I was raised in Dundee, Scotland in a large family and as such I have always loved children. It wasn't a surprise to family and friends that I became a nursery nurse and filled my days caring for little children. I loved my job! My greatest desire of all was to be a mum: I dreamed of being pregnant and taking care of a big family.
I met Mark in a whirlwind romance and found myself married and living in Arizona, USA. We both wanted children immediately and expected that pregnancy would come easily (as it had with all of our brothers and sisters) but that was not the case for us. With every negative test I fell further and further into depression. Every monthly cycle was a cruel reminder of my helpless reality.
The doctor told us that natural conception would almost be impossible for us. We were devastated but quickly decided that adoption would be the answer for our family and as such we focused all of our energy into the vigorous adoption paperwork and starting to prepare our home for our new baby.
We finally got "the call" that we had been chosen by a birthmother in Iowa. We were to fly out and meet her immediately! We could not believe that this was finally happening - we were going to be parents! I can remember every single detail of that morning.
We raced frantically to the hospital and entered into the birthmother's room. I reverently sat on the end of her bed as she handed me the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen. He was swaddled tightly in his blanket and I held him with shaky arms, tears pouring down my face as I muttered "thank you" over and over again. I lifted his little hat and marveled at his soft, silky, black hair, and stroked his warm rosy cheeks. He was perfect. I was in awe. We named him Jacob.
In Iowa the adoption laws requires that the birthmother relinquish her rights 72 hours after birth and so the hospital kindly gave us a little room where we could tend to Jacob until he could be released to us. We sat hour after hour rocking him, feeding him, and falling desperately in love with our son. We talked about all the things we planned to do as a family of three! Life was perfect. Nothing could have prepared us for the news that the birthmother had changed her mind, that she had decided against adoption and we were no longer allowed access to Jacob. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. This must be a mistake! But it was true. He was removed and placed into foster care. We didn't get to say goodbye. We headed back to Arizona with an empty car seat and shattered hearts. I fell into a deep and dark depression. I could not imagine living a life without children.
We came to the realisation that for us to ever have the opportunity to be parents we were going to have to run the risk of being hurt again. We were going to have to trust that God had a plan for our family. So we patched up our wounded hearts, put on a brave face and put our names on the adoption registry again. Very quickly we were matched and were able to bring home our beautiful little Kyle. Seeing how painful it was for his birth mother to say goodbye gave me some insight into the depth of love that she had and the sacrifices that she was making for his welfare. Our spirits connected in mutual love for this tiny little boy who had unwittingly united two strangers, two mothers who both loved him with every fibre of their being.
Being a mummy to Kyle brought satisfaction and completion to my life unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I longed for Kyle to have a sibling but was not ready to enter the emotional roller coaster that adoption brings. We decided to go down the fertility route this time and on our very first attempt we successfully conceived! Our second son Brody came into the world and we were elated!
A couple of years later I gave birth to Owen and life was perfect. I finally had the little family I had always dreamed of. But God was not finished blessing us. Ava Grace was born and placed with us through the love of her beautiful birth mother and we were overjoyed. Complete. Or so we thought!
We decided that since we had been given so much we wanted to give back by helping children through the foster care program. In Arizona there are currently 17,000 children in foster care and there is a shortage of homes in which to place them. We decided to open up our home and our hearts to the children that needed us most.
Two hours after we were certified to foster we received our first call. Two little girls came into our home physically bruised and emotionally broken. We knew instantly that we were doing the right thing. Becoming a foster parent has been the hardest, yet most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life! Welcoming these little children into our hearts, not knowing what tomorrow will bring or when you will have to say goodbye, it is the most vulnerable experience of my life. But we do it because these children deserve a safe home and a family who will love them without reserve.
We quickly realised that it was US once again who were being blessed and last year we were able to adopt our sweet little foster baby Lucia. Biological sisters Chloe and Milly are currently moving through the adoption process and that will most likely be finalised this year. Wow! Seven kids!!! How did this happen??? We are so grateful and honoured to be trusted with these precious lives.
And then, this past Christmas, I received a phone call from child protective services informing me that our daughter Lucia has a baby sister and we were asked if we would be willing to be her adoptive placement. We agreed without hesitation and were able to bring home yet another baby, our little festive surprise, Penelope.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't marvel at my role as mother. It is exhausting and overwhelming at times but it is a privilege that I do not and never will take for granted. I thank God everyday for my 8 beautiful little gifts and for their unique and wonderful stories that brought them to me.