There’s Been a Change of Plan

The hospital room felt unusually cold and impersonal. The dark cloud that now settled over us at the end of the maternity wing had all but extinguished the fire of excitement we felt earlier in the day.

As my wife and I sat together in stunned silence, I thought about the finished nursery that awaited us back at home. Heidi and I had put the final touches on it only a few days ago in eager anticipation of our long-awaited baby boy. I envisioned the crib sitting against the far wall decorated with new blue and brown sheets and plush, comfy blankets. I could hear the mobile softly playing its lullaby as the matching blue and brown stars danced slowly in circles. The changing table and dresser sat against the opposite wall filled with new clothes, toys, and diapers that our friends and family gave us as shower gifts.

When I considered the possibility that the two of us may be returning home to an empty nursery, a lump began to form in my throat.

Heidi just stared out the window, her face expressionless. The emotional capital we had spent throughout this process seemingly rendered both of us unable to cry.

Like many other couples, Heidi and I started our marriage with the ideal plan for having children. We knew when we wanted to start trying, how many we wanted, how far apart we wanted them, and what we would call them once we had them. We wistfully imagined having the perfect mix of boys and girls and decided it would be best to try and avoid having any two children in diapers at the same time. By our standards, we had the perfect family plan in place.

But God had a different plan.

As a young and healthy married couple, the thought of having to fight a battle against infertility was one of the furthest things from our minds. Somewhere in the midst of five years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive children (and all the medication, anticipation, and frustration that goes along with infertility), we had come to realize that we were a bit naïve to think that we really had control over our family plan.

Prayer quickly became a regular hallmark in our struggle to start a family. Eventually, we realized that the only thing we could realistically control is whether or not we put our trust completely in God and accept the fact the His plan is more perfect than ours. We decided that we would be patient and wait for God’s timing – and we definitely waited.

Back in the hospital room, I tried to ignore the growing sense of despair that I felt welling up inside me. A few hours earlier we were certain that our thousands of prayers had been answered, but now we were forced to confront the unsettling possibility that we may lose the very child who we were sure was our long-awaited answer.

I tried my best to stay positive and I kept reminding Heidi that we put this entire situation in God’s hands long ago and that he wasn’t going to bring us this far just to take everything away.

Just then, a woman walked through the door with a bleak look on her face and gave us the news we had been dreading.

“There’s been a change of plan…”

Six Weeks Earlier

My wife and I were living life just like any other couple struggling through infertility. We had already bounced back and forth between medical tests, and pinpointed the cause — my inability to create properly-formed sperm. Testosterone therapy had actually created more problems, and we were now forced to consider other options. IVF and IUI were not feasible because I had 0% viable sperm, and we were not comfortable with the idea of using a sperm donor. Adoption seemed to be our best option.

Strangely, within a few days of deciding to look into adoption, we got a call from my dad — the pastor of a church in Salt Lake City, Utah. He told us that he got a phone call from a local lawyer asking him if he knew of any couples looking to be a part of a private adoption. They had a 17 year old girl coming in a few days to look over portfolios and choose a family. In over 25 years of being a pastor, he never had a call like that. We hadn’t told anyone of our decision to begin the adoption process, so when my dad called he had no idea how we’d respond.

The timing was too perfect; we couldn’t pass it up.

24 hours later, we overnighted a Pinterest-worthy portfolio that Heidi and her sister whipped up in record time. 48 hours later, we got a call that the birth mom would like to meet us. Within a week, we were flying to Utah to meet a girl who very well could end up being an answer to our thousands of prayers.

The meeting went well and she seemed to really click with us. She said that she was also meeting with a couple that she knew from church, but that she really thought we were the ones she was going to pick. We were elated. Finally, it seemed that our struggling had come to an end.

Shortly after we returned home, Heidi’s grandfather died and she flew to Pennsylvania with her family to attend the funeral. While they were gone, I received a call from the birth mom’s adoption advocate. This was it — the call we had been waiting for. I was excited as I answered the phone.

“Hi Michael, this is Kelly, Natalie’s adoption advocate. She asked me to call and let you know that she decided to adopt her baby out to another couple. I’m sorry.”

I was floored. Even though we knew that this was a possibility, we really had the sense that everything was happening so perfectly, and that this baby was meant for us. We had been patient. We had paid our dues. This was supposed to be our time.

I thanked Kelly for calling and hung up the phone with a heavy sigh. Now I had to break the news to Heidi — two thousand miles away at her grandfather’s funeral.

That was a tough call to make.

A day later, Heidi was back home and we were back to square one on our family-planning journey. Our hearts were heavy with disappointment. We talked about how it seemed clear that adoption would prove to be every bit the roller coaster ride that infertility had been. One thing was for certain: we had learned a poignant lesson on guarding our hearts.

A day or two after our “guarded hearts” conversation, Heidi got a text message from Natalie asking if she could call us. We said yes. When she called, she explained that she hadn’t been able to sleep since making her decision and told us that the only reason she picked the other couple was that they pressured her and she caved. She knew she had to follow her heart, and she was calling to set things straight.

“I want you two to be the ones who adopt my baby,” she said.

Heidi and I just looked at each other, dumbfounded. The emotional roller coaster had pulled back into the loading station, and we were taking our place in the front seats.

Sunday, June 1

“There’s been a change of plan…”

The baby had been born earlier that afternoon and Heidi and I had spent about 15 minutes holding him before they took him into the nursery to warm up under an infant heating lamp. Natalie seemed comfortable with us being there and was very accommodating with allowing us into her room to meet the baby, but we had already encountered a few roadblocks.

