Thursday, May 10, 2012


It's hard to believe one year can pass so quickly.

One year ago today, we brought our beautiful baby girl home from the hospital. She was five days old.

She was tiny. Only 4 lbs., 13 oz. She was beautiful. She was ours. She was a miracle to us.

Berkley was born on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. Because of her birthday falling on this holiday, her mother named her Maya. We had planned to rename her Berkley Fern (after my Grandma, Fern Nate, an amazing woman), but when we found out her birth mother had named her Maya, we felt impressed to add it to her name, thus becoming Berkley Maya Fern Conger.

A lot of names for one little girl, but each one was so significant, we couldn't leave it out. Besides, this was no ordinary little girl so of course she would need no ordinary name.

Dan and I could hardly believe this tiny miracle was ours. Having given birth four times before, I had experienced (and my poor husband with me) the progression of pregnancy and the anticipation of birth. But adoption is a bit different. There were no physical signs from my body warning me the date might be arriving; there were no sleepless nights due to discomfort; no contractions or heartburn or crazy food cravings.

There was only hope.

And yes, a little fear, too.

Not the usual kind of fear, like hoping I could endure another labor or hoping she didn't have my chin. This time, the fear was that we would anxiously await her arrival, only to be told she wouldn't really be ours.

That is everyone's fear who adopts a child. But for us, it was even more poignant because this very thing had already happened. We had anticipated two baby girls being placed in our arms, only to have our hopes dashed when the birth mother never showed up with her babies. It was excruciating pain. Something I hoped to never feel again.

I will never forget waking up the morning of May 5th to the phone ringing. It was the adoption agency. The birth mom was in labor! It was five weeks before her due date, so although we had been warned the baby might come a little early, we were not expecting it to be quite so soon. I was ecstatic, but frightened. Hopeful but careful. Would everything work out okay? Would the baby be healthy? Would the mother have an easy delivery? Would she sign the papers?

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long. The baby was born shortly after her arrival in the hospital. She was healthy and strong, but tiny. How I ached to hold her in my arms! But it would not be so. The birth mom wanted a closed adoption, which meant we could not go to the hospital while she was there, which meant it would still be a couple of days until I could hold this sweet baby in my arms. It was an agonizing wait.

We talked. We prayed. We hoped. And we prayed some more. Finally the news came. Her mother had signed the papers and this baby would be ours! Oh, the gratitude Ifelt! After two long months of waiting for this birth, trying not to get our hopes up, but hoping just the same, she would finally be ours.

Still we waited. We were told we could not come to the hospital to see her but would have to wait until she was eating well enough to come home. I tried to be understanding. I tried to be paitent. Finally, I called the agency, and in tears, explained to them that my baby needed me and I needed her. They arranged a short visit. Berkley ate well for the first time as I held her in my arms and told her how much I loved her.

I am often asked how the bonding experience goes with adoption as compared to biological children. I cannot answer that for everybody, and my guess is, it's different for every person. But for me, the first time I laid eyes on Berkley and held her in my arms, she was mine. She was familiar. She was a Conger. Yes, it was sort of surreal, but it was also very real.

After five days, we were finally able to check her out of the hospital and take her home to four siblings who could hardly wait to get their hands on her. It was a joyous day.

She was, and still is, constantly kissed and loved.

Now, 365 days later, all I can say is that this baby has changed our lives. Each of our lives. Our family will never be the same. We are bonded by our love for this little curly-haired girl. She is nothing short of a miracle to us, just as each of our other children are.

Berkley's blessing day

I thank God this day for Berkley's birth mother. For one year now we have written her monthly letters and sent monthly pictures. I hope wherever she is, whatever she is doing, she will think of this sweet baby she so unselfishly gave to us, and she will smile, feeling our gratitude for her decision.

Berkley's One Year Photos--Is it just me or is that the cutest little leopard butterfly you've ever seen?

Love her beautiful smile

Those chubby little legs are absolutely irresistible!

My life has been so blessed! To have given birth four times to four uniquely wonderful children, to have added another sweet spirit to our home through the miracle of adoption, to be married to a truly wonderful man.

I could never ask for more.


Dixie said...

Sweet baby cake! How adorable. Happy Birthday ONE YEAR OLD precious Berkley!