Exclusive Excerpt from Given Family: A Collection of Adoption Stories

Megan Moore

Contributing Writer
Updated May 16, 2024
Exclusive Excerpt from Given Family: A Collection of Adoption Stories

Lindsay said, “Our entire process has been God-ordained. We could not have gotten through the waiting and the challenges without our hope in Him and our belief this was His plan for our family..."

The following is an exclusive excerpt from Contributing Writer Megan Moore's latest book, Given Family: A Collection of Adoption Stories:

When Anthony and Lindsay Ortega initially decided to adopt, they quickly realized arranging lengthy travel for an international adoption would be difficult with their two young children. Deciding to pursue a domestic adoption, they met with agencies, chose one that fit their requirements, and completed all of the necessary steps. Expecting a longer wait because they already had children, it was two years before they learned their agency was placing fewer infants with families who already had children. After considering other options, they switched agencies. Within a couple of weeks, they received a phone call about a nine-day-old baby girl named Alexis.

At first, it was unclear if Alexis would be available for adoption, as her birth mother had left the hospital without signing any paperwork. The Ortegas were on their way to the hospital when the birth mother returned and chose adoption for Alexis. She did not want contact with the adoptive family but gave Alexis the option to find her, if she chooses, once Alexis is an adult. Due to the

paperwork delay and an earlier-than-expected discharge from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), Alexis went into foster care for a week. Anthony and Lindsay were able to spend time with her in the foster home as they waited for temporary custody to be granted, at which time, they took her into their home. Alexis’ adoption was finalized one year later.

After some time, the Ortegas began the adoption process again, this time through foster care, with a path of foster-to-adopt. Their first placement was a little girl with severe behaviors, which quickly became overwhelming. The family was scared for the safety of all of the children. They had to admit they were not the best placement for this child, who needed more structure and individual attention, which she eventually found with a biological family member. The Ortegas returned to their agency to seek a second adoption and were matched with a birth mother. The baby was born and left in the care of the Ortegas while still at the hospital, but the mother returned, having decided to parent her child. Anthony and Lindsay were devastated, as were their children, now ages 7, 5, and 2. Lindsay told me, after two difficult situations, they were unsure of what to do next. Anthony, usually in control of his emotions, was especially heartbroken about the baby. The couple hesitantly moved forward with another birth family. Guarded at first, they became more confident that this experience would be different. They even met with the birth parents and grandparents a few times during the pregnancy and trusted everyone agreed with the adoption plan. 

When a healthy baby boy named Grant was born, he was with his birth parents for the first 24 hours and with the Ortegas for the next 24 hours, including some time with both families together. Lindsay remembers the anxiety of that time as she and Anthony recalled their previous failed adoption. This time, however, the Ortegas took baby Grant home from the hospital, and his adoption was finalized six months later. Anthony and Lindsay are now in contact with Grant’s birth mother on occasion. When Grant joined the Ortega family, Anthony and Lindsay’s nephew asked, “Why does your baby have a mad face?” Lindsay laughed and said, “I think we were just so loud and crazy that Grant didn’t know what to think. He glared at us for weeks, then started smiling. He hasn’t stopped since.” 

Adoption has always been an open conversation in the Ortega house. The children love each other just as if they were biological siblings, complete with lots of fun playtime and plenty of sibling squabbles. The older children are protective of the younger children. Alexis has a lot of questions about her background and skin color. As a different race than her parents, Alexis regularly asks about where she comes from, why she looks the way she does, and the details of her birth and adoption. She talks to Grant about their similarities in being adopted and having the same skin color. Grant, on the other hand, does not ask a lot of questions and seems more comfortable in his identity. Lindsay anticipates Alexis will continue to seek answers as she ages, and it may be difficult for her that Grant has access to his birth parents while she does not. 

Alexis is now 7, and Grant is 4. They are both healthy and outgoing. They enjoy a variety of activities and like to be the center of attention. Both children have sleep issues. Grant doesn’t seem to need much sleep, but Alexis is negatively impacted by her sleep disruptions. She is often an emotional roller-coaster. According to her mom, “Alexis is either happy and entertaining, or she is mad at the world and you will feel it.” Her public school classroom has

many students with trauma backgrounds, which has been difficult for Alexis. Her parents are enrolling her in a private school for the upcoming school year to try to best support her. Determining the cause of her emotions and behaviors is challenging. Lindsay questioned, “Is it trauma? Is it just her? Is it the environment? Is it the lack of sleep? Sometimes I think I would have told my other kids to get over it, but that isn’t going to work with her.” Grant, described as “rambunctious and wild,” does not struggle in the same way but still experiences grief. Lindsay said, “The care and connection Grant had with his biological family made a huge difference in his life and will continue to. But we still see the loss he carries.”

The hardest part of adoption for the Ortegas has been the heartbreak of all of the losses. Lindsay, through tears, said, “It’s the losses the kids have to put up with for life—losing that connection with their birth families is heartbreaking.” The difficulties that come with trauma are also challenging, and you can never be fully prepared for those. Lindsay said, “Even though we adopted them from birth, the way they struggle is bigger than the way our biological kids do, and the things they have to deal with are harder.” It can be frustrating and isolating. Lindsay admitted, “We have a great community who are going through similar things, but it is still different. No matter how many people you talk to or specialists you see or resources you have, my kid is still different than yours, so what works for you might not work for me. How do you help these kids to cope and to overcome the things that are too big to bear sometimes?”

The best part of adoption for the Ortegas has been “opening your world to something and someone different. Biologically, we would never have had kids who are like this.” Adoption opens your family to new and different experiences and people positively impacting each family member.

To anyone considering adoption, Lindsay encouraged, “Definitely, you should do it!” She acknowledged it is a difficult road to walk but believes it is also “the best thing ever,” as long as both parents agree it is the right decision for their family. Joining a support group before you need it is important so the relationships are there when you do need them. Organizing medical and financial resources ahead of time will also be helpful. She also advised to do all of the training, read everything you can, and get to know people who have already adopted while remembering every situation is different. The Ortegas also believe being grounded in faith helps

tremendously on the difficult road of adoption. Lindsay said, “Our entire process has been God-ordained. We could not have gotten through the waiting and the challenges without our hope in Him and our belief this was His plan for our family. He came through for us financially, in both answered and unanswered prayers, through piecing things together in His timing, and by bringing the right kids for our family to us.”

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Ridofranz

Megan Moore is a military spouse and mom of 3 (through birth and adoption). A speech-language pathologist by training, she now spends her time moving around the country every couple of years. She is passionate about special needs, adoption, and ice cream.