Originally, we were supposed to get the second medical bracelet that allowed us access to the nursery, but Natalie’s mom, who had nothing to do with her during the pregnancy, had suddenly shown up and somehow convinced Natalie to give the bracelet to her instead. Fortunately, the nursing staff was aware of the subterfuge by the magically-appearing birth mom’s mom and made an exception for us (with Natalie’s consent, of course).

We allowed Natalie’s mom to have her time with the baby in the nursery, but eventually Natalie’s dad (who was her sole support during the pregnancy and who was also an advocate of adoption) talked his ex wife into leaving the nursery so that we could have some time of our own.


That time was particularly special for Heidi and me. For about an hour, we had the chance to hold him, give him his first bath, and I even fed him his first bottle. We took pictures. We marveled at his tiny toes, and smiled as he clutched my finger in his little hand. We held him up proudly to the nursery window so that my parents could see their first grandbaby. For that hour, we were supremely happy. Then they took the baby back to Natalie’s room.


Later that afternoon, when Kelly told us about the change of plan, we knew it wasn’t good news for us.

“Natalie wants you to know that she is still 100% confident in this adoption,” Kelly explained, “but she wanted me to ask you if you would go home now and let her have one night with him instead of him staying with you in the nursery like we originally planned. Then, tomorrow morning you can come back and she’ll sign the adoption papers.”

We both got the knot-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling as we once again began experiencing the familiar pangs of fleeting hopes. We didn’t like this change of plan one bit, but what could we do? This was still her baby. If we wanted any chance of adopting this child, we needed to follow Natalie’s lead. So we did.


Continue reading Part II of “There’s Been a Change of Plan”

Monday, June 2

The next day, we arrived at the hospital around 8:00 in the morning. While it was difficult to have to leave him overnight, we felt good about allowing Natalie to have the time she needed with the baby. Giving a child up for adoption is such a huge sacrifice for a birth mother; the least we could do is be sensitive to Natalie’s separation process.


The second day was similar to the first. We spent a few hours in the nursery and in Natalie’s room just talking and holding the baby. My mom also came with us and got to hold him for the first time. When the hospital photographer came in to take his first pictures, she asked Natalie what sort of photos she preferred. Natalie just pointed to us and said, “Ask them, they are his parents.” Things seemed to be going well, and we were confident that Natalie was going to sign the adoption papers that afternoon as planned.


But we were blissfully unaware of the storm clouds that were beginning to gather again.

Natalie’s mother was always around, but would never talk to us or even stay in the hospital room when we were there. Kelly told us later that the mom had actually been sowing some seeds of uncertainty in Natalie’s decision to adopt. She would say encouraging things like, “I’ll help you raise this baby. We can do it together,” or she would try to make her second guess our fitness as parents by saying things like, “How do you know that they won’t abuse this baby?”

After Heidi and I returned from lunch, we were asked to wait in the waiting room while Natalie and her family said their goodbyes and she signed the adoption papers. After waiting for about an hour, Kelly entered the room with the same uneasy look she had about 24 hours earlier.

“Ok guys, there’s been another change of plan,” she started.

We stared at her in disbelief.

“Since she won’t be discharged until tomorrow morning, Natalie would like to keep him for one last night, and then you can meet us here tomorrow, she’ll sign the adoption papers, and you can take the baby home. She’s still 100% confident in this adoption, she just wants to spend a little more time with him.”

It was happening again, and again we swallowed back the sense of uncertainty that was rising up inside us. We left the hospital and returned home empty-handed for the second time in as many days.

Tuesday, June 3

The next morning, as we were pulling into the hospital parking garage, my phone rang. Kelly’s name was on the caller ID. Heidi and I looked at each other, both with a glint of dread in our eyes. I answered.

“Michael, are you and Heidi at the hospital yet?”

“Yes, we just parked the car and are about to head up to the room,” I said.

Kelly paused. “Ummmm…don’t come up,” she said, her voice obviously full of pain and frustration for having to deliver more bad news. “Natalie is planning on taking the baby home with her. She wants to take him to her sister’s graduation and let her friends see him.”

“What is happening here, Kelly?” I asked with a mix of despair and frustration. “Is she deciding to keep this baby?”

“I really don’t know, Michael. She keeps talking like adoption is still her ultimate plan, but she keeps doing things like this that will only make it harder. I can tell you that she’s having a very hard time letting him go. I am doing everything I can to remind her of the original plans we keep making and changing, but in the end it has to be her decision. I can’t force her to go through with it. I’ll keep trying to reason with her, and I’ll be in touch as soon as I know anything new.”

“I’m so sorry about this,” Kelly added. “I know this has to be heartbreaking for you two.”

She was right — we were heartbroken.

We drove home in silence, both painfully aware of the empty baby seat sitting in the back of the car.

When we got home, my parents met us at the door, excited to see the new baby. When they saw the expression on our faces my mom asked, “What happened?”

All Heidi could get out was, “She took him home,” before she broke down for the first time in this entire process.

After all we’d been through, the idea of Natalie taking the baby home with her seemed like a deal-breaker. Despite that, Natalie still committed to signing the adoption papers at the courthouse the next day, then giving the baby to Kelly who would bring him to us. All we could do was hope that this plan was the one that would succeed.

Wednesday, June 4

Kelly always called my cell phone when she had bad news.

“Michael, I just left the courthouse,” she said. “The judge asked Natalie if she was ready to sign the adoption papers, and all Natalie could do was sit there and cry. After a few minutes, the judge said that he could not continue with the adoption paperwork unless he was certain that the birth mother was ready to do so. So basically, we still don’t have a signature, and Natalie is taking him home again.”

We both knew it was over.

