I have been a writer and a journalist in same way shape or form for over 20 years. I have written and produced thousand of stories for broadcast television or print publication. Of them all this is the most personal. My wife and I had been married for about 4 years when we knew it was time to start a family. We soon came to realize that we were having trouble conceiving. After many tests and evaluations we found that my wife could not conceive. Tradition fertility treatments were not any option for her. Many more expensive tests- not covered by health insurance- revealed that the only medical treatment would be what is known as a GIFT procedure or egg donor transplant.
The GIFT procedure involved using my sperm and the fertile egg of a third part donor selected by us. The egg would be fertilized in vitro, and then implanted into my wife, who then with any luck would carry the baby full term to a healthy delivery. That was how the theory went. But we found out in practice the best they could give us was a 50% chance of success. This was an enormously expensive procedure, and after much soul searching, we felt that we were not going to spend our savings, and our one shot at parenthood on the flip of a coin, so we chose instead, adoption. And we are certainly happy that we did.
Our road to parenthood began on a warm southern California summer afternoon, when on a business trip I took the time to meet with an adoption attorney I had been reading about, David Ellis. After some initial conversation and getting to know one another Mr. Ellis said to me, "Steven I am going to make you a father." Having gone down the disappointing road of infertility treatments and at least one previously failed adoption; I had to admit I was somewhat skeptical. But there was just something in the demeanor and smile of the man sitting across from me at this outdoor café in Sherman Oaks that made me believe him. I flew home excited about the meeting, and the next day my wife and I filled out the paperwork and became clients of his agency.
Fast forward to February 11th 2003, when I get I call from a girl at the agency telling me they have a Birth Mom on the way in, and are we interested, but "there are two issues you need to be aware of, one she is Native American, do you have any problems with that?" I did not. "Well the real catch is she is due in two weeks. It was the call my wife and I had been waiting for, had been dreaming about, but Two weeks! - That's so soon. But I told her, "well we are interested of course, when (and if) the young woman indeed shows up, show her our profile and we will take it from there." This was one of the things that we liked best about this particular agency is that the birth mothers "chose" the adoptive parents.
Wednesday, February 12th. The day passes and we have not heard anything, disappointment begins to rear its ugly head. I am working late at my studio, as I so often do, when I get a call from that most charismatic Mr. Ellis. "Steven, I have this beautiful young woman in front of me, she is very pregnant, and very anxious for you two to adopt her baby. I've shown her your profile, and she thinks you guys are perfect. In fact she is so anxious though she is due in two weeks she wants to have the baby by C-section on Friday, and have you guys come and get this baby." Friday! Two days are you kidding. "David, I say - I had enough trouble with two weeks, two days, that's just to soon, too sudden, we are not prepared, I have projects scheduled… David interrupts. "Steven. If you do not want this baby, I have plenty of other families who will, there is no pressure on you, but let me just say something - I run a major law firm, I am sure I am at least as busy as you are, if not more so. I have a 24-year-old daughter who lives in New York City, if she called me today, and said "Dad I need you" I'd drop everything and be on a plane tomorrow. That is what parents do. Now if you are not prepared to come out here and get this baby, maybe you need to rethink things. Maybe you are not prepared to be a parent."
And that hit me. Hard. What was I thinking, putting work commitments and financial concerns above what I had been dreaming about for the past three years? I went into my boss's office, who was the only one still in the building that late, and told him about the situation. He said "do not worry about any of your deadlines, go be a daddy"
I went home that night, my wife and I packed. I booked a flight for us Thursday morning, we arrived in California and that very evening we met our Birth Mother. She was a young Native American girl. We found her to be warm intelligent and very spiritual. We talked about many things, about her career, about where we live, and about our religious beliefs and spirituality. Interestingly enough she knew very little about the Jewish religion and culture, and similarly we knew little about Native American culture, but we were all fascinated by how similar or beliefs really were.
In the most emotionally gratifying moment of the evening, she had said to us that in her culture they believe that all babies choose their parents, that they dwell with the Great Sprit until it is their time to be born. They look down upon the earth and select their parents to be. She said to us that as soon as she saw us in person she felt her baby had drawn us all together that she was just the vessel, and we were the intended parents of this child. Wow, did that make us all cry! We hugged; spent a little more time together, we asked her if she wanted us to spend the night with her, she said no she would be all right.
We picked her up the next morning, February 14th, Valentines Day, to take her to the Hospital. She allowed us to be in the delivery room. My wife held her and comforted her throughout the procedure, and at 11:55AM Lailee Natane Goodman came into the world at 7lbs 8 oz. It could not have been any more the birth of "our" daughter had it been my wife lying there on the delivery table; I even got to cut her umbilical cord. We named her Lailee Natane out of respect for that bond of spirituality that we felt with our Birth Mother and her culture. Lailee in Hebrew means "Born into the Light" and Natane is Native American for "Daughter" so she is our "Daughter Born into the Light". About a two weeks later we flew home, with our new daughter and as the story goes "lived happily every after".
Now there is an interesting back-story to all this that I feel I must share, or this amazing story would not truly be complete. During December of 2002, my wife and I vacationed in New Mexico. While there we visited several Indian Reservations. In the gift shop at one Pueblo I saw a figurine of an Indian woman with children. I told my wife that I wanted to buy this and put it in "the babies room" which we had already begun preparing at home. I brought the figurine to the counter to purchase it and asked the gentleman there if he was the artist. He said no, he represented the artist. I said, "well then could you tell me what the meaning of the figure is". He said it represented the "Storyteller" that each tribe had a Storyteller that was always a woman who gathered the children around her to retell the oral history of the people.
I said "Oh when I saw the mother and children together, I thought it might be some kind of fertility symbol" and explained to him that my wife and I had tried to have children of our own but were unable, and are now in the process of adopting "and we thought this might help bring a baby to us." He said, "well I guess it could do that too" (not wanting to lose the sale I suppose). But with that from behind him steps an old Indian gentleman who looked every inch the iconic "medicine man" and he looked right at my wife and I and said, "I over heard what you were telling my grandson, and I see I goodness in you, and I am going to pray to the Great Spirit to send you a child. Needless to say we thanked him for his kind words, and of course bought the figure. That was December 2003. In February 2004 we were called to adopt a Native American child. I could not make a story like this up; it is totally true and why we have no doubt in our minds and hearts that Lailee Natane Goodman was destined to be our child.