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Joy Alongside Grief: Patty Roddy

Despite the stress and numerous emotions that frequently accompany adoption, there are notable stories where everything runs smoothly. The application and paperwork, the home study, the matching process — it all seamlessly falls into place. Credit for such journeys can go to a variety of places.

For Patty Roddy, she gives all credit to God. Without Him, she says, her journey to adoption would’ve been very different. Or it might not have happened at all. So, for this reason, she stated that He gets all the glory for everything.

The following interview is used with Patty’s expressed permission, including the use of her own name. Her oldest daughter, Rebekah, has also granted consent to the use of hers and that of her childhood nickname. Any additional names of others involved have been left purposefully nondescript or altered for the sake of privacy.

Disclaimer: Please note that the following worldview illustrated in this interview is a reflection of my adoptive mother’s beliefs. Adoption Choices Inc. is a non-faith based adoption agency.

RR: What was your motivation to adopt?

PR: Before we got married, we knew we wanted to have a big family. We knew we wanted to have some kids of our own biologically, and that we wanted to adopt. I didn’t know what that would look like, or what the number was, but we…wanted a bunch of kids. We were open to all forms of adoption…

RR: What was your path to adoption like?

PR: So, I had Rebekah. She was our first. I had a miscarriage when she was about two years old that was pretty hard. Six months later, I got pregnant again. I was sick a lot, but it was otherwise a good pregnancy. Sarah was born in August of ‘86. Then, five and a half weeks later, she died from SIDS. That was…very devastating. My heart ached for her, and my arms ached physically. As if they felt the emptiness. It’s a strange thing to explain, but I just wanted to hold her.

In December of that year, we were going through the grieving process…not knowing why Sarah had died and why it had to happen to us. It’s kind of a huge realization…that bad things can happen to…good people. You know, we love the Lord and are born-again Christians, but bad stuff still happens. So, I had to come to terms with that. It was shattering…I had felt protected, but then all of a sudden it felt like the protection was gone. Later, I realized that God’s not responsible for Sarah’s death. We live in that kind of world. Because of sin, bad things can happen to everybody. I really struggled with this.

Soon after her death, my doctor diagnosed me with hypothyroid[ism], and I went on medication for that. My body was probably in shock from giving birth and then going through the trauma of the death of a child. My doctor thought this was why I hadn’t been getting pregnant. I was desperate to get pregnant again, to add to our family. I didn’t want Rebekah to get too old before she had another sibling she could enjoy.

At the beginning of April, I felt like we needed to talk to someone about adoption. We didn’t have any resources or know what to say or where to start. So, we talked to a pastor at our church who had handled stuff like that in the past. We asked if he could put us on some kind of list. He said there really wasn’t a list, but that he would keep us in mind if he heard anything. Nothing had happened, he said, in at least a couple years.

Around the same time — I’m a little fuzzy about the exact timing — I was taking my temperature to see when I was ovulating and my body had finally started going through regular rhythms and I felt like I was pregnant. I went to the doctor. The tests were positive, but the numbers were low. They wanted me to come back after a while to see what that actually meant.

I was in the process of another miscarriage.

The same day the doctor confirmed that I had miscarried, the pastor called and said, “You won’t believe this, but I think I have a baby for you guys.”

Because of everything we’d gone through — Sarah’s death and struggling to get pregnant and now the second miscarriage — we felt like we had to be very careful with our hearts not to get our hopes up. Plus, we knew that there would be a woman on the other side of the story who had to make a really difficult decision. We wanted a baby so desperately, but we didn’t want somebody else to go through pain — even though it wouldn’t be us making that happen. Still knowing that there would be grief on the other end…it was just really hard…especially since we know Michelle now, and what the adoption cost her. We try to be very honoring and respectful to her because she gave the greatest gift.

So, we prayed. “Lord, if this is the baby for us, You need to make things happen.”

It was April 25th. Your due date was June 21st, but you were born a week late. We had less than two months, and everyone was telling us, “It’s not going to happen.” But we had miracle after miracle happen. Basically…people who needed to be interviewed that were supposed to be out of the country were suddenly in the country…all the stuff that needed to come back from the doctor that usually takes 10 days took 2. The home study…happened in record timing. All these different things…got done. There were bills that needed to be covered…and DSHS paid it all.

RR: What was your first interaction with the birth mother? Describe your experience.

PR: We had our lawyer, and then an adoption…mediator who worked with DSHS. She was the person who worked with the birth mother, and who gave us information to let us know how things were progressing.

We wrote biographies to the birth mother. I expected that she was vacillating between “do I keep this baby or do I give this baby to these people?” We didn’t know at the time that there were two other couples — we found this out later. We thought it was just us. So, this was even more of a stressor and a “don’t get your hopes up; don’t put your heart too far out there” realization. When you are pregnant, you have nine months that you’re carrying a baby who you grow to love, nurture and protect. This was strange, because there was a baby and we wanted to love [him or her], but…we didn’t want to be disappointed…

We also knew that a birth mother has 48 hours after she gives birth before she has to sign the papers legally relinquishing her parental rights. That was still a big risk.

