Celebrating a new addition to our family on National Adoption Day.

November 22, 2014
Sloane Aran Alway

Sloane Aran Alway

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

Today is National Adoption Day. My wife, Becky, and I thought it was fitting to publicly announce the addition of our new family: Sloane Aran Alway. We are in the process of adopting Sloane, who was born on Oct. 15.

For some, creating a family is a rather straight forward path. For others, such as ourselves, the path was a little longer with several curves.

About 17 months ago I shared with the readers of MCP our journey of infertility. I also announced the birth of our daughter, Avoca. (See story here).

Avoca has been an amazing little miracle, growing from this tiny baby into a very active 17-month-old toddler — and now a big sister who loves the new addition to our family. Her favorite new word is “baby.”

Ever since I was young I have had this “calling” to adopt. While I believe the fact that my dad and his sister were adopted certainly played a role in my feelings, my calling was always something inside of me, beyond a conscious level.

When we first found out that natural fertility was an unlikely path for us, adoption seemed a logical choice. It was never a “second” option for us but rather the second step. While it’s true that we first attempted In Vitro, we both always knew that the odds of us conceiving one child would be difficult, let alone any more after that — if we had been successful. The odds of naturally conceiving one, as we did, were equally against us.

Our journey through adoption began in the spring of 2011. We explored our different options: domestic adoption, international adoption. We looked at adopting an infant compared to a slightly older child. Our longing was for an infant, a newborn actually. As we attended meetings, we learned that adopting a newborn child from a foreign country has many restrictions, and the child is no longer a newborn once you receive her. The best option for us was domestic adoption.

One of the blessings of living in west Michigan is that we are home to some incredible charitable organizations. Catholic Charities of West Michigan seemed to be a good fit for us.

We liked the personal service Catholic Charities provided. We attended an informational meeting in Muskegon and that’s where we met our adoption counselor, Linda Townsend. Linda’s name is well known in the adoption world up and down the west shore of Michigan. With over 25 years of service, she has seen a lot of adoptions. We then attended a couple weekend sessions that taught us about the modern infant adoption process.

Infant adoption has evolved in the past 40 years. Most adoptions are now what is called “open,” meaning there is some sort of communication or relationship with one or both of the birth parents. This has been proven to be helpful for healing for the birth parents and the child as well.

Sloane Aran Alway

Sloane Aran Alway

While “closed” adoptions still exist, where the records are sealed and are inaccessible to the adopted families or the children, they are not as common.

Like many people coming into the adoption process, we learned that there are many levels of “open.” Ultimately an open adoption is typically the healthiest option for the child. He or she does not grow up with a void, instead questions to an adoptive child’s greatest mysteries are often accessible.

We learned that nurture is typically more influential than nature. While an adoptive child will certainly have physical and mental traits of his/her birth families, they will bond with those who raise them.

In this day and age family can have many different branches, not all of them connected to the same natural tree. Our families alone fit that example: I am a child of divorced parents. I have a mother, a father and a stepmother. I have two brothers, a stepbrother and three stepsisters. My wife is also a child of divorced parents. She also has a mother, a father and a stepmother. She also has a half sister, a half brother and a stepsister. Whew! To our children, this will just be normal.

Another thing we learned about modern infant adoption is that, with few exceptions, the birth mother (and sometimes the birth father as well) chooses the adopted parents. They are typically guided by the adoption agency, but ultimately it’s their choice. Perspective parents, after going through extensive background checks, are placed on a list.

When we found out that Becky was pregnant with Avoca, we placed a temporary hold on the list of parents looking to adopt. About 11 months after Avoca was born, in May 2013, we decided it was time to get back on that list, about April of this year.

Then, we waited.

Sometimes life doesn’t quite go according to the book, we know that for sure with our experience of having our first child. Why would our adoption be any less unconventional?

Towards the end of August we were matched with a birth mother (known here as BM). She was due to give birth in early November.

avoca and sloane

Avoca meets her baby sister for the first time.

Our baby girl came a little early, on Oct. 15, 2014, she was born a healthy but tiny 17.5 inches and 5 pounds, 5 ounces.

The hospital where she was born was great to work with. They had prepared a room for us to stay. Moments after Sloane was born she was brought into our room. Becky was the first to hold the baby. If you know Becky, you know it was tearful. She wouldn’t let go of this little angel.

In Michigan, infants used to go into the foster care system. Adoptive parents were basically considered foster parents until they legally adopted the child. Now, in a nutshell, the adopting parents are granted custodianship of the child. The birth parents still have legal rights over the child until they testify in the probate court in the county where the birth parents live, and give up their parental rights. This took place on Nov. 6. The adoptive parents are then observed for six months by the adoption agency and at the end of that period, are granted full parental rights.

So, on this day, National Adoption Day, I am proud to announce a new addition to the Alway family, Sloane Aran Alway.

We feel our family is now complete. We have two beautiful, happy, healthy little girls who we will raise equally as if they were both naturally our own. We are very thankful that our friends and family have been supportive and understanding of this path that we have gone down. Most of all, we are thankful to God for choosing us for the honor of raising these precious children.

We are very thankful to Catholic Charities of West Michigan and everything they have done to help us on this journey. If you would like more information on adoption, you may contact them at www.ccwestmi.org or call 616-456-1443.

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