This is a story about the journey of adoption—the uncut version of the way people go about adoption today. It’s not always picture perfect and that’s okay.
Meet Hannah and Aaron Bunker of Houston. A creative soul, Hannah is a talented blogger and producer of a lively YouTube channel. Aaron has his own marriage counseling practice. Hannah and Aaron were ready to start their family when they discovered they could not conceive. The couples’ optimism did not let the news stop them from their dream of starting a family, however, and they decided to adopt a child in 2012.
Like most who seek adoption, Hannah and Aaron were filled with questions. How do we get started? What is the legal process? Who do we reach out to for assistance? Hannah took to Google and asked friends for recommendations. A support group for prospective adoptive parents referred Hannah and Aaron to Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS). They had also heard great things about PCHAS from close friends who were going through PCHAS’ Foster-to-Adopt program.
Ready for the next step, Hannah and Aaron met a roadblock. What about the financing needed to adopt a child? “God helped us raise the money,” said Hannah. The Bunkers have a close friend who saved $14,000 for the adoption of a child for their own family, then decided not to adopt. Instead, they gave the money to Hannah and Aaron. “It was a miracle,” said Hannah. “With this money in hand, we could begin filling out the paperwork, and suddenly our dreams began to feel very real.”
The Adoption Process
Hannah and Aaron set up a meeting with PCHAS and embarked on the next step: the interview process. Hannah met with Celeste Ross, a PCHAS Regional Director based in Houston. During this meeting, she learned about the “wrap around services” provided to both birth parents and adoptive families. “Celeste and the PCHAS team were so comforting to me. Celeste made me feel right at home and so calm about the entire process. I knew PCHAS was the right choice for our adoption,” Hannah recalled.
PCHAS assigned Adoption Specialist Mandy to Hannah and Aaron. “Mandy was incredible to work with. I couldn’t give a more stellar review. Through the whole process I knew we needed to be professional, but I couldn’t wait until the process was complete so Mandy and I could be friends in real life!” said Hannah.
“Everyone at PCHAS is so friendly, warm and welcoming. I never felt like a bother no matter how many questions I had. Kind of like how you should turn to your doctor and not Google for medical questions, you should turn to your adoption agency with the hard questions. I turned to PCHAS—they were my “adoption doctor,” and I trusted my team’s professional advice.”
PCHAS Adoption Specialists play a vital role throughout the adoption process aiding and representing both the maternity client and adoptive family with counseling and education, including information about the (rather involved) legal process. “We didn’t know if it would be better to have an Adoption Specialist that represented both the birth mom and adoptive parents, but it definitely worked out in everyone’s favor. All parties stayed informed and communication flowed smoothly,” Hannah recalled.
Meeting the Birth Parents
Within two weeks of signing paperwork, Hannah and Aaron received a call that a maternity client and her partner had selected Hannah and Aaron as the adoptive family for their twin babies. As a next step, Hannah and Aaron met their prospective birth parents. “The first meeting was awkward; I’m not going to lie. There was an elephant in the room. It is such a difficult decision for a birth family to have another family parent their child, and we were grieving for them. It was bittersweet for us. We talked with the birth parents for a long time. It was great to get to know them.”
The meeting went well and the birth mom and dad selected Hannah and Aaron as the adoptive family for their baby twins. The Bunkers and the birth parents agreed to an open adoption. They wanted their children to know their adoption story and to think of their birth parents with honor and mutual respect, just as Hannah and Aaron think of them.
Getting the Call
“We could not have been more excited. Aaron and I were shopping at IKEA getting nursery room ideas when we got a call from Mandy who said, ‘don’t spend too much money yet, but you may want to pick up two car seats for the arrival of your new twin babies, a boy and a girl.’ We were elated!”
Meeting for the official placement and the assigning of parental rights was a day filled with intense emotion. Hannah and Aaron were both grateful to be blessed with such beautiful twin babies but Hannah recalls, “I remember after we signed documents to affirm our official parental rights, we gathered together in a room together with the birth parents and the babies. These were some of the sweetest and saddest moments of my life. We wanted to celebrate, but we also grieved for the birth parents. We looked into each other’s eyes, tears flowing, and were bonded from that moment forward. I will never forget that day.”
As a way to honor the birth parents, the Bunkers used the names the birth parents picked out for their babies as the babies’ middle names; and the babies, Cason Carmelo Bunker and Grace Camille Bunker, could not be more loved by both their birth parents and adoptive parents. Hannah sends Mother’s Day cards and shares how the children are doing on a regular basis.
“Hannah and Aaron want to reassure other adoptive moms and dads out there, “There is not a picture perfect story. [Your adoption journey] might not go the way you are imagining it. But, when you’re holding those children in your arms, when you finally get there however long you’ve been waiting, all the pain just melts away. There is nothing more beautiful.”
To read more about the Bunkers’ adoption journey, read Hannah’s blog: http://hannahbunker.com/blog.