RR: Was the adoption agreement open or closed? How was this decided?

PR: The birth mother went back and forth between open and closed. This was when she was trying to decide between us and the other couples. I knew that I couldn’t handle an open adoption. I know Katie’s story, and I’m impressed with her ability to do that…but I just knew I couldn’t be in a position where I felt like I was sharing. My heart couldn’t handle that. That was the one thing we were firm on. We said, through the adoption mediator that if [the birth mother] decided to go in that direction that we understand completely, but that this wasn’t a baby for us.

At one point, the birth mother talked about wanting pictures and wanting to know when the adoption was final — like the court date — but…anything that remotely looked like an open adoption…I wasn’t comfortable with it.

Now, if it were reversed, I would want an open adoption. I tried to put myself in her perspective and thought, of course she wants this, but I can’t do that. It was constant fighting inside my heart. So, I could understand where she was coming from, but just knew at that point in my life it wasn’t something I could do. We couldn’t handle any possible hint of loss after losing Sarah.

We were completely on edge the two days after you were born. She had chosen us, but the papers still needed to be signed. I wanted this baby so desperately, but knew that it meant a huge sacrifice on her end. Having lost Sarah…I felt like I could understand what it was going to cost her. It was an awfully emotional time that was still full of hope and anticipation.

We had two good friends go and pick you up from the hospital, so there was no chance of us accidentally running into the birth mother. We cleared through our lawyer and had them bring you back to our house. I knew I already loved you…but I just fell in love with you the moment I held you. Dad too.

Bekah was so cute. She was excited to have a new baby sister. The first thing she said was, “I like your baby, momma.”

RR: Where friends and family supportive of your choice to adopt?

PR: We had a couple close friends who knew and prayed for us during the two months before you were born, but otherwise we didn’t tell anybody. We didn’t want to deal with the questions or anyone else’s disappointment. We’d already been going through a hard time trying to console people that didn’t know Sarah had died, and it was excruciating for us having to grieve, and then also feel like we need to grieve and take care of other people, too.

Your sister and grandparents didn’t even know. We wanted to make sure everything went through first. But Bekah was very sweet. I have pictures of her holding you. She was so excited. She was only four, so I explained that you hadn’t come from my tummy but someone else’s tummy. That was enough for her, and knowing that Jesus had enough diapers and bottles to take care of Sarah in Heaven.

The day we got you, we took Becca and you over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house…I can still remember the look on your grandpa’s face. He burst into tears. I think you’ve always had a special place in their hearts because you were so healing for our whole family. Just your presence…it took away some of the pain and grief for them, I think. There was joy alongside the grief.

RR: How has adoption impacted you?

PR: There were times I would almost forget [that you were adopted]. I would think things like, Well, she gets that from Grandpa. And then I’d realize, She couldn’t have gotten that from Grandpa. We knew talking about adoption with you would make you…feel different…you had a different story…but we didn’t want you to feel…separate. We didn’t give birth to you, and you didn’t look like us and I didn’t have a pregnancy story with you — you were the only one who didn’t make me sick — but, [your dad and I] were pretty open talking about your story, I think.

I just really feel like God orchestrated the whole thing from beginning to end. He knew what we needed in our family, and who we needed to have in it. We just decided to let God do what He wanted to do, and we’ve felt very blessed.

I sometimes wish we had more kids, and had done this more. I might do things differently now that I’m in a much better place emotionally and spiritually. But when we started homeschooling, I thought to myself: “No, four is a good number.” (Laughs)

RR: What advice would you give other adoptive mothers looking to adopt?

PR: I would definitely just say follow your heart. You know what you can handle. You can love children that you give birth to as much as you can love somebody that’s been grafted into your family. I would also sa

y…trust God. He will give you His best.

Adoption Choices of Oklahoma

If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. You may visit our website here or call 405-794-7500 (Oklahoma City) or 918-982-6220 (Tulsa).

About the Author

Rachel RobertsonRachel Robertson is a published journalist, book editor, certified Publishing Specialist, and aspiring novelist. She graduated from Central Washington University (CWU) in March 2011, having found her writing voice within the Creative Nonfiction genre and grew to work as a freelance book editor for small presses all across the United States.

In June 2018, she embarked on an internship with Virginia Frank and came on board with Adoption Choices Inc., Not for Profit 501(c)(3), in December 2018. Between her mutual passion with adoption and surrogacy, and her own personal history with adoption, Rachel is excited to research and share topics each week that will spread awareness and better serve the faithful patrons of Adoption Choices Inc.

When Rachel isn’t haunting her local Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, she’s avidly pouring over her Writer’s Digest subscription or cozying up with a cup of tea and a book. She currently resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her beloved wife and Border Collie.

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