After years of fertility challenges and painful loss, Eric and Maribeth decided to explore what God might want for them through adoption. A visit to Bethany gave them hope. “Let’s do this as soon as we can!” they said.
After deciding that domestic infant adoption was probably the best for their family, they completed their paperwork and Home Study, and by the end of July, they were a waiting family.
“I remember looking at Bethany’s waiting families a couple of years before and thinking, ‘I could never do this,’” Maribeth shared. But with Bethany’s support, the experience was not as stressful as they had feared. Still, they remained at least somewhat concerned about the possibility of an open adoption. “We were kind of scared of it,” Eric said, “but once we knew more about it, we actually started hoping for an open adoption.”
In September, they got a call that an expectant mother, Andrea, had seen their profile and was interested. They learned that Andrea, too, had been fearful of having an ongoing relationship with her baby and adoptive parents, but once she met Eric and Maribeth, she became more comfortable with the idea.
“The day we met Andrea in October was the most nerve-racking day of my life,” Eric admitted. “But when she walked in, we all just clicked.” Andrea also told them she was having a girl, and that made the couple excited. Soon Andrea invited Maribeth to go along on doctor’s visits, and when little Hazel was born, she invited Maribeth to attend the birth. “I was completely thrilled, honored, and privileged to be there,” Maribeth shared. “It was absolutely wonderful, and I am very thankful to Andrea for that experience.”
Eric and Maribeth keep in contact with Andrea, who has two older children. They all meet about once a month, in the couple’s home or somewhere like a park. “We said to Andrea all along that this was a whole new experience for us all, unchartered territory, and that we would work it out together,” Maribeth said. And that is what they have done.
Some people have asked them how an open adoption can work. Maribeth shares, “This can be the most misunderstood part of an adoption. It takes some education for even friends and family. But we enjoy this relationship. Andrea and her family are extended family now. There are two sets of people who love this wonderful little person. Why wouldn’t you want more people to love her? And one thing we learned through Bethany is that fear of the unknown is often unfounded.”
Adoption can have its challenges, but Eric and Maribeth feel blessed to have had a wonderful experience. They have loved every moment of being parents to Hazel, and say they still have to pinch themselves that they get to have this little girl in their lives. In fact, they hope to adopt through Bethany again. “One of the things we really appreciate is their services to birthparents,” Eric said. “Andrea was the first one to love our child. What she did was a great sacrifice, and probably the greatest gift anyone has ever given us. Worries are real when you enter into this process, but it’s all about the child and what’s best for that child. “
“Birthparents deserve the utmost respect,” Maribeth added. “And adoption isn’t one event, a court date. It’s a lifetime event for everyone—the birthparents, adoptive parents, and child. And Bethany is there whenever I need them or have questions.”
“Adoption may not be the most traditional way to build a family,” she went on, “but you will love this child. I can’t imagine loving Hazel more any other way.”