Hi! We’re the Cadwells- Justin, Meredith, and Samuel.
We currently reside in Omaha, Nebraska. Justin is an airline and part time Air National Guard pilot and I am an accountant for a tech company. In December 2019, we brought home our first child, Samuel, from South Korea via the international adoption process.
Since I was a little girl, I have always gravitated toward adoption. I believe this is partially because my mom was raised in a group home. Her stories opened my eyes to the reality of so many children who grow up without being cared for. Through my high school years and my 20’s, I told friends that I would rather adopt than have biological children, because so many children in the world need families.
Fast forward to marrying Justin, we were together several years before even discussing having a family of our own. I spoke to him about adopting before, but it was honestly one of those things I desired but wasn’t really sure would ever really happen. Adoption is a hard, emotional choice and sometimes comes with a heavy financial burden. And so, like most couples, when the time came and we agreed that we were ready to start our family, we tried almost two years for a baby. We assumed it was female infertility due to anovulation, but my doctor recommended for us to test my husband’s fertility just to rule that out. We followed his advice and ultimately Justin was diagnosed with unobstructed azoospermia (in simple terms, his sperm count is zero).
I’m sharing all of this because I believe it’s a very important testament to the journey that God took us on. He planted the seed for adoption in my heart many years ago; then He brought Justin and me together and made adoption an easy decision for us. I imagine if Justin had married someone who didn’t have a desire to adopt how burdened he would be with the guilt of this diagnosis. Female infertility is well-known and spoken about, male infertility is not.
Deciding to adopt was probably the easiest part of the process for us. We, unknowingly, submitted our application to adopt just two days after Samuel was born and brought him home on his 18 month birthday. The hardest part of the adoption process is trusting in the timing. There are so many ways that I tried to artificially control (obsess over) the timeline: talking to other families, making spreadsheets for time estimates, etc…
In the end, God worked perfectly to bring our son home at exactly the right time. In the midst of job changes for Justin, we never went without a paycheck. Unbeknownst to us, we came home weeks before a global pandemic (Covid-19) that has put many adoptive families on hold. And lastly, Samuel came home just in time to meet my brother who we just lost to esophageal cancer, and my mother-in-law who we just lost to breast cancer. The adoption wait is not for the faint of heart. It’s agonizing and full of really high highs and really low lows, but oh my goodness have we been rewarded for trusting in this plan.
Once we met and held Samuel for the first time, all of the waiting felt like a distant memory. He was and is everything we have prayed and hoped for, and so much more. If you are considering adoption, your fears will never outweigh the love that you will feel for your child, nor will they take away that child’s need for your love. TAKE THE LEAP!
Becoming a mom has enabled me to appreciate the little things in life. It is so rewarding to watch our son grow, learn, and thrive in his new environment. He was ripped away from everything he knew, but I am constantly in awe and inspired by how brave he is. The mom guilt is real, and so magnified for an adoptive parent. We read so much adoptive parenting literature and know the different parenting techniques that adoption sometimes requires. It is difficult navigating and differentiating “normal” toddler issues versus adopted toddler issues. Also, it took a while, but now I know that choosing the wrong parenting technique one day won’t erase our attachment/bonding progress.
Before becoming a family of three, Justin and I knew that our career and relationship ambitions would remain important to us. I feel very fortunate that my company gave me a substantial maternity leave, allowing me to bond with Samuel and return to work knowing that he is comfortable. We feel that it is so important to take time to focus on ourselves and our marriage. I, for one, am a much better mother when my cup is full in every aspect of my life.
My biggest piece of advice for other moms, regardless of the circumstances, is to always give yourself the grace that you deserve. Not knowing all the answers doesn’t make you a bad mom. Take a deep breath, find the positive where you usually only see the negative, and ask for help when you need it! We moms have the toughest job out there; be proud of the grit that motherhood gives you!
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Photo credit: welkinlightfamilyphotokorea