An Adoption Story: Life Filled with Surprises

In recognition of National Adoption Awareness Month this November, local Richmond mom Lori Sturtevant shares her beautiful adoption story. We are honored to feature her first guest post on Richmondmom.com.

Sturtevant Family Photo
Sturtevant Family Photo

As I look around my family room, I see trucks and blocks scattered across the floor, a little pink and white baby blanket on the sofa, an empty bottle and goldfish crumbs on the coffee table.  While this scene might be typical of any family with young children, it still amazes me sometimes that I am a mother. Sixteen years ago I never would have imagined that this would be me.

When I was 16, sitting in a doctor’s office with my parents at my side, I was told that I would never be able to have children.  As someone who has always loved kids and dreamed of one day becoming a teacher, wife and mother, it was difficult to process this news.  I was in shock.  I remember feeling a lump in my throat and seeing tears in my mom and dad’s eyes.

Thankfully, since I learned this when I was young, I’ve had more than a decade to grieve and eventually accept this reality.  I am grateful for my deep faith in God and his ultimate plan for my life so with that, along with the support of my family and now husband, Glen, I knew everything was going to be okay.

When Glen and I were dating and began to have more serious conversations about marriage and children, he didn’t even hesitate about what we would do.  Adoption would be how we’d build our family.  And that’s just what we did.

We didn’t know much about the process except that it took a long time and there was lots of paperwork.  We jumped right in and began working with a domestic adoption agency shortly after we were married in 2004.  After almost three agonizing years of waiting we finally got “the call”!  A birth mother wanted to meet us.  It was an amazing experience and we felt like all of our dreams had come true! In June 2008, this courageous woman lovingly placed a beautiful baby boy into our arms.  Finally! We were parents!

I wish I could say that our first adoption story continued to move along smoothly and beautifully, but unfortunately things did not turn out that way.  We learned the birth father wanted custody of the baby.  We were all devastated, (including the birth mother) and didn’t understand how things could go from being so happy and exciting to so devastating in a matter of a few days.

We loved and cared for our precious little boy for four amazing months and then had to kiss him goodbye, hand him back to his birth mother and drive home alone, but together.  The baby I had dreamed about and prayed for all those years was gone, just like that.  My arms felt heavy from not having him in them and I would turn my head to look for him and would realize that he wasn’t there anymore.  I closed the door to his little nursery and it took me a while before I could open the door again.  It was such a difficult time and we grieved our loss like a death in the family.

adoptionOur hearts were broken and the only thing we knew to do was pray for healing and guidance.  Our experience taught us that we absolutely loved being parents and that each and every child was a precious gift.  We also realized that there were more children that were in need of loving parents, so all we could do was jump back in.  After some time, we were ready to pursue adoption again.

The amazing thing about adoption is that in an instant, one telephone call can completely change the course of your life.  Almost a year later, one beautiful autumn afternoon, our telephone rang.  The complete and total joy we felt when we learned that we would be parents again was pretty much indescribable.  We had just two days to prepare for our son Ethan’s arrival and those days were filled with joy, love and several shopping sprees to Babies R Us!

Our adorable little bundle was lovingly placed into our arms forever in November 2009.   It was the happiest day of our lives!  Ethan’s adoption couldn’t have gone more smoothly and we were so grateful.

Two years later, we hoped and prayed for a sibling for Ethan and we decided to pursue adoption again.  We thought we’d be waiting again for a very long time, but less than a year later the phone rang.  Again it was a beautiful, sunny day and I remember dropping down onto our kitchen counter sobbing with joy-filled tears at the news.  I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live.  Three days later, our little bundle, Reed, was placed into our arms and came home.  We felt blessed beyond belief.

Little did we know, but adoption can even surprise you when you least expect it.  A friend runs a small adoption ministry and this past spring, she was working with a birthmother in search of an adoptive family for her baby.  My friend thought of us, but we tried not to get our hopes up too high.  In a way that only God can orchestrate, the details of our daughter’s private adoption couldn’t have worked out more beautifully (including us pulling an all-nighter, jumping onto a plane and arriving at the hospital with just 30 minutes to spare before the baby’s arrival!).  Our precious baby girl, Emily, is 5 months now and has brought even more love and smiles to our growing family.  And, the boys just adore their little baby sister.

Adoption has taught me so much over the years.  Even though life doesn’t always go as planned, one of the greatest life lessons I’ve learned is that we should approach every situation before us with great love.  While it’s easy to get caught up in the difficult moments of motherhood and complain about all the things that don’t go our way in daily life, I’ve learned to try to approach all things I do with a joyful, thankful heart.  This approach has left me feeling so blessed and grateful for the journey I’ve traveled, the beautiful family and friends that surround me and even all those toys and crumbs that are scattered around our family room.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lori Sturtevant is an adoptive mom of three precious children, ages 4, 1, and 5 months.  She lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, Glen, and enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, traveling and taking lots of pictures.  She is a full-time stay-at-home mom, a part-time reading instructor and is passionate about reading education and adoption.