I guess if I am going to write Trenton's story, I have to start at the beginning. So many questions have been asked about our situation, and I hope to answer all of them openly.
I wish I could say that the decision to adopt was a magnanimous one. That we wanted to "give back" or help a child. Although it was an option (in the back of our mind), we were still hoping for a biological child. The fact is Travis and I tried to get pregnant for six years. We went through basic infertility tests and more tests. All of which produced no answers as to why we could not conceive. We went through two intrauterine inseminations, and obviously no pregnancy occured. We had agreed to try what we could until the next step was in vitro fertilization and then we would stop. It was expensive and the results were still not guaranteed. We figured that if we adopted, it would be much less expensive (ha) and much easier emotionally (haha).
We decided in June of '05 to contact an attorney and start the adoption process. We gave her a basic bio-sheet to show a potential birth mother and then agreed to wait until she contacted us with a baby. Easy as that! We have never heard from her to this day. While we were waiting to hear from our attorney, we started hearing a lot about Crisis Pregnancy Outreach (CPO). It seemed that every time we turned around, someone had used them or knew someone who had. I knew it was an open adoption agency and we absolutely were not interested in that. We wanted a nice, neat, "closed" adoption. One where everyone walked away happy, smiling, and never looked back. But CPO wouldn't go away. I don't believe in coincidences, so I figured God was speaking and I needed to listen. In May of '06, Travis and I attended our first support group meeting for adoptive parents. We went reluctantly and only on the understanding that we were not signing up, just gathering information on this "open" adoption thing. That day I prayed that whatever happened at the meeting, Travis and I would leave on the same page. I didn't want to talk him into anything. I wanted us to be in complete agreement whether we decided to do it or not. After listening to the other parents talk about their stories and how allowing the birth parents access to the child was so beneficial, we were sold. God changed our hearts and we decided to put our book in immediately. The Life Book is just a way to give the birth family a glimpse of the family they might choose to place their child with. It was difficult to try and "sell" our life to a stranger. So I just created the book based on what I would want to know. I figured that if a birth mother picked our book, it was because she was most like us. I turned in my book, my paperwork (requesting a perfect white child with no baggage and definitely not a ten pounder), and sat back to wait again.
Four days later, the director called me and said that we had been chosen by a birth mother. She was perfect. She was young, inexperienced, away from home and more importantly willing to give us her baby! We hit it off immediately. She was barely pregnant, due in January of '07. I was thrilled to get to go to doctor's appointments and experience all of the pregnancy stuff without having to actually be pregnant. I went to one appointment and walked away with the most precious little ultrasound picture of our baby. However, this young birth mother wasn't comfortable with this decision just yet. Just six weeks after choosing us, I got a phone call from her while I was shopping at Target. She changed her mind about placing her baby for adoption. Shattered...my heart, my dream, everything. I was angry at God for very clearly telling us to do something and then yanking it away so cruelly. And I told him so over and over. When I went to church the next Sunday, I received a very clear message from God. Not through the Word, not through the sermon...through the Spirit. "This is not the child I have for you. There is another child that needs you more." I couldn't deny this word and I settled myself down to wait for the child that needed us more.
Ten days later, the director called me again. We had been chosen again by another birth mother, and she was perfect. She wasn't young. She was experienced. And more importantly...she was willing to give us her baby! Again, we hit it off immediately. She wasn't due until February of '07 and it gave me another opportunity to be a part of this pregnancy. We spent time with her and her family and it really felt like the perfect fit. We loved them and they loved us. We were all very excited when we found out the baby was going to be a girl. Travis was especially excited about the prospect of Daddy's Little Girl. We chose the name Brooklyn Elizabeth. Brooklyn, because Travis and I love NY and Elizabeth, because that was the name that her birth mother liked. Everything was going according to my plan. Brooklyn's room was painted. The furniture was assembled. It was perfect! Until January 6, 2007. I recieved a phone call from our birth mother’s mother saying that our birth mother had been very sick for a while and they were taking her to the hospital. I told them to call me as soon as they knew what was wrong. It wasn't the phone call I was expecting. Dr. Meyers, her OB, called me instead. He informed me that the mother was very sick and that she had not felt the baby move in a few days. Brooklyn had died in utero and the mother was so sick that it would be dangerous to have a c section, so she would have to deliver Brooklyn. We jumped in the car immediately and headed to the hospital to be with her. Because she was not in labor yet, they had to induce her. It took twenty-four horrible hours to deliver Brooklyn. I decided to stay with her during delivery. I had told her from the beginning that I would be there, and I wasn't about to abandon them now. Brooklyn Elizabeth Renfro-Hogan was born into God's arms on January 7, 2007 weighing 3 lbs. 13 ozs., 17 1/2 ins. long. We spent two hours with Brooklyn, saying good-bye and telling her that she was still our daughter even if no papers had been signed. We still grieve for our daughter.
