It Should’ve Been No: Our Adoption Story


I remember the call like it was yesterday.

March 13, 2019. Our caseworker called me, she rarely calls so of course, I answered. We already had 4 children ages 6 and under and I was spread so thin. “We have a referral for a 2-month-old. Do you want me to hang up, or do you want to hear more?” My heart about flew out of my chest. “I want to hear more,” I said before I could even think about it. She went on to explain all of the medical issues this sweet angel had and how multiple families before us had said no. It should be no, we can’t do this. I wrestled with inner thoughts as she spoke. She finished and out of my mouth came the words, “I’ll call Brandon.”

We both felt our hearts pulling towards saying yes. “It should be no,” we discussed but we both felt like it was a yes. Plus, she’s a baby…she’ll reunify soon. Our “goal” was never to adopt but we left that door open for whatever the Lord had planned. We assumed Z would go home. God, however, had a very different plan for us.

Almost immediately, I was “momma.” That first night I was referring to myself as momma when talking to her. I smooched her, hugged her, snuggled her. She immediately felt like “mine.” With my mindset on reunification, I cared for this baby like she was my very own as if I had birthed her myself, just like I was supposed to. I made sure to keep reunification in the back of my mind and kept reminding myself it wasn’t about me. I reminded myself that it’s okay to get attached, but that this will break my heart eventually. Broken heart or not, IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. We are doing this for these sweet children and their parents. It’s never been about us.

Selfishness muddies the waters of the goal, and we vowed to never do that.

I remember the first visit Z had with her birth mother, the woman who carried her in her womb for 9 months. I dropped her off and I sobbed. SOBBED. My oldest daughter sobbed. It’s only two hours. This isn’t about me, I kept reminding myself. I gave the supervisor a list of “rules” and things to do or not to do, as if I wasn’t handing my baby over to the woman who gave her life. This was one of the hardest moments of my life. I prayed for the visit. I prayed (and feared) that this would be what it took for birth mom to work the plan to get her baby back. I longed for that for my sweet girl. Foster care is such a roller coaster of emotions. You cheer for the win, but that win will wreck you like you’ve never been wrecked before.

You pray for the best interest of the child, and that is almost always reunification. That can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes.

In the months following, it became very clear that this case was moving toward adoption. My heart was soaring and wrenching. She was my baby. This sweet little angel that the Lord sent to me was never going to leave again. We were so blessed to only have our little girl be in permanency limbo for just a short time. She spent just over a year in foster care (this is SHORT, comparatively) and then became ours forever on June 22, 2020. Adoption is such a beautiful thing, but it’s also filled with a lot of grief. You mourn what these kiddos should have, and even though you love them beyond measure, there will always be that little piece missing that can only be filled by their biological family.

Loving a child who was born to someone else is one of the greatest gifts life has ever given to me.

I have vowed to never take that for granted. She will always be my baby, but there is someone else out there who gets to call her hers. We will always be grateful that her biological mother made the decision of life for her.

That one selfless choice changed my life forever.

My hope and prayer for Z is that she knows how loved she is. She’ll always have a piece of her that’s missing but I pray we can help fill that void. I hope that she always feels chosen and wanted and loved. And ultimately, I hope someday she has the opportunity to meet her birth mother.

I feel blessed beyond measure to be this sweet angel’s momma, but I pray someday she can have a relationship with the woman who gave her life. My heart has been forever changed by foster care and adoption, and I hope and pray Z’s has been too.

If you’ve ever been interested in foster care or adoption but don’t know where to start, you can contact your local county Job and Family Services, or Child Protective Services. You can also reach out to our private foster care agency.

Keeping Kids Safe

Keeping Kids Safe Ohio

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Allison Cooley
Alli is a wife, and girl mom to three awesome girls ages four and under. She's also a boy mom to two dogs (Desmond and Rocky) and a cat (Pancake). She stays busy as a stay at home mom but manages with the help of Jesus, coffee, essential oils, and lots of grace. Alli and her husband, Brandon, are licensed foster parents with huge hearts for adoption and foster care. She's a firm believer in being transparent and genuine and loves relating with other moms in whatever season they're in. She recently started a Mommy Meet Up group in her home town of Findlay. She's a little bit crunchy, unicorn loving, vacuum hating momma who can't wait to go on this journey with you!


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