Editor’s Note: In this post, adoptive parents Maura Montellano & Kat Wetherbee, talk about how they adopted twice from the same birthmother, and the bond they all share.
June 22, 2010, and July 25, 2013, will always be milestones for my wife, Katherine, and I. They are the dates when we learned we’d be mothers. After years of disappointment, hoping and waiting to be parents, we have now been blessed twice. Our oldest daughter, Gia Belén, was born in December 2010 and our younger daughter, Ava Simóne, was born in March 2014.
Our daughters’ birth mother Ashleigh’s choice to place these two girls in our lives has forever changed the trajectory of our lives, her children’s lives and her own life. Since meeting, we have enjoyed a sincere, unparalleled open relationship – sharing photos, videos and texts of our daughters almost daily.
But I’ll back up a little to explain how we got here. In July 2013, Katherine, Ashleigh and I met for our annual dinner to celebrate Ashleigh’s birthday. At that time, we only had our daughter Gia, who was 2½ years old. During the course of the evening, we mentioned that we were considering adopting again and asked Ashleigh to share her thoughts about it. It was important for us because she is a part of our family now, and a sibling for our daughter and another birth mother joining our family circle would have been an adjustment. She was excited for us and for Gia to have a sibling to grow up with. We jokingly agreed to have her tag along to meet any prospective birth mothers so she could give us her take on them.
When Ashleigh called two weeks later, we could not have guessed her news or her request. She had just learned she was pregnant. She had a seven-year-old son and was not ready to parent a second child. Would we be willing to adopt this baby?
Through the years, we have watched Ashleigh grow from her experience of placing, and have proudly witnessed her peace and advocacy for open adoption. She has blossomed as a mother to her young son learning invaluable lessons about motherhood, life and unconditional love. She handles adversity with aplomb, and in spite of setbacks that would make many of us buckle to our knees, she perseveres
Her life has not been without its struggles, including a teenage pregnancy, a dark period of drug addiction, rehab, sobriety (nearly 8 years strong), and the controversy about placing for a second time. Although many friends and family were happy and proud of her when she placed Gia, placing for a second time seemed irresponsible to them and many openly disapproved of her choice.
I think she did a much better job than I did of coming up with the right response for those who questioned her. Initially, I was defensive in my responses to questions about her “irresponsible” lifestyle choices. We were taken aback by the lack of compassion and analogies used to compare the situation. To hear negative comments from some family and friends when sharing our news was by far the most surprising to us. We did our best, however, to stay away from defending Ashleigh, and focused instead on the bravery, strength and absolute love required to do what’s best for her child.
As we did with Gia, we were in the delivery room when Ava was born. It was an extraordinary moment when she took her first breath. We watched as she was weighed and we all gasped – 9.7 pounds of pure love! Later, we visited Ashleigh in her room and we gushed with joy. We knew she was genuinely happy for us and at peace with her adoption decision. Early in our match, Ashleigh had made the difficult choice to not hold Ava in the hospital; she had done the same with Gia. It was the only way she could do what she felt in her heart was the best for the children, she said. Her plan was to meet the girls when they were older and when they requested to meet her.
But life unfolds in its own wonderful way. Continue reading