From the all-important “book” adoptive parents create for birth families, to the years of paper work and waiting lists, and that final, life-changing call—elementary school teacher Christina Forzley shares what adopting a newborn looked like for her family.

On deciding to adopt:

My husband Matt and I always knew we wanted a family in some way, shape or form. Adoption has always been a big part of my family, because my brother is adopted, so we had the idea we might adopt at some point. We spent several years trying to get pregnant and it just wasn’t happening. We met with doctors, and we were the “you look great, we can’t figure you out” couple. We even got as far as considering IVF, but it’s funny—we got to the office and looked at each other and just said, ‘nah not for us.’ It’s a great option for so many, but it just wasn’t for us. So we made the decision to adopt, back in 2015.

On the years of paperwork:

We did so much research and ultimately decided to go with The Cradle, an agency outside of Evanston in Illinois near where we live. We knew it was going to be a detailed process, but oh my goodness—it took about two years just to do the paperwork. You get a giant binder of checklists, there are interviews, classes, home visits, and a book you create to give the birth parents. Unless they request to meet you, this is how they get to know you. We wanted ours to be done right—we put so much work into it. They’re all worthwhile things and the end clearly justifies the means!

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On finally making the waiting list:

We finished our paperwork in April 2017, and were put on a waiting list. At that point they tell you anything can happen at any time. We waited a full year for our first “profile” call, which means the agency has a child that matches your criteria as well as what the birth parents are looking for. You get a few days to look through everything after that call, and make the decision to move forward or not. There were babies we “matched” with that we ultimately weren’t picked for by the birth parents, and it’s disappointing, but you realize that just wasn’t your baby and you’re so happy for the parents they go to.

On the most amazing call:

When we matched with Hannah, back in December, we found out that we were the only family her birth parents reached out to. Still, we tried not to get overexcited, since we had gone through this process a few times. My husband Matt emailed our caseworker Monday morning that we wanted to move forward, and minutes later his phone rang. The caseworker simply said: “Merry Christmas, come and get your baby.” Matt called me at work and I just laughed—pure shock set in. I immediately left work and Hannah, just six weeks old, was home with us by 6pm that evening. It was pure joy—that’s the only way to describe it. Every time I looked at her, every time I picked her up, all I could think was, “I’m so lucky I get to be your mom, I don’t how I got picked to do this.”

Christina Forzley and Hannah on Easter

On settling Hannah at home:

We had some of the big baby items when we got the call, but our immediate families divided and conquered everything else we’d need for those first few weeks. It was like we set loose the dream team. We didn’t realize how many friends and family had been on this journey with us, so the amount of love we received in those first few weeks was so special, I don’t know if I can fully explain it. Just being able to introduce her to everyone—it was so exciting.

On talking to Hannah about her adoption:

Our plan will grow and change as she does, but we’re so excited for her to grow up knowing she was adopted. She’ll understand her birth mom loved her so much that this is what she wanted, because she was not in a safe place. We’re planning to celebrate her “gotcha” day every year—we’ll take her out of school and celebrate and make it really special. And we hope we can mentor other parents going through the adoption process—it’s such a great process but it’s a hard one.

On heading back to work:

It officially just hit me now that I’m a month out. Overall I think it’s going to be great. I’m going to miss her terribly—she’s so smiley and babbling and fun—but I love what I do at our school, and I’m excited to get back and do that. Our parents are going to watch her and I’ll be off in 8 weeks for the summer, so it’s the best of both worlds. It’s going to be hard, but there are a lot of positives. That’s what I’m focusing on.

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