The rest of that morning was a blur of depression and sadness for all of us. Though the weather during the previous week had been sunny and pleasant, a dark thunderstorm rolled into town as if to punctuate our dreary experience with the weather to match.

Later that afternoon, Heidi’s phone rang. It was Kelly.

“Heidi, I know today has been very tough for you, but I just talked to Natalie. She wanted me to call and see if you would be willing to pick the baby up from her house, keep him overnight at your house, and then bring him back at 10:00 tomorrow morning. She hasn’t slept well in a few days, and she just needs some time to rest and to think this whole thing through.”

“I really don’t know if I can do that,” Heidi said, her voice shaking. “I can’t handle all of this back-and-forth. I’ve eaten nothing but dry toast and mint tea for three days, my nerves can’t take much more.”

“I know what you’re going through,” Kelly said. This wasn’t just some clichéd response, she really did know what we were going through. Many years ago, she and her husband were in an adoption where the birth mom had a sudden change of heart and left them with broken hearts.

“Before I call Natalie back, I want you and Michael to take some time to think and pray about this. I really believe that Natalie needs some time to think, and she can’t do that with an infant. You guys can give her a break and also show her that you are confident and capable parents.”

Heidi hung up the phone and we discussed our options. While we really didn’t like the idea of rubbing salt on our already-frayed emotional wounds, we decided that if this 17 year old girl needed a free night in order to make the right decision for her baby, then we would give it to her — even if it meant that we might still fly home to an empty nursery.

When we arrived to pick the baby up for the night, Natalie asked us if we would bathe him because she didn’t know how. He was still in his hospital onesie, and we placed him gently in our car seat because Natalie didn’t have one of her own to let us use.

Despite the frustration we were feeling, we both had tremendous sympathy for this girl. She obviously wanted the best for her child, but she didn’t have the experience, resources, or support to do it by herself (and the mom who caused so much uncertainty at the hospital was, ironically, nowhere to be found). Even if she decided to keep him, we realized that what we were doing that night was a worthwhile thing to do — if only for the sake of helping a young single mom who was hurting.

We took the baby home, cuddled him, kissed him, fed him, bathed him, and put him in one of the new outfits our friends had given us as a shower gift. We got up every two hours that night to feed him, we changed his diapers, and basically lived for a few hours like any parents of a newborn would. Except this baby was going back to his home the next morning.


Heidi amazed me that night. She had gone through three of the hardest, most draining days of her life, but still jumped into the role of mother without batting an eye. She didn’t hold the baby and weep all night or walk around in a state of depression, she just mothered. And she did it with such joy and ease. She cared for this child like it was her very own, as if none of the events of the past few days had ever happened.

The only thing that wasn’t completely natural in her mothering was the way she referred to the baby. We had a name picked out for him weeks before, but Heidi never used it because he was not ours to name. He still belonged to Natalie, and she called him Abraham. Heidi simply called him, “The Baby”. Even though she was happy at being able to care for this child, Heidi was still mindful to guard her heart.

Thursday, June 5

We called Natalie at 9:30 the next morning to see if she was ready for us to drop the baby off at 10:00 like we had planned, but her phone went to voicemail. We called a few more times and got her voicemail each time, so we finally left her a message. At about 10:15, she called us back and said that we could keep him until noon and bring him back then. We gladly accepted the extra two hours.

At Natalie’s house, we talked about what was going to come next. For the first time since the baby was born, she admitted to us that she was not sure what she wanted to do. She said that a part of her wanted to keep him, but she just didn’t know if she was prepared to care for and raise a baby.

Very calmly and confidently, Heidi looked at her and said, “Natalie, I want you to know that if you choose to go through with this adoption, I am ready to care for and raise this baby.” She wasn’t pressuring her in any way, she was just letting her know that we were prepared to give this baby all the love and care we could.

Natalie just nodded, tears in her eyes.

Before we left, we gave her a hug and told her that we would pray for her as she made the final decision. Heidi and I were scheduled to fly out the next afternoon and she knew her timeframe for making a decision was diminishing quickly. She asked us if we would come to the courthouse the next day, and wait in the car until after she appeared again before the judge.

This was it. Either way, Heidi and I were flying back to Phoenix in 24 hours. Whether we returned home with a child was a decision that only Natalie could make.

Friday, June 6

At this point, we had no expectations. Our meeting with Natalie the day before didn’t give us a solid indication one way or another. The difficult five days since the baby was born had worn away all the excitement and euphoric feelings of that first day, and we now faced the raw reality that the future of this child hung between a birth mom who loves him very much, and a pair of adoptive parents who have been praying for him for years.

Whatever happened, someone was losing a baby today. And that realization made us sad.

We sat in the parking lot of the courthouse just staring out the windshield. We didn’t talk much. We couldn’t even pray. At this point there was nothing more that could be said to each other or to God, so we just sat there quietly.

The silence was soon broken by ringing of Kelly’s call. This time it was Heidi’s phone.

“She did it. She signed the papers!” Kelly said with a mix of excitement and relief. “I am so proud of her. She walked into the court room without tears and confidently told the judge that she was choosing adoption.”

This was the same court she cried in two days before and the judge wanted to make sure she was not being coerced into adoption. He asked her why she had a change of heart, and Natalie simply said that she realized how hard it was to care for a baby, and she didn’t think that she was ready to do it by herself. Confident that her answer was genuine, the judge allowed her to sign and awarded us custody of the baby.

Heidi met Natalie and Kelly on the courthouse steps. They talked for a minute or so, and Natalie said her goodbyes to the baby boy she carried in her womb for 9 months. She was making a sacrifice that no mother wants to make, but she did it willingly because she loved her child. The hell we all had to endure to get to this point only helped us realize the true cost of this moment.

