Families come in all forms, and families formed by adoption are inspiring because they impact so many lives. Early on in their relationship, Gordon and Brian discovered their shared longing for fatherhood. “Pretty quickly we realized we were two men who both had dreams of starting a family,” explained Gordon, “and weren’t sure about how to do that.”

The couple explored their options of foster parenting, surrogacy or adoption, eventually settling on adoption. “We were looking for a LGBTQ-friendly adoption agency and LCFS had come recommended, so that was important to us.”

Brian commended LCFS Adoption Caseworker Tara Dull for how thoughtfully she and her colleagues guided Gordon and him to begin their adoption journey. “Being at that initial preparation class, seeing other queer couples and couples of color was really special.”

“LCFS’ adoption meetings were probably some of the most insightful moments we had in the pre-adoption process,” Gordon said of the LCFS Adoption Preparation Series they attended in early 2019. “It just opened up the world of adoption, which was so new to us.”

By May of 2019, the couple felt prepared to take their adoption search public. There were disappointments early in their process when a potential birth mother stopped contact in August, but they persisted in their search as it stretched into the next year.

In February 2020, Brian and Gordon received a text from Michelle (not her real name), who was pregnant with her second child and wanted to find a great family for adoption. On Valentine’s Day, Brian and Gordon had their first FaceTime call with Michelle, which made her comfortable to consult with the birth father Juan (not his real name) about making an adoption plan. “That FaceTime call totally solidified the connection and you could tell that Michelle was so relieved.”

Gordon and Brian then flew from Chicago to Atlanta to meet with the birth parents and a LCFS-recommended adoption lawyer. Michelle thoughtfully scheduled an ultrasound for them, where they found out that the baby girl was due a month earlier than expected, just four weeks away.

The early due date and fears of an impending COVID lockdown convinced Gordon and Brian to return to Atlanta in early March and stay until the birth, forcing them to adapt quickly.

In a pre-delivery checkup, the doctors couldn’t detect fetal movement, so they went to the hospital in case this was something serious. It turned out to be nothing more than a deep sleeping baby, but because of COVID putting stress on hospital resources, Michelle was advised to stay in the hospital until she gave birth. “Michelle couldn’t get a room, so we were in a little urgent care room for a long time,” Brian explained. “They induced her and then nothing, so I slept in a little cot next to her hospital bed,” Brian said.

Michelle gave birth the next morning to baby Ada. “We’d chosen Ada’s name. We shared it with Michelle and Juan. They were the only people we told, and they loved it. We chose it because we thought it was beautiful… and it fit her identity,” Brian said. Only Brian was allowed in the delivery room due to COVID, so Gordon could only see his new daughter through phone video or when nurses would hold her up to a window for him to see.

During the hospital stay, Michelle and Brian took turns feeding Ada, with Michelle giving new father Brian feeding tips. “I remember when I was on FaceTime, the nurses were like ‘how many milliliters did she drink?’ and Brian being Brian that is not his world at all. He’s like ‘Milliliters? What are you talking about? What’s a milliliter?’,” Gordon laughed, “So we both had a lot to learn, but Brian had the two days before me where he really had to learn in the moment.”

Brian learned from the LCFS preparation series that birth mothers often choose to spend some time alone with their babies. He said that was “some of the most helpful information we learned from LCFS.” So, the couple understood why it was important for Michelle to have time alone with her newborn in the hospital.

A few days later, they all met at a lawyer’s office to sign the papers finalizing the adoption, but because of COVID restrictions, only one of them could be in the office at a time. “Gordon and I had to take turns being outside, it was such a strange time,” Brian recalled. The next day before heading back to Chicago, baby Ada met her birth father who held and fed her, as well as her four-year-old half-sister, who gave her a special gift of a traditional Mexican dress.

“The pediatrician said absolutely no airplanes and no hotels,” so Brian and Gordon took turns driving a rental car from Atlanta to Chicago in one day, stopping every two hours to allow Ada time out of the car seat and to lie flat, per doctor’s orders.

Once they got home to Chicago, “Tara was wonderful throughout the process,” Brian said. “We had the three post-placement visits with Tara, two were over video and one where she came here in person. We felt very supported by Tara.” The couple has an open adoption and still communicate regularly with Ada’s birth parents.

Eight months later, “It’s been so magical to see her grow and develop. All of my friends who are parents told me how amazing parenting is but I never understood the details,” Gordon explained. “There’s a lot of adjusting. A lot of tiny tweaks to everything.”

These adjustments are vastly outweighed by the joy of parenthood. “We’re hoping to adopt again,” Brian said. “We’d love to have two children and we intend of course to go through LCFS and Tara again.” LCFS cherishes its success stories and helping to build beautiful forever families like Gordon, Brian and Ada’s.

If you’ve ever considered adoption and would like more information about the process, learn more at www.lcfs.org/adoption or contact LCFS at 800-363-LCFS or lcfs_info@lcfs.org.

When you partner with LCFS, you help birth parents to receive counseling support, children to find forever families and adults to realize their dreams of becoming moms and dads through adoption. Even, during a pandemic.

In November, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois and others will celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month. Lives are impacted by adoption every single day all around the world.

