Two local moms share their journeys from start to family Wendy’s story Private adoption, through word-of-mouth Wendy Watters and her husband Christ had one child, Christopher, turning five in December, who had been conceived through in vitro fertilization. They wanted to give him a sibling, but as older parents they didn’t want to go through IVF again. They decided to adopt. Going with an agency where they’d wait for a prospective birthmother to select them “seemed overwhelming,” says Wendy. She decided to try word-of-mouth first. “I told my gynecologist. I told my pediatrician. I was at a soccer game with Christopher, I told the other moms. You just have to go full-force, lift the veil and go for it. That’s how it happened for me.” Quick results She started telling people in February 2010. That May, she went running with a friend, Peter Aamodt, and told him that she wanted to adopt. He put her in touch with friends from the NorthShore who had recently adopted. They, in turn, told her of an 18 year old who was due in August; Wendy said she’d love to meet her. A meeting was arranged, and the birthmother picked Wendy and her husband. (Out of their immense love and gratitude, the Watters made Peter the godfather of their future adopted daughter.) “The hardest part is once you find a mother that you connect with, that the birthmother has five days after the baby is born to sign the papers,” says Wendy. She and her husband didn’t decorate the nursery, didn’t buy one piece of baby gear, until the papers were signed. They also didn’t tell their son about his new sister. “This is a young girl,” Wendy says of the birthmother. “She’s going through all the hormones, and then she’s giving up her baby, one of the hardest things she’ll ever have to do.” Compassion for the birthmom The birthmother wavered, and wanted to see Wendy. Despite being advised by her attorney against doing so—she was supposed to speak only to the social worker at this point—Wendy followed her instincts and went to her room. “I said look, here’s the deal. There’s no pressure. You want to keep the baby? I want you to have her. You want to give her to me? I will give her the best life I can possibly give her. Think about that, and know that we would never close you off to her life.” Her instincts proved right. The birth mother wanted to see her in her room for reassurance, and she handed her baby over to the adoptive mom. “It was emotional, and beautiful,” says Wendy. When Wendy brought Janie home from the hospital, Christopher, who had just learned about his sister a few hours earlier, said, “‘Thank you, Mom, for giving me a sister,’” says Wendy. “We knew from the beginning that this is what we needed to complete our family.” Wendy and her husband are already reading books to Janie, now 14 months old, about adoption and how she was picked. As for the birthmother, Wendy explains that because she did open adoption, she keeps in touch with her. She’s saving her email communications, and putting them in a book for her daughter. “I want her to know what a brave mother she had.”   Gigi’s story Agency adoption, with a heartbreaking false-start Giselli (Gigi) Danzig knew she would never be able to have her own biological children, so adoption was something she and her husband Josh had always discussed. They married 12 years ago, and started the adoption process two years later. They opted to use American Adoptions. “It was fairly simple process,” says Gigi. After a six-month home study with a social worker, they completed a profile for prospective birthparents, and hoped to get picked. Then that “simple” process turned complicated. Although they pursued a domestic adoption, their profile was chosen by an American birthmother serving in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany. “She was about two months from delivering the baby, so we talked over the phone and got to know each other,” says Gigi. After the baby was born, the Danzigs sent the birthmother and her boyfriend plane tickets to come to New Orleans with the baby. In agency adoptions, birthmothers may surrender their rights to their child three days after the birth. The military delayed this, not letting her leave for two weeks because of paperwork. Gigi says that extra time let her bond with her baby, and she eventually decided to keep it. It was a decision Gigi understood, but left her heartbroken none-the-less.  “We were devastated." Second time's the charm The agency told the couple to be patient and that soon a new child would be in their lives. Four weeks later, they were chosen again. Just six weeks from her due date, this new birthmother—who lived in Boulder, Co.—began to talk frequently with Gigi over the phone. Gigi and Josh raced to the airport when they got the call that she was in labor. They missed the birth by 30 minutes. “So we walked into this hospital room and I was very nervous. You always worry that they could change their minds. But as soon as we walked in, she was in bed and her mother was holding the baby and she [the birthmother] stood up and said, ‘I’m so glad you’re here. Here’s your daughter.’ From that night on, Isabella [now nine] was with us.” Two years later, Gigi and Josh adopted their son, Sam, now seven. Coincidentally his birthparents also were from Colorado. Staying connected “When we went to finalize Sam’s adoption, we managed to get all the birthparents together,” says Gigi. She explains that at first she didn’t know how she would feel about open adoption. “Once I met these kids [all the birthparents], I felt it would be so unfair if I just cut off any touch with them because really, they were giving me the greatest gift of my life.” Her children have always known they were adopted. “Ever since Isabella was little, when I’d put her to sleep, I’d tell her stories about the day she was born, and how she came to us. She loves hearing those stories.” They keep in touch with her birthmother through Facebook. Sam’s birthfather is the most involved with his birthchild. He’s visited the Danzigs in New Orleans three times, most recently this past summer. “We really feel like he’s part of our family,” says Gigi. She says that in the past, Sam had been really shy with his birthfather. But this year, “he really seemed to get close to him, and it was nice. It’s joyful.”  

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