Through tears, Heidi thanked her, hugged her, and promised that we would love and raise this baby to the best of our ability. She also promised that we would continue to pray for her (a promise we still keep to this day).

With that, Heidi turned toward the car and started carrying our son — Harrison — home.

At last.



You came to us at a very high price. Not a price defined by a dollar amount, but a price defined by the sheer amount of emotional and spiritual capital invested in you during the first week of your life. I don’t tell you this to make you feel guilty, I say it so that you will always know your value. We celebrate your birthday every year, but we also celebrate your “Gotcha Day”. Now you know why.

This post has been submitted to the YeahWrite #62 blogging challenge and was also part of the YeahWrite #61 hangout grid. If you are interested in connecting with other bloggers or are simply interested in lurking on other blogs, the writing grids are a great resource.

This post is also part of the inaugural running of the Dude Write bulls.

  • Pingback: The Darkest Day()

  • Whitney

    Goosebump-inducing.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Whitney. You were one of the people who got the ball rolling with this post when you mentioned that you had never know our story before we visited you guys.

  • Heidi

    Best post yet!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Love you, Babe. 😉

  • Aklaessy

    This is very touching! Thank you for sharing your story with others.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Angie. It’s been a long time a-comin’. :)

  • Kathleen

    You are amazing for your patience and endurance and for understanding that although the birth mother was a teenager she was still a mother! I too gave up my child at 16 and it is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life at 44! Since that day I have had a huge hole in my heart unable to fill it.
    I recently found her after all these years. It validated my decision for adoption as she is a beautiful, strong, college graduate and is getting married this month! The amazing family I chose back then took excellent care of their “gift”.
    Thank you, thank for people like you! Who will be their parents, love them, care for them to the best of your ability! You are unselfish and beautiful people.
    Enjoy your journey of parenthood!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Kathleen. I have to say, I am more amazed at people like you who have to make that difficult decision. I know some birth moms don’t bat an eye when they give their baby up, but those who struggle REALLY struggle.

      It’s because of people like you that people like us even have the chance to be parents. For your generosity, we are grateful.

  • Delilah

    Oh wow, you leave me speechless. What a fabulously emotional and raw post. I’ve been in the position of having someone else decide the fate of the future of your family and it is so hard. What an amazing testimony to not only your strength (you & Heidi both) but to your hearts. This has to be one of my favorite posts ever on any blog I’ve ever read.

    and P.S.- Heidi, you are so beautiful. Your smile in the pictures with Harrison gave me goose pimples because I could see your heart shining through. Gorgeous.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks for the kind words and the Tweet-out, Delilah. I had really hoped to include this in the YeahWrite challenge grid, but 50 blogs + this beastly post is just too much to ask of the participants. Hopefully some of them check back to get the full story, ’cause I really left everyone hanging last week. :)

      And I agree with what you said about Heidi.

      Thanks!

  • http://www.happinesscubed.net/ Dawn

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much this post (and your story!) touched me.
    I really don’t have the words to describe the feelings, but I just wanted to let you know that I read every single word you wrote and loved them all.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you for reading, Dawn. I felt similarly about your post from last week.

  • Tanyayyz

    Thank you for sharing your story. My teary eyes are filled with joy for you and heartbreak for the birth mother.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Unfortunately, this story couldn’t end happy for all sides. But I truly think that the birth mom made a good choice for her own life. She would have had ZERO support and I believe that she would have struggled mightily.

      At least now she can continue with her life and know that her child will be loved and cared for every day of his life.

      Thanks for reading, Tanya!

  • Pattyhooser

    Thank you for sharing your heart! God Bless you and your family!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks for your kind words, Patty. You’ve probably seen the plaque on my dad’s wall that reads, “The battle determines the blessing”. That really applies to this story, hopefully for us as well as the birth mom. :)

  • Shiftless Mommie

    This is what I was waiting for from your last post. I was not disappointed. A complete cliff-hanger. You are both so strong and inspiring.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks. I wish I could have posted it to this week’s challenge grid, but it’s so blasted long that I didn’t want everyone who had to read 49 other posts to beat down my door with torches and pitchforks.

      I appreciate you stopping by again to hear the rest of the story. Whew. It drained me.

      See you around!

  • http://twitter.com/abubblylife Laurel

    Brought major tears to my eyes… Beautiful post

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you for the kind words, Laurel. :)

  • http://wp.me/p2gpEb-a8 Jennifer Worrell

    This is an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful miracle. I took the emotional journey with you through the entire post because it was so well-written. I’m so thankful you have this baby. WOW!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate you coming back to hear the rest of the story. My wife and I were surprised how emotional the whole thing still is for us. :)

  • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

    Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate you coming back to hear the rest of the story. My wife and I were surprised how emotional the whole thing still is for us. :)

  • Tamara

    Your blog has great insight and raw emotion. It is a VERY difficult decision for these young women to make and a VERY difficult situation for a couple desiring a baby to wade through. It seems to me you did this with such grace and love from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Great read, Michael.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Tamara! I know that you deal with this sort of roller coaster every day (especially from the side of the birth mom), so I’m glad you took the time to read it. Can you believe that we’re crazy enough to want to do it all again?! :) This time around, I hope we have a little less “raw emotion”.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Kerry Daley

    Beautiful, heartfelt post. My emotions flew up and down with your writing. I am so happy it was a good ending.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Kerry. I was surprised at how emotional this was for me to write. I’m not a crier, but there were times when I just got the same sick feeling in my stomach that I did when we went through it. Thanks for reading!

