Find the missing piece

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THE PARENTS: Angie Horn, 39, and Erin Davis, 48, of Springfield, Pa.

THE CHILD: Jackson Quinn, 7 months old, adopted December 9, 2021

THE FINALIZATION: “It’s a formality,” says Angie. “A huge relief, but it already seems definitive to me. This is our baby.

They were lining up with a friend outside a vegan bakery in Manayunk when Angie’s phone rang with an unknown number. Then she listened to the message. “It’s adopting a baby,” she told Erin. “He’s our social worker.”

“So I call her back and hear her, but not really,” Erin recalls. “My brain is completely frozen. She said, ‘She chose you,’ and I’m standing in the street crying.

Meanwhile, their friend hid in the bakery. “Give me one of everything,” she blurted out, then walked out with three boxes full.

As Erin puts it, they’ve been waiting barely four months since they submitted their profile book to the agency and started responding to biological mother profiles.

Angie says she has been waiting for years. “I knew all my adult life that I wanted to be a mom,” she says. “It has been a calling for me. I knew without a doubt that I would get there one day.

Erin had also thought about parenthood, but didn’t feel strong enough to pursue it as a single person. Instead, she channeled her energy into her career as a nurse practitioner. “I thought maybe life had a different path for me. “

Then she met Angie in the summer of 2018; the two had joined the Schuylkill Dragons, a women’s dragon boat team, and found themselves sitting next to each other on the first day of practice.

“I didn’t know Erin was interested in me,” Angie said. “It wasn’t until we did a few workouts together and started talking more regularly that I felt a spark and realized it was mutual.”

On their first date, Erin invited Angie over for dinner – then panicked, as she didn’t know what to cook for someone who was vegan. She opted for salad and wine, followed by a screening of The grinch.

“I was drawn to Erin’s sense of humor,” says Angie. “I felt comfortable with her.” To Erin, Angie’s kind and calm manners were a foil to her own outgoing nature. “She assumes the best of people, all the time,” she says.

After dating for only a few months, Angie began to feel dizzy. Was it vertigo? Both women were stunned by the diagnosis: thyroid cancer. Erin channeled her worry into concrete tasks: setting up doctor’s appointments, helping translate medical terminology.

“She was able to keep me level and calm me down from my anxiety about everything,” Angie says. The crisis prompted them to get married as soon as possible – a small ceremony in their living room in July 2019, with their families as witnesses.

At one point, their officiant asked everyone to take turns holding the women’s rings – simple silicone rings, rose gold for Erin, and forest green for Angie – and offer a brief thought or A blessing.

They later rekindled the conversation about parenting. Both women felt too old to try to conceive and assisted reproduction did not appeal to them. “We knew there were children who needed families and homes, and why not start where we know there is a need? Said Erin.

Erin came to their first briefing at A Baby Step with a set of questions: How could they find out more about the baby’s health? What were open and closed adoptions? How would they interact with a birth mother, not just now but in the future?

In the profile book the women prepared, they highlighted their dogs – two mixes of Chihuahua, Tito and Happy – and their love for the outdoors. They also wrote about what they would teach a child: inclusion, acceptance, kindness, honesty.

Their first meeting with social workers was in early 2020. Then the pandemic put adoption plans on hold until the fall.

That crystalline March day, in front of Manayunk’s bakery, the social worker didn’t say much: just that a biological mother had chosen them and that she was due to arrive in May. “There was a lot we didn’t know about the situation. Every day seemed like the longest day ever, ”says Angie. “We were walking around looking at our emails and phones: when is the baby coming? “

One Thursday evening, they learned that the birth mother was in labor at Lancaster Women & Babies Hospital. Due to COVID-19 protocols, they were not allowed in until it was time to pick up the baby. But they received photos, sent by SMS by the social worker, from his birth.

“I couldn’t wait to meet him,” Angie says. “It was so hard not to be there, not to hold it, to want to be there as soon as possible.”

They got to Lancaster two hours early, plenty of time to wander around Target and buy another baby outfit. “We looked like a parenting commercial for the first time,” Erin laughs. “A car seat and a sports bag with everything you could want. “

Hospital staff told the women that the birth mother, who initially wanted a closed adoption, ultimately decided to meet with them. But first, they met their son. “It was amazing to hold him for the first time, to see his sweet little face,” said Angie.

Then the birth mother entered the room and immediately gave them a hug. She explained why she chose them – partly because of her sister, who was in a same-sex relationship, and partly because of the dogs.

“I have no recollection of what I said,” Erin recalls. “I remember crying.”

At home, as they got out of the car, the 4-year-old boy next door came running. “Who had it in her stomach?” She wanted to know.

Angie and Erin say they’ll always tell Jackson the truth: This family is bigger than biology. “We don’t want adoption to be a secret or a mystery.”

Parenthood has shifted the center of Erin’s workaholic world; now she asks herself: “What are you doing? Are you happy? Are you making a good example? Angie calls their son “my boyfriend”.

“Jackson filled in the missing piece in my heart,” she said.

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