It’s the responsibility of everyone involved in the adoption process to put the needs of the children involved first. Birth parents who feel they can’t provide the life they desire for their children make the brave, difficult, and often heartbreaking choice to give birth to their children and then entrust their babies with other families. The result of this decision is an absolute honor and a gift to the adoptive family.

That gift came to Kimberly and Erling in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Kimberly and her husband Erling had always talked about adoption being a possible avenue for growing their family. So when they struggled to get pregnant after having their son Maxwell, it was a natural decision to explore adoption.

“Most people going in don’t have a full sense of what adoption entails. You think you’ll sign up to adopt, have a child and your family will be complete,” shared Kimberly.

The couple soon learned that the adoption process is a journey with many highs and lows. Thankfully LCFS’ adoption team was there to provide them with support and guidance through every step.

“Our adoption worker Laurie was our angel during the process. We really appreciated her because she was always empathetic in the best way and also brutally honest. When we were about ready to give up, she kept us going.”

Finally, in February 2020 after two unsuccessful attempts to adopt, Kimberly and her husband connected with Myla (not her real name), a pregnant mother in Arkansas. Soon after, COVID-19 hit and everything changed.

“LCFS did a great job telling us what we might expect due to the pandemic, but no one really knew for sure.”

In late June, Kimberly and her family piled into their car for the twelve-hour drive to Arkansas to hopefully bring home their son. When they arrived, the family had a chance to connect in-person with Myla and her family. At that point, the birth father was no longer in the picture. Two days later, Myla gave birth to a baby boy named Miles.

“We weren’t able to be in the delivery room due to COVID restrictions, but the hospital set up a family room for us. We saw the baby for the first time just an hour after he was born, and we’ve been with him every minute since.”

Ten days later, Kimberly and Erling officially adopted their new son Miles via a virtual court hearing in Arkansas. The next day the new family of four headed home to Illinois.

“I still talk to Myla every day via text, and I send her photos. We have a very open and loving relationship. I hope that connection continues, so Miles can grow up knowing his birth family.”

Every adoption journey is different. COVID has made it a little more challenging, but it hasn’t stopped LCFS from helping build forever families for children in need of a loving home.

“The main thing about adoption is to remain open-minded and super flexible. It’s been such an incredible journey, but it’s really only started. Now we have a whole life with Miles to build and enjoy as a family.”

Thank you for being the power behind this important work.

To learn more about LCFS’ adoption program, click here.

Brett and Kevin met and began their relationship through an online dating app. “We hit it off immediately. It was a case of love at first sight,” said Brett. They met in person for the first time on October 30th and two years later, on the exact same date, got engaged and started planning their future together.

For them, a big part of that future included having a family.

“The decision to adopt came really easily. I think the thing that was more difficult was knowing that we could try, but it might not happen and [we had] to be okay with that,” explained Kevin.
So as they planned their wedding, which was set to take place a year later on their special October date, Brett and Kevin also made the decision to start the adoption process. The first step was signing up with an adoption agency.

“We figured this could take a few years so we thought let’s start the process because it was important to us,” explained Brett.

To their surprise, an expectant mother in California picked their profile a few months later. Their first meeting with her was over a conference call. They talked for more than an hour sharing about their lives and hopes for the future. After that call, she chose Brett and Kevin to be her child’s adoptive parents.

With this exciting news, Brett and Kevin moved up the date of their wedding and began preparing to be not only newlyweds, but come October parents.

An important part of their preparation was completing a home study for their upcoming adoption with Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois. “Tara [our LCFS caseworker] was incredibly supportive and extremely well informed,” shared Kevin. “She was always there to answer our questions.”

LCFS helped Brett and Kevin navigate the complexities of the adoption process and prepared them to be parents. As part of the home study, they completed a number of trainings and online courses on topics such as Grief and Loss in Adoption, Transracial Adoption and Talking with Your Child about Adoption.

LCFS also helped Brett and Kevin understand the birth mother’s perspective. “Without Tara’s guidance, I don’t know if we would have built the relationship that we did with our birth mother,” said Kevin.

Brett and Kevin stayed in close contact with the birth mother and her family throughout the pregnancy. On several occasions, they participated in doctor visits through a video app, including the first ultrasound. Through technology they were able to stay in contact and be a part of the process, but didn’t actually meet the birth mother face-to-face until the day their daughter was born.

The day of the birth, Brett and Kevin flew to California and were allowed to be in the hospital room for the delivery. Brett shared that, “It was an overwhelmingly beautiful experience for us, to be the first ones to hold our daughter.” The couple named her Leah.

Unfortunately, all adoptions have their own unique set of challenges. After bringing Leah home, there were a number of legal complexities related to her birth father. These created delays and additional court dates.

“We had some big downs throughout the process and things that we thought might jeopardize our potential adoption, but Tara guided us through what the next steps were and kept us focused on what we needed to do,” said Brett.

Eventually, just a few weeks before Leah’s first birthday, the adoption was finalized and Brett and Kevin became her forever parents. “I don’t know how well this process would have come together without Tara by our side before and after the adoption,” stated Kevin.

Brett shared, “I was kind of a career guy and I never saw myself in this place. Kevin changed my world, and then Leah changed my world.”

Leah’s world changed that day as well. She became part of her forever family that will love and care for her always. Today, Leah is a healthy, happy toddler who keeps her fathers very busy and brings them tremendous joy.