  • Starski711

    Tears! Congratulations! I am happy you got Harrison. I loved reading this beautifully written piece!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. I’m glad to see that our story is touching so many.

  • http://finallymom.blogspot.com/ christina

    i don’t even know what to say. thank you for sharing this. that Harrison is one lucky little guy. Happy belated birthday and Gotcha Day to him! and you and your wife.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, Christina! :)

  • http://twitter.com/Dalrie Carebear

    OMG I’m totally balling over here. So beautiful. Im so so grateful that you were able to receive such a gorgeous gift.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      He is an amazing gift, and we will never forget what it cost Natalie to to give him to us. Thanks for your kind words.

  • http://twitter.com/momma23monkeys Robbie K

    wow..i read this with tears, heartbreak, sadness, and finally joy and excitement. Congrats on bringing your son home at last!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you for taking the time to read it and for commenting. Oooh, and thanks for tweeting this post, too. :)

  • http://www.5thingsaboutnothingimportant.com/ Vanessa

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s a beautiful story.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, Vanessa.

  • WilyGuy

    Wow! That was absolutely riveting. The writing was fierce and emotional and edgy!

    Thanks for sharing!

    WG

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, sir. Looking forward to seeing you more in DudeWrite!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1027655659 Joseph Cereola

    Congratulations on the arrival of your son, obviously a difficult and emotional experience for all.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Joe. We are blessed.

  • daniel jordan

    I don’t think I would’ve handled it very well if this post ended on a sad note. I cried while reading this (and that’s a lot for a man to admit)

    I could literally feel the pain you were going through to adopt the child. But I have no doubt that you two are the perfect loving parents for that baby!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Daniel! As a Colt’s fan, I imagine you’ve been doing a lot of crying in the last year… 😛

  • http://www.facebook.com/kay.maynard Kay Maynard

    amazing!! So happy for you!! His Birth mom made a hard decision, but ist sounds like she understood the best way for him to be taken care of!! That takes so much courage!!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      It did take courage. We will try every day to be worthy of the gift that she has given us. Thanks, Kay!

  • Kimberly Wirgau

    What an emotional story. You had me on your roller coaster with you!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Aren’t roller coasters supposed to be fun? :) Thanks, Kimberly.

  • Lady in Red

    Incredible and beautiful story. I’ve completely overwhelmed :) Happy Father’s Day!!! Just wow :-)…..

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you for reading and for your kind words.

  • Michael G D’Agostino

    That’s such a great story! I haven’t read many of the DudeWrite blogs yet, but this is definitely the best one so far.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my story genre differed pretty greatly with the rest of the DudeWrite pack! Oh well, there will be other weeks… :) Thanks for reading, sir!

  • http://www.mayorgia.blogspot.com/ Mayor Gia

    Ooof, What a struggle for you guys, I’m glad it worked out.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, Gia!

  • http://twitter.com/ashleytaylor76 The Dose of Reality

    I am about to go to Part 2, but just wanted to say that this first part was so good. I cannot wait to read what happens next, and I pray it is a happy ending.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      See you on the flip-side! :)

  • http://twitter.com/ashleytaylor76 The Dose of Reality

    Oh thank God. Beautiful. So beautiful.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      That was a close call, wasn’t it? Thanks for sticking with me through part II. :)

  • http://randomreflectionz.com/ Christie

    Beautiful story.I was gripped the entire time. I am so happy for you and your wife.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Christie.

  • Youngman Brown

    Wow you had me completely entrenched in this post. I am sorry it was such a long and stressful process but I’m so glad it worked out!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, sir! I enjoyed being a part of DudeWrite, and I hope to do it again in the future. Best of luck!

  • tara pohlkotte

    oh, what a long, painful, and unknown journey. you bring us along so well.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      It’s much easier to tell looking backward, that’s for sure! Thanks, Tara!

  • http://twitter.com/mannahattamamma MannahattaMamma

    So many heart-aches in this story – and ultimately a happy ending (certainly for your family, and almost certainly for the 17 year old girl who wasn’t – and shouldn’t have been – ready to be a mom). But somewhere in all those ups and downs was, of course, another message, it seems to me: that as parents we have to give over a whole lot of “this is the plan” attitude – whether to god or fate or the temper tantrums of a three year old, being a parent means that some modicum of control goes straight out the window.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      You are right. Control is really an illusion, and it’s interesting how so many of us think that we actually have a say in the big-picture events of our lives. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for the stretchy-post idea! :)

  • outlaw mama

    Whoa, so intense. YOu are a great writer. Thank you.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Coming from you, that means a lot. Thanks!

  • Louise Ducote

    Oh my heart was in ribbons all through this, not knowing what would happen. I love the compassion you show throughout for that young mother, and the obvious love you have for your child. Congratulations.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, Louise!

  • southmainmuse

    Oh gosh…one night alone. How terrifying for someone in your position. As someone whose been through that process twice on the adoptive side — I know how you feel completely exposed and out of control. Your writing is worthy of such a story too.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Jamie. That one night was certainly an interesting mix of emotions.

  • Cindy – The Reedster Speaks

    Adoption of all kinds is not for the faint of heart. Your story was beautifully told with reverence for the difficult decision your son’s biological mother made to relinquish her son to you. My kids are adopted internationally, and there isn’t a day that goes by that my heart doesn’t ache for their courage and sacrifice.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks. My wife and I would love to adopt again, and we’d love to go international, but the cost of adoption is getting completely out of hand.

      Congrats on your YeahWrite win!

