly a great experience.
Andy is now six years old and fully embraces me as his Tummy Mommy; he even talks about me at school! He is growing up to be an amazingly charismatic, charming, outgoing, smart little human. That is because of Jim and Angie and their families. They shape their children's minds to fully understand that love is all around them and that love comes in many different ways from different people. They completely adopted my family and me along with that precious child. They have included us in every single aspect of their lives. From family parties to euchre nights to Mario Party shenanigans, we now have a bond that can only be described as family.