As an adoptive mom, I know first-hand that adoption can be beautiful. It’s what made me a mom. If it weren’t for adoption, I would not have my children. But I also know that adoption has an ugly side. A painful side. I watched a young mom say good-bye to her daughter. And then as she was wheeled out of the hospital without her baby, I heard the screams. I saw her shaking and crying. Not just crying, but bawling. So many raw emotions. Then she went numb. A shell of who she was. Forever changed. I brought home babies who lost everything they knew. I was their mom and I loved them so much, but I was a stranger to them.

Adoption is often misunderstood. Unless adoption has been a part of your life, it’s difficult to really understand. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done but also one of the hardest.

When my husband and I started this journey, I didn’t get it. I had so much learning to do. And over the last 8 years, I’ve learned a lot. And for the sake of my children, I will continue to learn.

We are the proud parents of 3 kids that came to us via domestic infant adoption. We have open adoptions with two of our kids’ first parents. It’s not weird; it’s our normal.

We started the adoption process for the first time in June of 2008. We were excited, nervous and couldn’t wait to be parents. And we had no idea where the journey was going to take us. After months of paperwork, background checks and a homestudy we were officially a waiting family. There were ups and downs and 9 months to the day when we first contacted our adoption agency we got the call that would change us forever. There was a baby boy who was already born and he was going to be our son! Two days later, when he was just 4 days old, we drove to the adoption agency to meet our son for the very first time.

We knew our family wasn’t done growing yet so we eventually started the process for a second time. Our daughter was born out of state. Because of Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) laws, we were there for almost 6 weeks before we were able to bring home our first daughter. During that time she was not legally our daughter, but we didn’t care. We loved her like she was going to be ours because that’s what she deserved- to be loved completely and unconditionally. 

We have open adoptions with both of their birth families. We have the most contact with our son’s birth dad. He comes to our house. He comes to our son’s games and birthday parties. We don’t get to see our daughter’s birth family as often because they are in a different state from us, but we still keep the lines of communication open and visit when we can. They truly are like family to us. Like all relationships, it took time and work, but I’m so thankful that my kids know where they came from.

We were content with our family of four. But it still felt like someone was missing so we decided to contact our adoption agency again and start the adoption process for the 3rd time. We weren’t sure if we would get chosen again. We had a son and a daughter. The “perfect” family. But we wanted to at least try again and I prepared myself for a long wait knowing we might never bring home another baby. Surprisingly, this was our quickest adoption. We hadn’t been waiting long at all when we got the call about a baby girl who was already born and would be discharged from the hospital the very next day. It was a crazy 24 hours and the next thing I knew, my husband and I were walking out the hospital with a tiny baby girl.

But there’s so much more to adoption then bringing home babies. Adoption can be beautiful and as an adoptive mom, I see that side often. I’m a mom because of adoption. But it also means, that if I’m raising these kids as my own; someone else isn’t. That breaks my heart. It saddens me that my kids lost everything they knew as babies. I was a stranger to them at first. Mine wasn’t the womb they grew in. My voice wasn’t the one they heard. I wasn’t there for their first breath. I wasn’t the one who wiped away their first tears or the one who loved them first. But despite those things, I’m still very much their mom. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have another mom. I’m happy to share that title with the women who gave my kids life. Each of those women who carried our kids for 9 months, love their child. They think about them every day. It was not easy for them to decide on adoption. But it was the best they thought they could do for them given their circumstances.

When people hear our story, it’s often followed by praises about what an amazing family we are and how lucky our kids are. In reality, we are the lucky ones. And yes, I think we’re a pretty amazing family but so is yours. It doesn’t matter that our kids weren’t born to us. We love them just the same. So often I hear that I’m a hero for saving my kids. I’m not and they didn’t need saving. They would have been okay. They were loved and while love isn’t always enough, they would have been just fine. Adoption can be beautiful, but it’s also hard, emotional, and full of unknowns and so much heartbreak. I don’t always understand life and the way things work out. But I’m thankful every day that I get to be mom to my kids. Even more thankful that they get to be brother and sisters.

Alissa Kay

Alissa was born and raised in the Midwest and currently calls Wisconsin home. She's happily married to her college sweetheart and she's living out her dreams of being a stay-at-home mom. Although, let's be real, she's hardly ever home. She's the mom to 3 kids who all came to her via adoption. A boy (8) and 2 girls (6 and almost 4!). The kids keep her plenty busy, but when she has free time she enjoys a night out with friends or curling up with a good book.