During the time of awaiting Brooklyn, I still had contact with the first birth mother that had chosen us. I knew she was having a boy and that she was still struggling with the decision whether to place the baby or parent him. I always told her that she needed to do what was best for the baby and not to ever let anyone sway her decision. And I certainly never expected her to pick us again. But the day after we lost Brooklyn, she contacted me and said that she would be delivering in a few weeks. She had decided to place the baby again and wanted Travis and me to be his parents. We agreed, knowing that this must have been God's plan all along. That Brooklyn and her mother "needed us more," but this baby was supposed to be ours all along. On January 18, 2007, Travis and I were in the delivery room when Caden James was born. Travis even cut the cord. It was amazing, exciting, wonderful...too many feelings to describe. I spent the night in the birth mother’s room that night with her and Caden. We took turns caring for him and it was not only a bonding time for Caden and me but for his mother and me as well. I will always treasure that time. The next night, Travis and I had our own room, but the birth mother had requested that Caden stay with her that night. I had always been told in group meetings that it is good to allow the birth mother a lot of freedom initially so that the grieving process would be easier for her. We felt safe and secure in our relationship with her, that allowing her one night, when we would have so many, would not hurt. We tearfully but thankfully took Caden home with us the next day. We spent the most wonderful eight days with Caden, but as you can guess...his mother decided that she had made the wrong decision and she wanted him back. Again. We were angry, hurt, outraged, defeated, but since no papers had been signed, there was nothing we could do to stop it. Broken, we took Caden back to his mother.
It was hard for me to be angry with God at this point. I mean he had told me, very clearly, after all that this was not our baby. What was I to do? What was I to think? I had lost two babies in three weeks. How much more could I take? I prayed, worshipped, grieved and turned in our book again. The song "Praise You in the Storm" by Casting Crowns became the ongoing message in my head. We waited and waited and waited. It felt like an eternity. In May, on Mother's Day, I lost it. I decided that somewhere along the line, I had somehow missed God's call for us. Adoption was most definitely not the plan and we had been through all of that pain for nothing. I decided that next week that I would not go to any more meetings. I would call the director and tell her thank you but we would be parting ways. That was the day Trenton was born.
The director called me on a Saturday night while we were sitting at home enjoying the weekend, and most definitely not thinking about a baby or becoming parents. She told me that a birth mother had delivered a baby and wanted to place. They call these situations "drop ins" because there is no advanced notice. She said the baby boy was ten pounds, half hispanic, and the birth mother had issues. Not the least of which was extensive drug use, prostitution, and mental instability. She said the baby was healthy. There were no drugs in his system. The word "yes" popped out of my mouth instantly. She told me to bring my book up to the hospital the next day to show his birth mother and if she liked it, he was ours. I had also been told that our book was the only one she would be showing her. Well, it turns out that the fact that I was teacher was all she needed to know. After a sleepless night, we met her and Trenton the next day. You would think we would be ecstatic after waiting so long for this moment. We were terrified. We questioned everything. It wasn't until my mom came and sat on our bed while we were huddled under the covers cowering, and Travis's mom shared a dream that she had had the night before about a black haired baby in her arms, that we felt at peace with it.
Trenton’s birth mother wasn't at all what I expected. She came from a very rough background. She had been in and out of jail most of her adult life. Trenton was her sixth child, and she wasn't parenting any of them. She was addicted to cocaine, and yes she used extensively throughout her pregnancy. She ended up in Tulsa by agreeing to give the baby to another very non-traditional couple without going through the proper channels. When she got to Tulsa, she became scared of the couple she was living with and didn't want to give the baby to them anymore. But she didn't know anyone and was afraid that she would go to jail again and that the baby would end up in foster care. When she went into labor, the couple dropped her off at the hospital and left her there while they went on a meth binge. At that time, she began praying. She asked God to help her find a way out of this situation. She didn't want the baby to go to just anyone. Right after she prayed that, a nurse came in and began inquiring of her plans for the baby. Our birth mother confided in her that they had registered in the hospital under a false name. She told her that the plan was to give the baby to this meth addicted couple, with arrest warrants, living in a flea infested house. She told her that she wanted more for her baby than that. The nurse contacted a hospital social worker who happens to be friends with CPO's director. The connections were made, and we were called. It was not only her prayers that were answered that day.
Trenton was everything we wanted and yet nothing I had planned on. He wasn't white. He was ten pounds (my strange hang-up). He came from an addicted mother. But he was perfect!! God miraculously shielded and proctected him in the womb from all of the things that could have happened to him. Trenton’s birth mother had no prenatal care. She drank, did meth, cocaine, heroin, and she is Hepatitis C positive. Trenton was completely clean and has no adverse affects. Praise God!
I truly believe, like all mothers, that Trenton has a purpose here on Earth. Not only is he the most adorable little boy, but he has exceeded my expectations in learning and development. It’s like he was planned for us. So it really doesn’t matter that I didn’t give birth to this child, he’s mine just the same. But not only mine. We still see his birth mother often. Although it is sometimes difficult for me to give of myself and allow another woman into Trenton’s world, I know that it is what is best for Trenton. And that’s what all of this is really about. One little boy who “needed us more.”