By Gabrielle. Exquisite embroidery from Thread Honey on Etsy. (Her Instagram feed is fabulous!)

Mariah has always been generous with us about her trials with infertility, so it’s especially uplifting to read the latest lovely development in her own personal growing a family series!

I know there are families out there just waiting to be grown — somehow, anyhow — and it’s often reassuring for all of us to read another parent’s account of the pain and process they endured. Even better, to share in their eventual success and restore our own hope, even just a little.

Here’s Mariah’s burst of hope. May it be contagious for you.

First, a brief timeline:

Nov 2007 IVF #1 Fail.

June 2008 IVF #2 Embryos accidentally thrown away at the clinic two days before transfer.

August 2008 IVF #3 Success! There are two babies!

October 2008 Miscarriage of twins.

November 2009 Start paperwork for international adoption.

October 2010 Trip to Russia fails when the little girl we went to meet ended up not being an orphan.

Nov 2011 First orientation meeting about foster parenting.

Dec 2011 IVF #4 Fail

May 2012 Selected by a birth mom for adoption of her baby. Birth mom miscarries.

Dear Little E,

In a few short days it will be official. The court will declare that you are ours forever. With a pounding of a gavel, the dreams and hopes of eight years will set us on a new course. A new beginning, per se. We will be your parents.

It’s no small thing all the hardship that occurred for our lives to finally connect. Our broken hearts lead us to you, and your broken life leads you to us.

Most of this story won’t make sense quite yet. This is really a letter for you as an older person. One that has experienced more of life and can gauge what a mother’s heart is capable of. It’s not that it’s secret; it’s just that the elevation of emotion is on a scale bigger than you are right now.

My dear and sweet boy, you were longed for and prayed for with such might! We tried so many ways and methods to expand our family, as you can see from the brief timeline above. As your older brother grew, we wondered if being content with him as an only child was the answer. But, as much as we tried, our hearts couldn’t settle on that. There was a stirring that we couldn’t deny.

Becoming foster parents was your Dad’s idea initially. He was always an advocate, but I took my time coming around to the idea. There were so many unknowns and fears I had to assuage. It was three years from our first orientation meeting to our meeting with you. And it was seven years from the time we first tried IVF. You were seven years old.

Meeting your child for the first time when they are seven years old is a unique thing. You already knew how to do so many things. You certainly could walk, talk, dress yourself, feed yourself, and even ride a bike. You came with habits and genes of your birth parents and other foster parents. Unfortunately, your personality was tainted by unsafe choices other adults in your life made. What you’ve been through would make any adult wobble and want to crumble, but here you were at seven years old, navigating emotions and experiences much beyond your ability to process.

It’s been a year since that first meeting. I’ve witnessed a brave, courageous boy develop out of the insecure, angry one that first arrived. I have loved watching your talents emerge. You’re incredibly adaptable, friendly, as well as athletic and strong. You are also gifted with music and have such a giving heart.

There have been many hard days as we’ve gotten acquainted. Some of those days turned into weeks. You know what always got me through it? The fact that I knew from the first time you came across the threshold that you were meant to be in our family. It’s funny, sometimes you’ll mention something that reminds me I didn’t know you before you were seven, and I’ll have to make a mental note once again that you haven’t always lived with us.

Standing by and watching your brother (who was our only child for ten years) become a big brother has made me feel like referee, coach, and owner of the team all at once.

There is a lot at stake — I want this family to succeed!

You can’t treat each other like that — that’s not what brothers do!

You both can do this — I believe we will come out on top!

Then there were the times I needed a timeout, and too often I recognized this too late.The emotions, anxieties, and frustrations have had me maxed out on many occasions. But, I keep showing up. I keep repairing and reassuring. I keep doing what needs to be done. With each effort and apology, I feel closer to you. I feel a bond that isn’t any different than the bond I have with your brother. I know this because it was always meant to be, and because I am your mother.

Love you forever. I pinky promise.


P.S. I’d love to see you as a big brother one day.


Oh, Mariah! Your postscript made me misty! I’m so thrilled your family has grown, and I’m beyond appreciative for your sharing nature. You may not know this, but your experiences touched a lot of readers out there. I just know it.

This line — “It’s funny, sometimes you’ll mention something that reminds me I didn’t know you before you were seven, and I’ll have to make a mental note once again that you haven’t always lived with us.” — also hit my heart. For those of you who met your children later in their lives, how does this feel to you? Does it still surprise you that they weren’t yours from day one? I wonder if it makes you angry or frustrated about all the memories you missed? Or is it simply that life begins when they arrive home, no matter how old they may already be?

Yes, I hope it’s like that.

P.S. – Find all the stories in this series here. Do you have a story about birth, pregnancy, adoption or infertility? Send your story to me, will you please?