Sarah was sixteen and pregnant. West Virginia was home, but she’d moved to Washington to live with her grandparents after learning she was pregnant. The baby’s father, Jacob, was several years older and still living in West Virginia. Sarah had chosen adoptive parents for her baby: Lisa was a family doctor, Adam was a nonprofit director, and they had a three-year-old son. They lived in Tennessee, and had been searching for an adoptive placement for almost two years.
Last May, I got a text from Lisa. Twenty-four years ago, we were freshman roommates at Dartmouth College. I knew she and Adam were hoping to adopt, but hadn’t seen her in person since we graduated. “Hey, we might actually have a match. Her name is Sarah and she lives . . . about half an hour from you? I think we need an attorney. Could you represent us?”
Could I?! Um, one thousand times YES!
Sarah thought her due date was May 13, so Lisa and Adam flew to Seattle on the 9th. As it turned out, Sarah didn’t deliver until May 21st. Fortunately, Lisa and Adam are enthusiastic hikers and the weather cooperated, so they were able to explore the Cascades, San Juan Islands, and greater Puget Sound area in addition to spending time with Sarah, her mother, and her grandmother.
When the baby finally arrived, Lisa was able to be present in the delivery room, although Adam wasn’t allowed to join them due to Covid restrictions. Sarah had her mother with her as well, and Jacob had driven (driven!) all the way from West Virginia with his own mother to meet the baby, which he was able to do a few hours after the baby was born. Baby Luke was healthy, Sarah was healthy, and they were discharged 24 hours after birth. Sarah and Jacob signed consents to the adoption. Lisa, Adam, Luke, Sarah, and Sarah’s mother all left the hospital together, and spent that evening with Sarah’s grandparents. A few days later, Lisa and Adam said tearful goodbyes to Sarah, and returned to Tennessee with baby Luke and a temporary custody order.
When we finalized the adoption about six weeks later, Lisa wrote this:
Luke was born to an amazing, bright, talented young woman who won us over as soon as we met her. We have given her our word that we will do our best to raise this boy in a way that honors her selfless sacrifice. She is family, and we are thankful.
She is also an artist, which is reflected in our son’s name: Luke is the patron saint of both artists and physicians, and also means “bringer of light.” He has already brought so much light, and we have no doubt he will continue to do so.
We are forever indebted to our friends who have shared their adoptive journeys with us, and who have helped us make this happen. Luke’s story is inherently different from his brother’s, and we are on this ride for life. We don’t have all the answers, but we know that he deserves to handle the truth of his story, in his own time.
This is our family! For better, for worse, for always.
— Janna J. Annest is a AAAA Fellow who handles both adoption and ART law. You can learn more about Janna’s practice on her website, www.lka-legal.com.