  • Vinobaby

    All I can write is Wow. What a story. I love the perspective — usually stories of infertility and the wrenching struggle to have a child are from the woman’s perspective. Love the change, and the ending. Cheers to you and your family.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Kristen

    Beautiful beautiful story. I love it. Amazing. You are the one in a million story.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks for the kind words, Kristen.

  • 50 Peach

    Sniffffff…. I love happy endings. Wonderful story, told wonderfully.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, Peach.

  • http://twitter.com/WriteRinseBlog Write, Rinse, Repeat

    Beautiful, amazing story. Beautifully, amazingly written.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks!

  • Guerrilla Mom

    Wow- that’s amazing. Congratulations. That is one lucky baby.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thank you, but his mom and I feel like the lucky ones!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawn.g.smith Dawn Gilson Smith

    I also have adopted children and this blog has effectively taken me back to our own roller coaster ride. Well written! Blessings to you and your family!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks, Dawn!

  • Emma @ Your Doctor’s Wife

    This is a short comment because I have to hurry up and read on!!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Hahaha. I’ve been there.

  • http://twitter.com/brettminor Brett Minor

    I am so happy it worked out. Very emotional post. Thank you for this story.

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks for your comment, Brett.

  • http://www.livingwithfibromyalgia.ca/ Shannon

    Wow what an amazing story you shared! I had no idea what was going to happen in the end at all. I’m very glad it was a positive one :)

    I knew that I would have difficulty in ever conceiving in my early 20s. I found out I had had endometriosis since I was 18 years old. I was informed that due to the massive scarring they found, it would have been very unlikely that I could conceive a child.

    Turns out I didn’t meet a man I wanted to even consider having kids with until my 30s and by then I was very reluctant to start the potentially long and difficult path that you have already been through. For the same reasons, too. Disappointment and heartache.

    I’m past it all now in my early 40s. Sure, sometimes I wonder what it’d have been like to be a mother. I think I just wasn’t meant to have kids and I’ve been ok with that for a long time.

    Thanks again for sharing this wonderful story <3 You have a real talent with words. Perhaps you should write a book!

    Blessed Be

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks for you comment, Shannon.

      Even though it must have been incredibly tough to wrestle with, I’m glad you are at peace with your situation. Sometimes God has us on different paths than the ones we set for ourselves in life, and only when we look back can we see how that plan worked for our best. I hope that you are able to see that for you.

  • Pingback: yeah write #62 challenge grid winners | yeah write()

  • Erin M Threlfall

    Such an amazing post. My heart ached for both you and Heidi and Natalie… I pass on the Inspirational Blog Award to you… Thanks for sharing your amazing story. http://erinmthrelfall.posterous.com/7-strings-attached

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Thanks for the kind words, Erin, and thanks for the award as well. :)

  • DadOfThree

    Wow. Having been the second post of yours that I have read I was captivated and enthralled to learn what happened to the baby (who I thought was the potential sibling to Harrison). What a wonderful story of your emotional roller coaster ride. I am happy to see that your faith and spousal relationship were able to provide some stability during such an emotionally trying time!

  • Pingback: There’s Been ANOTHER Change of Plan()

  • Freida Potter

    Wow. Talk about pressuring the birthmom to give the kid up for adoption! Working with an agency representative who “reminded” birth mom of her adoption plan!

    You are terrible, awful, coercive people — your desire for a kid made you PUSH a girl who maybepossibledidn’twanna relinquish to give you her kid. So you can have the kid biology denied you.

    I believe in karma (for believers, think of it as “divine retribution”) — so I really, truly and 100% believe you’ll get what you deserve, in the end. I hope it’d be sooner, but the Lord’s timing is always perfect, right??

    PS there are fun lil twists of fate, like on the marvelouslove blog — the supposedly healthy kid she coveted and got (coerced, like your fam)… has CP and mega development delays. My heard breaks for lil addie, but her momma and poppa, like YOU, totally got what you DESERVE!

    • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

      Interesting. What does karma have to say about people who wish birth defects or health problems on other people’s children, and refers to that as a “fun lil twist of fate”? Your comment ranks among the most vile I have ever read anywhere.

      Fortunately for you, I am a forgiving person, and I will gladly offer you forgiveness if you ask for it — after you fully comprehend the situation that you originally *thought* you understood.

      Let me clear things up for you:

      This was a private adoption, no agency was involved. The person you call the “agency representative” was the birth mom’s advocate, one that had been with Natalie well before we ever entered the picture. She wasn’t our representative; she was Natalie’s. As it happens, my wife and I had no representation, no power, and absolutely no control.

      If you read the post again, you’ll see many occasions where ALL the cards were in the hands of the birth mom, and my wife and I were absolutely helpless. We even served as free babysitting for her when she needed a night of rest. We were as patient and understanding with her situation as anyone could be, and we readily acknowledged the pain she had to go through in making her decision.

      She had full control, and she made her decision on her own.

      Now that you are clear on the central point of contention in this situation, I hope you will take this opportunity to retract your gleeful threats of “divine retribution” and apologize to me, my wife, and my son.

      You can reply below or email me at azgrays@gmail.com.

      • Freida Potter

        Because it is totally not pressuring a 17 yr old to have an adoption agency representative remind her of her adoption plan? And totally evil of birthmom’s mother to offer to help her raise her own grandchild rather than hand the kid over to a supposedly godly Christian couple? Of course, a deity told you this particular infant was yours, so by hook or by crook you did what you had to do to “make” it happen.

        If the birthmom is truly happy with her decision to relinquish and have an (not legally enforceable, so you can cut off contact at any time should you want to) open adoption then that is wondeful. But it would have been even MORE wonderful had she chosen to do so without the I call it coercion / you call it support to get her to relinquish.

        Apologise? I’ve absolutely nothing to apologise for! Especially since your darling baby will be able to read all about what you did to acquire him. You’ll have to answer THOSE questions soon enough!

        • http://DearHarrison.com/ Michael Gray

          Nice. Keep going with that “adoption agency representative” line because the more you ignore what I originally wrote and have further clarified for you, the less credible you are to everyone else who reads these comments.

          Unfortunately for you, your condescending mockery of religion, your bizarre and overzealous views on adoption, and your sick and twisted desire to see others in pain do nothing to make me, my wife, or my son fret or about what the future holds.

          The only reason your vile words remain on my blog is so that others can see how pathetically empty some people can remain, despite being treated with civility and absolutely undeserved grace. It’s sad, but instructive.

          My son *will* read this one day, and he won’t bat an eye except in shock at reading your revolting and arrogant words, and then again as he sees you double-down on your spiteful attacks. You will help me teach him how empty and hateful people become when they answer only to their own whims and feelings while mocking the idea that people will one day answer to a higher power.

          Be it karma or Divine retribution, we will all have to answer for our words and actions. In this respect, I have absolutely no regrets.

          So bring on your impotent karma.

          Bring it on.

        • Justin Cooke

          Dear Freida or Susie or…whoever you are or aren’t for that matter,

          What the hell are you talking about? Do you realize just how asinine you sound by making assumptions and passing judgements regarding an event and a group of people that you know absolutely nothing about?

          Coercion? Do you have proof of coercion? Were you in any way involved in this particular adoption? If so, did you personally witness coercion? If you were involved and you did witness coercion of a minor, then I suggest you contact the authorities. If you did not, you are essentially accusing my friend of kidnapping. An accusation that has obviously originated not from fact, but from some misguided and immature thought process in your interesting little mind. Are you accusing my friend of kidnapping?

          When did 17 year olds become incapable of making informed and appropriate decisions for their own lives? Is it because she was 17 when SHE DECIDED to allow her child to be adopted or is it just because you don’t like the decision she made? If an 18 year old were in the same situation, would you be less likely to wish horrible illnesses on innocent small children?

          Again, if you have proof of coercion, I suggest you produce it here for all to see on the double right after you’ve contact the proper authorities. Otherwise, you need to shut your mouth unless you just really yearn for fancy lawyers to send you cease and desist letters and restraining orders your way. After all, you have pretty much slandered my friend’s good name on a public forum for the world to see. Oh, and even a crappy lawyer can convince a judge that the bad karma you so kindly wished on Michael and his child are not actually “karma wishes” but threats.

          Now, if you have the mental capacity to actually state your argument without wishing that children would get sick and die and without offending just about every person on this blog post and without assuming you know things that everyone here knows that you don’t know, then do it. Otherwise, you need to take your hatred, your misplaced anger, and your multiple aliases and get the hell of this blog post.

          I don’t know what life experiences have brought you to the mental state that you are currently in. And, unlike you, I’m not going to assume I know and then wish that your family or friends would get horrible illnesses because of those experiences. But, you need help. Find yourself a good psychiatrist who is an expert in psychotropic meds. You’re going to need a lot of them.

        • JGY

          O God, whom we praise, don’t stand silent and aloof while the wicked such as “Freida” slander
          and tell lies. “Freida” surrounds with hateful words and fights for no reason. We love “Freida”, but she tries to destroy with accusations
          even as we pray for her! She repays evil for good, and hatred for love. Send an accuser to bring her to trial. When her case comes up for judgment,
          let her be pronounced guilty. Count her prayers as sins. May creditors seize her entire estate, and strangers take all “Freida” has earned. Let no one be kind to her.

          May the Lord always remember these sins, and may her name disappear from human memory. For she refused all kindness to others; she persecuted the poor and needy,
          and she hounded the brokenhearted to death.
          She loved to curse others; now you curse her.
          She never blessed others; now don’t you bless her. Cursing is as natural to her as her clothing,
          or the water she drinks, or the food she eats. Now may her curses return and cling to her like clothing; may they be tied around her like a belt.

          Save us because of Your unfailing love. Let all see that this is Your doing, that You Yourself have done it, Lord. Then let “Freida” curse us if she wants, but You will bless us! When she attacks, she will be disgraced! But we, your servants, will go right on rejoicing!

          May “Freida” be clothed with disgrace; may her humiliation cover her like a cloak. But we will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. For the Lord stands beside the needy,
          ready to save them from those who condemn them.
          Inspired by Psalms 109

        • Justin Cooke

          Oh, and a couple of more questions for you Frusie. (That’s what I’m calling you now Freida + Susie)

          When my sister was three months old, she was left to die naked in the middle of winter in Seoul, Korea’s largest public park under a tree’s root system. Was her birth mother coerced into leaving her there? Was the kind man who found her naked hypothermic body coerced into taking her to the hospital where nurses and doctors saved her life? Were those same nurses and doctors coerced into putting out public service announcements regarding the finding of a “lost baby” in order to locate her parents? Was her birth mother coerced into not responding to those public service announcements?

          When my sister was taken to the orphanage, were the orphanage workers coerced into taking her in, feeding her, and providing the love that undoubtedly saved her life?

          When we starting the process to adopt her, were those same orphanage workers forced to hand her over to “adoption agency representatives” against their better judgement?

          Better yet, do you wish harm upon my sister for having absolutely nothing to do with the fact that her birth mother tried to murder her? Or, do you wish harm on her due to the fact that my parents endured 2.5 years of bureaucratic hell and red tape on the part of the Korean government AND paid tens of thousands of dollars to do so just so they could love her and provide for her and give her the best chance at success in this world that she could possibly have?

          Do you wish she had CF, CP, heart disease, cancer, etc?

          I’m interested in your answers so please do share. I’m sure my sister would love to read and respond to your answers as well. She’s now 27 years old, healthy, and thriving. If no one had intervened, she would have died naked and freezing in a public park half way around the world. If coercion played a role in any part of her life story, I thank God for it. Because without it, I wouldn’t have a sister.

    • Heidi

      Ms. Potter, you didn’t ask, but you may be interested to know that we have had contact with the bio mother since our son’s adoption, all of the communication and interactions have been extremely positive. We’ve visited together, chatted, and communicated via letters/pictures, and texts. Her last text to me said “I’m so glad he has you for a family”. I just don’t think someone who was pushed or coerced into doing something she didn’t want to do, would make a comment like that. Trust me, this adoption was completely on her terms.

      I can’t help but wonder from your comments if you, yourself, have struggled with a bad adoption experience. I truly hope not, because, although adoption is a difficult process for every party, it is also a beautiful one.

      I actually do not believe in Karma, but I pray the complete opposite for you as your wish for me. I pray you get much more and better than you deserve…it’s a gift called grace and forgiveness and it’s free!

      God Be with you in your life’s journey!

    • JGY

      “Freida Potter” or “Susie Sayers” or whomever you are since neither of those are likely your real name:

      I feel genuinely sad for you. You’re bitter. Maybe because you have felt unloved since childhood. Always trying to work to earn the affection of parents and others, but never quite measuring up. Maybe you were abused in some way. Maybe you feel betrayed by Christians or you had some unfortunate experience at a church. Maybe you yourself had a terrible personal experience of some sort related to adoption, and now you feel compelled to surf the web finding places to spread your hatred, bitterness, and self loathing. Whatever has happened to you, it has turned you into a cold person capable of making the above comments. For that reason, my heart is sad for you, because I know you’re sad and looking for true life changing unconditional love.

      While my initial reaction to your comments was anger, I now feel compassion for you and the very dark place in which you must find yourself. I hope you find the courage to reach out to Michael and share your real name, your real story, and what your experiences have been that have caused you to feel such vitriol towards adoption and those who participate in them. I know he would be willing to open himself and share with you more.

      You meant your comments for harm and ill, but I know that Michael offers you a hand of hope, love, and encouragement if you have the willingness to just take it.

  • sandi

    As a teen mom (18) in 1980 I made the same choice, however I didnt at the time get to pick parents, nor did i choose to see him, because I knew I would change my mind. May God bless your family .
    Its a choice made but never regretted from the point of making the Right choice, just missed him over the years, always prayed for him, believe one day i will meet him.

  • Heather Sullivan

    Saw your post on facebook and had to read the story for myself. What an amazing story it was. A true answer to prayer.

  • Ely

    It is so good of you, Susie Sayers (“Freida Potter”), to go around the web under an assumed name policing and passing judgment on people who open their hearts to adopt children (particularly those with disabilities). Your assignment of wrong-doing and motive is demented and speaks of a darkness in your own heart that is a ugly beyond definition. What do you know of this situation? You didn’t even bother to read their story completely, yet you took the liberty of making wild conjectures and unfounded character judgments, under the auspices of caring for the birth mother. You viciously attack their actions, their faith, their family, and throw in a few kids with Cerebral Palsy for good measure. Rather than allowing your brain to vomit out such abhorrent curses on other people, perhaps it would be wise to take a step back and examine yourself. Consider the type of person who would GLORY, REVEL, and LAVISH in the idea of a parent’s suffering because of their child’s suffering. How cruel could you be?

    That aside, let me speak a little truth to you. There is no karma, and divine judgment isn’t what you think it is. Yes, there is suffering in this world and Christ-followers are not exempt from it. Harrison and his parents may face hurts and hardships, but they will not be dealt out of punishment from a God out to get them. They are not objects of wrath, but objects of God’s glory and holiness, and He will have His good way with them. I don’t expect you to understand this. I expect that your mind will reject this and churn to form new and deeper vitriol to throw in the direction of people you do not know and whose hearts you cannot hope to understand. Please, please don’t let yourself be eaten up by your own hatefulness.

    • Freida Potter

      Yes, of course! However could I fail to see the only way to salvation is thru Christ?? Oh wait, I’m not a Christian.

      The baby stealing of the “baby scoop era”? Godly Christians merrily adopting stolen/trafficked kids because a divine being told them to do so, despite said kid being kidnapped or coerced away from loving but poor Ethiopian, DRC, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Nepali and/or Guatemalan parents? Really?? You really, truly think Jesus would be down with that??

      • Ely

        Do you even read what is said to you, or does your brain, in fact, just vomit out whatever dark and conspiratorial thoughts invade it? You’re posts are utterly nonsensical. I get that you’re not a Christian. Okay. Many people aren’t. I can readily abide that, though I do hope that you will know His love, grace, and freedom. But, lady (or sir), you need help. Something is very, very wrong in your head (and your heart, no doubt). Are you even aware that the modern Christian church is leading the charge against human trafficking in the world ( and even many of the NGOs fighting it are head by Christian people who work closely with churches and the evangelical community)? I’m certain you are right that there some are adoptions that happen by nefarious methods, but you are so quick to assume that it is with evil intent that people enter into ALL adoptions, that they are all ill-gotten, kidnapped, stolen, then essentially, abused afterward. I have to wonder what evil lurks inside you that you are so desperate to find it in others. I know you feel certain that it is here, but you are looking in the wrong place.